Middle Eastern Insights
May 5, 2011
The author of Proverbs taught us: “When your enemy falls, do not exult; when he trips, let your heart not rejoice”. This expectation seems difficult to understand and, indeed, seems inhuman, as one’s survival sometimes depends on an enemy’s failure and on the downfall of an intended Killer. This assumes particular significance especially after the execution of Western civilization’s Enemy Number One, a man who devoted all of his (considerable) wealth and (no less considerable) energy towards the global Jihad intended to bring western culture to its knees and, with the might of the sword, impose Islam on all humanity.
There is no doubt that this was a great achievement for the Americans, both for its various intelligence agencies and for the Navy Seals who carried out the mission with a minimum of hitches: it is possible that the goal of the mission was to capture bin Laden alive, if only to obtain information about his organization, and one helicopter was lost in the operation. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that there were no American casualties in such a complex, fast-moving attack against such a fortified and protected target.
It is also important to point out the field security characterizing the operation. American Intelligence began preparing for this mission last August, i.e. nine months ago, and have utilized since then a significant number of intelligence-gathering methods: aerial photographs via satellite and drones; ground photographs by people positioned near the target for long periods; monitoring of those entering and exiting the target; eavesdropping on the target employing non-standard equipment because those living there did not use wireless phones, landlines, cellular phones or any computer-based forms of communication. All these intelligence methods were employed during an extended period of time without arousing any suspicion from Bin Laden and those surrounding him or from the Pakistani military and security forces, who are suspected of collaborating with al-Qaeda; this, in and of itself, is praiseworthy.
The Americans claim that bin Laden was killed and his body buried at sea, but as of this writing, the American government has not released confirmatory photographs and many in the Islamic world are skeptical. The reason for this “burial” is to prevent his grave from becoming a shrine for pilgrims, and this is logical thinking. However, for a long time now, bin Laden has not signified a person, a man or a body; the importance of his execution, therefore, rests not on whether or not he is alive. After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, bin Laden became a symbol, an idea, a beacon. His organization Al-Qaeda, which had been an enormous, hierarchal network until late 2001, ceased being an organized body after the fall of Afghanistan, the eradication of the Taliban regime and the destruction of the terror infrastructure established under the aegis of Mullah Omar, Afghanistan’s then ruler, by bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The concept of world Jihad spread throughout the Islamic population and took root in the hearts of many, too many, Muslims worldwide. They use modern means of communication to circulate the idea of Jihad, whose declared goal is to return all humanity to the seventh century, to the days of “al-Salaf al-Salih” – “the righteous ancestors” – the period of the first Islamic conquests, when the Bedouin tribes left the Arabian desert in order to subdue the civilizations of that time: the Persian and Byzantine Empires. They forever promulgate the idea of Jihad against Western culture which is based on hedonism, permissiveness, individualism and instant gratification.
The question that naturally arises is how these Jihadists will react to the liquidation of their leader, symbol and prophet. To answer this, we must listen to how their spokesmen responded in public broadcasts immediately after bin Laden was executed. One of these is a man called Dr. Hani al-Siba’i, an attorney and head of The Almaqreezi Center for Historical Studies, who resides in London as a “political refugee”. This “political refugee”is one of the leaders of the Egyptian Jihad organization who was sentenced, in absentia, to a long prison term and who praised the London terror attacks of 7 July 2005, in which Islam succeeded in “rubbing the nose of western culture in the dirt”. On Monday morning, one hour after the execution of bin Laden was publicized, BBC Arabic Radio interviewed al-Sibai, who said the following, in a live broadcast and without hesitation (my interpretations are in brackets):
“I congratulate the [Islamic] nation on one of Islam’s lions becoming a shahid (martyr). This fulfills Sheikh al-Mujahids’ (the Leader of the Jihad combatants’) hopes, which emerged from the womb of the Afghani Jihad and are today borne aloft, adorned by the wedding of one of Islam’s lions [with the beauties in Paradise]. Yes, Sheikh Abu Abdallah (an appellation of bin Laden’s) longed for this moment and was faithful to his task. He rose to action while others sat idle; he preached Islam while its sons abandoned it. He became a symbol for all humanity, in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Somalia and North Africa [regions where Jihad organizations are active]. He lived a praiseworthy life and died a shahid. . .”
The joy of those celebrating is bogus and matters will soon become clear. There was treachery here, as Islam’s enemies always come from within. . . The whole world says “This is not a war against Islam”, but we no longer know who is a Muslim since [Islam’s enemies think that] a Muslim must be a Muslim according to the American standard; he must deny the Koran, abandon the tradition of the Messenger and adopt American religion to satisfy the Americans. Muslims think that bin Laden is a shahid [sitting in Paradise with all its accompanying rewards] and they cheer him with joy . . . [Later on in the interview, al-Siba’i quotes from a poem by Muslim poet Albukhturi:] It is no wonder that the lions fall prey to the teeth of the dogs near and far, for the sword of the savage put an end [even] to Hamza and ’Ali [among the prominent figures of Ancient Islam].”
Thus speaks on live radio a man to whom Great Britain – the cornerstone of western culture – granted political asylum. And when a Muslim hears these songs of praise for bin Laden in Dr. al-Siba’i’s classic, glorious, flowery and refined style, he knows that bin Laden’s elimination is just a milestone on a long and arduous journey, but one with a clear direction. The goal is evident and victory will arrive in due course.
This is puzzling: How did London, the bastion of democracy and liberalism, become a place of refuge for theoreticians of World Jihad, which aspires with all its might to destroy the United States, to bring western civilization to its knees and, with blood and fire, sword and Kalashnikov, impose upon it the desert culture of the seventh century? The British – if there are any true Britons left – must have the answers.
Since we have to take Dr. al-Sibai’s words very seriously, we must actively prepare for a new wave of terror, which will be motivated by the desire to perpetuate the memory and actions of The Shahid, Osama bin Laden. His name will adorn the coming terror attacks, and I will not be surprised if they are numbered serially. The United States is not the only target; every country, organization or institution identified with the West and its culture is an objective. Beginning now, the most dangerous place is Pakistan. Many Jihadists are sure that its government collaborated with the United States in this operation, just as it does in the American war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan; they do not believe the denials coming from both sides.
The question is not “will there be a major retaliatory attack”, but when will it come, where will it be carried out, what methods will be used and how many people will be sacrificed in it and in others that follow. We must not be complacent: whether a week, a month, or even a year passes with no large-scale, September 11th-like Jihadi reaction, the West must assume that somewhere – in Kandahar or London, Islamabad or New York – there are people planning the next calamity in excruciating detail, preparing what is necessary so that the murders will parallel in significance the execution of Sheikh al-Mujahidin, Osama bin Laden.
The world must be particularly alert to anything related to home-made non-conventional weaponry, especially explosives and toxic materials produced very simply using freely available products such as pesticides, fertilizers and medicines. There must be tight supervision of sensitive sites such as toxic material warehouses because an attack on them could disseminate such hazardous materials to adjacent population centers.
Security organizations in western countries should increase their supervision of what is said and done in mosques, because history teaches us that more than a few Jihadi alliances began with the meeting of people who came there to pray and continued on the path to Jihad. Those who travel regularly between Europe and Pakistan or who spend significant time in their Pakistani homeland are liable to return to Great Britain or another western country with very dangerous ideas and the knowledge and readiness to carry them out.
But most important is to put an end to the strange phenomenon in which Jihadists find safe refuge in the very countries they wish to destroy and in the very societies whose character they are trying to change. The struggle in Great Britain over the laws of the Islamic Sharia is intensifying as those British who fear for the image of British society, blurred as it has become by the adoption of multi-culturalism, wake up to discover that a group of immigrants has become the masters of the public arena. Post-modern-colonialism has reversed directions: Great Britain no longer rules Pakistan; rather, Pakistan is taking over Great Britain.
The Hijra – migration – was the means used by Muhammad, the Messenger of Islam, to transmit the idea of Islam to the city of al-Madina, and his Muslim contemporaries applied this method by migrating to other countries: not only territorial conquest by the sword, but infiltration for the sake of controlling the culture, economy, law, system of government and the public domain. One other person should be noted: Sheikh Anjem Choudary, who preaches in London to turn Great Britain into an Islamic Caliphate, and who views democracy, rights and freedoms as idols to be destroyed.
Bin Laden with his methods, Hani al-Siba’i with his words and Sheikh Anjem Choudary with his sermons are all different sides of the same Jihadist coin. Bin Laden’s elimination did not destroy the ideas being spread by al-Siba’i, Choudary and the like in too many places in Europe and in the United States; on the contrary, it lent them greater validity and provided Jihadists with stronger motivation. As long as people like Hani al-Siba’i and Sheikh Anjem Choudary are active in the West, the spirit of bin Laden’s global Jihad is alive and kicking in western society. Bin Laden is dead but he lives in London and in many other places. He succeeded in exporting Jihad, and the spirit of Jihad is flourishing wherever western culture is falling asleep on the watch. The ideas of Choudary and al-Siba’i are no less dangerous than airplanes crashing into office towers.
When your enemy falls, do not exult, but make sure that he does not survive in the words and preachings of his adherents.
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Mordechai Kedar – Lecturer in the Department of Arabic, Bar-Ilan University, Israel.