By David Dolan - October 4, 2001
The Bush administration erred in failing to place the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups on its list of terrorist organizations and individuals published earlier this week. It is precisely the militant Muslim warriors in these groups, along with their Lebanese Hezbollah militia allies – and not their hero Osama bin Laden – that threaten to plunge the tense Middle East into full-scale war. The experts warn that the next regional conflict will likely involve the use of chemical weapons, if not biological or even nuclear warheads, making the horrendous casualty numbers in America look small by comparison.
I wrote last week that Israeli security officials were warning that the Islamic extremist groups saw a golden opportunity to step up their attacks in light of U.S. fears that a raging uprising would threaten the anti-terrorist coalition President George Bush is trying to build. Indeed, both Palestinian groups have launched significant terror attacks in the past few days. Islamic Jihad exploded a car bomb inside Jerusalem on Monday, which did not kill anyone only because tight Israeli security apparently forced the bombers to abandon it on the southern edge of the city. Hamas holy warriors invaded an Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night and shot dead two young Jews and injured several others – a daring raid that they had not so much as attempted until now.
Like earlier attacks over the weekend, both assaults against Israeli civilians were designed to spark off a major military response and focus regional Muslim public opinion back on the simmering uprising conflict. Israeli leaders understand what the radical Palestinian game is all about, but that doesn't mean they can ignore such provocative attacks in order to help America build its anti-terror coalition. The fact that they will not ignore them, nor the fact that Yasser Arafat continues to refuse to arrest Islamic terror leaders, was amply demonstrated when Israeli forces were sent into action against Palestinian Authority positions in the northern Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning.
It would have evoked howls of protest from many Muslims if the Bush administration had announced that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah were considered potential targets of the war on worldwide terrorism. After all, the militants are widely seen as valiant "freedom fighters" justly struggling against the powerful "Zionist aggressors." Still, adding them to the president's enemies list would have also helped achieve America's aim to calm down Israeli-Palestinian violence so that Muslim states can be persuaded to fully back the U.S.-led coalition. By leaving them off, the administration effectively signaled the radical Palestinian and Lebanese groups that they could carry on with their atrocities without worrying too much that they might be the next coalition targets.
Are Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah terrorists any different from those that destroyed the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon? Yes, insofar as they have not yet managed to kill thousands of people at a time in any of their attacks (although Hezbollah is widely thought to have played a major role in the slaughter of 241 U.S. marines in Beirut in 1983).
It is certainly true that Palestinian Muslim militants see Israeli troops as illegally occupying their land – which in their eyes includes all of the biblical Holy Land. Bin Laden and associates portray US forces as foreign desecrators of Islam's holiest ground in Arabia. Does that give them the right to kill American and foreign stockbrokers, secretaries, firemen and others in New York? Should we make categories for such attacks, like so many do in justifying Palestinian suicide atrocities? Should we admit that the Manhattan attack was bad, but the one on the "military target" in Washington was justified since the Pentagon controls U.S. troops and bases in Saudi Arabia?
Does the Palestinian struggle for an independent country (which was the expected outcome of the Oslo peace process until it was effectively destroyed by rioting Palestinians one year ago) give Hamas or Islamic Jihad the right to blow up a pregnant American tourist in a Jerusalem pizzeria, along with most members of an immigrant Dutch family? Does it mean that teenage Israeli girls should be literally blasted to bits while waiting to enter a Tel Aviv disco? Are such deadly attacks somehow not as atrocious as the suicide blitz in America? Is this not mindless terrorism as well?
By leaving Palestinian and Lebanese militants off of the terrorism list, the United States has not gained much in the Middle East. Hezbollah's paymasters in Tehran still warn that they will target any American aircraft that "violates" Iranian air space. Saudi Arabia says that American military operations against bin Laden or the Taliban regime in Afghanistan cannot be launched from its soil. The official reason given for the ban is that it is forbidden to use Muslim territory for an attack on a fellow Islamic state. The real reason, of course, is that the pro-Western Saudi royal family fears the charismatic power of their militant exiled countryman. Like Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and King Abdullah in Jordan, they are worried about their own ultimate survival if Arab Muslim masses in the region make bin Laden's jihad call their own.
As for the contention that Muslims do not fight fellow Muslims, this would provoke contorted laughter if the world mood were not so somber at present. The House of Saud came to power by launching a bloody revolt against the Hashemite rulers of Arabia in the 1920s. Which side was not comprised of practicing Muslims? Inter-communal wars have been rife throughout Islamic history, going back to a fight over Muhammad's legitimate successors in the early decades of his new religion. The deadliest war since the worldwide struggle against the Nazis and Japan was fought in the 1980s between Iran and Iraq, taking an estimated one million Muslim lives.
The intense battle between Shiite Iran and Sunni-ruled Iraq was just the latest in a string of bloody conflicts waged intermittently over the past 14 centuries between the two main wings of Islam. Modern Muslim apologists note that incessant conflicts also racked "Christian" Europe after Rome officially adopted the Israel-based faith in the 4th century. Yet there is a fundamental difference between Christianity and Islam, and it is key to understanding why we are precariously perched on the edge of a precipice as we limp into the 21st century. European leaders and warriors were hardly imitating the Jewish Prince of Peace or His first-century disciples when they violently lashed out against each other. But warring Muslim leaders over the centuries have precisely reflected the bloodstained actions of their revered Prophet and his earliest followers.
After he declared himself the supreme "Seal of the Prophets," Muhammad's initial moves were fairly reverent and sublime. Impartial scholars say the evidence is overwhelming that something happened to him after Khadija, his beloved first wife, died and he proceeded to marry a series of some 15 women – one barely a teenage girl. He began to sanction and even lead violent raids against traveling Arab caravans. The clear goals were to weaken and punish his opponents, including the ruling Quraish tribe in Mecca, but even more so to gain spoil for further conquests.
As much as it may be politically incorrect and offend many modern Muslim ears to say so, the fact is that the world's most famous desert warrior sanctioned thievery as well as murder. Muhammad is thought to have conducted over 25 battles in his bid to establish his "prophetic" credentials, and planned nearly 40 others. Jesus did no such thing.
No contemporary Muslim, however pious or non-violent he or she might personally be, can deny that Muhammad was a quintessential jihad warrior. Indeed, most justify his violent actions as sanctioned by Allah, as recorded in the Koran. His powerful example of what one does to religious opponents who stand in the way of the spread of Islam is the main reason why men like Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden can find myriads of Islamic defenders for their violent actions today, even sometimes those directed against fellow Muslims. With that in mind, it is no wonder that Saudi leaders fear the Arabian-born terrorist leader as much as they do the neighboring Butcher of Baghdad.
©2001 - WorldNetDaily