10 September 2004

Mansoor Ijaz on Jihad and Islam

In an opinion piece headlined Jihad in Chaos: The extremist ideology is in collapse, Mansoor Ijaz sees hope arising out of the latest jihadist atrocities.
Zawahiri's appearance on al Jazeera this week to once again threaten the U.S. was particularly poignant, since it was the Egyptian physician who, in his infinite wisdom, wrote in 2001 prior to the September 11 attacks that if the "jihadist vanguard" improperly executed its plans to spread Islam's words by force, the movement would become isolated and separated from the Muslim masses. He was right, and is now desperately trying to rekindle the unified spirit al Qaeda had achieved prior to the 9/11 attacks....

Just look at recent terrorist acts to see how desperate the jihadists have become to regain their footing among Islam's increasingly skeptical masses. The most informative example is what happened in Russia last week.

The massacre of innocent children at Beslan, where terrorists turned guns on each other to coerce obedience to the plan, demonstrated the very failure of extremist Islam's ideology to inspire — and how the hideousness of their actions could sow doubt in even the most criminally hardened minds. When even the terrorists are at a loss to see how killing over 150 schoolchildren can help their cause, you know they have a problem. Most Chechens have now turned away from the very radicals who seek to free them because they see the horrific lengths to which the extremists will go, and realize that they too could be the targets of the assassins.

Like him or not, Vladimir Putin's resolve to stare down Beslan's terrorists — about whom he understood nothing — will (if by accident) be seen one day as a turning point in the war against extremism, because the depravity of Beslan's architects has turned the silent majority in the Muslim world on its ear. Editors, political leaders, and mullahs from Jeddah to Istanbul to Jakarta are decrying the insanity of the Beslan murders. And they are beginning to realize that always blaming others for their woes won't help elevate their disaffected people or spread the word of their failed vision any faster or better.

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