Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The New York Times has an interesting story summarizing the findings of a new study (I could find no link) by scholars at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, "The Militant Ideology Atlas." The headline finding is that al Qaeda and its affiliates are motivated by an ideology, not the leadership of individual men.
As radical Islam spreads globally through online forums and chat rooms, a group of obscure Arab religious thinkers may come to exert more influence over the jihadist movement than Osama bin Laden and other well-known leaders of Al Qaeda, a research group at the United States Military Academy has concluded.
Regular readers know that this is an argument we have long made on this blog. For those of you who are new to TigerHawk, it is time again to link to "Considering victory conditions in the wider war and the importance of ideology." For a deeper look, buy and read Mary Habeck's excellent and accessible book, Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror.
It seems to me that the real danger here is that the struggle against the radical jihadists expands into a war against Islam.
My concern is that the faction most threatened by western incursion into the isolated muslim territories is the clergy. Their iron grip on the population has placed them in a position of significant influence. They will not relinquish this position without a struggle and they will use their main weapon with reckless abandon.
As noted in the article I used yesterday, if this does indeed become a global clash of civilizations the people here who are intent on losing will blame the US for missteps while holding the horrible Ayatollahs, Mullahs and Imams blameless.
It is such a shame, it really is, but some days it seems almost inevitable.
I wonder if there are any deeper more religious meanings buried in this situation. Is our God acting? Is this a test of our faith as we confront the faithful of another religion who are determined to supplant us?