Is Violent Jihad Starting To Lose Its Allure To Radical Islamists?

In the past, moderate Muslim’s have condemned violence in the name of Islam. What’s surprising to hear now, is, more radical Muslims are doing it, too.

Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower , (a book about al Qaeda’s road to 9/11) was recently interviewed by NPR, and had this to say:

… what’s fascinating is that they’re attacking (terrorism) on two grounds: One is that [violence is] not practical because it hasn’t achieved their purposes. And secondly, it’s sinful. It is placing the souls of the people who commit this violence in great jeopardy.”

Wright tells NPR’s Guy Raz that the two players behind the rift are Ayman Al-Zawahiri, al-Qaida’s No. 2 man, and Sayyed Imam Al-Sharif, also known as Dr. Fadl. Sharif, who wrote al-Qaida’s manual for jihad training, recently released a manifesto refuting those principles. (Here).

The fact that al-Qaida’s architect has changed his mind, Wright says, makes violence “harder to justify using that kind of thinking.”

He says al-Qaida is unraveling in some respects.

Wright goes on to say al Qaeda, much reduced from what they were, and clearly losing in Iraq, are losing popularity all across the Muslim world because Muslims tend to be the main victims.

I suppose for some, it’s still okay as long as Christians, Hindus, and Jews are the only victims, but progress is progress.

Wright also says

… people are beginning to question the use of violence not only in the case of al-Qaida but even in resistance movements in Palestine.”

Could we be on the verge of a major sea change in the way radical Muslims view their cause, and how to reach their goals? And if we are…don’t we have the Iraq war to thank for it?

Although there will always be those who don’t believe that Iraq was a proper battleground in the war on terror, there are others (like Abu Musab Zarqawi) who begged to differ.

And the truth of the matter is, the insurgents in Iraq who were sympathetic to al Qaeda’s cause, and saw themselves as brothers in arms with them against the American invaders, needed to see the animalistic brutality of al Qaeda up close and personal to see the light.

Terrorism just ain’t cool.

And the more al Qaeda in Iraq continues its method of operation, the more the Iraqi people turn against it.

If radical Muslims from around the world, are looking at terrorism, now as the wrong way to go about reaching their goals, (in part because of what they’ve observed in Iraq), then I think that would have to be considered a positive by-product of the Iraq War.

Related:

And very interesting, via Weasel Zippers:

al Qaeda discusses losing Iraq.

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19 Responses to “Is Violent Jihad Starting To Lose Its Allure To Radical Islamists?”

  1. ChenZhen Says:

    If Americans, are looking at recklessly invading another country, now as the wrong way to go about reaching their goals, (in part because of what they’ve observed in Iraq), then I think that would have to be considered a positive by-product of the Iraq War.

    There, I fixed it for ya.

    Like

  2. nicedeb Says:

    Recklessly? Please, Chenzhen, surely your memory isn’t that short. The lead up to the war was long, and drawn out.

    It is telling, and really rather disgusting that you would substitute ‘Americans’ for ‘radical muslims’, (otherwise known as Islamofascists or terrorists) as the villains in this saga.

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  3. geoff Says:

    ChenZhen opts for lame, inaccurate snark instead of analysis. First refuge of the lib.

    Getting radical Muslims to abandon terrorism as a tactic would pretty much mean that GWB & Co. won the GWOT. 25 years early.

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  4. Alice H Says:

    because Muslims tend to be the main victims.

    A rather unexpected side benefit of taking the fight to the Middle East.

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  5. Alice H Says:

    OK, rereading my comment, that could be misinterpreted. I should be a little clearer.

    Taking the fight to the Middle East means Muslims, and future terrorists, get to see first-hand the damage that’s caused by terrorism, thus persuading them to realize how wrong it is. In no way did I mean that it’s a benefit that Muslims are dying.

    Like

  6. Nick Says:

    Beg to differ Alice. It was a calculated, well thought out and primary reason we chose their place as the battle field.

    What was unexpected was missing the opportunity to put down the enemies within…like Chen.

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  7. Buffoon(TRM) Says:

    Poor Chen, always getting his teeth kicked in…

    Like

  8. ChenZhen Says:

    Yea I’m the “enemy within” because I didn’t buy into Bush’s BS. Or is it because I choose to voice my opinion on it? Send me to Gitmo!

    Anyway, I say “reckless” having nothing to do with the time it took to sell the invasion.

    Main Entry: reck·less
    Pronunciation: \ˈre-kləs\
    Function: adjective
    Date: before 12th century
    1 : marked by lack of proper caution : careless of consequences
    2 : irresponsible

    They brushed aside people who knew it would take more troops, more money, would lead to chaos, more terrorism, Iranian emboldenment, and especially those who thought it wasn’t necessary or warranted. And after all that, they really didn’t have much of a plan beyond “shock and awe”.

    “Reckless” is a pretty fitting adjective IMO.

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  9. nicedeb Says:

    Yes, yes….I’m so used to the anti-war crowd saying that we “rushed to war,” that I took you to mean ‘rushed recklessly’.

    That said. It’s very easy to to accuse the administration of recklessness in retrospect. What pre-war planning for a war couldn’t be accused of being ‘reckless’, since there are almost always unintended consequences to war. As John Stuart Mill said:

    War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

    Dispatching an evil dictator, instituting a Democracy in the heart of the Middle East, and discouraging the violent jihadist mindset of radical Islamists, I think was necessary and warranted.

    I think history will judge the Bush administration much kinder than you short-sighted peace-nics have.

    Like

  10. geoff Says:

    They also brushed aside people who thought that the initial invasion would take much longer, that it would result in 10,000+ US casualties, that it was simply an imperialistic venture, that it was all about oil, that it would cause a massive uprising on the “Arab street,” and that it would cause massive civilian dislocation and casualties. None of those dire predictions was close to being correct.

    As far as “more terrorism, and Iranian emboldenment,” you have grossly oversimplified the causes of those issues. Attributing them to the invasion of Iraq is absurd.

    The fact is that Iraq’s infrastructure and economy were in shambles, with 85% of the population being relegated to second class status. Their economy and even their government was based on cash, greatly complicating the simple act of funding their government agencies (and leading to the hysterical accusations that $8.8 billion was “missing” due to CPA incompetence).

    It is true that nobody in the administration understood how poor the power, water, sewage, education and medical infrastructure really was. They didn’t appreciate how corrupt the government was, and they thought reconciliation among the Shi’ites and Sunnis would be easier than it was. They didn’t anticipate or respond well to Iranian interference, and they did nothing to stem the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq.

    On the other hand, they’ve been building the infrastructure from the ground up, they’ve managed to establish a nascent democracy in place of a dictatorship (something many on the left said couldn’t be done), they’ve badly damaged Al Qaeda and its reputation, and they’ve stimulated the notion of democratic reform in neighboring countries. In short, they have wrought a fundamental change in the geopolitics of the Middle East – a change that is the only significant promising sign in the past 40? 50? 60? years.

    And they did it all with a fraction of the troops Shinseki said were required.

    While you’re working on your vocabulary, you might look up “myopic” and contemplate its relevance to the liberal analysis of the situation.

    Like

  11. geoff Says:

    ND: short-sighted peace-nics

    Moi: “myopic”

    Great minds and all that.

    Like

  12. ChenZhen Says:

    geoff-

    They also brushed aside people who thought that the initial invasion would take much longer, that it would result in 10,000+ US casualties, that it was simply an imperialistic venture, that it was all about oil, that it would cause a massive uprising on the “Arab street,” and that it would cause massive civilian dislocation and casualties. None of those dire predictions was close to being correct.

    What the heck are massive civilian casualties then?

    On the other hand, they’ve been building the infrastructure from the ground up, they’ve managed to establish a nascent democracy in place of a dictatorship (something many on the left said couldn’t be done), they’ve badly damaged Al Qaeda and its reputation, and they’ve stimulated the notion of democratic reform in neighboring countries. In short, they have wrought a fundamental change in the geopolitics of the Middle East – a change that is the only significant promising sign in the past 40? 50? 60? years.

    Or looked at another way, we’ve sparked a conflict that’s undoubtedly going to rage for decades, thereby insuring our obligation to stay and protect the fragile and corrupt ” nascent democracy” we’ve established in the heart of the sectarian divide. So thinking “geopolitically”, we’ve basically put the future and welfare of the entire ME on our shoulders with this move. If nothing else, from that point of view, I suppose such a plan from the outset would look like an absolute money pit on paper, not to mention among the most ambitious and riskiest tasks America has ever undertaken, but it would appear that perhaps with careful planning and a nationwide effort ala WWII it just might be doable.

    But why? 9/11?

    A reasonable reaction to an attack by a unit of jihadis armed with knives and flying lessions is to…reshape the Middle East?

    I think the problem most people in America would have with all that is that it wasn’t sold with that packaging, and wouldn’t have bought it if it were.

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  13. geoff Says:

    What the heck are massive civilian casualties then?

    How many civilian casualties were there in March and April of 2003? Not too many, actually.

    A reasonable reaction to an attack by a unit of jihadis armed with knives and flying lessions is to…reshape the Middle East?

    Hey. Guess what? The invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. It was independent of 9/11. It’s remarkable that the same people who tout that silly poll about Fox-watching Americans believing in a Saddam-9/11 link then turn around and cite it as an inadequate rationale for invasion.

    we’ve sparked a conflict that’s undoubtedly going to rage for decades

    You should follow the news more closely – that’s not a very likely scenario. But even if there weren’t very positive news from Iraq, that’s not an adequate reason to avoid doing what needs to be done.

    Like

  14. Alfie Says:

    I put off commenting but as the thread evolved it got more interesting so if I may….The invasion of Iraq was well thought out – it was the occupation that was a total ball drop. I am currently reading Newt Gingrich’s Real Change. In it he ( no peace nik he) he outlined perfectly how the transformed US military was put into a bad situation with the Bush Administrations opting for Bremer et al.
    As for the title… STRATFOR had a recent piece highlighting the new recruiting manual of AQ. This 10 page gem is an eye opener to many pundits and stereotypical phobes. The truth is the recruiters for violent jihad know exactly what they’re doing. In the under reported way we Americans exist though it may be a surprise to some that many Muslim nations are at the fore of breaking the recruiting drives up. Algeria,Saudi Arabia and Egypt being excellent examples.
    Lastly I won’t join in on the CZ bashing but to say something about his geoploitical analysis. The divides will heal and the region will experience reshuffles that were brewing anyway and will involve and would have involved the USA anyway. Look at it this way. Syria and Israel are talking,Iran has been strengthened but the Israel talks and Lebanon developments (driven by the Saudis btw) are playing out as effective checks. The Iraqis will step up for Iraq but to the chagrin of many Americans will loudly request to stand alone or at most slightly to the side of a possible ally.

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  15. ChenZhen Says:

    alfie-

    The invasion of Iraq was well thought out – it was the occupation that was a total ball drop.

    I dunno if I’d say that. I mean, Iraq didn’t even have an air force for crying out loud. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where we wouldn’t have easily taken Baghdad, so the fact that we did if doesn’t necessarily mean that it was well thought out.

    Like

  16. Alfie Says:

    Iraq had an air force and with some surviving modern stuff. Secondary to no fly and sheer air supremacy they hid them. I saw one that was hidden inside a building. There were also many thoughts that Syria now possesses some of the inventory. Modern Air Land campaigning which is the cornerstone of how Iraq was invaded is very well organized designed and controlled. Thinking flowers in the gun barrels by grateful Iraqis ,de Baathification,de Iraqi-fication and Bremer and assorted civilian government meddling (USAID,State etc) are where I’m coming from with the occupation being a drop.

    Like

  17. geoff Says:

    It’s hard to imagine a scenario where we wouldn’t have easily taken Baghdad

    It’s like you didn’t read a single article or watch a single newscast before the invasion.

    A lot of people complain about the dissolution of the Iraqi Army and the de-Baathification of the government, but I don’t think those decisions were as clearly bad as common wisdom claims. For example one of the scenarios we didn’t have to confront was a 400,000-man Iraqi Army turning on our 100,000-man force when their guard was down. There are many, many alternate scenarios where leaving the Baathists in place would lead to disaster.

    And Bremer has taken a lot of heat, but look at the unbelievable number of accomplishments of the CPA. It was a staggeringly huge job with an incredibly short schedule.

    The hindsight analysts should give it a rest.

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  18. Alfie Says:

    @geoff the military stand as credible critics of the CPA imo. Bottom line leaving some type of Iraq face on the early transition would’ve been seen more positively by the people.
    The 400k iraqi’s were largely conscripts and pretty well cowed or culled. The possibility of a 4:1 confrontation wasn’t in the cards.

    Like

  19. geoff Says:

    Cowed or not, they took orders from Baath officers. And it didn’t have to be 4:1 – 1:2 would be bad enough. Leaving the Baath organization intact, with full access to their resources, would have been a chancy move.

    I’m not saying that the CPA was perfect, and in fact, neither was the US military. But they both had enormous jobs, and they both worked very hard to do those jobs. And of course, the efforts of both organizations were undermined by the anti-war rhetoric in the US.

    I would be happy if other federal agencies performed as well as the CPA did, and delighted if they performed as well as the military.

    Like


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