A Hydra-Headed Monster Called Terrorism

By Rabbi Dr. Daniel M. Zucker

The horrendous carnage wreaked upon the people of Iraq over the past week by various terrorist organizations and insurgents that claimed more than a hundred and thirty lives, is, or should be, a wakeup call to the Allied Coalition that the Global War on Terror is far from over; indeed, it probably has barely begun. Despite the initial victories of the allies in Afghanistan and Iraq, neither al-Qaeda nor the Taliban, nor the Iraqi insurgency has been eliminated; all continue to resist and subvert American efforts to bring peace, democracy, and stability to the region. Although with good intentions to democratize the region, in some ways Bush, Blair and company have played into the hands of the godfather of terrorism, the Iranian mullah regime. By removing Saddam Hussein and the Taliban from power, the principal regional rivals of the Islamic Republic were eliminated, without Iran having to fire a single bullet. With every new allied casualty in either country, the members of the Islamist cabal in Teheran reap the benefit of Western sacrifice. We do the dirty work and they enjoy the benefits. Indeed, our naivette has emboldened the mullahs to send their proxies like the Badr Organization and al-Mahdi Army, as well as their own Ministry of Intelligence and Security and Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) agents into Iraq to wreak havoc and mayhem.

Amazingly, we in the West don’t seem to understand the nature of Islamist terrorism or terrorists. We fail to comprehend that such terrorists, despite differences in doctrinal, religious, or political outlook, are linked very closely by their common use of deliberate violence against non-combatants for political purposes. Like a hydra-headed monster, Islamist terrorism finds its adherents united in a shared hatred of the West and its Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian tradition of respect for the rights of the individual as well as the concept of democracy. Today's Islamist terrorists reject the very principles upon which Western civilization was built. Included in our traditions is the sanctity of all human life; the Islamist terrorist regards human life as expendable, and uses murder, and often suicide too, as a weapon to strike fear in the hearts of his/her victims. The terrorist is by definition a fanatic, an individual who suspends his/her sense of normal rational behavior in favor of making a political, ideological, or theological statement about the righteousness of his/her cause and the sub-human status of the victims, who deserve to die because of their disregard or opposition to the all-important belief he cherishes. This definition applies equally to various terrorist groups, whether the Palestinian Marxist PFLP, or any of the Sunni or Shiite radical Islamist groups like al-Qaeda, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or Hezbollah and Ansar al-Islam.

Unfortunately, terrorism isn’t limited to the actions of minorities, dissidents, separatists, or disgruntled segments of society. Sometimes countries act as terrorists, too. In the twentieth century the classic example of a terrorist regime - or if you prefer the term state sponsor of terrorism" was the Soviet Union, which used the NKVD and KGB to develop revolutionary movements that would further Soviet interests throughout much of the Third World. Opponents and rivals were eliminated, sometimes surreptitiously, sometimes publicly, to provide an object lesson to those that would dare to oppose the will of the Kremlin. Today a list of state sponsors of terrorism would need to include Syria, Sudan, and Iran. Syrian dominance of Lebanon, Sudan’s aggression against the people of Chad and its own Darfur Region, and the Iranian regime's hegemonic behavior in Azerbaijan, Iraq, Israel, among the Palestinians, and in Turkey, and its extra-territorial terrorism in Argentina, Austria, France, Germany, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the U.K., and even the United States—all demonstrate the extent to which terrorist regimes will go to promote their interests and to eliminate opponents. Today the leading example of a state sponsor of terrorism is the regime of the Iranian ayatollahs.

Now, what is to be done to counter the attacks of those who would use terrorism against us? First, it is to be hoped that the tragic events of the last year finally make it clear that it is Western civilization that is under attack by terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his boss, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamene. The importation of Iranian-made rockets for Hamas in Jordan, the murder by Shiite militias of over 200 - mainly Sunnis - in Basra in April, the bombing of the Iraqi workers' bus in Baqouba and the bombings and assassinations in Baghdad, including of Sheikh Osama al-Jadaan in late May, as well as the brutal murders of the twenty-one teenage students from Qara Taba, and the eleven college students in al-Leila this first week of June, demonstrate all too graphically that Iran will use any means possible to dominate Iraq and destroy any chances for a secular democracy in its neighbor. Only when we realize the extent to which the theocratic Iranian mullah regime has gone and continues to go to destroy any and all opposition to its overall goal of spreading its Islamic revolution (with the ultimate goal of creating an Islamic Caliphate) while preserving its own existence, will we be able to begin to counter the threat.

Only when we unite to eliminate this scourge will we begin to turn the corner on this blight on humanity. As long as business interests are permitted to sweep the subject of proper counter-terrorism off of the table, we will be fighting a losing battle. When Russia sells its soul to the Iranian ayatollahs for a chance to gain a lucrative set of contracts, it also is selling out the security of the world. Moscow won't recognize the threat until a bomb or three explode in the Moscow Metro and the cobblestones of Red Square are splattered with Russian blood, spilled by some fanatic from the Middle East or Chechnya. After Germany played dumb about what Iran was doing with certain heavy equipment that it purchased from German subsidiaries, Berlin should not be surprised that Iranian agents recruit terrorists locally in Hamburg or Leipzig. When British Foreign Secretary played "footsie" with Iran's former President Khatami, Tony Blair shouldn’t have been surprised that al-Qaeda sympathizers felt emboldened enough to bomb the "Tube". And when Washington agreed to sell Teheran Boeing jet parts and to place the strongest Iranian opposition group on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations some sixteen years after it began its military operations against the Iranian regime, just to curry favor with the then new "moderate" president, and after nine years of this failed policy of appeasement, continues to keep the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) on that list, despite the fact that the NCRI has never once harmed Americans or any other non-Iranian in over twenty-five years, Foggy Bottom should not be surprised that Teheran’s ayatollahs don't respect our demand that Iran abandon its nuclear program before the U.S. will sit down to negotiations with it.

Members of our military that disarmed the Iranian resistance organization, Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK)--in Iraq three years ago--have testified to Congress that the group has no ties to terrorism and should be re-armed as an ally to patrol the Iraqi-Iranian border to keep Iranian sponsored insurgents out. Yet our State Department refuses to listen to our own field-proven experts. And so Iran continues to pour gasoline onto the Iraqi conflagration.

Unless we see the big picture and plan accordingly, we will not win this war. This is not the British-American War of 1812 THIS WAR CONCERNS THE DIRECTION THAT ALL OF CIVILIZATION WILL TAKE FOR THE NEXT THOUSAND YEARS. We had better smell the coffee, and take a quick swig before we find ourselves playing "chicken" with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his new nuclear toys, which one day he may choose to share with a fellow fundamentalist "friend", such as Osama bin Laden.

Do you, like me, have nightmares yet? If not, you should! Terrorism is about to become a daily occurrence in our lives unless we mobilize adequately to confront all those who would utilize the freedoms of democracy to subvert or destroy our society as a whole. This war will be played out over several generations' victories and losses will be recorded like moves on a giant chess-board. Only if we maintain our resolve and hold steady our focus, will we ultimately emerge triumphant. The fiscal price tag will be enormous, because to succeed in defeating radical Islam we will need to help Arab and Muslim societies to develop and then enfranchise an extensive middle class that feels connected to the modern world, capable of meeting its rising expectations within society, and thereby rejecting the narrow-minded village madrassa's teaching of an extremist form of Islam. If we fail to integrate modernity with the Islamic world, all our labors will be in vain. Armageddon stands before us dressed in a turban and covered with a face-mask; are we prepared to confront and do battle with it? I don't think so, but God help us if we aren't.

Rabbi Dr. Daniel M. Zucker is founder and Chairman of the Board of Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East, a grassroots organization dedicated to teaching the public and its elected officials of the need to promote genuine democratic institutions throughout the Middle-East region as an antidote to the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism. He may be contacted at contact@ADME.ws