Notes from the Post-Saddam Jihad

Freed Taliban “seeking revenge”: Although Saddam has been captured, the jihad continues. The jihadis have suffered a huge blow, but the ideological basis of the global jihad movement, which is not based on the charismatic appeal of any leader but on elements of Islamic theology and law, ensures that the movement will go on. Jihadis fought for Saddam despite his dubious piety because Islamic law stipulates that jihad must continue even if a Muslim leader is a tyrant; they certainly won’t be giving up now that he is out of action.

A bit of evidence for this comes from Afghanistan, where a Taliban officer who had been released last July from the U.S. military prison compound at Guantanamo Bay has returned to Afghanistan to wage jihad against the Americans there again. Mullah Shehzada, an Afghan who was sent from Guantanamo to a prison in Afghanistan, escaped from that one in October after bribing guards.

Commented Taliban official Hamid Agha: “Once a Taliban, always a Taliban. Now he wants revenge.” The Pentagon had no comment.

“Safeguard the burning ember of Jihad”: The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports that recent editions of the Al-Qaeda magazine, The Voice of Jihad, contain debates on whether to strike within Saudi Arabia. Nobody is arguing about whether to strike Western and American targets: they take that for granted.

The Voice of Jihad articles reveal a great deal about the motives and goals of international jihadists, which most Western analysts seem determined to ignore. Says Voice of Jihad editorial writer Suleiman Al-Dosari: “Our number-one enemy is the Jews and the Christians, and we must make ourselves available and invest all our effort until we destroy them . . . because they are the main obstacle to the establishment of the Islamic state.”

The establishment of the Islamic state – a unified Islamic polity ruled by Islamic law, the Sharia, and waging offensive jihad against its non-Muslim neighbors – has long been a goal of Osama bin Laden and other radical Muslims around the world. Says another Al-Qaeda operative, who goes by the name Louis Attiya Allah: “The Islamic state must be reestablished, in accordance with the Islamic regime. . . . The experience [of an Islamic state] is real, and it existed 1,300 years ago. . . . There is nothing to prevent the revival of these rules, which are based on the Koran and the Sunna.”

Attiya Allah’s dream? “We will become the masters of the world, as the world’s economic fate depends on us because we have the resources the world needs and all the elements of controlling the world are in our hands.”

And finally, another indication of how deeply these men have imbibed the 7th-century world view of the Qur’an: “The main enemies of the nation, the Byzantines, will not come to their end until Judgment Day, and therefore there is no point in talking of stopping the battle??? The most important thing is that the Mujahideen will safeguard the burning ember of Jihad.” The Byzantines? The Byzantine Empire fell on May 29, 1453, when jihadist invaders finally broke into Constantinople and massacred its gallant, vastly outnumbered defenders. But to Al-Qaeda, the world is and will ever be as it is in the Qur’an and the traditions of Muhammad (the 30th sura of the Qur’an is entitled Al-Rum – that is, The Byzantines). Those who dismiss these as motivating factors for radical Muslims should take note.

Blame America first: In the Calcutta Telegraph, a young Pakistani bemoans the spread of the jihad ideology in his homeland – of course, it’s the Americans’ fault. Amra Ali, “a young art critic,” says that “we were used by the Americans who first projected these jihadis as freedom fighters and branded them terrorists after 9/11. These terrorists that were created have had an impact on our society – today, there is a gun in front of every house. A Kalashnikov culture has taken birth in our society. Even our mosques need to be protected from the extremists.”

If Amra Ali studied some history, he might realize that America did not create the jihadis. As I explain in Onward Muslim Soldiers, the modern jihad movement began in Egypt in the 1920s – but it considers itself to be in fundamental continuity with a movement that is as old as Islam itself. Meanwhile, a Pakistani journalist, Ghazi Salauddin, puts his finger on another serious problem: “The jihadis remain a force. But they cannot be a real threat without some support from the establishment.”