“We are only in the beginning stages of a great conflict of a war of ideas,” said President Bush in his White House news conference yesterday. That conflict is led on one side by the dark forces of al-Qaida and the like and on the other by those who want to live in peace and for the world to enjoy freedom. So why are we just messing around only with the tail of the enemy instead of lopping off his head?
Maybe we are getting closer to that now. The battle for the Red Mosque in Islamabad indicates at long last that the government of Pakistan is indeed going to stay true to its recent words that militancy at its religious shrines and its schools will not be tolerated and will bring a strong response from its military.
Recent reports from the Associated Press, among others, make clear that:
—commandos cleared the warren-like complex of rebel fighters Wednesday, ending a fierce and deadly eight-day siege and street battles that left more than 100 dead.
—73 bodies believed to be those of the mosque’s die-hard defenders were found after the final, 35-hour assault that began early Tuesday.
—In all, apparently, at least 106 people have been killed since the violence began at the Red Mosque, including 10 soldiers, one police ranger and several civilians who died in the crossfire.
The dead also included the mosque’s pro-Taliban cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi. Naturally, his death immediately was declared a martyr’s demise by the followers of radical Islam. The heck with the people he abducted and with his illegal take-over of the mosque. The cleric felt it was his right to impose his belief systems unwillingly on others and quite correctly he paid the ultimate price for his actions.
Indeed, it didn’t take long for the perennial Al-Qaida favorite, deputy Ayman al-Zawahri to lash out at the Pakistani government for having the gall to oust the raiders and get control of the mosque back into the hands of people. al-Zawahri, who loves headlining in belligerent videos, gave a 4-minute, 24-second address about the mosque incident:
“Muslims of Pakistan: your salvation is only through Jihad," al-Zawahri said. Referring to Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf, who has come under strong internal criticism for his handling of the clashes at the mosque, Al-Zawahri said: "Musharraf and his hunting dogs have rubbed your honor in the dirt in the service of the Crusaders and the Jews."
Some honor. Wake up America. These people seek only destruction under the guise of purity, under their version of “my way or the highway.”
In fact, al-Zawahri cannot shut up as of late as this is his 10th video message this year. Ben Venzke of the IntelCenter, a U.S.-based intelligence group that monitors terrorism messages said that al-Qaida’s media wing, as-Sahab, is now releasing more than two messages a week on average. "They just keep getting faster," he said.
Maybe that is because al-Qaida is planning on steeping up its violence soon to even greater degrees than at present, or perhaps it is sign that the group is getting desperate to hold its power base and expand its operations.
In any event, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz warned that his government would act against any other madrassa, or religious school, found to be involved in militancy.
That is encouraging news, but what the government of Pakistan should do now is to focus on clearing out the real nest of these radicals who are almost assuredly hiding within the borders of Pakistan, making videos and planning their next assaults on civilization. This is home for al-Qaida central and it is time frankly that both Pakistan and the U.S. go after the executive command now.
Obviously we have the power and the strength to accomplish this goal immediately. The only trouble apparently is that it does not seem to be a short-term goal of either ours or Pakistan’s. Just why that is the case is baffling.
As seems to have become the norm over several consecutive American administrations, there are those with influence who argue with anguished cries that any overt actions by either us or our allies, such as Pakistan, in these matters would be seen by others as more Yankee imperialism and we cannot afford to have others see us in that light.
This is utter nonsense, of course, just as is the idea that we need to try to understand these Muslim extremists and do nothing that might be offensive to them.
What we really need to do is remember in detail what happened in lower New York City, in the air near Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon on that September 11 morning in 2001…that morning when we lost almost 3,000 Americans, many of whom had no choice but to jump from two burning buildings 80 to 100 stories up. We need to come to our senses and realize that the only thing we need to understand about these extremists and terrorists is that they are just that. No amount of coddling or psychological explorations on our part is going to change the fact, by as much as one iota, that these people — vicious animals is more like it — have only one desire and one focus and that is to wipe both us, Israel and the rest of our allies off the map and off the face of the Earth forever.
But now Pakistan has stood tall and tough. No doubt their government can expect to be attacked soon by the murderous band of Islamic militants who have denounced their recent actions in freeing the mosque and vowed revenge.
Although the U.S. has made no video featuring its “deputies” ranting and raving against al-Qaida, it might not be a bad idea. A better idea, however, is to quit waiting, quit talking and act immediately, hopefully with the full approval and help of Pakistan, to fully rid the world of the leaders of this miserable and growing cancer by lopping off the enemy’s head inside Pakistan and not just its Iraqi tail.