Counter-Terrorism: Walking Away From Islam

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September 2, 2008: Hamas has an image problem, and it's getting worse. It's gotten so bad that the 30 year old son (Mosab Yousef) of one of the Hamas founders (Hassan Yousef) has not only renounced Hamas, but has become a Christian. Mosab is fed up with the terrorism/"destroy Israel" approach the Arab world has embraced over the last sixty years. Mosad notes, as have many other Arabs, that this has not worked.

The conversion angle is something Moslems are trying to keep quiet. Mosab Yousef's father pleaded with his son to keep quiet about the conversion (which took place 18 months ago). The elder Yousef knows that this is not an isolated incident. Many young Moslems are abandoning Islam. Most do so quietly. In Iran, the clerics that run the country are shocked at secret police reports about a growing number of young Iranians who have, in effect, abandoned Islam. This sort of thing is happening all over the Moslem world, but especially in Arab countries. The people who switch to Islamic radicalism get all the headlines, not the larger numbers who just walk away from Islam are largely ignored. In the Palestinian territories, there is also a growth in the number of Sunni Moslems who are switching to the Shia version (as championed by Iran). But many other Moslems are openly distancing themselves from the conservative forms of Islam (like the well funded Saudi Wahhabism). One reason this trend is kept quiet is because Islamic militants are inclined to kill such traitors, if the switch is done too openly. Thus the elder Yousef's plea that his son keep quiet, lest he attract the murderous attention of Islamic radicals out to impose the death sentence on apostates.

Hamas was founded in 1987, as one of the Palestinian terrorist organizations that believed attacking Israeli civilians was the way to victory. Hamas also noted (based on what happened to most of the first generation Palestinian terrorist organizations of the 1960s) that they needed more than violence to survive. So they sought out Moslem charities for donations, and ran many humanitarian programs. Once they had a steady stream of charity money coming in, they could divert some of it to terrorist activities. None of this worked. Israel defeated Hamas terrorism efforts twice (early 1990s, then once more a decade later). When Hamas won the Palestinian elections in 2006, and refused to drop its demand for the destruction of Israel (as non-Moslem donors, who provided most of the charitable contributions that kept the Palestinian state going, insisted), money dried up and the Palestinian government split into Hamas in Gaza (with 1.4 million people) and Fatah in the West Bank (with 2.4 million people). The Palestinians have managed to compile an impressive string of failures in the last half century, and many Palestinians are beginning to question the leadership and strategy.

 

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