Terrorism: Islamic Radicals and the Death Spiral

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December 8, 2005: Iraq remains terrorism central for those who want to participate in the Sunni Moslem war against the rest of the world. Iraq has also become the place where al Qaeda, and related organizations, are losing the media war for support from the Moslem world. Indeed, al Qaeda is losing some of its oldest allies. The Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood, which provided many of the founding members of al Qaeda, has renounced terrorism and recently won seats in the Egyptian legislature.

Islamic radicals successfully preach the use of violence, in order to reform Islamic nations, at least until that violence came home. This has always been the great weakness of Islamic radicalism. In the 1990s, Islamic radicals lost their popular support, and were defeated, in Egypt and Algeria, because the terror attacks killed so many civilians. The same thing has happened in Iraq, although the Islamic radicals have retained some support among the Sunni Arab minority. But that's only because these Sunni Arabs formerly worked for Saddam as professional terrorists (to help keep Saddam in power), and live in fear of retribution from the people they tormented. That is a unique situation, having the murderous henchmen of a deposed dictator still being hailed as "freedom fighters" by many in the international community.

The Islamic terrorism has gotten out of control, which is always a problem with terrorist groups. All of these Islamic radicals are fired up and on a mission from God, and not keen on taking orders from lesser mortals. Thus we have the current situation in Iraq, where a new terrorist group seized four Christian activists who were in Iraq supporting the Islamic terrorists. But one group of Islamic radicals believed the activists were spies, and has threatened to kill them. This has brought out a flood of appeals from other Islamic radicals, asking that the Christian activists not be killed, and be released. It's obvious that the out-of-control Islamic terror is destroying the popular support the Islamic radicals need to survive. Islamic radicalism works best if you can kill non-Moslems. But that requires more skill and organization than the Islamic terrorists are capable of. The 911 attacks have become the gold standard, and very difficult to repeat now that the target governments are on guard.

Coming into Iraq, the United States hit Islamic radicals in their most vulnerable area. That's because the first goal of Islamic radicals is to get all non-Moslems out of the Middle East. An American army in Iraq was a challenge that few Islamic radicals could resist. But the American troops proved very capable at defending themselves, leaving the Islamic terrorists to attack more attainable targets, mainly Iraqis. As happened in Algeria, Egypt and other Moslem countries, this turned popular opinion against the Islamic radicals. While many Moslems cheered during the 911 attacks, they were much more somber when reacting to attacks on themselves and their neighbors.

Islamic radical groups are attempting damage control, but no one has ever been able to pull an Islamic radical movement out of this death spiral. As the popular support dissipates, the terrorists must flee, or risk capture or death. This process will proceed no matter what the popular image of events in Iraq is outside Iraq. The after effects of that will be interesting to observe.

 

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