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Jewish World Review July 15, 2004 / 26 Tamuz, 5764

Mort Zuckerman

Mort Zuckerman
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Looking evil right in the eye | The grotesque cruelties of the radical Islamists leave no doubt about the enemy we're up against. News of their horrific abductions and beheadings fly around the globe on the Internet and satellite TV — technologies, in their twisted minds, invented by the infidel — but the perpetrators of the outrages are throwbacks to the Dark Ages. The masked cowards pose with their helpless captives while presenting demands they know cannot, and will not, be met. Their purpose is manipulation: to increase the pain of the victim's family and friends; to force western governments to moderate their opposition to the terrorist networks; to panic foreigners into leaving Muslim lands.

This is not simply a war against America. These killings are not about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal or American actions in Iraq and Afghanistan — they're not even about Israel. They are a tactic in a war to claim the world for a perverted version of Islam. It is not what we do but who we are — and we are in the way as these misguided men seek to restore a new unified Muslim umma (community), ruled by a new caliphate, governed by Islamic law, and organized to wage jihad against the rest of the world. These men, as Osama bin Laden wrote, are bent on the "disappearance" of the United States and "the infidel West" from the Islamic world. In their war against the "infidels," the terrorists kill irrespective of nationality, race, religion, or politics: Filipinos, Greeks, Italians, South Africans, South Koreans, Christians, and Hindus are victims — many from countries that played no part in the invasion of Iraq.

Joyous killing. The unfathomable depths of the terrorists' moral depravity is manifest in the remarks of one of the jihadists, whose interview on an al Qaeda-linked website was translated from Arabic by the Middle East Media Research Institute. The speaker was Fawwaz bin Mohammed al-Nashami, commander of the al-Quds Brigade, who took responsibility for the recent murders of westerners in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. He described how he and his brothers shot their way into the compound, where they killed a British worker, then tied his body to their car. The four men drove, he said, until "the infidel's clothing was torn to shreds and he was naked in the street, and everyone watched the infidel being dragged. Praise and gratitude be to Allah." Then the terrorists stormed another compound and found an American. "I shot him in the head, and his head exploded," Nashami recounted. "We entered another office and found one infidel from South Africa, and our brother Hussein slit his throat. We asked Allah to accept [these pious acts] from us and from him." Then they caught a few more workers, checked on their religion, and then slit their throats, except for one American because he was a Muslim. All of this Nashami described with a sense of joy.

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What is to be done in this new war? Certainly, we must win, for these are the same people who want to conduct chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks against us, according to the 9/11 commission. Western democracies, wedded to freedom and the rule of law, have a tough road ahead. The pressure from families of hostages, and from public emotion stirred up by the media, narrows the discretion of democratic governments. In Madrid, terrorist bombings of commuter trains were followed by a change of government. In Seoul, the decapitation of a South Korean led people to take to the streets demanding the withdrawal of Korean forces from Iraq. Such responses will only encourage the terrorists. To recognize them through any kind of negotiation would lead only to more atrocities, leaving innocent civilians exposed to killers whose warped ideology celebrates suicide and murder.

One approach might be a new international law, promulgated through a United Nations resolution, by which states agree to forgo negotiations with kidnappers. This might make it easier for governments like those of Spain and South Korea to withstand powerful domestic political pressures, especially from the families of hostages, and make it clear to every potential kidnapper that there will be no payoff for their actions — only payback.

As for the Muslim world, which has bred this plague, it will have to decide who is the enemy, these savage hijackers of their religion or the West. Muslim regimes in the Middle East want to have it both ways, the indulgence of deriding the West while tolerating the evil in their midst. It is outrageous that the madrasahs in Pakistan and other Muslim schools continue to preach hate and that Saudi Arabia, home of 15 of the 19 September 11 murderers, has done virtually nothing to clean up its colleges of intolerance. We must persuade the Muslim regimes to condemn this new barbarism — before it consumes them, too.

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JWR contributor Mort Zuckerman is editor-in-chief and publisher of U.S. News and World Report. Send your comments to him by clicking here.



© 2004, Mortimer Zuckerman