OSAMA BIN LADEN: CHICKEN OR EGG?
By Raymond Ibrahim
It is clear what the mainstream media would have us think. Take CNN alone; its national security analyst Peter Bergen maintains: "Killing bin Laden is the end of the war on terror. We can just sort of announce that right now." Insisting that the "iconic nature of bin Laden's persona" cannot be replaced, Bergen suggests: "It's time to move on."
Another CNN analyst, Fareed Zakaria, assures us that, even if politicians including President Obama aren't saying it yet (you know, "to be cautious"), "the truth is this is a huge, devastating blow to al-Qa'ida, which had already been crippled by the Arab Spring. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is the end of al-Qa'ida in any meaningful sense of the word."
Rather than limit his analysis to pithy, sensationalist phrases and buzz words the tools of the trade of op-ed writing the ambitious Zakaria undermines his own position by actually trying to argue in historical and existential terms:
Indeed, nothing could be further from the truth. How many Muslim "charismatic leaders" and ideologues have come and gone, only for the jihad to rage on?
Consider the Islamist leaders of this century alone: Hassan el-Bana and Sayyid Qutb, founder and chief ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood, respectively; both were killed, yet, over fifty years later, the Brotherhood the parent organization of many jihadist organizations, including al-Qa'ida is today more dominant than ever, and may well take over Egypt.
Then there is the immensely "charismatic" Ayatollah Khomeini the original poster-boy of radical Islam, who transformed once secular Iran into an Islamic fundamentalist theocracy. Over twenty years after his death, Iran is more radical than ever, and on its way to becoming a nuclear power with eschatological visions of glorious "martyrdom."
One can go on and on. For example, after Hamas' spiritual leader and founder, Sheikh Yassin, was assassinated, far from fizzling, Hamas grew in strength, to the point that it now runs the Palestinian Authority.
El-Bana, Qutb, Khomeini, and Yassin are a meager sampling of Islamist leaders that have come and gone in this century alone. Were one to go further back in time, the continuum of history would unequivocally prove the existentialist nature of the threat: "Charismatic ideologues" like Ibn Abdul Wahhab (18th. Century), Ibn Taymiyya (14th. Century), and Ibn Hanbal (9th. Century) have preached the jihad throughout the centuries; and any of these Muslim leaders would make bin Laden look like a sissy.
Indeed, if one doesn't mind being labeled an "Islamophobe," one could trace jihad back to the origins of Islam in the 7th. Century, to the prophet Muhammad, who proclaimed: "I have been commanded to fight against people, so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah."
Yet, all of them including the revered prophet of Allah came and went. And still the jihad rages on.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, now al-Qa'ida's de facto leader, once summarized this phenomenon well. Asked in an interview about the status of bin Laden and the Taliban's Mullah Omar, he confidently replied:
How terribly myopic of mainstream analysts to conclude that the death of bin Laden of one mancan, in any way, shape or form, eliminate the threat of jihad, which has a fourteen-hundred year lineage. It is a sign of the times that the media's most celebrated "experts" cannot or will not distinguish between cause and effect.
For our purposes, then, clearly the "chicken" (the cause, the idea) came first, producing many "eggs" (the effects, the believers). Even as we crack and fry up another jihadi-egg an admittedly large one, bin Laden the jihad-chicken runs wild, producing batches of eggs around the globe, while the establishment refuses to acknowledge its existence.
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Raymond Ibrahim, a historian of Islam, Islamism and the Middle East, is the Associate Director of the Middle East Forum, a guest lecturer at the National Defense Intelligence College, and the editor of The Al-Qa'ida Reader, a collection of tranlations of key texts and documents of the Islamist movement. Ibrahim's translations of the religious texts and political propaganda comprising this collection help readers comprehend the origins, development, history, and serious danger of the Islamist war doctrines of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Founders of Al-Qa'ida and implacable enemies of the U.S.A. and the West.
The foregoing article by Raymond Ibrahim was originally published in Pajamas Media, May 12, 2011, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-ΰ-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (URL: http://www.meforum.org/2903/osama-bin-laden-chicken-or-egg )
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