Thursday, March 24, 2005

Jihad in Crisis

In his latest column, Amir Taheri analyzes the quandary in which al-Qaeda and its allies find themselves:

WHERE do we go from here?

Islamist groups are posing now that question in the murky space they inhabit on the margins of reality. It is asked in radical mosques, touched upon in articles published by fellow-travelers and debated in the chat-rooms of militant Web sites.

Beyond the usual suggestions to hijack a few more jets or poison some Western city's drinking water, the movement appears to have run out of ideas. Yet it may be passing through its deepest crisis since 9/11:

Taheri's analysis is well worth reading. His conclusion is very encouraging.

While bin Laden's message of hatred and terror still resonates in sections of the Muslim communities and the remnants of the left in the West, the picture is different in the Muslim world. There, people are demonstrating for freedom — even (in Egypt a few weeks ago) for more trade with Israel.

This is a new configuration in which Islamist terrorism, although still deadly dangerous, has only a limited future.


It is important that we avoid complacency. The jihadist movement, while badly damaged, is still dangerous. Al-Qaeda will be more desperate than ever to strike a telling blow against the United States, and put themselves back in the forefront of Muslim public awareness. The overall tide, however, has turned against them. By fostering the spread of democracy in the Middle East, the Bush Administration has gained the upper hand in the "war of ideas" with the jihadists.


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