Islamic militant Abdullah Azzam boasted to a crowd of American Muslims in 1988, “After [the defeat of the USSR in] Afghanistan, nothing is impossible for us anymore. There are no superpowers … what matters is the willpower that springs from our religious belief.”
El Sayyid Nosair, the man charged with killing Rabbi Meir Kahane, wrote, “We have to thoroughly demoralize the enemies of God by means of destroying and blowing up the towers that constitute the pillars of their civilization, such as the high buildings of which they are so proud.”
This is the thinking behind the creation of the al-Qaida terrorist organization. It was this Muslim conviction that led straight to the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
For those who understand the Muslim mind, any sign of weakness – any hint that the U.S. lacks resolve to defend itself – will only inspire more lethal attacks on our shores.
This is just the opposite of the usual “liberal wisdom” that says we must not incite “the Arab street.” They would have us hesitate, negotiate, placate but in no way irritate the Muslim world for fear we will create more ill will toward us.
It is true that there are certain risks to the bold moves the United States and the coalition have taken. But there were no alternatives. We did not directly provoke the attacks on 9-11. And if we failed to boldly respond, it would not have prevented more attacks, but rather encouraged them.
It is very important to understand how the average Muslim thinks. The Koran teaches him that the Muslim warrior will be invincible when he fights in a holy war or jihad. They believe that it is a sacred duty to fight and recover any Muslim land that is taken by the infidel. This is especially true of territory that contains Muslim holy places like Jerusalem.
They believe that the Middle East is the heart of their world. Any incursion into that territory by Western forces is considered a new invasion of the “Judeo-Christian Crusaders” – no matter what reason we give.
This is why there is no possible acceptance of the state of Israel. And this is why there are such bizarre responses to the U.S.-led overthrow of the brutal Saddam Hussein regime and the liberation of the Iraqi people.
Islam creates such a ‘machismo’ type of pride, that Muslims will do all kinds of irrational things to avenge its wounds. There is no way for the Western mind to understand the depths of anguish and humiliation Muslims feel because of Western defeats of their armies.
The humiliation Israel’s military victories have inflicted on them is unbearable. And now the two rapid victories the United States has achieved over Afghanistan and Iraq have compounded the sense of humiliation.
Even Israeli generals have conceded that the defeat of Iraq, one of the most powerful Muslim armies in the Middle East, by only three divisions in 22 days with only 100 casualties is amazing. Some Israeli generals say it surpasses their 1967 victory in the Six Day War.
All of this is reflected in quotes from Muslims in various Middle Eastern countries.
Saddam Hussein has killed more Arabs and other Muslims in three decades than have the wars involving Israel and the United States combined. The atrocities uncovered by coalition forces as they swept through Iraq are inconsequential to the Arab “street” when measured against the blow struck to Arab pride by the lightning defeat of what had previously been the most powerful military machine in the Arab world.
The Arab world was in shock and denial on Thursday after Baghdad fell almost without a fight, bringing to an end President Saddam Hussein’s 24-year rule. Many felt let down by demise of a figure who had represented a rare source of Arab defiance of American power – others were more shocked by his own people’s failure to defend or mourn him, and saw it as a warning to other unelected Arab rulers.
A schoolteacher in Sanaa, Yemen, said, “I still cannot believe that the Americans entered Baghdad this easily. If a deal was struck with Saddam, then that proves that he staked his people and the hopes of all Arabs in order to survive.”
A Jordanian Engineer, Samir Ezzat, was very bitter over the images of Baghdad’s fall he saw taking place live on the Al-Jazeera TV Network. He lamented, “Once more the Arabs have been humiliated and deceived like the crushing defeat we faced during the 1967 war with Israel, despite the thunderous promises of victory [Egyptian President Gamal] Nasser made.”
In the hundreds of interviews of Muslims throughout the Islamic world, one thing came across loud and clear. It was much more important to them that the Iraqis defeat the U.S.-UK infidel invaders than it was for a ruthless tyrant to be removed and the horribly oppressed Muslim brothers of Iraq liberated.
To me, there is something very sick about a religion that produces such an attitude. Their “macho”-type pride and their hatred of Israel and the West seems to overrule even common wisdom that would be in their own best interest.
It is worth noting that Israel sat out both Persian Gulf War I and II. But the Arab world can overlook all that and somehow see Israel’s hand in their humiliation. In an article entitled, “I Am An Arab” in Dar al Hayat this week, author Jihad al Khazen writes, “Iraq is now ruled by the representative of the Jewish Institute For National Security Affairs.”
And the Muslim escape from reason plunges onward, in spite of the facts to the contrary.