Defining the Terror War Part 2: The Four Aspects of Modern Jihad

This is the second installment on the subject of examining the forces driving the clash between radical Islam and Western culture.

In Part 1 we examined the extent of the intimacy with which our enemies know us and contrasted it to the virtual lack of knowledge about them possessed by the average American. We defined the first major component of the Terror War as attacks on Western interests by a vast, amorphous network of non-national terror groups, of which al-Qaeda is the most prominent. We can now move on to the other three major components.

Second on the list is the battle between Jews and Muslims for the possession of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. From a modern perspective this stems from the dissolution of the Islamic Ottoman Empire at the end of WWI, which resulted in the creation by the League of Nations of many secular Arab nations such as Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Also mandated by the League was a provision to create a Jewish homeland in the area known as Palestine.

The horror of the Nazi Holocaust provided the final impetus for the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Under the protection of British arms, European Jews flooded into the tiny new nation. Unfortunately, Palestine was already home to a substantial Arab population. The violent displacement of the Palestinians sparked a series of Mid-East wars that continue to current times. Throughout these wars the United States has consistently supported Israel, lending considerable financial, military, and technological aid.

From a deeper perspective, the roots of the conflict over Jerusalem go much deeper than the end of WWI, stretching to the very beginnings of civilization and religion, before Jews, Muslims or Christians existed. These three religions share a complex relationship. Their worship of the same singular Deity, no matter if He is called Yahweh, the Trinity, or Allah ensures that they will always fight for the same thing, the rightful claim to the Covenant of God. Whoever can prove the better claim to the Covenant gives the greater validity to their religion. The essence of the struggle to claim the Covenant can be summarized with the imagery of the one place central to all three of these religions: Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is the holiest city on earth. It is sacred to all three religions, but for different reasons. To Jews, it is the center of their promised homeland, the city of David and Solomon and the former site of the great Temple, twice destroyed. Jews today throng to the Wailing Wall, a massive piece of the ruined western foundation of the Temple, to pray for its rebuilding.

For Christians, Jerusalem holds a different sanctity. Here Jesus confronted the corrupt Temple priests, and here he was betrayed and crucified at the insistence of the Jews. He predicted the destruction of the Temple, and at the moment of His death, a massive earthquake cracked the holy tabernacle. 40 years later the Roman general Titus fulfilled Christ’s prediction, reducing the Temple to rubble. From Jerusalem, the home of the early Christian Church, Christianity would spread to cover the globe. After Rome became the center of Christianity, Islam conquered and took Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Hundreds of years of Crusades by European Christians could not return it to the banner of Christ.

To Islam Jerusalem is the third holiest city on earth, surpassed in importance only by Mecca and Medina. It is from Jerusalem that Muhammad ascended to heaven. He returned enlightened by God and the prophets of the Bible. To commemorate this event, Muhammad’s followers built the Dome of the Rock, a massive and beautiful golden shrine, located squarely on top of the Jewish Temple ruins.

Therein lays the problem.

Before the Jewish Messiah can appear, the Temple needs to be rebuilt. For the Temple to be rebuilt, the Dome of the Rock, virtually unchanged for 13 centuries, must be destroyed. Neither side will ever concede the other’s right to this small piece of real-estate. It remains a conflict that will never be resolved peacefully. The Jews will never leave Israel, Muslims will never stop trying to remove them, and Christians will always interfere.

The third component of the Terror War is internal to Islam, the rift between its different factions, but most notably the Sunnis and Shiites. While U.S. involvement in sectarian conflict seems limited to the War in Iraq, the motivation of sectarian supremacy within Islam greatly influences the actions of not only the Jihadists but also the governments of Muslim societies. Sectarianism must not be marginalized as merely a “civil war” in Iraq.

Sectarian conflict also has its roots deep in the past, going back to the very inception of Islam and who would succeed Muhammad after his death as the leader of the foundling religion. The different sects view each others as apostates, those who once had believed in the true religion but now choose to follow a false path. The penalty for this digression as stated in the Koran is no less than death. Westerners express shock at Muslims brutally murdering each other in Iraq and other places, but they do not realize how deeply this enmity between factions runs, or how entrenched is has become in the interpretation of the Koran over the centuries.

The next component on our list is the rogue nation of Iran. The removal of Saddam Hussein from Iraq has rid Iran of their mortal enemy, and they are now free to resume their goal of becoming the predominant military power in the Middle East and elevating the Shiites to the role of the rulers of Islam. Iran differs from other Mid-East nations and understanding that difference is vital to understanding the level of threat posed by them.

Iran (formerly Persia), was never engulfed by the massive Ottoman Empire. As a nation, they are not the secular creation of European governments. Instead they retain strict theocratic principles and policies, reinforced by the 2005 election of former Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a strict fundamentalist. Ahmadinejad in turn is controlled by the Iranian clergy: the Ayatollahs. They follow a strict brand of Sharia law that imposes cruel punishments for even the most minor of infractions. Their motivations are more religious than political, and their interpretation of Islam paints a scary picture of their true intentions.

As Shiites, the Iranians await the return of the Mahdi, the lost 12th Imam who mysteriously disappeared in the 9th century. The return of the Mahdi will only be triggered by an apocalyptic war fought between Islam and its enemies. This war will be long and bloody and in the end a handful of Muslims will make a last stand against the unbelievers on a mountaintop in Syria. After this final battle, the world will self-destruct, the stars flung from the skies, and the earth pounded to dust. God will summon all of the dead of human history to be judged. The righteous will attain access to heaven, and the misguided will be delivered to hell.

Ahmadinejad believes that he is the catalyst for the Apocalypse. He is preparing to bring the final battle. While his words to the United Nations speak of tolerance and peace, his televised speeches in Iran are a call to arms against Israel, the United States, and the very existence of Western Culture. He swears to wipe Israel from the face of the earth, and extend Islam to cover the whole of the globe. He will fight to the last man, woman, and child to do it, using any means possible to accomplish his goals.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is quite insane.

Greatly increasing Iran’s power and influence are new alliances between Iran and select non-Islamic countries. These alliances happen for two reasons. The first is economic. Countries such as Russia and China get much of their oil and natural gas from Iran. They use their political influence in the world forum to lessen the scrutiny upon Iran and its nuclear and military ambitions. Interruption of the Iranian oil supply would spell doom for both countries. Russia and China will do anything in their power to protect it.

Countries such as Venezuela and Cuba ally themselves with Iran simply because we are their common enemy. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has plans to create a Marxist Empire built upon anti-American sentiment. He is the new face of communism. He has already used his vast oil resources to buy his way into Bolivia, where he is currently building military bases along the borders of South American countries with pro-U.S. governments. Chavez has promised to back Iran in the case of any military action against the United States.

Venezuela has now become the largest arms importer in the world, mostly from Russia. Russia also imports large amounts of weapons into Iran, recently including a sophisticated missile defense system. China has just announced development of a nuclear submarine capable of avoiding the detection of current U.S. technology.

So we now face a larger picture than just that of Jihad alone, a combined effort of radical Islam and Marxist Communism to eradicate Western culture. Then, I suppose, they will battle it out between themselves.

News of the imminent development of a nuclear weapon by Iran fails to spur the U.S. people into a revelation of the seriousness of the threat of global Jihad and we continue to marginalize the Terror War. It will take the reality of an apocalyptic madman with nuclear weapons controlling the world’s oil supply to bring the American people out of their stupor, and we cannot afford to wait. If we do, Ahmadinejad will only bring his war to us. He has already sworn to it.

For better or for worse, the Bush Administration has chosen Iraq as the prominent front for the Terror War. It has since become the most vilified war in U.S. history, now surpassing even Vietnam in infamy. We have become tired of Iraq, and many just want out, consequences be damned. Yet these consequences would prove severe. Immediately after an American retreat from Iraq, Iran, which is already heavily imbedded in southern Iraq, would immediately take control of the Iraqi oil flow. That would give them control of over 25% of the world’s oil supply and the ability to manipulate and damage the world economy. They would hold the world hostage.

In addition, Iraq would quickly become a haven for al-Qaeda and other extremist groups. Training camps would fill the desert. Iraq would become, quite simply, a terror factory. And then they will come here, and we will become reacquainted with suffering.

In the United States, partisan politics renders policy ineffective, and lawmakers politicize the War to the danger of both American troops and civilians. We now equate the Terror War with the War in Iraq, and this represents a calamitous shift in our perception of the danger facing us from extreme Islam. While the Iraq War may seem one event, it is really a combination of three of our different components: fighting al-Qaeda, addressing sectarian conflict, and undermining Iranian influence in supporting Iraqi Shiites against both Sunnis and American troops. If American troops leave Iraq, both al-Qaeda and Iran will flourish. We simply cannot afford to let this happen.

To quickly recap, we have now identified the four main components that define the War on Terror:

1) The conflict between Israel and Islam for possession of Palestine.

2) Attacks by al-Qaeda and other non-national terrorist groups, angered over perceived American and European imperialism in the Middle East, who wish to kill Americans and Europeans in mass numbers.

3) The sectarian conflict between the Sunni and Shiite forms of Islam.

4) The intent of the madman Ahmadinejad to control the world’s oils supply, develop nuclear weapons, and then with the help of non-Islamic allies, wage a genocidal war upon the West.

Alone, any one of these elements poses a serious danger. Combined, they may prove earth-shattering.

Part 3 will address the earliest roots of Judeo/Christian/Islamic conflict.

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