In an interview I conducted with Nowe Panstwo (Our Times), a Politics and History Journal in Poland, I argued that jihad as an ideology, as a movement, and as terror forces isn't a sort of yoga, as some bureaucrats in the U.S. administration and the European Union continue to assert.
In this extensive discussion with Olga Dolesniak-Harczuk, we addressed the strategic structure of al-Qaida, Europe's readiness to confront the threat, the Obama administration ability to win a war of ideas over the jihadists, the necessary Western rethinking of the conflict, indoctrination and penetration in the United States, the role of oil lobbies, the influence of theological texts on jihadists, the progress of Islamists in Europe, Western inability to fight this war, and Polish-American relations in the war with the jihadists.
Such discussions are aimed at stimulating the debate in Poland's academic and research circles regarding the mounting jihadi threat across the continent. Poland's role overseas but also its experience with totalitarian ideologies is important in the trans-Atlantic debate about the confrontation with jihadi forces.
The main points made in the report are as follow:
1) Osama bin Laden is the symbolic leader of al-Qaida and is seen as the commander. He is the “fuhrer.” But al-Qaida is a nebula of jihadists on its own, and this web is part of multiple nebulae.
2) Europe's academic elite, or perhaps mostly Western European intellectuals, have been influenced by the oil-producing regimes for years, as were most governments. Since 1973, the oil shock intimidated the economic and political elite of the then Western Europe who feared a repeat of the boycott.
Since then, what, in my books, I have coined “Petro Jihad” left an influence on the European perception of international relations, and soon enough on European handling of jihadism on the continent.
3) As experts advised the Obama administration, it is changing U.S. official outlook toward the past eight years of conflict. First it is abandoning the concept of a "war on terror." In fact, it is true that this is not a war against a tactic. One cannot wage a war against blitzkrieg, for example. But what they came up with is not a strategic improvement of past failures.
It abandoned the identification of the threat doctrine, as jihadism, and narrowed it to al-Qaida. It would be as if in World War II the Allies were fighting only the SS, the Luftwaffe, but not Nazism.
4) In my last book, I called for a Western rethinking of the conflict based on the necessity of a strategic understanding of the threat and where it is going to develop. Current and past Western policies clearly show that we aren't going anywhere near the end of that conflict. First inside the United States and Europe, let alone Australia and Canada, the homegrown jihadists are multiplying and organizing.
At some point, they will begin an "urban jihad" where these cities will witness acts of violence and war waged by these groups.
5) To some extent, mainstream studies presented jihad as some sort of yoga, and from these specialized classrooms graduated those who were hired by the U.S. government, media, and NGOs.
So, the Wahabi funding basically derailed the understanding of the threat for years. This is why the American public was stunned on 9/11 and couldn't understand what was happening. It was manipulated educationally by apologists of the jihadist ideology so that the U.S. government is disabled from acting against the threat.
6) The fact that there are stipulations in the text that mentions jihad or kuffar (infidels) is not enough to produce a jihadist. It is the existence of a network of ideologues, cadres, operatives, and organizations that uses the theological texts to create an ideology. Once the ideology is accepted as such, the person who is recruited doesn't see it as an ideology but as a religious injunction, hence the confusion.
7) Unfortunately, since the European Union is afraid or unwilling to touch the ideological issue, its populations are left alone to figure out the problem. This is why you read and hear European essayists talking about Muslim demographics instead of trying to isolate the jihadist threat first. Europe lacks strategists to deal with the issue, and I am not saying the United States is in better shape.
8) Also, if you study the parameters of the converts and establish common trends, what do you see? Is it happening in the mainstream of societies or at the fringes? Is it happening to individuals who have a doubt about their spiritual identity or to persons confident about it? You must ask sociologists to research the question.
9) A Jesuit scholar compared my early work with the dissident work of Andrei Amalrick and said that I was to the Muslim world what dissidents were to the Soviet Union. But that was 14 years before Huntington's article on the clash of civilizations.
In following pieces and books, I warned that the jihadists eventually would strike the West, and they began in the 1990s, while many Western and American writers were talking about the end of history.
10) The slogans of tolerance are only the result of the jihadist confusion strategy. The Jihad oil lobbies have convinced the uninformed intellectuals and policymakers in the United States that acting against the jihadists is acting against Muslims. This is naturally wrong. In fact, acting against the jihadists is acting to free Muslims from the fascist forces that are oppressing them.
The full interview in English is here.
The full interview in Polish is here.
Dr. Walid Phares is the author of “The Confrontation: Winning the War against future Jihad.”
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