July 29, 2005,
Remember how shortly after September 11 Mohammed Atta’s lawyer father sounded worried in his cozy apartment? He stammered that his son did not help engineer the deaths of 3,000 Americans. According to him, the videos of the falling towers were doctored. Or maybe the wily Jews did it. Why, in fact, he had only talked to dear Mohammed Junior that very day, September 11. Surely someone other than his son was the killer taped boarding his death plane.
He sings a rather different tune now. Mohammed el-Amir recently boasts that he would like to see more attacks like the July 7 bombings of the London subway.
Yet one wonders at what he is saying now, after the worst terrorist attack in Egyptian history at the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Egypt finally is suffering from the same terror and mayhem that its radical sons like the pampered Atta and Dr. Zawahiri unleashed on so many poorer others. The Mubaracracy may not take kindly to Atta’s father endorsing such carnage from his pleasant apartment that is incinerating those other than Jews and Westerners and threatens to ruin the nation’s entire tourist industry.
The father of Mohammed Atta is emblematic of this crazy war, and we can learn various lessons from his sad saga.
First, for all their braggadocio, the Islamists are cowardly, fickle, and attuned to the current political pulse.
When the West is angry and liable to expel Middle Eastern zealots from its shores, strike dictators and terrorists abroad, and seems unfathomable in its intentions, the Islamists retreat. Thus a shaky al-Amir once assured us after 9/11 that his son was not capable of such mass murder.
The other lesson is that the war the Arab autocracies thought was waged against the West by their own zealots has now turned on them. The old calculus of deflecting their failures onto us by entering in an unspoken unholy agreement with the Islamists is coming to an end. George Bush’s “You are either with us or against us” is belatedly arriving to the Middle East’s illegitimate regimes.
And the governments of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other autocracies are in worse shape than we are. At least we are promoting democratic alternatives to their dictatorships, in the hopes that when such strongmen fall, there is another choice besides the jihadists. But the autocrats themselves have nowhere to go. Since they never allowed a loyal democratic opposition, there is only the unsavory choice of either liberalizing while they are in the middle of a bombing war with extremists or the fate of the shah.
Quite simply, Islam is not in need of a reformation, but of a civil war in the Middle East, since the jihadists cannot be reasoned with, only defeated. Only with their humiliation, will come a climate of tolerance and reform, when berated and beaten-down moderates can come out of the shadows.
The challenge for the Middle East is analogous to our own prior war with Hitler who sought to redefine Western culture along some racial notion of a pure Volk long ago unspoiled by Romanizing civilization. Proving the West was not about race or some notion of an ubermenschen ruling class did not require an “internal dialogue,” much less another religious reformation, but the complete annihilation of Nazism.
So it must be with the latest fad of radical Islamicism. Contrary to popular opinion, there has not been a single standard doctrine of hatred in the Middle East. Radical Islam is just the most recent brand of many successive pathologies, not necessarily any more embraced by a billion people than Hitler’s Nazism was characteristic of the entire West.
We must now step up our efforts. At home we should no more tolerate the expression of Islamic fascism on the shores of the West than Churchill would have allowed Hitler Youth to teach Aryan global racial superiority in London while it was under the Blitz.
When the extremists are repatriated to the Middle East, and understand they are never again welcome in Europe and America, millions of others will know the reason why and decide by their own attitudes to the killers in their midst whether they themselves wish ever again to visit, work, or be educated in the West.
To fathom our success abroad, read what the Islamic websites or Mohammed Atta’s own father now say about the evil Americans and George Bush, who, they lament, have set Muslim against Muslim in Lebanon, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine. The foreign contagion of democracy and reform, despite the best efforts of both the mullah and the strongman, now infects the Arab Street and it seems to be driving bin Laden and Bashar Assad alike crazy.
Iraqi guardsmen are fighting al Qaedists as Afghans die in firefights with Taliban remnants. Note well that at the loci of American democratizing presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, there are few local Iraqis and Afghans as there are few Turkish or Indian Muslims who are eager for global jihad against the West. The killers instead flock from elsewhere to those new nations to stop the experiment before it spreads. Give dictatorial Pakistan or Egypt billions, and we get ever more terrorists; give the Iraqis and Afghans their freedom and their citizens are unlikely to show up in London and Madrid blowing up civilians, but rather busy at home killing jihadists.
For the first time, Afghans and Iraqis have a stake in their own future and know the United States is at last on the right side of history and intends to stay and win by their side.