By Claude Salhani –
In the days following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Towers in New York and on the Pentagon, just outside Washington, DC, I wrote an analysis that tried to explain why Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida organization had embarked upon the road they had.
The terrorist attacks against the United States was, as then President George W. Bush pointed out at the time, “a declaration of war” against the United States.
Fourteen years later the French president, Francois Hollande, makes a similar statement, saying that the attacks against a number of Parisian sites was a `”declaration of war ” on France by the Islamists.
Indeed, when looking at the conflict with the benefit of some distance, one is clearly able to see the “thread” or the continuity of the Islamists’ long-term planning. Whereas the West has been reacting rather than pre-empting the Islamist movement.
It is clear today that the attack on NY and Washington were the foundation of the long-term plan bin –Laden had established to with the aim of re-establishing the Caliphate.
Bin-Laden’s plans called for a revolution in current political thinking throughout Central Asia, the Middle East and the rest of the Islamic world. Bin-Laden has been removed by the US but a far more powerful and more ruthless leader has emerged through the ranks to take his place, the man Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has grabbed large swaths of land and declared himself caliph.
Bin Laden knew that in order to survive, his Islamist revolution need to expand or die. “But that is like communism,’ exclaimed an acquaintance when I pointed out the thinking behind the Islamist’s philosophy.
Like any revolution that needs to survive, al-Baghdadi and before him bin Laden, knew that their movements must continue to grow or die.
In his quest for Muslim expansion al-Baghdadi, just like bin Laden before him, want to see the “Balkanization,” or in this case the Islamization, of Central Asia. And just as Moscow centralized all power, so too do the Islamists hope to establish a central authority.
Maybe Islamization is the wrong word because there is little that is Islamic about their ways. Interviewed some 14 years ago, Professor Akbar Ahmad, Chair of Islamic Studies at the American University’s School of International Studies in Washington, DC, said of the Islamists: “they are not Islamic at all.”
What makes it worse for Muslims is that the West is equating the Islamic State’s un-Islamic acts with Islam.
They are using Islam much like Pol Pot used communism. Mix in religious fervor and any revolution becomes all the more potent, and dangerous.
Like bin Laden, al-Baghdadi’s first step was to hijack Islam to fit his cause, passing himself off as a fervent religious man. That, of course, is meant to win him the support of hordes of fanatics who know little, if anything, of the Qoran.
So the question, of course, is what next?
Next would be to consolidate his operations and to try to achieve a breakout from the position he now finds himself in, that of being under siege in his new caliphate. This was probably a fundamental reason why bin Laden was opposed declaring the physical caliphate – at least for the moment— and al-Baghdadi did not hesitate to claim for himself a physical entity.
This would also partially explain the change of tactics on the part of the IS who might well be feeling the crunch of the siege on Rakkah, first the attack on the Russian plane over Sinai and then the attack on Paris.
Claude Salhani is a senior editor with Trend Agency. You can follow Claude on Twitter @Claudesalhani