Gilles Kepel, who has been saying that jihad violence is on its way out for years, advances his thesis by asserting that Al-Qaeda’s entire 9/11 project was a failure. From Pakistan’s Daily Times, with thanks to Skeetstreet:
ISLAMABAD: Al Qaeda’s plan to galvanise jihad internationally and win the sympathies of the Muslim world through 9/11 attacks went horribly wrong and instead provided Washington an opportunity to attack Iraq and redraw the Middle East peace road map.
This was the crux of a lecture titled “˜War of Muslim Minds”, delivered by Dr Giles Kepel, professor and chairman of the Middle East Studies at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris.
The lecture was arranged by the Institute of Strategic Studies in collaboration with the French Embassy and the Alliance Francaise on Thursday. Kepel has specialised in Middle Eastern affairs with special focus on radical Islamic movements, which started in the 1960s and 70s and has also authored a book on the fallout of 9/11, titled “˜Jihad”.
Building his thesis on the 9/11 incident, Kepel said the attack was planned after almost a year of the revival of the Palestinian Intifada in 2000, to join the Muslim bandwagon at the world stage with a strong Arab backing and special focus on Palestine. However, he maintained that it was not clear who carried out the attack. He said radical Muslim movements had failed in Egypt, Bosnia, and Chechnya and more importantly in Algeria where they had come close to taking power. “They also failed to mobilise public support causing frustration among the ranks,” he said.
The failures perturbed “˜jihadis” who ultimately resorted to suicide bombings like 9/11, Bali, Casablanca, Madrid and extreme actions like the Beslan School and Moscow Theatre incidents in an attempt to prove that they could strike anytime and anywhere in the world, he said.
And that is precisely why they are a focus of concern. I don’t think they’re going to realize their global agenda. But even small numbers of them can commit horrific acts of violence — and many are out there still hoping to do so.
“The anytime and anywhere threat was Zarqawi’s idea and was disseminated through pamphlets “˜Knights under the prophets banner”, he said. “Zarqawi is the brain behind Al Qaeda while Osama Bin Laden is being used as a symbol in the war against the infidels,” he said.
The pamphlet was a message, teaching followers that wars were not only fought in battlefields but also in people’s minds, he said. He added that the 9/11 incident backfired and instead of helping Al Qaeda, it provided an opportunity to new conservatives called neo-cons in Washington DC to further their agenda in the Middle East, which was the most complex problem Washington faced before 9/11.
“The neo-cons exploited the opportunity to make changes in the Middle East peace process in favour of Israel and also built a case to attack Iraq under the garb of finding weapons of mass destruction,” he said. He said the neo-cons had been planning to kill Yasser Arafat and replace Saddam Hussain since 1990s, once a darling of the USA, with a “friendly” administration in Iraq.
So I suppose it was Wolfowitz or Perle who administered the poison pill to Arafat? Kepel is starting to sound as paranoid as a conspiracy sheikh.
The motive behind the Iraq War was not only weapons of mass destruction but also to convince the world that the US army was capable of carrying out significant operations independently, he said, adding that that this would not last long as such actions could not be taken unilaterally without popular public support.
“Americans are now trying to divide Iraqis into Shias and Sunnis. This jihad has been detrimental to the real cause in my view,” he said.
Kepel here again demonstrates the staggering ethnocentrism so common in Western Leftists: they assume that only Western powers are capable of acting, and that Third Worlders are only capable of passive reaction. The idea that Americans are trying to divide Iraqis into Shias and Sunnis, when they have done all they can to create a government that includes both, and when Shias and Sunnis themselves have been working rather energetically to divide themselves from one another, is just absurd.
Also, what is the “real cause”? According to traditional Islamic law and modern-day jihad theorists like Qutb and Maududi (and their present-day exponents like Osama and Omar Bakri), it is to impose Sharia upon Muslim states and then non-Muslim states. That cause seems to be advancing nicely in Iraq. In that sense, I must ask Dr. Kepel: has he considered the stated goals of jihadist movements inside and outside Iraq? For in light of them, it is hard to see how the post-9/11 jihad can in any sense be termed a failure at this point.