In “Defeating Radical Islam: The Herculean Strategy” in Pajamas Media (via Middle East Forum), April 20, our old friend Raymond Ibrahim clears up some wishful thinking:
Will the recent killings of al-Qaeda leaders Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Masri have any tangible effects on the “war on terror”? Vice President Joe Biden — who referred to the slayings as “devastating blows to Al Qaeda in Iraq” — certainly seems to think so.
The situation is reminiscent of when al-Qaeda leader Abu Laith al-Libi was killed in early 2008. Then, Congressman Peter Hoekstra issued a statement saying al-Libi’s death “clearly will have an impact on the radical jihadist movement.”
And who could forget all the hubbub surrounding the killing of that notorious decapitator, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Then, almost every major politician, including President Bush and Iraq’s Prime Minister Maliki exulted.
It is, of course, a good thing to eliminate terrorists. But will the deaths of individual Islamist leaders — including Ayman al-Zawahiri or Osama bin Laden himself — eliminate the ideology that creates them in the first place?
History provides an answer:
Consider the progress of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s largest and oldest Islamist organization. Founded in 1928 in Egypt by Tariq Ramadan’s grandfather, Hasan al-Banna, it originally boasted only six members. In the following decades, in part thanks to the radical writings of Sayyid Qutb — whom al-Qaeda quotes liberally in their many writings — the Brotherhood, though constantly clashing with Egypt’s government, grew steadily.
As leaders, both Banna and Qutb were eventually targeted and killed by the Egyptian regime. Yet the Brotherhood continued thriving underground. Then, to the world’s surprise, the partially-banned, constantly-suppressed Brotherhood managed to win 88 out of 454 seats in Egypt’s 2005 parliamentary elections — making them the largest opposition bloc in the government.
After two of its most prominent leaders were killed, after thousands of its members have been harassed, jailed, or otherwise eliminated, today the Brotherhood is stronger and more influential and secure than at any other time in its history.
Palestinian Hamas, itself an offshoot of the Brotherhood, furnishes another example. Founded in 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Hamas has since been labeled a terrorist organization by several governments, including the United States, most notably for its suicide operations against Israel. Yassin was eventually assassinated in March 2004.
The result? Far from fizzling away, Hamas, like the Brotherhood, went on to win a major landslide election in the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, establishing it even more than previously….