Despite a noisy campaign, neither presidential candidate ever really understood jihadist terror. Now it is essential that the origins and purpose of suicide-terrorism become fully apparent to the president-elect.
The core meanings of jihadist operations have little or nothing to do with criminality, deprivation or oppression, but rather are founded in fear, hatred and Islamist supremacism. These deeply held personal feelings derive from patterns of shared belief and indoctrination. A consuming horror of death, yearning for the ecstasy of anticipated union with Allah, grotesque joy from targeting “others” who “lack sacredness” and an abiding hatred of “apostates” and “infidels” are the real motivators that drive suicide bombers to their atrocities.
This 2000 US Navy image shows US Navy and Marine Corps security personnel patrolling past the damaged US Navy destroyer USS Cole following the October 12. 2000 terrorist suicide bombing attack on the ship in Aden, Yemen.(AFP/HO USN/File/Lyle G. Becker)
Louis Rene Beres and Clare Lopez
The Washington Times
Suicide-bombing terrorism comes from centuries of Islamic doctrine, derived from what is held to be divinely revealed scripture. But declarations, charters and Islamist fatwas provide only an abstract of juridical texts compiled by Islamic scholars. These define jihad as just war against non-Muslims to establish the religion. This is not the understanding we expected from our presidential candidates, but it is what jihadist terror is all about.
The monstrousness of suicide terror-violence leaves humanity grasping for some explanation to bridge the gap between those who would deliberately inflict such anguish and ourselves. For many Americans, and likely for our president-elect, such barbarism defies not only language, but also the very definition of what it means to be human. The inexpressibility of pain impedes our ability to recognize terror-violence as evil and unforgivable. Instead, it is easier to fall back on widespread but legally incorrect celebrations of terrorists as “freedom fighters.”
Understanding jihadist terror-violence is a responsibility that carries legal consequences for those who swear to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. It carries existential consequences for all who cherish a way of life based on the values of Athens, Rome and Jerusalem. For both citizen and policy-maker, the most important truth is that the jihadist terrorist fights not only to compel unbelievers to embrace Islam. The jihadist terrorist kills and dies to end the sovereignty of unbelievers, a sovereignty that prevents the supremacy of Islam from transforming Dar al-Harb into Dar al-Islam.
Jihadist terror is literally commanded by Allah in the Koran. “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power … to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of God and your enemies.” Early Muslims seized eagerly on such divine injunctions, launching a campaign of political assassination against local Jewish poets and leaders. These killings were followed by the siege and expulsion of Jewish tribes around Medina, the massacre of Jewish men, and enslavement of their women and children. Horrified, other tribes capitulated, fled or converted to Islam. Calculated, calibrated application of terror can work, and jihadist terrorists know it.