- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

There was little reason for this country to be surprised by the World Trade Center and Pentagon terroristic assaults. It was more than two years ago that one of the most vociferous of the United States' adversaries, a legendary figure in the Middle Eastern Islamist community, had formerly and openly declared his own religious and political war against this nation.

Charging America with formulating and implementing an evil policy of secularism, immorality, obscenity, materialism and godlessness — all designed to corrupt the true heritage and values of Islam, a fugitive Saudi Arabian national and a minor Muslim cleric of reputedly great wealth and organizational skills, 44 year-old Osama bin Laden proclaimed it "the individual duty for every Muslim, who can do it, to kill Americans in any country in which it is possible to do so."

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the United States' survival as the sole super-policeman of democracy, ethnic and tribal hostilities, long suppressed in Europe, Asia and Africa, emerged afresh with even greater cruelty.

And in a great number of North African, Central African, Middle Eastern and even East Asian countries, both old religious zealots and new political demagogues called upon the poor, the uneducated, the unemployed and long-exploited masses to seek redemption not in an orderly resort to rational means such as education, social reform and the elimination of governmental corruption, but, instead, in the peoples' total reabsorption and subordination to religious zeal and fanaticism.

Osama bin Laden's Pan-Islamism, Afghanistan's Taliban regime, and similar fanatically religious movements in Algiers, Indonesia, Libya, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Sudan — have offered the Muslim masses mostly militant avenues.

All too soon after America's successful end of the Cold War, against a Soviet Union committed to an absolutist Marxist dogma and totalitarian governance, the United States, which had previously engaged in a deadly struggle against a Japan that had aggressively pursued territorial and economic expansionism, found a new "hot" war opponent in fundamentalist and authoritarian Islamist dogma. As one surveys the growing religio-political-economic unrest in the Middle East and worldwide, it is evident that it is not Israel which provides the spark plug. Evidence is mounting that the 21st century may well become an apocalyptic era throughout the lands of Islam.

Many of the fears that accompanied the arrival of the new millennium two years ago are, indeed, materializing at this later timetable. Many, including myself, have noted previously that nearly 1,000 years ago, Christians in Europe responded to their socio-religious pressures and commenced their Crusade into the lands of Islam. Armed Christian Pilgrims, journeying toward Jerusalem, spread their dominance, terror and often pillage, not only upon the infidels — Muslims and Jews — but also upon their own co-religionists whom they encountered on their way.

America bears no responsibility for these past-pre Columbian incursions of the West into the traditionally fixated East. Yet, America stands today, nevertheless, as a symbol of both the successes and failures of Western culture, including its secularism and materialism. It is, therefore, in response to this land that we have and are likely to see an increasing manifestation of an Islamist "counter-crusade," seeking to repel Western values, institutions, economic structures and cultural products that are believed to constitute a corrupting and deadly threat to the survival of Islamic heritage.

How is this country and its leadership, whether in government or in the civil society, to respond in these tragic, tense and dramatic days? There is little doubt that a firm accusing finger will finally point to an Osama bin Laden or a similar zealot. Sooner or later he will be excised from the community of nations and peoples. Excising such madmen from human society should not be viewed as constituting the assassination of a political opponent (which might be presently prohibited in this country by a Presidential Executive Order). Such offender's removal will constitute, instead, the rightful execution of a self-admitted inciter to murder, if not a mass murderer himself.

Many might counsel direct military action by our and other democratic nations against such countries as are determined to have hosted, materially supplied, or otherwise, encouraged bands of terrorists committed to indiscriminate violence. Yet it is inadvisable and unlikely, however, for the United States and its allies, in light of their former sad experiences in Algiers, Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Congo, Somalia, and elsewhere, to venture once more into the deadly swamps of restless foreign nations.

Most likely economic and strategic sanctions alone will probably have to be settled for in order to rein in the leaders and peoples of rogue states.

The most important, difficult, daring and dangerous tasks will be those that can and need to be undertaken by the forces of moderate Islam, here and abroad. Will they be able to offer their people, and speedily enough, the kinds of responsible, corruption-free and innovative leaderships and reforms to turn a bin Laden and his ilk into mere painful, yet ineffectual historical fossils?

Will they have the conviction, the courage and political will not to meekly succumb or remain silent in the face of indiscriminate and fanatic suicide bombers, or will they stand up for an earlier and more sane admonition of Abu Bakr, Islam's first Caliph, (632-634 A.D.) who admonished the followers of true Islam: "Do not commit treachery, nor depart from the right path. You must not mutilate, neither kill a child, or a woman or an aged man ."

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