Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Tide Is Turning

The most hopeful sign I have run across recently for progress in Iraq and against al Qaeda is that groups that have been fighting against us are now fighting alongside us and, more importantly, why they are doing so. Michael Yon reported from Iraq about his interview with Abu Ali, local head of the 1920s Revolution Brigades. He reports that

Abu Ali said that on 1 April 2007, he and his people attacked al Qaeda in Buhriz for their crimes against Islam. He also said something that many Muslims have said to me: al Qaeda are not Muslims [emphasis added]. (Both Sunni and Shia have said nearly the exact same words, at times on video.) Abu Ali said they fought hard against al Qaeda, and on 10 April, they asked the Americans to join the attack. It worked.
Since then, the Americans and the 1920s together have been dismantling al Qaeda in Iraq's Diyala province. That's important, but even more important is the reason: "their (al Qaeda's) crimes against Islam".

It's not just Abu Ali and his group. Across Diyala provice, as in Anbar province before it, tribal and regional leaders have turned on al Qaeda and have joined with the Iraqi security forces and the Coalition forces in the battle against terrorism — swearing on the Quran to defeat al Qaeda. This change is huge. A year ago, both of these provinces were considered irrevocably lost to al Qaeda, providing the terrorists with safe havens and bases of operations. The people there have lived under al Qaeda's domination, and have seen first-hand the extreme contradiction between the lies they tell and the actions they take.

Because of the U.S. forces' actions, there were more than 80 days without an attack in Ramadi (Anbar province), and there are some weeks without a single attack in the entire province. It's so quiet, Marines there are complaining they should have been rotated to Baghdad, where they could accomplish something. Michael Totten's business partner notes,

When troops come back complaining that there aren't enough fights to go around, you are not losing.
And now Diyala province is headed the same way.

It's not just there. Increasing numbers of jihadists are turning against the program promoted by the group of organizations including al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Some now are in places like the Saudi rehabilitation program which has helped change the direction of many actual and potential terrorists, reportedly including released detainees from Guantanamo. In that program

"The aim is to reform the youths, to listen to them and talk to them," said Ahmed Jailan, one of the clerics. "We also try to instill a sense of hope in them by telling them they still have the chance to make up for what they lost if they follow true Islam."
Having produced these results, it sounds to me like the "surge" is working very well. These results, including both al Qaeda's attacks on Muslims and U.S. soldiers' defenses of Muslims, are causing al Qaeda to lose its fighters and supporters to disillusionment.
“They are doing the opposite of what Islam advocates,” he added, mentioning suicide bombings and racketeering. “Resorting to suicide attacks and explosives is the strategy of organisations at bay.”
It is important to remember that these are statements by those who have been the Islamists' adherents and supporters. These are not the statements of the Islamists' opponents, though they are statements with which the opponents would agree.

And it's not just the victims and the rank & file, either. Now one of the "founding fathers" of the Salafi jihadist movement, Sayid Imam al-Sharif ("Dr Fadl"), has recanted. His conversion is exceptionally significant because, in addition to being the founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, he developed the theological justification for terrorism used by his co-worker Ayman al-Zawahiri, and by Osama Bin Laden with whom he fought the Soviets in Afghanistan. His Foundations of Preparation for Holy War is the Salafi jihadists' "bible". Now he declares that armed operations are wrong, counterproductive and must cease. His new book (due to be published soon) is a repudiation of his prior work, and is endorsed by "hundreds of other former militants." His statement is a remarkable recantation that "undermines the Muslim theological basis for violent jihad and is set to generate furious controversy among former comrades still fighting with al-Qaida."

That leaves the remaining "true believers" increasingly using "suicide bombers" who aren't interested in committing suicide — who are lied to and tricked into their actions, or coerced into them, or kidnapped & beaten & drugged, or (like the kidnapped Down's Syndrome patient) unable to understand what is being done to them. And it leaves those "true believers" increasingly exposed as barbarian pretenders (and demons?), wolves in sheep's clothing masquerading as Muslims for their own inhuman (and anti-Islamic) purposes.

All of this says the tide is turning. Has this turn reached a critical mass? I don't know — but if not, it's getting closer. Critical mass or not, it's already rattled Ayman al-Zawahiri.

If this is so, if the tide really is turning, then this (pseudo-)Islamic fascism is well on its way to joining its totalitarian brethren on the dung-heap of history. There it will lie alongside the Thug cult against which the British fought, and the Assassin cult which was fought by (among others) both Saladin and the Crusaders. If it is important enough, it may remain in our language — as the thugs and the assassins have. More likely, though, it will fade from the memory of history as just another Islamist (pseudo-Islamic) cult. And this may happen within the remainder of my own lifetime. Or, as AJStrata puts it,

We kill them, arrest them, find their caches and destroy them and al-Qaeda responds by killing an Imam and kidnapping women and children. This is the death spiral for al-Qaeda. They could have lost Iraq with the image of having done a valiant effort trying to take on the Great Satan - that would have been crippling to their cause but not terminal. Now they are losing and making America out to be the protector while they skulk away as warriors who could only take on children. The Battle for Islam is at hand and it may be on the way to a very favorable conclusion for mankind and Islam itself.

One more thing: In this instance, it really doesn't matter whether the Islamofascists have hijacked Islam and represent a perversion of the religion as many assert, or whether the Islamists' teachings are inherent in Islam as many others claim. It doesn't matter because it is Muslims saying the terrorists are not Muslims, but are pretenders and apostates. And it is Muslims saying al Qaeda is committing crimes against Islam. This is a key element telling me the tide is turning, and a true sea change has occurred. (And if Muslims want to demonstrate that Islam is truly a religion of peace, and not a totalitarian cult, denouncing and going after those who are giving them a bad name — and those who fund and support them — is a good way to do it.)

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