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Iraq

America's Ever-Lasting Threat

If America Halts Its War Against Terrorism, Our Enemies Won't Return the Favor

By Kyle Dabruzzi | February 23, 2007

In the battle against al-Qaeda and like-minded jihadists, the West is doing a less than satisfactory job of understanding its enemy. There is a line in Sun Tzu’s famous work The Art of War that states: “If you know yourself but not your enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.” Although The Art of War was written in the 6th century BC, its message applies to the battle facing us all today. If the West truly knew its enemy, it might reconsider some of proposed actions relating to the war in Iraq.

Congress, for example, has begun to make its intentions for the Iraq war, and by association the war on terror, abundantly clear. The war in Iraq is seen as futile and the Senate has introduced legislation indicating that it is not in the best interest of the United States to deepen its military presence in Iraq. Proposed legislation includes Senator Obama's call for the phased redeployment of our forces from Iraq to begin no later than May 1, 2007; with a similar bill introduced in the House. Senator Clinton has gone a step further, calling for troops to start withdrawing from Iraq in 90 days. And we now expect a bill to prevent US forces from engaging in activities other than fighting al-Qaeda, training Iraqi forces and securing the borders of Iraq.

To be fair, there have been many blunders surrounding the Iraq war plan. The government has acknowledged that the war in Iraq was not grounded on accurate intelligence. Although around 550 shells filled with Sarin and mustard gas were uncovered in Iraq, large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were never found. In addition, the pre-war Iraq war plan was ill-conceived. In his book Fiasco (Penguin, 2006), Thomas Ricks details the Pentagon’s failure to come up with a Phase 4 plan, which would have included post-invasion operations including security, stabilization and reconstruction.

These errors aside, the fact remains that Iraq continues to host an insurgency that is bent on destroying American forces. While many view the insurgency as being comprised of nationalist Iraqi Sunnis and former Ba’athists, the insurgency has been co-opted by foreign jihadists fighting under the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Qaeda in Iraq. The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, issued a statement on February 3, 2007 indicating:

We [hereby] inform the Sunnis of a [new] plan called the Plan of Honor, which is more comprehensive and more perfect [than the existing plan] and includes not only Baghdad but all parts of the Islamic State [of Iraq]... [This plan] will end with Bush announcing the failure of his [security] plan and signing an agreement of defeat... The goals of the plan are: to defend our people and our honor; to rout out the invaders and eradicate the remaining pockets and bases of heresy; to butcher the wounded Crusader tyrant and take advantage of the collapse of morale among [the Crusader] soldiers and commanders; to unite the ranks of the mujahideen and to strengthen the foundations of the Islamic State [of Iraq].

While al-Baghdadi’s statements seem to echo the typical rants of Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Ayyub al-Masri, it also highlights the willingness of our enemies to do anything to harm us. Congress’ intent on halting troop increases and even calling for the phased withdrawal of our troops from Iraq increases our enemy’s confidence. If Congress understood the long-term goals of groups like the Islamic State of Iraq, their intentions might be different.

Although the war against Islamic extremism is relatively new, radical Islam’s vitriol and hatred of the West has existed for centuries. To understand this hatred, it’s worthwhile to actually read the works of those ideologues whom jihadists derive their worldviews from. In this capacity, Mary Habeck provides an excellent analysis of extremist thought in her book Knowing the Enemy (Yale University Press, 2006).

Two of the four ideologues that Habeck introduces develop ideas about the West’s policy towards Islam and how Muslims should react. The first is Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian intellectual who is considered to be the leading theological inspiration for the Muslim Brotherhood and many other jihadists. In his famous book, Milestones, Qutb dedicates an entire chapter to the notion of jihad. In that chapter, he talks specifically about the idea of the West adopting a retreatist policy towards Islam.

It may happen that the enemies of Islam may consider it expedient not to take any action against Islam, if Islam leaves them alone in their geographical boundaries to continue the lordship of some men over others and does not extend its message and its declaration of universal freedom within their domain. But Islam cannot agree to this unless they submit to its authority by paying Jizyah, which will be a guarantee that they have opened their doors for the preaching of Islam and will not put any obstacle in its way through the power of the state… Indeed, Islam has the right to take the initiative. Islam is not a heritage of any particular race or country; this is God's religion and it is for the whole world. It has the right to destroy all obstacles in the form of institutions and traditions which limit man's freedom of choice.

Clearly, Qutb believed that even if the West left Islam alone, its war with the West would not subside. Indeed, Qutb argues that it is the duty and right of Islam to take the initiative and spread its ideology to non-Islamic governments, by force if necessary. For Qutb, Islam frees individuals from servitude of other men, i.e. democracy.

One other jihadist ideologue who speaks directly to this idea is Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Fathi Yakan, a prominent Islamic scholar and follower of Sayyid Qutb, wrote a book entitled To Be A Muslim, where he quotes a speech given by al-Banna,

Our task in general is to stand against the flood of modernist civilization overflowing from the swamp of materialistic and sinful desires. This flood has swept the Muslim nation away from the Prophet’s leadership and Qur’anic guidance and deprived the world of its guiding light. Western secularism moved into a Muslim world already estranged from its Qur’anic roots, and delayed its advancement for centuries, and will continue to do so until we drive it from our lands. Moreover, we will not stop at this point, but will pursue this evil force to its own lands, invade its Western heartland, and struggle to overcome it until all the world shouts by the name of the Prophet and the teachings of Islam spread throughout the world.

The notion of an Islamic expansionist policy is more than a fringe movement; instead, it is promulgated by some of the most influential 20th century Islamic thinkers. Habeck adds that “al-Banna believed that once enough Muslims returned to the true form of Islam, they could then spread the faith through jihad.” Thus, two of al-Qaeda’s theological inspirations, Qutb and al-Banna, state that Muslims must go on the offensive and attack the West, even if unprovoked.

There have been a number of arguments made for why Islamic fundamentalists hate us and why they attacked us. President Bush, in his speech to a joint session of Congress in 2001 suggested that, “they hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.” Others argue that radical Muslims attacked us because of our support for Israel. Still others, like Dinesh D’Souza, argue that the cultural left and individuals such as Britney Spears are the real reason why Islamic fundamentalists want to attack us.

While there are grains of truth to all of these arguments, they all fail to explain why radical Muslims have fought the West for centuries. The idea that Islamic radicals hate “our freedoms” paints the most accurate picture. Indeed, our notions of freedom directly contradict their understanding of Islamic theology. Western ideas of freedom include the freedom to pick and choose which religions and beliefs we want to follow, the freedom to express ourselves, the freedom to live our lives in the manner we see fit. Freedom, to Qutb and al-Banna, means one has the freedom to choose to submit to Allah, pay the jizyah (tax levied on all non-Muslims), or die. In essence, anything that gives humans law-making ability is expressly forbidden.

The argument that Muslims hate us because of our support of Israel is valid, but insufficient. Muslims claim the land of Palestine because it was once part of the Islamic caliphate. For Muslims, reclaiming the lands of Islam is a necessity in order to re-establish the Caliphate. The presence of non-Muslims in Palestine is bad enough; the existence of a Jewish state in Palestine is even more troubling. However, the US’s support for Israel didn’t start until 1948. What are we to make of the years of violence in the name of Islam against Western countries prior to that?

Finally, the argument that cultural left in America and the flamboyance of individuals such as the aforementioned Ms. Spears causes Muslims to hate us is simply shallow. Indeed, America’s perceived decadence and our desire to idolize morally-shallow pop stars are abhorred by Muslims. However, they are more of a manifestation of American notions of freedom that Muslims hate rather than the sole reason. It would be a grave mistake to argue that the likes of MTV, Entertainment Weekly, or more adult oriented media are the reasons why 9/11 occurred.

In reality, democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, even Hollywood's most flamboyant individuals are all manifestations of a greater problem that radical Muslims have against the West. Radical Muslims detest these things because in their eyes, they see these things as an affront to God’s sovereignty and running counter to God’s laws. Because Western countries are grounded on democratic values, radical Muslims see them as an obstacle to their goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate. Once again, the Islamic notion of freedom, as expressed by Qutb and al-Banna, is that one has the freedom to submit to the will of Allah. If he or she chooses not to do so, they either must pay the Jizyah or be fought. As such, Islamic radicals will not stop attacking us until their goals are achieved.

This is a very important dichotomy for Western countries to understand, most notably the United States. Although it’s only one front in the war on terror, the war in Iraq is crucial for keeping our enemies occupied and keeping them from attacking the homeland. Various arguments can be made about how to move forward with the war in Iraq. However, calling the mission in Iraq futile and employing a policy of retreatism in Iraq and elsewhere will not stop the fighting.

Most critics of the war on terror fail to mention that the United States has not been attacked since 9/11. If we pull out of Iraq, it may secure the lives of our soldiers abroad. But the long-feared possibility of another attack on US soil will become increasingly more possible and innocent American lives will be put in the crosshairs of these and future extremists.

In addition, with an encouraged enemy and a front closed in Iraq, our enemies will have greater resources and personnel to use in other regions. Bearing in mind the thought that jihadists will “take the initiative”, the insurgents fighting in Iraq may heed the call to fight in Afghanistan or other areas where American forces are deployed, thus putting American troops abroad in greater danger. The greatest use of our greatest advantage, our armed forces, is to remain on the advance against the enemy.

7 Comments

Kyle,
First, good article. I certainly agree with your essential point that we need to study our enemy, who are the Jihadists that belong to and are sympathetic to Al-Qa'ida and related terrorist organizations. Next, good show on including the translation of al-Baghdadi's edict. If interested parties on both the Right and the Left spent more time reading primary sources (or researchers who quote primary sources), we'd have more clarity on exactly what the intentions of Al-Qa'ida are.

Now, here's where we differ. First, the published work of Bruce Riedel of The Brookings Institution and Ely Karmon with the Institute of Counter-Terrorism in Israel both refer to primary sources when they convey Al-Qa'ida strategy of keeping us in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to drain us of lives, money, and supplies. The al-Baghdadi quote detailing his "Plan of Honor", when taken into context with many pronouncements including one last November from Zarqawi's successor Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, who thanked Bush for sending American forces to Iraq where Al-Qa'ida forces could engage them, and that the result of our invasion helped him revive the glory of the former Safavid Empire of Persia, could be construed in 2 ways: 1, as "don't throw me in the briar patch" bait, making us stubbornly remain so that they can continue to bleed us of lives, money and resources, and 2, as propaganda for their inevitable declaration of victory. That's going to happen no matter what we do.

Riedel reports that current traffic on many Jihadist websites (there are over 4,500 of them) talks about how now that we've got them bleeding in Iraq and Afghanistan, let's get them to invade Iran and bleed them some more. Now Riedel doesn't give a lot of weight to this chatter, but he does recommend that we keep an eye on it.

In my view, the greatest mistake we can make is to believe that the Iraq war is anything more than a subset of our greater war - the war against al-Qa'ida. Our strategy in Iraq must support, not detract, from that greater effort. Right now, thanks to Cheney (see my latest post on that subject), we are completely upside down on what we should be doing to win the war against Al-Qa'ida. Riedel does a good job detailing what we should be doing, and rather than re-posting it here, I'd like to point you to my rather lengthy review of his recent speech on the subject at my blog.

I think there is one, perhaps deeper, reason that fundamentalist islamists hate the West. That is their deeply held belief that lack of progress within the islamic world is directly the result of deliberate conspiracy of repression by Western powers. Their argument is that if only they could free themselves from the oppressive shackles of Western Civilization, their society would be free to blossom, and they could become technological and industrial powers, never again needing the constant infusion of scientific and industrial know-how, services, and goods that currently comes from the West.

This "cultural inferiority complex," if you could call it that, is in my belief the foundation of islamist hatred of the West, and the rest is built upon that.

The unfortunate and sad truth is that islamist success has never led to the existence of a society rich in scientific and technological accomplishments. Even in the "golden ages" of Islam, many of the so-called advancements in scientific knowledge by islamic societies were actually a result of knowledge "captured" from conquered peoples. And today, the achievements of countries such as Pakistan and Iran in areas such as Nuclear Physics were not independently developed, but based upon knowledge derived from other cultures.

Until this underlying pervasive belief in Western oppression is exposed as a sham, the islamic world cannot begin to address the fundamental causes of their failure to advance scientificly and industrially. And until the islamic world can advance on its own, the jihadists will continue to be an influential cultural force.

Just my $.02
DaveK

Good analysis and thanks for the headsup on the book.

Our leadership is either ignorant about Islam or naive about the culture that embraces Islam. Religion is the codified magic of a culture.

Islam reveals a sick, twisted desire to power. That is the magic of the culture.

The West is engaged in a global war with Islam despite our leader's claims otherwise. This war has ebbed and flowed for 1400 years and will go on as long as Islam exists.

I have always believed that the real reason for invading Iraq was to fight Islamists in favorable terrain. Right in the heart of the seat of power of the caliphate. A show of Western will.

Whether we stay or go from Iraq, we will be fighting Islamists. Better to fight them in dar al-islam than here in midwestern America.

lugh:

You concluded that "Whether we stay or go from Iraq, we will be fighting Islamists."

This is true, yet in the words preceding that you failed to distinguish between the Islamists we are engaged in battle with and the whole of the faithful within Islam. This is a mistake of generalizations that - in part - Kyle's article seeks to distinguish.

The degree to which so many in the West percieve the current battle as one between Western Civilization vs. Islam speaks to a measure of victory that can be claimed by the Islamists, bin Laden or otherwise.

For, in Westerners' making this generalization, they have - through their lack of better understanding - ceded 'ownership' of the whole of Islam to those radical and murderous adherants who wish just such a battle to take place.

By attempting to understand the faith and its faithful - in their various forms and sects - the West would then not afford radical Islamists dominating our news cycles such gains.

Isn't the everlasting threat that the jihadists (led by al Qaeda) have no intent to give up? In fact, in a recent Stratfor article, Iraq: Jihadist Perspectives on a US Withdrawal it was noted that bin Laden's belief is that public opinion has influenced U.S. war policy in Vietnam, Beirut, Aden, and Somalia (and bin Laden sees/saw these as examples of American defeats).

The same piece suggests that al Qaeda sees the conflict as a "Fourth-Generation War" in which fighting will be mostly scattered and that they believe that the media will "become a more powerful operational weapon than armored divisions."

So, as a result, it can be concluded that any withdrawal short of a stable government in Iraq could play into the propaganda hands of al Qaeda.

First of all, I address to you my congratulations for this interesting and thought provoking post; as well as to the authors of the subsequent comments which, I find, are all up to the circumstance.

At some point of your article you wrote “Although the war against Islamic extremism is relatively new, radical Islam’s vitriol and hatred of the West has existed for centuries.”
History tells us that this aggressive behavior owed perhaps less to a mere feeling of hatred than to a desire to convert unbelievers by sheer force, as testify for the first Arabic conquests and islamization of Northern Africa, Central Asia, and people living on the west side of the Indus river. These circumstantial evidences show that, initially and in its principle, Muslim violence didn’t aim specifically at the western world.

Actually, it seems that this Muslim hatred toward the West is a relatively recent trend, even though there is some reasonable ground to argue for that the successive European crusades of the Middle Ages were likely to trigger a sense of enmity toward Christians and white men from Europe.

As far as I can see, resurgence of Jihad and radical Islamism as justification of aggression toward the occidental world backs to the 1970’s, and originated in countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, prior it moved to other countries; and in all cases, this resurgence owes to political support. Until someone challenges my argumentation in providing earlier examples and historical facts, the Gamal Abdel Nasser, first, managed to organize riots in scab countries. These riots got much of their force from terrorists, or, as they were called by Nasser’s political activists, “Fanatics.”

A “Fanatic,” in Nasserist political jargon, is anyone who abnegates self and who will go to any lengths, regardless of harm to self in the interests of a cause. He is a true believer and a loser by definition, but he is an important weapon in the hands of the determined non-fanatic (one who intend to “live” for the cause, in other words). Nasser could count on him to go on losing so long as he prevents the enemy from achieving his purposes. The fanatic’s game, in other words, is a chicken-game; it is as though he were saying to himself “I know I am not going to win; I am probably going to die, but I’ll bring you down with me.”

The latest stance of Iranian President Ahmadinejad about nuclear enrichment exemplifies this attitude, even though Mr. Ahmadinejad certainly considers himself as a leader who intends to live for “the cause.” He told lastly to a gathering of Islamic clerics: “The train of the Iranian nation is without brakes and a rear gear. We dismantled the rear gear and brakes of the train and threw them away sometime ago.”

Any Arabic nation or minority, such as Al Qaeda, or else, is a player of limited resources when attempting to challenge a country such as the United States. As such it is understandably tempted to use fanatics whereby, as has been proved time and again in history, small minorities can cause majorities to make concessions to them out of all proportion to their numbers or the strength of their arguments; if, indeed, they have any clear argument at all.

I continue on using the term “fanatics,” since Mary Habeck’s estimates about the proportion of anti-Westerners Muslims would average 20 percent of the world Muslim community.
When entirely on their own (and this is rare since we are able to spot proxy warfare in most cases of terrorism and insurgency) fanatics sooner or later make such nuisance of themselves that the majority clamps down on their paying whatever price it takes (ex. the creation of the Palestinian state in the wake of relentless terrorists acts). In the hands of non-fanatical leadership, however, they can become a weapon of flexibility and finesse. They can be brought to a halt just short of suicide, while their willingness to go to suicidal lengths is so manifestly genuine that that the opponent cannot know where they will halt, or even be sure they will halt indeed (Iran under Mr. Ahmadinejad, once more). The nonsense they talk can be polished up so that it not only makes a modicum of sense, but seems to be on a high moral plane.

The example that follows exemplifies this last point:

On February 20, Mr. Ahmadinejad made a speech during which he stated at some point:

"That ... we shut down our nuclear fuel cycle program to let talks begin. It's no problem. But justice demands that those who want to hold talks with us shut down their nuclear fuel cycle program too. Then, we can hold dialogue under a fair atmosphere," Mr. Ahmadinejad said.
The Security Council has set Wednesday as a deadline for Iran to stop uranium enrichment or face further economic sanctions.
Mr. Ahmadinejad spoke in a far more conciliatory tone than the one he usually adopts, avoiding fiery denunciations of the West with a call for talks.
"We are for talks but they have to be fair negotiations. That means, both sides hold talks under equal conditions," he said.

He added, however, that it was unacceptable for countries to demand that Iran stop its nuclear activities without reciprocity. In my own opinion, there is little room for mere Muslim anti-Occidental feeling in that speech, even though the final purpose of this move may serve such a cause in the end. For, this Mr. Ahmadinejad’s speech is strikingly similar to this, made on May 17, 1933, of another leader whose cause had little to do with Islamic radicalism; namely Adolf Hitler. Bellow is the translation of an extract of this speech known as Friedenrede:

“Germany would also be perfectly ready to disband her entire military establishment and destroy the small amount of arms remaining to her, if the neighboring countries will do the same thing will equal thoroughness. But if these countries are not willing to carry out the disarmament measures to which they are also bound by the Treaty of Versailles, Germany must at least maintain her demand for equality…
(Germany) is also entirely ready to renounce all offensive weapons of every sort if the armed nations, on their side, will destroy their offensive weapons within a specified period, and if their use is forbidden by an international convention. Germany has only one desire, to be able to preserve her independence and defend her frontiers…
The German Government will not reject any prohibition of arms as being too drastic if it is applied in the same manner to all other States. As long as armaments are allowed to others Powers, Germany cannot be permanently deprived of all weapons of defense. We are fully prepared only to make use of an equal status to an extent to be settled by negotiation.
These demands do not imply rearmament but only a desire for the disarmament of other States…
Germany is at all times prepared to renounce offensive weapons if the rest of the world does the same. Germany is prepared to agree to any solemn act of non-aggression because she does not think of attacking but only to acquire security… (Security means nuclear energy in the case of Iran)
May the other nations realize the resolute will of Germany to put an end to a period of blundering and to find the way to a final understanding between all, on the basis of equal rights.”

Hitler reassured his audience of Germany’s sincere desire for peace, but he made all of his offers conditional upon their acceptance by all other states. Each promise was followed by a demand for reciprocity; yet the conditions he set forth were simply too exorbitant to be accepted in their entirety by the other European states, as Mr. Ahmadinejad does today.
That became obvious once Hitler’s proposals were brought before the League of Nations disarmament conference in Geneva in 1933.

Now, I stop using the example of Iran since this country was not per se the object of your article. But at that point of my comment, you understand my difficulties at considering that radical Islamist violence and feeling or resentment directed against the Western world in general, and the United States and its allies in particular owe entirely to a clash of cultures.
I do not gainsay that this clash of cultures exists and that it is largely based upon religious considerations and divergences of opinion on moral values; but I can hardly accept such explanation as sole cause of our disagreement with this hostile 20 percent of the Muslim world since this 20 percent had just no existence before the 1970’s, and didn’t express its resentment toward the Western world by way of terrorism and insurgency before that period of our history.

Subsequently, I express no less difficulty at considering that we are at odd with a part of a Muslim world exclusively; and exclusively for religious and moral reasons. For, those Muslim who challenge, attack, and attempt to terrorize us are not much different from the Japanese Kamikazes of WWII, or of German Nazis, or even of Soviets, since we were at odd with those other people for reasons of similar importance, if not of same origins. As far as historical accounts testify for, neither German Nazi, nor Japanese, nor Soviet were less determined people than Muslim fanatics are today. We have to recall at some point that the stakes which, in the end, justify the claims of those fanatics and their leaders who “live” for “the cause” hardly limit to mere spirituality or/and moral values. As put perhaps more bluntly there are claims, here for control over territory, there for control over population, and there for control over oil or/and gas. However historical and religious they may be, the claims of those Muslim fanatics are of materialistic and quite down-to-earth nature; namely people and territory. As striking example, the proponents of the theory of the Communist ideology, namely the Soviet Union, postulated that a perfect communist society in which everyone enjoy “happiness” is impossible as long as the whole world has not been conquered and converted to communist ideology. Where in the hell is the difference with Jihad?

As a conclusion to this already too long comment, I would like to recall that, in all times of the history of mankind and each and all time a struggle for power arose, there has been a sharp divorce between what we can call the formal meaning, the formal aims and arguments, and the real meaning, the real aims and argument (if there is, as there is usually not, any real argument). The formal aims and goals are for the most part or altogether either supernatural or metaphysical – transcendental – in both cases meaningless from the point of view of real actions in the real world of space, time, and history; or if they have some empirical meaning, are impossible to achieve under the actual conditions of social life.

In all cases, the dependence of the whole structure of reasoning upon such goals makes it impossible for the writer, or speaker, to give a true descriptive account of the way men actually behave. A systematic distortion of the truth takes place. And obviously it cannot be shown how the goals might be reached since, being unreal, they cannot be reached!

From a purely logical point of view, the arguments offered for the formal aims and goals may be valid and fallacious. But, except by accident, they are necessarily irrelevant to real political problems, since they are designed to prove the ostensible points of the formal structure (points of religion or metaphysics, or the abstract desirability of some utopian ideal).

We think we are debating universal salvation, a unified world government, and the relations Church and State, when what is really at issue is whether the Florentine Republic is to be run by its own citizen or submitted to the exploitation of the reactionary foreign monarch. We think, with the delegates at the Council of Nicea, that the discussion is concerned with the definition of God’s essence, when the real problem is whether the Mediteranean world must be politically centralized under Rome or divided. We believe we are disputing the merits of a balanced budget and a sound currency when the real conflict is deciding what group shall regulate the distribution of the currency. We imagine we are arguing over the legal and moral status of the principle of freedom of the seas when the real question is who is controlling the seas.

From this follows that the real meaning, the real goals and aims are left irresponsible. The real aims are accepted, even if right, for the wrong reasons. The high minded words of the formal meaning serve only to arouse passion, prejudice, and sentimentality in favour of the disguised real aims. This method whose intellectual consequence is merely to confuse and hide, can teach us nothing of the truth, can in no way help us to solve the problems of our political life.

I apologize for the length of this comment and express my sincere thanks to those who have had the patience to read me until this last line.

Excellent article, Kyle. I'm in general agreement with you.

But I think that our enemy is far larger than just al Qaeda. No, it's not "Islam", so don't worry because I'm not going there.

Rather, our enemy is "Jihadism". It takes two general forms, Salafi and Khumeinist. The former is split between the Wahabism of the KSA and the Muslim Brotherhood, and the latter of course from Iran.

The goal of the Salafists is a worldwide Caliphate. The goal of the Khumeinists is a regional Shiite superstate.

The Wahabist strategy is to infiltrate our society and institutions. They want to get us "used to" their radical Islam. To do so they need to pull the wool over our eyes and convince us that Salafism/Wahabism is peaceful etc.

They will only use violence in the final stage.

al Qaeda is neo-Wahabist. Many Wahabists believe that OBL "jumped the gun" and that if he'd have only waited a few years their infiltration would have been more complete, thus the devastation worse.

In this final stage, where they will use violence, they believe that they can prompt societal and instituational collapse within the West, even the US.

We cannot play defense against these people. We are not simply up against terrorists; we are up against Jihadists, and the jihad need not always use violence to achieve it's means.

This is why winning in Iraq is so vital. We simply must prompt reform in the region, no matter how painful. The KSA (Kingdom Saudi Arabia) is the "mother ship" of the Jihad, and we can't go on doing business as usual with them.