HAIFA, Israel — In three days the world will be commemorating the worst single terrorist attack in history — the Sept. 11, 2001 coordinated strikes by al-Qaida against the U.S., using four hijacked American passenger jetliners. The attacks killed 2,996 people and injured over 6,000 more, causing some $10 billion in property damage and at least $3 trillion in total costs.
Around the world many will hold memorial services, while others will celebrate the unprecedented “historical victory” against the country and nation that the Muslim Brotherhood has singled out as the No. 1 enemy of radical, jihadi Islamism, the world’s only “Great Satan” — the USA.
But 15 years later are the U.S., Israel, Europe and pro-Western Muslim countries safer? Have governments learned enough about the culture of Islamic jihadism to prevent the next 9/11?
Do we understand the psychology, religious fervor, sexual incentives, promises of eternal glory and huge wealth for themselves and their close family members, that turn normative, secular, social Web-savvy teenagers into passionate, death-obsessed suicide bombers?
Even if we did, acting on that knowledge would be almost impossible in today’s “politically correct” world. You can’t defeat an enemy you refuse to name because you may “offend” non-jihadi Muslims.
Well — the German Nazis tortured and murdered 6 million of our people, including most of my wife’s family … and I’m sorry if I just offended a lot of Germans whose families had no Nazi connection. The Nazis were Germans and were the enemy to be destroyed then.
A growing concern
Today’s enemy is radical Muslim extremists … and their growing ranks of followers.
But even identifying the enemy will not prevent the next 9/11. France and Turkey have been openly and aggressively fighting Islamic jihadists for decades, with considerable success, often using methods that would make many Americans cringe. Yet this has not stopped recent ISIS-inspired multi-casualty terrorist attacks in Paris, Nice, Istanbul airport and a Kurdish wedding in Gaziantep last month.
You have to understand the fundamental ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood that fuels, inspires and drives ISIS, al-Qaida, Hamas, Taliban, Islamic Jihad and all the other Sunni terrorist organizations: The United States must be destroyed from within through economic and mass casualty terrorism that causes ongoing unrest and a breakdown of law and order. This, according to the MB leadership, will cause the collapse of the world’s economic structure, enabling global “Islam is the solution” to take over.
Understanding the enemy
President Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt gets it. He’s arrested the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood including the “Supreme Guide” Mahmoud al-Badai and former president Muhammad Morsi, both of whom have been sentenced to death in court.
But the U.S. has a problem. Bombing a few ISIS bases and even killing some of its leaders will not stop the next 9/11. Working with the Egyptians, Jordanians, parts of the Saudi family and other like-minded Muslim leaders to eradicate “with extreme prejudice” the Muslim Brotherhood nerve centers around the world (including in the U.S.…!) may … just may delay it.
Deadly commitment to mission
But I’m not optimistic. Many believe that the next 9/11 is already beyond the planning stages in at least two highly capable, fully motivated and well-funded Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated terrorist groups: Al-Qaida and ISIS. They seem to be competing in projected casualty numbers for their respective upcoming attacks on the U.S.
And some of their spokesmen are hinting that they may include nuclear weapons … probably a dirty bomb … to enhance the numbers and the panic factor.
So 15 years later, are we safer against a similar strike?
Sure, targets have been hardened and measures taken. But we are dealing with an absolutely committed anti-American and anti-Israel fervent religious ideology that embraces death.
So my analysis would have to be … no, we are still vulnerable. This time they probably won’t use airliners. Just look at the death and destruction ISIS did with explosive trucks in Syria this week.
Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.
Lt. Col. (IDF res) Gil Elan is president and CEO of the Southwest Jewish Congress, and a Middle East analyst. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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DISCLAIMER: Opinions are the writer’s, and do not represent SWJC directors, officers or members.