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Future terrorism mutant JihadsWalid PharesDr. WaliD Phares is Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democ-racies, and author of Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against America (Pal-grave/St. Martin, 2005). He is also a Professor of Middle East Studies at Florida Atlantic University.The strategic decision to carry out 9/11 was made in the early 1990s, almost ten years before the barbaric attacks on New York and Wash-ington took place. The decade-long preparations—and the testing of America’s defenses and political tolerance to terrorism that took place before September 11th—were a stage in the much longer modern history of the jihadist movement that produced al-Qaeda and its fellow travelers. Decades from now, historians will discover that the United States, the West and the international community were being targeted by a global ideologi-cal movement which emerged in the 1920s, survived World War II and the Cold War, and carefully chose the timing of its onslaught against democracy. Undoubtedly, the issue that policy planners and government leaders need to address with greatest urgency, and which the American public is most con-cerned about, is the future shape of the terrorist threat facing the United States and its allies. Yet developments since 2001, both at home and overseas, have shown that terror threats in general—and the jihadi menace in particular—remain at the same time resilient and poorly understood.Defining the warThe jihadi war against the Soviet Union during the Cold War—and the struggle against the United States and some of its allies thereafter—are all part of a single continuum. Over time, jihadi Salafists and Khomeinist radicals alikethe Journal oF international security aFFairs98Walid Phareshave become proficient in selecting their objectives and infiltrating tar-gets. Indeed, an analysis of the secu-rity failures that made 9/11 possible clearly demonstrates that the hijack-ers exploited systemic malfunctions at the national security level.Learning these lessons is essen-tial for better counterterrorism plan-ning in the future. But the jihadists are also learning, and the advantage will go to the side which can adapt most quickly. If the jihadists learn to understand and anticipate their opponents, their tactics and strate-gies will mutate.The first strain of mutating Islamist ideology is that of al-Qaeda and its affiliates. In his now-historic April 2006 speech, Osama Bin Laden confirmed his commitment to global, total and uncompromising jihad. “It is a duty for the Umma with all its cat-egories, men, women and youths, to give away themselves, their money, experiences and all types of material support, enough [to establish jihad in the fields of jihad] particularly in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Sudan, Kashmir and Chechnya,” Bin Laden has maintained. “Jihad today is an imperative for every Muslim. The Umma will commit sin if it did not provide adequate material support for jihad.”1Bin Laden’s latest risala (mes-sage) is as important as his initial declarations of war and of mobiliza-tion, laying out his most compre-hensive vision so far. As this “world declaration” makes clear, the global Salafi agenda accepts no truth other than radical Islamist dogma. All non-Islamist governments must be brought down, and pure, pious ones erected in their stead. Global jihad-ism, in its Salafi-Wahhabi form, is ideologically at war with the rest of the world. The conflict is universal in nature. It encompasses the entire West, not just the United States and Europe. Russia, India, and at some point even China, in addition to mod-erate Muslim governments, must be brought down. Like no other docu-ment to date, Bin Laden’s speech outlines the final fantasy of the jihadi mind: world domination.The second branch of jihadism is smaller, and concentrated in the hands of a single regime: the Islamic Republic of Iran. Since its inception, Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution has seen itself as universal in nature. And today, flush with oil dividends, it is rapidly expanding its influence in Lebanon, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Similar to its Salafi counterpart, the Khomeinist world-view seeks to erect Islamist regimes, launch radical organizations and expand its ideology. But unlike in Wahhabism, the chain of command is narrow and tightly controlled; Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is the unquestioned ideological head, while Iran’s radical president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, decides the time, place and scope of the battles.Future battlefieldsBy understanding the objec-tives of these forces, it is possible to extrapolate some theaters of likely confrontation in the years ahead.IraqToday, U.S.-led forces in Iraq are battling al-Qaeda and other Salafi forces in the so-called “Sunni The jihadists are also learning, and the advantage will go to the side which can adapt most quickly.the Journal oF international security aFFairs99Future Terrorism: Mutant JihadsTriangle.” In the south, meanwhile, Coalition forces have engaged Ira-nian-supported militias, such as Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army. U.S. and Iraqi forces will continue to battle on both of these fronts, in Iraq’s center and south. The Salafi strategy will center on classical terrorist attacks, while Iranian-supported forces are likely to attempt to infiltrate and take control of Iraqi forces. U.S.-Iraqi counterterrorism cooperation will continue to expand, but a decisive vic-tory for Baghdad cannot take place before Iranian and Syrian interfer-ence has receded—and that will not happen until both of those regimes are weakened from the inside. Hence, American support for democratic and opposition forces in Syria (and by extension Lebanon) and Iran is the surest way to ensure success in Iraq.AfghanistanThe consolidation of the Karzai government in Kabul is essential to American strategy, both as a bridge to a younger generation of Afghans and as a counterweight to the appeal of the Taliban. Al-Qaeda is committed to preventing such a development. It has a vested interest in causing the country’s


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