The war machine has learned to be more sustainable over time, to eliminate all alternatives to itself, to transform the monsters it creates into a justification for its own existence, to hide the costs of violence from the public and even itself.
The presence of Arab exiles in some of Europe’s greatest cities meant that these often complex events were framed in a language of anger and alienation that suggested the governments of both the West and East didn’t want to see a Muslim world, still reeling from colonization, rise up and challenge their authority. Given this atmosphere, it was easy for angry young men, far from their ancestral homelands, to become radicalized.
Qaradawi’s edict on suicide bombings will be the focus of Western media. But the influential cleric will be remembered differently in the Muslim world, as someone who challenged conservative social mores.
The killing of the former leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al Zawahiri, by a CIA drone attack in a house in Kabul, Afghanistan, is a symbolic victory for President Joe Biden. Zawahiri is said to have played a central role in the planning of the 9/11 attacks. In the real world, though, Zawahiri stopped being relevant years ago.
A new book on the al Qaeda founder should spur us to reflect on how and why young British men were willing to sacrifice their lives in the name of jihad.
We are used to thinking of terrorism in terms of extremism, which suggests something on the fringe. But when we look at these disenfranchised angry young men, they have drawn legitimacy for their hatreds — most notably against two main groups, women and Jews — not only from online chatrooms but also from YouTube celebrities, mainstream authors, newspapers, news programs and politicians. If we genuinely want to address and counter violent extremism, we need to start by holding those closer to home to account.
A weekly review of news, essays, podcast and more from New Lines. The week of March 21 to March 25, 2022.