The Impact of the War in Iraq on Islamist Groups and the Culture of Global Jihad

(IMRA/International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism) Reuven Paz - Post-Saddam Iraq presented to predominantly Sunni Arab Jihadist groups a golden opportunity to reinforce their struggle by viewing the struggle in Iraq as a return to the heart of the Arab world after years of struggle in "exile," including in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Central Asia. They have seized the opportunity to recruit a growing number of Islamic youth to support their political aspirations and Islamist interpretations. Islamist groups supplied new interpretations of Jihad that altered previous "red lines," including non-discriminatory killings of both "infidel" foreigners and Muslims. The war has also broadened opportunities for recruitment among Muslim communities in the West. The entire process of radicalization that followed the war in Iraq is accompanied by a massive indoctrination by Islamist scholars, clerics, and intellectuals, who promote the building of a new system based on Jihad. The Palestinians have remained entirely unaffected by the war in Iraq. There is a constant decrease in Saudi support for Hamas, especially in the financial realm, as a result of American pressure. The killing of Hamas leaders Yasin and Rantisi in Gaza decreased the solidarity of Hamas with the global Muslim Brotherhood and shifted the leadership outside of Palestine, to people such as Khaled Mish'al and Mousa Abu Marzouq. The anarchy in the PA enables Hizballah and its Iranian backer to become influential in the territories. Neither of these Shi'ite elements are part of the radical Sunni global Jihad, and have a different agenda. The writer is director of the Project for the Research of Islamist Movements - PRISM, part of the GLORIA Center in the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.

2004-09-24 00:00:00

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