Monday, October 25, 2004
What Europeans fail to grasp — what they willfully refuse to face — is that the nature of terrorism has changed.
The alphabet-soup terrorists of the past — the IRA, ETA, PLO, RAF and the rest — were essentially political organizations with political goals. No matter how brutal their actions or unrealistic their hopes, their common intent was to change a system of government, either to gain a people's independence or to force their ideology on society.
The old-school terrorists that Europe survived did not seek death, although they were sometimes willing to die for their causes. None were suicide bombers, although a few committed suicide in prison to make a political statement.
Crucially, their goals were of this earth. All would have preferred to survive to rule in a government that they controlled.
Now we face terrorists who regard death as a promotion — who reject secular ideologies and believe themselves to be instruments of their god's will.
Indeed, they hope to nudge their god along, to convince him through their actions that the final struggle between faith and infidelity is at hand. While they'd like to see certain changes here on earth — the destruction of Israel, of the United States, of the West, of unbelievers and heretics everywhere — their longed-for destination is paradise beyond the grave.
THE new terrorists are vastly more dangerous, more implacable and crueler than the old models. The political terrorists of the 1970s and '80s used bloodshed to gain their goals. Religious terrorists see mass murder as an end in itself, as a purifying act that cleanses the world of infidels. They don't place their bombs for political leverage, but to kill as many innocent human beings as possible.
Yesteryear's murderers of European politicians and businessmen by the old crowd seem almost mannerly compared to today's religion-fueled terrorists, who openly rejoice in decapitating their living victims in front of cameras.
And this is why yesteryear's strategies will no longer work. Wake up, World. The fatwas have been given. Anybody is ok to be a victim of this violence. The perpertrators believe that God will sort out the mess in the next life in case they happen to get someone holy enough by accident.