The hasty and disastrous U.S. exit from Afghanistan before the deadline of August 31, 2021, was in compliance with the Taliban’s demand. It did not spare America from a terrorist attack that killed 13 U.S. Marines, and hundreds of Afghan civilians. Moreover, it left hundreds of American citizens behind who now will be either killed or used as hostages. Beyond the human tragedy, there is the material waste of an estimated $90 billion in sophisticated U.S. equipment. It includes 73 aircraft, mostly helicopters, 70 MRAPs (Mine Resistant Protected Vehicles), built to withstand blasts from IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), 27 Humvees, etc.
Some in the mainstream U.S. media have expressed hope that the current takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban will be different this time around — that, unlike the takeover of power in 1996, the Taliban will be wiser in 2021, and won’t resort to the same intolerant and destructive behavior it displayed in 2001. Just prior to the U.S. invasion, the Taliban destroyed the ancient statues of Buddhas in Bamiyan. They also oppressed women and forbade the schooling of girls.
There are clear similarities between the Sunni-Muslim radical Taliban movement and the Sunni-Muslim Palestinian terrorist group Hamas ruling over the Gaza Strip. Aside from their mutual intolerance toward non-Muslims, both Hamas and the Taliban view democracy, liberty, and women’s rights with disdain. Conversely, Israel and the U.S. share the same values, including democracy, liberty, the rule of law, and women’s rights. Now, as the U.S. has exited Afghanistan, ending a 20-year war against terror, it is sharing Israel’s experience in May, 2000, when it withdrew from southern Lebanon after 18 years of clashes with Hezbollah. In 2005, when Israel abandoned the Gaza Strip, Hamas terrorists continued to attack. Israel, however, didn’t leave behind $90 billion worth of military equipment.
The U.S. must now learn the lessons that Israel learned following its withdrawal of its forces from Southern Lebanon and Gaza. Israel recognized that Jihad does not end upon withdrawal. Unfortunately, for the U.S. and Israel, the jihadists consider American and Israeli withdrawals as admissions of defeat, and “Allah’s victory.” It only encourages the Islamist jihadists to pursue what are considered the “enemies of Allah,” and in the process, they will continue spreading death and destruction against non-Muslims in the West, targeting America, and Israel in particular.
Sadly, for the U.S., the American forces’ departure from Afghanistan witnessed the return of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State-K (K for Khorasan, denoting the Afghanistan and Pakistan branch of the Islamic State). The latter perpetrated the killing of the 13 U.S. Marines and hundreds of Afghan civilians. Hezbollah and Hamas’s terror pursued Israel as well, following its withdrawals. The U.S. administration failure is in entertaining the notion that complying with the wishes of the Jihadist groups, whether the Taliban or Hamas, will change their ways. The U.S. witnessed this fallacy earlier this week at the Kabul airport. The Taliban “promised” safe passage for U.S. personnel, and Afghan helpers, and were therefore responsible for the terror at the Kabul airport, though the actual killers were the Islamic State-K jihadists.
The U.S. administrations and the European Union (EU) offered Israel recurring, unsolicited advice to be generous toward Hamas by lifting the blockade, providing Hamas with more fuel, or allowing more bags full of Qatari dollars to enter Gaza so that Hamas might change its violent behavior. This proved to be bad advice, when in May, 2021, Hamas attacked Israeli cities with over 4,000 rockets. Israel realized that its good intentions, and generous gestures, didn’t ameliorate the jihadist terrorist behavior.
Violent jihadism is not only a problem for Israel, the U.S., and the West; it’s first and foremost a problem for ordinary Muslims. These Muslims have been the primary victims of both Sunni, and Shiite radical Muslim jihadists. The jihadist groups — al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic State (IS), Islamic State-K, and the Taliban — are focused on ridding the world of a threat they perceive as being western culture. Muslims that adopt western mores and values are to be wiped out along with the western presence.
The Islamic State (IS) was created in 2014, following their capture of the Iraqi city of Mosul. Taliban commanders, unsatisfied with the leadership of Mullah Mohammad Omar, defected to the IS, and swore allegiance to the IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Islamic State is a practitioner of Salafism, a form of fundamental Islam as practiced by the early Caliphs who succeeded the Muslim prophet Mohammad. Its barbarism stems from a hybridization of doctrinaire Salafism and other Islamic radical currents.
Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group occupying the Gaza Strip, was founded in 1987, as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Rather than fight for national self-determination for Palestinians, this Sunni Islamist group sees Palestine as but one of many battle zones for a worldwide holy war to prevent the fall of any part of the House of Islam into the hands of infidels. The Palestinian Authority educational system, while not as radical as Hamas, still teaches the young to hate Jews, Israel, and other non-Muslims, and promotes Jihad in schools and the media.
Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim Lebanese terrorist group, according to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), “Opposes Israel, and western powers operating in the Middle East, and functions as a proxy of Iran.” Hezbollah uses religious mechanisms such as Takif Shari (religious assessment), ijtihad (interpretation) of jihad, and fatwa (Islamic religious verdict), as political tools to mobilize Shiites in Lebanon, and to build political support throughout the Middle East. Hezbollah has created terror cells worldwide, and is financing its operations through illicit drug trafficking.
The Taliban observes Deobandism, a conservative Islamic orthodoxy that follows the Salafist model, which seeks to emulate the life, and times of the prophet Mohammad. Deobandism originated in India. While less extreme than the Salafi tradition practiced by al-Qaeda, and IS, it nevertheless enforces strict laws that forbids modern clothing, music, (especially western music), and education for girls.
The Islamic State-K (IS-K) is as violent as the one operating in Iraq and Syria. In 2014, Hafiz Saeed Khan, a Pakistani national, and a commander in the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi in Syria. With the demise of Baghdadi, and IS’s loss of territory in Iraq and Syria, it has increasingly turned to Afghanistan as a base for its global Caliphate. The IS-K expansion has, however, sparked violent conflict and rivalry between the IS-K and the Afghan Taliban, now apparently in control of Afghanistan.
Sam Harris, a neuroscientist, philosopher, New York Times best-selling author, and host of the Making Sense podcast, pointed out that, “what do groups like ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hamas want? They want to impose their religious views on the rest of humanity. They want to stifle every freedom that decent, educated, secular people care about. This is not a trivial difference. And yet, judging from the level of condemnation that Israel now receives, you would think the difference ran the other way.”
This kind of confusion puts all of us in danger. This is the great story of our time. For the rest of our lives, and the lives of our children, we are going to be confronted by people who don’t want to live peacefully in a secure, pluralistic world, because they are desperate to get to paradise, and they are willing to destroy the very possibility of human happiness along the way. The truth is, we are all living in Israel. It’s just that some of us haven’t realized it yet.
The cynical western world should take note of that.