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The Wilderness Sounds a Lot Like Israel

Yesterday in the New York Post, Amir Taheri wrote about al Qaeda “chief theoretician” Sheik Abu-Bakar Naji’s ominous conception of the “wilderness.” Naji is trying to point the way forward for a jihad that’s been stymied by waning Muslim support and Western firepower.

Taheri describes Naji’s plan thusly:

The Islamist movement must aim to turn the world into a series of “wildernesses” where only those under jihadi rule enjoy security.”

[...]

In a notable departure from past al Qaeda strategy, Naji recommends “countless small operations” that render daily life unbearable, rather than a few spectacular attacks such as 9/11: The “infidel,” leaving his home every morning, should be unsure whether he’ll return in the evening.

It’s that last bit about unspectacular “countless small operations” on an everyday basis that leapt out at me when I read about this morning’s bulldozer attack in East Jerusalem. Daniel Halper has suggested that the terrorist’s resorting to the use of a construction vehicle as an instrument of death indicates the success of the Israeli Defense Force in cracking down on the flow of weapons. Perhaps. But if terrorists embrace what Teheri calls “al Qaeda’s plan B,” confiscating guns and grenades will only do so much.

When one thinks about it, plan B has been in effect in Israel for a long time. The bus explosions, café bombings, and school shootings seem to fit the “wilderness” model to a T. We’ve seen limited examples of it in the U.S., as well – although too rare and seemingly isolated to fall officially under the label of Islamic terrorism, (the July 4 2002 El Al shooting at LAX comes to mind.) Israel has long shown unprecedented forbearance in its ability to proceed with the quotidian in the face of carnage, but how will the rest of us fare? If “wildernesses” do pop up all over the world, it may cause some to remember the old War on Terror as salad days.


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