It’s been a rough Ramadan. Terrorist attacks have been running into each other in the news, particularly in this last week. A suicide bombing at a police station in Indonesia was barely a blip on the news radar following deadly attacks in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iraq within the last few days.
Ramadan is ending at various times around the world. Will it mean a halt or at least a slowdown in terrorist attacks? Conventional wisdom says yes, but by no means should that act as a call to let down our guard. Many may have “crammed” their attacks into the month of Ramadan, but there are certainly countless others who have been inspired by the wave.
This is going to get worse before it gets better.
Here’s a rundown of the terrorist attacks in the last few days:
- Indonesia, suicide bombing
- Iraq, suicide truck bomb
- Bangladesh, gunmen with swords and bombs
- Saudi Arabia, 3 suicide bombing attacks
- Israel, one shooting, one stabbing
- Malaysia, grenade attack
It’s important to note that there were at least four other terrorist attacks foiled before they could be carried out over the last week in Qatar, Kuwait, India, and Belgium. It’s even more important to note what Boise Weekly pointed out:
Terrorism has been surging in the news the last few days, but it's scary to realize this is the tip of the iceberg. https://t.co/SYBlQWsJZ6
— Soshable (@soshable) July 5, 2016
There has never been a clearer call for immediate and decisive action against the Islamic State. They are at war with the world and their numbers are swelling outside of their ranks in Syria and Iraq even as military gains are made against them. The evidence is shouting at all of us. President Obama and other world leaders have chosen to play the long game against them and militarily it’s starting to work. That’s a problem.
The Islamic State is not simply a military problem. Lurking in the shadows are jihadists ready to take action for the entity they’ve embraced. This entity is not a ragtag military force on its heels. It’s building strength through the internet and with operatives spreading around the globe. The concept of “lone wolf jihadist” is dead. They are all in some way in contact even if it’s not direct. They’re being supplied even if it’s done digitally. They’re being radicalized even if they never meet another jihadist in person.
This must be stopped in a way that leaves zero doubt. The Islamic State cannot be contained. It broke containment the moment that potential radical Islamic terrorists realized they didn’t have to travel to Syria or Iraq to join the struggle. This is a time for complete eradication.
I hate using medical analogies, but there’s no better way to view the purging of the Islamic State than to consider it like an aggressive cancer. It must be removed completely to have any chance of making the body free from its ravages. It cannot be contained. Even when eradicated, it can come back in other forms or in other parts of the body, but through eradication there’s a chance to halt its spread. The Islamic State is very similar. The only way to make these terrorist attacks around the world stop is to go into Syria and Iraq with an asymmetric level of force and take the entire organization physically down. Then, the digital remnants must be found and eliminated with equivalent prejudice. Anything short of these extreme levels of action will result in an ongoing spread of this disease to every part of the world.
In the west, we have no point of reference. Few would be willing to blow themselves up for any reason. Our lack of understanding makes it challenging to face the enemy and address it the right way. This is a holy war to them. It needs to be a holy war to us. That doesn’t require any particular religious affiliation, but it does require us to view the Islamic State as an existential threat to everything we hold dear because that’s exactly what they are. They are not the junior varsity. America is not beyond their reach as Orlando and San Bernardino clearly demonstrated. Law enforcement can only do so much and prevent so many attacks before others slip through the cracks.
They aren’t in it for land even though they’re willing to take it. They’re not in it for money even though they expand their wealth daily. They are in this for the fear, for the power of persecution that only intimidation can yield. They don’t want to live with us. They want to rule over us or destroy us. Those are the only options they’re willing to give which is why terrorism is their preferred method of attack.
Ideologically, I’m far from a hawk. I am one who believes that the Iraq war was a mistake and the Arab Spring was a farce. However, this situation requires us to bring the fight to the enemy because you can be damned sure they’re going to bring the fight to us if we continue down our current strategically insane path.