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  • Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Morton Bast

  • I'm going to talk about the power of a word:

  • jihad.

  • To the vast majority of practicing Muslims,

  • jihad is an internal struggle for the faith.

  • It is a struggle within, a struggle against vice, sin,

  • temptation, lust, greed.

  • It is a struggle to try and live a life

  • that is set by the moral codes written in the Koran.

  • In that original idea, the concept of jihad is as important

  • to Muslims as the idea of grace is to Christians.

  • It's a very powerful word, jihad, if you look at it in that respect,

  • and there's a certain almost mystical resonance to it.

  • And that's the reason why, for hundreds of years,

  • Muslims everywhere have named their children Jihad,

  • their daughters as much as their sons, in the same way

  • that, say, Christians name their daughters Grace,

  • and Hindus, my people, name our daughters Bhakti,

  • which means, in Sanskrit, spiritual worship.

  • But there have always been, in Islam, a small group,

  • a minority, who believe that jihad

  • is not only an internal struggle but also an external struggle

  • against forces that would threaten the faith, or the faithul.

  • And some of these people believe that in that struggle,

  • it is sometimes okay to take up arms.

  • And so the thousands of young Muslim men

  • who flocked to Afghanistan in the 1980s

  • to fight against the Soviet occupation of a Muslim country,

  • in their minds they were fighting a jihad,

  • they were doing jihad,

  • and they named themselves the Mujahideen,

  • which is a word that comes from the same root as jihad.

  • And we forget this now, but back then

  • the Mujahideen were celebrated in this country, in America.

  • We thought of them as holy warriors who were taking

  • the good fight to the ungodly communists.

  • America gave them weapons, gave them money,

  • gave them support, encouragement.

  • But within that group, a tiny, smaller group,

  • a minority within a minority within a minority,

  • were coming up with a new and dangerous

  • conception of jihad,

  • and in time this group would come to be led by Osama bin Laden,

  • and he refined the idea.

  • His idea of jihad was a global war of terror,

  • primarily targeted at the far enemy,

  • at the crusaders from the West, against America.

  • And the things he did in the pursuit of this jihad

  • were so horrendous, so monstrous,

  • and had such great impact,

  • that his definition was the one that stuck,

  • not just here in the West.

  • We didn't know any better. We didn't pause to ask.

  • We just assumed that if this insane man and his psychopathic followers

  • were calling what they did jihad, then that's what jihad must mean.

  • But it wasn't just us. Even in the Muslim world,

  • his definition of jihad began to gain acceptance.

  • A year ago I was in Tunis, and I met the imam

  • of a very small mosque, an old man.

  • Fifteen years ago, he named his granddaughter Jihad,

  • after the old meaning. He hoped that a name like that

  • would inspire her to live a spiritual life.

  • But he told me that after 9/11,

  • he began to have second thoughts.

  • He worried that if he called her by that name,

  • especially outdoors, outside in public,

  • he might be seen as endorsing bin Laden's idea of jihad.

  • On Fridays in his mosque, he gave sermons

  • trying to reclaim the meaning of the word,

  • but his congregants, the people who came to his mosque,

  • they had seen the videos. They had seen pictures

  • of the planes going into the towers, the towers coming down.

  • They had heard bin Laden say that that was jihad,

  • and claimed victory for it. And so the old imam worried

  • that his words were falling on deaf ears. No one was paying attention.

  • He was wrong. Some people were paying attention,

  • but for the wrong reasons.

  • The United States, at this point, was putting pressure

  • on all its Arab allies, including Tunisia,

  • to stamp out extremism in their societies,

  • and this imam found himself suddenly in the crosshairs

  • of the Tunisian intelligence service.

  • They had never paid him any attention before --

  • old man, small mosque --

  • but now they began to pay visits,

  • and sometimes they would drag him in for questions,

  • and always the same question:

  • "Why did you name your granddaughter Jihad?

  • Why do you keep using the word jihad in your Friday sermons?

  • Do you hate Americans?

  • What is your connection to Osama bin Laden?"

  • So to the Tunisian intelligence agency,

  • and organizations like it all over the Arab world,

  • jihad equaled extremism,

  • Bin Laden's definition had become institutionalized.

  • That was the power of that word that he was able to do.

  • And it filled this old imam, it filled him with great sadness.

  • He told me that, of bin Laden's many crimes, this was,

  • in his mind, one that didn't get enough attention,

  • that he took this word, this beautiful idea.

  • He didn't so much appropriate it as kidnapped it

  • and debased it and corrupted it

  • and turned it into something it was never meant to be,

  • and then persuaded all of us that it always was

  • a global jihad.

  • But the good news is

  • that the global jihad is almost over, as bin Laden defined it.

  • It was dying well before he did,

  • and now it's on its last legs.

  • Opinion polls from all over the Muslim world show

  • that there is very little interest among Muslims

  • in a global holy war against the West,

  • against the far enemy.

  • The supply of young men willing to fight and die for this cause is dwindling.

  • The supply of moneyjust as important, more important perhaps

  • the supply of money to this activity is also dwindling.

  • The wealthy fanatics who were previously

  • sponsoring this kind of activity are now less generous.

  • What does that mean for us in the West?

  • Does it mean we can break out the champagne,

  • wash our hands of it, disengage, sleep easy at night?

  • No. Disengagement is not an option,

  • because if you let local jihad survive,

  • it becomes international jihad.

  • And so there's now a lot of different

  • violent jihads all over the world.

  • In Somalia, in Mali, in Nigeria,

  • in Iraq, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, there are groups that claim

  • to be the inheritors of the legacy of Osama bin Laden.

  • They use his rhetoric.

  • They even use the brand name he created for his jihad.

  • So there is now an al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,

  • there's an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,

  • there is an al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

  • There are other groups -- in Nigeria, Boko Haram,

  • in Somalia, al Shabaab -- and they all pay homage to Osama bin Laden.

  • But if you look closely,

  • they're not fighting a global jihad.

  • They're fighting battles over much narrower issues.

  • Usually it has to do with ethnicity or race or sectarianism,

  • or it's a power struggle.

  • More often than not, it's a power struggle

  • in one country, or even a small region within one country.

  • Occasionally they will go across a border,

  • from Iraq to Syria, from Mali to Algeria,

  • from Somalia to Kenya, but they're not fighting

  • a global jihad against some far enemy.

  • But that doesn't mean

  • that we can relax.

  • I was in Yemen recently, where -- it's the home

  • of the last al Qaeda franchise

  • that still aspires to attack America, attack the West.

  • It's old school al Qaeda.

  • You may remember these guys.

  • They are the ones who tried to send the underwear bomber here,

  • and they were using the Internet to try and instigate

  • violence among American Muslims.

  • But they have been distracted recently.

  • Last year, they took control over a portion of southern Yemen,

  • and ran it, Taliban-style.

  • And then the Yemeni military got its act together,

  • and ordinary people rose up against these guys

  • and drove them out, and since then, most of their activities,

  • most of their attacks have been directed at Yemenis.

  • So I think we've come to a point now where we can say

  • that, just like all politics, all jihad is local.

  • But that's still not reason for us to disengage,

  • because we've seen that movie before, in Afghanistan.

  • When those Mujahideen defeated the Soviet Union,

  • we disengaged.

  • And even before the fizz had gone out of our celebratory champagne,

  • the Taliban had taken over in Kabul,

  • and we said, "Local jihad, not our problem."

  • And then the Taliban gave the keys of Kandahar

  • to Osama bin Laden. He made it our problem.

  • Local jihad, if you ignore it, becomes global jihad again.

  • The good news is that it doesn't have to be.

  • We know how to fight it now.

  • We have the tools. We have the knowhow,

  • and we can take the lessons we've learned

  • from the fight against global jihad, the victory against global jihad,

  • and apply those to local jihad.

  • What are those lessons? We know who killed bin Laden:

  • SEAL Team Six.

  • Do we know, do we understand, who killed bin Ladenism?

  • Who ended the global jihad?

  • There lie the answers to the solution to local jihad.

  • Who killed bin Ladenism? Let's start with bin Laden himself.

  • He probably thought 9/11 was his greatest achievement.

  • In reality, it was the beginning of the end for him.

  • He killed 3,000 innocent people, and that filled

  • the Muslim world with horror and revulsion,

  • and what that meant was that his idea of jihad

  • could never become mainstream.

  • He condemned himself to operating on the lunatic fringes

  • of his own community.

  • 9/11 didn't empower him; it doomed him.

  • Who killed bin Ladenism? Abu Musab al-Zarqawi killed it.

  • He was the especially sadistic head of al Qaeda in Iraq

  • who sent hundreds of suicide bombers to attack

  • not Americans but Iraqis. Muslims. Sunni as well as Shiites.

  • Any claim that al Qaeda had to being protectors of Islam

  • against the Western crusaders

  • was drowned in the blood of Iraqi Muslims.

  • Who killed Osama bin Laden? The SEAL Team Six.

  • Who killed bin Ladenism? Al Jazeera did,

  • Al Jazeera and half a dozen other satellite news stations in Arabic,

  • because they circumvented the old, state-owned

  • television stations in a lot of these countries

  • which were designed to keep information from people.

  • Al Jazeera brought information to them, showed them

  • what was being said and done in the name of their religion,

  • exposed the hypocrisy of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda,

  • and allowed them, gave them the information

  • that allowed them to come to their own conclusions.

  • Who killed bin Ladenism? The Arab Spring did,

  • because it showed a way for young Muslims

  • to bring about change

  • in a manner that Osama bin Laden, with his

  • limited imagination, could never have conceived.

  • Who defeated the global jihad? The American military did,

  • the American soldiers did, with their allies,

  • fighting in faraway battlefields.

  • And perhaps, a time will come when they get the rightful credit for it.

  • So all these factors, and many more besides,

  • we don't even fully understand some of them yet,

  • these came together

  • to defeat a monstrosity as big as bin Ladenism,

  • the global jihad, you needed this group effort.

  • Now, not all of these things will work in local jihad.

  • The American military is not going to march into Nigeria

  • to take on Boko Haram,

  • and it's unlikely that SEAL Team Six will rappel

  • into the homes of al Shabaab's leaders and take them out.

  • But many of these other factors that were in play

  • are now even stronger than before. Half the work is already done.

  • We don't have to reinvent the wheel.

  • The notion of violent jihad in which more Muslims are killed

  • than any other kind of people is already thoroughly discredited.

  • We don't have to go back to that.

  • Satellite television and the Internet are informing

  • and empowering young Muslims in exciting new ways.

  • And the Arab Spring has produced governments,

  • many of them Islamist governments,

  • who know that, for their own self-preservation,

  • they need to take on the extremists in their midsts.

  • We don't need to persuade them, but we do need to help them,

  • because they haven't really come to this place before.

  • The good news, again, is that a lot of the things they need

  • we already have, and we are very good at giving:

  • economic assistance, not just money, but expertise,