It’s been a very bloody week in the violent world of Islamic terror, a world that only grows bloodier by the day.
Al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based, al-Qaida-linked terror group had racked up a preliminary death toll of 68 as of early this week in a hostage-taking attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. As of this writing, the crisis isn’t yet over and Kenyan authorities were admitting that the death toll could climb even higher.
In Peshawar, Pakistan on Sunday, at least 78 people worshipping in a church were murdered by suicide bombers belonging to a wing of the Pakistani Taliban.
The attacks bore the familiar hallmarks. In Kenya, non-Muslims were reportedly specific targets of the terrorists. In Pakistan, the fact that a church was the target speaks for itself.
Here in the US — where memories of Boston and Ft. Hood, not to mention 9/11, are still painfully fresh — the methods of the jihadists are only too familiar. That they make special efforts to murder “infidels,” that they have no qualms about killing women, children and the elderly, that they elevate murder-suicide to a religious ideal, is no longer surprising. Oh, and did we mention the beheading of Daniel Pearl?
Hardly a week goes by without yet another atrocity committed by one or another jihadist group, whether it be in Israel, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt or Indonesia.
And all the while the death toll rises steadily.
None of this is random or accidental. The Islamist killers, what-
ever their particular brand of Islamic extremism or geographical origin, intend to instill a sense of terror — hence terrorism — into the ranks of its many enemies through a non-stop barrage of bloody attacks.
They fervently hope that this sense of terror will eventually lead to a state of fear and to capitulation.
They pray that their murderous efforts will eventually cause Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Americans, Europeans and moderate Muslims (the list of their foes is long indeed) to give in to their demands, to retreat from their lines of defense, to slowly but surely become resigned to the idea of a world under the iron hand of extremist Islam, of Sha’aria law, of the very opposite of religious and political pluralism.
Or, failing that, that their enemies will grow inured to the idea of casualties in such places as marathons, shopping malls and churches; that they will grow so calloused and indifferent to senseless murder that their own values will eventually weaken.
Either way, the terrorists figure, they win.
They are stubborn, these practitioners and worshippers of death, these religious nihilists, and they are determined.
So must we be.
The bulwark against Islamism — whether it be the US, Europe, Israel or Indonesia or elsewhere — must be as unyielding and as willing to fight as the Islamists are. But we must never become them in the process, must never adopt the religious elitism, the tribal racism, the sheer hatred, the inhumane indifference, that characterizes them — must never lose sight that life will always remain an infinitely higher ideal than murder and suicide. “Choose life!” as Leviticus says.
And we must be patient, realizing that this struggle will not be settled or “won” in a short or convenient measure of time. The epic struggles of the 20th century — between democracy and the totalitarianism of Hitler and Stalin — took nearly a century to resolve.
The 21st century’s struggle between radical Islam and the rest of the world will almost surely be with us for decades or generations, perhaps longer. It will demand much courage, much money and, we fear, much blood, but we must be willing to sustain our resolve. We must never doubt that the future of human civilization itself is at stake.
The alternative to that future can easily be glimpsed this week in a Kenyan shopping mall and a Pakistani church.
Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News