A bright future for jihadists
A “wind of optimism” is sweeping through the global jihadist community, says Raffaello Pantucci in the Financial Times. The West’s retreats from Afghanistan and Mali are seen as jihadi victories, while Isis-affiliated groups are gaining ground in Nigeria and Mozambique. In Idlib, northeastern Syria, an al-Qaeda-linked group is rebranding itself as an “acceptable government”. As the West tries to turn away and focus on great power conflict with China and Russia, a “narrative of victory” is gaining momentum among jihadis.
The September 11 deadline for the Afghan withdrawal highlights the ambivalent results of the West’s war on militant Islam. After 9/11, President Bush swore the Taliban would “hand over the terrorists” or “share in their fate”. Two decades later, the Taliban have not handed over any terrorists, broken with al-Qaeda or shared their fate. From the perspective of the jihadist community “the overall trajectory looks positive”. A 2018 report by US think-tank CSIS showed the number of jihadi groups had almost tripled since 2001. The US retreat in Afghanistan shows many wannabe martyrs their struggle is winnable “if they just stick at it for long enough”. Whitehall and Washington may have tired of the war on terror, “but those we are fighting have not”.
Read the full article here (paywall).