What inspired al-Qaeda to attack the United States, according to one of the terrorists, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), who helped plan 9/11?
The American psychologist, James E. Mitchell, who crafted the interrogation program that helped stop terrorist attacks and saved countless lives after 9/11, just published a book, Enhanced Interrogation.
Commenting on Mitchell's book, Marc Thiessen wrote in the Washington Post:
"... KSM said that al-Qaeda expected the United States to respond to 9/11 as we had the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut — when, KSM told Mitchell, the United States 'turned tail and ran.'"
In the end, KSM told Mitchell:
"We will win because Americans don't realize... we do not need to defeat you militarily; we only need to fight long enough for you to defeat yourself by quitting. ... Eventually, America will expose her neck for us to slaughter."
That is exactly why Islamists are trying to hit the West's soft underbelly: the office of the magazine, Charlie Hebdo, restaurants and theaters in Paris, a café in Copenhagen, a promenade in Nice, a church in Normandy and a Christmas market in Berlin. Islamists perfectly understand that the West's most exposed flank is its home front. The same lifestyle that we defend by words is the main obstacle to the initiative of the defense against Islamists. Islamists have told us in every way, "we love death more than life", while we in the West love the expectation of life more than life itself.
As Mark Steyn put it in 2004, "whoever makes the late Osama bin Laden's audio cassettes these days showed a shrewd understanding of the situation in offering a 'truce' to any European nation that distances itself from America." In other words, surrender. Through terror attacks, many jihadists are already proving able to decide the fate of many governments.
Compare what happened in two different countries after the 9/11 attacks.
November 2001: Within two months after the terror attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, the U.S. overthrew the Taliban in Afghanistan.
March 2004: Within a month after the terror attacks in Madrid, the Spanish public toppled its conservative government, elected a Socialist one and abandoned the Western military coalition in Iraq. A few days after taking office, Zapatero's Socialist government withdrew the 1,300 Spanish troops that were deployed to Iraq by the previous conservative government of José Maria Aznar. As James Phillips at the Heritage Foundation explained:
"This Spanish retreat will be perceived as a huge political triumph for Al Qaeda and like-minded Islamic radicals -- probably their most important achievement since September 11, 2001."
"Confirming the growing suspicion that Zapatero's post-modern approach to fighting terrorism lacks a basis in reality, he told TIME Magazine in September 2004 that 'sexual equality is a lot more effective against terrorism than military strength'. At the same time, he announced an ill-defined initiative he calls the 'Alliance of Civilizations', which borrows heavily from the 'Dialogue of Civilizations' concept promoted by Islamic radicals in Iran during the 1990s; in its essence, the initiative calls on the West to negotiate a truce with Islamic terrorists, and on terms set by the latter."
The Spanish result was understood in al-Qaeda circles as a monumental victory, and prompted the Islamists' networks to invest in seeking to influence the outcome of elections elsewhere in the West.
The public relations department of al-Qaeda and ISIS have learned how to talk in a language the soft West can understand.
After Spain, jihadists have been able to determine the fate of another election, in France: President François Hollande, in fact, just announced that he will not stand for re-election in 2017. His presidency was mortally defeated by a campaign of multiple terror attacks that demoralized Hollande's government and destroyed his political credibility. ISIS's henchmen butchered 90 people at the Bataclan Theater in Paris. What did the French government do to avenge them and to destroy the Islamists responsible for that carnage? Absolutely nothing -- or Raqqa would have been dust.
In December 2016, a new Islamist terror attack may have ordained the future of another European political leader: Angela Merkel. But beyond Merkel's electoral chances, jihad had already destined the course of Europe's most important nation when its Chancellor, after 12 people were murdered at a Christmas market in Berlin, said that Germany "is stronger than terrorism." Merkel refused, however, to show how Germans are stronger than Islamists, such as through changing their policy on migration and multiculturalism. The day after an Islamist killed Westerners at a Christmas market in Berlin, no German military flight took off to bomb ISIS.
ISIS's henchmen butchered 90 people at the Bataclan Theater. What did the French government do to avenge them and to destroy the Islamists responsible? Absolutely nothing. The day after an Islamist killed Westerners at a Christmas market in Berlin, no German military flight took off to bomb ISIS. Pictured above: French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel chat during a "unity march" of world leaders held in Paris on January 11, 2015, days after Islamist terrorists murdered 17 people in the Paris area. (Image source: AFP video screenshot)
"Many Westerners have accepted the normality of the most sordid attacks," said the Canadian philosopher, Mathieu Bock-Côté. "We have internalized the presence in our lives of the Islamist violence. We do not know what this war against radical Islam would mean."
The fate of another European country, Denmark, was decided by Islamists in 2005, when Danish appeasement and impotence dominated the cartoon crisis.
Beyond the electoral map, jihad is already changing the face of Europe's soft underbelly in different ways: freedom of expression is retreating everywhere from Berlin to Amsterdam, Islamic veils are proliferating, sharia courts work at full speed in many EU capitals, and Jewish communities are fleeing. Muslim reformers are silenced, the assimilation of Muslims is failing, and the Western intelligentsia is already signing letters of capitulation. The latest have been such as the fraudulent resolution at the UN, and UNESCO declaring Jewish holy sites and even the Old City of Jerusalem -- the heart of Judaism for nearly 4,000 years and the seat of Christianity for 2000 years -- Islamic, despite Islam not even existing historically until in the seventh century, hundreds of years later.
The next "peace conference" in Paris, on January 15, is where 70 nations will probably agree to another UN Security Council vote to establish a Palestinian State, presumably (according to UNSC Resolution 2334) with the Old City of Jerusalem, the heart of the Jewish people and sacred to the Christian people, as its capital. It is another terrible sign of the West's soft capitulation to terror. It is also reminiscent of another "peace conference," in 1938, when in Munich the Western democracies bowed to Hitler and the Czechoslovak state was mutilated and deprived of defensible borders. Six months later, abandoned by its French and British allies, and bullied by the Nazis, Czechoslovakia was overrun by Germany. Like Israel today, the Czechs in the 1930s were accused of being "disturbers of the peace". "Peace," as in the inversions of George Orwell, sometimes means capitulation to Islam.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.