The apparently successful pre-emptive strike by British and Pakistani police against a home-grown terror cell in Britain should raise the concern of every decent patriotic citizen in Britain, Europe and Australia about their long-term security.
For the danger comes from what one would have hoped were the socially integrated children of Muslim immigrants, millions of whom have settled in western Europe and hundreds of thousands in Australia. Instead, a small but potent minority of this second generation has embraced a totalitarian temptation that George W. Bush, following numerous liberal Western analysts, has correctly identified as Islamic fascism.
The word fascism has been the most inflated and misused political term in any Western language. To the 20th century's first generation of communists, it referred to anyone who advocated a forceful response to causes dear to communists or fellow travellers. In its most ridiculous misuse, during the 1930s, German communists, under orders from Moscow, referred to their social democratic rivals as social fascists.
The second generation of communists and the West's New Left of the '60s also inflated and misused the term to describe their resilient domestic opponents on the Left or Right, as well as any developing world dictatorship aligned with the US.
Yet for those with a respect for history and intellectual clarity, the term has a more precise meaning. It refers to a revolutionary political mass movement or regime that aims to achieve national greatness by radically transforming political and social life with totalitarian rule and by a policy of imperial expansion. Fascist ideology is reactionary in that it aspires to re-create a mythical past.
The originator of the term fascism was Benito Mussolini. Yet the dictatorship he created in Italy was in practice more farce than a revolutionary ideological reality. The only genuinely revolutionary and brutal manifestation of fascism that combined totalitarian rule with global expansion was the German National Socialist regime. It was also permeated by a virulent racism that was profound and genocidal. Nazism was imitated by radical right-wing movements in wartime Croatia (the Ustashi), Hungary (the Arrow Cross) and Romania (the Iron Guard).
Fascism and its nominal antithesis, communism, were, until the late '70s, the only two visible manifestations of totalitarianism. Communism differed from fascism in that it looked towards a social utopia that it claimed had never yet existed. It also proclaimed an affinity for Western enlightenment values, especially social equality and scientific rationality, although in practice it created new systems of social inequality.
Since the Iranian revolution of 1979, the world has been confronted by a new form of totalitarianism. It is a multidimensional phenomenon that originated not only before Bush but even before the state of Israel was created. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in British colonial Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna. Its most famous theoretician, Sayyid Qutb, was executed in Egypt in 1966, one year before Israel's success in the Six-Day War made it a hate object of the Western Left.
Radical Islam is different from communism, and from what we had come to know as fascism in Europe, by its ostensibly religious character. But the Islamic revolution in Iran was like European fascism in its totalitarian domestic ambition and its violently aggressive foreign policy. It was also vehemently racist, persecuting Iranian Jews and people of the Baha'i Faith in particular. From its inception the Islamic Republic of Iran has been committed to the destruction of Israel.
The Iranian regime, which represented the Shia strand of Islam, claimed to be the centre of global Islamic revolution, fostering mentoring relationships with Shia parties and religious leaders throughout the Arab world, most notably with Hezbollah (The Party of God) in Lebanon, which Iranian agents created in 1982. Hezbollah's incumbent leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has declared Jews invented the legend of the Nazi atrocities and that Israel is a cancerous body in the region that must be uprooted. Hezbollah has carried out numerous bombings and political assassinations abroad on Iran's behalf. The most spectacular were a suicide bomber's massacre of 241 US marine peacekeepers in Lebanon in 1983, and the bombing of the Israeli embassy and Jewish cultural centre in Buenos Aires in 1994, slaughtering more than 100 Argentinian Jews.
Hezbollah also has kidnapped scores of Western journalists in Lebanon during the '80s, torturing and murdering many of them, and has assassinated Iranian opposition politicians in France and elsewhere. As we have seen recently, Hezbollah initiated conflict with Israel, then launched rockets on Israeli civilians.
Hezbollah is believed to have clandestine sleeper cells from among the Shi'ite immigrant communities throughout the Western world, including Australia. The Iranians are more ecumenical than their Sunni terrorist rivals. Iran's clients include not only Hezbollah but also, within the Sunni world, the Palestinian terrorist organisations Islamic Jihad and Hamas.
Of course, Iran is not the only locus of Islamic fascism. In 1994, a rival Islamic totalitarian regime from the Sunni branch of Islam, the Taliban, seized power in neighbouring Afghanistan.
It became the base and training area for the Sunni terrorist organisation al-Qa'ida after that organisation was expelled from Sudan.
Al-Qa'ida had been founded by Abdullah Azzam in 1988. Its explicit ambition was the destruction of existing Arab regimes and the creation of a religious caliphate in an arc stretching across the Muslim world, from Indonesia, Malaysia and The Philippines through to the Arab world and including the region of Spain known as Andalusia. Its modus operandi rests on the terror of the deed. For those who imagine that al-Qa'ida's wrath is directed only against those nations that have intervened in Iraq, one should note that it was founded 15 years before the Iraq war, at the height of Western support for the Afghan mujaheddin.
Moreover, it has attacked a French tanker in the Persian Gulf and has launched attacks in Muslim countries, notably Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan.
As we know from the events of last week, al-Qa'ida's present tactic is to recruit citizens of Western countries to carry out horrendous terrorist acts in the West. In the case of Britain, the problem is that a minority of the Muslim community sympathises with the terrorists. A British Daily Telegraph poll in February on the July 7, 2005, bombings of innocents on the London Tube and bus showed that 6 per cent of British Muslims insisted the bombings were fully justified. As the poll noted: "Six per cent may be a small proportion but in absolute numbers it amounts to about 100,000 individuals who, if not prepared to carry out terrorist acts, are ready to support those who do."
By now it should be patently clear that we in the West are at war with a hydra-headed and barbaric enemy that has not a shred of humanity and relishes the bloodletting of tens of thousands of innocents, including other Muslims. It is at least as brutal as the Nazis and communist enemies we have faced in the past. Although radical Islam is not militarily as powerful as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, it has the huge strategic advantage of suicide bombing, which is immune to deterrence.
Should any of its constituent elements -- the Iranian Government or al-Qa'ida -- acquire nuclear weapons, it will likely attempt genocide against Israel and create devastation in the West of an unprecedented kind.
Stephen Morris, an Australian citizen, is a fellow at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.
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