“I am the beating arm for Hezbollah and Hamas here in Iraq,” declared Muqtada al-Sadr last week. Yet, despite President’s Bush’s statement Tuesday night that “The violence we are seeing in Iraq is familiar, ” the U.S. fails to directly acknowledge that there is no difference between the Shiite and Sunni militias in Iraq and Palestinian terrorism. As a matter of fact, it was the Palestinian-Jordanian Musab al-Zarkawi (whose real name is Fedel Nazzel Khalayleh), one of al Qaeda’s major operatives in Iraq, helped to coordinate the infiltration of Palestinian, Yemenite, Afghani, North African, and other insurgents, into Iraq.
The horrid pictures of a raging, incited mob, lynching uniformed soldiers in broad daylight, have certainly been seen before–not only in Mogadishu, but also in the Palestinian territories. In October 2002, the Palestinians murdered, dismembered, and dragged the bodies of two Israeli soldiers throughout the streets of Ramallah in the West Bank.
Even the use of mosques as military forts, and ambulances to transport terrorists with their armaments, has been practiced for many years by the Palestinian terrorists. What we see in Iraq is really not much different than what we have been witnessing in the West Bank and Gaza for the last decade, only here, American and Coalition forces are the targets.
The historical and persisting failure of the U.S. and the West to denounce the Palestinian terrorists’ atrocities, and to put an end to their activities, was clearly perceived as a weakness by the Islamists. This weakness is now being exploited by al Qaeda and other Muslim fundamentalists, who have taken up arms against the U.S. and Coalition forces.
Al-Zarkawi, and his group, Anzar al Islam, like Hamas, al Qaeda, and other Muslim fundamentalist terrorists, adhere to the teachings of the Muslim brotherhood, and call upon their followers in Iraq, as in the Palestinian territories, “to burn the earth under the occupiers’ feet.” Similar statements are made by Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, who, in a televised address two weeks ago, pointed out the similarities between the U.S. and Israel: “We knew that Bush is the enemy of God, the enemy of Islam and Muslims. America declared war against God. Sharon declared war against God and God declared war against America, Bush and Sharon.” He went on to say that, “The war of God continues against them and I can see the victory coming up from the land of Palestine by the hand of Hamas.” Now that al-Sadr sees himself as a representative of Hamas, he added Iraq to the equation.
The increasing violence in Iraq, supported by foreign insurgencies from Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, will be as difficult to control as the ongoing terror activities by the Palestinians. As long as tens of millions of dollars in funding from Iran continue to fuel the thousands of unemployed and disenfranchised that have joined al-Sadr’s Shiite militia, and as long as tens of millions will continue to flow from Saudi Arabia to Palestinian terror organizations, terrorism will continue.
Despite the Saudi crackdown on dissidents in the Kingdom and their claims that they are taking steps to stop both terrorism and terrorist funding, and even despite Condoleezza Rice’s recent praise of the Saudi Kingdom’s cooperation in the war on terrorism, Saudi money continue to fuel terrorist activities against the U.S. and Israel.
Recent revelations about the transfer of millions of dollars in suspicious transactions by the Saudis through Riggs Bank in Washington, D.C., including to some Muslim charities that have been identified as fronts for al Qaeda, cast doubt on the sincerity of Saudi cooperation in stopping the funds for terrorism.
Similarly, of all the Arab League countries, Saudi Arabia is the only one that continues to fund the Palestinian Authority, led by Yasser Arafat, who, as a U.S. investigation just concluded, approved the attack on a U.S. embassy convoy in which three Americans were killed in 2003. The Saudi contribution, even before latest “reforms” in the PA were announced, amounts to $15.4 million every two months, and at least $50 million continues to flow to Hamas “charities” in the West Bank and Gaza.
The jihadist ideology, both on the Sunni and Shiite fronts, will not be easy to change. And despite the president’s assertion that we have deprived the terrorists of their shelter and many of their leaders, we could do much more to prevent them from carrying out their “holy war” against us–we should do more to cut off their funds.
–Rachel Ehrenfeld, author of Funding Evil; How Terrorism is Financed–and How to Stop It, is director of the New York-based American Center for Democracy.