Carnage marks the end of Ramadan 2016. Attacks on the airport in Istanbul, a bakery in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a market in Baghdad and a suicide bombing in the holy city of Medina punctuated the final week of Islam’s holiest month.
Blood was shed in the name of Islam throughout Ramadan: the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando; suicide bombers at an army post in Jordan as well as in Yemen and Lebanon; the shooting of an Israeli man in a road and stabbing of a 13-year old Israeli girl while she slept in the West Bank.
Whether carried out or inspired by Islamic State or other actors, the blood-letting is unlikely to abate. And that leaves all of us to wonder what to do next.
Medina Bombing Is an Assault on Islam Itself
Haroon Moghul – CNN
There’s a Muslim tradition that says that, before Jesus descends, the Antichrist will have free reign over the earth, filling it with injustice and evil. But he won’t be allowed to enter Mecca or Medina. Perhaps it’s this conviction that explains why so many Muslims I am talking to right now simply cannot believe what has just happened.A suicide bombing in Medina?
It’s true that ISIS practices a vicious violence with a cold, cruel political logic, seeking to exploit and aggravate existing social tensions: They call it “the management of savagery.” Elsewhere it means “the elimination of the gray zone,” forcing people to choose sides. Going to war with pluralism, tolerance, democracy.But if Muslims believe their sacred cities are off-limits, they’re in for a rude awakening.
The Terrorists the Saudis Cultivate in Peaceful Countries
Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times
Whenever there is a terrorist attack by Muslim extremists, we look to our enemies like the Islamic State or Al Qaeda. But perhaps we should also look to our “friends,” like Saudi Arabia.
For decades, Saudi Arabia has recklessly financed and promoted a harsh and intolerant Wahhabi version of Islam around the world in a way that is, quite predictably, producing terrorists. And there’s no better example of this Saudi recklessness than in the Balkans.
The upshot is that, according to the Kosovo government, 300 Kosovars have traveled to fight in Syria or Iraq, mostly to join the Islamic State. As my colleague Carlotta Gall noted in a pathbreaking article about radicalization here, Saudi money has transformed a once-tolerant Islamic society into a pipeline for jihadists.
What Doesn’t Work Against Terrorism
Kevin D. Williamson – National Review
The Islamic State and its groupies have a great deal in common with al-Qaeda, but there is a tactical difference that is going to be very important to us in the coming years. It may be the case that al-Qaeda did not follow up the September 11 attacks with an equally terrifying string of less spectacular low-level attacks because its members were unable to, but it also is the case that al-Qaeda was organizationally disinclined to do so, believing, at an institutional level, that such dramatic, theatrical attacks should be followed only with larger, more dramatic, more theatrical attacks. The Islamic State, on the other hand, is satisfied if it can inspire some mentally unstable loser on Facebook to shoot up a gay club in Orlando, or a shopping mall somewhere, or a school bus somewhere else.
We should assume that such low-level attacks are going to become a regular part of our lives for the foreseeable future — unless something truly effective is done to counter them.
What would that look like?
From Orlando to Bangladesh, a Blood-Soaked Ramadan
Maajid Nawaz – The Daily Beast
Instead of marking these days by sacrificing food and other worldly desires, jihadists have stained the holy month in blood and the grisly sacrifice of humans….
Long gone are the days when terrorist atrocities required central coordination and direction. Now, all they need is inspiration. The heady mix of a sense of purpose provided by the global jihadist insurgency blends with the local context that can whip up a frenzy to the point where disgusting terrorist attacks can seem like heroic deeds of resistance….
Why ISIS Persists
Jeffrey D. Sachs – Project Syndicate
The persistence of ISIS underscores three strategic flaws in US foreign policy, along with a fatal tactical flaw.
First, the neocon quest for US hegemony through regime change is not only bloody-minded arrogance; it is classic imperial overreach….
Second, the CIA has long armed and trained Sunni jihadists through covert operations funded by Saudi Arabia. In turn, these jihadists gave birth to ISIS, which is a direct, if unanticipated, consequence of the policies pursued by the CIA and its Saudi partners.
Third, the US perception of Iran and Russia as implacable foes of America is in many ways outdated and a self-fulfilling prophecy….
Fourth, on the tactical side, the US attempt to fight a two-front war against both Assad and ISIS has failed. Whenever Assad has been weakened, Sunni jihadists, including ISIS and al-Nusra Front, have filled the vacuum.
The Worst ISIS Attack in Days Is the One the World Probably Cares Least About
Ishaan Tharoor – The Washington Post
First, they came for Istanbul….Next, they came for Dhaka….Then, they attacked Baghdad.
It’s unlikely that this attack, just the latest in an unending stream of tragedy to envelop the Iraqi capital, will generate the same panic in the West as the earlier two incidents. For years now, we have become almost numb to the violence in Baghdad: Deadly car bombings there conjure up no hashtags, no Facebook profile pictures with the Iraqi flag, and no Western newspaper front pages of the victims’ names and life stories, and they attract only muted global sympathy.