The Geronimos of this world

Seen as an Islamic hero and referred to as a martyr whose slaying gave a new impetus to jihad forces, Osama Bin Laden and his whole figure keep on haunting international relations two years after he was successfully eliminated by US Special Forces. The hand he had in the killing of thousands of innocent civilians around the world and the inspiration he gave to hundreds of terrorists should and must never be forgotten or minimized. The breed and techniques of violence that saw the light in the 1980s on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border changed the way Jihadi terrorists wage their horrendous war.

The way Bin Laden centralized attention around his persona made it seem that his ideas and techniques were in a certain way unique, that Al Qaeda was centered on a single man. The mission that brought an end to his reign over international terror liberated a mass of international commentators who have then been able to push all evil into the Bin Laden/Al Qaeda frame in order to be free to directly or indirectly support other terrorist organizations.

In a period in which Jihadi terrorism is on the rise it is essential to understand that the elimination of Geronimo was in no way the destruction of an idea. The Zarqawis, Meshaals, Merrahs and Tsarnaevs are the faces of the ever present and global jihadi threat. It is vital to comprehend and realize that it is no longer a question of will but only of operational and financial capabilities. From the French slums to American colleges and from the battled-streets of the Middle East to the war torn regions of Central Asia, global Jihad is a way of life. The enemy is well defined and few questions exist in the minds of the killers. The voice of their genocidal propaganda can take many forms. From anti-Semite demonstrations in European universities to the active support of imams collecting funds for international terrorist organizations, the network of jihadi elements goes well beyond the few fundamentalists often portrayed in Yemeni, Pakistani and Afghani mountains.

Death may come at a checkpoint, during a marathon or while commuting by bus or by train but the certainty is that in the eyes of those perpetrating these attacks the objective remains the same: killing as many innocent civilians as possible.

In this regard, the condemnation must be extremely clear. There are no differences between the ideology that killed almost 3000 civilians on 9/11, the one that took away the life of innocent kids in Toulouse or the one that pushes Palestinians to use every possible occasion they have to kill Jews.

Military power can effectively reduce the threat posed by these blood thirsty terrorists by eliminating them, blocking their access to advanced and unconventional weaponry and limiting their ability to communicate, circulate and regroup yet it cannot destroy an ideology.

It is up to courageous journalists, policy makers and researchers to point out that the Geronimos of today are deadlier and more capable than they were two years ago.

The West is tacitly backing Jihad in Syria while it does almost nothing to limit the devastating effects of rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Europe and in the United States. Along with that, wishful thinkers see in renewed peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinian Authority manna for their ideologically oriented goals. No one can deny the philosophical and operational proximity between the Qassam brigades, the Al Aqsa brigades and Al Qaeda. Glorifying a two-States solution on the present ground appears to accept the fact that Israel has to live with these enemies no matter what.

While a family in Judea is crying a dead father and husband, the family of the terrorist who committed the attack is glorifying its dead member. A couple of weeks before that, a French municipality decided to honor Salah Hamouri a well-known Palestinian killer and terrorist.

It would be futile and devastating to assume that the murderous craze of Osama Bin Laden vanished with him. The willingness to kill innocent civilians, target Jews worldwide, wage war against Israel and suppress anyone supporting the Jewish State or denouncing terrorism are the elements proving that this world’s view based on death and destruction is well engraved in radical Islam.

The Geronimos of this world may no longer be media icons and their actions are of a lesser magnitude than the one orchestrated by the Saudi terrorist. Yet, from the beheading of Christians in Syria to the rocket attacks on Israel and from the bombs set off by Boko Haram to the Western Jihadi infiltration the threat is of a single nature and present a common and unique ideology.

The take down of Osama Bin Laden should provide a yearly reminder and motivation for the strong belief that it is possible to combat terrorism, no matter what it takes, and that for our own security and for the peace of our neighbors. With all this in mind and for all these reasons and purposes, it is our moral duty to denounce any form of jihadism and radical Islamism present in our societies.

About the Author
Riccardo Dugulin is an independant international affairs analyst. He holds a Master in International Security from the Paris School of International Affairs (Sciences Po) and has worked in leading think tanks in Washington DC, Beirut and Dubai and has held the position of security coordinator for a security assistance firm.