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The war against Hamas: Why does it matter?
Exclusive: Bruce Phillips notes worldwide implications if terror group isn't crushed in Gaza

Saturday, January 17, 2009

By Bruce Phillips

In these perilous times, it isn't often that the EU, the U.N. and the U.S. agree on foreign policy issues, especially those related to defining terrorism and/or the threat of global jihad. For example, the U.S. considers Hezbollah (both civilian and military) a global terrorist organization, while the EU and U.N. do not. However, all three do agree (at least reluctantly) that Hamas is truly a "terrorist entity."

For its part, Hamas has made no secret of its purpose for existence – the destruction of Israel. As stated explicitly in the preamble of its 1988 Charter, "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." What is often overlooked is the Charter's declaration that Hamas is "one of the wings of Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine," and that the "Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a universal organization which constitutes the largest Islamic movement in modern times." It is important to recognize that Hamas – one among many active progeny of the malignant Brotherhood (Ikhwan) – has emerged as the pre-eminent, idealized representative of the global jihadist movement.

Why? Because Hamas stands at ground zero, at the epicenter of the jihadist theological universe, and it is directly engaged in the valiant existential (spiritual) battle that all jihadist groups yearn for. These "roaring lions of Hamas" personify a modern-day Salah Al-Din (Saladin) – as the new liberators of holy Al-Quds (Jerusalem) – while being conveniently appointed as the democratically legitimized arbiters and guardians of a new Islamic Millennium.

In other words, Hamas is the premier jihadist organization in the world today, primarily because of its ongoing face-to-face fight with Israel – Islam's eternal enemy.

With this in mind, let's revisit the question included in the title of this article, "The war against Hamas in Gaza," specifically, "Why does it matter?" In a nutshell, it matters because if Israel cannot prevail over Hamas in Gaza (for whatever combination of political, military and/or psychological reasons), then no government will ever fully (adequately) prevail against the fast-growing number of jihad groups emerging elsewhere in the world.

How could this be? Because the premier platoons of Hamas fighters are currently barricaded within a well-defined area of about 140 square miles – a small strip of land little more than 30 miles long by 4 miles wide. Of course, there are leaders and supporters of Hamas and Palestinian expatriate communities scattered throughout the world, but Hamas has planted its frontline jihad battle flag in Gaza.

Hamas made its jihadist intentions clear shortly after its election, with the June 2006 capture of Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Following Israel's subsequent arrest of more than 50 Hamas Cabinet ministers and officials, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said, "Our people are patient. They can arrest leaders, assassinate leaders, but our flag will not fall."' Its intentions to dominate the new jihad strategic battle zone became even clearer in early 2007, when it violently forced Fatah out of the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, the rockets began to fall. In June of 2006, Abu Nasser, a senior Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leader, said, "The new [Third] Intifada is only a question of time, and this will be the hardest and the most dangerous one. It's just about timing until the order to blow up a new wave of attacks will be given." Unfortunately, Hamas and its surrogates, such as Al-Aqsa Brigades, the Palestinian Front the Liberation of Palestine and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, have been true to their word. Since the withdrawal of Israel from Gaza in August of 2005, more than 6,500 rockets and mortars have been aimed at the civilian population of Israel.

Also unfortunately, the (Western) world still seems confused about how to respond to the jihad threat posed by Hamas. President Nicholas Sarkozy of France condemned Israel's invasion of Gaza, calling it a "dangerous military escalation," while EU President Jiri Potuznik of the Czech Republic responded with full support for Israel, stating, "At the moment, from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step as a defensive, not offensive, action." At the same time, the British government has not publicly condemned Israel's ground offensive, but also made clear that it does not fully support it, either. All this, and much more like it, while "the campaign has inflamed public opinion across the Arab world, which has responded with protests and condemnations."

To conclude, if Hamas cannot be defeated in Gaza (when everyone in the world should know exactly who they are and what they stand for), then how can anyone else hope to defeat jihadists who are subtly diffused through the populations of nearly every other country in the world? Stated another way, if we can't defeat an enemy we can clearly see, then how will we ever defeat an enemy we cannot clearly see, who often enjoys the protection of governments operating under Islamic Shariah law, or at least cleverly and cynically hides behind the protections and benefits provided so generously by democratic, liberal Western governments?

Or, if we lack the political will (and discernment) necessary to defeat an avowed, well-defined and unapologetic jihad group such as Hamas – concentrated as they are at this moment in space and time – then when and how will we ever find the will to engage the threat of jihad (in all of its myriad subtle expressions) against jihad groups and individuals that we can't even see, let alone define?

What's more, in the immediate aftermath of Israel's failure to defeat Hamas, the leaders of every jihadist group in the world will come to a sudden (and thrilling) realization … that no power on earth can defeat them. Yes, they may suffer loss of life and property, and they may have to endure hardships and deprivations, but in the end, Islam will prevail. Of that, they will be resolute and certain.

Bruce Phillips a federal law enforcement agent with over 30 years of experience and a leading expert on Hamas and its fundraising network on American soil. He currently serves in an advisory capacity to America's Truth Forum.

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