The Taliban Victory as a Victory of Faith
Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen
August 23, 2021
photo: via Flickr CC
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The American defeat in Afghanistan will have a direct impact on Israel. Like the pseudo-government foisted by the Americans on Kabul, which, despite massive investment, proved a broken reed, the PA and its security mechanisms will collapse in time against its Islamist adversaries, notably Hamas. For all its overwhelming material and technological superiority, the IDF stands no chance of defeating Israel’s Islamist enemies unless its soldiers are driven by a relentless belief in the national cause.
To understand the last 40 years of the Islamic struggle in Afghanistan, it is worth looking at the legacy of Abdullah Azzam. Born in a small village near Jenin in 1941, he moved to Jordan after the fall of the West Bank during the Six-Day War. While there, he joined the Muslim Brotherhood and participated in activities of Palestinian terrorist organizations against Israel. He eventually went to Afghanistan, where he was a major factor in helping the mujahideen repel the Soviets. An inspirational figure and a mentor of Osama bin Laden, Azzam would come to lead thousands of volunteers from across the Islamic world as they fought in Afghanistan, earning the title the “father of global jihad.” Azzam was assassinated with his two sons in Peshawar in November 1989.
Unlike the leaders of the pan-Arab movement, from Gamal Abdul Nasser to Hafez Assad to Saddam Hussein, who failed to unite the “Arab nation” on behalf of a common struggle, Azzam managed to bring together large numbers of Muslims from different countries, clans, and tribes to participate in a “holy war”—a jihad —for the first time in the modern era.
Azzam explained his vision in simple terms:
“We will fight and defeat our enemies and establish an Islamic state on a piece of land in Afghanistan … Jihad will spread and Islam will fight elsewhere. Islam will fight the Jews in Palestine and establish an Islamic state in Palestine and elsewhere. These countries will then be united into one Islamic State.”
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