Pipes: Hamas Versus America

Daniel Pipes has an interesting piece regarding Hamas and their position regarding the United States.

"The Bush administration's push for quick democracy in the Middle East has an increasingly clear implication: if Islamist organizations such as Hamas are to be likely electoral winners, Western powers should stop classifying them as terrorists and instead come to terms with them.

This conclusion follows from such efforts as those led by Alastair Crooke and his Conflicts Forum; the European Union's exploration of opening a dialogue with the Islamists; and an astonishing statement in which the White House spokesman referred to Hamas members as "business professionals."

Before this whitewashing of Hamas proceeds, it bears noting that the organization has not just murdered over four hundred Israelis but also prepared itself for war with America.

Pipes has frequently written about ideological battles and I tend to side with him that the Islamists are not fighting to free themselves to establish a democratic stronghold. They are fighting to try and re-establish the Islamic caliphate.

"The ideological justification for war is in place. In 2003, Hamas declared President Bush "Islam's biggest enemy" and in 2004 it called him "the enemy of God, the enemy of Islam and Muslims." A 2004 press release announced Hamas considers the U.S as an enemy and as an accomplice to the Israeli enemy aggression against the Palestinians. … The U.S will face responsibility for its position as an accomplice with Israel."

The obvious question is how is Hamas going to try and act upon this.

"Hamas logistical cells could be quickly turned operational. By early 2002, Eli Lake disclosed in the New York Sun, the FBI concluded that 50 to 100 trained Hamas and Hezbollah agents "had already infiltrated America." where they worked "on fundraising and logistics," but Dennis Lormel, formerly in FBI counterterrorism, notes that these cells "have the potential of being operational."

FBI Director Robert Mueller reaffirmed the threat in February 2005: "Although it would be a major strategic shift for Hamas, its United States network is theoretically capable of facilitating acts of terrorism in the United States." According to a senior government counterterrorism official, Hamas could be merging with elements of Osama bin Laden's "all inclusive military arm" and the two together then "carry out military strikes" against America. They have operations planned for here, they have the capabilities to strike at will and when the time is right they will do it."

Counterterrorism specialist Boaz Ganor notes, "Hamas formally does not engage, and does not intend to engage, in a terrorist attack on American soil. But I think it is not inconceivable that Hamas would change its strategies, and they would like to be ready for that option."

Hamas has gone global. Reports indicate it is active, planning attacks against American forces, in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait. Of particular note, it was a Palestinian with possible ties to Hamas, Ahmed Mustafa Ibrahim Ali, who shot three American corrections officers at a prison in Kosovo in April 2004."

Pipes continues by listing a couple more examples of men who could have committed terrorist acts here in the U.S. and that Hamas could attack America at will. The reality is that any group or person can attack America at will. I am not real pleased with that kind of approach because it is like saying that smog hurts children, it is obvious.

The real question here is one of policy. What is the best method of handling Hamas. Do we try to co-opt them by making them into political players or do we handle them as a simple terrorist group.

From my perch I am always going to be concerned about trying to fight an ideological war when we are not working on defeating the ideology. That may sound strange, but if you are fighting someone who is willing to die for their beliefs you have a tremendous problem because some of the normal deterrents are less effective.

So you need to find other methods to weaken their will and hopefully redirect their beliefs so that they no longer view violence as an acceptable tool to use to achieve their goals.

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