Word is whizzing around the Islamic fundamentalist terrorist movement in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and the Palestinian territories: There is a better way to vanquish the Jews and Christians than suicide bombings, hostage-taking and massacres, it says: The era of the mighty rocket and missile is at hand
Thousands of videotapes, leaflets and the Internet sites used by radical Muslim groups are full of reports about the miracles performed for Hizballah by short-range surface and medium-range rockets, anti-tank missiles and electronic warfare systems used against Israel.
Hassan Nasrallah has found the ultimate weapon to confound Israel and all Western unbelievers, they say.
He is being glorified on several counts.
By keeping up a rocket blitz against northern Israel of up to 200 rockets a day for 30 days in defiance of Israel’s air, ground and naval power, he is said to have outshone Osama bin Laden’s 9/11attacks on New York and Washington.
Muslim military analysts have counted the rocket total and calculated that he shot more rockets at the Jews than Nazi Germany dropped bombs over Britain in World War II. His admirers have searched high and low and found no parallel of this feat in modern history. Even the Serbian barrage against Sarajevo in the mid-1990s is said to pale by comparison.
Muslim war experts are drawn particularly to four Lebanon war developments.
1. The inability of Israel’s armed forces to halt or even reduce the tempo of rocket attacks. This leads them to conclude that no modern Western army is capable of saving medium-sized towns from devastation by rockets and missiles.
2. The fact that Hizballah’s rockets ravaged and practically depopulated two thriving northern Israeli towns, the popular Mediterranean holiday resort of Nahariya whose 60,000 population was reduced to 12,000, and Kiryat Shemona of Upper Galilee, which is left with no more than one-tenth of its 30,000 inhabitants.
Dozens of smaller communities, including Arab villages, likewise suffered cruel damage, loss of life and destroyed livelihoods. More than 6,000 apartment buildings were leveled and rendered uninhabitable, most of the public buildings and infrastructure, including schools, factories, hotels and roads, are in ruins.
All this destruction is hailed by radical Islamic commentators as a heroic achievement by Nasrallah.
3. The displacement of more than three-quarters of a million Israelis of the northern communities by his rockets and their flight south is held up as one of the greatest Muslim triumphs in modern times. For the first time, an Israeli government is being forced to set up tent cities for tens of thousands of homeless refugee families in the parks of North Tel Aviv and in Petach Tikva, along the Yarkon River.
4. The invincibility of Hizballah’s anti-tank rockets against Israeli tanks and armor.
All this published material shows how deeply impressed the Islamic fundamentalist movement is by the unlimited flow of rockets reaching Hizballah and the fact that no one in the western world, except the Israeli air force, lifted a finger to stem the flow from Syria and Iran.
The fundamentalists infer from this that the Hizballah model is well worth emulating in other places and against other armies. The fact that the predominantly Sunni Muslim Syria and the Shiite Iran are able to work together as Hizballah’s sponsors and logistical backers inspires radical Muslim commentators to hope that the Muslim world is capable of healing itself the violent sectarian conflict besetting Iraq.
They urge a separation of universal Islam from the troubles in Iraq. They must be treated as an internal Iraqi malaise, say the commentators, which cannot be allowed to infect the entire Muslim nation.
For radical Islamists of both Sunni and Shiite sects and their terrorist movements, Iran is emerging as the key to a global Islamist revival. The Islamic Republic is poised to recover the acknowledged leadership role in the Muslim world, which it enjoyed in the first four years after Khomeini’s 1979 revolution established a radical Islamic theocracy in Iran.