The world needs to listen to Sisi on IS

It is clear that President al-Sisi's approach to fighting Radical Islam is deeper than traditional western approaches to the problem.

Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi (photo credit: REUTERS)
Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Despite trillions of dollars spent fighting Islamic Radicals, they continue to exist, spread, and threaten our national security and international stability. The recent expansion of the Islamic State (IS, formerly called ISIS) in Iraq and the collapse of the US trained Iraqi army are clear indicators that the US approach to fighting the problem of Radical Islam must be questioned.
Up till now, the US response to this threat continues to be one-dimensional i.e.  Military confrontation of specific terrorist organizations. Significant tactical successes achieved by the US so far, including the elimination of Osama bin Laden, have failed to effectively end—or even curb—the global radical Islamist movement. Indeed, some estimate that al-Qaida now occupies nearly twice as much territory as it did five years ago.
It is now clearer than ever that a conventional military approach cannot, by itself, end this problem.
If the US did not change its approach and adopt a better approach to fight Islamic terrorism, attacks on major US or foreign cities or vital US economic interest, could cause devastating losses of life and fortune.
The US leaders and decision makers need to listen and learn from those who have better understanding of the problem.
One of the best people that the US needs to listen to and see his vision on this matter is President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the democratically elected President of Egypt, who is currently in the US to attend the 69th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.
Contrary to the attempts that ignore the role of the ideological religious believes in causing this problem, President al-Sisi - who is a pious man with a career in military intelligence- did not shy away from confronting the problem and admitting repeatedly the need for new ways of religious teaching that encourages tolerance and peaceful coexistence rather than hatred and violence. One of the phrases that President al-Sisi said was "I see that the religious discourse in the entire Islamic world has cost Islam its humanity," Sisi said in an interview televised on May 5. Additionally, President al-Sisi has said there is no such thing as a "religious state" - challenging a central Islamist concept.
Such comments and his past experience puts President al-Sisi in a position to lead the global fight against Islamic Radicals as he simply understood the main cause of the problem i.e. the ideology and expressed clear desire to change it.
Furthermore, unlike the traditional US approach of fighting specific radical Islamist groups, President al-Sisi correctly sees radical Islam as one disease that manifests itself in different names. For him, you cannot fight al-Qaida and ISIS and ignore Boko Haram in Nigeria, the terrorists in Mali, and the jihadists in Sinai peninsula.
Recently, al-Sisi vouched that “Egypt Will give any support required in the fight against ISIS”, however, it is important to mention that he wants a holistic approach to solving it. The world needs to listen to President al-Sisi as his holistic approach needs global cooperation. Such an approach is crystallized in his statement that “any strategy to fight terrorism must also deal with the causes of militancy by fighting poverty, improving education and moderating religious discourse… "When all that happens together, it will bring a decisive result."
More than a year ago, al-Sisi warned that the region was heading into great danger from extremist thought; his notice  didn't receive proper attention until the events in Iraq took place and the Islamic State swept over the Iraqi-Syrian borders.
In brief, it is clear that President al-Sisi's approach to fighting Radical Islam is deeper than traditional western approaches to the problem. The former –unlike the latter- understands the main cause of the problem and a has more holistic vision to its solutions. The free world need to listen to his advice on fighting terrorism.
The writer is an Islamic thinker and reformer, and a one-time Islamic extremist from Egypt. He was a member of the terrorist organization JI with Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, who later became the second-in-command of al-Qaida. He is currently a senior fellow and chairman of the study of Islamic radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.