Loathing bin Laden, indulging Hamas

To Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders, bin Laden is a martyr and his killers are criminals; And the Gaza “prime minister” has no compunction about saying so.

Bin Laden wanted poster 311 R (photo credit: Reuters)
Bin Laden wanted poster 311 R
(photo credit: Reuters)
Almost a decade after 9/11 – the most deadly terror attack ever perpetrated on American soil – the head of the organization responsible for the death and devastation is no longer. Despite the late hour at which the announcement was made by President Barack Obama Sunday, thousands of jubilant Americans spontaneously flooded Times Square in New York City and gathered in front of the White House in Washington DC, cheering “U-S-A!” until dawn.
Internationally, too, many reactions were ecstatic. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Obama that “Osama bin Laden was responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people... The forces of peace were successful last night.” But she warned, “International terror has not been defeated... We’ll all have to remain vigilant.” British Prime Minister David Cameron said that the death of bin Laden would bring “great relief” across the world.
Even Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority reacted positively. “Getting rid of bin Laden is good for the cause of peace worldwide, but what counts is to overcome the discourse and the methods – the violent methods – that were created and encouraged by bin Laden and others in the world,” PA spokesman Ghassan Khatib said.
Inexplicably, however, while it is clear to most people that the downfall of a mastermind of terrorism is a cause for celebration, similar common sense is not being universally applied to the rise of another terrorist force, Hamas. Some of the same leaders and opinion-shapers who have rushed to hail the killing of bin Laden, indeed, are indulging Abbas as he prepares, on Wednesday, to enter a reconciliation deal with a terrorist organization that shares many of the same goals and ideological roots as bin Laden and has competed with him in the indiscriminate killing of civilians.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, the leaders of Russia – all represented in the Mideast Quartet – have issued public statements indicating support or tolerance for the burgeoning unity between Fatah, a party which welcomed the demise of bin Laden, and Hamas, which did not. Even the US administration, now rightly reaping international congratulation for finally stopping bin Laden, is purporting to believe that Fatah’s alliance with the Israel-loathing Hamas might somehow serve the cause of peace.
TELLINGLY, FOR Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, bin Laden’s elimination is a cause for mourning and protest. To Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders, bin Laden is a martyr and his killers are criminals. And the Gaza “prime minister” has no compunction about saying so.
“We condemn the assassination [of bin Laden] and the killing of an Arab holy warrior,” Haniyeh said during a press conference on Monday. “We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood.”
Haniyeh’s response is no surprise. Besides differences over the merits of al-Qaida’s global jihad campaign, as opposed to Hamas’s more localized activities primarily targeting Israelis, the two Islamist terror organizations share an ideology of violence in the name of a perverted interpretation of divine will.
Both bin Laden’s al-Qaida and Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, were profoundly influenced by radical Egyptian theologian Sayyid Qutb. Both adhere to the belief in the need for a violent jihad to right supposed injustices perpetrated in the Mideast against Muslims, particularly by the US and Israel but sometimes by other non-Muslim states. Both also assert that civilians, including women and children, are legitimate targets. Both are profoundly anti-Semitic, and regularly warn against alleged Jewish conspiracies.
(Bizarrely, Hamas claims in its official charter that Jews exercise international influence through such benign organizations as the Rotary Club and the Lions Club.) And yet, while the international community had long since internalized that a world without bin Laden is a better place in which to live, the potential resurgence of Hamas as the dominant political leadership of the Palestinian people, not just in Gaza but in the West Bank as well, is being met with equanimity at best.
Hamas’s predictably despicable reaction to bin Laden’s death is yet another reminder to those countries that value freedom and denounce terrorism that the global terror chieftan and the Palestinian terrorist movement fall into the same category.
How ironic and how tragic that, even as millions in nations around the world spontaneously celebrate the death of one of history’s most evil terror masterminds, another toxic terrorist network is being afforded growing legitimacy in some of the very same nations.