Bin Laden Dies, Islamism Thrives; Ex-Homeland Security Chief Warns of Complacency in Terror Fight

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 6, 2011 | Go to article overview

Bin Laden Dies, Islamism Thrives; Ex-Homeland Security Chief Warns of Complacency in Terror Fight


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The death of Osama bin Laden is an epochal moment in counterterrorism. In the greater struggle of the civilized world against the jihadist movement, however, it is just one of many milestones along the road.

Bin Laden's death satisfied the American sense of justice. The perpetrator of the most devastating terror attack on U.S. soil could not rightly escape ultimate punishment for his deadly crimes. Eliminating bin Laden also bolstered American credibility. It was important to make good on President Bush's promise to bring him in dead or alive, former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge told The Washington Times. The United States has achieved that. Promise made, promise kept.

We asked Mr. Ridge what the impact of bin Laden's death would be on the greater Islamist movement, and he said Not much. The struggle against jihadist extremism is the defining challenge of this generation, and in the context of the global Islamist movement, bin Laden was just one man. He was vitally important in promoting and extending the movement, but he represented neither its beginning nor its end. We killed the man but not the ideology, Mr. Ridge said.

Islamism is a threat because its tenets are irreconcilable with western liberalism. The self-evident truths that underlie American democracy are not only foreign to Islamist thought, they are inimical to it. Individual liberty, freedom of thought and faith, respect for women, democratic government and capitalism are fundamental to contemporary western life but abhorrent to the Islamist creed. This is the battleground on which the current war of ideas is being fought. Islamism and the American way of life cannot peaceably coexist.

Over the years the challenge to western civilization posed by Islamism has metastasized. The threat is now more diverse and more complex, Mr. …

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