They may have been drug-running warlords, but they were our drug-running warlords, and we armed them to the nines.
So U.S. officials were caught off guard in June when al-Qaeda-backed jihadists easily overthrew our warlords and captured the Somalian city of Mogadishu.
Now, just five months later, the jihadists control nearly all of central and southern Somalia. The black flag of the Taliban -- yes, the Taliban -- now flies at Somalian ports. And as Agence France Presse and other news outlets have reported, ships bearing waves of jihadist fighters from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Pakistan arrive here daily, bringing with them anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles and other war machinery paid for with funding streams from these same countries.
The jihadist regime, which calls itself the Union of Islamic Courts, has already successfully imposed the same brutal form of Sharia law on the Somalian people as it did in Afghanistan. Now the UIC has set its sights on Kenya and Ethiopia, which it has declared war on.
Somalian President Abdullahi Yusuf has begged the West to help him defend what's left of his government from foreign terrorists who he claims want to make his country and the Horn of Africa a "safe haven" from which to grow their networks.
That's old news, of course. Osama bin Laden has long called Somalia a key part of his strategy. Plans by al-Qaeda to conquer much of the African continent and raise the armies needed to spread the Islamic caliphate throughout the Middle East have been around since the mid-1990s. It's part of the radical Islamic movement's larger scheme to spread radical Islam by the sword and through proselytization until dozens of the world's countries fall to them.
Then, with vast armies and nuclear weapons possessed by these countries in their arsenal, the plan is to come for us. But that's not supposed to happen until after 2020, so no need to fret now.
The whole thing sounds kooky, I know, and it would almost be laughable if these flea-ridden wackos weren't hitting many of their own goals for world domination right on schedule.
In Indonesia, another key asset for the radical Islamic movement, the jihadists are fighting the battle a different way. They've been very open about their plans to radicalize the world's fourth largest country, which is home to roughly 187 million Muslims. They plan to do it through proselytization, and waves of foreign-trained religious leaders bearing radical ideology are setting up shop in elaborate mosques paid for by sponsors from the same countries funding the jihad in Africa.
It's hard to gage their success, but in a recent poll by the Indonesian Survey Institute, 20 percent of Indonesian Muslims said they supported Jemaah Islamiah, the South Asian wing of al-Qaeda. Jemaah Islamiah is the group that is believed to be responsible for the Bali resort bombing that killed 202 people in 2002, an act of terror on their own country that these Indonesian Muslims also amazingly say they support.
Variations of the Indonesian and Somalian formulas are being repeated in dozens of countries around the globe by radical Islamic leaders with varying degrees of success. They're using the same 700-year-old fighting strategy they once used to conquer what is now Saudi Arabia. They conquer one country and enslave its people using Sharia law, under which people can be severely punished or executed for the slightest infraction. Then they use their newly enslaved subjects in their armies, which quickly turn on the other countries around them, repeating the process.
Meanwhile, Americans debate when we should pull out of Iraq, the whole time oblivious to what is going on in the world around them.
There's a frightening sort of innocence to the Iraq debate. Whether they want to redeploy tomorrow or to stay and fight for another five years, most Americans genuinely seem to believe at some subconscious level that we can kiss Iraq goodbye, hop into our SUVs and drive off into the sunset unaffected. As long as nothing blows up here in the immediate future, we can relegate Iraq and the war on terror to the same junk heap as other political fads like the war on drugs and spend the rest lives completely unaffected.
As a country, our view on the war on terror is still a myopic one in which we assume ourselves to be radical Islam's main target -- right now we're not -- and gage our successes and failures according to whether terrorism affects us personally. In the American psyche, the war on terror is still a two-front war that we're fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq so we don't have to fight it here. In the process of drilling that into our heads, political leaders have made the mistake of creating a war-on-terror laundry list that is just two countries long. At varying levels, much of the country still believes that all we've got to do is wrap things up militarily in Iraq and Afghanistan and we're done.
They don't understand that unless we launch a massive, multi-faceted effort that relies as much on diplomacy, intelligence, financial interdiction and counter propaganda as it does on the military, a time will come when it is no longer safe for Americans to travel to most places outside this continent. We must be as ruthless as we were during the Cold War to fight a threat that, when Americans finally understand its full scale, will easily dwarf the former Soviet one.
At the rate we're going, we'll be looking outward at a radical Islamic world before we figure this out.