As Arabs face their latest nightmare embarrassingly called the “Islamic” State, we must note the anatomy of the Arab reaction in the face of this enemy that prays to the same god, quotes from the same holy book and seeks the same Caliphate goal only using different tactics and following a barbaric path.
First, there was silence about the atrocities committed by the recently infamous terror group. Perhaps because, as in the early days after 9/11, Arabs could not believe that such sophistication in killing could come out of their own people. This too was foreign to them; or so they claimed, totally ignoring the fact that violence and hatred are promoted openly in Muslim discourse, in mosques, homes as in the streets. When the hatred is directed at non-Muslims, it is still hatred but somehow it is ignored, when it is not cheered or encouraged.
Then came the usual timid condemnation coupled with the empowerment of counter groups or ISIS itself. The conspiracy theorists as well as counter terrorism experts can weave a web of stories around who is funding ISIS and how it came to exist and grow. This makes the ways to fight them, dismantle them and wipe them out of existence also a matter of debate that can keep the media spinning with theories for decades or until a new topic dominates the headlines.
All this while forgetting the fundamental truth that ISIS and its jihadists come from their midst. They come from Arab countries as well as from the west. They come from a life of privilege as well as a life of want. They are the highly educated as well as the dropouts. All these attributes make ISIS hard to pin down and extremely dangerous to fight. The airstrikes by bomber jets whether American, French, British or Emirati are simply a show of force with limited impact on a group that can morph back into society and hide until it is ready to strike again.
With no commitment to fight ISIS face to face and hunt them down in homes, mosques and fundamental forums, they will only hide temporarily and then choose the time and place to sneak out and terrorize just the same!