Jihad and Gaza

Among the more discouraging news from the Middle East is the fact that Hamas is now a force for moderation in Gaza:

"There is a central problem and that is Al Qaeda, and they are spreading," Mr. Taha said, after an emergency meeting of religious and political leaders in the camp last week to calm tensions. "The Islamic awakening has been going on for 25 years now. But this, now, is going to become a huge problem for us."

The distinction between what one might call old-style terrorism - linked to a political cause, against a state actor, for specific territorial or political objectives - is slowly ceding to a far more global, religious, and amorphous form of violence. Yes, the Iraq war has helped catalyze this:

Security officials and analysts say groups inspired by Al Qaeda have had a presence in the Palestinian camps in Lebanon for a decade, where they have thrived, taking advantage of the lawlessness and poor living conditions. In Lebanon, Palestinians are not allowed to own property and are limited in the kind of work they can do. They generally enjoy few rights.

Ain al Hilwe, too, became a jihadi hotbed about five years ago. More than 25 men from there alone have gone to Iraq to fight, Hamas and Fatah officials say, never to be seen again. And jihadis there say more are ready to go.

Iraq, however, is not the sole cause of this phenomenon. Where states are weak in the Arab Muslim world, where order is remote, Jihad will thrive. And its targets are far more likely to extend more globally to the West and Westerners and Western-oriented Muslims than the Palestinian terrorism of the past. This is the next wave. I see no way to stop it.