Cliff May

As I write this, European police are searching for “hit teams” plotting attacks against civilians in Britain, France, Germany and Sweden. Why would al-Qaeda plan such strikes now? That’s like asking why dogs bark. It’s what they do.

Al-Qaeda is in the jihad business. If al-Qaeda can’t produce, other organizations will, and then they will have the edge when it comes to raising funds from Middle Eastern radicals who control enormous and self-replenishing fortunes thanks to infidel dependence on oil.

But factor in this, too: In recent days, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been strutting upon the world stage, addressing the United Nations, denouncing capitalism, and declaring that the atrocities of 9/11 were an inside job, the work of “American intelligence” carried out in order to “reverse the declining American economy and its grip on the Middle East in order also to save the Zionist regime.” If you think that’s insulting to Americans, imagine how Osama bin Laden must feel.

People forget – too many have never grasped – that there are two jihadi camps, one Sunni, one Shia, two sides of the same coin. They are rivals, not enemies. Often they compete. Sometimes they cooperate.

In 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini founded the Islamic Republic of Iran -- the first modern jihadi state. Thirty-one years ago next month, Iranian militants committed an act of war against America – not their last – when they seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took the diplomats there hostage. The Carter administration’s feckless response sent a message. Khomeini summed it up crisply: “The Americans cannot do a thing.”

Sunni radicals – not least in Saudi Arabia where Wahhabism, an especially supremacist and intolerant reading of Islam, is the state religion – were energized. Maybe America is not so super a power after all. Maybe the West is exhausted and in decline. Maybe the time is ripe for global revolution, for restoring Islam to the prominence it once enjoyed, still deserves and is destined to regain. Maybe the world is ready to accept the gift of Sharia, Islamic law.

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.