What roles do leading members of Islamic terrorist organizations play in the shift in focus from the near enemy to the far enemy?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I certainly think that Wright is fairly direct in his suggestion that leadership of a radical Islamist movement played a vital role in moving the shift of in focus to a far enemy perspective.  Wright points out that in 1986, Bin Laden and Zawahiri both collaborate with one another to make clear their agenda of an Islamic leadership sphere from Spain to Asia.  This becomes their goal in moving the focus of the organization and their embrace of terrorism to the "far- enemy."  Even though the United States is not directly identified as the enemy it will become, it is evident that the leadership of these two men played a vital role in moving away from a near- enemy perspective and something more broad.  Perhaps, this becomes a move that the leadership made out of necessity.  Wright makes it clear that it benefited the leaders to focus on the far enemy because of the subtleties and nuanced challenges in focusing on the shortcomings of the Saudi government, spending too much on materialist ends, and on the government of Saddam Hussein, whose invasion of Kuwait and the mistreatment of his own Arab people.  The leadership, or those in the position of power in Islamic terror organizations, understood that focusing on the far- enemy could consolidate their power and position in the organization, as well as the vitality of the organization in emphasizing the presence of the far- enemy, even if it was unnamed and unspecified.  In this, the leadership made a tactical decision to move the shift in order to divert from the challenging elements of examining the near- enemy or assessing the failures of Arab leadership, in general.

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