Radical Islamism has evolved into a qualitatively different organization - a very effectively controlled, well-organized and funded, with superbly trained fighters. That efficiency, with which it was possible to train, equip and send thousands of fighters from Syria to Iraq, can not but strike one's imagination.
NATO wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria have not destroyed the most ugly form of political Islam. Quite on the contrary - they increased its radicalism. Victories have attracted more fighters, giving terrorists an opportunity to receive combat experience, which is now successfully used in Iraq. Successes in Libya, the legalization of subsidiaries in Qatar, Turkey and Egypt during Morsi's presidency facilitated the logistical work for militants.
To protect themselves, oil monarchies, owners of drug cartels and masters of life in the countries such as Pakistan are forced to buy off from terrorists, giving them extra resources and reducing the dependence of radical political Islam on financial sources.
It is important to understand that when they talk about the "Islamic threat," it goes about a threat to Islam, rather than a threat posed by Islam. It would be wrong, as it sometimes happens in the North Caucasus and in Russia on the whole, to call all Islamic radicals Wahhabis or Salafis. Apart from Wahhabis, there are other radical movements that can often be hostile to Wahhabism, but no less dangerous. The concept of "radical Islam" or "Islamic radicalism" combines different forces, including mutually exclusive ones.
Egypt and Russia
The situation is changing, and we can say that political Islam has split already. The struggle has started between the supporters of the relatively "moderate" line that is historically connected with Muslim Brotherhood movement that eyes Islamic political adventurers from Qatar, and the most dismal, once a pro-Saudi force, or, better to say, pseudo-Islamists from of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic army of the Levant, which the authorities in Riyadh can no longer manage. Traditionally, the basic method of puppeteers from Riyadh was money, but money can be found in other places.
There is a misconception that Gulf monarchies share a unity of positions, that Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other emirates are very close in their relationshops. This is not completely true. There are many things that connect them, but they have very serious differences too. Recently, militants close to Qatar-funded Muslim Brotherhood, entered into a bloody shootout with Saudi security officials and border guards. Monarchies hold political trials of opponents on political Islam - this is taken to discussions on the level of foreign ministers of the Cooperation Council of the Gulf States.
In Egypt, it was clearly evident, when the military toppled President Morsi, a protégé of Muslim Brotherhood. Pro-Wahhabi forces, funded by the Saudis, supported the coup. Riyadh supported the rise of Marshal al-Sisi to power, while Doha strongly objected to that. As a result, coordination has been replaced with fierce competition for influence on radical Muslim forces.
Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia is an ugly form of Islam. The Wahhabis believe that salvation on the Judgment Day depends on faith, not only on good or evil deeds. According to them, Christians are doomed to hell, and one should make Christians convert to Islam. If it is not possible, then one should destroy them. At the same time, the rest of Islam (including Muslim Brotherhood) is convinced that Christians also have chances to survive, depending on their deeds.
The split of political Islam in Russia was obvious in Chechnya, when Mufti Akhmad-Hadji Kadyrov realized the malignancy of separatism and decided to support the line of appeasement. No money from the Persian Gulf could influence the choice of the Chechen people. The only thing that separatists managed to do was to blow up the stadium with the Chechen mufti, but politically it was a gesture of despair. The people of Chechnya started reviving the war-ravaged republic. What is very important, and what many people in Russia do not understand is that the Chechen experience was an important lesson for the entire Muslim world in its confrontation to the radical pseudo-Islam of Wahhabi Muslim brothers.
Making a return to ugly religious values of the past is a social, rather than a religious phenomenon. Very often, the people, who lead extreme traditionalists behind them, are individuals, who received education in natural sciences, engineering or, for example, medical education. The head of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, for instance, is a certified surgeon.
During the whole 19th and a half of the 20th century, Islam was trying to adapt itself to Western values. Eventually, many were convinced that "orientation - the West" has not made the people, who hoped so much for the triumph of justice, happy. Western values, knowledge and science do not make people happy. The only exception is, perhaps, chemistry - it makes drug addicts happy. Westerners encouraged the use of drugs; even Opium Wars were unleashed. The growth of income of conventional oil monarchies gave an additional impetus to political Islam.
Theorists of radical Islam believe that European knowledge is just a weapon, a tool that can be used against the Western world now, when social factors contribute to the incessant influx of fighters and suicide bombers, whom special services can not handle well. As we have seen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, armies can not do it either.
In a weak country, where there is no industry and jobs, the only way to survive is military or public service, subsistence farming, immigration or crime. Revolution and civil war is also an option.
All people hate wars. A common Muslim rebel does not want to kill, but if you pay him $100 for the head of a killed officer, public official, a U.S. citizen, etc. it would mean that the killer would be able to feed his family for a month in advance. He kills to survive, because he gets paid for it.
This murder business needs higher arguments. In the Noble Quran, one can find an excuse to literally everything - from absolute pacifism and non-resistance to evil to beheading political opponents.
Al-Qaeda is a "faultless" organization. Intelligence agencies accuse Al-Qaeda militants of all terrorist acts committed by Islamists. The network does not deny any accusations. A considerable portion of Islamist militants are illiterate people. For them, the word "Al-Qaeda" that means "base ","foundation" is rather a common name. Although, in fact, there is Al-Qaeda "in the narrow sense of the word," nurtured with the help of U.S. special services. The organization is formally poorly structured, but essentially well-coordinated. It has a large number of subsidiaries, it is independent and very disciplined in its actions. Groups of quickly-trained jihadists can be sent to any region of the world - whether it is the Nile delta, Mesopotamia, Pakistan, Yemen, France, the United States or Tatarstan. Techniques were developed and tested in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Chechnya.
Tough and brutal fighters, who played a very important role in the victory over the Left, also want to grab a piece of the pie. However, financial, organizational, human and logistical resources of Islamic radicals are not limitless.
One should not use police methods to fight preaching - another, more persuasive preaching is required. Even very well-prepared radical propagandists do not stand an open dispute with educated opponents, because their view is false, it is not tenable from an Islamic perspective. However, since they are often better prepared than preachers of traditional Islam, they very often prevail in discussions aimed at winning the hearts of the dispossessed, the lumpen-proletariat - the cannon fodder of radical Islamists.
In October, President Putin spoke about the need to restore Russia's own Islamic theological school. There are 82 Islamic centers and organizations registered in Russia. President demands Muslim clerics be educated, enlightened, capable of giving a clear assessment of current challenges.
Now is the time for a counter-offensive against radical pseudo-Islam. One should bear in mind the fact that the preachers involved in real Islamic education in Russia, are the people who studied in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, or even in London, where Hizb ut-Tahrir is headquartered. One needs to change the situation, and now is the time.