The making of terrorism in the Middle East

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

Published: Updated:

Five years ago and particularly in June of 2009, American forces released Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi - the future leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria- from Camp Bucca, south of Iraq. The reasons he was released remain unknown until this very day, but while leaving prison, Baghdadi turned to the American general accompanying him to the exit door and to the American soldiers standing close together and said: "I'll see you in New York."

The story was carried by American news outlets and attributed to army general Kenneth King does not reveal why the U.S. released Baghdadi who was detained between the years 2005 and 2009 by American troops. It also does not explain how ISIS rose this quickly and invaded Iraq like a torrent or where it will reach.

Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, the ISIS, the Islamic State of Libya and Egypt and other terrorist groups that wreck havoc, kill and destroy are all faces of one coin.

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

ISIS narrates this itself. It published a map of its future state which includes Iraq, Syria and all the way to Kuwait, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Cyprus. Away from all the delusions occupying the head of whoever made this map, the ISIS remains the clearest proof that if al-Qaeda ends, then a thousand al-Qaeda will emerge and will be stronger and more brutal as long as reasons for its rise are still present and as long as it's not properly dealt with and eliminated from the roots.

Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, the ISIS, the Islamic State of Libya and Egypt and other terrorist groups that wreck havoc, kill and destroy are all faces of one coin. They exploit Islam and harm it more than its own enemies do. Governments deal with them the same way it's always dealt with them - the way which has always proven to be a failure.

Warnings from Egypt

Egypt has for a long time warned of global terrorism and called for confronting, particularly following the rule of Islamists in the country last year.

And before September 11, there were also warnings from Egypt. However the world didn't listen to Cairo. The U.S. thought that it destroyed this global terrorism by occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, but it has only returned in a more violent and hideous manner.

It's not possible to eliminate terrorism without eliminating its intellectual basis and its economic basis supplying it with funds and equipment - especially when we know that the ISIS does not have financial problems preventing it from attaining arms and equipment and from recruiting men as its fortune is worth more than $2 billion dollars.

The new organization, unlike other organizations, has at an early stage realized the importance of going beyond attaining donations and funds via traditional methods. It realized this after restrains imposed on old funding means represented in bank accounts and bank transactions.

And so, the organization has from the beginning depended on technology and social networks that provide more freedom to market itself, lure people, continue operations, specify aims - particularly funding.

ISIS’ control over oil fields in East Syria since 2012 has also allowed it to strengthen its financial revenues. The strange irony is that it has sold some of this oil to the Syrian regime. It also looted historical and cultural fortunes and Syrian archaeological sites and carried out several smuggling operations.

The struggle with these groups has become an economic and intellectual one. Without drying up its financial resources and ideas and without intellectually fighting it and refuting what it lures youths with, it will not be possible to eliminate terrorism, which is not only threatening the Middle East but the entire world.

This article was first published in al-Jarida on June 20, 2014.


Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of “Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak,” a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.