For some years, there has been speculation in security circles about what will replace Islamic State. The terror group was smashed by an American-led coalition five or so years ago – a campaign that incurred, by the way, a heavy civilian death toll but provoked no protests in the west. Although it remains active in Africa and the Middle East, it is no longer the threat that it was. Its absence left a vacuum. The question was what would fill it.
Now we may have the answer. Welcome to the era of Hamas International, a period which is likely only beginning. Yesterday, it was revealed that a plot by the terror group to kill Jews in Europe was foiled by German and Danish police, with Denmark’s prime minister saying it was ‘as serious as it gets’. Hamas, it seems, is going global.
This is quite the development for an indigenous Palestinian terror group that gained popularity precisely on the back of its local appeal. In the late Eighties, the sales pitch was simple: unlike those corrupt jet-setters from the Palestine Liberation Organisation, we are authentic children of the street who share your struggles and destiny. Fast forward to the present, of course, and its leaders live the lives of billionaires in Qatar while their people suffer in a war of their own instigation. Alongside the departure from its foundational values that accompanies money and success, the terror group is mutating into an international franchise. Those arrested include Egyptian, Lebanese and Dutch citizens. So far as we know, not one was Palestinian.
Given the worldwide brand recognition that 7 October bestowed upon Hamas, this is hardly a surprise. Where once impressionable and disaffected young Muslims in the west became enchanted by the black banner of Isis, these days they are in danger of turning gooey over Hamas’s green flag.