May 2, 2011
Bin Laden is Dead! It's a Good Day for America, A Good Day for Islam, and a Good Day for the World
As readers of this blog have realized, my life has become too busy for regular posts. As such this post will be mostly quotes from other writers as I'm too tired and don't have enough time to write a lot of original stuff myself. This will not change anytime soon, but this is an occasion not to be missed!
It is right and fitting that it happened the way it did; a team of Navy Seals swooping down in helicopters, storming his compound, and shooting Osama bin Laden and his cohorts to death. Much better that it happened this way than for him to have died of kidney failure or some such.
Message to Osama bin Laden and enemies of the United States everywhere; you can run but you can't hide. And don't think that we'll have forgotten after ten or more years. We will get you no matter how remote an outpost you try to make your home.
My hat is off to the Navy Seals, to everyone in the intelligence community who worked so long and hard to find and conform bin Laden's location, to Presidents Bush and Obama for persevering, and for President Obama for giving the order to strike, knowing what a failed mission did to President Carter thirty-odd years ago.
A few details of the operation have come to light. This compiled by Daniel Foster at NRO:
U.S. Joint Special Operations Command Special Mission Unit (SMU) from the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU -- formerly known as Seal Team Six) did the shooting. There were other JSOC spotters on the ground, as well as two special operations helicopters and an unmanned drone overhead.
One of the special-ops helicopters reportedly suffered mechanical difficulties and crash landed onsite. It was destroyed by U.S. forces.
Bin Laden was killed along with two al Qaeda couriers and one of Bin Laden's adult sons. A woman who was used as a human shield by one of the couriers was also reportedly killed. Several other women were wounded and are reportedly receiving treatment.
The compound was located in an affluent suburb 35 kilometers north of Islamabad and is being described as huge, with a central building many times larger than other houses in the area and ringed by a 12-15-foot tall security wall. The compound reportedly had no incoming or outgoing electronic communications.
UPDATE: The compound has already been mapped on Google. It's just north of a children's hospital and in spitting distance from the police station.
And according to one commenter, it's also only one mile south-southwest of the Pakistan Military Academy. Sigh. We always knew an element within the Pakistani military/intelligence services was sympathetic to him.
How did we find out where bin Laden was living? Why, those terrible "enhanced interrogation techniques" that the left was so outraged about. The story from Fox News:
Years of intelligence gathering, including details gleaned from controversial interrogations of Al Qaeda members during the Bush administration, ultimately led the Navy SEALs who killed Usama bin Laden to his compound in Pakistan.
The initial threads of intelligence began surfacing in 2003 and came in the form of information about a trusted bin Laden courier, a senior U.S. official told Fox News on condition of anonymity. Bin Laden had cut off all traditional lines of communication with his network by this time because the Al Qaeda leader knew the U.S. intelligence community was monitoring him. It was said that he also didn't even trust his most loyal men to know his whereabouts and instead communicated only through couriers.
But it was four years later, in 2007, that terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay military prison started giving up information about the key courier.
Around this time, the use of enhanced interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning, were being denounced as torture by critics of the Bush administration. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney came under intense pressure for supporting rough treatment of prisoners. Critics claimed that any information given under duress simply couldn't be trusted.
It is an argument that Bush and Cheney strongly rejected then, and now.
Yup. I'm not surprised. Obviously we need the strictest controls on these things but yes in the end I say waterboard the terrorists and subject them to enhanced interrogations if that's what it takes to get info we need out of them.
Here's the video and text of President Obama making the announcement:
...And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.
Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There's no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must -- and we will -- remain vigilant at home and abroad.
As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam. I've made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.
Yes lots of "I" "me" all that, Obama consumed with himself, no credit to Bush... but what do we expect. Otherwise I'm not going to be so picky on that.
Here are some wise words from Andy McCarthy on NRO:
A recurring question I'm getting today is whether Osama's demise equals Obama's political coup. Duh. Of course the president will get a bump in the polls, and he will deserve it. It will also be very short-lived.
In terms of a presidential election cycle, bin Laden has been killed at a time roughly similar to the point in the '92 cycle when President George H.W. Bush won the Gulf War. (I realize there are a couple of months' difference, but that's immaterial.) The victory gave Bush approval ratings that brushed 90 percent -- i.e., significantly higher than President Obama's are today. Just as now, it was unclear which member of the opposition party would run against Bush (unlike the case with Obama, Bush's sky-rocketing polls actually convinced big-name Dems not to make the race). Bush seemed like a shoo-in -- which Obama does not. But the election turned out to be about the economy . . . which was a dream economy compared to the one we're in.
President Obama deserves kudos for the vigor with which he has attacked al Qaeda leaders and cells in Pakistan. As I argued during the campaign, his position on the need to do this was far better than that of Sen. McCain -- who regarded Pakistan as a valuable ally and portrayed Obama as reckless for threatening to conduct attacks there. Obama is also to be applauded for authorizing yesterday's daring mission. President Carter's failed mission to rescue the hostages in Iran is testament to how much can go wrong and how politically devastating it can be when such a mission fails. And all you need to do is read the pertinent section of the 9/11 Commission report about President Clinton's failure to give clear authorization to kill bin Laden when we had several chances to do so in 1998-99 -- i.e., before bin Laden bombed the Cole bombing and ordered 9/11. That it would have been irresponsible to pass up this latest chance to rid the world of this menace does not mean acting responsibly was without risk for Obama. We should commend him for pulling the trigger.
Still, the operation cannot but underscore the mind-bending inconsistencies in Obama's counterterrorism -- gold-plated due process for some 9/11 terrorists but assassination for others; the haste to close Gitmo even as it continues to serve valuable security purposes; the paralysis of interrogation policies that (as Shannen, Steve, and others point out) were key to obtaining intelligence that not only thwarts attacks but enabled us to find bin Laden; the crackdown against al Qaeda while engaging the Muslim Brotherhood despite its sustenance of Hamas; the avowed commitment to fight terrorism while demonstrating indifference to the promotion of terrorism by Iran, Syria, and other rogue regimes; rhetorically lashing out at the Taliban (as Obama did in yesterday's speech) while seeking a negotiated settlement with the Taliban; and so on.
Obama rarely talks about the war -- indeed, he resists referring to war as "war." This, coupled with his paradoxical approach to it, will limit the political benefit he derives from positive developments in the war, including one as extremely positive as taking out bin Laden. Meanwhile, the urgency of debt, unemployment, and climbing consumer prices will very quickly divert the public's attention from bin Laden. The 2012 election will probably not be any more influenced by yesterday's successful operation than the 1992 election was by victory in the Gulf War.
We ought to take this very good news for what it is -- very good news. Despite the irritating self-absorption of last night's speech that Mark aptly describes, we should praise the president and, especially, our peerless military forces for a job well done. And we should forget about the politics of this. Whatever bump Obama gets will be about as enduring as tomorrow's trip to the station to fill 'er up with $5/gallon gas.
Finally, Victor Davis Hanson wonders about how valuable an "ally" Pakistan really is:
So did we operate with or without Pakistan's help? If the latter, and if it is proven that OBL was hiding in plain sight, I think it could be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back of this Orwellian partnership with Pakistan -- despite the PR to come that we owe, are in debt to, etc. to Pakistan. We will need some honest talk for a change about exactly what is going on. Or is it more likely that we confronted the Pakistanis with the intelligence and they red-faced joined us at the 11th hour?
Finally, this comes at a fortunate time. No one is talking of victory any more in Afghanistan; we seem confused in Libya, so the death of bin Laden reminds us that the U.S. can still take the war to the enemy in his own backyard, and act with confidence and audacity rather than "leading from behind." Let us hope that Dr. Zawahiri is next -- though the al Qaeda generation of 2001 seems almost enfeebled now, and are nearly all scattered, killed, or captured.
January 29, 2011
The Cairo Clashes: Will Mubarak Survive? Should He?
As is so often the case with dictatorships, the Mubarak regime has been shown to be at once strong yet fragile. They control their countries with varying degrees of ruthlessness and brutality, but control them they do. They go for decades with amazing political stability, calm in the streets, and a secret police that keeps opposition under control.
Then, one fine day, seemingly out of nowhere, chaos erupts. Sometimes the government falls, sometimes not, but either way it is weakened. We've seen the pattern time and again. Nicolae Ceausescu ran Romania with an iron fist for 25 years, then one day in December 1989 we heard about disturbances in the streets, then in a few days there was a revolution and he was hopscotching around the country in a helicopter, and a week later he and his wife were shot dead by firing squad. "Where did that come from?" was the reaction of most people in the West.
We saw something similar happen in Iran ten years prior. Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, appeared secure on his thrown. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a few small anti-Shah demonstrations that no one had paid much attention to exploded and soon the country was paralyzed by strikes. Ayatollah Khomeini returned, and the Shah fled. Most of the world was caught totally by surprise.
Likewise, nobody paid much attention to the protests in Tunisia last month, either. Then a few weeks ago they jumped to the front page of the papers and we learned that the government had resigned and the president had fled. "Where did that come from" was what everyone said.
Is the same thing happening in Egypt now?
Right now there are no good options for U.S. policymakers. But that's because for the past few decades we haven't been doing what we should have been doing.
As of this writing, the Egyptian capital seems to have fallen into anarchy. Protesters own the streets. The army and police are overwhelmed, and at this point are holding back and not even trying to disperse the protesters any more. They have relegated themselves to protecting what government and state television and radio buildings as they can. Military and police vehicles are overrun by demonstrators. Yesterday, the protesters burned down the ruling party's headquarters.
The government has shut down all Internet access, cellular and landline telephone systems. Foreign news media report their stories through private satellite links.
Photos via Fox News
What is happening is going far beyond what happened in Iran last year and is more reminiscent of the Iranian revolution of 1979. Mubarak has not had to flee, however, as did Ceausescu. Mubarak has fired his cabinet, but the crowds have made it clear that they are not going to be satisfied with that. They want him gone.
The Democracy Alternative
Maybe, just maybe, we would not be in this situation if we had spent the past few decades promoting liberty in these countries instead of just proping up whatever strongman was in power as long as we could work with him.
To be sure, sometimes we were able to follow this policy and get away with it. The Kuomintang government on Taiwan ran the country as a single party state, i.e quasi-dictatorship, until the 1990s. South Korea was run by a series of autocrats until maybe the 1980s. Both are full democracies today.
But as with the Iran or Nicaragua, sometimes the opposite happens, and they go from a pro-American authoritarian dictatorship to an anti-American totalitarian one. They go from the frying pan into the fire, as it were.
The biggest criticism that the left made about US policy during the Cold War was over our support of right-wing dictators over a communist alternative. It was wrong to support a dictator who oppressed the people just because they were "our guy," the argument went. And, truth be told, their case was hardly without merit.
Our justification was that 1) these dictators were the lesser of two evils, and 2) they might evolve into democracies whereas communist countries would not (see Jeanne Kirkpatrick's Dictatorships and Double Standards) Although countries like the ROC and ROK did evolved into democracies, the left did have a point. We should have pushed these countries harder to reform.
The Islam Problem
But it's not just a lack of voting rights or free speech that is the problem. We would be sticking our heads in the sand if we didn't say that there was a problem within Islam as well.
This is emphatically not to say that "Islam is the problem," or is unreformable. I reject that conclusion. What it is to say is that the way all too many Muslims interpret their religion is conducive to radicalism, whether it goes by the name of Salafism, Wahabism, Khomeinism, or something else. The Sharia of old must be rejected. The Caliphate is not a legitimate form of government.
That this will be difficult to achieve is an understatement. Now is not the time for me to lay out my ideas on how to push the Islamic world in that direction, and I've done so too many times before here on this blog (start here and start scrolling).
All Choices Now are Bad Ones
Right now we have three choices
1) Support Mubarak
2) Call for Mubarak's ouster and support the protesters
3) Do nothing except issue a general plea for peace and calm.
The problem with the first is that it goes against our principles, and if he's overthrown the new government will remember that we supported him.
The problem with the second is that the protesters would likely set up an Islamist government that is at best unfriendly to us, and at worst is straight out dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. It may well become the Sunni equivalent of Khomeinist Iran.
The argument against the third is that we ought to at least try and push things in a direction that is favorable to us.
Either way, in the long run we cannot go back to the old way of supporting one dictator over another. Hopefully, whatever the outcome of this current situation, we come to realize that we have to adopt a policy of pushing this region of the world towards some sort of pluralism and Western concepts of liberty.
The Muslim Brotherhood
Long story short, the Muslim Brotherhood was formed in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna as a response to the fall of the Turkish Caliphate in 1924. In the intervening years, it has become the world's largest Muslim organization, with branches and front organizations in nearly all parts of the world. It's stated goal is the restoration of the caliphate and imposition of Sharia rule. Groups in the United States like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) are Brotherhood front groups. The National Islamist Front, the political party that runs Sudan, is a Brotherhood organization. The Brotherhood created Hamas, the terrorist organization in Gaza. On and on it goes.
Although officially banned in Egypt, the Brotherhood is in reality quite active. Over the years, in order to prepare for the day when Islamists can seize power, they have spent their time infiltrating Egyptian institutions. Over the decades the government has attempted to destroy the Brotherhood by mass arrests and persecution, but has never been completely successful, as the Brotherhood always comes back.
Brotherhood is independent of any state. It works with rulers who are sympathetic to it, but operates outside of them. Theirs is a "grassroots" strategy. While the Wahabists "float with the world", the Brotherhood floats with the target society, which thus far has always been a Middle Eastern one.
The Brotherhood is part of the same Sunni Salafist tradition as the Wahabists. To some extent the Brotherhood competes with the Saudi Wahabists for influence within the Muslim world. Sometimes they cooperate, it all depends on the politics of the moment.
Basically, the Brotherhood seeks to change a society and government by trying to put its members or sympathizers in positions of influence. These positions may be in the media, industry, military, or, if it exists in the target country, a parliament. It is willing to start small, encouraging members to join at the "entry level" and work their way up. Rather than fighting the regime directly, it seeks to undermine it from the bottom up.
After infiltrating from the bottom up, they work their way back down again. As Walid Phares explains, "the Brotherhood would be interested in spreading through the elites, converting them patiently into the Salafi doctrine, and only then enlisting them into the organization." They never engaged the regime directly until they reached full strength. Their methods were "amazingly fluid and adaptable to circumstances. Their ideal shortcut wa to infiltrate the ranks of the military and proceed with a coup d'etat against the government. Their next choice was to "advise" the ruler and influence him instead."
Although the Brotherhood appears to be officially sitting out the protests, they are no doubt waiting in the wings, positioning themselves for a takeover or at least to have significant influence in any post-Mubarak government.
All of this is why we cannot ignore groups like the Brotherhood and pretend that there is no problem within Islam. This is why we need to celebrate and promote true reformers in the Muslim world. We need a long term policy of pushing for reform so that we are not faced with these devil's choices.
Why Should We Care?
We should care because whether we like it our not we are a nation with worldwide interests. The world complains about us, but expects us to "do something" to solve problems when they arise, whether they be tsunami relief or revolutions.
We didn't support Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua and the Sandinistas proved worse. We didn't support the Shah and the Khomeinists have become a huge problem for the world. We didn't support Ceausescu (not that we would have, but just for the sake of example), and the new government proved far better. Which way will Egypt go if the revolution topples Mubarak?
Iran is now on the verge of getting nuclear weapons. Egypt could have nuclear weapons if they wanted them. We can stop Mubarak from getting them, but have little chance against an Islamist government.
It's also bad enough to have the Muslim Brotherhood as an independent organization trying to spread it's ideology throughout the world. The problem would be far, far, worse, if they had control of a government. al Qaeda is dangerous enough as it is; they were far more so when they were fully supported by the government of Afghanistan.
An Islamist government in Cairo could incite wars, support terror in ways a private organization could not, abrogate the peace treaty with Israel, and threaten our access to natural resources, i.e. oil.
Mubarak will have to go, but we should not fully support the protesters either. Whether Mohamed El Baradei should be the person who takes over or someone else is a matter for the experts, but perhaps we can thread the needle between options #1 and #2 above.
We must make sure that a post-Mubarak government has minimal Brotherhood infiltration (that there will be some is inevitable), but most of all is perceived as legitimate by the people. And we must adopt a true program of pushing them towards some sort of pluralism, liberty, and Islamic reformation. Difficult? You betcha. Impossible? Stranger things have happened.
January 6, 2011
Peter King and the Radicalization of All-Too-Many American Muslims
Rep Peter King (R-NY-3) will be the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. He intends to conduct hearings on our counterterrorist efforts, which by nature include the radicalization of American Muslims. He outlined his concerns in an article on his website (h/t Powerline).
Bottom line; before 9/11 King was close to a number of American Muslims, being a regular visitor to their community centers and mosques. He thought he had a good relationship with the Muslim community, and that in turn they were making solid efforts to be good Americans.
9/11 changed all that. Far from help in the War on Terror/War on Jihad (or whatever you want to call it), the Muslims he knew withdrew into strange conspiracy theories about the attack
Before 9/11, few if any American politicians had a closer relationship with the Muslim community and its leadership than I did. During my first months in Congress in 1993, I traveled to the Balkans - including Bosnia, Macedonia and Kosovo - to support that region's Muslims from aggression by Serbian Orthodox Christians. I was one of a bare handful of Republicans who supported President Bill Clinton's military offensives in Bosnia in 1995 and Kosovo in 1998.
I attended the Islamic Center of Long Island (ICLI) in Westbury on a regular basis, visited socially with local Muslim leaders, had Muslim students intern in my office, and advocated for Pakistan's position against India in Kashmir. Indeed, in 1995 the ICLI honored me for my "support of the Muslim community in general" and my "advocacy of human rights in Bosnia and Kashmir."
In the days following 9/11, I made several television and radio appearances supporting American Muslims, saying that they had nothing to do with the attacks and were as loyal and patriotic as any Americans. I particularly warned that we could not do to Muslims what was done to Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor.
Even today I cannot begin to describe the disappointment, anger and outrage I felt when, barely a month after those attacks that killed so many hundreds of Long Islanders, prominent Long Island Muslim leaders were insisting there was no evidence that al-Qaida was responsible for the attacks - even saying it could have been the CIA, the FBI or the Zionists!
Even more troubling is that to this day, no Muslim leader has denounced those vile remarks. Nor did Newsday say a word about these slanders - no moral outrage or condemnation. No demand for an apology or even an explanation.
As I became more immersed in attempting to unravel the radical Islamic threat to our nation and our civilization, it became more and more obvious to me that the moral myopia of Long Island's Muslim leaders and their apologists in the media was the rule - and that there were few exceptions.
Federal and local law enforcement officials throughout the country told me they received little or - in most cases - no cooperation from Muslim leaders and imams.
This noncooperation was perilous enough in the years following 9/11, when the main Islamist threat to the homeland emanated from overseas. Fortunately, that aspect of the jihadist threat has subsided because of the effective counterterrorism infrastructure constructed by the Bush administration. Some Bush policies, such as sharing and receiving intelligence with and from our allies, were relatively non-controversial. Others such as enhanced interrogations, wiretapping foreign terrorists phoning into the United States, the prison at Guantánamo, and monitoring terrorist financial transactions were routinely condemned - but all were necessary and effective.
Al-Qaida has adjusted to this new reality and is recruiting Muslims living legally in the United States - homegrown terrorists who have managed to stay under the anti-terror radar screen. This is why the hearings I will hold next year are so critical.
In the past 15 months we saw Najibullah Zazi, who was raised and educated in Queens, attempt to attack the New York City subway system with liquid explosives, using skills he learned in terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. We learned about Zazi by chance when his name came up on a wiretap. The case was almost compromised when a Queens imam - ostensibly cooperating with the New York City Police Department - tipped off Zazi.
Then there was Nidal Hasan, the Army major accused in the murder of 13 innocent people at Fort Hood last year. And Faisal Shahzad, an American citizen trained in Pakistan, who attempted to detonate a car bomb in Times Square in May. There have also been the recent arrests of homegrown Muslim terrorists in Texas, Chicago, Virginia, Riverdale, North Jersey, San Diego and Portland, Ore.
The great majority of Muslims in our country are hardworking, dedicated Americans. Yet a Pew Poll showed that 15 percent of Muslim Americans between 18 and 29 say suicide bombing is justified. I also know of imams instructing members of their mosques not to cooperate with law enforcement officials investigating the recruiting of young men in their mosques as suicide bombers. We need to find the reasons for this alienation.
There's a disconnect between outstanding Muslims who contribute so much to the future of our country and those leaders who - for whatever reason - acquiesce in terror or ignore the threat. It is this disconnect that threatens the security of us all.
As chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, I will do all I can to break down the wall of political correctness and drive the public debate on Islamic radicalization. These hearings will be a step in that direction. It's what democracy is all about.
Obviously we have a problem, and we need representatives to investigate the problem. Associations with groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Council on American Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North America and other terrorist/jihadist front groups must be exposed.
I've documented and applauded many true reformist Muslims on this website many times. Look at "Islam" under "categories at right. Islam is not a bad religion, or an "evil" religion, as some extremists on the right say. It is what it's practitioners make it. What we need are more Muslims who want to distance their religion from Sharia and extremist groups and adopt Western concepts of Liberty.
Americans and good reform Muslims who have been helping us deserve no less.
December 17, 2010
Shariah: The Threat to America
An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II
Part 5 - Shariah's Security-Relevant Attributes
This is the fifth in a series of posts summarizing the findings in Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well. Links to parts 1 - 4 are at the bottom of this post.
Before we get going with part 5, let's review the definition of shariah from the report:
Translated as "the path," shariah is a comprehensive legal and political framework. Though it certainly has spiritual elements, it would be a mistake to think of shariah as a "religious" code in the Western sense because it seeks to regulate all manner of behavior in the secular sphere - economic, social, military, legal and political.
Let's also deal with the objection that "very few Muslims are radicals"
Too many Muslims, to borrow a metaphor from Mao, provide the sea in which the jihadis swim. By offering little meaningful opposition to the jihadist agenda and by meekly submitting to it, a large number of Muslim communities and nations generally project a tacit agreement with jihadis' ends, if not with their means. At the very least, they exhibit an unwillingness to face the consequences of standing up to shariah's enforcers within Islam. Such consequences include the distinct possibility of being denounced as an apostate, a capital offense under shariah.
Part 5: Shariah's Security-Relevant Attributes
It is important to note that Shariah, then, is not just a code for daily living, but includes instructions on how to deal with non-believers, or infidels. More specifically, on how to subvert their societies.
Treaties and Truces
If they were strong enough, the instructions of Allah are to destroy the countries of the non-believers by violent jihad. But Muhammed was realistic enough to know that was not always possible because at times Muslims would be weaker than the non-believers. As such, shariah contains specific rules for how to achieve their goals when they are militarily weaker. They are instructed to refrain from violent attack during this time, as doing so would be counterproductive. This is called "transgressing the limits," which comes from Quranic verse Q 2:190 "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors."
In face, Osama bin Laden was criticized by some jihadists after his 9-11 attack not because they disagreed with his objective but because they thought the time was premature. Specifically, they were afraid that the American reaction would set their cause back. From the report:
It is important for national security leadership to pay attention when prominent Islamic entities or individuals, especially Salafis, appear to condemn the killing of non-Muslims in non-Muslim lands to determine whether the condemnation was made in an unqualified and outright manner or whether it was in some way associated with downstream acts that merely caused "mischief" to be brought down upon Muslim lands.
In other words, often when Muslims condemn terror they are not condemning it as such, but are rather upset that we would see the light and react in a manner that would hurt the cause of Islam.
As such, the shariah instructs Muslims to strategically use treaties and truces when they are weak to gain time and to lul their enemies into a false sense of complacency.
The report cites an example of just this from recent history:
Yasser Arafat's repeated references to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah following his signature of the Oslo Accords in 1993 on behalf of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) is a good example in modern times of Muslim awareness of the Quranic position on entering into truces with the enemy. Arafat was careful to reassure his followers (in Arabic) that his commitment at Camp David was nothing more than a temporary hiatus in jihad (a hudna) at a time of PLO weakness vis-à-vis the Israelis - and entirely in keeping with shariah. Similarly, in 2006, the leadership of Hamas offered Israel a ten-year truce to break the deadlock over its refusal to recognize the Jewish State. At the time, few in the West seemed to realize that Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was in perfect accord with the example of Mohammed and would predictably break any such hudna the moment it proved advantageous for the Muslim side to do so.
The concept of "sacred space" in Islam is pretty simple; lands that Islam once ruled, no matter for how brief a period of time, are permanently Islamic and must never be given up. Thus, the fact that the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) was ruled by Muslims from (roughly) the 8th century to the 15th centuries means that the peninsula still rightfully belongs to Muslims today. Ditto with Chechnya, the entire Indian subcontinent, and, of course, modern Israel.
Stated another way; "what we once ruled is ours, and what you ruled in history we'll also take from you." You don't have to be a security genius to see the implications of this.
To declare their victory, and to make them symbolically important, Muslims immediately construct a Mosque in areas they have conquered, preferably on top of the religious buildings of those they have conquered.
Examples of this practice include:the great Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul (formerly the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Constantinople); the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock Mosque, both built on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, directly above the remnants of the Jewish Second Temple; and the Cordoba mosque complex - the third largest in the world - which transformed a Christian cathedral in the capital city of the Moorish kingdom. The city was conquered in the 8th Century and was the headquarters of what came to be known as the "Cordoba Caliphate" for the next 500 years.
Most recently, plans were announced to construct a $100 million, 13-story Islamic center and mega-mosque complex two blocks from Ground Zero in New York City, the site of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in jihadi attacks on September 11, 2001. The name of the organization leading the Ground Zero mosque project is likewise revealing of Islamic traditions: it is called the "Cordoba Initiative."
The rule in shariah for anyone who leaves the faith is pretty simple; they are to be killed. There are no "other interpretations" or wiggle room.
Where is gets tricky is when when one person or group interprets the faith in a way that is different than another group. How much do they have to stray before they become apostates (heretics)?
In the final analysis, defining elements of shariah are intolerant of any deviation. There is freedom of belief in Islam only to the extent that matters of individual conscience do not threaten the ummah, whose cohesion and public appearance of rigid compliance with shariah is paramount and takes precedence over any individual's personal preferences.
This is what allows the radicals to kill other Muslims that do not share their worldview.
While Muslims are generally( there are exceptions) forbidden to lie to or deceive other Muslims, the same rules do not apply when dealing with unbelievers:
It is imperative that national security professionals with responsibility for defending the U.S. Constitution from encroachment by shariah understand that, under Islamic law, lying is not only permissible, but obligatory for Muslims in some situations. This complicates efforts to understand the true nature of the threat - and to have confidence in those Muslims at home and abroad with whom the government hopes to make common cause in countering that threat.
Muslims, then, are allowed to lie and deceive unbelievers when they are are in situations where they must live under their rule and cannot achieve their goals through violent jihad.
All of this reminds me of what Lenin said about the difference between bourgeois and communist morality:
We say that our morality is entirely subordinated to the interests of the proletariat's class struggle. Our morality stems from the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat.
In other words, something is moral if it advances the revolution; it is immoral if it does not.
Taqiyya is closely related to the concept of permissible lying discussed above. From the report
...taqiyya, which is generally described as lying for the sake of Islam. Taqiyya is a concept in Islamic law that translates as "deceit or dissimulation," particularly towards infidels. It is based on Quran 3:28 and 16:106 as well as hadiths, tafsir literature, and judicial commentaries that permit and encourage precautionar dissimulation as a means for hiding true faith in times of persecution or deception when penetrating the enemy camp.
The difference, if I have it right, between permissible lying and taqiyya is the dual messaging of the latter. A Muslim practicing taqiyya says one thing to unbelievers about a particular subject and another to Muslims on the same subject.
So that when talking about peace between Palestinians and Israelis, Yassir Arafat was all peace, love, and understanding when talking to the Western press. He also spoke to them in English. But when they were gone, he would speak words of fire and brimstone to his fellow Muslims. And he would speak to them in Arabic. Specifically, he would talk in English to Westerners about how he wanted peace with the Israelis, then in Arabic to Muslims he would say that he wanted nothing less than the destruction of Israel.
This practice extends to explaining the nature of Islam as well:
...what Muslim audiences are required to know about Islam is not the same thing as what non-Muslim Western audiences are allowed to know - or encouraged to think - by Islamic authorities. Taqiyya provides the legal basis under shariah for this sort of deceptive dual messaging.
The Western concept of slander and libel is pretty straightforward; saying or writing false things about someone. They have quite a different meaning under Islam.
In Islam, "Slander (ghiba) means to mention anything concerning a person that he would dislike." With "that person" being a Muslim.
So that when Muslims accuse others of slandering their religion, they are not saying that they are speaking falsehoods, but rather that they are saying things Muslims just don't like. And they don't like them not because they are false but because they are uncomfortable truths that reveal the true nature of Islam and the goals of the jihad.
...it is easy to understand how self-identified "moderate" Muslims can insist that acts of terrorism undertaken by "extremists" had nothing to do with Islam - even in cases where the perpetrators and their supporters explicitly claim Islam as the motivation, often on television broadcasts receiving rapturous applause from other Muslims.
... because the acts of terror make Islam look bad.
In Islam, it is impermissible for unbelievers to say anything that insults their religion. The Western concept of "free speech" is simply not part of their worldview.
The first and most obvious implication is that directly poking fun at Muhammed or any part of Islam is forbidden. We've all seen a zillion examples of Muslims around the world reacting violently to even the slightest perceived insult. And the reaction of all too many Westerners is to self-censor.
But beyond direct insults is that unbelievers are forbidden to explain the truth about sharia and jihad. It is one thing when newspaper editors refuse to carry stories or editorials critical of Islam, quite another when a government cannot bring itself to accurately describe the ideology of those behind acts of terror.
Such policies are systematically corroding the U.S. government's situational awareness by effectively imposing, via explicit or implicit gag orders, a system of self-censorship. The practical effect is that the truth about shariah and its adherents is suppressed, as is informed deliberation about appropriate responses to the threats it poses. This amounts to a collective act of submission to shariah by the national leadership of the U.S. that emboldens our enemies even as it disables our defenses against them.
Next Up: The Muslim Brotherhood: The Threat Doctrine Operationalized
November 18, 2010
The Trial of Ahmed Ghailani: The Obama Administration's "Oops" Moment
Guantanamo Bay detainee - read "terrorist" - Ahmed Ghailani was found not guilty of 284 counts and guilty on only one. This after a trial by jury in civilian court.
A Washington Post story tells the tale:
Terror detainee largely acquitted
By Peter Finn
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The first former Guantanamo Bay detainee to be tried in federal criminal court was found guilty on a single conspiracy charge Wednesday but cleared on 284 other counts. The outcome, a surprise, seriously undermines - and could doom - the Obama administration's plans to put other Guantanamo detainees on trial in U.S. civilian courts.
After deliberating for five days, a jury of six men and six women found Ahmed Ghailani, 36, guilty of conspiracy to damage or destroy U.S. property but acquitted him of multiple murder and attempted-murder charges for his role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa.
The Obama administration had hoped that a conviction on most, if not all, of the charges would help clear the way for federal prosecutions of other Guantanamo detainees - including Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators accused of organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
This is what happens, folks, when you elect a community activist as president on the basis of "hope and change."
Let's not have an naive talk, either, about how Ghailani is still probably going to jail for the rest of his life so the verdicts don't matter. This will be seen int the Islamic world as a terrible humiliation of the United States and a sign from Allah that he is on their side.
Too bad the judge in this case doesn't understand that we're in a War of Ideas with the radical Islamists:
"You deserve a lot of credit," U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan told the jurors after the verdicts were announced. "You have demonstrated also that American justice can be delivered calmly, deliberately and fairly, by ordinary people - people who are not beholden to any government, including this one."
Can someone really be so stupid? Can anyone actually believe that Muslims around the world are applauding American justice? Put another way, can anyone actually believe they're not rolling on the ground laughing at what idiots we are and how we're ripe for the picking?
The real lesson of the ruling, however, is that prosecution in either criminal court or a tribunal is the wrong approach. The administration should instead embrace what has been the main mechanism for terrorist incapacitation since 9/11: military detention without charge or trial.
Military detention was once legally controversial but now is not. District and appellate judges have repeatedly ruled -- most recently on Thursday -- that Congress, in its September 2001 authorization of force, empowered the president to detain members of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces until the end of the military conflict.
Former assistant U.S. attorney Andy McCarthy has more along these lines.
So what is the administration to do? During the campaign and after, Obama trashed the military tribunals set up during the Bush Administration. His anti-war base will not let him go back on that. But he also cannot proceed with civilian trials. He can't risk having the next Ghailani being found not guilty on all charges. Given that no less a liberal than Senator Chuck Schumer opposes a New York trial for 9-11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (not to mention almost all other New York politicians, Republican or Democrat), it's hard to see that happening too.
The bottom line is that the administration has painted itself into a corner. The political side of me will enjoy watching them squirm, but the patriot in me is saddened for our country.
It has some to my attention that some on the left are saying that... it's all Bush's fault!
The prosecution was handicapped in the trial when Judge Lewis Kaplan refused to let it's star witness, Hussein Abebe, testify. Adebe is a Tanzanian who sold the dynamite to Ghailani that he used to blow up the U.S. embassy in that country in 1998. The issue is that the government found out about Abebe from Ghailani himself while the latter was undergoing "enhanced interrogation" techniques. All of which occurred during the administration of George W. Bush. These techniques violated Ghailani's constitutional rights, thus anything found out during these techniques was inadmissible in court.
The left is spinning these enhanced interrogation techniques as "torture," which is utter balderdash.
Andy McCarthy explains that no, coercion is not torture:
Commentators are saying that the witness was barred and the confessions were not introduced because Ghailani was "tortured."
This is not true. It is also a slanderous allegation, and I'm surprised to hear normally careful people throw it around so casually. Torture is a crime with a specific definition in law, involving the infliction of severe pain and suffering. We don't know exactly what was done to Ghailani, but we have heard he wasn't waterboarded. Waterboarding was the tactic closest to torture, and it was used on three detainees by the CIA. But under their fastidious guidelines, it clearly did not meet the legal test for torture. That's undoubtedly why the Obama Justice Department has never prosecuted anyone over it, despite ceremoniously reopening torture investigations against the CIA. In any event, while we can stipulate that Ghailani was made very uncomfortable, there is no colorable evidence that he was "tortured" in the legal sense of that term.
Another point that I forgot to make in my original post: Attorney General Eric Holder said before the trail that we were not going to set Ghailani free even if he was acquitted on all of the charges. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on November 18, 2009 Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked Holder the relevant question:
"[Y]ou're not suggesting if, by some one-in-a-million fluke, one of these defendants were acquitted or given a short sentence, that they would be released anywhere, are you?" Graham asked.
"No," Holder responded. And the attorney general explained: "I certainly think that under the regime that we are contemplating, the potential for detaining people under the laws of war, we would retain that ability."
In other words, even if acquitted on all charges we weren't going to let him go anyway. So the entire trial was a sham. A "show trial."
You'd think the left would be outraged.
October 17, 2010
The Threat from Islamic Intimidation on Freedom of Speech
I've been doing a series of posts in which I summarize the findings in Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well.
It may be easy for some to dismiss this report and these types of posts because it's hard for some to see the impact on our daily lives. It's like of like terrorism, some will say that the threat was overblown by the Bush Administration because there was n 9-11 Part II. Never mind that the main reason there have not been more attacks was because we stopped them in their infancy, some will not think or investigate that far.
So it is the with threat of a "creeping shariah" by the Muslim Brotherhood and it's associated front groups like CAIR. It's all very fine and important to talk about captured documents and various statements, but in the end people will ask "so is this just a theoretical threat?" and if so turn back to watching the football game.
Two posts today at National Review's The Corner blog will help dispel the notion that there is no very real threat to our Freedom of Speech:
Some Context on the Wilders Case
October 17, 2010 4:30 P.M.
By Nina Shea
Geert Wilders is the latest in a lengthening roster of Europeans who have been criminally prosecuted for criticizing Islam. Under the slogans of stopping "Islamophobia" and banning "defamation" or "insult" of Islam, for two decades a concerted demand has been made for the West to enforce Islamic blasphemy rules, as is customary in certain member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
The Netherlands has been among the many EU states struggling to comply. In the name of liberalism, it has enacted laws criminalizing "hate speech," with grossly illiberal results. A sample of the Dutch cases shows that the desire to protect minorities is a self-deluding piety in these circumstances. What really lies at the root of these vaguely defined and arbitrarily adjudicated cases is fear of Muslim violence.
One of the earliest such Western cases occurred in the Netherlands in 1992, a few years after Iran's fatwa against Salman Rushdie triggered murders of "blasphemers" connected with his book The Satanic Verses. A Muslim cabaret artist of Pakistani background, "Zola F," was found guilty of authoring an unflattering book about Muslim immigration, entitled The Impending Ruin of the Netherlands, Country of Gullible Fools. This created the anomaly of a white court condemning a brown immigrant for "racist hate speech."
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an ex-Muslim of African heritage who became a Dutch parliamentarian, was similarly prosecuted. She was charged for criticizing the Islamic teaching on killing homosexuals. Already known for her role in co-directing Submission (the film on abuses against Muslim women that led to the 2004 murder by a Muslim extremist of her co-director, Theo Van Gogh), she announced plans for a sequel on the treatment of homosexuals in Islam. This prompted the Netherlands' main Muslim lobby to register a complaint that her remarks were "blasphemous and have been received with a great deal of pain by the Muslim community." In 2005, after two years of legal proceedings for "incitement" to hatred, during which time she received numerous death threats and had to go into hiding, a court finally decided that although she had "sought the borders of the acceptable," her speech did not warrant prohibition, and she was let off.
Hate-speech arrests occurred in the aftermath of the Van Gogh murder. When an artist in Rotterdam painted a street mural that included the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" next to the date of Van Gogh's murder, a local mosque leader complained to police that the message was "racist." The police, on orders of the mayor, sandblasted the mural and arrested a television reporter at the scene and destroyed his film. Another Dutch man hung in his window a poster for a far-right movement that stated, "Stop the tumor that is Islam. Theo has died for us. Who will be next?" After being convicted by two lower courts, he finally prevailed on appeal.
Widespread Muslim violence and protest over the Danish cartoons of Mohammed has put Dutch officials on high alert for provocative caricaturists. In 2008, after an Internet monitoring group reported him to authorities for cartoons deemed insulting to Muslims, the edgy Dutch cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot was arrested. Police seized his computer's hard drive and cartoon sketches. The cartoons in question opposed Muslim immigration in various tasteless ways. Nekschot remains under suspicion of "insulting people on the basis of their race or belief, and possibly also of inciting hate," and could face two years in prison or a $25,000 fine if prosecuted. During the course of this case, it was revealed that the Dutch government had established an "Interdepartmental Working Group on Cartoons," apparently to apprise officials of any drawings that Muslims could find insulting.
The Wilders case is not unique, but it is important. It demonstrates the continued willingness of authorities in Europe's most liberal countries to regulate the content of speech on Islam in order to placate Muslim blasphemy demands. Few such cases end in conviction, but their chilling effect on free speech within and on Islam continues to widen.
-- Nina Shea directs the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom and co-authored the forthcoming book Silenced (Oxford University Press), on contemporary blasphemy rules.
And the second one at NRO:
Dispatches from the Information War
October 16, 2010 12:46 P.M.
By Cliff May
The decisions by Dutch prosecutors to dismiss the charges against parliamentarian Geert Wilders can be seen as a battle won in a war the West is losing - the war for freedom of speech, the freedom without which no other freedoms can be defended.
As I argue in my latest column, influential people are not just avoiding criticism of all things Islamic, they also are legitimizing vile practices -- e.g. gender apartheid -- where these practices are rooted in Islamic practice.
Women's rights groups are silent. Most elite journalists are at least complicit.
The Washington Post recently refused to run a cartoon not of Mohammed but merely containing the words "Where's Mohammed?" (a parody on "Where's Waldo?"). Editors said they were being "prudent." The more accurate word, I think, would be craven. As Andy McCarthy has noted, such political correctness "betrays the core values of a free society" and can only be seen as a form "societal surrender."
Barton Hinkle at the Richmond Times Dispatch observed:Once upon a time, members of the media could be counted upon to champion free expression even when nobody else would. Where the First Amendment was implicated, newspapers were willing to go to bat for everyone from neo-Nazis to Hustler magazine, and to take on powerful institutions from the Vatican to the Pentagon, often while patting themselves on the back for "speaking truth to power." Yet when it comes to the Islamic question, many in the media will not even stick up for themselves.
Meanwhile, this new development: Norwegian journalist Halvor Tjønn, recently finished a biography of Muhammad only to have his Oslo publisher, decline to publish it. Islamist Watch reports:"It's an internal matter," said Kagge's director, denying that any threats had been received. Tjønn remarked, "If the publisher had objections to the book's quality, that would have come up much earlier in the process, and not after a year and a half"; he declined to get more specific. Naturally the tight lips bolster suspicion of fear-based self-censorship at work yet again. This case certainly fits the history of books about Islam disappearing as anxiety over violence grows:
And Andy has written about the intellectual surrender in the Fort Hood case. Even the Wall Street Journal, in a news column (the editorial page has not yet waved a white flag), pretends that the massacre has "raised questions" about "mounting stress among soldiers who have been on multiple tours." Really? Oh, is that what this is about? The story contains exactly one mention, near the very end, of Maj. Nidal Hassan's "fervent Islamic beliefs."
October 16, 2010
Shariah: The Threat to America
An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II
Part 4 - Shariah and Jihad
This is the fourth in a series of posts summarizing the findings in Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well. Go to the bottom of this post for links to the first three parts.
Shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, a church I had gone to in the past hosted a talk by a Muslim man and wife in which they were going to explain Islam to interested congregants. Being interested, I went. Among the other things they said was that in the modern world "jihad" had nothing to do with violence or warfare. These things were all in the past. Today, they said, jihad was a "peaceful inner struggle" that Muslims went through so as to purify themselves before God. Even my knowledge of the subject was sketchy, it seemed like fairly obvious that they were not presenting the whole truth.
And indeed my later investigations have shown that they were not. See "Islam," "Jihadism and the War of Ideas" under Categories at right.
With that in mind, in this part we will examine the relationship of Shariah and Jihadism as reported by the authors of t he report.
Shariah and Jihad
So what does "jihad" mean? In order to answer that question, the authors delve into the Quran, Hadith, and other Islamic texts. They stress that quoting individual verses is not useful unless context is provided. That is true of the Bible, so it makes sense that it's true for other religious texts as well. More importantly, perhaps, more contemporary Islamic scholars are quoted. It matters less what Mohammed meant at the time than what current Muslims think he meant.
After reviewing the Quran, the authors conclude that
In the Quran and in later Muslim usage, the word jihad is commonly followed by the expression fi sabil Allah, "in the path of Allah."97 By describing the warfare of jihad as something sanctioned by Allah himself, Islamic authorities set it apart from the common tribal warfare of the time and elevated it to a superior status as something sacred.
The hadith consists of the "words and deeds" of Mohammed as recorded by various Muslims at the ime he was alive. Their conclusion there is pretty straightforward too:
The hadiths are the second source of shariah. Throughout those hadiths considered authoritative, jihad means warfare.
As mentioned above, it's perhaps less important to consider what the Quran and Hadith say in some isolated intellectual sense than it is what modern-day Muslim thinkers say they meant. And among them there is no more important than the chief theoretician of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyid Qutb (1906 - 1966). From his most influential book, Milestones:
The reasons for Jihad which have been described in...verses [from cited sacred texts] are these: to establish God's authority in the earth; to arrange human affairs according to the true guidance provided by God; to abolish all the Satanic forces and Satanic systems of life; to end the lordship of one man over others since all men are creatures of God and no one has the authority to make them his servants or to make arbitrary laws for them. These reasons are sufficient for proclaiming Jihad.
By "Satanic systems of life," Qutb meant Western culture. The "the lordship of
one man over others" means democracy, whereby we elect one person(s) to rule over others. to Qutb, only God can rule.
The theological underpinnings of jihad are somewhat different for Sunnis and Shias, but in the end it all comes out the same; jihad is violence against non-Muslims.
The authors "bottom line" conclusion?
There is no basis in doctrinal Islam for concluding that jihad means anything other than waging holy war for the implementation of shariah and the establishment of the caliphate throughout the world. Indeed, a scholarly consensus on the definition of jihad was achieved over a thousand years ago - because it was impossible not to have consensus on the question: Allah commanded it and Mohammed confirmed it. In both direct and indirect divine revelation, the meaning of jihad as holy war was made clear.
Finally, jihad is generally not obligatory for individual Muslims, but is only a "collective" one. It only becomes obligatory when "Muslim lands" are invaded. Of course, clever people can make just about any situation look like an invasion, and thus claim that jihad is not obligatory.
Stealth or Civilizational Jihad
As discussed in previous segments, jihad need not be violent. There is also a non-violent form of jihad in which they try to undermine Western societies from within. The Muslim Brotherhood calls this a "civilizational jihad," and author Robert Spencer deems it a "stealth jihad."
Because it is not violent, the civilizational jihad often gets a pass, especially from Western liberals. However, it's goal is the same as the terrorists practicing the violent form of jihad; reestablishment of a world-wide caliphate and subjugation of the world to shariah law.
Since we are most attuned to violent jihad, and because the non-violent type so often is excused, it is this form that is the most dangerous, and which will be discussed in more detail in in the report.
Next: Shariah's security-relevant attributes
October 9, 2010
Shariah: The Threat to America
An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II
Part 3 - The Threat Posed by Shariah
In the first two installments of this series I introduced and summarized the key findings of the recently released Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well.
Shariah is a totalitarian system of laws that is antithetical to everything we in the West hold dear. Shariah cannot be reconciled with the freedoms and liberties, or our democratic (and republican, if you want to get technical) system of government that we have fought so hard and for so long to achieve.
Yet Shariah is being introduced into the West, slowly but surely. Amazingly, it is the political left, the liberals, who acquiesce in it's introduction. The claim is made that shariah is misunderstood, that it's simply the Muslim version of the early books of the Bible (Deuteronomy and Leviticus are usually cited) and therefore no different, or who are we to impose our values on them, or some such.
In reality Shariah is a huge threat to the West, and in the above mentioned report the authors tell us why.
What is Shariah?
The Arabic word "shariah," according to one modern English- language student textbook on Islam, "literally means a straight path (Quran 45:18) or an endless supply of water. It is the term used to describe the rules of the lifestyle (Deen) ordained for us by Allah. In more practical terms, shariah includes all the do's and dont's of Islam."
In other words, shariah is held by mainstream Islamic authorities - not to be confused with "radical," "extremist" or "political" elements said to operate at the fringes of Islam - to be the perfect expression of divine will and justice and thus is the supreme law that must comprehensively govern all aspects of Muslims' lives, irrespective of when or where they live. Shariah is characterized as a "complete way of life" (social, cultural, military, religious, and political), governed from cradle to grave by Islamic law.
It is certainly true that many Muslims ignore shariah, this does not change the facts about shariah. More, those who say there are multiple ways or practicing shariah or that there are different types of shariah are simply wrong.
The report discusses at some length the Koran, how the books within it are organized, and some concepts like abrogation whereby later passages annul earlier ones. The way abrogation plays out, for example, is that the earlier, "peace love and understanding" verses are annulled by the later violent "kill the infidels" ones. Long story short,
In practice, Quranic abrogation results in a known doctrinal footprint that subordinates the milder, more moderate verses of the Quran from the Meccan period of revelation, to the later and violent verses of the Medina period.
The Application of Shariah
How comprehensive is shariah?
Shariah contains categories and subjects of Islamic law called the branches of fiqh (literally, "understanding"). They include Islamic worship, family relations, inheritance, commerce, property law, civil (tort) law, criminal law, administration, taxation, constitution, international relations, war and ethics, and other categories.
That would include just about everything, then.
The authors survey a number of so-called "moderate," non-radicalized Islamic scholars, all of whom conclude that democracy is incompatible with Islam. The authors put it plainly; "Shariah is wholly at odds with U.S. national sovereignty, the U.S. Constitution, and the liberties it guarantees."
Yup. Now we just have to get more Americans to recognize that.
Next: Shariah and Jihad
October 7, 2010
Shariah: The Threat to America
An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II
Part 2 - Key Findings
Yesterday I introduced the recently released Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well.
Today we'll take a look at some of the key findings in the report.
What about the moderates?
We constantly hear that "90 percent of Muslims are moderates" and so the threat is being overblown. The authors knock that one down easily:
Too many Muslims, to borrow a metaphor from Mao, provide the sea in which the jihadis swim. By offering little meaningful opposition to the jihadist agenda and by meekly submitting to it, a large number of Muslim communities and nations generally project a tacit agreement with jihadis' ends, if not with their means. At the very least, they exhibit an unwillingness to face the consequences of standing up to shariah's enforcers within Islam. Such consequences include the distinct possibility of being denounced as an apostate, a capital offense under shariah.
Even in cases where the "offense" doesn't merit death, there's simple social ostracization. No one likes to be an outcast.
Violent v Peaceful Jihad
One of the problems we face is that officialdom and the liberal elite have cast the problem as being just violent terrorists, and in some cases, just al Qaeda. The authors warn that the danger is just as great with the peaceful jihadists:
The first thing to understand about the jihadis who operate by stealth is that they have precisely the same dual objectives as the openly violent jihadists (including al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban): global imposition of shariah and reestablishment of the Islamic caliphate to rule in accordance with it. They differ only with respect to timing and tactics.
And indeed even this "peaceful" phase is only tactical; if they could take power violently now they would. More, they only reason they are peaceful is that they do not yet have the ability to take power violently, but when they do they will.
The Organization that is the Biggest Threat
It's not al Qaeda. Sure, they would explode a nuclear weapon in New York City if they could, but I think that danger is somewhat remote. More, it's one that most Americans recognize as a danger so we give our government the tools to deal with it.
No, the biggest danger is the Muslim Brotherhood
The most important entity promoting Islamic supremacism, shariah, and the caliphate through - at least for the moment - non-violent means is the Muslim Brotherhood (MB, or in Arabic, the Ikhwan). The MB defined this form of warfare as "civilization jihad" in its strategic document for North America, entitled the Explanatory Memorandum: On the General Strategic Goal for the Group, which was entered into evidence in the 2008 United States v. Holy Land Foundation trial. ...
Specifically, the document explained that the civilization jihadist process involves a "grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that
it is eliminated....
Here is why it is the biggest danger
1. It operates mostly peacefully, and we are mostly on the lookout for violent terrorists
2. It is huge, with hundreds of thousands or millions of members
3. It operates through hundreds or thousands of front groups
4. It's stated goal is the restoration of the caliphate and the imposition of Shariah on the world, including Europe and the United States.
5. It is extremely good at infiltrating "ememy" organizations and governments. The authors spell it out:
Muslim Brotherhood organizations conduct outreach to the government, law enforcement, media, religious community, and others for one reason: to subvert them in furtherance of their objective, which is implementation of Islamic law.
The Muslim Brotherhood(MB), then, is the foremost organization pushing the "civizational jihad" against the West. They are the tip of the spear of the modern jihad, and aim to take us down.
As will be made clear in future posts, the Brotherhood has infiltrated most mosques and Muslim organizations in the United States. They seize control and use them to push their agenda. That they are only peaceful now as a tactic but will turn to violence when the time is right is stated outright in captured MB documents.
First, become educated on the threat; it goes well beyond al Qaeda
Second, stop outreach programs to Muslim Brotherhood front organizations
Three, just as we ban members of hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan from government jobs, we should do likewise with appropriate Muslim groups.
Four, prosecute outright sedition.
Five, make sure textbooks and classroom material in Muslim schools does not promote civiliational jihad or hate
Six, allow no shariah-zones or shariah courts in the United States. Nothing in the U.S. must be allowed to become "shariah compliant."
Seven, immigrants to the United States must agree that the U.S. Constitution is the law of the land and not shairiah.
Next: The Threat Posed by Shariah
October 6, 2010
Shariah: The Threat to America
An Exercise in Competitive Analysis: The Report of Team B II
Part 1 - Introduction
It has long been a theme of mine that while terrorism is certainly a problem, it is not the problem we have with regard to radical Islam. Terrorist attacks can and have hurt us, but as things stand now will not bring us down. This is quite in contrast to the Cold War, whereby a war with the Soviet Union would have devastated at least Europe, perhaps our country as well.
The similarity with the Cold War is that our current conflict is as much ideological as it is military. Walid Phares calls it a "War of Ideas," and he is certainly onto something.
Many will object that "few people actually believe in radical Islam," and we heat things along the lines of "only 10 percent of Muslims are radicals/sympathetic to the radicals," and that "only a miniscule number of Americans/Westerners buy into radical Islam so the danger is overblown."
But history is not made by taking a vote at every important moment. Only 1/3 of the American colonists wanted independence from Great Britain in 1776. The Jacobins were a minority of Frenchmen in 1789, and the Bolsheviks a minority of Russians in 1917. The quota on imported sugar in America today is not there because it has the broad support of Americans but because of the political influence of a small minority of sugar growers in Louisiana. Less than half of Americans even vote in most elections, and the more local the election is the fewer people vote. History and outcomes are made by determined and well-organized minorities.
So it is with radical Islam. It matters not a whit that most Muslims are not radicals. If the average Muslim moderates are not willing to stand up and demand that Muslim Brotherhood influence be purged from Muslim organizations, then the radicals win, no matter how few their numbers. Consider the fate of Molly Norris, the Seattle cartoonist who organized the "Everybody Draw Mohammed" day in 2010 as a protest against censorship. After threats she canceled the contest and apologized. No matter, the threats continued until she has changed her name and gone into hiding on the advice of the FBI. There was and is no support from Muslim groups, or hardly anyone outside of a few conservatives, for that matter, for the concept of free speech.
The danger is rather a sort of "creeping sharia" whereby we suffer the death of a thousand cuts rather than the one by the guillotine. Muslim radicals aim to deceive us as to their true intention, which is to spread their sharia(or "shariah") into the West, replacing our values with their own. In short, their objective is to take us over peacefully over a long period of time, not militarily all at once.
It was bad enough that President Bush called our current conflict a "War on Terror," as if terror was the big problem, but at least he seemed to get the danger from radical Islam. President Obama, obsessed like all liberals with political correctness, misses it entirely. The Administration has banned terms like "Islamic extremism" and "jihad" from national security documents. You can't win a war if you can't even properly identify your enemy.
What needs to be made clear is that while Samuel P. Huntington was certainly correct in that we are in a "Cash of Civilizations", I am most certainly not devolving into a "Christianity good - Islam bad." "Islam" is not evil, and ours is not a theological debate but one of values, or ideas.
Identifying the enemy is just what was done in the recently released Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well.
In this series, I will examine the report. Below the fold is my part one.
From the preface of the report:
This study is the result of months of analysis, discussion and drafting by a group of top security policy experts concerned with the preeminent totalitarian threat of our time: the legal-political-military doctrine known within Islam as shariah. It is designed to provide a comprehensive and articulate "second opinion" on the official characterizations and assessments of this threat as put forth by the United States government.
The authors, under the sponsorship of the Center for Security Policy, have modeled this work on an earlier "exercise in competitive analysis" which came to be known as the "Team B" Report. That 1976 document challenged the then-prevailing official U.S. government intelligence ("Team A") estimates of the intentions and offensive capabilities of the Soviet Union and the policy known as détente that such estimates ostensibly justified.
As with all such think-tank reports, this study is based entirely from unclassified sources. Authors include such luminaries as former Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy Frank Gaffney, former Special Agent, Counter-Terrorism Division, Federal Bureau of
Investigation John Guandolo, Admiral (Ret) James Lyons, and former Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey.
From the Introduction
Today, the United States faces what is, if anything, an even more insidious ideological threat: the totalitarian socio-political doctrine that Islam calls shariah. Translated as "the path," shariah is a comprehensive legal and political framework. Though it certainly has spiritual elements, it would be a mistake to think of shariah as a "religious" code in the Western sense because it seeks to regulate all manner of behavior in the secular sphere - economic, social, military, legal and political.
Shariah is the crucial fault line of Islam's internecine struggle....
Shariah is not a private matter of personal conscience. It is not a guide to daily living. Nor is is it a matter of debate among Muslims, as far as the radicals or fundamentalists are concerned. All of society and government is to be ordered as per shariah. The U.S. Constitution, and indeed all laws outside of shariah are rendered invalid. Non-Muslims will be allowed to survive if they accept dhimmi status.
As such, Muslims are not to assimilate into the West or adopt our values. There is to be none of the "give and take" of values, language, and culture, that the United States has seen with our successive waves of immigrants. Muslims are to force us to adopt their ways in totality and that is that.
The authors make the point that
...regardless of what percentage of the global Islamic population adheres or otherwise defers to shariah (and some persuasive polling indicates that percentage is high in many Islamic countries1), that segment is punching well above its weight. For that reason, proponents of an expansionist shariah present a serious threat to the United States even if we assume, for argument's sake, that hopeful pundits are correct in claiming that shariah adherent Islam is not the preponderant Muslim ideology.
This said, they also stress the vital necessity of engaging Muslim reformers. We must "do what we can to empower Islam's authentic moderates and reformers." But "that cannot be done by following the failed strategy of fictionalizing the state of Islam in the vain hope that reality will, at some point, catch up to the benign fable."
Indeed. Political correctness is our greatest weakness.
Next: Key Findings
September 22, 2010
Ban the Burqa?
Burqa - also transliterated burkha, burka or burqua from Arabic: برقع burqu' or burqa') is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions for the purpose of hiding their body when in public. It is worn over the usual daily clothing (often a long dress or a shalwar kameez) and removed when the woman returns home (see purdah), out of the view of men that are not her family. The burqa is usually understood to be the woman's loose body-covering (Arabic: jilbāb), plus the head-covering (Arabic: ḥijāb, taking the most usual meaning), plus the face-veil (Arabic: niqāb).
Should the wearing of the burqa and niqab be banned in public?
Some European countries are moving in that direction. Both the French National Assembly (like our House) and Senate approved a ban on burqa-style dress recently, and the issue is before the Belgium parliament as well. It has been considered in the Netherlands but no action has been taken yet. A ban has been proposed in Britain and polls show it would be hugely popular.
In this post we'll let two conservative authors state their cases: Caire Berlinski in favor of a ban and Andy McCarthy against. Both articles have recently appeared in National Review .
First up is Clair Berlinski. Following are just enough excerpts to get the gist of her case:
Ban the Burqa
To do so is an offense to liberty; not to do so is a greater one
August 16, 2010
I moved here five years ago. In the beginning, I was sympathetic to the argument that Turkey's ban on headscarves in universities and public institutions was grossly discriminatory. I spoke to many women who described veiling themselves as an uncoerced act of faith. One businesswoman in her mid-30s told me that she began veiling in high school, defying her secular family. Her schoolteacher gasped when she saw her: "If Atatürk could see you now, he would weep!" Her pain at the memory of the opprobrium she had suffered was clearly real.
Why had she decided to cover herself? I asked. As a teenager, she told me, she had experienced a religious revelation. She described this in terms anyone familiar with William James would recognize. She began veiling to affirm her connection with the Ineffable. "Every time I look in the mirror," she said, "I see a religious woman looking back. It reminds me that I've chosen to have a particular kind of relationship with God."
Seen thus, the covering of the head is no more radical than many other religious rituals that demand symbolic acts of renunciation or daily inconvenience....
But that was when I could still visit the neighborhood of Balat without being called a whore. ...
Let's be perfectly frank. These bans (the ones in Europe mentioned at top) are outrages against religious freedom and freedom of expression. They stigmatize Muslims. No modern state should be in the business of dictating what women should wear. The security arguments are spurious; there are a million ways to hide a bomb, and one hardly need wear a burqa to do so. It is not necessarily the case that the burqa is imposed upon women against their will; when it is the case, there are already laws on the books against physical coercion.
The argument that the garment is not a religious obligation under Islam is well-founded but irrelevant; millions of Muslims the world around believe that it is, and the state is not qualified to be in the business of Koranic exegesis. The choice to cover one's face is for many women a genuine expression of the most private kind of religious sentiment. To prevent them from doing so is discriminatory, persecutory, and incompatible with the Enlightenment traditions of the West....
All true. And yet the burqa must be banned. All forms of veiling must be, if not banned, strongly discouraged and stigmatized. The arguments against a ban are coherent and principled. They are also shallow and insufficient. They fail to take something crucial into account, and that thing is this: If Europe does not stand up now against veiling -- and the conception of women and their place in society that it represents -- within a generation there will be many cities in Europe where no unveiled woman will walk comfortably or safely....
The cancerous spread of veiling has been seen throughout the Islamic world since the Iranian Revolution. I have watched it in Turkey. Through migration and demographic shift, neighborhoods that once were mixed have become predominantly veiled. The government has sought to lift prohibitions on the wearing of headscarves, legitimizing and emboldening advocates of the practice. Five years ago, the historically Jewish and Greek neighborhood of Balat, on the Golden Horn, was one in which many unveiled women could be seen. It is not anymore. Recently I visited a friend there who reluctantly suggested that I dress more modestly -- while in his apartment. His windows faced the street. He was concerned that his neighbors would call the police and report a prostitute in their midst.
Veiling cannot be disambiguated from the problem of Islam's conception of women, and this conception is directly tied to gender apartheid and the subjugation and abuse of women throughout the Islamic world, the greatest human-rights problem on the planet, bar none. ...
Banning the burqa is without doubt a terrible assault on the ideal of religious liberty. It is the sign of a desperate society. No one wishes for things to have come so far that it is necessary.
But they have, and it is.
As someone once said (the phrase has been attributed to several people) "The Constitution is not a suicide pact." Put bluntly, there are certain situations where you do what you gotta do.
Berlinski states clearly that such a ban violates our concepts of civil liberties, but the situation is so dire that it is necessary. I won't rehash the situation in Europe now, at this point there is so much information out there that you either understand the danger or you don't.
More, she admits freely that many women voluntarily take up the burqa; depending on your definition of "voluntary," and here is where things get tricky. Where is the line between free will and subtle yet pervasive brainwashing? Between doing something out of religious reverence and an unadmitted and almost unconscious fear of being called a whore?
There is no doubt that fundamentalist Islam is spreading. Egyptian-American author Nonie Darwish wrote about how the people of her home country have gotten much more fundamentalist in her book Now They Call Me Infidel, and how shocked she was by the changes she saw there in her latest visit as opposed to what the country was like when she was a child. This series of photographs of the graduating class of Cairo University in 1959, 1978, 1995, and 2004 are absolutely shocking. In 1959 the graduates all wore modern, Western dress. IN 2004 the style was middle-ages Islamic.
So put your scruples about civil liberties aside, she says. Western Civilization itself is in mortal danger, and if we do not stand up to Islamism now, "within a generation there will be many cities in Europe where no unveiled woman will walk comfortably or safely."
A serious argument to be taken seriously.
Just as serious is Andy McCarthy, who makes the case the burqa-style dress should not be banned. As I suppose everyone knows by now, McCarthy was the lead prosecutor in the trial of Omar Abdel Rahman, otherwise known as "Blind Sheikh," who along with a half-dozen others were the masterminds behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and additional plots to bomb five New York City landmarks: the United Nations building, an FBI office, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, and the George Washington Bridge. Today McCarthy is a writer and host on many TV and radio shows, speaking mostly on the issue of Islamic radicalism.
Following are enough excerpts from his recent article to make his case:
There Oughtn't Be a Law
The burqa ban won't save France, and preemptive capitulation won't save us September 18, 2010
République française has banned the burqa. Along with the face-covering veil (the niqab), the burqa is the garment with which Muslim women conceal their bodies from head to toe. More accurately, it is the instrument by which their bodies are concealed. In fundamentalist Muslim communities, the burqa is not worn by a woman's free choice. It is imposed, a product of cultural submission that reflects the subordinate status -- in a real sense, the chattel status -- to which women are consigned in Islamist ideology. ...
What about the women who are extorted into cloaking themselves under pressure from a culture characterized by arranged marriages and honor killings? These women are pressured to submit because others have submitted. ...These women and girls are in France, but they are not free. They are "shut out from social life and robbed of any identity," as (French president Nicolas) Sarkozy puts it, and the burqa is their moving prison, enveloping every step. It extends the republic's 750 zones urbaines sensibles, "sensitive urban areas" -- Islamic enclaves over which the French state has effectively ceded sovereignty to sharia authorities.
This is a social problem, not a legal one. Law is the steel by which a body politic reinforces its vibrant, pre-existing mores. It is not a device for creating mores or for bringing to heel those who are at war with the body politic. ...For a dying society, though, a law, like the burqa law, is about as useful as a band-aid.
Islamist ideologues are ascendant because they are moving what they are proud to call their "civilizational jihad" against the West from the battlefield, where they know they cannot win, to our institutions, where the scales tip in the Islamists' favor. They are culturally confident. We, on the other hand, are ambivalent about whether our culture deserves to survive. No law can solve that problem. ...
The ethos of preemptive capitulation is all around us. It ran through last year's refusal by Yale University Press to publish Jytte Klausen's book on Muslim rioting over cartoon depictions of Mohammed until the book was purged of the cartoons. Even such classical representations of the prophet as Gustave Doré's illustration of Dante's Inferno, which portrays Mohammed as a "sower of religious discord," had to be censored out of fear that the religion of peace would go medieval. ... And the ethos is exploited by Imam Feisal Rauf, who now concedes the Ground Zero mosque was a bad idea but insists we must accept it lest "the radicals" explode in murderous rage.
It is the ethos of self-loathing. That is our burqa: our feebleness, our lack of cultural confidence. To shed it, we will have to rediscover why the principles it cloaks are superior and worth fighting for. If we don't, the law won't save us any more than it will save France.
McCarthy is saying bully; you're wasting your time with such a ban. At best it simply won't achieve your objective of stopping the spread of Islamism, at worst it deceives us into thinking that we have achieved something where we have not. We are much better served, he says, by facing the problem head on and telling the Islamists to accept Western values or get out of our countries.
In this case I think that Berlinksi is right and the European countries are right to ban burqa-style dress. Alone this won't save them, and McCarthy is right in that they still need to get their heads out of the sand and face the problem squarely. The bans might just give them that false sense of security that worries him.
But at the same time the bans might encourage Westerners to resist the spread of Islamism. It might give them hope that yes, we don't have to just sit here and take it from the radicals. And it might give Muslim women the strength to resist their oppression, and to realize that they don't have to take it either.
Further, it may send a signal to the Islamists that no, they may not import their more contemtible and degrading customs into our countries. Our message must be; if you accept Western values you are welcome to stay, otherwise leave.
Even so, of course, McCarthy may prove to be right. His point that the West has a social problem and not a political one is not one to be taken lightly. And most of all, until we realize that they have declared a "civilizational jihad" against us, we shall forever be blind as to the very nature of the enemy.
September 10, 2010
Don't Upset the Religion of Peace!
Because I've been so crazy busy with various projects, I haven't had the time to post I've wanted to. I was going to post about Rev Terry Jones' plan to burn Korans on Sept 11; and now that I've got time he's decided to reconsider or suspend the burning. It doesn't change anything I was going to say, though.
Don't upset the Religion of Peace, or they may become, you know, violent.
Even though Jones hasn't burned any Korans so far, and may not end up burning any at all, that certainly didn't stop a British Muslim activist has called for an international "Burn the Stars and Stripes Day."
Of course I think that Terry Jones is an idiot and that it's wrong to burn Korans. It is also right and good for us to denounce him.
This said, what interests me much more than Jones is the reaction to him, especially from Muslims, and the insane double standard that is applied to these things.
We're all required to say by the politically correct crowd that Islam is a religion of peace. Just don't offend Muslims because they'll become violent. Just ask Imam Rauf, the man promoting the Cordoba House-Ground Zero mosque. He told MSNBC's Soledad O'Brien that moving the facility would cause Muslims to become violent.
Is that analysis or a threat?
A stupid preacher in Florida says he'll burn Korans, and egged on by the media Muslims around the world go nuts. Michelle Malkin calls Islam the Religion of Perpetual Outrage, and I swear she has a point. If it wasn't outrage and rioting over Terry Jones it'd be something else. When you've got a chip on your shoulder and are looking for an insult they're not hard to find.
On Wednesday CNN's Soledad O'Brien interviewed Imam Rauf, the front man for the Cordoba House-Ground Zero mosque. Of course, the issue of Rev. Terry Jones came up.
O'BRIEN: You've heard about this pastor in Florida, Terry Jones, who is proposing burning Korans on 9/11. What do you think of that?
RAUF: I would plead with him to seriously what he is doing.
RAUF: It's going to feed into the radicals of the Muslim world. It's dangerous. General Petraeus has said that. It is something that is not the right thing to do on that ground.
O'BRIEN: Do you think he has a right to do it?
RAUF: And more importantly -- and more importantly -- well, we have freedom in this country, freedom of speech. But with freedom comes responsibility. And a famous saying to shot fire in a crowded theater. This is dangerous for our national security, but also it's the un-Christian thing to do. Jesus Christ didn't teach us to do that. We Muslims have a -- we look to the example of our prophet. Many Christians say what would Jesus do? Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek. Jesus taught us to love your enemy.
We are not your enemies. But this is what Jesus taught us to do. And I would like to suggest that, you know, we all have to live by the highest principles of our faith traditions. As I mentioned, it's important -- I want Christians to live -- to be perfected Christians and I want Muslims to be perfected Muslims and Jews to be perfected Jews. If we don't do that, if we judge each other by the worst of the other's behavior and by the best of our own, where are we going?
Of course the good imam doesn't suggest that maybe, just maybe, he and other Muslim leaders could speak to their fellow believers and tell them "don't react violently to this provocation."
But then, this is the way most of these Muslim leaders are.
Imam Rauf is blackmailing us. Let us build the mosque or there will be violence.
If we give in to his sort of implied threat, then we only encourage more of them.
Americans are required now to fall all over themselves denouncing the Koran burning. You hear this time and again on all media outlets, even ones that don't normally even talk about this sort of thing.
Muslims are rioting Gen Petraeus says that the Koran burning will put our troops at risk. He's right, but the proper response is not to be on the watch for moreTerry Jones', but to demand that Muslims grow up and stop being violent when they're insulted.
Where are the Muslim leaders urging their people to stay calm? Where are the Muslim leaders denouncing the rioting, or decrying the fact that some Muslims may attack American troops over the incident? That's right; they're the same ones demanding democracy, women's rights, and secular governments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc. They're the ones denouncing the attempt by the Organization of the Islamic Conference in the UN to push through something called the "Combating the Defamation of Religion," a resolution which would have Western nations, including the United States, curtail freedom of speech.
While we're at it, where are the Muslim leaders explaining how much better it is to live in the West, where they are not persecuted for their brand or sect of Islam? I'll tell you; they're the ones doing most of the complaining.
And tell me this; where are the rioting Christians when they burn Bibles in Saudi Arabia or Iran? Every now and then some eager Christian missionary will try and sneak into a Muslim country. Those who are caught have their Bibles confiscated and I am certain destroyed. You have to go onto evangelical websites to even know about these things, or be a member of an evangelical church.
For that matter, where are the rioting Jews and/or Israelis when newspapers in Muslim countries publish some of the most vile antisemitic cartoons? Or show the most insane antisemitic on their TV?
Did Christian extremists riot when Bill Maher's movie Religulous came out? Or when Christopher Hitchens' book God is Not Great? Or Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion? Although most of these do take shots at Islam, they are mostly anti-Christian works. We protested when martin scorsese's movie The Last Temptation of Christ was released (before, even), but riots? No.
Oh, and can we please stop bringing up the Crusades and Inquisition as something we're supposed to feel guilty about?
The Spanish Inquisition (there were four, the Spanish being the "big" one) took place from 1478 to 1834. In the 350 years of this Inquisition 3-5,000 people were killed. Tragic, yes. Pardon me if I can't get excited though over less than one person per month being killed. And no, the Inquisition was not all torture and execution of innocents. Indeed there are many examples of people petitioning to have their cases moved from civil to ecclesiastical (i.e. Inquisition) courts because the latter were perceived to be more fair.
I've dealt with the Crusades before, and suffice it to say that the idea that the poor innocent Muslims were sitting around minding their own business when the Christians attacked them is laughable.
Then there's this absurdity; we as a nation denounce Terry Jones for threatening to burn Korans, yet our own government burned Bibles sent to Afghanistan.
Tell you what; I'll apologize for the Crusades when Muslims apologize for conquering Christian north Africa, ruling all or parts of Spain for over 750 years, invading France, invading India, Invading Italy and Sicily, destroying the Byzantine Empire, invading Austria....
Perhaps most importantly, are we now to restrict our First Amendment rights because Muslims may become violent? As Bruce Bawer relates in While Europe Slept, the native Europeans themselves called for self-censorship in the wake of the "cartoon jihad" of early 2006.
And what is it with the term "moderate Muslim" anyway? Do we feel the need to apply it to members of any other religion?
When someone defends a Muslim as being moderate, they are saying "don't worry, he won't blow you up."
Anyone ever hear of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddists, or Sikhs described this way? Of course not.
Insane double standards like what I have described contribute to civilizational collapse. It is fashionable and tempting to think that "we've been through worse before, we'll get through this one," but that's false logic. Running through speeding traffic 5 times without getting hit does not guarantee success the sixth time. We nearly lost the country in 1860, 1941, or at times during the Cold War. History is littered with once-strong civilizations that collapsed, often quite suddenly. We are not immune.
Not to worry, critics, because yes I do understand that there are true reformers within Islam. I've profiled them here before, just click on "Islam" under "Categories" at right.
Here we go, all it took was a report by Press TV, the Iranian-run satellite news channel that a Koran had been burned in Florida, and there has been massive violence in Kashmir. The police shot 18 protesters dead and a policeman was killed too.
August 28, 2010
A Test Question for Muslims: "Is Hamas a Terrorist Organization?
Imam Dawoud Kringle of the New York State prison system is portrayed as a "moderate," and mouths all the politically correct things about how Islam and terror are incompatible, indeed how Islam forbids terror. Yet when asked whether Hamas as terrorist organization, he wouldn't give a direct answer. Start watching at 3:00
Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, and has been on the list for years. If you're not familiar, "Hamas" is an acronym for Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamat al-Islāmiyyah, which means "Islamic Resistance Movement", and they are the Palestinian terrorist group that has control of Gaza. In January of 2006 they won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament in their parliamentary elections, but that wasn't good enough. Fighting broke out between them and their rival Fatah, and by June 2007 they had defeated Fatah in Gaza and controlled it. They're basically a bunch of murderous thugs.
So whatever one thinks of Israeli policy or the fate of the Palestinians on the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) or Gaza, it should not be too hard to call Hamas organization and to condemn them outright Yet some Muslims cannot, and all too often these are the same people who mouth all the right pieties about how much they oppose terror. Like the Imam in the video above, they sound all very fine when talking about terror in the abstract, but ask them to condemn any Muslim terror organization other than al Qaeda and suddenly they get tongue tied.
There are some genuine reform-minded Muslims who reject all this, and I've profiled them here at Redhunter; search in "Islam" under "categories" at right.
But so many will not call Hamas, or for that matter Hezbollah, terrorist organizations. Why not?
Andy McCarthy provides some answers:
Why They Can't Condemn Hamas
Rauf and his friends employ different methods, but they are on the same team National Review
by Andy McCarthy
August 28, 2010
If you want to know whether an ostensible Muslim "moderate" is really moderate, ask him if Hamas is a terrorist organization.
It is really not a hard question, even if Feisal Rauf can't -- or won't -- answer it. Rauf, the would-be imam of the controversial Ground Zero mosque, is also a stud in the State Department's stable of ready-to-travel-on-your-dime "moderates." That same State Department has branded Hamas a terrorist organization, and we can't even get it to say that about the Taliban, the guys we're fighting in the overseas contingency operation formerly known as the War on Terror.
During a WABC radio interview, Aaron Klein three times pressed Rauf to admit that Hamas is a terrorist organization. Rauf bobbed and weaved in classic Islamist style. "I'm not a politician," he replied, as if only politicians trouble themselves over whether terrorists are terrorists. "I try to avoid the issues. The issue of terrorism is a very complex question."
With due respect to Imam Kringle and Islam's other American cheerleaders, this neither "twists up the religion to serve a political agenda" nor "hijacks" Islam. Hamas, to the contrary, accurately quoted Islamic scripture. As the scholar Andrew Bostom observes, the pronouncement by Mohammed about Muslims killing all remaining Jews on the Day of Judgment comes straight from a canonical hadith, Sahih Muslim, Book 41, No. 6985. Hadiths are collections of the prophet's words and deeds, and the one in question flows seamlessly from the Koran itself, from verses like Sura 2:61, which condemns Jews for purportedly rejecting Allah's signs and "slaying his Messengers." That indictment, reiterated in Sura 3:112, is echoed in the Hamas charter's opening passages: "They have incurred anger from their Lord, and wretchedness is laid upon them. That is because they used to disbelieve the revelations of Allah, and slew the Prophets wrongfully." Thus, the charter warns, "Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors."
This is why Imam Rauf and his friends get so tongue-tied when it comes to Hamas. Like many of Rauf's principal supporters in the United States, Hamas is part of the Muslim Brotherhood; in fact, it is its Palestinian branch. Don't take my word for it. Here's what Hamas itself says, in the charter:Article Two: The Link between Hamas and the Association of Muslim Brothers: The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a world organization, the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era. It is characterized by a profound understanding, by precise notions and by a complete comprehensiveness of all concepts of Islam in all domains of life: views and beliefs, politics and economics, education and society, jurisprudence and rule, indoctrination and teaching, the arts and publications, the hidden and the evident, and all the other domains of life.
Again: no separation of the spiritual and the temporal, of Islamic and civil law. They are one. And, it turns out, the top priority of Rauf's Cordoba Initiative is the Sharia Index Project, which is designed to plant and expand Islamic law in every country. Wonder of wonders, that just happens to be the Muslim Brotherhood's top priority -- the installation of sharia being the necessary precondition to the Islamicizing of a society. And, lo and behold, Rauf's partners in the Sharia Index Project include Jamal Barzinji and his International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT).
This is the background and all very accurate. The Muslim Brotherhood is the guiding light behind Hamas, and no doubt many of Rauf's buddies are associated with the Brotherhood. It has infiltrated many or most Muslim organizations in most countries, such are it's tentacles.
Here's the key: Rauf and many other Muslims won't condemn Hamas because they don't consider it's attacks on Israeli's to be terrorism.
The WABC with Rauf was a PR disaster, and Rauf's office quickly tried to repair the damage. McCarthy again:
Rauf's office put out a statement: "Imam Feisal has always condemned terrorism (see his . . . hundreds of speeches). Hamas is both a political movement and a terrorist organization. Hamas commits atrocious acts of terror. Imam Feisal has forcefully and consistently condemned all forms of terrorism, including those committed by Hamas, as un-Islamic."
These are clever assertions. They give Rauf's admirers ammunition to plead his case but leave his Brotherhood friends pacified. Yes, Rauf now appears, finally, to concede that Hamas is a terrorist organization. Yet it is one he cannot bring himself to condemn because, voila, it's also a "political movement" (just like the Muslim Brotherhood!). Rauf condemns "terrorism" in the abstract, but don't ask him to condemn specific terrorists. Being against "terrorism" is safe: The Brotherhood does not consider attacks by Hamas to be "terrorism" -- they are resistance (as in "the Islamic Resistance Movement" -- Hamas). Rauf declares that "targeting civilians is wrong," but when it comes to Israel, a country fighting for its survival, Brotherhood ideology emphasizes that all Jewish men and unmarried women are drafted into the armed forces, and most remain in the reserves for years thereafter; therefore, most Jewish Israelis are not considered civilians by Hamas.
But wait a second, you say: Didn't Rauf declare outright that he is a "supporter of the state of Israel"? He certainly did, but he was careful not to say in what form. In fact, he supports a state of Israel stripped of its Jewish character. Earlier this week, a 2005 speech was uncovered in which Rauf explained that he sees Israel, with its growing Arab sector, becoming "post-Zionist," "secular," and "multicultural." He perceives its "identity" as a Jewish state having "shifted enormously" since its founding. Consequently, he rejects the so-called "two-state solution" -- the American government dream of a Jewish state and a Muslim state, co-existing side-by-side in peace. Instead, Rauf concluded, "My own personal analysis tells me that a one-state solution is a more coherent one than a two-state solution."
And there you have it; what they really want is to destroy Israel and put a Muslim state governed by some form of the sharia. Jews and Christians can live there, but only as dhimmi. No thanks.
August 25, 2010
Reform Muslims, not Moderates, are the Answer
I've long pushed for us to embrace reform-minded Islam over simply "moderate" Islam. As such, those who search the category "Islam" at right will be rewarded with many posts on the subject.
The difference between moderate and reform Islam is pretty straightforward. Moderate Islam sees terror and extremism (as in Hamas) as big problems, but denies that Islam itself has anything to do with it and that the religion has simply been hijacked by a few extremists. Reform Islam says that the problem is that Islam needs the sort of Reformation and Enlightenment that the West experienced several centuries ago.
Unfortunately, far too many in the West do not see this distinction. They are infatuated with moderate Islam and do not see the need for any deeper intellectual or academic debate within the religion. While I understand that this is due to the standard pandering that comes with political correctness, I've always thought it odd coming from people whose way of life was formed by the great reform movements that took place in the West.
In a recent column Andy McCarthy wrote about how moderate Islam is not the answer because it ignores some realities of Islam:
Inventing Moderate Islam
It can't be done without confronting mainstream Islam and its sharia agenda.
August 24, 2010 4:00 A.M.
'Secularism can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society." The writer was not one of those sulfurous Islamophobes decried by CAIR and the professional Left. Quite the opposite: It was Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual guide and a favorite of the Saudi royal family. He made this assertion in his book, How the Imported Solutions Disastrously Affected Our Ummah, an excerpt of which was published by the Saudi Gazette just a couple of months ago.
This was Qaradawi the "progressive" Muslim intellectual, much loved by Georgetown University's burgeoning Islamic-studies programs. Like Harvard, Georgetown has been purchased into submission by tens of millions of Saudi petrodollars. In its resulting ardor to put Americans at ease about Islam, the university somehow manages to look beyond Qaradawi's fatwas calling for the killing of American troops in Iraq and for suicide bombings in Israel. Qaradawi, they tell us, is a "moderate." In fact, as Robert Spencer quips, if you were to say Islam and secularism cannot co-exist, John Esposito, Georgetown's apologist-in-chief, would call you an Islamophobe; but when Qaradawi says it, no problem -- according to Esposito, he's a "reformist."
And he's not just any reformist. Another Qaradawi fan, Feisal Rauf, the similarly "moderate" imam behind the Ground Zero mosque project, tells us Qaradawi is also "the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today."
The sad fact, the fact no one wants to deal with but which the Ground Zero mosque debate has forced to the fore, is that Qaradawi is a moderate. So is Feisal Rauf, who endorses the Qaradawi position -- the mainstream Islamic position -- that sharia is a nonnegotiable requirement. Rauf wins the coveted "moderate" designation because he strains, at least when speaking for Western consumption, to paper over the incompatibility between sharia societies and Western societies.
Qaradawi and Rauf are "moderates" because we've abandoned reason. Our opinion elites are happy to paper over the gulf between "reformist" Islam and the "reformist" approval of mass-murder attacks. That's why it matters not a whit to them that Imam Rauf refuses to renounce Hamas: If you're going to give a pass to Qaradawi, the guy who actively promotes Hamas terrorists, how can you complain about a guy who merely refuses to condemn the terrorists?
Meanwhile, individual Muslim reformers are branded apostates, meaning not only that they are discredited, but that their lives are threatened as well. The signal to other Muslims is clear: Follow the reformers and experience the same fury. As Qaradawi put it in the 2005 interview, public apostates are "the gravest danger" to Islamic society; therefore, Muslims must snuff them out, lest their reforms "spread like wildfire in a field of thorns."
Today, "moderate Islam" is an illusion. There is hardly a spark, much less a wildfire. Making moderation real will take more than wishing upon a star. It calls for a gut check, a willingness to face down not just al-Qaeda but the Qaradawis and their sharia campaign. It means saying: Not here.
The proposed mosque near to ground zero is not really a religious institution. It would be -- as many mosques throughout the nation are -- a terrorist recruitment, indoctrination and training center. It is not the worship of Islam that is the problem. It is the efforts to advance Sharia Law with its requirement of Jihad and violence that is the nub of the issue.
There is a global effort to advance Sharia Law and make it the legal system of the world. Most major banks and financial institutions offer Sharia Compliant Funds which have their investments vetted by the most fundamentalist and reactionary of clerics to assure that they advance Sharia Law. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the founder of the proposed Mosque, helps to prepare a Sharia Index which rates countries on their degree of compliance with Sharia Law. In the United Kingdom, many courts have recognized Sharia as the governing law on matters between two Muslims.
Not only is Sharia Law a vicious anti-female code which orders death by stoning, promotes child marriage, decriminalizes abuse of women, and gives wives no rights in divorce, but it also explicitly recognizes the duty of all Muslims to wage Jihad against non-believers and promotes violence to achieve its goals. In this respect, violent Jihad is as inherent in Sharia Law as revolution is in Communist doctrine.
But there are non-Sharia mosques where peaceful and spiritual Muslims worship God in their own way without promoting violence. A soon-to-be published study funded by Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy, found that 20% of the mosques in the United States have no taint of Sharia and simply promote peaceful worship. But 80% are filled with violent literature, Sharia teachings, and promotion of Jihad and its inevitable concomitant -- terrorism.
Terror is a problem, but only one aspect of it. People such as Imam Rauf want to slowly introduce sharia into the West, one step at a time. They do so under the guise of "diversity" and "tolerance" and "multiculturalism;" which is to say they are using our own policies against us. There is a sort of creeping sharia whereby a totalitarian system of oppression is slowly being introduced into the West, and oddly it is mostly the left which is aiding and abetting the movement.
As the title of one of McCarthy's books says, many have a Willful Blindness about all this. I can explain it a million ways, but in the end you either see the danger or you don't.
This video illustrates the problem perfectly. Imam Dawoud Kringle of the New York State prison system is portrayed as a "moderate," and mouths all the politically correct things about how Islam and terror are incompatible, indeed how Islam forbids terror. Yet when asked a simple question, "Is Hamas a terrorist organization?" he won't give a direct answer. Start watching at 3:00
Pathetic. Andy McCarthy, who is debating Kringle in the clip, commented afterwards that
This is a game that sharia-promoting Islamists like Feisal Rauf have raised to an art form. As I explain in the debate, it is why they can look you in they eye, claim in all apparent earnestness that they condemn "terrorism," and yet excuse Hamas, call for the "one-state solution" for Israel, and support the Iranian theocracy -- the leading terrorist state in the world. They do not consider the killing of non-Muslims whom they portray as opposing Islam to be terrorism -- they call that "resistance." They know if they merely say they deplore "terrorism," the media and the Left will swoon and call them "moderates." But what you think you're hearing, and what they're actually saying, are two very different things.
August 18, 2010
Obama's Post-American Moment
Last Friday, at the White House Ramadan Dinner President Obama endorsed the plan.
"Ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground," Obama said at a White House dinner celebrating the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. "But let me be clear: As a citizen and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances."
Then on Saturday he flipped again
But on Saturday, Obama seemed to contradict himself, telling reporters at one point, "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That's what our country is about. And I think it's very important, as difficult as some of these issues are, that we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about."
Unfortunately for the President, the New York Times has the scoop in a story last Friday:Aides to Mr. Obama say privately that he has always felt strongly about the proposed community center and mosque, but the White House did not want to weigh in until local authorities made a decision on the proposal, planned for two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
At best this is yet another example of how Obama is now out of touch with the American people. At worst is shows that he really is a post-American president. Sadly, I'm inclined toward the latter view.
Americans as a whole always give a new president every chance to prove himself. Indeed as often as not a majority of the opposition party goes along with most of his new legislation. What makes Obama unique is that he completely alienated the opposition party and pushed through a series of massive bills that have already made him the most divisive president in modern American history (I examined his record in congress as against other presidents and major pieces of legislation, so I don't say this lightly).
"Not One of Us"
The danger to Obama is not one of being on the wrong side of an issue. This is not about politics or political philosophy.
As the New York Times piece above says, Obama "has always felt strongly about the proposed community center and mosque"
People, and I don't mean conservatives, but middle-of-the-road Joe and Sally Suburban, are going to start looking at Obama and saying "he's not one of us>"
And no, I don't mean "not white" or "not Christian." Obama is something else. He's... just not really American like the rest of us. And I mean "rest of us" regardless of whether you are on the right or left.
But there is a certain weirdness, otherworldlyness if you will, about Obama, that we haven't seen with other recent Democrat presidents. Jimmy Carter had been a U.S. Navy officer in Rickover's nuclear submarine fleet. Bill Clinton was more pragmatic than hard left. It's hard to imagine either of them proclaiming himself a "citizen of the world," as Obama did in his July 2008 speech in Berlin. And if they, or any Republican, made such a remark, we'd know that they meant it in a totally different way than Obama means it.
There is an ultimate political question of "who are you?" Throughout history this has been answered in different ways. It was usually answered in terms of religion or social class. Until the American Civil War many in this country owed their primary political allegiance to their region or state. The modern Western nation-state grew out of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, and over time turned into the concept of nationalism that we've seen over the past few hundred years. Most Americans today answer that ultimate political question with an "I'm an American."
But Obama thinks himself beyond nationalism. He's past thinking of himself as an American first. He's post-American.
Bactk to Cordoba House
I've blogged on this before, but a bit more can't hurt.
Let's be clear about what this "Cordoba House" mosque is and is not about.
This has nothing to do with rights, the First Amendment, tolerance, or any of that. There are hundreds of mosques and Islamic community centers in the United States, and there is no serious opposition to them. We have a bunch of Sikh temples in my area of Loudoun County VA, and no one cares about them, either. We are the most tolerant nation on earth.
Rather, this is a direct in-your-face-screw-you to the "Great Satan." It is a strong statement that they are stronger than us, that their religion is stronger. That we are a bunch of idiot weaklings who can be pushed around. That Islam can build on (virtually on, damn close enough) to the rubble of the "Great Satan" to show its superiority.
It is therefore no mistake that it is called "Cordoba House" after the great mosque in Cordoba Spain build on the top of a church after the Muslims conquered that country.
Behind this no doubt is the Muslim Brotherhood and their mentality. They are conducting a "civilizational jihad" (their term from the 1991 document "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America") against us.
Make no mistake - this is not about a mosque. This is about the "grand jihad," which is the attempt to reestablish the caliphate and institute the sharia. It proceeds one small step at a time.
But many, mostly but not exclusively on the left, have taken what Andy McCarthy calls an attitude of "Willful Blindness" to what is going on. So sad that it is those who proclaim themselves the guardians of civil liberties to be the ones defending Islamism, an ideology that would destroy all that they, we, hold dear. I can explain it in a million ways, but either see the danger or you don't.
August 15, 2010
Book Review - While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within
I had to remind myself many times while reading this book that Bruce Bawer is not a conservative, let along a "neo-conservative," and most likely voted for Barack Obama. A writer by profession and proponent of gay marriage, and the rest of the gay agenda, he positively despises the Christian right. Indeed, he left the United States to live in Europe precisely because of what he calls "Protestant fundamentalism."
Born in 1956 and raised in New York, he decided that he could know America better if he had something to compare it to, and the only way to get that was to go and live abroad for a number of years. What turned him off about America attracted him to Europe. He saw them as more tolerant, secular, and accepting of his gay lifestyle. He also wanted to learn more languages, and it's clear throughout the book that Bawer is one to whom learning a new language comes fairly easily.
He left America for Amsterdam in 1998 expecting to find a continent that had all of the left-liberal social values that America didn't. What he found instead shocked him into writing this book. Modern liberal Europe, he discovered, is on the verge of being destroyed by radical Islam.
While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, was published in 2006, so I'm several years behind in reading it. It wasn't that I hadn't heard of it, but rather just that there was just always another book that seemed a bit more important. I'd heard so much about Bawer and his influential book that I always intended to get around to reading it, so last year I put it on my Christmas list, and being only available in paperback it was easy for my relatives to pick up as a cheap extra. The reason it's taken me until August was that there was another half-dozen books on that list too.
Muslim children in Europe do not receive a European eduction. Some are sent abroad for their schooling, some to private Islamic academies, and others simply instructed at home after their day at public school. Either way, the brainwashing is completed and they are taught to hate the West and think that it should be replaced by the Caliphate. They're taught all the other Islamic values; that polygamy is acceptable, that women should be punished for adultery and if they are raped, but the men should mostly get off Scot-free. Homosexuals should be put to death.
The American Christian v the European Muslim "Religious Right"
Bawer recognizes the difference between what he calls Protestant fundamentalism and Muslim fundamentalism. As much as he hates the religious right in America, he realizes that while they don't want gay marriage, they have no intention of killing anyone. Muslims do. Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and Pat Robertson are "unsavory characters," but he sees that they don't want to kill their daughters if they "dishonor" the family and of course don't want gays killed. What gets Bawer is that Europeans don't see that they have a religious right that is quite dangerous.
Because he hates Christianity in the United States, Bawer was at first glad to see that it was on the decline in Europe. But what he came to realize was that Christian faith wasn't replace by something that he could see as better, but with nothing at all. Not having any belief system of their own caused two problems for Europeans. First, they did not at all appreciate the religious fervor of Muslims. Two, they had no moral basis upon which to oppose it.
Why They Don't Get It
Most Europeans simply cannot grasp the ideological dedication of Islamists. They do not believe that Muslim radicals really mean to act on their radical rhetoric, or that any serious number of Muslims would follow them. They dismiss it all for one reason or another.
As stated above, Bawer thinks that the biggest reason for this is that Europeans lost their own religion a long time ago. It has been decades since Christianity was taken seriously by a majority of Europeans. As a result, religion itself is an oddity, an exotic concept. They cannot imagine a life directed by a religion.
Americans, on the other hand, are surrounded by religion. Even those who are not practicing Christians or Jews understand its power. We know full well what religion can do to unstable personalities, those who seek power for its own sake, or those who for whatever reason are susceptible to control by others.
Americans have an amazingly diverse media compared to Europe, where all outlets pretty much tell the same story the same way. In the United States we have robust liberal and conservative outlets; MSNBC v Fox News, The New York Times v The Wall Street Journal, National Review v The Nation v The New Republic, Rush Limbaugh v ... no one. For that matter we've also got Think Tanks all over the place; The Heritage Foundation v The Institute for Policy Studies v The Cato Institute.
In Europe you've got nothing of the sort. Sure, there are a few vaguely conservative outlets like the London Telegraphy, but the vast majority are best described as "establishment left" (my term, not Bawer's, but based on his writing). But for the most part they all take the same line on any issue; they all bash Israel, attack American-style capitalism and laud the European social-welfare state, and so on. They all pay attention to the same stories, and ignore the same stories. There simply is no journalistic diversity.
And they all pretend that Muslims are not a problem in Europe, and that anyone who does is a fascist.
We have a strong tradition of integrating immigrants into our society. There's a process of give-and-take, whereby we pick up some new things from them and they learn and adopt our language and customs.
Not so in Europe. The problem is on both sides; the Europeans don't want to integrate the Muslims and the Muslims don't want to be integrated. It's an entirely different psychology than in the States.
Europeans, or at least the elite, will give as their reason for not wanting to integrate newcomers is that they "respect their differences." The real reason, Bawer came to suspect, was "a profound discomfort with the idea of "them" becoming "us."" In other words, while anyone can eventually become an American, no one but a native can really become a German or Swede. For all their liberal piety, Europeans are really quick nativist in their outlook.
More, the European establishment has taken a condescending romantic view of their Muslim immigrants. They are "victims" of Western imperialism or some such, and so any criticism of them is racist or fascist. Any problem within the Muslim community must be due to racism of the white natives.
They view Islamic culture as "exotic" and something to be preserved in its entirety. It is impermissible to talk about any Islamic cultural trait that might be antithetical to Western values. Worse, any Muslim who tries to "break from the pack" and criticize any aspect of Islam or any Muslim leader is seen as a cultural traitor and is him or herself deemed more of a threat than Islam itself. Ayan Hirsi Ali is a pariah.
But as mentioned, integration is a two-way street. Until recently it was assumed that Muslim immigrants would intermarry with natives. However, statistics show that this has not been the case. More, under "family reunification" laws, European Muslims have traveled back to their country their families came from (Pakistan, Turkey, etc), married someone there, and brought him or her back to Europe.
And Narrow-Minded, Too
Although Americans tend to see Europeans as open-minded and sophisticated, and Europeans certainly see themselves that way, the truth is closer to the opposite. If anything, they are a "tribal society. For example, although few Norwegians attend church or think of themselves as Christian, they insist on following Christian rituals such as having their children confirmed. They also follow other national traditions "religiously," although there is absolutely no meaning behind any of it.
The Reaction to Sept 11
It is a favorite of American liberals to claim that George W Bush squandered or lost European sympathy over 9-11 with by invading Iraq or some such. "Everyone agreed on invading Afghanistan" we are told. Bawer shows how this is so much balderdash.
The truth is that Europeans, especially the elites, didn't want us to invade Afghanistan at all. We were supposed to wallow in our misery after the attacks, morn our dead, and possibly apologize to the Arabs for our alleged imperialism, but not much else.
It wasn't a simple disagreement over tactics or strategy, either. A vicious America hatred the likes of which Bawer said he had never seen before and certainly thought impossible took hold. The shift didn't take weeks or months, either, but less than two days. The answer to violence, they said, was not more violence.
To many Europeans, America was the enemy, and Osama bin Laden (and by extension all Muslims) was the victim.
Most Europeans, certainly the ones Bawer ran into, were unable to comprehend a country where people were willing to die for things like freedom and liberty. It was a difficult enough concept for them to grasp that one might die for your country's own freedom, but that one might die for anothers was truly mind-blowing. This the notion that we thought it honorable to die so that Iraqis might be free was dismissed as a cover for wanting to steal their oil or some such.
Even basic talk about freedom and liberty is dismissed as so much emotional, overheated, rhetoric. To most Europeans, all such rhetoric does is provide a cover for the evils of American-style capitalism and imperialism.
It took President Clinton, for example, to do in the former Yugoslav republics what the Europeans should have done themselves. To be sure, part of their problem was their pathetically weak militaries, but mostly it was lack of will. Americans generally want to get rid of the Milosevics of the world, the Europeans don't see the point.
Why the Muslim Rage?
What else should we expect, Bawer says, from young Muslims who have been educated to believe that they are superior and are made to rule over the infidels? They're told that Western women are whores, the West is corrupt and seeks to destroy Islam, and democracy is a joke. They know their rights under Western law perfectly well, and as such know that they will be well treated no matter how badly their behave.
Because the Europeans do not wish to integrate them (and they don't wish to be integrated), they congregate in their own communities, ghettos if you will. In France they're called cites (with the apostrophe above the "e").
The elites say that the causes of Muslim alienation are racism and poverty, but it's not that simple. Yes the natives don't want to integrate them, but that's not racism unless you're reaching. Modern Europe is about as anti-racist in philosophy as you can get. On average their incomes aren't that great, but they all have cell phones and dress fashionably enough. It's certainly not the poverty of the Third World.
These young Muslims present a huge challenge, and it's one that most Europeans want to ignore. Only the older generation remembers a time when manners and good behavior were not only expected but demanded.
Parallel to an increasingly assertive Islam in Europe is the rise, or re-rise, of antisemitism. While Muslims are not the only guilty parties, as a group they are certainly the largest offenders. Muslim adults routinely harass Jewish children, while the reverse never happens. Bawer relates incident after incident, some quite violent and appalling, to drive home the point.
In 2004 the EU ordered an investigation into the matter, and the resulting report was titled "Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the European Union". But the report was never released, "presumably because it points out significant Muslim involvement in European anti-Semitism." Under pressure, the EU did finally issue a report, but spun it to downplay the role of European Muslims.
European elites assume that anti-Semitism by Muslims, while officially deplorable, is "understandable" because of Israeli oppression, poverty, the legacy of colonialism; in other words, the standard liberal-guilt list.
Perhaps Laurence Weinbaum of the World Jewish Conference summed up the European attitude best when he said that "in Western Europe there is sympathy for dead Jews, it's the live ones they cannot tolerate."
Indeed, the situation is such that Bawer wonders whether any Europeans at all would try and save Jews as they did during World War II if another holocaust loomed. As one of his friends put it, "They've been reeducated." If Muslims started rounding up Jews for concentration camps, "It would be racist to resist." Such is the degree to which "racism" has been perverted.
A Few Europeans Who Get It
A few European politicians get it. Unfortunately, most are either dead or in exile.
Pim Fortuyn was an openly gay Dutch politician who spoke openly and plainly about the danger to Western freedoms from an intolerant Islam that he saw holding sway in his country. Thrown out of the Dutch Labor Party party for his views, he formed his own, the Pim Fortuyn List. He was murdered in 2002 by Volkert van der Graaf, who said that he did it because of Fortuyn's views on Islam.
Theo van Gogh, a descendant of artist-painter Vincent van Gogh, was another. Theo was a filmmaker, columnist, actor and author. In 2004 he worked with Somali-born writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali to produce a 10 minute film calledSubmission, which was critical of how Islam treated women. Theo too was murdered in 2004 by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Muslim immigrant from Morocco, because of his criticism of Islam.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali escaped assassination, but after a contrived controversy about her citizenship status in The Netherlands moved to the United States. She now has a position with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C. (Wikipedia says she has temporarily moved to the Netherlands but intends on moving back to the U.S.)
Although many Europeans were deeply shocked by the murders of Fortune and van Gogh, others said the fault was their own for their harsh criticism of Islam. Many presented their murders as "isolated events" and said that it was insulting to think that Islam in Europe could pose any sort of threat.
The Best and the Worst Countries
As of the publication date of 2006, Denmark was making strides toward reforming it's policies so as to mitigate the threat of radical Islam. Queen Margrethe took the lead and set the tone when she said that the West had to take the threat of fundamentalism islam seriously and that "there are certain things of which one should not be too tolerant" i.e. we're not going to be tolerant of a fundamentalist Islam that is antithetical to Wester values.
At the other end of the spectrum was Sweden. Crime rates are (again as of 2006, anyway) going up every year, with most perpetrators being Muslims. Sweden now has a murder rate twice that of the U.S., many of them "honor killings." One of it's biggest cities, Malmo, is now 40 percent Muslim, a city where the number of rapes and robberies had skyrocketed. Anti-Semitism is rampant. Meanwhile, the official position of the Swedish government is that the fault is racism on the part of native Swedes.
"Hate Speech" Laws
Many European countries have taken steps to limit free speech in a way that would violate our First Amendment and would undoubtedly be struck down 9 - 0 by the Supreme Court. For example, in April of 2005 the Norwegian legislature passed a law that prohibited saying anything "discriminatory" or "hateful" about someone's skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion. Violators could face fines and prison time. What was most remarkable is that there was virtually no public debate on the law. No one seemed to care.
In 2005 British House of Commons passed the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill. Fortunately, the House of Lords killed it, but had it taken effect it would have made it a crime to criticize the very radicalism that had killed 56 Britons in the "7/7" bombings.
Just as bad as the wave of anti-free speech legislation is self-censorship. Not only is this practiced in the monolithic media, but among artists and writers. Plays are canceled, movies not shown, "offensive" works of art not included in exhibits, on and on. So much for the idea of the brave artist, unafraid to challenge the establishment.
For all the talk about "moderate Muslims" they seem amazingly scarce. While surveys showed that most did not approve of violence, they didn't carry that opinion any farther. When it came to opposing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq they would turn out by the thousands for large demonstrations, but demonstrations against Muslim terror turned out only a few dozen.
The fact is that there is a sizable number of "silent Muslims" who on the one hand deplore the violence committed in their name, yet refuse to speak out against it. Worse, they refuse to accept that Islam might have anything to do with creating terror or violence. And worse than that, they reserve their real vitriol for anyone who would dare to criticize Islam. Religious solidarity keeps their heads low.
Upon examination most "moderate" Muslim leaders aren't so moderate. Bawer goes through several supposedly moderate Muslim leaders whose views turned out to be quite appalling.
Finally, there is a system of intimidation within Islam that the extremists use to keep critics within their ranks silent. The intimidation doesn't just use the threat of violence, but other things such as job loss and exclusion from the community and Mosque.
Bawer is quite pessimistic about the prospects for Europe. Although a few extremist Imams are deported and a few groups banned, for the most part native Europeans are acting like dhimmis. European Imams still preach hate and get away with little or no criticism, much less legal action. European governments still subsidize Islamic Mosques and schools, and Islamic "councils" and "associations" are given quasi-official status as government advisory bodies. Worse, sharia law courts are being set up as a parallel legal system for some issues.
The Europe of today is philosophically 180 degrees from the Europe of Winston Churchill. His speeches today would be dismissed as the rantings of a warmonger.
European anti-Americanism would not be a danger into itself, but what it breeds is the danger within from Islam. Making the problem worse are those Americans who denigrate their own country while in Europe. Whether they do so because they are anti-Bush/Republican/conservative liberals or just want to ingratiate themselves with their hosts (or some combination of the two) is irrelevant. They are doing damage far beyond their personal situations. Bawer calls them traitors; not to the United States per se, but to the West and all the good things it stands for.
In the "Afterward to the paperback edition," evidently written a year or so after the hardback, Bawer laments that far from awakening, most of Europe is still fast asleep. A few get it, but most are still oblivious to the danger
While Europe Slept is a depressing and at times maddening book to read. The anti-Americanism is not just on this or that policy, more often than not it is just loony-tunes stuff. The aggressiveness of Muslim leaders and the timidity native Europeans is overwhelming. It is good that we in the U.S. argue and debate over whether things like The Patriot Act is an infringement on our civil liberties; in Europe they give up their liberties at the drop of a hat in order to appease the Islamists.
Because Bawer is a traditional liberal taking what can be called a conservative position on Islam and the situation in Europe, he is in the same genre, or the same type, as Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens is much admired by the American right for his stance on the Iraq war and Islam in general. Bawer is less-well known, but I have heard him interviewed by conservative radio-talk show hosts such as Dennis Miller.
Bawer isn't as clever as Mark Steyn, whose 2006 America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It remains one of the most entertaining and informative books of the decade. On the other hand, his writing holds you much better than Walter Laqueur, whose writing in The Last Days of Europe was rather dry. In short, you will not be bored by Bruce Bawer.
The biggest criticism of While Europe Slept is no doubt that Bawer relies almost exclusively on anecdotal evidence. While much of the book deals with big newsworthy events we have all heard of like the "cartoon jihad," much of it is his personal observations and interactions. The counter to this is that Bawer is well traveled and read himself, is a professional writer who spends all of his time on this sort of thing, speaks several European languages (at least well enough to get along), and lots of anecdotal incidents do add up to something when you add to them the daily news.
As such, this book comes highly recommended, and despite it being several years old, is well worth your time.
August 8, 2010
Andy McCarthy Gets It Right Both on Jeffrey Kuhner and the Ground Zero Mosque
Jeffrey Kuhner writes op-eds for the Washington Times and has an afternoon radio show. I consider him too extreme for my taste, so I generally avoid him.
The other day he wrote a typically over-the-top editorial about the "Cordoba House Mosque" that has been approved to be built so near Ground Zero in New York City. Andy McCarthy takes him to task over at NRO's The Corner, and while doing so lays out the case in much more intellectual fashion as to why the Mosque is a bad thing.Jonah (Goldberg), I appreciate that, big guy, and admiration is very much a two-way street.
On the GZ mosque, Jonah and I are substantially in agreement. I don't mean to weasel, so let me elaborate. I say "substantially" because my sense is that I think the Ground Zero mosque is a bigger deal than Jonah does. To be clear, I am not saying he doesn't think it's a big deal, just that I am somewhat more alarmed about it. But, as I interpret what Jonah has written, we both agree with the NRO editorial on the subject. And I could not agree more that we have not been conquered, we haven't surrendered to Islam, and we are not the United States of Arabia.
Still, while I think Jeffrey Kuhner's op-ed is overheated in spots, I am not as put off by it as Jonah seems to be. There are two things he says that go too far: (a) that America has been "conquered" (such that the GZ mosque would stand "as a testament to the Islamist conquest of America"), and (b) that America has "surrendered." Two things are lacking in Kuhner's perspective.
First, there is a big difference between a desecration and a conquest. The GZ mosque would be an atrocious monument to permit in that particular spot. But let's get a grip: the U.S. was not "conquered" by the 9/11 attacks. However unsavory it would be, placing a giant Islamic center next to the site of the worst of the 9/11 strikes would be orders of magnitude less horrific than the slaughter of 2700 people and the accompanying devastation of lower Manhattan. We should not let it happen, but it would not be a "conquest" even if Islamists would announce it as one (just as they insist it was they who "conquered" the Soviet Union). The GZ mosque could be an important marker in their ultimate victory -- for they win if they change us from who we are - but that remains to be seen.Which gets me to Kuhner's second hyperbole: surrender. What the GZ mosque episode powerfully demonstrates is the growing divide between the American people and the progressive ruling class. The latter, I believe, are gradually surrendering. Hard leftists (who have a lot of sway with the current ruling class) do not like the country anyway, so they aren't so much surrendering as exploiting their opportunities. Much of the rest of the ruling class thinks appeasement of Islamists is the way to go -- just as the ruling class's instinct is to appease all our enemies. They don't think of themselves as "surrendering"; they think they are moving us toward a better, smarter policy that will reduce the threat by making our enemies like us better. And even that is sort of "surrendering," they figure it's only surrendering in what they can't help thinking of as George Bush's war, which they were always ambivalent about anyway. They tell themselves -- and us -- that if there were a real threat to the United States, no one would be more fierce in our defense than they would, blah, blah, blah.
Most of the American people are in a much different place. They see Islamists advancing, they are beginning to grasp that Islamists (not just terrorists but the whole Islamist movement) mean to change us in very fundamental ways, and therefore they understand that every such advance is a defeat for freedom. Every advance emboldens a determined enemy to press ahead. Over time, we could be conquered in that our way of life would be drastically altered.
Americans also realize that when our country looks like it doesn't have the stomach to face down bad people and noxious ideologies, we are significantly less safe. Though weary, the people of the country want to see resolve. They think they understand their principles a lot better than the ruling class does, and they are tired of lectures from the Obamas and Bloombergs who, in the name of abstractions that they presume to call "our values," would have us sell out our principles and our security. The people haven't surrendered, and they appreciate that when American credibility is on the line, it's important to win.
Most of all, Americans are tired of the shroud of political correctness the ruling class has placed around Islam. We don't object to anyone's freedom of conscience, and we abide countless places for Muslims to gather and worship even though we know a very high percentage of the Islamic centers and mosques are heavily influenced by Islamists. But we're tired of being told things that aren't true: e.g., that Islam is peaceful, tolerant and non-threatening; that sharia -- which is relentlessly authoritarian, discriminatory, and, in parts, savage -- is something we need to accommodate; and that there is no connection between Islamic doctrine (which is supremacist and belligerent), Islamist terror, and the broader Islamist threat to our civilization. We're tired of being told that people who can't bring themselves to condemn Hamas are "moderates" deserving of being taken seriously and having their endless grievances against America addressed. And we're tired of being told that we shouldn't examine or object to an authoritarian ideology just because it travels under the label of "religion."
This is why I think the Ground Zero controversy is so significant. It sorts out those who get it from those who don't, and forces us to ask: Why are we letting those who don't get it run the show?
April 5, 2010
WikiLeaks - A New Fifth Column Trying to Undermine Us
Post updated at bottom
Late in 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, the Nationalist General Mola was advancing on Madrid with four columns of soldiers. During a radio address he was asked which one would take the city, which was held by Republican forces. He replied that a "fifth column" of hidden supporters within the city would undermine the government from within.
In a October 20, 2004 post titled The New Fifth Column I wrote that "we are today faced with a new Fifth Column in the War on Terror. One that is working to undermine us from within." Already it was clear that there were those within our ranks who would work to undermine us from within.
We saw this during the Cold War, especially during it's latter stages, with the rise of the "anti-anticommunist" movement on the left. These people were not communists themselves, and if you put them on the rack they'd eventually admit that "ok, communism isn't so great," but their real enemy, and the people they spent their entire time denouncing, were the anti-communists of both the right and left (yes they existed on the left).
So once again the phenomenon has surfaced. We can call them anti-anti-terrorists, or anti-war, or whatever. Like their anti-anti-communist forefathers, they are not terrorists nor do they defend the ideology of jihad. But they spend their entire time attacking the West in general and the United States in particular. To them, if we fight at all, we must conduct the perfect war.
The latest example of this type is WikiLeaks. From their websiteThe Sunshine Press (WikiLeaks) is an non-profit organization funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public. Through your support we have exposed significant injustice around the world-- successfully fighting off over 100 legal attacks in the process. Although our work produces reforms daily and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the 2008 Index on Censorship-Economist Freedom of Expression Award as well as the 2009 Amnesty International New Media Award, these accolades do not pay the bills. Nor can we accept government or corporate funding and maintain our absolute integrity. It is your strong support alone that preserves our continued independence and strength.
Basically they release whatever secret documents they can find and then congratulate themselves.
Bunch of goddamn traitors is what they are.
Here's their latest piece of disinformation
And here's what they say about it:WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded. For further information please visit the special project website www.collateralmurder.com.
Of course, it's all a big lie. Military expert Bill Roggio analyzes the video and concludes that:Baghdad in July 2007 was a very violent place, and the neighborhoods of Sadr City and New Baghdad were breeding grounds for the Mahdi Army and associated Iranian-backed Shia terror groups. The city was a war zone. To describe the attack you see in the video as "murder" is a sensationalist gimmick that succeeded in driving tons of media attention and traffic to their website.
But of course.
Yes yes, I know, we're all supposed to believe that the people at WikiLeaks are fighting for truth and justice and the American Way. We're supposed to think that they're only trying to hold the government, corporations, and the powerful to account for any misdeeds. And hey, if they haven't done anything wrong, what's the problem?
If you haven't watched the whole video yet, please do so. The editorial comments before, during, and after the intercepted video make it clear that it's all just hate-America propaganda.
In case you're still in doubt as to the vile sort of people we're dealing with, this is the crowd that in 2008 publishedscreen shots of Sarah Palin's emails from her hacked Yahoo account.
Would they have published Obama's emails if someone had hacked into his account? Or that of Joe Biden? I think we know the answer.
People who do this sort of thing are beneath contempt.
In November of 2009 WikiLeaks also published hacked emails from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia. They should not have done this either.
For what it's worth, my distain of global warmers and disbelief in their theories has nothing to do with these hacked emails, and not liking the situation I never blogged on them.
What About Investigative Journalism?"
Don't be silly. Of course there are times when leaked documents and such should be published. But it's clear that the people at WikiLeaks are out of bounds.
The Adversary Culture
In his 1992 work Anti-Americanism: Critiques at Home and Abroad, 1965-1990 Paul Hollander summed up these people to a T:The people I have in mind - who belong to this broader adversary culture - can be identified by a number of beliefs. Among them is that American intervention almost anywhere in the world is without moral justification. They also aver that the United States bears the lion's share of responsibility for the sufferings of the poor in the Third World. They include prosperous white middle-class people who voted for Jesse Jackson, those who would not register for the draft (or who support and encourage nonregistration). They are citizens for whom all American military expenditure is wasteful, who claim to have sleepless nights over the prospect of nuclear war and press for making their towns "nuclear free zones"(and "sister cities" of those in the USSR and Nicaragua), people who in any conceivable conflict between the U.S. and other powers instinctively place the blame on the U.S., those among the college educated who are persuaded that Orwell's1984 captures most aptly the characteristics of contemporary America. They can also be identified by sporting bumper stickers proclaiming "US out of North America" and "This Country Was Build on the Bones of Indians." They are inclined to believe that the United States is a uniquely hypocritical and destructive society that failed to live up to it's promises. They are for the most part people of goodwill amid frustrated idealism, persuaded that in no other country are social ideals and practices so far apart as in the United States of America
Change the nouns and you have the modern left. Instead of obsessing over nuclear war it's global warming. Different decade, same type.
NRO's The Feed:Julian Assange, a WikiLeaks editor, acknowledged to Fox News in an interview Tuesday evening that "it's likely some of the individuals seen in the video were carrying weapons."
Assange said his suspicions about the weapons were so strong that a draft version of the video they produced made specific reference to the AK-47s and RPGs. Ultimately, Assange said, WikiLeaks became "unsure" about the weapons. He claimed the RPG could have been a camera tripod, so editors decided not to point it out.
"Based upon visual evidence I suspect there probably were AKs and an RPG, but I'm not sure that means anything," Assange said. Nearly every Iraqi household has a rifle or an AK. Those guys could have just been protecting their area."
And as Greg Pollowitz of NRO's The Feed says,In this history of man, no army has done more to minimize civilian casualties than what's gone on in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'd expect that hundreds, if not thousands of American lives have been lost because the R.O.E. are as strict as they are, not the opposite as WikiLeaks claims.
It's as if the more we try to minimize civilian casualties, the more strident the criticism becomes. You'd think that the folks at Wikileaks wanted to eliminate our ability to make war completely or something.
Professor Donald Douglas has a must-read post on his American Power blog appropriately titled Exposing the WikiLeaks/Communist/Media Alliance He not only provides armfuls of evidence that WikiLeaks is all wet, but exposes WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange as a convicted computer hacker and communist activist.It'd be a grave miscarriage for U.S. military personnel, who meticulously observed ROE, to be charged with violated rules of war; and it'd be an even greater injustice to truth and common decency should this communist propaganda campaign gain even more domestic and international legitimacy than it already has.
Military expert and blogger Bill Roggio has another article up in which he concludes that that the Military Investigation Matches What Is Seen On Baghdad Strike TapeThe U.S. Army investigated this incident after it occurred and cleared the Apache crews of wrongdoing. And if you read the investigation and watch the tape, you'll see the findings of the investigation are consistent with what you see on the video.
If you follow any of these links, go to and aread all of Bill Roggio's two articles.
Other good posts (via the professor)...what shouldn't stand without comment is a demonstrably false accusation (made in the "collateral murder" version of the video) that the children - unseen until that moment - were denied treatment in an American medical facility.
Author Bob Owens goes through the video, providing context and refuting various WikiLeaks allegations, so follow the links for his entire analysis. As with me, he questions their motivations:The organization happens to be attempting to raise funds now. Claiming the need for an operating budget of $600,000, the group states they have only been able to raise $370,000. The implication seems both sad and obvious. Desperate for both attention and funding, WikiLeaks carefully constructed a propaganda video designed to raise their profile and increase donations....
The WikiLeaks video and "Collateral Murder" website seem calibrated for the express purpose of accusing soldiers of murder for the purposes of fundraising.
If they would like to continue to be though of as a non-partisan whistleblower organization, WikiLeaks must retract the inflammatory "Collateral Murder" short video, shut down the identically titled website, and provide critical and historical context -- not partisan framing -- around the events depicted.
The WikiLeaks fundraising effort "Collateral Murder" is not an accurate reflection of what occurred that morning in 2007 and manages only to slaughter the truth.
Sunday Update - Wiki Deception: Iraq "Collateral Murder" Rebuttal
November 22, 2009
See, I Told You SoA lawyer for one of five men facing trial for the Sept. 11 attacks says the men plan to plead not guilty and use the trial to express their political views.
Attorney Scott Fenstermaker says his client Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali and the others will not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but will tell the jury "why they did it."
He says the men will explain "their assessment of American foreign policy."
Fenstermaker met with Ali last week at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. He says the men, including professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, have discussed the trial among themselves.
See, I told you more than once they were going to use the opportunity to put the United States on trail. Think that what KSM and his fellow jihadists have to say won't be reported with glee in half the world? The hate-America press will be in overdrive.
Giving your enemies a stage on which to express their views is always a bad idea. Only the naive think that "the world will turn against them once they see who they are." The reality is that much of the world either hates the West and/or agrees with the jihadist mindset that we risk turning KSM and his fellow jihadists into heroes for their performance during this trial. And no, they don't hate us because of Israel, the settlements, or George W. Bush. What we are seeing is simply the latest battle in a centuries old war.
November 16, 2009
The KSM/Terrorist Trial in NYC: Part of Obama's War on The Bush Administration?If we discover later that it's really just a facade to delve into a fishing expedition, I would find that just unacceptable, outrageous and a further distortion of the system...if it's subterfuge for the fishing expedition, that's just wrong and unconscionable.
I don't think the primary objective of President Obama and AG Holder is to put the Bush Administration on trial, but I do think that they're hoping it happens. I think that they will be pleased if or when revelation of alleged "torture," "mistreatment," call-it-what-you-like come out. I don't think they'd even mind too much if national security secrets were revealed such as Patriot Act-wiretaps.
Further, Ridge is wise to worry that the whole thing could turn into a fishing expedition. As I wrote about KSM and his cohorts on Saturday, "They're obviously guilty, and when you're obviously guilty you do one of or both of two things; tie up the court in legalisms, and/or put the government on trial. They will put the Bush Administration on trial for renditions, waterboarding, the whole thing."
The question is whether the Obama Administration balks when the defense demands all sorts of information, or whether they just hand it right over. Given their behavior thus far, I think the latter is the stronger possibility.
Anthony Dick, writing at NRO's The Corner, makes other points along this line:The strange thing about the Obama administration's decision to hold these civilian al-Qaeda trials is that the project is flawed even based on the premises of its staunchest defenders: They talk about due process and the rule of law, but the trials can't possibly provide anything close to the level of objectivity that applies in an ordinary criminal-law setting. There is no way the defendants will get an impartial jury in New York, and there is no way the government will actually release the terrorists if they are acquitted. Thus the courtroom proceedings in Manhattan will be, in a very real sense, show trials. They are designed purely for PR purposes, so that the Obama administration can pay lip service to the ideal of due process while implicitly rebuking the Bush administration for failing to respect the rule of law.
Meanwhile, it is the Obama administration that is truly making a sham out of the rule of law, by politicizing the trial process and pretending that these enemy combatants will be getting normal, neutral, dispassionate trials, as if the larger strategic context of the War on Terror will not affect the judge, the jury, or the actions of the government, which is sure to retain custody of the defendants in the off chance they are acquitted.
This reflects the fundamental unseriousness of the Obama administration in the face of terrorism. We saw the same thing with the foolish announcement that Gitmo would be closed by January, which was the first iteration of the administration's fantasy-land effort to sidestep one of the core dilemmas of the post-9/11 world: We have a significant number of detainees whom we know with operational certainty to be dangerous terrorists, but, for various reasons, we can't prosecute or convict them according to normal procedures. This is another way of saying that there is no way we can prosecute the War on Terror while providing the full panoply of ordinary due-process protections to enemy combatants. And no amount of hope can change this reality.
"Show trials" indeed is what they'll become, and from all sides. From the Obama Administration, the show will be: To to show the world we respect the rule of law, are a wonderful country, George W. Bush and the neocons were evil, and now that Obama is in charge everybody should love us now.
From the vantage of KSM and his fellow jihadists: To show the world that they are brutally serious about destroying Western civilization and replacing it with a modern-day caliphate governed by Sharia law. They aim to bolster the standing of like-minded Muslims and demoralize moderates and reformers.
The third perspective is that of the left, who will rejoice in every revelation of classified information and anything we did to KSM and his fellows along the lines of enhanced interrogation.
The left, both international and here at home, will jump all over anything that they think makes the U.S. look bad. Any rough treatment, severe questioning, waterboarding, sleep deprivation, bright lights or loud music all will be trumpeted to the heavens in an attempt to show that the U.S. in general and the Bush Administration in particular, is evil.
In their stupendous naivete they'll think that the world will love us because we have the "courage" to face up to our own (alleged) misdeeds, and give these "criminals" a "fair trial."
Every day brings forth a new insult to our nation from the Obama Administration. Just when I think it can't get any worse, it does.
November 14, 2009
Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Four Other Sept 11 Plotters to be Tried in New York
Yesterday the Obama Administration hit us with this stunner:The nation's top law enforcement officer announced Friday that he is returning the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and his accomplices to the scene of their alleged crimes -- a decision that drew immediate outrage from some lawmakers and victims' families.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and four others now detained in Guantanamo Bay will be moved to a prison facility near the Brooklyn Bridge and stand trial in a civilian federal courtroom down the street from the World Trade Center buildings that Mohammad takes credit for demolishing on Sept. 11, 2001.
This is madness, and for a whole host of reasons. If you're not sure why, consider the case of this lady:
Judith Coplon was the first major figure tried for spying as a result of the Venona project (although, for reasons of security, the Venona information was not revealed at her trial). Her disclosures to the Soviet intelligence agencies were the first information to alert them to the size of the U.S. counter-intelligence operation against them.
She worked in Foreign Agents Registration section of the Department of Justice, where she had access to counter-intelligence information during World War II. She was first brought to the attention of the FBI as a result of a Venona message (she was known in both Soviet intelligence and the Venona files as "SIMA"). An extensive counter-intelligence operation then investigated her, and planted secret documents for her to purloin.
FBI agents detained Coplon in March 1949 as she met with Valentin Gubitchev, a KGB official employed by the United Nations, carrying secret U.S. government documents in her purse. In her trial, FBI Special Agent Robert Lamphere testified that suspicion had fallen on Coplon because of information from a reliable "confidential informant" that was not a wiretap. She was convicted in two separate trials, one for espionage (by herself), and in another for conspiracy (along with Gubithchev).
Her conviction was later over-turned on a technicality relating to the arrest (which been on probable cause, as she was observed meeting her Soviet contact, not as a result of a warrant). Her complicity in espionage was further corroborated by information found within the KGB archives in the 1990s.
Both convictions were overturned, and to this day Coplon is a free woman. She still denies her guilt, despite enormous evidence to the contrary.
Of course the parallel is not exact. Coplon was a spy, and deserved a trial. KSM and the others are illegal combatants, and do not deserve trials.
What the Judith Coplon story illustrates is that even someone caught "red handed" in the act of handing secrets to a known Soviet agent can get off if they have clever attorneys. It also illustrates the dilemma faced by the government; if it revealed the existance of Venona a conviction that could not overturned was assured, but doing so could tell the Soviets that we had (partially) broken their diplomatic code.
For decades the far left used the cases of Alger Hiss and Julius and Ethyl Rosenberg as soapboxes to attack the United States (not so much Coplon). Although at the time the Rosenberg's seemed guilty to most people, the government and judge behaved badly much of the time with provided them fodder. Again, the parallels are not exact as Hiss and the Rosenbergs deserved trials and the Sept 11 terrorists do not, but bringing them up does illustrate some good points.
My Time as a Juror
Many years ago I was called to be a juror in which a guy had passed a bad check for something like $5,000. The prosecution's case was so airtight I wondered for a time what in the world the guy could possibly say say in his defense. As the case proceeded it became clear that the defense attorney's strategy was to challenge every statement and bit of evidence he could, hoping to get something significant thrown out. He managed to get one or two minor statements by prosecution witnesses retracted, but they were so minor as to be laughable. When the prosecution had finished it's case I waited anxiously for the defense to have it's turn. Much to my surprise, the defense attorney simply said "it's the burden of the government to prove my client guilty...." and then them moved right into closing arguments. The defense argument was to try and confuse the matter. We convicted the guy in nothing flat, but it was a lesson in what defense attorneys do when they have no case.
Back to Khalid Sheik Mohammed
The way the far left will look at this trial is not letting terrorists free, but pronouncing the United States guilty. They will do this because these five have no real defense. They're obviously guilty, and when you're obviously guilty you do one of or both of two things; tie up the court in legalisms, and/or put the government on trial. They will put the Bush Administration on trial for renditions, waterboarding, the whole thing.
Also consider the entire issue of waterboarding and whatever else we did to Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the others. It will be discussed in excruciating detail ad nauseum in court, the objective being to make the Bush Administration, and by extension the United States, look as bad as possible. For our enemies overseas this will be a propaganda bonanza. The international left will use this as a justification to oppose everything else the United States does or wants to do. And the domestic left will salivate over the details, confirming as it will in their minds that the United States in general, and the Bush Administration in particular, is an evil, bad, nation.
The idea that "if we expose these guys the world will rally to our side" is ridiculous. Much of the world hates us and will rejoice in every revelation that embarrasses the U.S. Some of the Muslim world sympathizes with the terrorists. Certainly many Islamic leaders will loudly proclaim their support for them, and as is so often the case they'll intimidate many others into silence. They will use this as a forum to attack the U.S.
Just as when Holder announced the investigation of CIA agents, Obama was conveniently out of the country. The reason is that he wants to distance himself in case the thing explodes in their face. He'll throw Holder under the bus so fast it'll make your head spin.
There is no way you can hold this trial without revealing national security secrets. As such, it will prove a bonanza for our enemies. They will learn our methods and be able to deduce at least some of our sources, who themselves will face capture, torture, and execution.
Andy McCarthy sums it all up in better language than I can muster:We are now going to have a trial that never had to happen for defendants who have no defense. And when defendants have no defense for their own actions, there is only one thing for their lawyers to do: put the government on trial in hopes of getting the jury (and the media) spun up over government errors, abuses and incompetence. That is what is going to happen in the trial of KSM et al. It will be a soapbox for al-Qaeda's case against America. Since that will be their "defense," the defendants will demand every bit of information they can get about interrogations, renditions, secret prisons, undercover operations targeting Muslims and mosques, etc., and -- depending on what judge catches the case -- they are likely to be given a lot of it. The administration will be able to claim that the judge, not the administration, is responsible for the exposure of our defense secrets. And the circus will be played out for all to see -- in the middle of the war. It will provide endless fodder for the transnational Left to press its case that actions taken in America's defense are violations of international law that must be addressed by foreign courts. And the intelligence bounty will make our enemies more efficient at killing us.
This is a disaster in the making.
November 9, 2009
U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan
Last Thursday, November 5, U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan opened fire on his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13 and wounding 30. Reports have it that he used two handguns; a FN Five-seven and a .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson. He was shot and seriously wounded by civilian police officers. Hasan is an American-born Muslim of Palestinian descent. Oddly, he's a psychiatrist.
Such a pleasant looking fellow, isn't he? You'd never imagine him capable of such a thing.
So what about it? Is this something we should be concerned about?
As this Washington Post story illustrates, officials are busily searching for links to al Qaeda. This is fine and good, but what if we don't find any? Are we then not to worry? Can we lean back and say that the attack was all very terrible, but since there are no links to al Qaeda it was the work of a lone gunman, probably mentally deranged, and let it go at that?
This works if you think that we are simply fighting an organization similar to the Mafia. I don't know for certain if it's happened, but it's easy to imagine an unstable individual acting out a scene from one of the Godfather movies. There is no "Mafia ideology" per se , so while we do need our FBI to keep tabs on them no one is concerned that they'll ever be anything other than a criminal entity.
My take is that we are not up against a criminal entity, or really up against an organization at all, in the truest sense of the term. al Qaeda represents an ideology that already existed, it didn't create one. Ditto for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Khomeninsts. You can read my entire argument, made in a series of posts in the Jihadism and the War of Ideas category of this blog.
So was Major Hasan's a terrorist attack? If not what was it? Jonah Goldberg mused thatMuch of the chatter over the weekend was whether or not the Fort Hood shooting can be classified a "terrorist attack." It seems to me this reveals one of the shortcomings of the language of the war on terror. I know there are all sorts of legalistic definitions about what constitutes terrorism and what doesn't. But it seems to me a case could be made that this was, variously, an act of war, an act of treason, or a war crime, but not an act of terrorism.
Terrorism is, by conventional definition, an attack on civilians intended to strike fear in the non-military population in order to advance a political or ideological agenda. Hasan didn't attack civilians, he attacked uniformed members of the U.S. Army in advance of their deployment to the frontlines. It was an evil act, but was it an act of terrorism?
Ultimately, if we're going to call the violent acts of Jihadis "terrorism" wherever and whenever they occur, then I guess I'm fine with calling it terrorism. But I can't help but think this illuminates some blind spots in the way we think about these questions.
Indeed. If we cannot properly define our conflict we can hardly win it. Obama and liberals want to define it as narrowly as possible; just al Qaeda, and we should just fight them in... Waziristan?
In May 2006, a story in the Washington Post described the career of one Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, who in January of 2005 posted a treatise called "The Call for a Global Islamic Resistance" under the pen name Abu Musab al-Suri on the Internet (I can't find an exact link for the work, but see a description here). From the Post story:Nasar, 47, outlines a strategy for a truly global conflict on as many fronts as possible and in the form of resistance by small cells or individuals, rather than traditional guerrilla warfare. To avoid penetration and defeat by security services, he says, organizational links should be kept to an absolute minimum.
"The enemy is strong and powerful, we are weak and poor, the war duration is going to be long and the best way to fight it is in a revolutionary jihad way for the sake of Allah," he said in one paper. "The preparations better be deliberate, comprehensive and properly planned, taking into account past experiences and lessons."
But wait, there's more.
The Creeping Sharia blog has a long compilation of information on the concept of individuals taking it upon themselves to commit acts of jihadi violence without any ties to a larger organization. Of particular interest is this
Written by Al-Hakaymah, the "Guide for Individual Jihad" suggests ways to kill the enemy when one is fighting alone...The recommended methods include...assassination with guns...
Can't say if Hasan read either of these works, but if you think that "lone jihad" is an isolated phenomenon, read the entire post over at Creeping Sharia; they list dozens of attacks and attempted attacks. What's the matter, didn't you read about them in the mainstream media?
Now, obviously most Muslims want nothing to do with the jihadi ideology. By the same token, the vast majority of terrorism comes from Islam. More, the problems is less terrorism than a creeping sharia. But all that are subjects of other posts.
What Did We Know and When Did We Know It?
The facts are not all quite in, but it's looking more and more that officials knew that Hasan sympathized with the Jihadists but refused to do anything about it. As Rich Lowry says, it was a case of a "better screwed than rude" thought process among officialdom.
We suspect these things because of what we've learned. First up is our Commander-in-Chief, who lectured us that
"We don't know all the answers yet. And I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts,"
Funny how that didn't stop him when when Henry Louis Gates was arrested at Harvard.
Of course, this has nothing to do with "jumping to conclusions." It has everything to do with political correctness and misunderstanding the Jihadist threat to the West.
Next,ABC News published this shocking story today:
U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al Qaeda, two American officials briefed on classified material in the case told ABC News.U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al Qaeda, two American officials briefed on classified material in the case told ABC News.
According to the officials, the Army was informed of Hasan's contact, but it is unclear what, if anything, the Army did in response...
Investigators want to know if Hasan maintained contact with a radical mosque leader from Virginia, Anwar al Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen and runs a web site that promotes jihad around the world against the U.S.
In a blog posting early Monday titled "Nidal Hassan Did the Right Thing," Awlaki calls Hasan a "hero" and a "man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people."
According to his site, Awlaki served as an imam in Denver, San Diego and Falls Church, Virginia.
The Associated Press reported Sunday that Major Hasan attended the Falls Church mosque when Awlaki was there.
The Telegraph of London reported that Awlaki had made contact with two of the 9/11 hijackers when he was in San Diego.
He denied any knowledge of the hijacking plot and was never charged with any crime. After an intensive investigation by the FBI , Awlaki moved to Yemen.
People who knew or worked with Hasan say he seemed to have gradually become more radical in his disapproval of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Then we have this, courtesy of the Weekly Standard
Pete Hoekstra, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, released a statement this morning calling for the heads of all relevant US intelligence agencies to preserve all intelligence related to the case of Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter. Hoekstra made the request after talking to intelligence community leaders over the weekend.President Obama said people should not jump to conclusions about what happened at Fort Hood, but the administration is in possession of critical information related to the attack that they are refusing to release to Congress or the American people. I intend to push for intense review of this and other issues related to the performance of the intelligence community and whether or not information necessary for military, state and local officials to provide for the security of the post was provided to them.
I have requested this information be preserved because I believe members of the full committee on a bipartisan basis will want to scrutinize the intelligence relevant to this attack, what the agencies in possession of that intelligence did with it, who was and wasn't informed and why, and what steps America's intelligence agencies are taking in light of what they know. At some point, it becomes necessary for us as a nation to address the uncomfortable threat of homegrown terrorism and radicalism, and Congress has an obligation to review how federal agencies are handling and disseminating information related to the threat.
The horrific shootings at Fort Hood are a tragic reminder of the potential deadly consequences of the threat posed by homegrown jihadism and the failure of the government to adequately respond to it.
If Obama thinks he's got trouble over healthcare he may want to order a few stiff drinks, because this could get ugly real fast.
Victims of Political Correctness?
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, let's see how our top officials are responding. First up is U.S. Army Chief of Staff George Casey. By way of introduction, he was commander in Iraq from June 2004 to February 8, 2007. He screwed things up and Generals Petreus and Oderno had to come in and pull his fat out of the fire. But don't let that influence your opinion of what follows:The U.S. Army's top general expressed concern on Sunday that last week's mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas, blamed on a Muslim Army officer, could fuel a backlash in the military against Muslim troops.
General George Casey, U.S. Army chief of staff, cautioned against jumping to conclusions about whether religious beliefs motivated the accused gunman, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a Muslim born in the United States of immigrant parents.
"I'm concerned that this increased speculation could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers. And I've asked our Army leaders to be on the lookout for that," Casey told CNN's "State of the Union."
Yes, yes, wouldn't want to tell them to be on the lookout for radical Muslims who may be infected with Jihadist ideology or anything useful like that.
Let's move on to our Secretary of Homeland Security, and see what she was up to the day after the massacre:Guantanamo Bay was used as a "recruiting tool" for terrorism more than anything else, US homeland security chief Janet Napolitano said Friday, during a visit to the European parliament.
"Guantanamo has been used more as a recruiting tool than anything else," she told members of the European parliament's civil liberties committee in Brussels.
Therefore "it needs to be closed and the individuals dealt with appropriately," she added.
Napolitano stressed President Barack Obama's commitment to close down the Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba in January.
"The president's executive order that it be closed remains in effect . . . we are working through individual by individual," she said.
Yup, glad to see she's got her priorities straight too. We are to be concerned with a backlash against Muslims and closing the prison at Guantanamo, but terrorism? Nothing to see here, folks, move along.
November 7, 2009
"Undermining Sri Lanka"
One of the most infuriating things about the modern left is that they spend almost all of their time criticizing democratic governments on their conduct of military action, while letting the most blood-thirsty murderous terrorists and insurgents off scot-free. We've seen it with the recent Israeli wars against Hezbollah and Hamas. The Goldstone Inquiry on Israel's Operation Cast Lead, for example, is an absolute travesty.
Some months ago the forces of the Sri Lankan government finally defeated the Tamil Tigers insurgency. It was difficult and bloody, but they did it. In the end the people of Sri Lanka are much better off. Leave it to idiot leftists in the U.S. Congress to engage in their usual moral equivalence:
Undermining Sri Lanka
America takes the wrong side in anti-terror fightSri Lanka is joining Israel as a country facing a war crimes investigation for effectively fighting back against terrorism. America should support the Sri Lankan government or keep its nose out of Colombo's business.
Last week, Stephen Rapp, U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, filed a report to Congress on incidents during the recent conflict in Sri Lanka that "may constitute violations of international humanitarian law or crimes against humanity." The report focuses in particular on January to May 2009 when, after 12 years of conflict, the Sri Lankan military surrounded and destroyed the major armed formations of the Tamil Tigers and killed the terrorist group's leaders.
The report chronicles allegations of war crimes by both Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat whose subcommittee on the State Department and foreign operations requested the report, is calling for "a full and independent investigation" so those responsible can be "held accountable."The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights joined in the call for an investigation of Sri Lanka's war, saying there are "too many questions" left unanswered. U.N. Human Rights Spokesman Rupert Colville drew a direct comparison to the Gaza Fact-Finding Mission overseen by South African Judge Richard Goldstone. Sri Lanka and Israel are both pursuing internal investigations and have rejected the idea of international involvement in the process.
The Rapp report is not comprehensive, more a list of allegations than a fully documented indictment. Most of the offenses listed are either directly attributable to the Tamil Tigers, such as forcibly recruiting children to fight for them, or the consequence of terrorist activities, such as Sri Lanka shelling hospitals being used by the Tigers as command posts.
The tone of moral equivalence in the Rapp and Goldstone reports is most objectionable. War is by its nature violent, complex and tragic. Rules exist to mitigate war's suffering but can never eliminate it. Terrorist groups like the Tamil Tigers, Hamas and al Qaeda do not consider themselves bound by the rules of war and violate them as a matter of doctrine by targeting noncombatants, using civilians as human shields, torturing and executing prisoners, and by using hospitals and religious sites as headquarters and sniper platforms.
Any war against such an enemy will impose a degree of tragedy on people who under other circumstances would be spared war's horrors. But this is part of the terrorist tool kit, and reports such as these play into their hands. By placing the terrorists' systematic offenses against human dignity on par with the unintentional or otherwise regrettable actions of the regime trying to defeat them, such reports level a moral playing field that by rights the terrorists have no right even to set foot on.
Mr. Leahy should control his zeal to pursue what he views as justice in Sri Lanka. Any objective comparison of Sri Lanka's war against the Tamil Tigers or Israel's offensive against Hamas to America's struggle against al Qaeda would cast the United States in the same light, and elevate our enemies to a status they do not deserve. It hands the enemies of freedom unearned victories even as they are being defeated.
September 7, 2009
Book Review - The Confrontation: Winning The War Against Future Jihad
All wars have their center of gravity, that one vital thing that determines victory or defeat. During the American Revolution it was whether the colonists could stop bickering and form a continental army commanded by a competent general. From the North's perspective during the Civil War, it was whether Lincoln could find a general who would fight before anti-war sentiment forced a negotiated peace. After the initial stages of World War II it was mostly just a question of firepower. The Cold War was more complicated, but it and the others all had one thing in common; everyone agreed that we were at war, and they no one had any difficulty identifying the adversary (this excepting domestic anti-American leftist elements during the Cold War).
The situation is different today because so many, including the administration in power in the United States, do not even see their country as being at war. Last month John Brenna, President Obama's top homeland security and counterterrorism official, said that the administration will no longer use the terms "war on terror," "jihadists," or "global war." The only acceptable formulation, he said, was to say that "we are at war with al Qaeda."
It's not just President Obama, either. This has been the position of American liberals and European leftists since 9-11. To their way of thinking, President Bush wildly overreacted to a simple, if large, terrorist incident. They supported the invasion of Afghanistan (though are having second thoughts now), but beyond that think that the problem can be addressed as a criminal matter through the legal system.
Walid Phares says that this is completely wrongheaded. We are in a long term war with a worldwide Jihadist movement that aims to completely destroy us and has the means to do so. In The Confrontation: Winning The War Against Future Jihad, Phares lays out his case in well-organized format and in easy to read prose.
In Phares first book on the subject, Future Jihad (2005), he explained the basics of who the Jiihadist enemy was, where they came from, what they believed, and what their goals were. In his next book, War of Ideas (2007), he explained the competing strategies of the two camps; one dedicated to democracy and the other to global jihad and the reestablishment of the Caliphate. The Confrontation builds on these two and as the title implies adds his ideas on how to fight and win the war against the Jihadists. While it is not an absolute prerequisite to read the first two books before tackling this one, it would be helpful to read Future Jihad so as to have a good grasp on the history and structure of the jihadist movements.
Professor Phares himself has the scholarly background to speak with the authority that few can muster. A native of Lebanon, he obtained a degree in law and political science from St Joseph and the Lebanese Universities of Beirut. Phares emigrated to the United States in 1990 and obtained a Masters degree in International Law from the Université de Lyon in France, and a Ph.D. in international relations and strategic studies from the University of Miami. He has testified before the US Congress, the European Parliament and Commission, and the UN Security Council, and has appeared on most major news outlets around the world, including NN, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, NBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, C-Span, BBC TV (English-Arabic), Sky News, France 24 (English, Arabic, French), CTV, CBC, Canada Global TV, al Jazeera, al Hurra, Abu Dhabi TV, al Arabiya, LBCI, Russia Today TV, Voice of America TV, as well as local ABC, CBS, PBS, NBC, and others. He has taught at taught at Florida International University and at Saint Joseph University in Beirut, and is currently a Senior Fellow and the director for Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington. He has published numerous books and magazines in Arabic, French and English.
Outline of the Problem
A brief recap for new readers unfamiliar with the situation; Jihad means holy war against infidels, with the objective of reestablishing the Caliphate which lasted from the seventh century to 1923. The two branches of the Sunni Jihad are the Wahabists based in Saudi Arabia, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which started in Egypt but is a broad based movement with branches in many countries. On the Shi'ite side are the Khumeinists, based obviously in Iran but with branches in Syria and Lebanon(Hezbollah). Their objective is to establish a regional Imamate.
The method Jihad is about more than just using terrorism, which to them is a military action. They aim to undermine the West through a variety of means, including massive immigration, disinformation about their religion and goals, and spreading their culture through a sort of "creeping Sharia."
The Goal of the Jihad
One of Phares' most important points is that the essential goal of the Sunni Jihad is not to spread Sharia law internally in existing nations. Rather, they reject the current world order in it's entirety, and want in it's place a worldwide Caliphate. There is simply no room in their world for infidels in other than dhimmi status, let alone our current nation-state system complete with modern concepts of international law and everything that goes with it.
To them, there is no break from ancient or medieval times and today. They see what they are doing today as directly linked to and descended from the seventh century beginnings of the spread of Islam. They don't see themselves as starting anything new but as continuing an ancient battle against the infidels.
This rejection of the modern nation-state system and desire to reestablish the Caliphate is in fact the central difference between the Jihadist Muslims and those who accept the modern world.
As a step along the path of reestablishing the Calphiate, he objective of the Jihad is to force the United States to withdraw from the world politically, economically, and most important, militarily. In short, they wish to weaken our resolve and force us into isolationism. U.S. withdrawal will make it easier for the jihadists to bring down secular governments in the Muslim world.
Since 9-11 many in the West have started to sense the danger of radical Islam, even if they don't fully understand it. In the Muslim world, most people see the danger and experience the oppression of the radicals full well, but do not understand why, because for all their talk of human rights Westerners do not try to help them.
9-11 also saw the start of the third War of Ideas. Our conflict with the Salafists and Khumeinists is not just on the battlefield of bombs and bullets; it is also in the intellectual world of books, newspapers and the Internet. The side that convinces the next generation that it's ideas are better is winning.
The key to winning the War on Terror is understanding the nature of the threat. If we miss it, we will lose because we will fail to resist. If we grasp it's essence, we stand a chance.
One of the biggest problems facing the West is that most of our own elites and intellectuals misunderstand the nature of the threat. As such, the public at large is misinformed.
Today we are at a crossroads; either the jihadists will undermine and destroy the democracies, or the democracies will defeat the jihadists.
The party that defines a conflict enjoys a huge advantage. Because this is in large extent a war of ideas, propaganda, or the message, is hugely important. The tactics of the jihadists reflect a saying in the Arab world; "They hit me and cried, beat me to court, and sued me." In other words, strike the other guy first, then cry that you're the real victim, and trumpet this in the media. Be the first to define the conflict and paint the other side as the aggressors.
Behind the Jihad
The Jihad requires money, and 90 percent of it comes from the oil revenues of the gulf states. As such, the whole "root causes" of terrorism line is completely manufactured. It is the wealthy elites who are pushing Jihad, not the poor and downtrodden. If these elites really cared about poor Arabs, they would spend their oil wealth on improving their lives, not on promoting the Jihad. Instead of insisting that the money they send to Gaza be spent on weapons, they ought to insist that it be spent on improving infrastructure and building an economy. Instead of providing an eduction that would help young people get practical jobs, , they send them to madrassas where they learn Jihad.
The Effects of Oil Money
The effect of oil money is something Phares calls Economic jihadi Imperialism, or EJI for short. It is, he says, a sort of economic imperialism which starts with a hard core Jihadist idiology and ends with attempting to use that money to influence the West. Rather than spend money improving the lot of their own people, these elites would rather spend it undermining Western liberal democracies.
One effect of oil money has been to prevent the West from coming to that aid of the oppressed peoples of the Middle East. When the Middle East Studies Departments at major Western universities are funded by Saudi Arabia, no one at them is going to criticize the human rights record of their benefactors.
The oil embargo of 1973 sent a huge shock through the West. We realized that our economies were dependent on a steady flow of petroleum, and that our Middle Eastern suppliers had the ability to do significant damage to us when they so choose. The consequence is that we did not wish to examine too closely, let alone criticize, the human rights records of Arab countries.
The problem we face is that as long as oil dollars go to funding jihadist movements, the world will be at risk. Phares identifies several strategies that we should use to break this link. Most involve obtaining oil from other, non-jihadist countries, investigating alternative energy sources, promoting liberalism in their lands, and insisting that they spend their money on humanitarian needs and not on Jihad. The latter can be done through regulation that would prevent companies that do business in the U.S. from, say, building luxury hotels in Muslim country X until said country A) gets out of the business of funding Jihad, and B) spends more of it's own money on the poor and oppressed in Muslim countries.
One of the primary objectives of the jihadi networks is to prevent the West from focusing on human rights abuses in Muslim countries. They do this by constantly attacking our foreign policies and alleged human rights problems and thus manage to keep us on the defensive. One of their tactics is to exploit Western guilt over our colonial days and use that to paralyze us into inaction on the human rights front.
Liberty or Sharia
We do not have the choice of sealing our borders and ignoring the Muslim world, or any other part of the world, for that matter. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. Neither in this day and age can we say "that part of the world is none of our business." This might have worked two hundred years ago, but modern travel and economic ties ensure that what happens in other parts of the world will affect us. More, it is simply impossible to "seal the borders" against (legal) immigration and business travel, so Europe and the United States will be influenced by the Middle East whether we like it or not.
Further, the idea that if we just kill or arrest enough terrorists we can make the problem go away is wrongheaded also. There is a "root cause" of jihadi terrorism, but it is not either the economic poverty or "legacy of colonialism" that some imagine. Rather, it is political and religious oppression coupled with the control of propaganda organs by radicals that breeds the extremism that is the danger.
The solution, Phares says, is political and economic liberty for Muslims. As the historian Bernard Lewis said, "bring them freedom or they will destroy you." By "them" Lewis mean the Arab and Iranian victims of the jihadists. By "they" he meant the jihadists themselves. Stated another way, either we bring democracy to the them, or they will bring Jihad to us.
Seen through this lens the American invasion of Afghanistan and especially Iraq make perfect sense. The strategy was at once to bring the war directly into the enemy camp, to contain the terrorists, and plant the seeds of liberty and democracy.
Of all the strategies we adopt to win the war, at the top of the list must be the liberation of the peoples of the Middle East. We must state this forthrightly and purse this goal openly. It would be arrogant and indeed immoral of us to think that only Westerners (and a few select others like the Japanese) are deserving of liberty, when all peoples, including those of the Middle East, are just as deserving.
As mentioned earlier, the two arms of the Sunni Jihad are the Saudi-based Wahabists and the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood (although the latter has branches in many countries). Both, however, share the same goal of reestablishing the Caliphate. They aim to do this by first weakening the Western democracies and our will to intervene in the Middle East. Their greatest fear is that we will start to support domestic democracy movements which threaten existing regimes as well as the Jihad itself.
Russian foreign policy with regard to the Jihad has been ambiguous. On the one hand they seem to recognize the problem of terrorism and Muslim fundamentalism. On the other they sell weapons to Iran an Syria, two state sponsors of terrorism.
It is in the long-term interests of Russia to work vigorously to defeat Jihadism. Unfortunately, for the most part they are pursuing the short term goal of seeking financial gain by working with Iran. Oddly, they seem to recognize the problem to a greater extent than Europe or America, but are unable to use their intellectual knowledge to see past the short-term economic benefits. Phares believes that we can influence Russia to change their policies, and offers several suggestions.
The jihadists saw the collapse of the Soviet Union as divinely inspired as well as a message from God that He was on their side. It was for this reason that there was a split in the Jihad in the early 90s after a series of meetings in Khartoum, Sudan. The hotheads wanted immediate terrorist action against the United States and secular Arab regimes, while cooler heads argued for a long-term strategy of infiltration. Phares calls the hotheads "Combat Salafists" and the latter "Realist Salafists." They share the same ideology and goals and differ only on methodology. The hotheads went into al Qaeda and the rest, as they say, is history.
The United Nations and Alliances Among Nations
The United Nations is at best useless. Kofi Annan has said that the UN "stands neutral between and those fighting it." The UN criticizes democracies when it believes it sees them doing wrong, but largely ignores human rights abuses in Muslim countries. This must change if progress is to be made.
However, the end the U.S. cannot do it alone. We must use every tool at our disposal to recruit other nations to create a united front against the jihadists. As such, the solutions Phares proposes involve alliances outside of the UN structure.
Phares has several ideas for a diplomatic offensive against the jihadists. One is to hire and put into place a new generation of diplomats who are educated in the ways of our enemies. Second is for Congress to "set the guidelines for a new foreign policy based on suporting human rights, self-determination, pluralism, and democratization on the one hand and a confrontation with the regimes, movements, and ideologies that promote threats to international law, security, peace, and liberty on the other." Third is to use the first to to actively support democracy movements and combat the jihadists.
The Middle East as "Middle East"
Phares calls the Middle East and surrounding areas a "Middle Earth." Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman are constitutional monarchies. They are mostly at peace and are moving, albeit slowly, towards pluralistic societies. Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, and Mauritania are republics moving from authoritarianism to pluralism. Syria and Libya are ruled by nationalist socialist dictators. Saudi Arabia and Iran are Islamist theocracies. Iraq is a fragile democracy. Qatar is a constitutional monarchy but harbors an Islamist al Jazeera. Lebanon is a battlefield. Israel and Palestine are in conflict, with the latter divided between factions with varying ideologies.
In general the region is plagued with extremist ideologies and violent groups. What characterizes all of the countries is that after the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate all failed to liberalize and turned authoritarian to one degree or another. Almost all of the people are oppressed and persecuted, with civil liberties being almost nonexistent.
One often hears the term "the Arab street" with regard the the "righteous anger" that would "spontaneously" erupt in response to this or that action by the United States. In reality, the term was created by Jihadi propagandists with the express purpose of manipulating the West. Scenes of protesting militants are as often as not manufactured. It is, after all, just about impossible to know what the average Arab wants when he or she lives under a dictator.
The Vital Need for Democracy
Before 9/11 Western elites excused the lack of democracy in the Middle East because of our support for authoritarian governments. Western governments were criticized as being hypocritical; we wanted democracy for ourselves but denied it to others. After 9/11 these same people now oppose American attempts to spread democracy, especially in Iraq. The argument is now that we are "imposing" democracy on them and "interfering in their internal affairs."
Democratization will be opposed and moving toward liberty will not be easy. Both Western elites and Jihadist Muslims will create roadblocks.
But all people deserve freedom, and we must develop a more humane policy towards the people who live in these oppressive countries. Middle Easterners are no less deserving of liberty than Europeans, Americans, Asians, or Africans. More, these peoples have a natural right to learn about democracy and liberty.
Certainly we cannot "force democracy on other people," but this is a slogan, not a policy. But by the same token, freedom and liberty must be options before anyone can choose to adopt them. We can and must work to create the conditions where they can grow.
The War of Ideas
Information, or propaganda, is a large part of our fight against the jihadists. They try hard to get out their message, and we must be ready at all times to effectively counter their misinformation. We can start by exposing the lie that Jihad' does not mean "an internal spiritual journey" or "spiritual experience," but rather means conflict and war. Unfortunately, their deceptive messages are spread not only by Muslim jihadists, but by their apologists in the West as well.
The Salafists do not represent the majority of Muslims, and indeed there are many Muslim dissidents. The struggle between the jihadists and the reformers is in it's early stages. The forces of reaction currently favor the status quo.
We in the West must educate our citizens about the dangers of the Jihadist movement. We must confront not only the forces of Jihad, but their Western apologists as well. Finally, we must identify and support Muslim dissidents who are working for reform.
Vast numbers of Muslims live in poverty and are politically oppressed, yet oil money is used for Jihad rather than to relieve their suffering. Education, jobs, scientific advancement, infrastructure, everything is subordinated to the Jihad.
Of the many domestic threats we face, one that Phares discusses that I have not seen elsewhere is that of "Urban Jihad." His study of various sources, including training manuals and other documents is that the Combat Salafists wish to establish "urban armies who, when the signal was given, attack and create widespread chaos. Their objective would be to turn our cities into Beirut in the 1970s/80s or Baghdad in 2006. We have already seen small-scale examples of this attempt with the Virginia "Paintball jihadists" and the Fort Dix cell in New Jersey, as well as at various training camps in places from Oregon to Florida.
Right now, domestic jihadists/terrorist cells must rely on militants who come into the United States legally or otherwise. The "breaking point," Phares speculates, will come when they are able to recruit enough militants from domestic sources, and can from there grow exponentially. At that point they may pull the trigger and launch the "Urban Jihad" scenario.
The existence and indeed expansion of Jihadism in Europe has been an embarrassment to European leaders. When Phares visited them in the 1980s and 90s they dismissed that such a thing could happen in their countries. After 9/11, and with the extremism of many Muslim leaders in Europe now undeniable, they are taking a second look at the situation and now admit that they too are vulnerable.
The objectives of the jihadists in Europe vary from one part of the continent to another. In the south their claims are mainly territorial, as they wish to reclaim "lost" lands such as the Spain and parts of what was Yugoslavia. In the rest of Europe the initial objective is a change in foreign policy, and following that the establishment of self-governing enclaves. They wish to neutralize and then convert Europe.
Both the Wahabists and Muslim Brotherhood are also spending tremendous resources in trying to spread Islam, not just through immigration into Europe (and to a lesser extent America) but by converting the natives.
Phares describes his travels though out Europe, and concludes that the younger generation "gets it" to a greater extent than older people, and that more people overall "get it" in eastern Europe than in the western part of the continent. The east-west dichotomy is probably do to the former's more recent experience with totalitarianism; they are able to recognize the approaching danger because they just experienced a form of it.
As in America, 9/11 and to a greater extent 3/11 and 7/7 "woke up" many ordinary people and security experts. But elites, particularly those who inhabit the Brussels bureaucracy, still speak the language of political correctness. To them, as with the newly installed Obama administration, words such as "Islamic terrorism," "War on Terror," and "War of Ideas," to say nothing of "Jihad," are completely banned.
The first thing Europeans need to do to defeat the jihadists, Phares says, it to properly describe and label the problem. The second step is to pass legislation that will "equate Jihad with racism because it "calls for a forcible sectoral division of existing democratic societies, and identifies Salafi and Khumeini Jihadism with terrorism on the ground that it calls for violence against segnmemts of these societies."
9-11 And Beyond
The American reaction to 9/11 was unexpected. As Phares explains in Future Jihad, bin Laden thought that the United States would
1) Lash out incoherently, killing tremendous amounts of civilian Muslims
2) Descend into domestic chaos
3) Be paralyzed into inaction
That numbers one and two are somewhat contradictory tells us more about the mindset of the Combat Salafists than anything else.
However, the United States executed a precise strike into Afghanistan which deprived al Qaeda and the Taliban of a base country from which to conduct operations. As such, they have shifted priorities to contain and ultimately reverse U.S. interventions in the Middle East.
While the West was debating our reasons for invading Iraq, the jihadists knew perfectly well what the threat was; the establishment of a democracy within "their" realm. They knew that a successful democracy venture would lead to the overthrow of dictatorial Arab regimes (through slow evolution if not immediate revolution) whether they be secular or theocratic. Thus, the battle for Tehran and Damascus was and is taking place inside Iraq.
Middle East Roots
The Arab League was formed in 1945 and adopted surprisingly democratic goals. It failed to achieve them for the following reasons
1) They put Pan-Arabism ahead of democracy
2) They adopted a frankly racist attitude towards non-Arabs, freezing Kurds, Berbers, Copts, Assyrians and other minorities out of any steps toward progress
3) They focused on destroying Israel, which spawned extremism in and of itself
4) They allowed Jihadism to spread freely
Understanding these will allow us not to make these same mistakes again.
Despite the importance of Europe and the United States, the war against Jihadism will be won or lost in the Greater Middle East. Two factors will determine who wins; one, whether the Western democracies have the willpower to stay the course, and two adopt a strategy of liberation and promoting democracy. Their are numerous battlefields, and sometimes the fighting is military and sometimes in the realm of ideas, but it all depends on whether the Western democracies will stay the course and adopt the appropriate policies.
The conflict is a global one, and the most important battleground in the Pacific region is in the Philippines. The separatist movement on the large southern island of Mindanao was not originally Islamist, but was transformed into one by the efforts of Salafi-Wahabists from Saudi Arabia and Libya.
In Central and South America, the key nation is Venezuela. Hugo Chavez has allied his nation with the Khumeinists of Iran. The worrysome part is that this is not just the result of Chavez, but is the culmination of years of Venezuelan ties to radical movements.
State of the Confrontation
Phares ends his book with a summary of the state of the conflict. Following are his main points:
1) We are in a war, not a series of isolated terrorist incidents
2) It is a war with a known entity
3) The enemy, whether Salafist, Wahabi, Takfiri, or Khumeinist, has actively declared war on us.
4) The jihadists are ahead
5) It will be a long war, more along the lines of the Cold War than World War II
Critics will say that the people of the Middle Est "are not ready for democracy." The truth, Phares says, is that they would like to move in this direction but have been prevented from doing so by our own policies of supporting the status quo. Radicalism is something that has grown worse in recent decades, so if we had supported the existing democracy movements when the Middle East came out of colonialism we could already have a relatively free region.
In contrast to obsessing about "finding bin Laden," which Phares likens to "looking for Waldo," we need to understand that we are fighting a movement, not a person or single organization. The emphasis on personalities, while understandable, can only impede progress, because it causes us to focus on the storyteller, not the story. Likewise, Saddam was not the problem in Iraq, Ba'athism was, and Ahmadinejad not the problem in Iran, Khumeinism is.
Phares hits a home run with this book. It is well written, and does not require specialized background information to read. Light-years from a rant, his prose is calm and dispassionate. The chapters are well organized he lays out his argument in a logical fashion that makes his argument easy to follow.
I am in agreement with Phares in his overall view of the world situation. We are not fighting a limited terrorist network but a war against a global Jihad. It is a restart of the old on-again/off-again war between the Caliphate of old and the West that lasted a millennia. It is a war, not a police action. We have been seriously negligent in pursuing a human rights agenda. Leaving millions to live under tyranny and oppression is counterproductive.
Our war on Jihad is more like the Cold War than any other recent conflict. It will require at least decades to fight, and will run both hot and cold. Actual fighting will be more of what the military calls "low intensity" than World War II style "high intensity." Much of the conflict will be in the realm of ideas and as such will take place in the media. At the center of gravity is the West's ability to recognize and identify the problem, and willpower to stick it out in the face of opposition at home and abroad.
One of the primary things that separates this book from Future Jihad and The War of Ideas is that in this one he offers many concrete proposals to fight the war. The first two books were mostly proscriptive, this one mostly prescriptive.
What most impresses me is Phares' commitment to human rights and insistence that people deserve to live in a pluralistic society. His is the opposite of realpolitik and the m"it's none of our business" isolationism that is found on both the right and left.
We are simply not going to be able to switch to alternative sources of energy as a means to stop buying Middle Eastern oil anytime soon. At best we can slow down the pace, but even so I rather doubt we can do enough to seriously put a financial damper on revenues. As such, we are better off working to influence where and how Muslim regimes spend their money. We need to get them to spend their money to help their own people, and liberalize their societies. How we should go about this can be debated, but the necessity of the goal seems clear.
All of Phares' recommendations should be acted up. Unfortunately few will be. We have an administration in the United States with it's head firmly in the sand regarding this problem. President Obama is pandering to the Europeans' worst instincts. The Jihadists will have at least four years to advance their agenda unencumbered. Let's hope that they do not get much farther during this time before we can turn things around at home.
August 29, 2009
The Obama - Holder War on the CIA II
No time for a full post with my own analysis, but there are several good articles out there that deserve mention, and they say it all themselves anyway.
First up is Dr. Krauthammer who approaches the subject of terrorist interrogations with uncommon common sense:The idiocy of imagining that if you capture Aymen al-Zahiri, one of the cruelest terrorists in world history, you would actually think of saying to him . . . that he doesn't have to actually tell you anything, is insane. Of course he doesn't have a right to remain silent. This man barely has a right to live. You capture him, you make him talk.
Bingo. Let the ACLU and lefties whine.
Krauthammer goes on to say that this doesn't mean that we adopt an "anything goes" interrogation-wise, but if we read him his Miranda rights we are guaranteed to learn nothing.
For those under the delusion that the CIA was a rogue outfit under the Bush-Cheney neocon regime torturing people at will, the The Wall Street Journal sets the record straight:Whoever advised people to be skeptical of what they read in the papers must have had in mind this week's coverage of the documents about CIA interrogations. Now that we've had a chance to read the reports, it's clear the real story isn't the few cases of abuse played up by the media. The news is that the program was thoughtfully developed, carefully circumscribed, briefed to Congress, and yielded information crucial to disrupting al Qaeda.
In other words, it worked--at least until politics got in the way.
That's the essential judgment offered by former CIA Inspector General John Helgerson in his 2004 report. Some mild criticism aside, the report says the CIA "invested immense time and effort to implement the [program] quickly, effectively, and within the law"; that the agency "generally provided good guidance and support"; and that agency personnel largely "followed guidance and procedures and documented their activities well." So where's the scandal?
There isn't one. President Obama and Attorney General are out to appease the nutbag left. As the WSJ editorial goes on to concludeCIA officials well understood that they might be second-guessed years later by politicians. "During the course of this review, a number of Agency officers expressed unsolicited concern about the possibility of recrimination or legal action resulting from their participation. . . . officers expressed concern that a human rights group might pursue them for activities . . . they feared that the Agency would not stand behind them." Another said, "Ten years from now we're going to be sorry we're doing this . . . [but] it has to be done."
The outrage here isn't that government officials used sometimes rough interrogation methods to break our enemies. The outrage is that, years later, when the political winds have shifted and there hasn't been another attack, our politicians would punish the men and women who did their best to protect Americans in a time of peril.
Or is that all there is to it? Former assistant US. attorney and author Andrew McCarthy thinks that Eric Holder is pursuing a hidden agenda of transnationalismWhy is Holder (or, rather, why are Holder and the White House) instigating this controversy?
I believe the explanation lies in the Obama administration's fondness for transnationalism, a doctrine of post-sovereign globalism in which America is seen as owing its principal allegiance to the international legal order rather than to our own Constitution and national interests.
Recall that the president chose to install former Yale Law School dean Harold Koh as his State Department's legal adviser. Koh is the country's leading proponent of transnationalism. He is now a major player in the administration's deliberations over international law and cooperation. Naturally, membership in the International Criminal Court, which the United States has resisted joining, is high on Koh's agenda. The ICC claims worldwide jurisdiction, even over nations that do not ratify its enabling treaty, notwithstanding that sovereign consent to jurisdiction is a bedrock principle of international law....
Obama and Holder were principal advocates for a "reckoning" against Bush officials during the 2008 campaign. They realize, though, that their administration would be mortally wounded if Justice were actually to file formal charges -- this week's announcement of an investigation against the CIA provoked howls, but that's nothing compared to the public reaction indictments would cause. Nevertheless, Obama and Holder are under intense pressure from the hard Left, to which they made reckless promises, and from the international community they embrace.
The way out of this dilemma is clear. Though it won't file indictments against the CIA agents and Bush officials it is probing, the Justice Department will continue conducting investigations and releasing reports containing new disclosures of information. The churn of new disclosures will be used by lawyers for the detainees to continue pressing the U.N. and the Europeans to file charges. The European nations and/or international tribunals will make formal requests to the Obama administration to have the Justice Department assist them in securing evidence. Holder will piously announce that the "rule of law" requires him to cooperate with these "lawful requests" from "appropriately created courts." Finally, the international and/or foreign courts will file criminal charges against American officials.
Foreign charges would result in the issuance of international arrest warrants. They won't be executed in the United States -- even this administration is probably not brazen enough to try that. But the warrants will go out to police agencies all over the world. If the indicted American officials want to travel outside the U.S., they will need to worry about the possibility of arrest, detention, and transfer to third countries for prosecution. Have a look at this 2007 interview of CCR president Michael Ratner. See how he brags that his European gambit is "making the world smaller" for Rumsfeld -- creating a hostile legal climate in which a former U.S. defense secretary may have to avoid, for instance, attending conferences in NATO countries.
The Left will get its reckoning. Obama and Holder will be able to take credit with their supporters for making it happen. But because the administration's allies in the antiwar bar and the international Left will do the dirty work of getting charges filed, the American media will help Obama avoid domestic political accountability. Meanwhile, Americans who sought to protect our nation from barbarians will be harassed and framed as war criminals. And protecting the United States will have become an actionable violation of international law.
I'm betting that's the plan.
He may be right. Obama has so far proven to be far more left wing than most people thought he'd be. It was only those dastardly neocon right-wingers like me who sounded the alarm.
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
While wasting precious time and energy going after our intelligence agents, the Obama Administration has quietly dropped the cases against the New Black Panther Party and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.
My own congressman, the wonderful Frank Wolf (R-VA10) has been on the forefront of the first case. From a July 31 press release:Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10), the top Republican on the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Department of Justice, today called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to re-file a voter intimidation case that his department dismissed in May involving members the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia. In a letter to Holder, Wolf said that given growing press reports of improper political influence in the dismissal of the case, and the disclosure of new memos from the department's Appellate Division arguing for proceeding with the case, the only proper action is to allow the career attorneys on the trial team to re-file the case and allow an impartial judge to rule.
"It is imperative that we protect all Americans right to vote," wrote Wolf, who is originally from Philadelphia. "This is a sacrosanct and inalienable right of any democracy. The career attorneys and Appellate Division within the department sought to demonstrate the federal government's commitment to protecting this right by vigorously prosecuting any individual or group that seeks to undermine this right. The only legitimate course of action is to allow the trial team to bring the case again and allow our nation's justice system to work as it was intended - impartially and without bias."
I'm not holding my breath that Holder does anything, but you gotta try, and Rep Wolf is trying.
I haven't been following the Richardson case so don't know details, but it sounds awfully fishy. From an Associated Press story carried by Fox News:New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former high-ranking members of his administration won't be criminally charged in a yearlong federal investigation into pay-to-play allegations involving one of the Democratic governor's large political donors, someone familiar with the case said.
The decision not to pursue indictments was made by top Justice Department officials, according to a person familiar with the investigation, who asked not to be identified because federal officials had not disclosed results of the probe.
"It's over. There's nothing. It was killed in Washington," the person told The Associated Press....
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Albuquerque said he had no information about the Justice Department's decision and couldn't comment.
Maybe Richardson really is innocent, but the case involving the New Black Panther party is a travesty. What is shows is the priorities of this administration, and they do not involve defending us from the jihadists who would destroy us.
The Obama - Holder War on the CIA
August 26, 2009
The Obama - Holder War on the CIA
Here we go, folks; Obama and Holder have decided to go to war on our own intelligence services. Get ready for 9-11 Part II, because it's going to come. The jihadists can read the newspapers and they know that if their agents are caught they're much less likely now to reveal secret information, thus compromising operations, than when George W. Bush was in office. As such, no doubt they're licking their chops with glee, dusting off old plans that had been shelved for years.
The lefties are happy too. They've always seen the United States as the real enemy, and "this terror-jihadist thing" as a fiction invented by the Bush Administration to take away our civil liberties. Not that this is anything new for them. Having observed the left from the late 1970s on, I know how they thought much the same thing about the Soviet-led communist threat. They shows their true colors with the distain they showed for Reagan's attempt to root out communism in Central America. Che tee shirts are still all the rage for this outfit.
Here's the summary of what's happening from Fox NewsAfter months of consideration, Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday appointed a special prosecutor to examine allegations that terror suspects were abused at the hands of their CIA interrogators.
The highly controversial decision comes as the Department of Justice released a 2004 report from the CIA's inspector general detailing allegations of harsh interrogation practices -- which Holder cited in his decision.
"As a result of my analysis of all of this material, I have concluded that the information known to me warrants opening a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations," Holder said in a written statement Monday.
If you prefer your news via TV here's that, too
As anyone might have predicted, this move by the Obama Administration has "increased tension between the agencies and prompted a sense of betrayal among some CIA officers." No doubt that'll make the lefties feel happy too.
As is often the case the Wall Street Journal has the politics of it rightMr. Holder had it right the first time. His about-face yesterday, compounded by his release of a 2004 internal CIA report on that agency's handling of terrorists, opens a political war that President Obama, the CIA and above all the country will live to regret.
This is a trap the Administration set for itself. Mr. Obama and his team have attempted to appease their political left by publicly denouncing the Bush Administration's national security policies, even as they claimed to want to forget the past. Their disparagement has only fed the liberal demand for Bush prosecutions and increased the pressure on Mr. Holder to appoint a prosecutor....
By threatening to prosecute CIA officials, the Obama Administration is taking ownership of future troubles in a way that will only do itself harm. Like the Church and Pike probes of the 1970s, Americans will once again see that the Democratic Party cares as much or more about settling scores against fellow Americans as it does about fighting the war on terror. Mr. Holder yesterday acknowledged that his decision to reopen the old CIA wounds would be "controversial." He will soon learn how much.
Yup. This whole thing is mostly a move to appease the hate-America left, just as I outlined above.
Liberals needn't get their panties in a wad, though. While I'm ok with waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and a few others, and I'm also fine with the "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" there's no doubt that at times CIA agents went too far. Threats of using a power drill and retaliation against family members violated the agencies own standards. But guess what the CIA did? Current Director of Central Intelligence Panetta explains in a letter released on Monday:The CIA referred allegations of abuse to the Department of Justice for potential prosecution. This Agency made no excuses for behavior, however rare, that went beyond the formal guidelines on counterterrorism. The Department of Justice has had the complete IG report since 2004. Its career prosecutors have examined that document-and other incidents from Iraq and Afghanistan-for legal accountability. They worked carefully and thoroughly, sometimes taking years to decide if prosecution was warranted or not. In one case, the Department obtained a criminal conviction of a CIA contractor. In other instances, after Justice chose not to pursue action in court, the Agency took disciplinary steps of its own.
So the situation was taken care of and there's no need for a special prosecutor who will only give our enemies aid and comfort through the glee of watching a politially motivated investigation.
Although the president is in hiding in Martha's Vineyard, no doubt trying to avoid taking responsibility for the announcement of a special prosecutor in case the whole thing backfires, the fact is that Obama has been planning this since at least 2007.
The only "good guy" in this administration seems to be Leon Panetta:A "profanity-laced screaming match" at the White House involving CIA Director Leon Panetta, and the expected release today of another damning internal investigation, has administration officials worrying about the direction of its newly-appoint intelligence team, current and former senior intelligence officials tell ABC News.com...
According to intelligence officials, Panetta erupted in a tirade last month during a meeting with a senior White House staff member. Panetta was reportedly upset over plans by Attorney General Eric Holder to open a criminal investigation of allegations that CIA officers broke the law in carrying out certain interrogation techniques that President Obama has termed "torture."
Good for him. Panetta may be a partisan Democrat and a liberal, at least on domestic issues, but he knows that this investigation will do lasting harm to our national security. At least someone has their head screwed on straight in this administration.
Our New Fifth Column
If Attorney General Holder really wants someone or something to go after, how about a special prosecutor to< investigate the ACLU? Michelle Malkin has the story:Last week, The Washington Post reported on a Justice Department inquiry into photographs of undercover CIA officials and other intelligence personnel taken by ACLU-sponsored researchers assisting the defense team of Guantanamo detainees. According to the report, the pictures of covert CIA officers -- "in some cases surreptitiously taken outside their homes" -- were shown to jihadi suspects tied to the 9/11 attacks in order to identify the interrogators.
The ACLU undertook the so-called "John Adams Project" with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers -- last seen crusading for convicted jihadi assistant Lynne Stewart. (She's the far-left lawyer who helped sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, convicted 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind, smuggle coded messages of violence to outside followers.)
Working from a witch-hunt list of 45 CIA employees, the ACLU team tailed and photographed agency employees or obtained other photos from public records. Then they showed the images to suspected al Qaeda operatives implicated in murdering 3,000 innocent men, women and children on American soil.
But no doubt this will be celebrated by the left.
August 13, 2009
M. Zuhdi Jasser: A Muslim Who Gets It
It's easy to become depressed when it seems that so few Muslims are willing to take a public stand against the jihadists who seek a resurrection of the caliphate and the spread of Islamic law. It's all very fine to denounce terrorism, but what I'm really interested in are Muslims who will denounce groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.
But there are true reformers, and I've profiled many of them on this blog. Of all of them Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, President and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy , is perhaps the one who is the most effective. He is articulate and outspoken, and gets a reasonable amount of attention from the press.
Time and again on this blog I've said that the best way to combat radicalism is to support reform minded Muslims. Muslims deserve a religion that is not dominated by a radical jihadist element just as much as they deserve civil liberties in Muslim countries.
Today he had a letter to the editor in The Washington Times taking President Obama and his top homeland security and counterterrorism official, John Brennan, to task for his idiotic statement the other day that we mustn't use "jihad" and "War on Terror," but only that "at war with al Qaeda." Here it is:According to John Brennan, head of the White House's homeland security office, the war on terrorism is over. From now on, the administration will never use terms like "jihadists" and "global war" because doing so, as Mr. Brennan said, "risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve." He insisted that the U.S. is at "war with al Qaeda" ("U.S. no longer at war with 'terrorism' ," Page 1, Friday).Could we be more blind? Acts of terror are rooted in the aspirations of Islamists to create an Islamic state and impose their version of Shariah law.
As a devout Muslim who, like many others across the world, is dedicated to fighting Islamism and its radical offshoots, I believe there is nothing more dangerous to our security in the long term than the leader of the free world remaining in categorical denial about the essence of this ever-so-real contest of ideas.
Al Qaeda had nothing to do with the string of radical Islamists arrested across the country -- from North Carolina to New York, Oregon and New Jersey (to name but a few) -- in the last year alone. The only thing these radicals have in common is their belief in a militant version of political Islam.
I certainly can understand the concern of making this a clash of religions, but that should not lead to outright misinformation. There is a civil war happening within the Muslim consciousness -- between those who advocate for the Islamic state (Islamists) and those who believe in secular liberal democracies.
It certainly is not the role of any administration to determine who are "good" and "bad" jihadists. Not calling them exactly what they call themselves makes the White House the arbiter of who is and who is not a Muslim. This avoidance behavior allows American Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood's front groups in Washington, to continue to deny their responsibility to lead the Islamic reform effort against Islamism and its role in radicalization -- the real existential threat to the West.
The last administration used a term far too vague, labeling the tactic of terror as the enemy rather than the ideology of militant Islamism. Now we have swung the other way, targeting a single group that is but one manifestation of a global movement. The movement radicalizes Muslims and remains an ever-present danger to our citizenry and it should be identified as such.
M. ZUHDI JASSER
American Islamic Forum for Democracy
August 8, 2009
Obama Declares Defeat In War on Terror
Ok, he didn't exactly declare defeat. But he may as well have.
From yesterday's Washington Times:It's official. The U.S. is no longer engaged in a "war on terrorism." Neither is it fighting "jihadists" or in a "global war."
President Obama's top homeland security and counterterrorism official took all three terms off the table of acceptable words inside the White House during a speech Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
"The President does not describe this as a 'war on terrorism,'" said John Brennan, head of the White House homeland security office, who outlined a "new way of seeing" the fight against terrorism.
The only terminology that Mr. Brennan said the administration is using is that the U.S. is "at war with al Qaeda."
"We are at war with al Qaeda," he said. "We are at war with its violent extremist allies who seek to carry on al Qaeda's murderous agenda."
This is insane. We are moving backwards. President Bush got a lot wrong, and even he understood the full nature of the jihadist threat facing the West. But at least he seemed to know that it went beyond al Qaeda. Obama and his minons don't even get that.
And this is why I titled the piece as I did; the jihadists are engaged in a war against us on many levels. If you don't fight back, or even recognize that they're fighting you, you've effectively surrendered.
With all else that's in the news, this story didn't get a whole lot of attention, at least that I saw. Maybe that's because months ago we heard rumors that he had dropped or was going to drop "war on terror," maybe because we just expect this type of thing from him, or maybe because people are burned out on the whole thing. It's some of all three, but mostly the latter, I think.
I've written so much about this before I'm not going to rehash it all here. See Creeping Sharia, Iran, Islam, Jihadism and the War of Ideas, and War on Islamic Fascism under "Categories" at right. For now suffice it to say that at war against us are men who call themselves "men of jihad." The Sunni side consists of Salafists who are divided into Wahhabists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Deobandiists. On the Shiite are the Khomeinists. al-Qaeda is a neo-Wahhabist organization that is at the head of it's own global insurgency. The Sunnis want to recreate the Caliphate, and the Shiites want to establish a regional Imamate.
What's going on is a combined assault against the West, of which bomb throwing is only one tactic. The objective for the Sunnis is the Caliphate. The method by the "realist jihadists" is a sort of creeping sharia by which they take advantage of our traditions of tolerance and diversity to force an intolerant system on us.
On the one hand, Obama's spokesman says that we are "at war with al Qaeda" yet then denies that it is a global war. As mentioned above, al Qaeda sits atop a global insurgency of jihadist organizations, something explained by Lt. Col (Dr) David Kilcullen in his groundbreaking 2004 work Countering Global Insurgency. So even if you wanted to limit the threat to terrorism, it's not just al Qaeda that's after us.
Much of it is what Walid Phares calls a "War of Ideas." Which idea will take hold among more people; that life in a liberal democracy of one sort or another is better, or life under Sharia governed by a Caliph? The victor isn't the one that wins 51% of the vote or poll, it's the one whose cadres are the most clever and determined.
Either way, we can't win if we're not fighting. And Obama doesn't even think we're in a war of ideas. To him and his type it's just a big criminal investigation.
Again, from the story in the Times :Mr. Brennan said that to say the U.S. is fighting "jihadists" is wrongheaded because it is using "a legitimate term, 'jihad,' meaning to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal" which "risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve."
Mr. Brennan has bought into the jihadist propaganda. The proper definition of jihad is more along the lines of"Constant effort on behalf of Allah" to spread the faith. "Historically, jihad was a state tool for war mobilization under Arab and Ottoman caliphates and various Muslim dynasties." Although "spiritual jihad" is "theoretically and philisophically possible, jihad throughout history was a state public policy on war and peace, and it was sanctioned by religious edicts."
Mr Brennan has bought into the notion that there is a "good jihad" of spiritual warfare, and a "bad jihad" which is the violent type. It's all a lot of nonsense. Walid Phares explains the propaganda message in the first paragraph and who developed it and why in the second:The good holy war is when the right religious and political authorities declare it against the correct enemy and at the right time. The bad jihad, called also Hiraba, is the wrong war, declared by bad (and irresponsible) people against the wrong enemy (for the moment), and without an appropriate authorization by the "real" Muslim leadership. According to this thesis, those Muslims who wage a Hiraba, a wrong war, are called Mufsidoon, from the Arabic word for "spoilers." The advocates of this ruse recommend that the United States and its allies stop calling the jihadists by that name and identifying the concept of Jihadism as the problem. In short, they argue that "jihad is good, but the Mufsidoon, the bad guys and the terrorists, spoiled the original legitimate sense."
When researched, it turns out that this theory was produced by clerics of the Wahabi regime in Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood as a plan to prevent jihad and Jihadism from being considered by the West and the international community as an illegal and therefore forbidden activity. It was then forwarded to American- and Western-based interest groups to be spread within the Untied States, particularly within the defense and security apparatus. Such a deception further confuses U.S. national security perception of the enemy and plunges democracies back into the "black hole" of the 1990's. This last attempt to blur the vision of democracies can be exposed with knowledge of the jihadi terror strategies and tactics, one of which is known as Taqiya, the doctrine on deception and deflection.
President Obama has done more to set us back in our war against the jihadists in six months than President Carter did against he Soviets in his first two years in office. That's quite a record.
July 19, 2009
Hizb ut-Tahrir: Terrorism is not the IssueRoughly 500 members of Hizb ut-Tahrir -- a global Sunni network with reported ties to confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Al Qaeda in Iraq's onetime leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- met inside a Hilton hotel in Oak Lawn, Ill., to host "The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam."
Hizb ut-Tahrir insists that it does not engage in terrorism. The organization is not recognized by the State Department as a known terror group. Its supporters, however, blasted capitalism while calling for a rise of Islam during Sunday's conference.
"Free market, organization, capitalization -- all has failed and brought disaster to America," said one of the group's speakers.
Whether they engage in terrorism or are linked to al Qaeda is irrelevant. The purpose of the jihad is to spread the faith by any means possible, and for Hizb ut-Tahrir the goal is to reestablish the caliphate and impose sharia law on all Muslim ruled dominions.
Fortunately the protesters outside their conference near Chicago get it:
Walid Phares gets it too. From the Fox storyBut some terrorism experts say Hizb ut-Tahrir may be even more dangerous than many groups that are on the State Departrment's terror list.
"Hizb ut-Tahrir is one of the oldest, largest indoctrinating organizations for the ideology known as jihadism," Walid Phares, director of the Future of Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told FOXNews.com.
Phares said that Hizb ut-Tahrir, rather than training members to carry out terrorist acts like Al Qaeda, focuses instead on indoctrinating youths between ages of 9 and 18 to absorb the ideology that calls for the formation of an empire -- or "khilafah" -- that will rule according to Islamic law and condones any means to achieve it, including militant jihad.
Hizb ut-Tahrir often says that its indoctrination "prepares the infantry" that groups like Al Qaeda take into battle, Phares said.
"It's like a middle school that prepares them to be recruited by the high school, which is Al Qaeda," he said. "One would compare them to Hitler youth. ... It's an extremely dangerous organization."
Phares said Hizb ut-Tahrir has strongholds in Western countries, including Britain, France and Spain, and clearly is looking to strengthen its base in the U.S.
"The aim of this conference is to recruit within the Muslim community in America," he said. "The Middle East governments go after them, but in the U.S. they are protected, so having a base here is going to help their cells around the world."
They're "more dangerous than many groups that are on the State Departrment's terror list" because we tend to focus on terrorism, and figure any Muslim not engaged or linked to ut must be a "good Muslim." As Phares says in his books, the problem is a lack of education in this country. During the Cold War we understandably focused on the communist threat. During the 1990s we thought we could ignore the world and concentrate on spending the "peace dividend." The Bush Administration had a golden opportunity to educate the public about jihadism, but chose to tell us the problem was just terrorism. President Obama has dumped the term "War on Terror." Unbelievably, we're moving backwards.
Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Party of Liberation) has a propaganda video on Youtube. They've disabled the link enabling others to post it elsewhere, so you'll have to go over there to watch it.
Much more over at Steve Emerson's The Investigative Project:
Hizb ut-Tahrir: Shariah Takes Precedence over U.S. Constitution
Hizb ut-Tahrir In America: Preaching Hate, Building A Caliphate
Select Quotes from Historic 1994 Hizb ut-Tahrir Rally in London's Wembley Arena
July 18, 2009
The Jihad Comes To Chicago
From Fox News yesterday:A group committed to establishing an international Islamic empire and reportedly linked to Al Qaeda is stepping up its Western recruitment efforts by holding its first official conference in the U.S.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is a global Sunni network with reported ties to confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Al Qaeda in Iraq's onetime leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. It has operated discreetly in the U.S. for decades.
Now, it is coming out of the shadows and openly hosting a July 19 conference entitled, "The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam," at a posh Hilton hotel in a suburb of Chicago.
Hizb ut-Tahrir insists that it does not engage in terrorism, and it is not recognized by the State Department as a known terror group.
That may be true, but it also misses the point.
While terrorism is a danger, it is not the main danger. Worse is a sort of "creeping sharia" in which the Jihadists achieve their goals without resorting to traditional acts of terror. Let their be no mistake; the goal of the Jihad is to install sharia law everywhere. This may not be terrorism as traditionally defined, but the end result is violence and terror against all who would dissent.
Who is Hizb ut-Tahrir?
Global Security, is, I think, pretty non-partisan. Here's what they have to say:Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Party of Liberation) a radical Islamic political movement that seeks 'implementation of pure Islamic doctrine' and the creation of an Islamic caliphate in Central Asia. The group's aim is to resume the Islamic way of life and to convey the Islamic da'wah to the world. The ultimate goal of this secretive sectarian group is to unite the entire ummah, or Islamic world community, into a single caliphate. The aim is to bring the Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life in 'Dar al-Islam' [the land where the rules of Islam are being implemented, as opposed to the non-Islamic world] and in an Islamic society such that all life's affairs in society are administered according to the Shariah rules.
Its basic aim was struggle with infidels and the organization of a universal caliphate embracing all Islamic countries. This objective means bringing the Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life in Dar al-Islam and in an Islamic society such that all of life's affairs in society are administered according to the Shari'ah rules, and the viewpoint in it is the halal and the haram under the shade of the Islamic State, which is the Khilafah State...
The group - also known as the Islamic Party of Liberation - believes it can achieve its utopian Islamic state in three steps. The first involves educating Muslims about its philosophies and goals. In the second step, the Muslims would then spread these views among others in their countries, especially members of government, the military and other power centers. In the third and final step, Hizb ut-Tahrir believes its faithful will cause secular governments to crumble because loyalties will then lie solely with Islam - not nationalities, politics or ethnic identifications. At that point the group says a supreme Islamic leader, a Caliph like those of past centuries would rule all Muslims with both political and religious authority.
There's more, but you get the point. They are not bomb throwers, which keeps them off terrorist lists. Yet their end goal is a totalitarian state antithetical to all Western values.
It is just this sort of thing that Walid Phares and others have written so much about. The goal of the Sunni Jihadists is to recreate the caliphate of old and rule the entire world, or at least control it. They view all Arab governments with distain, with the Wahabists only tolerating the Saudi and other gulf state rulers as long as they fund their jihadist efforts.
Hizb ut-Tahrir (sometimes Hizb ut tahrir or Hizb-ut-Tahrir) has it's own website, and it's got both Arabic and English sections. There's also chat forums in both languages, and it all makes for very interesting reading. They make no bones about their opposition to both democracy and capitalismThe fact that the current existing states in the Islamic world are states of Kufr is evident and does not require explanation, for all of their constitutions do not consider the sins as crimes that entail punishment, and they adopt the systems and the rules of the capitalist democratic system and they effectively implement them in economy, education and all the aspects of life. These constitutions deem the sovereignty to belong to the people, not to Allah (swt), they recognise the international treaties that totally contradict Islam and they do not Islam as a intellectual leadership to the world.Kufr/Kafr literally means "rejecter" or "ingrate," but is more defined as "a person who does not recognize God (Allah) or the prophethood of Muhammad (i.e., any non-Muslim) or who hides, denies, or covers the "truth"." In other words, an infidel or apostate.
The chat room is also quite illuminating, as well as depressing. Islam will take over the world, the United States and West is at war with Islam, Obama is just as bad as Bush and they aren't fooled, capitalism and democracy are evil, and of course armed resistance to the American occupiers of Iraq is good and just. Reform minded Muslims are roundly denounced.(The fall of the Turkish Caliphate in 1924) is what inspired the group most directly focused on the push for a new caliphate, Hizb ut-Tahrir, or Party of Liberation. The group, which claims to be active in 40 countries, began in 1953 as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. But while the Brotherhood, which also favors a caliphate, embraced realpolitik, growing into a potent opposition force in Syria and Egypt, Hizb ut-Tahrir charted a more subversive path....
(Their desired) system includes a caliphate, revived after national governments are subverted by Hizb ut-Tahrir members working in their highest levels, according to the plan. Hizb ut-Tahrir members have been charged with planning such coups in Jordan and Egypt. Zeyno Baran, an analyst at the Washington-based Nixon Center who has written extensively on the group, said it could "usefully be thought of as a conveyor belt for terrorists."
The group has a rigid, cellular, secretive structure and a bookish set of beliefs describing its utopian vision for a future caliphate. Hizb ut-Tahrir insists it has renounced violence, a policy that differentiates it from groups such as Kaplan's motley band or the Chechen guerrillas who carried out the deadly 2004 siege at a primary school in Beslan, in southern Russia -- and who would seat a caliph in the northern Caucasus, according to Chechen guerrilla groups' Web sites.
The question to ask Muslims is not "are you in favor of terrorism," as almost all will say no. The question is "do you favor sharia law in the West" or "should Muslims in the West be allowed to govern themselves by sharia law?" If you get any equivocation at all, they're a problem. If they say "no", they're on the good side and are to be welcomed.
Is Hizb ut-Tahrir a Threat?
No doubt it's tempting to write these people off small potatoes. We on the right are often enough accused of a "War on Islam" or "Islamophobia" by those who wish to ignore the truth.
I think these folks are a problem, and not just because of this one organization. If it was just Hizb ut-Tahrir then no problem, and after all there are kookly Christian groups and all manner of militia groups throughout the U.S..
But with Islam the problem is unfortunately quite widespread. The Muslim Brotherhood, the Wahabists from Saudi Arabia, and for that matter Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), all want to introduce sharia law into the West. The problem is worse in Europe than in the United States, but a threat here to be sure.
As Walid Phares likes to point out, the sad fact is that most Westerners remain woefully uneducated about the Jihad, how widespread it is and who is involved, and it's objectives. Now is not the post for a full dissertation, as details can be found on this blog by scrolling through the Book Reviews, Creeping Sharia, Islam, and Jihadism and the War of Ideas sections under "Categories" at right.
Of course there are good Muslims, who are secular and reject Jihad. The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is one, and yesterday they issued a press release denouncing Hizb ut-Tahrir. In the release they also point out that the silence of groups like CAIR and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in not "condemning the ideologies of Hizb ut-Tahrir and their agenda of insurgency in America speaks volumes to their own, albeit, more camouflaged Islamist agenda." The AIFD is one group that gets it, but I've profiled others too.
As for the Hizb ut-Tahrir, look to see who denounces them and who won't. That will tell you everything you need to know about them as well.
July 14, 2009
The Anti-Anti-Jihadist Assault on Cheney and the CIA
In the 1970s and 80s a species of liberal emerged called the "Anti-anticommunist." Although they'd been around before, it wasn't until the Carter Administration that they gained actual power in Washington. Not communists themselves, if you beat them up enough they'd eventually admit that "ok, communism isn't good..." but they saved their real venom for anyone who made it their mission to end the scourge of communism from the planet.
They took as their inspiration Senator Joseph McCarthy. Not to support him, of course, but because they took it as a given that anyone who spoke seriously about the need to end communism must be like him.
During the 1980s they spent their time in the nuclear freeze movement, convinced that American nuclear arms were the real threat to peace. They opposed American support for the "Contras," the rebels fighting the communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Ten such anti-anticommunists, including Speaker of the House Jim Wright, even went so far as to send the now infamous "Dear Comandante" letter to Sandanista leader Daniel Ortega. To them, the real enemy was the Contras, not the Cuban/Soviet supported Sandinistas. As such, anything bad the Contras did or were alleged to have done was trumpeted loudly, while the spread of communist influence went unremarked.
The situation got so bad that in El Salvador not only were we limited to only 55 U.S. advisers, but they could only carry handguns to defend themselves. One time one of them was seem carrying, or allegedly carrying, a rifle, and you'd have thought the Democrats had found their Watergate II. The media went bonkers for a few weeks and the Reagan Administration had to jump through the necessary hoops and assure everyone it wouldn't happen again yada yada yada. Nevermind that our guys were in real danger of being killed, and some of them were. No, to the anti-anti-communists it was much more important to limit our capabilities than limit the spread of communism in our own backyard.
Today we see a similar phenomenon with regards to some on the left. Even though they hold the White House and both houses of Congress, they seem to think that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are the enemies. Most of them don't even see a jihadist threat at all, convinced as they are that it's all just something cooked up by the evil neocon right to make profits for Halliburton and Blackwater.
The latest is the phoney scandal they've cooked up in which they alleged that Vice President Cheney ordered the CIA not to report a program to Congress, and now our democracy is in mortal danger! It's an outrage! We need an investigation and prosecutions! Cheney Lied! Bush Lied!
Er, no. Andy McCarthy explains:Another Phony Scandal
Of course the CIA was plotting to kill bin Laden.
By Andrew C. McCarthy
With Speaker Pelosi caught in the web of her own deceit over what the CIA told her about "torture," and the Obama administration in the middle of its latest 180-degree reversal over CIA interrogators (Attorney General Holder is now considering prosecutions despite Obama's promise of no prosecutions), Democrats have trumped up a charge that the CIA, on the orders of Vice President Dick Cheney, failed to notify Congress that it was contemplating -- not implementing, but essentially brainstorming about -- plans to kill or capture top al-Qaeda figures.
This is their most ludicrous gambit in a long time -- and that's saying something. Given their eight years of complaints about President Bush's failure to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, and given President Clinton's indignant insistence (against the weight of the evidence) that he absolutely wanted the CIA to kill bin Laden, one is moved to ask: What did Democrats think the CIA was doing for the last eight years?
And if Democrats did not believe the CIA was considering plans to kill or capture bin Laden, why weren't they screaming from the rafters about such a lapse?
Of course the CIA has been trying to figure out how to take out top al-Qaeda leaders. One assumes -- one hopes -- they are also brainstorming about wiping out the Taliban, overthrowing the Iranian regime, undermining Kim Jong Il's nuclear program, disrupting Syrian support of Hezbollah, and tackling all manner of threats to the United States. But there is no law that requires, or could practically require, the CIA to brief Congress every time some agency component considers the feasibility of some security initiative.
Gen. George Washington himself observed that "upon secrecy, success depends in most enterprises . . . and for want of it, they are generally defeated." Washington thought it obvious that secrecy was the heart of good intelligence. That is a big part of why intelligence activities are executive in nature, a core part of what the Supreme Court long ago recognized as the "delicate, plenary and exclusive power of the President as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations." Secrecy cannot be preserved in a system of national security by political committee, much less a system in which a sprawling, 17-agency intelligence community is forced to share all of its secrets, in real time, with 535 members of Congress.
Intelligence activities are not reliant on congressional authorization or supervision. Like all executive power under the Constitution, the president is checked in this area by Congress's enumerated powers, particularly the power of the purse. As is its wont, Congress tries to leverage this authority to usurp presidential prerogatives -- to make itself a partner in the actual running of intelligence activities, albeit a partner with no accountability (see Nancy Pelosi, supra).
Most Americans assume that the CIA has been trying to get bin Laden and his top lieutenants. Moreover, Democrats have a sorry recent history of turning national security into a war crime -- a pattern seen again in this weekend's coverage, which conjured absurd images of Cheney covering up illegal assassinations even though (a) the ban on assassinations relates to heads of state, not jihadist networks, and (b) during the 2008 campaign, the press considered it a positive demonstration of Barack Obama's toughness that he said he would not shrink from striking vigorously against terrorists who'd attacked Americans. It should thus come as no surprise that the CIA -- at the direction not only of the former vice president but also of George Tenet, the Democrat holdover who was Bush's first CIA director -- decided there was no need to brief congressional leadership on notions that evidently never became concrete plans.
So, to score some political points, Democrats have put themselves in the position of opposing CIA efforts to defeat our enemies. This misbegotten strategy can only remind the public of a few unwelcome facts:
First, when Democrats were in charge in the 1990s, at the time when bin Laden declared war on the United States and then bombed our embassies and the U.S.S. Cole, the Democrats' strategy to protect the country was to file indictments -- with no meaningful effort to capture bin Laden or his top aide, Ayman al-Zawahiri, much less kill them.
Second, when opportunities to kill bin Laden arose, the CIA's hands were tied because President Clinton so muddled the rules of engagement that our special-ops agents could not be sure whether Democrats would indict them for such operations.
Third, after 9/11, even as President Bush's warfare strategy decimated al-Qaeda's top hierarchy, Democrats complained that the Bush administration had failed to kill or capture bin Laden. Now that the political winds have shifted, they have returned to their default position of complaining that government agents were trying to kill or capture bin Laden.
Fourth, this bizarre complaint comes in the form of grousing about a failure to notify Congress, voiced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, among others. But consider that back in February, Senator Feinstein publicly revealed that Pakistan's government was allowing the United States to use Pakistani territory as a base for Predator drones being used for controversial targeted assassinations. Unlike Leahy's aforementioned malfeasance, Feinstein's unfortunate revelation was doubtlessly inadvertent. But it underscores the danger of informing Congress about intelligence activities.
The last point is a critical one, showing starkly the difference between Democrats and Republicans on national security. President Obama is clearly conducting a war in Pakistan, a country with which we are formally at peace. The legitimate existence of wartime conditions is crucial: If we are not at war, there is no basis in international law for killing Pakistanis (or non-Pakistanis) in Pakistan. But the Right is not accusing the president of conducting an illegal war, of failing to seek congressional authorization, or of committing war crimes. Nor did Republicans seek to exploit Feinstein's gaffe -- while there might have been political sport in it, doing so would have made it more difficult for Pakistan to cooperate with the Obama administration in an effort that advances American security interests.
Indeed, the real scandal is that we didn't implement a program to kill top al Qaeda leaders. As the Wall Street Journal reportsThe goal was to assemble teams of CIA and special-operations forces "and put bullets in [the al Qaeda leaders'] heads," one former intelligence official said.
The plan was never carried out, and Mr. Panetta canceled the effort on the day he learned of it, June 23. The next day, he alerted Congress, which didn't know about the plan.
Well why in the world did he cancel it? If they want to investigate anything, lets find out why Panetta canceled what seems to me a pretty good idea, or at least one worth investigating.
It is pretty obvious to me that the Democrats are just desperately searching for something to take the heat off of Nancy Pelosi. She is the one caught in the real lie when she said that the CIA regularly misled her, and then was confronted with documents proving that, oops, she had in fact been briefed about the enhanced interrogation techniques.
There's no scandal. No laws were broken. Our agents thought about a program but never implemented it. There was no reason to brief Congress.
July 13, 2009
Obama Releases Known Terrorists
Because I don't have time to do a proper post tonight I'm going to post the most important parts of Andy McCarthy's article today on National Review. This boggles the mind:Obama Frees Iranian Terror Masters
The release of the Irbil Five is a continuation of a shameful policy.
By Andrew C. McCarthy
There are a few things you need to know about President Obama's shameful release on Thursday of the "Irbil Five" -- Quds Force commanders from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who were coordinating terrorist attacks in Iraq that have killed hundreds -- yes, hundreds -- of American soldiers and Marines.
First, of the 4,322 Americans killed in combat in Iraq since 2003, 10 percent of them (i.e., more than 400) have been murdered by a single type of weapon alone, a weapon that is supplied by Iran for the singular purpose of murdering Americans. As Steve Schippert explains at NRO's military blog, the Tank, the weapon is "the EFP (Explosively Formed Penetrator), designed by Iran's IRGC specifically to penetrate the armor of the M1 Abrams main battle tank and, consequently, everything else deployed in the field." Understand: This does not mean Iran has killed only 400 Americans in Iraq. The number killed and wounded at the mullahs' direction is far higher than that -- likely multiples of that -- when factoring in the IRGC's other tactics, such as the mustering of Hezbollah-style Shiite terror cells.Second, President Bush and our armed forces steadfastly refused demands by Iran and Iraq's Maliki government for the release of the Irbil Five because Iran was continuing to coordinate terrorist operations against American forces in Iraq (and to aid Taliban operations against American forces in Afghanistan). Freeing the Quds operatives obviously would return the most effective, dedicated terrorist trainers to their grisly business.
Third, Obama's decision to release the five terror-masters comes while the Iranian regime (a) is still conducting operations against Americans in Iraq, even as we are in the process of withdrawing, and (b) is clearly working to replicate its Lebanon model in Iraq: establishing a Shiite terror network, loyal to Iran, as added pressure on the pliant Maliki to understand who is boss once the Americans leave. As the New York Times reports, Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, put it this way less than two weeks ago:Iran is still supporting, funding, training surrogates who operate inside of Iraq -- flat out. . . . They have not stopped. And I don't think they will stop. I think they will continue to do that because they are also concerned, in my opinion, [about] where Iraq is headed. They want to try to gain influence here, and they will continue to do that. I think many of the attacks in Baghdad are from individuals that have been, in fact, funded or trained by the Iranians.
Fourth, President Obama's release of the Quds terrorists is a natural continuation of his administration's stunningly irresponsible policy of bartering terrorist prisoners for hostages. As I detailed here on June 24, Obama has already released a leader of the Iran-backed Asaib al-Haq terror network in Iraq, a jihadist who is among those responsible for the 2007 murders of five American troops in Karbala. While the release was ludicrously portrayed as an effort to further "Iraqi reconciliation" (as if that would be a valid reason to spring a terrorist who had killed Americans), it was in actuality a naïve attempt to secure the reciprocal release of five British hostages -- and a predictably disastrous one: The terror network released only the corpses of two of the hostages, threatening to kill the remaining three (and who knows whether they still are alive?) unless other terror leaders were released.
Michael Ledeen has reported that the release of the Irbil Five is part of the price Iran has demanded for its release in May of the freelance journalist Roxana Saberi. Again, that's only part of the price: Iran also has demanded the release of hundreds of its other terror facilitators in our custody. Expect to see Obama accommodate this demand, too, in the weeks ahead.
Finally, when it comes to Iran, it has become increasingly apparent that President Obama wants the mullahs to win. What you need to know is that Barack Obama is a wolf in "pragmatist" clothing: Beneath the easy smile and above-it-all manner -- the "neutral" doing his best to weigh competing claims -- is a radical leftist wedded to a Manichean vision that depicts American imperialism as the primary evil in the world.
What a disgrace. Read the whole thing
June 7, 2009
The Speech Obama Should Have Given in CairoI am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and grateful for your hospitality. I will honor you in return by addressing you directly. I came here to speak to you, not to European leaders or American media commentators. I hope you will forgive my frankness, but we have much to talk about, and some of what I came here to say will not be easy for you to hear.
I will not waste your time by carefully selecting quotes from the Koran, in a misguided attempt to tell you what your religion means. I am here to tell you what membership in the community of civilized nations means. Your faith is your own affair, but it ends where the rest of our lives begin. It is fashionable among the Western elites to say that we have much to learn about the Muslim world, but the truth is precisely the reverse. One of the bedrock principles of Western democracy is that we don't need to understand, or even like, a particular religion in order to respect its faithful and their rights. There are some things the West is long overdue in teaching its Muslim neighbors, however. Let us begin with dismissing the notion of a "Muslim world." There is no such thing. There is one world, made increasingly intimate by the easy movement of people, resources, and ideas. We are all in the process of learning how to live with our fellow men, and while the West is far from perfect, we are much further ahead in our studies than the nations of the Middle East. Our security, and yours, will be greatly enhanced if we can lend you some of the wisdom we have accumulated.We did not come by this wisdom easily. We learned by taking incredible risks... and making terrible mistakes... magnified by the power of Western military tradition and technology. The people of the Middle East have never known anything to compare with the industrialized slaughter of the two World Wars, in which millions of lives were lost to decisively settle the question of what makes a government just and legitimate. You have never watched five thousand of your sons die on a single day, to secure a beachhead against the forces of genocidal fascism - a battle we commemorate on the sixth of June every year. Your fighting men have not faced anything like the battle for Okinawa, where American Marines faced an eighty percent chance of death - and did not waver. You have not sacrificed half a million soldiers to destroy the evil of slavery, as America did during its Civil War. You have not spent blood and treasure around the world to save other nations from the savage darkness of communism. You have no leaders to equal the Founding Fathers who pledged their lives, and sacred honor, to win America's independence from imperial domination.
You have not burned and bled for freedom, as we have. We would spare you that pain, if we could. We are willing to burn and bleed for you - and we have been doing so, for eight long years. Instead of indulging in foolish paranoid fantasies about crusaders and oppression from America, open your eyes and look to the mountains of Afghanistan, where over a thousand Coalition troops have died to overthrow the Taliban, after their despicable complicity in the murders of September 11, 2001. We did not have to send those troops into harm's way, to avenge the slaughter at the World Trade Center. We could have eliminated all life in that region, in a matter of hours. If we followed the standards of our enemies, we would have. We sent our best and bravest into battle because of who we wished to spare, not who we wanted to kill.
Open your eyes and look to Iraq, where we allowed thousands of Iraqi troops to lay down their arms and go home, instead of killing them where they stood. We paid an awful price for this act of mercy, as many of those men went on to join the brutal terrorists who dreamed of keeping the Iraqi people enslaved. Some in America and Europe find it politically expedient to draw moral equivalency between American soldiers and the terrorists they fight. I ask you to show me the al-Qaeda "equivalent" of Private First Class Ross McGinnis, who climbed down into an armored vehicle and smothered a grenade to protect his crew, when he could easily have leaped from his gunnery hatch to safety. Show me an "insurgent" who can match the valor of Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith, who flung himself into an impossible battle against odds of a hundred to one... to save the lives of a hundred wounded men. These two soldiers are among those who have won the Congressional Medal of Honor for their sacrifices in Operation Iraqi Freedom. No one on the other side is worthy of such an honor. I say this to you because keeping silent - whether from misguided modesty, self-loathing, or the desire to avoid offending your vanity - is an insult to your honor, and an injury to your future.
We have made a fetish of "tolerance" in America, and it has curdled into poison. I am here to tell you what the civilized world is no longer prepared to tolerate. We will not stand silently by while women are enslaved, brutalized, or murdered. We will no longer hypnotize ourselves with self-criticism over gay rights, while you bury gay men and women under piles of jagged stone. We will not swallow our tongues for fear of offending Islam, when Islam oppresses all other religious beliefs within its borders. We know you can do better. We also know that nothing will improve unless we demand you do better... and we do demand it. The world has turned, and the old days of totalitarianism and pillage are done. There is no more place in it for barbarians. Believe what you will, follow your customs, honor the holy writings of your Prophet, and strive to understand God's will through prayer, music, and scholarship. You will find nothing but honest respect and admiration from the West. But when you stand among civilized people, you will be civilized people. When you are shown respect, you will answer with respect. As the West reveres and protects the life of your innocents, so you will revere ours.
I speak to you as the democratically-elected leader of a great republic, which has earned the right to walk tall and proud through the halls of history. It is a right earned on battlefields... but also at humanitarian relief camps, pharmaceutical laboratories, civil-rights marches, and field hospitals. It is a right earned by rebuilding shattered enemies after terrible wars, by tearing down the statues of tyrants and building schools for the children of their liberated victims. Ours is a hard-won glory that can be seen in six men raising a flag on Mount Suribachi, or one man planting that flag in the dust of the moon... or millions of men and women stepping into voting booths. Look at the free people of Iraq, with their fingers proudly covered in purple ink after they vote, and know that America is eternally eager to share her glory. Indeed, we believe we can only render it proper honors by sharing it with all of our brothers and sisters around the world. But also remember this: the Middle East stands at a crossroads, and the heavy responsibility of reconciling faith, tradition, and the demands of the modern world rests with you. You must choose between old hatreds and new possibilities. You must choose between murder and prosperity. I have come here today to tell you clearly, and without reservation, that you cannot have both. May the next leader chosen by the American people stand in my place someday, to congratulate you on a wise choice.
June 4, 2009
President Obama's Speech to the "Muslim World"
Early today President Barack Obama delivered a major address to the Muslim world from Cairo, Egypt. The transcript is here. Following are excerpts and my observations. And yes I'll try and be fair.
All indented text is President Obama, except at the end under "other opinion"The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.
Oh for pete's sake. We're only in the second paragraph and this train is going off the rails. I've read more than a little world history, and I don't recall "centuries of co-existence and cooperation" between the Islam and the West. I'm not even sure it adds up to a few decades.
More fundamentally, we're off into victimology. Obama seems to be saying that the problems in the Muslim world are the fault of the West.
He is right, though, in that modernity is seen as a threat by many Muslims.I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America's story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, "The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims." And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers - Thomas Jefferson - kept in his personal library.
Heavens. This is either ignorant or a deliberate misrepresentation. Islam has been a minuscule part of American history.But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words - within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: "Out of many, one."
This is good and I'm glad he said it. Here he is on solid ground, and this is just what the rest of the world needs to hear. It gets even better with this:Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.
Great stuff. Unfortunately it's not followed up with "and there is no religious freedom in the Muslim world and this needs to change." But of course Obama didn't say this. President Bush's Freedom Agenda is dead as far as this administration is concerned.
We also have this curious partMuch has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores - that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average.
There is the grating bit about only he is allowed to use his middle name when it suits his purposes, but how dare anyone else.
There are nowhere near seven million Muslims in the United States. Daniel Pipes cites two studies saying that the true figure is probably closer to 3 million (here and here), and maybe less than that.This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.
For the most part this is boilerplate drivel, and I was tempted to pass it off as such until I reread it and a phrase in the middle jumped out at meany world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail
If Obama has his way then we have come to the end of American Exceptionalism.
Sorry, Mr. President, but there are differences between nations and peoples, and as currently constructed some are better than others. Some nations and cultures are better than others. Cultures that tolerate stoning are bad. Cultures that subjugate their women are bad. West Germany was better than East Germany. South Korea is better than North Korea. Taiwan is better than mainland China. And Israel is better than Gaza. Of course I write not of genetic, racial differences, but of culture, legal, and governmental practices.
As I have written time and again, the entire problem with the United Nations, and what makes it such a terrible institution, is that by it's nature it sees all natiions as equal. It makes no distinction between democracy and tyranny.
Barack Obama is either a moral idiot, steeped in relativism, or he can't say what he really means. If we take him at his word, he has no preference for America. We are just one of many nations, with nothing special about us.
Throughout the years the United States has been seen as a beacon of hope for many. Economic, religious, and political freedoms have never been perfect here, and often in need of great reform. But even our imperfections have never prevented people from coming here to seek a better life. More, our example has inspired millions around the world to better their own countries.The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America's goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with....
We also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who have been displaced. And that is why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend upon.
All very good. Unfortunately in between all this we find this statementThe Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism - it is an important part of promoting peace.As Robert Spencer points out, this is utter nonsense. The idea that Islam is part of "promoting peace" flies against what one reads in the daily papers. Islam as currently practiced in much of the world is part of the problem. It is a religion for the most part stuck in the Middle Ages that desperately needs real reform. That President Bush also spun us with the "religion of peace" line is no excuse.Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: "I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be."
Here we go again, back to his serial apologies. He just has to remind everyone that he that he opposed the war in Iraq, the clear implication being "we're sorry." Absolutely disgraceful.
How about other countries being asked to apologize to us for a change? For that matter, instead of us trying to understand the rest of the world, how about they try to understand us?
On to the Israeli-Palestinian conflictOn the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.
As the invaluable Melanie Phillips reminds us "The Palestinians have been offered a homeland repeatedly - in 1936, 1947, 2000 and last year. They have repeatedly turned it down. The Arabs could have created it between 1948 and 1967, when the West Bank and Gaza were occupied by Jordan and Egypt. They chose not to do so. They could have created it after 1967, when Israel offered the land to them in return for peace with Israel. They refused the offer. The Palestinians have suffered because they have tried for six decades to destroy the Jews' homeland."But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.
This is relativism at it's worst.Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.
Yes the Palestinians must abandon violence, but comparing their situation to that of black people is absurd. It implies an equality of justice that simply is not there. The Palestinians are in their current situation not because they have been mistreated by the Israelis, but because 1) they have been mistreated by their fellow Arabs, and 2) they have taken a bad situation and made it infinitely worse by their own behavior.Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist.
He's certainly right that the Palestinians need to switch their energies from building rockets to building industry. And yes Hamas needs to do the things he outlines, and maybe one day pigs will fly.At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.
I'm not a fan of the settlements either, but they're not the problem. I guess he figures he has to say this though to appear even handed.
Moving to Iran, we have thisThis issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically- elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.
With Obama, every criticism of the Muslim world has to be met with an equal criticism of the United States. So before he can talk about Iranian transgressions, he has to apologize for something the United States did - as if there is an equality. We had to put up with this moral equivalency all throughout the Cold War from the anti-anticommunists and it looks like that attitude is alive and well in the White House today.
Next the president moves to the issue of Iran and nuclear weapons. Much of what he says is standard dipomatic drivel, but we do have this which is of noteI understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation - including Iran - should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.
First, this business about how "no single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons" is again just so much moral relevancy. A gun in the hands of a policeman is good, while a gun in the hands of a bank robber is bad. Nuclear weapons in the hands of France or the United States is good, nuclear weapons in the hands of the Soviet Union or Iran is bad.
Second, energy concerns do not justify Iran's nuclear program.
Third, the idea of a world without nuclear weapons is a childish fantasy. I know, I know, Reagan said it too. All politicians say it. And it's silly coming from any of them. For some reason though they all feel compelled to repeat it.
Next the president addresses democracy. Or at least how he doesn't think it particularly important.I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.
That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.
The best reading of this is that he wants everyone to live in liberty but the exact structure of that government is left to the people. One wonders if he knows or cares that after World War II we imposed systems of government on Japan and Germany.
Again fine words, but not backed up by the needed challenge to the Muslim world; "you need to reform because there is precious little liberty in your part of the world."
Next the president addresses religionIslam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.
The idea that "islam has a proud tradition of tolerance" is so insanely at odds with reality I'm speechless.Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit - for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.
I hardly see religious tolerance in the West as a problem.
Next we come to women's rights.I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.
Can he actually believe that the veil is anything less than a symbol of subjugation?Now let me be clear: issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.
As if there is an equivalence between the struggle by women for equal rights in the West and in the Muslim world. Two hundred years ago women had it better in the West than they have it in much of the Muslim world today. Obama had a chance to demand women's rights and he blew it.
In his final comments President Obama discussed economic and scientific cooperation, but it was all boilerplate and as such of little interest.
Islam needs to be challenged to reform, and Obama dropped the ball. Yes I realize that it all must be couched in diplo-speak, but even so.
The Muslim world does not need our "understanding." It needs liberty for its people.
One problem with not standing up to dictators is that this is used by those leaders to squash dissent in their countries. Former political prisoners Natan (Anatoly) Sharansky (gulag, Soviet Union) and Armando Valladares (Cuba) have spoken and written about this. What they say is that obsequiousness by a US president is shown to dissidents and political prisoners and they are told "see, the US president doesn't care about you!" On the other hand, when a US president calls out the totalitarians, word eventually makes it to even political prisoners, whose morale is boosted. Sharansky, for example, tells of being told of Reagan's "evil empire" speech while in the gulag and being greatly encouraged.
The bottom line: President Obama had an opportunity to challenge the Muslim world to reform and adopt principles of liberty and he failed.
Dissidents across the Middle East are weaping.
Other OpinionRespect is a two-way street. Recent polls suggest that about half of Americans hold negative views of Islam, and this is not merely blind bigotry. If they want respect, Muslim states must seek active ways to improve relations with the United StatesSo in conclusion, yes, there was some positive stuff in this speech - but it was outweighed by the United States President's shocking historical misrepresentations, gross ignorance, disgusting moral equivalence between aggressors and their victims, and disturbing sanitising of Islamist supremacism.
In short, deeply troubling.Just imagine: After a thousand years during which Islam and Western civilization have trod opposite paths in philosophy, science, and the most basic attitudes toward relations between the sexes and the role of work in life -- and after a half-century during which Muslims have murdered Western ambassadors and Olympians, to the cheers of millions of their own -- suddenly a young American seems to believe he can conjure up a "new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world." How could anyone imagine he possesses such a "reset button"? The answer only starts with Yuppie hubris.As long as this administration ignores ideology and focuses only on superficial public relations, the Islamists will continue to advance the ideas of political Islam while we sleep. It is time for a comprehensive, public domestic and foreign strategy against Islamism. It is time for Muslims to lead this effort with real American support and not just lip service.The architecture of President Obama's speech was brilliant -- it certainly addressed the most burning issues facing Muslims around the world today.
Atmospherically, he hit it just right. His recitations from the Koran, his greeting to the gathering in Arabic, and even the respect he showed by saying "Muhammad, peace be upon him" when referring to Islam's Holy Prophet, all demonstrated an abiding respect for Islamic traditions...
Where he failed in Cairo was to delineate the overarching fact that Islam's troubles lie within. It is not that America is not at war with Islam. It is that Islam is at war within itself -- to identify what this religion and system of beliefs is in the modern age. Osama bin Laden and his Egyptian sidekick Ayman Al Zawahiri want to take us all back to the Stone Age because they have nothing better to offer their followers than hate-filled preaching. Why didn't Obama say that?
Islam's worst enemies are within it. If wealthy Gulf Arabs want peace for Palestinians with Israel, why don't they take a fraction of their profligate spending (in nightclubs in Geneva, at bars in London, at boutiques in Milan) and redirect it to rebuilding Palestinian enclaves with schools, hospitals, food-production facilities, and manufacturing plants? We might then have durable peace possible in the Middle East. Why didn't Obama say that?
Charles Krauthammer: "Abstraction...self-absorption...vapidity...moral equivalence"He told the Cairo audience that "to move forward we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts," but he wasted the opportunity to forcefully instruct Muslims that respect and appreciation must be mutual. While conceding the mote in American eyes, he said almost nothing about the beam that blinds Muslim eyes. He enumerated the "sources of tension" between Islamic countries and the West and never mentioned terrorism. He chided the West for its harsh view of Islamic treatment of women - "I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal" - and suggested that denying education to women is the gravest Muslim sin against women. He could have denounced "honor killings," forced marriages and how women in Muslim countries are flogged on the pretext of minuscule violations of eighth-century Sharia law.
May 21, 2009
Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, and the New York Terror Plot
Former Vice President Dick Cheney delivered an address before the American Enterprise Institute earlier today that is a must watch. At the very least read it in it's entirety, which you can here.
President Obama also gave a a speech today about national security.
The short version is that Cheney gave a responsible address in which he reviewed the issues at hand and reviewed the threat and discussed what the Bush Administration had done to counter it.
Obama acted like a jerk.
First up is our former Vice President
(video h/t American Power)
Read and watch the entire thing, but here's the money quote:Nine-eleven made necessary a shift of policy, aimed at a clear strategic threat - what the Congress called "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States." From that moment forward, instead of merely preparing to round up the suspects and count up the victims after the next attack, we were determined to prevent attacks in the first place.
We could count on almost universal support back then, because everyone understood the environment we were in. We'd just been hit by a foreign enemy - leaving 3,000 Americans dead, more than we lost at Pearl Harbor. In Manhattan, we were staring at 16 acres of ashes. The Pentagon took a direct hit, and the Capitol or the White House were spared only by the Americans on Flight 93, who died bravely and defiantly.
Everyone expected a follow-on attack, and our job was to stop it. We didn't know what was coming next, but everything we did know in that autumn of 2001 looked bad. This was the world in which al-Qaeda was seeking nuclear technology, and A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear technology on the black market. We had the anthrax attack from an unknown source. We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.
These are just a few of the problems we had on our hands. And foremost on our minds was the prospect of the very worst coming to pass - a 9/11 with nuclear weapons.
Yup. It seemed common sense back then that we'd be hit again, and maybe quite soon. We had been caught with such total surprise, and the devastating nature of the attack was something out of a Tom Clancy novel. Indeed, in his 1995 Debt of Honor, a Japanese airline pilot crashes a 747 into the U.S. Capitol building during a state of the union address, killing the president, vice president, and most members of congress. It was an interesting book, but as I read it I thought "that would make a cool movie but it could never happen." 9-11 dispelled such thoughts.
More on what Cheney said, but before that or we go to President Obama, let's review one of the biggest stories of the week; four Muslims were arrested Wednesday for plotting to blow up two New York Synagogues and shoot down military aircraft with Stinger missiles. The story from Fox News:(F)our domestic terror suspects -- James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, all of Newburgh, N.Y. -- were arrested late Wednesday after they allegedly planted a 37-pound device that they believed was a bomb in the trunk of a car outside the Riverdale Temple, a synagogue in the Bronx, and two other mock bombs in the backseat of a car outside the Riverdale Jewish Center, another synagogue a few blocks away. They also allegedly planned to shoot Stinger surface-to-air guided missiles at planes at the Air National Guard base in Newburgh, about 70 miles north of New York City.
FBI investigators had been monitoring the men and, through an informant, provided them with an inactive (Stinger) missile and inert C-4 explosives, according to the federal complaint filed against the suspects.
Don't think that because the FBI supplied a fake missile that they couldn't have gotten it elsewhere. From the same story"I don't know if you could buy it on Craigslist, but there's certainly a lot of people who engage in this type of contraband," Steve Emerson, executive director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, said of the anti-aircraft Stinger missile. "They're not that big, either, so they could've been smuggled into the United States."
Emerson said the 5-foot-long weapon, which has a range of 5 miles and weighs 35 pounds fully armed, could have been bought in a number of black arms markets in Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon, Pakistan, Gaza and Saudi Arabia. The missile system could be purchased for "tens of thousands of dollars," Emerson said.
To be sure, these guys weren't the brightest bulbs. From the APThe four men were ex-convicts who envisioned themselves as holy warriors, ambitious enough to concoct a plot to blow up synagogues and military planes, authorities said. But they were amateurs every step of the way. They had trouble finding guns and bought cameras at Wal-Mart to photograph their targets. One was a convicted purse snatcher, another smoked marijuana the day the plot was to be carried out.
Muslims fueled by hatred of America and Jews, they spent months scouting targets and securing what they thought was a surface-to-air missile system and powerful explosives -- all under the watch of an FBI informant.
But before we get to cocky, let's remember that after the 1993 world trade center attack we laughed when one of the terrorists went back to the rental place to claim his deposit on the truck that had been blown up in the attack. I think we all know who got the last laugh on that one.
They're still out there, folks, and they're trying to get us. Odds are that sooner or later they'll succeed again. Whether or not they're homegrown or imported from the wilds of Waziristan doesn't matter.
Muslim terrorists need not be connected to al Qaeda or any other terrorist network to be part of the global jihad. I say this because you can expect this plot to be dismissed in days to come if no connection is found.
In May 2006 a story in the Washington Post describes the career of one Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, who in January of 2005 posted a treatise called "The Call for a Global Islamic Resistance" under the pen name Abu Musab al-Suri on the Internet (I can't find an exact link for the work, but see a description here). From the Post storyNasar, 47, outlines a strategy for a truly global conflict on as many fronts as possible and in the form of resistance by small cells or individuals, rather than traditional guerrilla warfare. To avoid penetration and defeat by security services, he says, organizational links should be kept to an absolute minimum.
"The enemy is strong and powerful, we are weak and poor, the war duration is going to be long and the best way to fight it is in a revolutionary jihad way for the sake of Allah," he said in one paper. "The preparations better be deliberate, comprehensive and properly planned, taking into account past experiences and lessons."
On to Obama
So what has our President been up to lately? As usual, he blames the Bush Administration for our troubles. In a speech today on national security he said that he inherited a "mess"I knew when I ordered Guantanamo closed that it would be difficult and complex. There are 240 people there who have now spent years in legal limbo. In dealing with this situation, we do not have the luxury of starting from scratch. We are cleaning up something that is - quite simply - a mess a misguided experiment that has left in its wake a flood of legal challenges that my Administration is forced to deal with on a constant basis, and that consumes the time of government officials whose time should be spent on better protecting our country.
He also pontificates thatAfter 9/11, we knew that we had entered a new era - that enemies who did not abide by any law of war would present new challenges to our application of the law; that our government would need new tools to protect the American people, and that these tools would have to allow us to prevent attacks instead of simply prosecuting those who try to carry them out.
Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. And I believe that those decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that - too often - our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, we too often set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And in this season of fear, too many of us - Democrats and Republicans; politicians, journalists and citizens - fell silent.
What a jerk.
Throwing out the bone that the decisions "were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people" is a throwaway line that he clearly doesn't mean. Obama has no respect for anyone but himself. He is sooooooo smart that if he had been president at the time he wouldn't have fallen for the "fear" and of course would have calmly and cooly advised that we were all getting excited over nothing and that there would be no further attacks.
Because he is Obama, and the world will bend to his will. I swear the man believes his own propaganda.
Let's go back to someone who can think responsibly about national security, Dick Cheney. Here's what he said about the likes of Obama and his type in his speech at the AEI:To make certain our nation country never again faced such a day of horror, we developed a comprehensive strategy, beginning with far greater homeland security to make the United States a harder target. But since wars cannot be won on the defensive, we moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks....
(Our strategy) has resulted in serious blows against enemy operations ... the take-down of the A.Q. Khan network ... and the dismantling of Libya's nuclear program. It's required the commitment of many thousands of troops in two theaters of war, with high points and some low points in both Iraq and Afghanistan - and at every turn, the people of our military carried the heaviest burden. Well over seven years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive - and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed....
Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the United States. The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the editors of the New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn't serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people.
In the years after 9/11, our government also understood that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. And in a few cases, that information could be gained only through tough interrogations....
Yet for all these exacting efforts to do a hard and necessary job and to do it right, we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.
I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about "values." Intelligence officers of the United States were not trying to rough up some terrorists simply to avenge the dead of 9/11. We know the difference in this country between justice and vengeance. Intelligence officers were not trying to get terrorists to confess to past killings; they were trying to prevent future killings. From the beginning of the program, there was only one focused and all-important purpose. We sought, and we in fact obtained, specific information on terrorist plans.
Game, Set and Match; Dick Cheney.
December 14, 2008
Quillam Foundation - Reform Muslims in the UK
My research has led me to believe that the West is threatened by a worldwide jihad, and that it is being fought on many different levels. On of those is a "war of ideas," and it is not only being waged by Islamists against the West, it is being waged within Islam itself.
Islam is a religion that as it is mostly practiced is antithetical to Western values. It is in this that lies the greatest danger, not in bullets and bombs but in a sort of "creeping sharia." The Islamists are trying to replace Western ideas and practices with their own, and they are doing it in our own countries. They are also trying to replace secular Arab governments with Islamist ones in which Sharia is the law of the land.
Most Muslims around the world are not violent, and are not keen to be governed by a strict Sharia. But they also tend to be cowed and intimidated by the radicals, who are the "strong horse" in the war of ideas within Islam. The lesson of history is that a determined minority usually gets their way if the mass remains passive. Being opposed to an idea or movement does no good if do don't step out and do something about it.
This said, there are some true reform minded Muslims who are willing to speak out. It is absolutely vital that we in the West recognize them, promote them, and support them against the extremists. In previous posts I have recognized several such groups and individuals (see list at bottom of page).
Today I am going to profile the Quilliam Foundation, based in London.
The Quilliam Foundation (h/t The Weekly Standard) seeks change in the Muslim world. Their founders reject Islamism, but are committed Muslims.
From their website, the foundation seeks to
- Expose and challenge the weaknesses, inconsistencies, and failings of Islamist thought and actions;
- Provide a scripturally rooted theological and ideological alternative to the rigidity of Islamism;
- Narrate public testimonies as to why Islamists have abandoned these movements;
- Encourage current Islamists to sever ties with their movements and enter the fold of mainstream Islam;
- Advocate full integration of Muslims into Western society as citizens, not as a faith community, and counter the separatism of Islamists.
They're not passive about it either. The only way to get one's views heard and hopefully adopted is to step out and challenge those with whom you disagree. The founders of the Quilliam Foundation do just that with their "Open Challenge:"The Quilliam Foundation openly challenges Islamist groups to public debates. Our first challenge is to Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), the group that influenced Syed Qutb in prison and is thus the ideological inspiration to al-Qaeda. While HT may disagree with Osama bin Laden's methods, they both aspire to the same end: the creation of a theocratic, expansionist dictatorship....
Islam, like other world faiths, is a religion, not a political ideology. As such, it makes no specific, monolithic prescription of an 'Islamic state', 'economic system', or 'foreign policy'. Hizb ut-Tahrir, and by extension al-Qaeda, have rejected mainstream Muslim tradition and are an aberration of global Muslim discourse. Their neo-Wahhabite Islamism is the backbone of jihadism, as illustrated by the history of Islamist movements in Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other countries.
The Quilliam Foundation is relatively new, having been founded in April of this year.
I do not know quite enough about this group to give them my unqualified endorsement. That Ulf Gartzke of TWS likes them is a good start, but an article on the Counterterrorism Blog questions their support of a particular Egyptian Mufti Sheik.
Investigate the matter and reach your own conclusions. My guess is that they're not perfect but are headed in the right direction. We need to be careful, but not absolutist in looking for reformist Muslims to support. But find them and support them we must.
Other Reformist Muslim Groups and Individuals
Following are reformist Muslim groups and individuals that I have profiled here:
Update - January 1, 2009"The UK Government cannot seek to win hearts and minds across Muslim communities while failing to stop Israel from murdering Palestinians en masse. Gordon Brown and David Miliband have reached out to Damascus and Darfur in recent weeks in an attempt to bring peace and stand for fairness. That is commendable. And in that spirit, where is the outright condemnation of Israeli atrocities and pressure on Israel to stop its inhumane operations? Perceived double standards from our Government and the current green light (from Washington and London) to Israel's killing machine will strengthen Al Qaeda's metanarrative and radicalize yet another generation of young Muslims. Isolating and angering millions of Muslims by sitting on the fence will not aid the PREVENT agenda, or the moderate majority of Muslims. The FCO and Downing Street has a duty to stand, condemn, and call for immediate cessation of Israel's military operations, and end the siege".
Ed Husain, co-founder of Quillam, has an equally ridiculous editorial in the Guardian.
The International Quranic Center isn't a whole lot better:The world sympathized with Israel for the rockets they endured in their backyards, but when they get on the revenge bandwagon and indiscriminately kill, they lose sympathy. The oppressed ones all around the world including the majority of Israelis and Jews feel the pain of this violence, it flies in the face of our continued efforts to stop massacres, it is time for all of us to speak up. This is not the act of peace making; this is the act of destroying a people.
Yes yes, how dare the Israelis respond.
Meanwhile, Muslims Against Sharia are supportive of Israel
The Free Muslims Coalition doesn't really take a position, which at this point I'll take as a positive. They recommend a two-state solution, which I could support maybe possibly support for Fatah, but not at this point I don't think they're much better than Hamas.
American Islamic Forum for Democracy and Irshad Manji are silent. I'm sure the AIFD supports Israel, though.
November 30, 2008
The Mumbia Attacks and The Global Jihad
Other have reported the details of the terrorist attacks in Mumbia (the new name for Bombay) India better than I, and as such there's no need for me to repeat them here. What I'll do is try and see how it fits into the big picture.
In brief, then, what we had was 10-25 Islamic terrorists attack 10 targets in the Indian city of Mumbia and kill approximately 172 people and wound 370. The attacks started Wednesday Nov 26 and did not end until Saturday Nov 29. Among other targets, they attacked hotels frequented by wealthy Indians. Mumbia is the financial and entertainment center of India and the most populous city in the world.
A previously unknown group called Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility, though Indian police say that information from a captured terrorist points to the Pakistan-based Muslim terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. It is not clear as to whether other terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, were involved, at least directly.
What made this attack unique is that instead of bombs, suicide or pre-planted, the terrorists simply used automatic weapons and hand grenades, and ran around trying to kill as many people as they could. In some instances they took hostages, but there were no prolonged negotiations.
Last March I offered up four models for understanding the current situation with regards to all this. Here they are:War of Ideas: Dr Walid Phares says that our enemy are Jihadists of the Wahabbi, Muslim Brotherhood, and Khumeinist variety. While some of the fighting will be by nature military, it is primarily a war of ideology, and the winner will be the side that convinces young people that it's ideas are better than the other. Future Jihad and War of Ideas are his two most important recent books.
World War IV: Norman Podhoretz believes that our struggle is best termed World War IV. While I have not read his book of the same name, there is much about it on the Internet, including this article in Commentary Podhoretz believes that democratization is the best way to defeat the extremists.
The Power of Demographics All of the strategy and ideas in the world may not help us if radical Islam takes over Europe by producing more babies. This is the theme of Mark Steyn's America Alone.
Global Insurgency: Lt Col (Dr) David Kilcullen spent 20 years in the Australian Army. Throughout 2007 he was a senior adviser on counterterrorism to Gen David Petraeus. He is not a senior adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In his 2004 wor, Countering Global Insurgency, Kilcullen says that our enemy is best thought of as an insurgency, albeit on a global scale instead of just in one country.
In retrospect, I should have added another, and will do so hereClash of Civilizations: In Samuel P Huntington's 1993 ground-breaking article Foreign Affairs magazine, he proposed that "World politics is entering a new phase, in which the great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of international conflict will be cultural. Civilizations-the highest cultural groupings of people-are differentiated from each other by religion, history, language and tradition." Later published as a book by the same name, Huntington warned that we should be worried not so much about Islamic terrorism but about Islam itself.
It is important to note that these five paradigms are not exclusive but compliment each other. All five may be in play at once, each operating on a different level.
So do the attacks in Mumbia fit into any of these models? I think that Kilcullen's idea of a global insurgency, Phares' of a War of Ideas are most apt. We'll start with the colonel.
What Kilcullen saw was a global movement of disparate groups, loosely allied, but all with the same fundamental objective; to destroy Western ideas and implement a sort of global Caliphate, or at least implement Sharia law throughout the world. al-Qaeda was at the center of this spider's web. It's role was not as Moscow's was during the Cold War, issuing orders to subordinates, but more Al Qaeda maintaining links with its affiliated organizations through a variety of links. These links are ideological, linguistic, personal, family relationships, financial, propaganda, operational and planning, and doctrine techniques and procedures. The relationship of the affiliates to al-Qaeda is that of patronage, with al-Qaeda having a patrion-client authority. Kilcullen explains thatWhat is new about today's environment is that, because of the links described above, a new class of regional, theatre-level actors has emerged. These groups do have links to the global jihad, often act as regional allies or affiliates of al Qaeda, and prey on local groups and issues to further the jihad. They also rely on supporting inputs from global players and might wither if their global sponsors were significantly disrupted.
Sitting above the theatre-level actors are global players like al Qaeda.
As mentioned earlier, the a previously unknown group called Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility. This conjures up images of Black September, the previously unknown group that carried out the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Olympic games in Munich, Germany. It was later discovered that the members of Black September that carried out this and other attacks were drawn from known Palestinian terrorist groups such as Yassir Arafat's al Fatah, the PFLP, as-Sa'iqa, and others.
Some media speculation is on whether al Qaeda was involved or behind the attack. To me, this misses the point.
Andrew McCarthy nails it, and I can't do any betterWhen he guest-hosted Hannity & Colmes last night, Rich had a very edifying couple of segments with Mark Steyn and Richard Miniter. Mark made the excellent point about the reluctance to come to grips with the fact that these attacks on iconic targets, which we're now seeing in Mumbai/Bombay but of course have seen elsewhere, are fueled by an ideology. That's exactly right. The obsession over whether al Qaeda or its endless jumble of affiliates pulled off the operation is a misguided attempt to mimimize the challenge. The bin Laden network is not unimportant, but it is tapping into something that is much bigger than itself.
"fueled by an ideology" is, of course, the key part.
Two and a half years ago The Washington Post published what was or should have been an eye-opening story about Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, a prolific writer described as the "architect of new war on the west."
Nasar's theory was that isolated cells could wage jihad without instructions from above. Individuals would form small groups, and would plan and execute their own attacks. However, if groups are not possible, individuals could and should act on their own.
It would all add up to a war, albeit a very decentralized one. Indeed Nasar saw a benefit to this decentraliztion, as it would be hard for counterterrorists to use one captured jihadist to reveal confederates of the details of a larger organization.
McCarthy goes on to say thatIn July 2007, our intelligence community released findings of a National Intelligence Estimate that indicated jihadist ideology had become so extensively propagated in the West that the mediating influence of terrorist organizations like al Qaeda was no longer essential in order for radical cells to spring up and interconnect. Naturally, these local operatives are spurred, in part, by local and regional issues. But, though the mainstream press recoils from this reality, such local issues are fitted to an ideological framework that is global, hegemonic, and more about the ultimate triumph of fundamentalist Islam than, say, a Palestinian state, Kashmir, Danish cartoons, economic inequality, or whatever this week's complaint is.
So we see that Kilcullen is on to something, though his 2004 thesis may need qualification. The jihad may have reached the point where al Qaeda's guiding hand is not so necessary.
The ideas of Walid Phares are also relevant, in that we are foolish if we ignore the Islamic aspect. The network of terror is important insofar as counterterrorism is concerned. Follow the link to Kilcullen's work for details on how to fight it. But on another level we must also fight our enemies ideas.
Mark Steyn explains that the links between terrorist groups are important,But we're in danger of missing the forest for the trees. The forest is the ideology. It's the ideology that determines whether you can find enough young hotshot guys in the neighborhood willing to strap on a suicide belt or (rather more promising as a long-term career) at least grab an AK and shoot up a hotel lobby....Where would you start? Easy. You know the radical mosques, and the other ideological-front organizations. You've already made landfall.
It's missing the point to get into debates about whether this is the "Deccan Mujahideen" or the ISI or al-Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba. That's a reductive argument. It could be all or none of them. The ideology has been so successfully seeded around the world that nobody needs a memo from corporate HQ to act: There are so many of these subgroups and individuals that they intersect across the planet in a million different ways. It's not the Cold War, with a small network of deep sleepers being directly controlled by Moscow. There are no membership cards, only an ideology. That's what has radicalized hitherto moderate Muslim communities from Indonesia to the Central Asian stans to Yorkshire, and coopted what started out as more or less conventional nationalist struggles in the Caucasus and the Balkans into mere tentacles of the global jihad.
Give that man a cigar.
Approaching the attacks in Mumbia from a law enforcement aspect is all very fine insofar as rooting out the networks, but at the end of the day we've got to find some way to make Muslims confront the aspects of their own religion that promote the jihad. And from what i can see, we're not doing it now.
November 17, 2008
Book Review - Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad
On February 26, 1993, Americans were stunned to learn that a bomb exploded in the World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring 1,042. Scenes of panic were on our televisions, and for awhile Americans wondered if we weren't going to suffer a wave of terror as what plagued Europe in the 70s and the Middle East to this day.
Within a week, though, our law enforcement scored what seemed like a stunning triumph against what seemed to be stunningly incompetent terrorists. On March 4 one of the terrorists, Mohammad Salameh, was arrested as he attempted to retrieve his security deposit on the Ryder truck they had rented for the attack.
This in turn led to other arrests, and before too long it looked as if law enforcement had the entire thing wrapped up. I myself remember thinking that it we must either have the world's dumbest terrorists or the world's best law enforcement. From what I remember most other Americans thought the same thing.
But what if we had known that the FBI had had an informant inside the organization that carried out the attacks months before they occurred?
And what if we had found out that the informant had warned the JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force; FBI and local law enforcement) that this organization was actively training jihadists in guerrilla tactics for a campaign of assassination and bombing? Or that they were actively experimenting with explosives? And was apparently well-funded?
And despite all this, the JTTF ordered the informant to withdraw from the organization?
We'd have been outraged, that's what.
This and more is told by Andrew C. McCarthy in Willfull Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad.
McCarthy is in a position to know what he's talking about, because at the time of the bombing he was the Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He led the 1995 terrorism prosecution against the masterminds behind it, most notably the "Blind Sheikh", Omar Abdel Rahman, and eleven others.
McCarthy's involvement only came after the 1993 bombing, so he was not a part of the missteps with the confidential informant. Nor did he prosecute the underlings who carried out the attack. His job was to go after the terror masters. He did, and his efforts led to the conviction of all of them. The Blind Sheikh was the most important, and dangerous, terrorist ever tried in the United States.
If McCarthy's book was only about the bombing, investigation, and trial of the accused, it would be an interesting but not a terribly important book. As it is, however, McCarthy goes well beyond a simple narrative of the investigation and trial. Much of the book is a discussion of the nature of the jihadist threat that we face.
The Blind Sheikh
Omar Abdel Rahman was born in Egypt in 1938, and lost his sight as a child to diabetes. Early on recognized as something of a prodigy, impressed his teachers early on by memorizing the entire Quran. He attended the prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo, where he obtained a degree in Qur'anic studies. He was recognized as a specialist in Islamic law, authorized to issue fatwas and binding legal opinions. Rahman, by now called the "Blind Sheikh" adopted the most radical views, calling for the imposition of Sharia law wherever possible.
The Blind Sheikh saw America, Israel, and secular Arab governments as his main enemies, and called for the overthrow of all of them. Nothing the United States did on the behalf of Muslims anywhere held any water for him. Mubarak, and Sadat before him were mere puppets of America. As for Israel, well, "Zionist" conspiracies were everywhere.
The Blind Sheikh's entire history is long and complicated, but suffice it to say that he developed ties to seemingly every radical and terrorist group in Egypt. He even led fundraising tours for MAK, or Mektab al-Khidmat, the organization from which al-Qaeda would grow.
While in Egypt he became the spiritual leader of an organization called Gama'at al-Islamia, or simply the Islamic Group. Formed in 1973, it is considered an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and is closely tied to al-Qaeda. Their original motivation was to overthrow the secular government of Egypt, but as their ties and size grew, they "branched out" into full-fledged jihad against the West as well.
The Blind Sheikh's method was to issue fiery denunciations of, say the government of Egypt, backed by the relevant Islamic scholarship, but stop short of calling for outright violence. He simply let his followers figure out what he meant. Imprisoned for a time in Egypt, amazingly enough he beat the charges in court by simply quoting Islamic law to the effect that it was every Muslim's duty to engage in jihad against anything anti-Islamic. Since Sadat's government was openly secular, the court was forced to admit that Rahman was right.
He entered the United States on a tourist visa in 1990, this despite his name being on our terrorist watch list. Deciding to stay here, his lawyers successfully fought off deportation orders. He brought his organization with him, and, while continuing to issue orders to his followers in Egypt, also started to pursue jihad against the United States.
The result was the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.
Worse than that, his organization was working toward bombing five New York City landmarks: the United Nations building, an FBI office, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, and the George Washington Bridge. It was for this conspiracy, as well as the World Trade Center attacks, for which he and his co-defendants were convicted.
On Nov 5, 1990, Rabbi Meir David Kahane was shot and killed by El Sayyid Nosair after giving a speech in Manhattan. A subsequent search of Nosair's apartment revealed what would seem to be a treasure a trove of documents. Box after box of notebooks, assassination manuals, handwritten notes, and jihadi literature was removed. Amazingly, the authorities ignored all of it. They had convinced themselves that Nosair was a loner, and no further investigation was required.
It was an act of willful blindness. The reality was that Nosair was part of a jihadist conspiracy led by the Blind Sheikh.
Emad Salem, a former Egyptian army officer living in the United States, had infiltrated the Blind Sheikh's organization for the best of motives; he believed that jihadists had perverted the religion and he wanted them exposed and convicted. His undercover activities started in 1991. He'd even met Rahman on several occasions, and had so thoroughly convinced him that he, too, was a jihadist that the conspirators had asked him not only to design their bombs but to help build them also.
Therein lie the problem. The JTTF did not want its informant actually building bombs. "Imagine the liability," they said, if Salem engaged in bomb building, and then the jihadists escaped the FBI's surveillance and were successful in exploding their bombs. After all, even the FBI does not have magical powers, but rather limited resources, and such a thing was eminently possible. Thus the decision to withdraw Salem from the jihadist organization altogether.
In retrospect it was clearly the wrong decision, but given the attitudes at the time, an understandable one.
What outraged McCarthy is not just that the JTTF ordered Salem off the case, but that they dropped the investigation altogether. As he points out, they still could have conducted surveillance and used other investigative techniques.
After the World Trade Center bombing, Salem was allowed to re-infiltrate the terrorist organization. He was so successful in collecting evidence that long story short, eventually the Blind Sheikh and his fellow jihadists were all arrested.
A "Perverted Islam"?
In planning his strategy for prosecuting the Blind Sheikh (as McCarthy calls him throughout the book), McCarthy realized that he would have to present a clear motive to the jury. Jurors, he explains, are hesitant to convict on forensic evidence and eyewitness testimony alone. They want to know why the accused did what he or she did. Without a convincing motive, jurors will tend towards giving the accused the benefit of the doubt.
It was clear that the Blind Sheikh was motivated by jihad. For years he had railed against the secular Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak, and ever since moving to the United States had taken up the cause against us here.
The question to McCarthy was not how to present this to the jury, for that was easy. The danger was how he would cross-examine the Blind Sheikh should he take the stand. He knew he couldn't engage in a wide-ranging debate about Islam with the Blind Sheikh, for the latter was a world renowned scholar on the subject. Rather, he would try to trip him up on a few points of Islamic theology, showing that the Blind Sheikh had twisted the true, peaceful, nature of Islam into something violent and hateful. After all, we've all been assured by "moderates" that Islam is a religion of peace.
But as he studied Islam, he came to realize that it was the Blind Sheikh who had the better understanding of Islam. McCarthy concluded that "Islam is a dangerous creed" that threatens Western values. The way the religion is practiced today, it's hard to disagree.
As it was, the Blind Sheikh never took the stand, so no cross examination occurred. But if it had, McCarthy concluded, neither he nor anyone else would have been able to show that the Blind Sheikh had twisted Islam into something it wasn't.
The Pre-9/11 Mentality
Much of the book details the comedy of errors that our various government bureaucracies made in dealing with terrorist suspects in the 1980s and 90s. Time and again agencies such as the CIA, INS, and FBI didn't communicate with each other, so that while one would list a particular person as a terrorist suspect and flag him as "no entry" to the United States, the others would not get the message and the suspect would be granted a visa. Four times, for example, the Blind Sheikh applied for visas to enter the United States, and on only one occasion was he denied entry, this despite his history of radicalism if not outright support of terrorism.
Astoundingly, the situation did not improve even after the 1993 WTC bombings, when all of the bumbling was revealed. "We caught them; problem solved." was the prevailing attitude. The public perception was that we were on top of our game and no fundamental changes need be made.
Islam and Terror
At some point during the investigation, it became clear to McCarthy that there was nothing "more elemental to Islamic terrorism than the radical Muslim ideology that fuels it." In order to prove motive it simply had to be addressed. From a legal standpoint it was more important to show that a criminal act affected interstate commerce, for example, than to show that a Salafitst interpretation of Islam was behind it all.
The root of modern Islamic terror, and the primary influence on The Blind Sheikh, can be found in the 13th and 14th centuries, most particularly in the writings of Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymayyah (1263-1328). As also explained by Walid Phares in Future Jihad, Ibn Taymayyan (spellings vary), concluded that the reason that the reason the Mongols had been able to sack Baghdad itself and end the Abbasid dynasty in 1258 was that Muslims had ceased to properly follow the dictates of Allah. The solution, then, was to purify Islam and eliminate or purge it of those who in his opinion were not practicing the religion properly.
To carry this out he developed the doctrine of the takfir, which is essentially the Muslim equivalent of the inquisition. This would later develop into the Salafist movement which would in turn spawn Wahhabism, which in turn spawned al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Ibn Taymayyah led what was essentially a "back to the Dark Ages" movement. Gone was enlightened or "progressive" thought. While Europe would go from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance and Enlightenment a few centuries later, the Muslim world did just the opposite. Taymayyah's ideas have dominated radical thinking ever since.
Central to Salafist/Takfiri thinking is the concept of the jihad. Some Westerners have attempted to distinguish between a "greater" and "lesser" Jihad, seeing the first as defensive, or good, and the second as offensive, or bad. The "lesser" jihad, in this thinking, is a vestige of the old days, and is no more. The current, "greater" jihad, is peaceful and used strictly for defensive purposes.
Unfortunately, the idea of a greater and lesser jihad is about as accurate as the portrayal of honor among the Corleone family in the Godfather series. It's good entertainment, but with little or no basis in reality. Even if jihad is strictly defensive, the radicals have been able to twist any and all circumstances into "defense of the faith." This even to the point where resisting the spread of Islam is said to be an attack on the faith and requiring a "defensive" jihad.
Others have tried to portray jihad as a "peaceful inner struggle" one has with oneself in order to purify oneself for God. As with the idea of a "greater" and "lesser" jihad, this is a notion mostly held by Westerners and some Muslims who live in the West. It is not held by many Islamic scholars.
The reality is that jihad is the central tenant that drives Islamic terrorists, and its goal is the worldwide imposition of Islamic law. Issues such as the Palestianian-Israeli conflict are tangential.
The other major influence on the Blind Sheikh was Sayyid Qutb, the intellectual father of modern jihadist thinking and the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood until his death in 1966. Qutb's focus was on replacing secular Arab governments with Islamic ones, which would be governed by Sharia law. As an Egyptian, his main focus was on Gamal Abdul Nasser. After Nasser died in 1970, the Blind Sheikh took up the cause of overthrowing first Anwar Sadat, and then Hosni Mubarak.
Moderate, progressive, Muslims want the entire concept of jihad to just go away. As McCarthy found out while preparing his cross examination of the Blind Sheikh, they have mostly proven themselves unable to debate with the scholars, virtually all of whom see violent jihad as part of the religion.
What attracts followers is the ideology of radical Islam. What keeps them there is success, and what drives them away is lack of success. It's the "strong horse/weak horse" thing, and so each victory fills their ranks, whereby each defeat depletes them. There are lots of fence-sitters who are watching closely.
Not that we should always expect the jihadists to tell us who they are. It has been said that "war is deceit," and the Blind Sheikh followed this to it's fullest. Interviewed by CNN's Bernard Shaw in 1992, he said that "I do not call people for any violence," a known lie even then as he was on record for calling for the murder of Egyptian officials. Caught gloating over his deception by an authorized Federal wiretap of his phone later that same day, Rahman not only admitted to the deception to an associate but found it hard to believe that some of his followers might not "get it."
Although it was clear to McCarthy and the JTTF that the Blind Sheikh and his fellow conspirators were guilty, there was some resistance to charging him at all. Some in the intelligence and foreign service communities thought that doing so would upset Muslims and make it harder for us around the world. They even said that it would be counterproductive; that it might provoke more attacks.
McCarthy rejects such reasoning. Terrorists, he says, thrive on weakness. As noted earlier, fence sitters look for the "strong horse," and join that side. Further, if they didn't prosecute, it would embolden the Blind Sheikh himself who would only order more terrorist attacks.
That he and his fellow conspirators were indited was due, McCarthy says, to the steely determination of two of his bosses; Mary Jo White and Janet Reno. White was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1993-2002, and Reno needs no introduction. Both were Clinton appointees. As much grief as Reno has received from those of us on the right, I was pleasantly surprised to see that she did good in this case. My hat is off to them both.
McCarthy's experience has caused him to reject a strict law-enforcement model for dealing with jihadists. For standard criminal cases, "the law is our noble, all-purpose abstraction." Time and again he makes sure the reader understands that he and his fellow prosecutors followed such things as discovery procedures to the letter of the law, even when they very much helped the defense.
A problem with the law-enforcement model is that it ignores Islam as the fuel for Islamic terrorism. Prosecutors, as explained above, tend to concentrate only on the technical aspects of proving that the suspect planted or designed the bomb because of the way the law is written. Further, prosecutors are generally not interested in bringing up the overall aim of the terrorists, rogue-state facilitation, or who covertly financed the entire operation. They just want to prove that so-in-so designed or planted the bomb, or recruited the people to do it.
Traditional criminals may want to murder, but only individuals or small groups. They want to steal money or items. They do not want to overthrow any government, just work their evil around it. But terrorists, especially those of the Islamic variety, want to kill large numbers of innocent civilians, and the more the better. They do want to overthrow our government and replace it with an Islamic one. Because the two have different motives and objectives, we cannot use the same means to go after both. It is especially problematic to use standard legal means to pursue terrorism outside of the United States.
The reality is that we are not dealing with a small band of crazies who sometimes hide out in the wilds of Afghanistan or Pakistan. We face hundreds of thousands of jihadists (of one level of commitment or another) around the world.
Further, the means used to identify terrorists on this scale is necessarily different than what is used to gather evidence against criminals. While wiretaps are secret, they are revealed during discovery. We use national intelligence means to gather evidence against terrorists, and we simply cannot reveal "sources and methods" to the public.
Lastly, trials with their associated appeals take years to complete, cost tens of millions of dollars, and end up convicting relatively few people. Given the number of jihadists, it is simply not feasible to try them in criminal courts.
In the end, McCarthy says that it is Islam itself that must be confronted. Here too he and I agree. Far from a "hijacked" religion that is really about peace, Islam as it is and has been practiced for far too long incorporates many disturbing elements and beliefs. These can be changed, just as Martin Luther and John Calvin changed Christianity, but if will never happen if we remain wedded to political correctness.
As McCarthy says at the end; "We can open our eyes and see it. Or not."
After rewatching the interviews I realize I didn't do justice to McCarthy's recommendations at the end of his book. The terrorists at Guantanamo are neither criminals nor enemy soldiers as properly understood. Therefore, they are due neither the protections of our constitution nor those of the Geneva Conventions (details on the latter here). As such, they fall into a never-never world where the traditional means to deal with them don't apply.
One of McCarthy's suggestions to help resolve this is to establish a National Security Court. President Bush should have established a board of advisers to help set this up immediately after 9-11, but better late than never. The idea is to take the best of both criminal and military court system. The benefit of the military justice system is that it better allows us to protect national intelligence. On the other side, the criminal justice system works much better in that federal judges do a better job of moving cases along to resolution. When the military is fighting a war court cases will by definition be on the back burner (and I would say there's probably a conflict of interest) so the federal court system can better handle the load and move cases forward.
That's the ultra short version. Buy the book and learn the rest.
October 20, 2008
"Freedom of Speech in Jihad Analysis: Debunking the Myth of Offensive Words"
About time someone said this.
From a story in today's Washington Times written by the invaluable Bill Gertz:A U.S. military "Red Team" charged with challenging conventional thinking says that words like "jihad" and "Islamist" are needed in discussing 21st-century terrorism and that federal agencies that avoid the words soft-pedaled the link between religious extremism and violent acts.
"We must reject the notion that Islam and Arabic stand apart as bodies of knowledge that cannot be critiqued or discussed as elements of understanding our enemies in this conflict," said the internal report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.
The report, "Freedom of Speech in Jihad Analysis: Debunking the Myth of Offensive Words," was written by unnamed civilian analysts and contractors for the U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for the Middle East and South Asia. It is thought to be the first official document to challenge those in the government who seek to downplay the role of Islam in inspiring some terrorist violence.
"The fact is our enemies cite the source of Islam as the foundation for their global jihad," the report said. "We are left with the responsibility of portraying our enemies in an honest and accurate fashion."
I hope these guys keep their resumes updated, because they're going to need them if Obama's elected in November. The political correctness on this is bad enough with GW Bush, but it will be absolutely out of control with Obama.
You can download the report from the Times website at the link above. If that disappears, you can go here.
The reason why it is important that we use words like jihad, takfir, Islamist, and the rest is that we need to be clear as to who we are fighting. We need clarity on the nature of the enemy, who he is, and his historical roots. While we must understand that no, not all Muslims accept the idea of violent jihad, we must also understand that all too many do, and that they are the ones currently in control of the umma.
Of course, any "Red Team" is not the end-all-to-be-all. Their job is to provide the "counter" or "alternative" analysis, the purpose of which is to challenge assumptions. It's just that in this case I think they're right.
Read the whole thing, but here is an excerpt from the Executive Summary:There are a growing number of USG documents that suggest that we stand in danger of (if we have not already) demonizing Islam and/or associating all Muslims with violence simply by invoking the Islamic identity, or Islamist goals, or a particular extremist group. While there is concern that we not label all Muslims as Islamist terrorists, it is proper to address certain aspects of violence as uniquely Islamic. This does not imply that all violence is Islamic, or even that all violence perpetrated by Muslims is uniquely Islamic. The fact is that our enemies cite the sources of Islam as the foundation of their global jihad. We are left with the responsibility of portraying our enemies in an honest and accurate fashion.
There are a lot of problems in our current approach, but one of them is not "demonizing Islam." President Bush and virtually all other Western leaders have gone out of their way to do the opposite.
The problem, rather, is with those who want to define our problem as narrowly as possible. Many do not even want to use the term "war," but rather see it through the lens of law enforcement. They generally see the problem as only al Qaeda and only in Afghanistan. This must end, and we should label our enemies as they are: Jihadists, Takfiris, and Islamists.
September 11, 2008
"The Inevitability of 9/11"
It is good to remember the victims of September 11, 2001
It is also good to remind ourselves of who did it.
But what is al Qaeda and should we have seen it coming?
Let's start with this excerpt from Walid Phares 2005 book Future Jihad:Consider this: the 9/11 Commission released a tape, recorded a few minutes after the tragedy in Washington, in which a fighter pilot rushing to the scene over the Pentagon exclaims: "Gosh, the Russians got us!" Ten years after the end of the Cold War, the Russians were still being seen as the "strategic enemy," not the jihadists who had been attacking America and Americans for over a decade.
The 9/11 Commission, Phares concludes, got it wrong. There was no failure of imagination. There was, however, a failure of education.
I'm not going to run through the entire run-up to the attacks of Sept 11, 2001, as I've done that elsewhere on this blog. For now I'll excerpt parts of Phares article that appears on Family Security Matters today, which itself is excerpted from Future Jihad, referenced above. Just be sure to follow the link and read the whole thing.In the weeks preceding September 11, all over the world there were signs that the jihadists were lip to something unusual. A month before, I was observing the proceedings of the Durban conference on racism and imperialism. The speeches of the jihadists demonized the West much more than usual in the less advanced chat rooms of the time - which now are discussed as evidence of possible terrorist attacks - the Salafists had been announcing a great strike to come. I remember reading "America, we're coming, the Ghazwa is ready." I realized later that al Qaeda indeed called the attack "Ghazwa," a word, equivalent to raid, used by Arab historians to describe the fatah. This and other bits made me feel that something had snapped in the minds of the jihadists. Since I was swimming in jihad research at that time, I could not sleep during the last few nights before the attacks and have not slept easily on many nights since. Although it was hard to predict what might happen, at the same time it was easy to predict that something would. ...
I have studied every video and audiotape aired on TV by bin Laden since September 11 and have been able to review his interviews since 1998 with al Jazeera. I have also reviewed other evidence, primarily in Arabic, that has enabled me to understand how al Qaeda thought. But more important by my own standards, I spent long hours before the tragedy interacting with Salafi activists and also Internet chatting with those whom I believe were linked to the organization or at least knew it extremely well. Al Qaeda's strategic thinking did not surprise me at all. Already, some twenty years ago, I had several exchanges in open media with persons Iwould now call intellectual precursors of al Qaeda's thinking process. From these combined sources of knowledge and all the material I have reviewed in the last few years, my assessment is simple: Osama bin Laden did not create al Qaeda. It created him.[iii] By this Ido not mean that bin Laden did not inspire his followers or was not charismatic: Not at all. But I believe that when historians look back and have access to a wider scope of information and testimonies, they will conclude that it was the "rings" that found the "lord," not the other way around. It may be too early to put the story together completely, but one can easily see that not only was Osama naturally inclined to lead a radical movement for jihad, but a Salafi environment in Arabia[iv] readied him for the mission. A deep jihadi culture sculpted his personal wish to see the days of the caliphate return. Added to this was his life experience and drama. But first, he had to be immersed in Wahabi Salafi culture. Only in light of that does his contribution make sense.[v]
On February 22, 1998, Osama bin Laden appeared on television for about twenty-seven minutes and issued a full-fledged declaration of war against the kuffar, America, the Crusaders, and the Jews. The text was impeccable, with all the needed religious references to validate a legitimate jihad. The declaration was based on a fatwa signed by a number of Salafi clerics.[xii] It was the most comprehensive Sunni Islamist edict of total war with the United States, and it was met with total dismissal by Washington. It evoked a few lines in the New York Times, no significant analysis on National Public Radio, and no debating on CSPAN. The Middle East Studies Association had no panels on it, and the leading experts who advised the government downplayed it. During the 9/11 Commission hearings, U.S. officials said they noted it and that plans were designed to deal with it. As one commissioner asked, "This was a declaration of war. Why did not the President or anyone declare war or take it to Congress?" I asked the same question repeatedly from 1998 until September 2001, but my audience was much smaller on my campus in Florida. We must be careful not to miss these messages again.
Here was the leader of international jihad serving the United States and the infidels with a formal declaration of war grounded in ideological texts with religious references: Why did no one answer him? "Expert advice" within the Beltway ruled against it. Obviously, the Wahabis on the inside did not want to awaken the sleepy nation. If the U.S. government were to question the basis of Osama's jihad it would soon recognize the presence of an "internal jihad." For this reason, the debate about the declaration had to be suppressed and with it the warning about its upcoming threat. AlQaeda must have been stunned. They openly declare war on the infidels, and rather than responding, the Americans are busy addressing political scandals instead. Osama must have thought: "Well, that's what the Byzantines did, when the sultan got to their walls centuries ago. They weren't mobilizing against the fatah, they were busy arguing about the sex of angels. This must be another sign from Allah that America is ripe. Let's hit them directly."
And hit us they did.
I realize that hindsight is 20/20 and all that. And for what it's worth, I don't blame either President Clinton or President George W. Bush. For that matter, I don't blame Roosevelt for not seeing Pearl Harbor.
What's important is that we study our enemy so that we know them, the better to defeat them. My take on the whole matter can be found in the category Jihadism and the War of Ideas of this blog.
July 2, 2008
The Man Who Would Reform Islam
Every now and then we need reminding that there are Muslims who see the need to truly reform their faith. Dr Zuhdi Jasser of Phoenix Arizona is one such man. Dr Jasser is the son of Syrian immigrants, and his medical specialty is internal medicine and nuclear cardiology. He served as a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy, receiving an Honorable Discharge 1999. In March of 2003 he founded the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
Dr Jasser fully supports the U.S. Constitution and Western concepts of liberty. He is opposed to sharia law. Unlike most moderates who say that they are against violence but do not see the need for an Islamic reformation, Dr. Jasser clearly sees that Islam is at a crossroads.
Here is Dr. Jasser being interviewed by Pat McMahon, host of "The Pat McMahon Show" on AZ-TV on Wed. June 25, 2008
And here is Part II
Good profile of Dr Jasser and his AIFD in this news report
We need to support people like Dr Jasser if we want to win this war on jihadism. Right now he seems a lonely voice in the wilderness, but that doesn't mean we just give up. Martin Luther didn't win in a day either.
Reform Muslims We Need
June 2, 2008
The Legal Jihad in Canada
Anyone who thinks that other democracies like Canada have freedom of speech "just like us" haven't been following Mark Steyn's travails up there very closely. He and the Macleans (sort of their equivalent of Time or Newsweek) have been hit with a legal jihad designed to silence all criticism of Islam that the usual suspects find objectionable. Background here, if you're not sure what it's all about.
The trial is now underway, and I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Steyn fills us in with a post over at The CornerJonah, re: Omar Sharif saying that, when he has a problem with some guy, he finds it far easier to go to the neighborhood sheikh to sort it out than to have to mess around with all that western legal mumbo-jumbo. He'll be happy to know they've introduced a similar system in British Columbia: The sheikhs sit on a "human rights" tribunal and lay down the smack without any time-wasting rubbish about rules of evidence, presumption of innocence, etc.
Andrew Coyne is live-blogging the first day of the Steyn/Maclean's show trial from the Robson Square courthouse in Vancouver, and from the Omar Sharif perspective it seems to be going swimmingly. The Canadian Islamic Congress lawyer says that freedom of speech is a "red herring". If it were, it would be on the endangered species list. And the New York Times guy says he "can't believe what he's witnessing".
With their usual low cunning, the "human rights" sheikhs chose a courtroom that only seats 40 people so a big crowd (including CBC reporters) were wedged up peering through the glass in the door until the head sheikh (a judge best known for fining the Knights of Columbus for declining to rent their hall for a lesbian wedding) said the pressed faces of the people were distracting her and shooed them away. Typical. A third-rate bureaucracy that tells everyone from McDonald's to Maclean's magazine how to run their affairs can't even organize a show trial with minimal competence.
Maybe the folks who can't get in should file a "human rights" complaint against the "human rights" tribunal for denying them the human right to attend a human rights trial. Say what you like about Saddam's justice system, but at least I'd be dead by now and out of my misery.
This is a big deal. From what I can tell the Canadian Human Rights Commission does have some serious powers. More than outright legal sanctions, though, is the message that will be sent if Steyn and Macleans loses; any serious criticism of Islam and we'll haul you before a tribunal and force you to spend thousands of dollars defending yourself. Still want to publish a book here?
April 21, 2008
Straight Talk from McCain on Islamic Terror
Senator John McCain must be doing the right thing, because he's under attack from all the right groups:A coalition of American Muslim groups is demanding that Sen. John McCain stop using the adjective "Islamic" to describe terrorists and extremist enemies of the United States.
Muneer Fareed, who heads the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), told The Washington Times that his group is beginning a campaign to persuade Mr. McCain to rephrase his descriptions of the enemy.
"We've tried to contact his office, contact his spokesperson to have them rethink word usage that is more acceptable to the Muslim community," Mr. Fareed said. "If it's not our intent to paint everyone with the same brush, then certainly we should think seriously about just characterizing them as criminals, because that is what they are."
However, the Senator is not backing downAn aide to Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee who is counting on his pro-Iraq war stance to attract conservative voters, said the senator from Arizona will not drop the word.
Steve Schmidt, a former Bush White House aide who is now a McCain media strategist, told The (Washington) Times that the use of the word is appropriate and that the candidate will continue to define the enemy that way.
"Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda represent a perverted strain of Islam at odds with the great many peaceful Muslims who practice their great faith peacefully," Mr. Schmidt said. "But the reality is, the hateful ideology which underpins bin Ladenism is properly described as radical Islamic extremism. Senator McCain refers to it that way because that is what it is."
As of this writing there's nothing on his campaign website about the issue, but in the "National Security" section of his issues page there are three he uses the term; "Islamist extremism" once and "violent Islamic extremists" twice.
Good for McCain. I would actually prefer that he use the term "jihad", as this is what our enemies use, I'll take what I can get. This is a lot better than virtually any Democrat, none of whom to my knowledge even use "Islam" or "Islamic" in their descriptions.
Senator Barack Obama doesn't even have list "national security" or "terrorism" (or related) in the pull-down issues menu on his website. The closest we get is "foreign policy" and "homeland security". However, there is absolutely nothing about terrorism, let alone Islamic extremism, in either of those two sections.
Senator Hillary Clinton isn't any better. We find nothing about terrorism or national security on the pull down website either. If you dig you will eventually find a window with the headline "Hillary's Plans", and if you click on "Security and Opportunity: Hillary's Foreign Policy Vision" it takes you to the website of the Council on Foreign Relations, and from there to an article on terrorism that she wrote that appeared in their Nov/Dec 2007 print edition. If the word "Islam" appears in it I couldn't find it.
For a pair that claims to want to fight the "real" war against al Qaeda in Afghanistan, they've got precious little to say about it. Maybe that's because they know their followers really couldn't care less.
The Islamic Society of Northern America
The The Islamic Society of Northern America seems to be an umbrella group who's membership consists of at least 8 groups as listed on their website:* The Muslim Students Association of the US & Canada (MSA) * North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) * Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) * Association of Muslim Scientists & Engineers (AMSE) * Canadian Islamic Trust Fund (CITF) * Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) * Council of Islamic Schools of North America (CISNA) * Islamic Media Foundation (IMF)
Their mission statement and strategic goals:ISNA is an association of Muslim organizations and individuals that provides a common platform for presenting Islam, supporting Muslim communities, developing educational, social and outreach programs and fostering good relations with other religious communities, and civic and service organizations.
* Imam Training and Leadership Development
* Involvement of Youth
* Sound Financial Base
* Public Image
* Interfaith and Coalition Building
* Community Development
I don't have time to check out the websites of each group listed above, but the ISNA site is pretty bland. However, David Horowitz' DiscoverTheNetworks has this to say about them:Established in 1981 by the by the Saudi-funded Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada (MSA), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) calls itself the largest Muslim organization on the continent. ISNA was created by MSA with the help of one of Palestinian Islamic Jihad's founding students, Sami Al-Arian.
Today ISNA's annual conventions draw more attendees -- usually over 30,000 -- than any other Muslim gathering in the Western Hemisphere. ISNA's mission is to function as "an association of Muslim organizations and individuals that provides a common platform for presenting Islam, supporting Muslim communities, developing educational, social and outreach programs and fostering good relations with other religious communities, and civic and service organizations."
ISNA focuses heavily on providing Wahhabi theological indoctrination materials to a large percentage of the mosques in North America. Many of these mosques were recently built with Saudi money and are required, by their Saudi benefactors, to strictly follow the dictates of Wahhabi imams -- an edict that affects the tone and content of the sermons given in the mosques, the selection of books and periodicals that may be read in mosque libraries or sold in mosque bookshops, and the policies governing the exclusion or suppression of dissenters from the congregations.
Now it becomes clear. The ISNA is part of the Wahhabist lobby described by Dr Walid Phares in The War of Ideas.
Stephen Schwartz, director, Islam and Democracy Program at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, had this to say about them in testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security on June 26, 2003:The main organizations that have carried out this campaign (of Wahhabi control over mosques) are the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which originated in the Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada (MSA), and CAIR....
Both ISNA and CAIR, in particular, maintain open and close relations with the Saudi government -- a unique situation, in that no other foreign government directly uses religion as a cover for its political activities in the U.S. For example, notwithstanding support by the American Jewish community for the state of Israel, the government of Israel does not intervene in synagogue life or the activities of rabbinical or related religious bodies in America.
How big is the problem of Saudi/Wahhabist influence in U.S. mosques? Schwartz says thatAt the present time, Shia and other non-Wahhabi Muslim community leaders estimate that 80 percent of American mosques are under Wahhabi control. This does not mean 80 percent of American Muslims support Wahhabism...
So the Islamic Society of North America has no business telling anyone what to call anything, because they're part of the problem. To be sure, they're not a terrorist group. But they are spreading the hateful ideology of Wahabbism, which is one of three parts of the Islamic jihad that is trying to destroy the West.
That John McCain "gets it" means that he gets my vote this time around.
March 27, 2008
The Global Patriot Incident
On March 25, the American Forces Press Service issued the following:A ship on short-term charter to the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command fired warning shots at a small boat approaching the ship as it was preparing to transit the Suez Canal last night, military officials reported.
There were no reports of casualties from the ship, the Global Patriot.
Officials said several boats approached the Global Patriot while it was preparing to transit the Suez Canal. The boats were hailed and warned by a native Arabic speaker on the Global Patriot to advise them to turn away. Other warning steps, including a signal flare, were used to caution the boats.
One small boat continued to approach the ship and received two sets of warning shots 20 to 30 meters in front of the boat's bow. All shots were accounted for as they entered the water, officials said.
Here's the same story with video
The initial report of no casualties, however, turned out to be wrong. The next day the AFPS issued thisU.S. 5th Fleet officials today expressed regret for the death of an Egyptian citizen who died the night of March 24, an apparent result of warning shots fired at a small boat approaching a ship chartered by the U.S. Navy.
"We express our deepest sympathies to the family of the deceased," Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff, 5th Fleet commander. "We are greatly saddened by events that apparently resulted in this accidental death. This situation is tragic, and we will do our utmost to help take care of the family of the deceased."
The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet Command continues to work cooperatively with Egyptian authorities, including the Suez Canal Authority, through the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, officials said. A full investigation into the incident is under way....
Oh boy, I thought, here we go again. Will we get the same reaction from the left as we did in early January when several small Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats zoomed around 3 US Navy ships?
This blog doesn't get many comments, but I did get one on the post that I wrote about the incident from some leftist who wrote that "So, WHY was it that the Iranians threatened the US? Funny stuff, eh pal? Some jokester on the CB airwaves! The Pentagon once again has mud on its face." Over on his own blog he took great delight in mocking the administration. I heard much the same from commenter "anon" over at the most excellent DowneastBlog (I can't find the exact post).
The incident with the Global Patriot hasn't received the same coverage, but the Internet being what it is I felt sure that someone else was blogging about it. I checked the Daily Kos and Huffington Post to see if they had anything. To their credit, I have only been able to find straight-up news reports on those two blogs. So unless I'm missing something they're not engaged in any wackyness on this one. There is a long thread about it over at the Democrat Underground, but other than the usual talk about "mercenaries" not much of note.
You don't have to go far on Google, however, to find posts on "Global Patriot". This guy titles his post "Global Patriot Lied: Egyptian WAS Murdered", so you know where he's coming from. Another says that the incident proves that we're "ignoring sovereignty". His theory is that we're trying to paper over the affair because "It's just some Egyptian guy", but if it is was an Australian "the papers would go beserk!" There are more but these came up on page 1.
Now, I'm sure that many leftists are being responsible about this incident, as my search of the Daily Kos and Huffington Post showed. And no doubt the right has it's share of nutty bloggers as well.
I just rather thought I'd use this post to discuss this from a larger perspective. Because if the left isn't going nuts over the incident with the Global Patriot, the one in January with the Iranian speedboats showed that too many will rush to see anything as another Gulf of Tonkin Incident, just as every spike in violence in Iraq is seen as portending another Tet Offensive.
My friend (ok I've only met him once) Steve Schippert was writing the other day over at National Review's The Tank blog about an incident in Iraq, but his words apply here as wellThere are things beyond our control in Iraq. And there are mistakes we make. But there are far more things that we simply are not aware of because we are not omniscient or omnipresent. Or, you can believe that we are a torturous, imperialistic force of bad actors and worse actions. Take your pick.
Anyone who has read this blog at all knows that I take the former position.
With regards to the Global Patriot, any one of a number of things may have happened. Our guys may have simply miscounted the rounds as the hit the water and not realized that one hit the Egyptian. Or the rounds may have skipped along the water (yes this really happens) and then hit the Egyptian. The contractors simply assumed that the rounds went into the water.
Another possibility is that Egyptians may really be members of a Jihadist organization like al Qaeda and killed their own guy to stage an incident (kind of like a suicide bombing but for purely propaganda purposes). It's also possible that the contractors lied about the incident.
Maybe we'll never know.
The question is, what is your initial reaction? If it's to give our side the benefit of the doubt then you possess moral clarity. Yes, let's pursue a vigorous investigation. But as with Schippert, it annoys me to no end that there are those who's first reaction is to assume that the American government is lying, misleading, racist, on and on.
And please, lets not have any tripe about how we all need to "question authority". That's not what this is about. It's about a knee-jerk leftism that lives in the past and wants every American military venture to become another Vietnam.
The bottom line is that bad things happen by accident. You can take every imaginable precaution and you will still have incidents of this sort. And it doesn't matter whether a conservative Republican or liberal Democrat is in the White House.
This said, we do need to be aware that incidents such as this one will be exploited by the anti-American and Jihadist media to their fullest extent. As I have written many times, we are engaged in a War of Ideas as much if not more than one involving bombs and bullets. We need to do all that we can to keep these incidents from happening. We also need to do all that we can to put our own media in place so that when they do we can get out our side of the story quickly and efficiently.
I think that the responsible position is to simply wait for the results of the investigation. If we don't think the investigation was honestly done, then let's say so. If the results of the investigation are such that we need to change our procedures, fine, let's do so. If we even need to prosecute people let's do so, though this seems unlikely. But it's at best irresponsible to judge before the facts are in.
In the meantime, though, can we please give our side the benefit of the doubt?
March 4, 2008
"Countering Global Insurgency"
In my effort to understand the nature of our struggle against Islamic extremists, I have investigated many thinkers and ideas, rejecting some and embracing others. Following are the ones that made the cut. Note please that far from being in competition with each other, each compliments the other. Each simply looks at a different aspect of the conflict.
War of Ideas: Dr Walid Phares says that our enemy are Jihadists of the Wahabbi, Muslim Brotherhood, and Khumeinist variety. While some of the fighting will be by nature military, it is primarily a war of ideology, and the winner will be the side that convinces young people that it's ideas are better than the other. Future Jihad and War of Ideas are his two most important recent books.
World War IV: Norman Podhoretz believes that our struggle is best termed World War IV. While I have not read his book of the same name, there is much about it on the Internet, including this article in Commentary Podhoretz believes that democratization is the best way to defeat the extremists.
The Power of Demographics All of the strategy and ideas in the world may not help us if radical Islam takes over Europe by producing more babies. This is the theme of Mark Steyn's America Alone.
Global Insurgency: Lt Col (Dr) David Kilcullen spent 20 years in the Australian Army. Throughout 2007 he was a senior advisor on counterterrorism to Gen David Petraeus. He is not a senior advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In his 2004 wor, Countering Global Insurgency, Kilcullen says that our enemy is best thought of as an insurgency, albeit on a global scale instead of just in one country.
In this post I will summarize and review this final way of looking at our global struggle.
Kilcullen's thesis is pretty straightforward
- The 'War on Terrorism' is actually a campaign to counter a global Islamist insurgency. So counterinsurgency, not counterterrorism, may provide the best approach to the conflict.
- But classical counterinsurgency is designed to defeat insurgency in one country. Hence, traditional counterinsurgency theory has limitations in this context. Therefore we need a new paradigm, capable of addressing a globalized insurgency.
- Classical insurgency uses systems analysis, but traditional reductionist systems analysis cannot handle the complexity of insurgency. However, the emerging science of Complexity provides new tools for systems assessment - hence, complex systems analysis may provide new mental models for globalized counterinsurgency.
- Complex adaptive systems modeling shows that the more global nature of the present Islamist jihad, and hence its dangerous character, derives from the links in the system - energy pathways that allow disparate groups to function in an aggregated fashion across intercontinental distances - rather than the elements themselves.
- Therefore, countering global insurgency does not demand the destruction of every Islamist insurgent from the Philippines to Chechnya. Rather, it demands a strategy of disaggregation (de-linking or dismantling) to prevent the dispersed and disparate elements of the jihad movement from functioning as a global system. Applying this approach to the War generates a new and different range of policy options and strategic choices.
Kilcullen devotes a chapter of his paper to each of these topics, and each flows from the other. If one insists that we are simply fighting terrorists, for example, the rest of the paper makes no sense. Because of the importance of understanding the nature of our conflict, it is good that we spend some time here.
Al Qaeda, in the person of OBL's deputy Ayman al Zawahiri, issued a statement shortly after 9-11 that laid out a two-phase strategy. First, they would focus on the Middle East area. Their objective here was to force the U.S. to leave and then establish a new Caliphate based in Egypt. In phase 2 they would use the power of this new Caliphate as a launch pad for a jihad against the West. The objective here would be to establish Islam as the dominant force in the world.
Al Qaeda has a presence in at least 40 countries around the world. It is a global organization. However, it is not a monolithic or centrally directed organization, but rather functions through "theatres of operation". Organizations in each theatre "follow general ideological or strategic approaches" from the worldwide leadership.
The principle theatres in which al Qaeda and similar organizations are active are The Americas (they try to infiltrate the US from Canada and Mexico, and have a strong presence in the border areas of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil) Western Europe, the Iberian Peninsula (which organizationally separate from Western Europe), Australasia, and the Greater Middle East. East Africa, the Caucuses and European Russia, South and Central Asia, and Southeast Asia.
Al Qaeda maintains links with it's affiliated organizations through a variety of links. These links are ideological, linguistic, personal, family relationships, financial, propaganda, operational and planning, and doctrine techniques and procedures. Kilcullen ties it all togetherWhat is new about today's environment is that, because of the links described above, a new class of regional, theatre-level actors has emerged. These groups do have links to the global jihad, often act as regional allies or affiliates of al Qaeda, and prey on local groups and issues to further the jihad. They also rely on supporting inputs from global players and might wither if their global sponsors were significantly disrupted.
Sitting above the theatre-level actors are global players like al Qaeda.
The relationship of al Qaeda to it's affiliated organizations, Kilcullen says, is one of patronage, or patrion-client authority. As such, it is similar to traditional Middle Eastern arrangements.
So why is all this best described as an insurgency and not a terrorist movement?
Insurgency can be defined as "a popular movement that seeks to overthrow the status quo through subversion, political activity, insurrection, armed conflict, and terrorism.
Conversely, Terrorism can be defined as "politically motivated violence against civilians, conducted with the intention to coerce through fear", and is in the tactical repertoire of virtually every insurgency. ...Terrorism is a component in almost all insurgencies, and insurgent objectives (that is, a desire to change the status quo through subversion and violence) lie behind almost all non-state terrorism.
By this definition, the global jihad is clearly an insurgency...." Terrorism is a tactic within an insurgency.The jihad is, therefore, a global insurgency. Al Qaeda and similar groups feed on local grievances, integrate them into broader ideologies..." The objective being the restoration of the Caliphate and to subdue the West.
Terrorist groups of the 1970s; the Japanese Red Army, the IRA, the Baader-Meinhof gang and Red Brigades, were independent groups and there was little link between them and any global movement. Few of them (except the IRA) had any coherent objectives.
Terrorists were therefore thought of as criminals. In our current war, this has been the way many think of it. For example, many people fixate on the failure to find OBL, as if we were fighting a criminal enterprise.The insurgency paradigm is quite different. Under this approach, insurgents are regarded as representative of deeper issues or grievances within society. Governments seek to defeat insurgents primarily by winning the "hearts and minds" of the broader population, a process that by necessity often involves compromise and negotiation....In this paradigm, insurgency is a whole-of-government problem rather than a military or law-enforcement issue. Based on this, we adopt a strategy-based approach to counterinsurgency, rather than to "apprehend the perpetrators" of specific acts.
How does all this tie into the war in Iraq, as well as the various "rogue states" around the world?Indeed, current actions in the War on Terrorism appear disparate if viewed through a terrorism paradigm. Some (like international law enforcement cooperation to counter terrorist financing) fit the terrorism paradigm neatly, while others (the Iraq War, counter-proliferation initiatives, building influence in Central Asia, containment of North Korea and Iran) appear unrelated to an anti-terrorism agenda and are thus viewed with suspicion by some. However, if viewed through the lens of counterinsurgency, these actions make perfect sense.
So those who insist that Iraq has nothing to do with 9-11, or that it is a "distraction" from "getting bin Laden" misunderstand the nature of our conflict. We are not fighting terrorists. We are fighting something much more serious and lethel; a global insurgency.
To be sure, it would be nice if we could kill Osama bin Laden. The question, though, is not "should we get him", but "is it worth the resources required to do so?" If ,as seems conventional wisdom, he is in the Waziristan province(s) of Pakistan, it would be very difficult to get him. There are tremendous logistical difficulties in just getting there, and we could roam the countryside for years losing hundreds of Americans to no avail. Oh and it would involve invading Pakistan with not a single country backing us.
Further, if Kilcullen is right, killing bin Laden would have no more effect on defeating the global insurgency than the death of Ho Chi Minh in 1968 had in ending the Vietnam War. We saw in Iraq that the insurgency got worse after we killed AQI leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi in June of 2006. It was only after surging troops and adopting a true counterinsurgency doctrine that we began to turn the tide. So it would probably be if we killed bin Laden.
In the rest of his paper Kilcullen goes on to discuss how traditional systems analysis might work if the insurgency was confined to one country (though even with Vietnam it broke down), it certainly will not do for one that is global. He then goes into how the "emerging science of Complexity" might hold the key.
It all gets a bit esoteric and above my head. I encourage readers who have gotten this far to download the paper and digest it as best you can. I think that Kilcullen is on the right path here. He correctly identifies the enemy as "jihadists" and not simply terrorists, and recognizes that they are not some small band hiding in the mountains waiting for another opportunity to hijack another airplane. If you don't understand the nature of the enemy, you won't get the nature of the war, and you'll certainly never get the solution right.
January 31, 2008
The Definition of "Jihad"
Hint: It isn't "peaceful inner struggle", like some apologists try and tell us.
I had my own experience with this "nicer" definition. Shortly after Sept 11 2001, I went to a church where they had invited two Muslims, a man and his wife, to come and speak. The purpose behind the invitation was noble; like many well-meaning people they were afraid that a backlash against Muslims might develop in the wake of the terrorist attack. Indeed, I had thoughts along those lines too for a time. As such, these two Muslims were there to explain their faith, which after all was something not many of us were familiar with at the time. Anyway, one of the things that the two insisted on was that the proper definion of jihad was "peaceful inner struggle", something that one did to purify oneself before God. They asserted that any definition of it as "war" was from ancient times. Even then I knew they were blowing smoke, but of course was too polite (like everyone else) to say so at the time.
In case you need proof that jihad really means something along the lines of "war against the infidels, the invaluable MEMRI has this immaculately researched piece:The Arabic word jihad has gained wide currency in the media worldwide. Since the 1990s, various countries around the world have seen numerous terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims calling themselves "jihad fighters" - the most deadly of them being the attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. But what exactly is this concept of jihad, which has so much impact on life in the world today?
The Meaning of the Word Jihad
Let us begin with the meaning of the word jihad as it is understood by the "ordinary" contemporary speaker of Arabic (and also by Muslims who are not Arabs) - I refer to the meaning of the word in "common parlance," to use a British legal term, or in what the Jewish sages called "the language of ordinary people." In the language of ordinary people, jihad means war against the enemies of Islam. Since this interpretation often arouses controversy or objection among academic experts, I present here a word-for-word translation of what is said about the concept of jihad in a standard 11th grade textbook used in Jordan and the Palestinian Authority:"Jihad is the Islamic term equivalent to the word 'war' among other nations. The difference is that jihad is [war] for the sake of noble and exalted goals, and for the sake of Allah… whereas other nations' wars are wars of evil for the sake of occupying land and seizing natural resources, and for other materialistic goals and base aspirations."
It should be noted that the literal meaning of the word jihad is not "war." Jihad is the nominalized form of the verb jahada, which means "to strive," "to exert oneself." The textbook from which the quote is taken presents this etymological information, but what it stresses - and what is relevant to this investigation - is the accepted meaning of the word in Muslim culture and history, and, of course, its accepted meaning today. [
The Place of Jihad in the Muslim World View
To properly understand the place of jihad in the Muslim world view, it is important to keep in mind that Islam has been, from its very beginning, not only a religion but a political community - the nation of Islam (ummat al-Islam). Muhammad was not merely a prophet communicating the word of God, but a political leader and military commander. Hence, any victory by the army of a Muslim state over non-Muslims is perceived as a victory for Islam itself. According to Islam, Allah promised the Muslims victory and superiority over all other religions worldwide. ...
ust as humanity is divided into two - into believers and infidels - the world itself is also divided into the abode of Islam (dar al-Islam), namely the region under Muslim rule, and the abode of war (dar al-harb), referring to all lands not yet under Muslim rule, which must be conquered by the sword, i.e., through jihad.
However, jihad, important though it is, is not regarded as a personal obligation (fard 'ain) incumbent upon each and every Muslim. In this, it differs from the "five pillars of Islam" - the declaration of faith (shahada), prayer, fasting, pilgrimage to Mecca, and the payment of zakat (alms tax) - which are personal obligations of every individual believer. According to the shari'a, jihad is a collective duty (fard kifaya) of the Muslim nation, or community, as a whole. It is the Muslim ruler who decides when and against whom to declare jihad. When a Muslim ruler declares jihad, it becomes a personal obligation for those whom he orders to take part in the war.
There is only one situation in which jihad becomes a personal obligation of each and every Muslim even without an order from the Muslim leadership - namely when non-Muslims attack Muslims or invade a Muslim country. Bin Laden and the adherents of extremist Islam claim that this is the situation today: Islam is under attack, both physically and ideologically. The infidels - Christians and Jews - are invading the lands of Islam: Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Chechnya, Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore, they maintain that waging jihad has become a personal obligation incumbent upon all Muslims, wherever they may be.
Be sure and read the whole thing for historical background and documentation (the piece is heavily footnoted)
December 10, 2007
Saudi Influence in Academia
There's a big story in today's Washington Times about something I've been blogging about for some time now; the Wahhabist penetration of academia through use of oil money. Scholar Walid Phares has written extensively about this, most particularly in his books Future Jihad and The War of Ideas. I reviewed both here; see "Book Reviews" under "Categories" at right.
Here are a few excerpts, but you'll want to read the whole thing:Two years ago this month, a Saudi prince caused a media splash — and raised eyebrows — when he donated $20 million each to Georgetown and Harvard universities to fund Islamic studies. ...
Some call the Saudi gift Arab generosity and gratitude for the years American universities have educated the elite of the Arab world. Others say the sheer size of the donations amounts to buying influence and creating bastions of noncritical pro-Islamic scholarship within academia.
"There's a possibility these campuses aren't getting gifts, they're getting investments," said Clifford May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. "Departments on Middle Eastern studies tend to be dominated by professors tuned to the concerns of Arab and Muslim rulers. It's very difficult for scholars who don't follow this line to get jobs and tenure on college campuses.
"The relationship between these departments and the money that pours in is hard to establish, but like campaign finance reform, sometimes money is a bribe. Sometimes it's a tip."
As Phares noted in The War of Ideas, it all started after the 1973 oil embargo, when the Saudis realized they had a lot of power at their hands. They did some investigation and discovered that many American universities were eager for their money. As Phares documents, the Saudis also discovered that in return for the money college administrators were eager to believe the Saudi version of Middle East history.
The article is fair, pointing out that "The idea of giving endowed chairs to advance a point of view is not exclusive to wealthy Arabs." Mormons and Israelis have also gotten in on the action.
Influence buying is wrong no matter who does it. We should not, however, fall into moral equivalence. Saudi influence is far greater, and their kingdom is a totalitarian nightmare.
At the end, the article quotes Zuhdi Jasser, an American reform-minded Muslim that I have written about before and who "gets it".Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix physician and a Muslim who is chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, says Islamic governments are looking for a free pass.
"Islamists such as the radical fundamentalists seen with the Saudi Wahhabis exploit American universal tolerance to provide a vehicle for the dissemination of their propaganda free of critique," he said in an e-mail. "It is important to emphasize — 'free of critique' ... it is the tolerance which permits that.
"But I would hope that we correct our response not by changing our tolerance but by intensely critiquing political Islam and its incompatibility with our pluralistic democracy. America"s laboratory of freedom and liberty should not change."
The Wahhabists are one of the three branches of the jihad that is trying to destroy the West. Dr Jasser is probably correct in that an absolute prohibition on Saudi money would violate our tradition of tolerance. Rather, the best way to deal with the Wahhabists is to expose them for what they are.
If you still think that the problem of Saudi influence in either K-12 or our university system is exaggerated, please see these two articles by Stanley Kurtz:
December 2, 2007
Newt Nails It
Many of us on the right are increasingly dissatisfied with the Bush Administration's handling of the "war on terror". Most of us aren't even really happy with that term, and those of us who accept it tend to do so only because either they don't think it can be changed or because none of the other choices seem better.
The president started out strong after 9-11, and it seemed that there was a new sheriff in town. The rest of the world saw that after those attacks on our homeland we did not hesitate in quickly going to Afghanistan and routing the Taliban and al Qaeda there. A little over a year later we removed another cancer in the region by quickly smashing the Iraqi army and rolling into Baghdad.
The outlaw regimes of the world trembled and the rest of the world looked on in awe.
This is the type of respect that I want for our country. When Democrats, reporters, news anchors ask "how can the U.S. regain the respect of the rest of the world" they are looking for a politically correct answer along the lines of "pull out of Iraq, apologize for invading, and only do what the UN allows us to do". But that's appeasement, not respect (As a side note, why is it that no one thinks to ask "what can the rest of the world do to gain our respect?")
When Iraq turned out to be more difficult than anticiplated we stumbled, and in the years that followed slowly lost our way. I've detailed all this in numerous posts on this blog, but no one does it better than Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich is simply one of the most brilliant speakers there is. I heard him last year at CPAC
In an article posted the other day at Family Security Matters, he takes us through the genesis of our problem and how to fix it. Following are the most important excerpts, but I encourage you to read the whole thingOur current problem is tragic. You have an administration whose policy is inadequate being opposed by a political Left whose policy is worse, and you have nobody prepared to talk about the policy we need. Because we are told if you are for a strong America, you should back the Bush policy even if it's inadequate, and so you end up making an argument in favor of something that can't work. So your choice is to defend something which isn't working or to oppose it by being for an even weaker policy. So this is a catastrophe for this country and a catastrophe for freedom around the world. Because we have refused to be honest about the scale of the problem. ...
What's the primary source of money for al Qaeda? It's you, re-circulated through Saudi Arabia. Because we have no national energy strategy, when clearly if you really cared about liberating the United States from the Middle East and if you really cared about the survival of Israel, one of your highest goals would be to move to a hydrogen economy and to eliminate petroleum as a primary source of energy.
So then you look at Saudi Arabia. The fact that we tolerate a country saying no Christian and no Jew can go to Mecca, and we start with the presumption that that's true while they attack Israel for being a religious state is a sign of our timidity, our confusion, our cowardice that is stunning.
So we accept this totally one-sided definition of the world in which our enemies can cheerfully lie on television every day, and we don't even have the nerve to insist on the truth. We pretend their lies are reasonable. This is a very fundamental problem. And if you look at who some of the largest owners of some of our largest banks are today, they're Saudis.
So we accept this totally one-sided definition of the world in which our enemies can cheerfully lie on television every day, and we don't even have the nerve to insist on the truth. We pretend their lies are reasonable. This is a very fundamental problem. And if you look at who some of the largest owners of some of our largest banks are today, they're Saudis.
We have created our own nightmare because we refuse to tell the truth. We refuse to tell the truth to our politicians. Our State Department refuses to tell the truth to the country. If the president of the United States, and again, we're now so bitterly partisan, we're so committed to red vs. blue hostility, that George W. Bush doesn't have the capacity to give an address from the Oval Office that has any meaning for half the country. And the anti-war Left is so strong in the Democratic primary that I think it's almost impossible for any Democratic presidential candidate to tell the truth about the situation.
And so the Republicans are isolated and trying to defend incompetence. The Democrats are isolated and trying to find a way to say, "I'm really for strength as long as I can have peace, but I'd really like to have peace, except I don't want to recognize these people who aren't very peaceful.
None of our enemies are confused. Our enemies don't get up each morning and go, "Oh, gosh, I think I'll have an existential crisis of identity in which I will try to think through whether or not we can be friends while you're killing me." Our enemies get up every morning and say, "We hate the West. We hate freedom." They would not allow a meeting with women in the room.
Now what do we need?
We need first of all to recognize this is a real war. Our enemies are peaceful when they're weak, are ruthless when they're strong, demand mercy when they're losing, show no mercy when they're winning. They understand exactly what this is, and anybody who reads Sun Tzu will understand exactly what we're living through. This is a total war. One side is going to win. One side is going to lose. You'll be able to tell who won and who lost by who's still standing. Most of Islam is not in this war, but most of Islam isn't going to stop this war. They're just going to sit to one side and tell you how sorry they are that this happened. We had better design grand strategies that are radically bigger and radically tougher and radically more honest than anything currently going on, and that includes winning the argument in Europe, and it includes winning the argument in the rest of the world. And it includes being very clear, and I'll just give you one simple example because we're now muscle-bound by our own inability to talk honestly.
Iran produces 60% of its own gasoline. It produces lots of crude oil but only has one refinery. It imports 40% of its gasoline. The entire 60% is produced at one huge refinery.
n the 28 years since the Iranians declared war on us, in the six years since 9/11, in the months since Gen. Petraeus publicly said they are killing young Americans, we have not been able to figure out how to take down one refinery. Covertly, quietly, without overt war. And we have not been able to figure out how to use the most powerful navy in the world to simply stop the tankers and say, "Look, you want to kill young Americans, you're going to walk to the battlefield, but you're not going to ride in the car because you're not going to have any gasoline."
We had better take this seriously because we are not very many mistakes away from a second Holocaust. Three nuclear weapons is a second Holocaust. Our enemies would like to get those weapons as soon as they can, and they promise to use them as soon as they can.
I suggest we defeat our enemies and create a different situation long before they have that power.
I don't think we're quite at the point where we need to take out that single Iranian refinery, or blockade their shipping, but we're getting close.
November 28, 2007
Book Review - The War of Ideas: Jihadism Against Democracy
Following up on his blockbuster Future Jihad, Walid Phares has written another must-read book; The War of Ideas: Jihadism Against Democracy. Although it is not absolutely necessary to read the former before the latter, it is highly recommended. In Future Jihad, Phares describes our enemy and ....the historical background. Once identified, Phares takes us through the various international battlegrounds in The War of Ideas.
Phares is Lebanese by birth, and came to the United States in 1990. He has a law degree from the University of Beirut, a Masters degree in International Law from the Universite de Lyon in France, and a Ph.D. in International Relations and Strategic Studies from the University of Miami. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington, D.C. His website is WalidPhares.com, the one for this book is TheWarofIdeas.net and the one for his 2005 book FutureJihad.com
Although the war has a military aspect, it is primarily a war of ideologies. On one side stand the forces of tyranny and opression, and on the other those of liberty and pluralism.
How do our enemies plan on winning the "war of ideas"?All it takes for the jihadists to make progress is to continue to implant their ideology in the minds of the younger waves of followers. And all it takes for the supporters of the radicals within international society (and particularly inside Western democracies) is to prevent the public, especially youth, from understanding this equation.
What is their main weapon?Al Qaeda and Hezbollah's real strength isn't their terrorist capacity, but the ability of their ideologues to incite and take control of the minds of their adherents to the hightest level of threat - against the very idea of life.
Soldiers from other civilizations will fight to the death, but only if necessary. The jihadi masters have developed the idea of istishhad; "jihadi suicide" or "suicide bomber", although the weapon need not be a bomb.
Clash of Civilizations?
Professor Samuel Huntington published a famous article in Foreign Affairs in 1993 titled "The Clash of Civilizations", in which he argued that rather than individual nations, economic blocs, or even ideologies as we have understood them, large civilizations would become the main players on the world stage. Phares agrees with this assessment, adding that civilizations "exist not only culturally, but also politically, including via their votes in the United Nations." While Huntington believes that clashes between these civilizations is inevitable, Phares does not.
Interestingly, although many Western (usually liberal) scholars discount or are even horrified at the thought of a clash of civilizations, the jihadists endorse it. They descrivbe their struggle as one between the umma (Muslim community) or dar el Islam (house of peace" or "house of Islam) and the dar el harb ("house of war"; any non-Muslim area) More than simply believing in it, however, the jihadists are willing to die for it, and take anyone standing in their way with them.
What is Jihadism?
Jihad is a well thought out concept that has its roots in the Middle Ages. It is not a reaction to specific Western policies, or "the legacy of colonialism". Nor is it a reaction to historical abuses (real and imagined) heaped on Arab peoples by outsiders. Although I explain jihad according to Phares more fully here and here, suffice it to say for now that jihad is defined as "constant effort on behalf of Allah".
What this comes down to is that "historically, jihad was a state tool for war mobilization under Arab and Ottoman Empires". The purpose of such war was to spread the faith. Only the Caliph or his designate could declare a jihad. Once the caliphate was overthrown in 1924, the legal body who could declare jihad ceased to exist. In the wake of this, some Muslims declared that they had the authority to declare jihad. Thus, jihad was "privatized". One of the first to "privatize" jihad was Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The objectives of the jihad are:
1) Tahrir, or "liberation" of Muslim lands from rule by non-Muslim governments.
2) Tawheed, or "unification" of all Muslims into one country with common borders.
3) Khilafa, or "caliphate". The jihadists wish to reestablish the caliphate as the government for Muslims, which will eventually rule the world.
At a risk of repeating what Phares said in Future Jihad, it is still nevertheless useful to restate the members, or three branches of the jihad: the Wahabbists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Khumeinists.
It is important to note that disguising the true nature of "jihad" is part of the war of ideas being waged against the forces of democracy. It is quite common, for example to hear the falsehood of jihad described as a "peaceful inner struggle" that one has to purify oneself so as to satisfy Allah.
The Ideas of Jihad
Jihadi propaganda, and their Western apologists say that if specific grievances were addressed, the fuel for their fire would disippate. Quite the contrary, says Phares. While their propaganda uses specific grievances to manipulate public opinion, "solving" them would do nothing, because more would simply appear in their place. It's really more a game of "whack a mole" than anything else.
Rather, the jihadists are opposed to ideas of pluralism, tolerance, and democracy as we in the West understand them.
They will use peaceful means, and even work within a democracy if necessary, but it's all just a tactic. Radical groups in Europe, North America, and Australia are pushing for Sharia-type laws to be allowed within their own communities. Far from assimilating (wth the usual immigrant give-and-take) into their host countries, all too many are demanding that the host country assimilate into them.
One of the worst aspects of jihadism or radical Islam (some would say Islam itself) is what Phares calls "gender apartheid". Under the Sharia law the jihadists have in mind, women have absolutely no rights and must live under a strict set of rules with no ifs ands or buts. The jihadists fear "womens rights" greatly, for they know that if they lose this battle then they lose their grip on power, and thus the war.
The end goal is to overthrow democracy and institute "pure" Islam, which means harsh Sharia law.
History as Yesterday
We in the West tend to think of anything that happened more than a few hundred years ago as "ancient history", and as such only marginally relevant to how we think and behave today. Not so with the jihadists. Osama bin Laden refers to events that occured a thousand years ago as if they took place only yesterday. Participitants on Jihadist websites talk as if battles that took place during the Middle Ages occured last Thursday.
It would be a mistake to see all this as simply nursing ancient grievances, or as nostalgia for the past glories of Islam. Jihadists believe that they are living out the continuation of ancient history, of ancient struggles. Theirs is the continuation of the one-thousand year running war between Islam and Europe (and parts of Asia) that went on from the 7th to the 17th centuries. To them this war didn't really end; they are fighing the same fight as Saladin did against the Crusaders, and there is no break between ancient and modern worlds.
Their most important slogan is that there is a "war on Islam", or as they describe it: "the war on Islam (al harb ala al Islam). In their view of history, it is the Muslims who have been under assault from the days of Muhammed in the 7th century, not the other way around. All of their wars of expansion, therefore, were really just defensive wars waged to defend themselves against aggression. As might be imagined, the Crusades (1095–1291) as well as 19th and 20th century colonialism play a major role in their version of history.
The First War of Ideas: 1945 - 1990
Phares has identified three distinct phases in the War of Ideas. The first took place during the Cold War. It was ignored by most people, as the Cold War swept everything in its path. Jihadism and democracy crossed paths but there was no overt conflict.
The Wahabists chose to ally with the United States against the athiest communists. Secular Ba'athist regimes allied with the Soviet Union. The Khumeinists of Iran sent shock waves through the Sunni world when they announced that they would oppose both camps.
But as Phares notes, "during the Cold War the Arab and Muslim world split along the fault line of pro and anti-Soviet, rather than pro and anti-American." All of them hated the West. We knew about but ignored this reality.
There were two defining events during this first "ware of ideas: the oil embargo launched in 1973 by OPEC, and the Khumeinist revolution in Iran.
The main consequence of the oil embargo event was that the oil producing Arab governments started to realize the power they had over the West. The price of oil skyrocketed, and they use their money to start start the "oil-funded penetration of Western education", something that continues to this day. Middle Eastern studies programs were set up on many college campuses, and were essentially told to teach the version of history that the Wahabists wanted taught; i.e. a sanitized version that misrepresented the true nature of their objectives. Human rights abuses in Muslim countries was to be completely ignored or explained away.
The Khumeinist revolution put the third leg of the jihad into place. Theirs was not a nationalist revolution, but a theological one. The objective of the Khumeinists is to establish a regional Imamate, dominate the Sunni regimes around them, and chase all Westerners from the area.
The Second War of Ideas: 1990 - 2001
Western elites and opinion-makers (on both sides of the political divide) continued to ignore human rights abuses in the Muslim world after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The primary reason is that we were told that people in the Middle East were "upset not at their own governments, but were rather with the remnant of colonialism, Israel, and the new Western Imperialism." Dissidents (yes there are many) were completely ignored.
One of the primary objectives of the jihadists and their Baathist allies was to shield their respective governments from cricisism, and to prevent democracy and liberty from taking root anywere in their countries. They did not want to share in the fate of the Soviet Union. The jihadists wanted to continue to hide their real ideology and goals, and in this they were largely successful. Few in the West paid any attention to Islam in general, and "radical Islam" in particular.
As during the first War of ideas, we in the West were told that the primary problem plaguing the region was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Human rights abuses, we were admonished, were a "domestic affair", and oil money continued to fund Middle East studies programs in our universities that essentially lied about Muslim history.
In the meantime, the Wahabists continued their infiltration of Western societies, the objective of which was to "weaken, delegitimize, and then defeat" us.
The Third War of Ideas: 2001 - Present
Osama bin Laden upset the plans of the jihadists with his September 11 attacks. The Wahabists had planned a long campaign of infiltration into Western Society. The Muslim Brotherhood was busy infiltrating Middle Eastern societies in preparation to taking over their governments. The only way their infiltration would work is if we remained blind to their true nature and goals. bin Laden's attacks, however, forced the issue into the open. The jihadists rightly feared that Americans and others would now begin to study them, and when the truth became known, they would be effectively countered.
In short, bin Laden "jumped the gun." The other jihadists were furious at him, and went into full blown damage control mode. They were desperate to prevent us from learning the answer to the question many in the United States were asking: "Why do they hate us?" Their first goal was to prevent the United States and it's allies from destroying all of their totalitarian regimes. They realized that they couldn't protect the Taliban, that was asking too much. However, if they acted quickly they could protect the various countries in which Sharia or near-Sharia was practiced. They continuned to promote the primacy of "solving" the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Other tactics of the "Wahabi lobby" have been to deflect any serious cricism of Islam, to insist that "jihad" can only be defined as a "peaceful inner struggle", and that there is no such thing as "Islamism". Taking advantage of Western sensitivities towards minorities is another favorite tactic, as is playing on our "colonial guilt complex". Pressure groups scream "Islamophobia" and transform anti-terrorist measures into "singling out Muslims."
As Phares puts it, "the claim that the world hates America is nothing but a retaliation against U.S. efforts (regardless of success or failure) to foster democracy in the region." further,...the so-called hatred of America - or, as they paint it, of this specific administration - is, in fact, a manufactured political and ideological mobilization against the agenda that the Bush-Blair alliance has pushed in response to rising fascism in the region.... peoples in the region, or more precisely, certain segments of societies, were "conditioned to hate" whomever the regime bosses, the militant cadres, and al Jazeera's ideologues targeted for hating.
MoreAnd in order to stop Ameria and its allies from tuirning the tables on regional totalitarianism, the combined resources of jihadists and authoritarians were put into the mother of all propaganda wars. The "hatred manufacturing" can be controlled, cultivated, and unleashed when needed.
Unfortunately for the jihadists, there has been an American awakening. Scholars and ordinary citizens alike have taken it upon themselves to learn about Islam and the Middle East. I spent most of my formative years studying the communist threat. I read a lot of books during the 1990s, but none about Islam. It took me awhile after 9-11 to get going, but even a quick persual of my book reviews tells you that I am at least trying to inform myself as to the nature of the threat. Indeed Phares cites the Internet as one of the primary means by which we are trying to learn about it.
What To Do About It? Conclusions and Recommendations
Here's what Phares says we should not or need not do to win
It's not about public relations. We in the West have this idea that if only we could elimiate the Abu Ghraibs, close the prison at Guantanamo bay, not torture prisoners, solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and (depending on how extreme one gets) apologize for the sins of colonialism, Muslims will "come around". This mistakes the nature of the conflict, Phares says. The jihadists and their followers do not have a set of specific greviances that they need solved. They want to weaken the West's will to self-defense so they can take us over.
Following are some recommendations taken from the book's last chapter1. "Democracies must educate their own publics on the history, evolution, and future development of Jihadism and its allies"
2. "Open the debate about Jihadism, and vote for laws that would ban ideologies that discriminate within societies, divide humanity into enemy and peace zones, and legitimize violence outside international law"
3. Muslims too must step up to the plate. "In the Muslim world and its diasporas, what is needed is for more democratic and reformist currents to rise up and express themselves...."
4. And by the same token, we in the West must support Muslim dissidents and democracy groups. We must welcome and chamion their cause, just as we did the dissidents in the Soviet Union and apartheit-era South Africa.
5. "Within the United States and other democracies and among partners in the War on Terorrism worldwide - including those in the Muslim world - reform the educational system to advance public awareness and counter the radicalization of certain societal segments."
7. In short, "expose the jihadi network and lobbies and explain their strategies to the public" the point being that a "U.S.-led campaign needs to be backed by a determined, unified,a nd convinced public."
These conclusions come from a lifetime of reading literature coming out of the Middle East, watching their news shows and Internet videos, and debating Muslims on networks like al Jazeera (born and raised in Lebanon, Phares is fluent in Arabic).
Phares and similar thinkers certainly have their share of critics, most I think from the left, but many from the right. The left will accuse him of "stereotyping Muslims" and all that PC nonsense, but the Bush/Baker establishment right or who claim that they are simply part of the "realist" school do not like what he says either. Lastly, the oil lobby and all that it funds will not want to hear anything bad about their patrons.
Phares asks us to believe that there is a world movement to undermine and take over the West. Although the movement he describes is loosely organized, it is determined and fanatical. During the 1990s or before I would have said he was exaggerating. After all, we had defeated the Nazis and Soviets. How could this bunch destroy us?
I remember years ago listening to G Gordon Liddy on the radio. Liddy would go off about how "the Saudis are our enemy!" At the time I thought that while he made good points, surely he exaggerated. "We need the Saudis" for this or that strategic reason, I thought, and anyway there was no way anyone in the West would fall for their propaganda.
How wrong I was. Although of course I was familiar with the major Middle East terrorist groups, I had little clear idea of their ideology, or didn't know much more than that they hated Israel. 9-11 woke a lot of us up and prompted us to learn what was going on, to seek answers to that "why do they hate us?" question. Phares was writing about jihadism for years before that terrible day. We should have listened to him then, but we were preaccupied and didn't listen. We need to listen to him now.
November 27, 2007
Some Questions for Muslim Schools
The Islamic Saudi Acadamy, located in the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC, should be closed simply because it is operated and funded by the Wahabist government of Saudi Arabia, which is a totalitarian nightmare. But what about Muslim schools where we cannot find a direct link to a jihadist government or organization? How do we determine if the school has a jihadist or Islamist curriculum, or whether it is simply a religious school that happens to be Islamic?
M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim American and former Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy, answers these questions in an article posted at Family Security Matters. Mr. Jasser is the founder and Chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a Phoenix based organization. That Family Security Matters is a pretty conservative outfit vouches for the AIFD by itself, but please visit his website if you'd like to be reassured. These days, it's understandable.
In the article, Mr. Jasser pulls no punches in his description of the Saudis, who's "Wahabism is arguably the primary cancer cell in global militant Islamist ideology." But we shouldn't just stop with the Islamic Saudi Academy, he says, but rather we should use this as a "first step" in bringing accountability to other Islamic schools in the U.S. It's not a small issue, either, for his article cites a 2004 National Center for Education Statistics study which determined that there were 182 Islamic private schools in the United States. This may seem a small number, but these schools can graduate a lot of students. History shows that determined minorites can make a disproportionate impace.
Harboring no illusions, he warns thatThe (Islamist) schools around the country are all relatively new and wasting no time in creating a generation of students which are more likely than not to be defenders of Islamism over anti-Islamist systems based in universal liberty. While only a minority of Muslims send their children to these schools, they are a growing and significant minority countered only by a silent majority of Muslims.
What we need to do is "discuss in a comprehensive public manner, the context in which Islamic parochial schools teach Islamic history." This means examining their curriculum. Mr. Jasser has a series of questions that we need answered by Islamic schools:1. How does the school teach American history and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights? What is taught about the struggle of our founding fathers against theocracy? Is European Enlightenment ideology taught? Are students encouraged to learn from non-Muslim philosophers especially those who influenced our founding fathers and taught liberty and freedom?
2. Are students taught that sharia is only personal or that it also specifically guides governmental law? Does their answer change whether Muslims are a minority or a majority?
3. Do they view non-Islamic private and public schools as part of a culture of ‘immorality’ and decadence since they are not Islamicized or can non-Islamic schools be morally and equally virtuous?
4. Do they teach their children that ‘being American’ and being ‘free’ is about moral corruption or is being American and free about loving the nation in which they live and sharing equal status before the law regardless of faith tradition?
5. Is complete religious freedom a central part of faith and the practice of religion? In the Islamic school, how are children treated who refuse to participate in school faith practices?
6. Are the children taught Muslim exclusivism with regards to the attainment of paradise in the Hereafter? From that, are the children also taught that government and public institutions must thus be ‘Islamic’ in order for the community as a whole to be able to enter the gates of Heaven?
7. How are student discussions, debate, and intellectual discourses approached regarding American domestic and foreign policy? Do the teachers have a political agenda? Does that agenda demonstrate a dichotomy between Islamist interests and American interests?
8. Is the historical period of Muslim rule of Spain (Andalusia) taught in the context of the history of the world during the Middle Ages or is it looked upon as superior to current day American ideology even after the advances of the Enlightenment?
9. Is the pledge of allegiance administered every day at the beginning of the school day?
Mr. Jasser gets it. He is a true reformer, not one of those "moderates" we are told about who end up holding views antithetical to Western ideas about liberty.
I've blogged about Muslim reformers before, and how we need to support them. Mr Jasser and others like him should be invited to the White House and Congress should invite them to testify. While I can't prove neither has happened, I rather doubt it.
We are in a worldwide war against the forces of jihadism. While part of it will be fought on the battlefield by military forces, in the final analysis it is a War of Ideas. The way you win a War of Ideas is to prevent older believers from passing their ideas into the next generation. I'm going to post a lot more on this shortly, but an obvious first step is to scrutinize Islamic schools, and to do so boldly but fairly. Those that pass muster are more than welcome to particulate fully in our great nation, but those that don't must change or be sent packing.
March 21, 2007
Book Review - "Future Jihad" - Part 6: al Qaeda
Scroll to bottom for links to previous parts of this review
It will seem odd to the uninitiated that a discussion of al Qaeda has not appeared until Part 6 of a book review on jihadism. To most people, I think, al Qaeda is the jihad. They've heard our president and leaders talk about a "War on Terror", and it was al Qaeda who attacked us on Sept 11. Most people by this point are suspicious about Islam as a "religion of peace", but they still see al Qaeda as the primary, if not the only, enemy.
And I am not trying to downplay the threat from al Qaeda. If they had the capability they would set off nuclear devices in all major American cities.
But as Walid Phares patiently explains in Future Jihad, the threat is far more extensive than that of a single terrorist organization, no matter how dangerous it might be. In the first five parts of my review of his book, I laid out the historical background and logic of jihad, and discussed the three parts of the jihad; the Wahabists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Khumeinists as explained by Phares.
In this part of the review I'll explain the origins of al Qaeda, why Phares describes it as a "neo-Wahabist" organization, why Osama bin Laden decided to directly attack America, and what he thought would happen after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The Origins of al Qaeda
As Phares tells it, "Osama bin Laden did not create al Qaeda. It created him." By this he means that it was the culture of jihad the permeates the Middle East that "sculpted" him for the roll. Comparing it to the Lord of the Rings series, Phares says that in the case of al Qaeda and OBL it was the "rings" that found the lord.
al Qaeda ("base" in Arabic) is described by Phares as "an advanced form of neo-Wahabi jihadism." He also calls them the "SS of the jihad" because they have taken Saudi-based Wahabist teachings and carried them to their logical conclusion. This is why during the 90s Saudi leaders did not reveal in any detail to American policy-makers the philosophy of al Qaeda, because to do so would have exposed them as having the same goals of al Qaeda minus the terrorism.
Once the Ottoman caliphate fell in 1924, and the ability to call for a jihad went private, al Qaeda was inevitable. As mentioned earlier, it is simply the logical conclusion of Sunni Salafi Wahabist Islam (think of it as concentric circles; Islam is the largest circle, them Salafism, then Wahabism, and finally al Qaeda).
Bin Laden's three causes were Beirut, Kabul, and Baghdad. He was in Beirut in the summer of 1982, and was incensed at the sight of Israeli jets rocketing downtown buildings. The invasion of Afghanistan by the athiest Soviets was the second outrage. The third trigger was the presence of American troops in Muslim lands, particularly Saudi Arabia, the home of Mecca and Medina.
The Importance of Afghanistan
Between the fall of the caliphate and the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets in 1979, there were few opportunities to put the jihad into action. The Wahabists and Muslim Brotherhood could infiltrate their targets, but there was no place for those inclined to direct action to participlate. Even the fight against "the Zionist entity" was carried out by secular Arab regimes.
Afghanistan provided "the perfect war and a huge opportunity for the jihadists worldwide." The Saudis provided most of the support for the jihad, believing that they could achieve two objectives; the first to mobilize all Salafis under their banner, and secondly to get in the good graces of the West by showing that they were good allies in the fight against Soviet communism. The purpose of the first was so that the Saudis would be in control of the worldwide jihad, the second that it is simply easier to infiltrate a society that thinks you're their friend.
The war in Afghanistan drew jihadists from around the world. All those of the Salafist tradition, whether Wahabist, Muslim Brotherhood, or other factions, eagerly participated. Best of all from their standpoint, much of it was funded by the United States. Even those monies that came from Saudi Arabia came by way of oil revenues from the West. Painful as it is to admit it, our money jump-started the very jihadists we are fighting today.
Me: As commenter "jason" pointed out in the previous segment of this review, all jihadists are not allied in some sort of united movement. While they all share the same general goals, they spend considerable time fighting among themselves. In Afghanistan, for example, there was never a united front against the Soviets.
Me again: So was it right for us to support the Afghan resistance? Yes, even if we had known that we were creating jihadists. The reason is that Soviet communism was the greatest single threat to the planet in the latter part of the 20th century, and we had to do everything we could to defeat it. It was not knowable at the time whether the Soviet Union would fall, or what would be the straw that breaks the camels back. Some today say that the Soviet Union would have fallen anyway, even if we had not supported the Afghan resistance. But such things are unknowable. Our fault was not in supporting the Afghan resistance, or even in shipping them Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, it was in ignoring the country once the Soviets had left.
Why Attack America Directly
Put simply, bin Laden decided to attack America because his reading of the 1990s showed that we were a paper tiger. Time and again he or other jihadist terrorist organizations attacked Americans and got away with it.
The list of attacks by jihadist groups on America in the 80s and 90s that we did not respond to is long: Beirut(1983 Marine Corps barracks), Algeria, Somalia, the 1993 World Trade Center attack, Khobar Towers, Chechnya, Bosnia (we allowed a jihadist brigade to form up and fight "alongside" us), ignoring the Taliban, the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, and the USS Cole.
Worse, on Feb 22, 1998 Osama bin Laden issued a formal declaration of war against the United States. He had all his t's crossed and i's dotted; the text met all of the legal requirements as established by centuries of Islamic law. Yet the United States completely ignored it. Bin Laden was stunned.
His assumption was that it was a sign from Allah that America was ripe for the picking.
What Osama bin Laden Thought Would Happen after September 11
Osama bin Laden thought that three things would happen after the attacks
Popular Chaos: Bin Laden thought that Americans would rise up by the millions against the government. He thought that congress and the president would be paralyzed and that the economy would collapse.
Backlash on Arabs and Muslims: Bin Laden expected us to do what he would do if the situation was reversed; slaughter anyone remotely associated with the enemy. Let us not think that by "backlash" bin Laden was expecting what we would call "discrimination" or even name-calling; he was expecting pogroms of the sort that used to happen against Jews in Czarist Russia. He thought there would be armed strife whereby fascist militia groups would murder Muslims by the hundreds or even thousands.
American Wrath Overseas: Just as bin Laden would have slaughtered his enemies at home, he would have done likewise with a foreign enemy that dared to attack him. He was thus expecting us to lash out at all Muslims and Arabs overseas, perhaps even using nuclear weapons in a mass slaughter.
The net result, he thought, would be that the United States would be in disarray and Arab Sunni Muslims would rally around him and annoint him the new caliph.
What Might Have Happened
It is easy to smile at what bin Laden thought would happen, for in fact he was wrong on all counts. But what if he had waited 5 - 10 years? What if he had waited until he was able to infiltrate hundreds into this country instead of barely more than a dozen?
Instead of 19 hijackers on 4 airplanes, imagine 50 - 60 on a dozen or more.
Imagine also that the terrorists are not only boarding airplanes, but that al Qaeda has infiltrated people into the FAA, where they now work as air traffic controllers. Others are mechanics at working at airlines. On the appointed day they all work in unison. The air traffic controllers issue bogus commands, and the mechanics sabatoge aircraft.
Truck bombers attack attack police stations and government offices, not just in Washington DC or New York, but around the country.
U.S. Military bases experience terrorist attacks carried out by soldiers and sailors working for al Qaeda. Aircraft are destroyed and ships crippled. Others in intelligence or communications units work to sow confusion.
Still terrorists act as snipers in cities, perched atop buildings or holed up in strategically located apartments, shooting at random those below.
How would Americans have acted then? The answer is that we don't know, but it might get ugly very quickly.
Phares lays out just such a scenario in Future Jihad. Now, I think the chances of such a plot going undetected are pretty slim, even in a pre-9/11 mentality. Yet even so, it is not clear that if we had caught some terrorists we could have prevented the entire operation. It is something to think about, certainly.
Guidelines and prescriptive policies.
In Part 1 I introduced Walid Phares' book Future Jihad and explained the logic of jihad.
In Part 2 I mapped out the three branches of the jihad as identified by Phares.
In Part 3 we discussed methods of the jihad as told by Phares.
In Part 4 we covered how the Saudi Wahabists Undermine the West
Part 5 was about the success the Muslim Brotherhood has had in penetrating the government of Egypt, and it's success in establishing an Islamist government in Sudan
March 14, 2007
Book Review - "Future Jihad" - Part 5: Brotherhood Success Stories
In Part 1 I introduced Walid Phares' book Future Jihad and explained the logic of jihad.
In Part 2 I mapped out the three branches of the jihad as identified by Phares.
In Part 3 we discussed methods of the jihad as told by Phares.
In Part 4 we covered how the Saudi Wahabists Undermine the West
The Muslim Brotherhood: Success Stories
As explained earlier, the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the three branches of the jihad. The first two are Sunni Salafist; the Wahabists and Muslim Brotherhood. The third is Shiite; the Khumeinists. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in the 1920s by Hassan al Banna. Not directly affiliated with any government, it "uses the power of Muslims" at the grassroots level throughout the Middle East to infiltrate socities from the bottom up.
In Part 3 I laid out the Brotherhood strategy as explained by Phares; they infiltrate a target government from the bottom up and then back down again, carerful not to confront the regime until they have appropriate strength. Ideally they'll gain enough power to stage a coup, if not, influencing the rulers will do.
Their ultimate goal is the same as the Wahabi Salafists; a worldwide caliphate.
Today we'll examine some some Brotherhood success stories.
The biggest success of the Muslim Brotherhood has come in Sudan. In 1989 a coup brought to power the National Islamic Front(NIF). The military officers who seized power were led by General Umar al Bashir, and the NIF was led by Dr Hassan Turabi, described by Phares as a "shrewd intellectual."
As everyone knows, the government of the Sudan decided to wage a series of jihads against their own citizens. The first was against Christian and animist Africans in the south of the country, and the second, which continues today, is against African Muslims in Darfur. In addition to waging genocidal jihad, they used another weapon; slavery. Tens of thousands of Africans were sold into slavery around the Arab world in an attempt to subdue the target populations.
Turabi also invited the world's most infamous terrorist into Sudan; Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden stayed there as a guest of the NIF approximately from 1991 to 1996. From Sudan al Qaeda planned and executed a series of terrorist attacks, which we will cover in future installments.
The Palestinian Authority
In order to achieve it's goals against Israel, the Brotherhood created Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Of the two the former has been by far the most successful, gaining power in the Palestinian Authority after winning the January 2006 elections.
Hamas, of course, is part of the "rejectionists"; no negotiations and no recognition of Israel's right to exist. Their reason is not geopolitical or some Western concept of revenge for alleged wrongs, but rather purely Islamist; any land once ruled by Muslims must never revert to rule by the infidels. Brotherhood writings make clear that this holds true not only for "Palestine", but Chechnya, Kashmir, and even Spain.
The base of the Muslim Brotherhood is still in Egypt, where it remains popular, despite being officially outlawed. President Hosni Mubarak (b 1928) is growing old, and the Brotherhood sees a chance to seize power when he dies.
In order to prepare for the day when Islamists can seize power, they have been infiltrating Egyptian institutions. Over the decades the government has attempted to destroy the Brotherhood by mass arrests and persecution, but has never been completely successful, as the Brotherhood always comes back.
The Brotherhood advocates democracy, and uses elections to place its own people in power. In fact they have made strong showings in recent elections, sometimes teaming with other parties in alliances of convenience.
The Muslim Brotherhood has chapters in almost all Arab Middle Eastern countries. As many of these countries have a parliament, they always try to get their members elected.
The Brotherhood is also active in the United States. According to Wikipedia, Muslim activists involved with the Muslim Brotherhood have started organizations in the US including the Muslim Students Association in 1963, North American Islamic Trust in 1971, the Islamic Society of North America in 1981, the American Muslim Council in 1990, and the Muslim American Society in 1992, and the International Institute of Islamic Thought in the 1980s.
Next Up: Al Qaeda
In the next installament we'll examine the origins of al Qaeda, it's goals, and what Osama bin Laden thought would happen after the attacks of Sept 11 2001.
Two articles of interest on the Muslim Brotherhood today.
In the first one, Candace de Russy writes on NRO about that "darling of the left", Tariq Ramadan. Ramadan is the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood:Joseph Crowley reports that this past weekend Ramadan tangled with a young policewoman who stopped him from entering a prohibited area of Charles de Gaulle Airport. Crowley writes
an indignant Ramadan pitched such a macho hissy fit that airport police felt compelled to detained and officially charged him with “insulting a public agent” - punishable by up to 6 months of relatively torture free imprisonment and a € 7,500 fine.
Crowley wonders if “you can take the chauvinist out of Sharia” and “if the SOS-Racisme…, the French equivalent of our ACLU, will pick up the Islamophobic gauntlet thrown down by the French police in this case.”
In the second, M. Zuhdi Jasser writes about "The Not-So-Moderate Muslim Brotherhood", after Robert S. Leiken and Steven Brooke tell us in an article in Foreign Affairs that the Brotherhood's “relative moderation offers Washington a notable opportunity for engagement.”
After reviewing their argument, Jasser comments thatAs a devout anti-Islamist American Muslim I have been struggling to explain to all those who will listen the central incompatibility of the Islamist doctrine with America’s pluralistic ideology. The literal Islamization of society, consciousness, and government as advocated by the Muslim Brotherhood is an anathema to America as it is to a pluralistic and liberated Islam. Leiken and Brooke, in effect, whitewash an international organization whose mission is at odds with our own Constitutional system of governance.
Read the whole thing.
March 30 Update
Egypt is trying to stamp out the Brotherhood, and the latest tactic is constitutional reform. In an article published Monday the 26th by Amir Taheri tells how President Mubarak's proposals would rewrite 34 articles of the constitution. He says it will move the country towards democratic pluralism. Critics say that the objective is really to consolidate the grip on power held by existing elites and the armed forces. Among the critics is the Muslim Brotherhood.
Taheri relates how the proposals target the Muslim Brotherhood in two ways* They would make it illegal for any political party or group to be based on religion, forcing the Brotherhood to drop the word "Muslim" from its name and its old slogan, "Islam is the Solution."
* They would enable the government to stop the Brotherhood and similar Islamist organizations raising funds and establishing welfare networks as a means of recruiting members. The authorities may use the new constitutional provisions as an excuse to seize the Brotherhood's considerable assets, accumulated over some 80 years of business activities.
Analyzing all this, Taheri says thatDespite the Brotherhood's objections, the idea of banning political parties based on religion appears to have substantial support across Egypt. Mubarak's liberal and leftist critics support the measure because it forces the Brotherhood and other Islamist outfits to fight for votes by offering political programs rather than fomenting religious passions.
The idea that political parties should not be based on religion is gaining ground in much of the Muslim world.
I certainly hope so.
A quick news search shows some predictable headlines: "Voters Scarce as Egypt Holds Constitutional Referendum", "Blogs show footage alleging vote rigging in Egypt’s referendum", and "Egypt introduces changes, but much remains the same"
March 13, 2007
Book Review - "Future Jihad" - Part 4: How the Wahabists Undermine the West
In Part 1 I introduced Walid Phares' book Future Jihad and explained the logic of jihad.
In Part 2 I mapped out the three branches of the jihad as identified by Phares
In Part 3 we discussed methods of the jihad as told by Phares.
How the Wahabists Undermine the West
As Phares tells is, the Wahabi strategy runs like this:
Inside Saudi Arabia, "pure" Islam would be practiced. Sharia law in its most harsh form would be enforced.
Outside the country, a two-track strategy was pursued. The long-term one is diplomatic and financial support for like-minded Islamists around the world through their schools, charities, mosques, hospitals, and the like. The second is to use its oil wealth to influence Western governments and the media. In effect, to pull the wool over our eyes while they infiltrate us.
Phares has identified six tracks that the jihadists follow in the West:
1) Economic jihad: Oil as a weapon - Because we need their oil, we collaborate with them. This give them the opening that they seek.
2) Ideological jihad: Intellectual penetration - The Wahabis have spend much time and money penetrating academia. Many if not most Middle East studies programs are funded by Saudi money. For their money the Saudis want and get a sanitized version of Islamic history.
3) Political jihad: Mollification of the public - One, reassure the public that there is nothing to worry about, and two, promote acceptance of Islam in general and their verison in particular. They want us to turn to their approved sources for information about Islam.
4) Intelligence jihad: Infiltration of the country - The first step is to control the Islamic community in the target country. They do this by trying to gain control of the mosques, Muslim community centers and the like. The next step is to encourage their members and sympathizers to join Western governments, intelligence agencies, police units, and military.
5) Subversive jihad: Behind enemy lines and protected by its laws - As long as they obey the laws of the target government, they are relatively safe. As Phares put it during an interview on NBC after 9-11: "The safest place on Earth to hide from the dragon is inside its belly."
6) Diplomatic jihad: Controlling foreign policy - "Arabists" in the US State Department have been a problem for some time. Because we listened to Saudi advice we became convinced that the Taliban weren't really so bad, we missed al Qaeda because they didn't want us to know the truth about how close OBL's philosophy was to Saudi Wahabism, we let Hezbollah take over Lebanon, and we stalled too long over Sudan and let a genocide develop.
Other Wahabist Infiltration Strategies
Sometimes the apologists simply try to discredit their critics. Ismael Royer of CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) made it his mission to track and attempt to discredit academics such as Daniel Pipes and Walid Phares, as well as human rights activists such as Charles Jacobs.
Phares has been called as an expert witness in for the prosecution at the trials of many accused of terrorism-related crimes. He related sevaral stories about how the defense tries to conceal the nature of the material the police investigators found:In every single case I witnessed and in all cases I reviewed (on both sides of the Atlantic), one pattern is dominant. There is a clear and firm attempt by a political faction to deny essential information and education to juries, prosecutors, and judges. The Wahabi lobby did all it could to block basic facts from reaching the United States and the western justice system regarding jihadism. In each case, where the defendants were tried for alleged terrorism, the defense and their experts would claim that Salafism is not jihadism and that jihad is not violent.
The Wahabists have also tried to exploit racial tensions by recruiting black Americans. Bin Laden and other jihadists have a somewhat strange attitude towards race. On the one hand, they talk about a war against the "white man". Yet in Sudan they favor the Arab Muslims over black Muslims of Darfur and the south. Yet again in the US they try to recruit blacks and influence the Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. As Phares tells it, "the ultimate scenario of al Qaeda and it's sisters are for many U.S cities to look more like Sarajevo, Beirut, and Belfast at the peak of urban wars." In future installments we will explore this further when we talk about what bin Laden hoped would happen after 9-11.
Why We Missed bin Laden
The reason we missed the threat posed by al Qaeda, Phares says, is because the Wahabis had successfully penetrated the US to the degree that "before Sept 11, if the government had issued national "warnings" of potential "jihadists attacks" even by al Qaeda, it would have been faced with a barrage of apologists accusing it of bashing Islam." It is hard to see how he is wrong, given that even after Sept 11, when the President talks about "Islamic Facsists", he is criticized by at least one prominent democrat. In fairness, had President Clinton declared a "War on Jihadism", Republicans and conservatives would have dismissed it as an attempt to "wag the dog".
The failure to see the danger went beyond politics and the government, however. The media completely dropped the ball, discussing terrorism but not jihadism or any form of Islamic radicalism. The worse, Phares says, was PBS, which actually showed more programs endorsing the aplogists than all of the broadcast and cable networks combined.
Phares disagrees with the 9/11 Commission that our failure to prevent the attacks of that day were a failure of imagination. He sees it more as a failure to educate Americans on the danger of jihadism. And the reason we failed is that penetration by the Saudi Wahabists successfully pulled the wool over our eyes.
Next up: Brotherhood Success Stories
Walid Phares relates how the Muslim Brotherhood has tried, with varying degress of success, to infiltrate Middle Eastern societies and take control of governments.
If you doubt that Salafist infiltration is taking place in the West, consider this editorial by Paul Belien of the Brussels Journal, titled "The Islamicization of Antwerp", which appeared in today's Washington Times. Following are the first few paragraphs (emphasis added)The decisive battle against Islamic extremists will not be fought in Iraq, but in Europe. It is not in Baghdad but in cities like Antwerp, Belgium, where the future of the West will be decided.
I recently met Marij Uijt den Bogaard, a 49-year-old woman who deserves America's support at least as much as Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Ms. Uijt den Bogaard was an Antwerp civil servant in the 1990s, who spent many years working in the immigrant neighborhoods of Antwerp. There she noticed how radical Islamists began to take over. "They work according to a well-defined plan," she says.
One of the things Ms. Uijt den Bogaard used to do for the immigrants was to assist them with their administrative paperwork. Quite a few of them came to trust her.
About three years ago, young men dressed in black moved into the neighborhoods. They had been trained in Saudi Arabia and Jordan and adhere to Salafism, a radical version of Islam. They set up youth organizations, which gradually took over the local mosques. "The Salafists know how to debate and they know the Qur'an by heart, while the elderly running the mosques do not," she said They also have money. "One of them told me that he gets Saudi funds." Because they are eloquent, the radicals soon became the official spokesmen of the Muslim community, also in dealing with the city authorities. Ms. Uijt den Bogaard witnessed how the latter gave in to Salafist demands, such as the demand for separate swimming hours for Muslim women in the municipal pools.
Read the whole thing.
March 12, 2007
Book Review - "Future Jihad" - Part 3: Methods of the Jihad
One of the problems we face in fighting this war is that I do not think that most people understand who we are fighting. Much of this is the fault of the Administration, which insisted on calling it the "War on Terror"
This name implies that the only people who really threaten us are those who engage directly in terrorist acts. As such, when you mention "War on Terror" most people, I think, believe that we are fighting al Qaeda and al Qaeda only.
In Part I of my review of Walid Phares Future Jihad, I introduced his book and laid out the jihadist's world view. In Part II I mapped out the three branches of the jihad as identified by Phares; two Sunni Salafist, Wahabi and Muslim Brotherhood, and the third Shiite, the Khumeinists.
In this installment I'll discuss some of the methods the jihadists use against us as identified by Phares. Readers will note that violence is not part of all or even most of the jihad.
Following is a brief overview of the methods used by each of the three branches of the jihad. In future installments I'll go through each of these in more detail.
The Wahabists: Top Down Jihad
As discussed in Part I, Salafi Wahabist Islam is the state religion of Saudi Arabia. The goal of the Wahabists is to spread their version of Islam throughout the world, and eventually unify it under the caliphate. The way they do this is by sending "pilgrims" into targeted societies/countries and infiltrate it's institutions. This process is funded by oil revenues. The function of the Saudi state is to reassure the targeted people that all is well and that there is nothing to be worried about. In effect, to pull the wool over our eyes.
At the end of World War II the Wahabists made two historic choices; first, they decided that they would adhere to Western concepts of international law, and second, they allied themselves with the West against the communists.
Their method of spreading their version of Islam is characterized by Phares as a "top down" approach:The Wahabi state logic was perhaps the most perfect one: Float with the world, release the teachings without violence, let the teachings plant the seeds, wait for their growth irrigate them with money, and make sure to mollify any abrup reaction from the other side. ...
(At the formation of the Saudi state) a historic deal was cut between the emirs on the one hand and the radical clerics on the other. The monarchy would manage the finances and political power, including diplomacy, while the scholars would be in charge of the souls, especially the young ones. The other component of the equation, the Salafi clerics, roamed the world preaching Wahabism with state funding and encouragement.
The Muslim Brotherhood: Bottom Up Jihad
Unlike the state-sponsored Wahabists, the Brotherhood is independant of any state. It works with rulers who are sympathetic to it, but operates outside of them. Theirs is a "grassroots" strategy. While the Wahabists "float with the world", the Brotherhood floats with the target society, which thus far has always been a Middle Eastern one.
The Brotherhood is part of the same Sunni Salafist tradition as the Wahabists. To some extent the Brotherhood competes with the Saudi Wahabists for influence within the Muslim world. Sometimes they cooperate, it all depends on the politics of the moment.
Basically, the Brotherhood seeks to change a society and government by trying to put its members or symthathizers in positions of influence. These positions may be in the media, industry, military, or, if it exists in the target country, a parliament. It is willing to start small, encouraging members to join at the "entry level" and work their way up. Rather than fighting the regime directly, it seeks to undermine it from the bottom up.
After infiltrating from the bottom up, they work their way back down again. As Phares explains, "the Brotherhood would be intereted in spreading through the elites, converting them patiently into the Salafi doctrime, and only then enlisting them into the organization." They never engaged the regime directly until they reached full strength. Their methods were "amazingly fluid and adaptable to circumstances. Their ideal shortcut wa to infiltrate the ranks of the military and proceed with a coup d'etat against the government. Their next choice was to "advise" the ruler and influence him instead."
In addition, the Brotherhood has created Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to pursue the fight against Israel. Hamas is a terrorist group, but also participates in the political process. This is important to note, for it again shows the sophistication of the Brotherhood in pursuit of it's goals. We must understand that these are not a bunch of ignorants who sit around playing with AK-47s and C4 explosive.
The Khumeinists: The Shiite Superpower
It is important not to think of this group as Iranians for the simple reason is that is not how they see themselves. Yes, nationalism plays a role. But the mullah's highest allegiance is to Allah, not to their nation. While this is theoretically true of all religious people, it would be a mistake to see a similarity between the Khumeinists and Western Christians or Jews. The goal of the Khumeinists is not Iranian power but the creation of a Shiite Imamate.
As discussed in Part 1, for thirteen centuries the Shiites were shut out of the jihad. Considered a footnote, the West barely took note of them. All of the ancient calphates were Sunni. When they gained control of Iran in 1979 they shook the Musim world to it's foundations by announcing that they would not only participate in, but would lead, the jihad. This not only placed them in competition with the Salafists, but spurred the latter on to more extremism as well.
While the Salafists seek to infiltrate targeted countries/societies, the Khumeinists seek to build a superstate that will dominate the region. Their goals are limited by the demographics of where Shiites live; Iran and a few other countries in the region, notably Iraq.
From what some Shiite jihadists have said, once the Khumeinist superpower is in place, a more general jihad can ensue which will result in the Fatah(conquest of infidels).
Next up: How the Wahabists undermine the West
In the next installment we'll get into more detail on how the Wahabists go about the business of infiltrating Western societies.
March 9, 2007
Book Review - "Future Jihad" - Part 2: Who are the Jihadists?
On September 11, 2001, our homeland was directly attacked for the first time since the war of 1812 by a foreign enemy. We learned shortly thereafter that al Qaeda was responsible. Everyone, or almost everyone, realized that what occured had been building for some time. Suddenly all of the attacks on us that occured during the 1990s around the world didn't seem so far away anymore. Further, the idea that we should respond as if the attack was a criminal matter seemed absurd to everyone except those on the far ends of the political spectrum. We were going to war.
The President quickly termed it the "War on Terror". Unfortunately, this designation has served to obfuscate rather than clarify the nature of our enemy.
The fact is that despite the horrors of that day, Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terror network make up only one part, and a small one at that, of the enemy that we face. In no way am I minimizing the threat from al Qaeda, for it is real and serious. We must devote much time and energy to destroying it and defending against it.
The threat that Walid Phares lays out in Future Jihad is much more extensive than one single terrorist organization, however. In Part 1 of my review of his book I explained how, according to Phares, our enemy is best described as "jihadists", since, after all, they describe themselves as "men of jihad" in their literature, on their websites, and in their videos. Our war, therefore, is best described as a "War on Jihad".
In this part I'll outline the three branches of the jihad as described by Phares. Readers may wish to read Part 1 in case they are not familiar with some of the terms I'll be using.
Before we get to the jihadists themselves, however, let's look at what they want, for all three groups want essentially the same thing.
The Three Objectives of the Jihad
1) Tahrir: Liberation
All jihadists want to liberate Muslim lands from "occupation" by non-Muslims. Their definition of "Muslim lands" is any territory that was at any time ruled by Muslims. Thus not only Palestine, but Kashmir, Chechnya and even Spain qualify for "liberation".
2) Tawheed: Unification
All existing states in which Muslims make up the majority are to be dismantled and unified into one superstate. Jihadists do not consider existing national boundaries legitimate.
3) Khilafa: The Caliphate
The eventual goal is to reestablish the Calphiate, which was abolished by Musafa Kemal in 1923. All Muslims the world over are to give their primary political allegiance to it. With its reestablishment, the jihad of old can be restated, which in their view will lead to the fatah, or conquest, of all non-Muslim lands.
The Three Branches of the Jihad
1) The Wahabists
Phares describes them as the "first wave" of the modern jihad because it is the oldest of the three. This extreme brance of Islam was founded by Mohammed Abdel Wahab (spellings vary. 1703 – 1792). Wahab was a cleric who lived in the Arabian peninsula, and he founded a movement within Sunni Salafism that eventually became known by his name; Wahabism.
Wahab's idea was that "the salaf under the Prophet launched the Islamic state and divided the world in two, and so should the present-day Muslim countries." Wahab opposed the Ottomans, who at that time ruled the Muslim world (or at least most of it) through the caliphate. He said that they had diverted from the ways of salafi Islam.
Several of the tribes in the region adopted his teachings. By the end of the 19th century, one of them, the al Saud, had come to power in Riyadh. Ottoman power had begun to wane, and in the 1920s the state of Saudi Arabia was founded. Wahabist Islam quickly became the official state religion.
During the latter stages of the Cold War, the Wahabists made common cause with the West against the communists. The rationale was twofold; one was a straight geopolitical calculation, the other theological. Westerners were Christian, and thus "people of the book". The communists were athiests, a concept completely alien to the Muslim mind.
The Wahabists attempt to spread their version of Islam around the world through infiltration of other societies. This is done in stages. The first step is to seize control of, or at least have primary influence in, Muslims in the diaspora. This is done by funding Mosques, Muslim schools, community centers, libraries, hospitals, and the like. The eventual goal is to influence the laws and customs of the targeted society/country.
The role of the Saudi government is to pull the wool over our eyes while all this is going on. Muslim organizations within the target country use it's institutions and customs against it. Thus in the West, liberal traditions of tolerance and diversity are used as a defense against criticism.
Only in it's final stages will violence be used, when the target society/country has been heavily infiltrated. Readers will recall Part 1 in which Phares discussed a debate that took place on al-Jazeera shortly after 9-11. Although the argument was hot and heavy, both sides agreed on the need to attack the West. One thought that bin Laden's timing was appropriate, the other said that he'd jumped the gun and that the United States had not been sufficiently infiltrated for the attack to be truely successful.
In later parts of this review we'll see where Phares thinks that al Qaeda fits into the Salafist tradition. For now, just take note that there's a lot more to what's going on than a band of terrorists hiding in caves along the Afghan-Pakistani border.
2) The Muslim Brotherhood
The Brotherhood, or "Muslim brothers", is also in the sameSalafist tradition as Wahabism. This organization was founded by Hassan al Banna in Egypt in the 1920s.
Unlike the state-sponsored Wahabists, the Brotherhood is a private organization. It has spent most of it's time in opposition to the various secular regimes of the Middle East.
While the eventual goal of the Brotherhood is the worldwide caliphate, it's near-term goals are all local to the Middle East. It attempts to achieve its objectives by establishing branches in Muslim countries, and then infiltrating it's people into key positions in government, military, the media, and industry. The eventual plan is to seize control of the country.
Sudan is such a country that has been successfully infiltrated. The National Islamist Front, led by General and President Umar al Bashir and Dr Hassan Turabi, has as it's philosophy the principles of the Brotherhood.
Egypt, the home of the brotherhood, has been heavily infiltrated by sympathizers of the Brotherhood. They now have established themselves into positions of influence in the media, business, the military, and parts of the government, such as the parliament.
Sometimes the Brotherhood establishes what it would call "military" branches to achieve local goals. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were created to "liberate" Palestine.
3) The Khumeinists
The third and final branch of the jihad comes out of Iran, but it would be something of a mistake to see it as exclusively Iranian. In a way, this is the most revolutionary of the three parts of the jihad.
For 13 centuries the Shiites were shut out of jihad. The caliphate was exclusively Sunni, and the Shiites were at best relegated to a supporting role. Historically, they've been a footnote. The majority Sunnis did not and do not believe that the Shiia can legitimitely call for jihad.
Then came the 1979 revolution in Iran. The KIhumeinists did three things that rocked the Islamic world to it's foundations, and at the same time gained them enormous prestige. First, they claimed to be the leaders of the entire Muslim world in it's age-old struggle against the infidels. Since the Sunni caliphate had ceased to exist in 1923, there was no single Sunni authority to denounce this claim.
Second, the form of government established by the Ayatollah Khumeini and his followers was unique in the Muslim world. While we in the West call it an "Islamic Republic", the best translation according to Phares is "mandate of the religious scholar". What this means is that until the return of the Mahdi, Muslims should follow the wisest Imam.
To fight a local war against Israel the Khumeinists established Hezbollah. The Alawite( a branch of Shiite Islam) regime in Syria have proved willing accomplices in this endeavour
Lastly, and most importantly, the Khumeinists announced that they would oppose both the Soviet communists and the West. Suddenly, the Wahabists in Saudi Arabia looked embarassed, for they had made common cause the the West, and especially with the Great Satan itself, the United States.
The objective objective of the Khumeinists is the establishment of an Imamate in the Shiia world, just as the objective of the Salafists is the reestablishment of the caliphate in the Sunni world.
In order to achieve this, they must first chase the United States and other Western powers from the region.
Next up: Methods of the Jihad
In the next part of this book review I'll discuss methods of the jihad as identified by Walid Phares. In it, we'll explore in greater detail the techniques described above.
March 6, 2007
Book Review - "Future Jihad" - Part 1: The Logic of Jihad
If you want answers to these questions
- Who are the terrorists?
- What exactly do they want to achieve?
- What did they expect to happen after 9-11?
- Why did they attack us?
- Do they have a global strategy and if so what is it?
- Are they at war with us? If so, since when?
- Why didn't we know they were coming?
- Who obstructed our knowedge about them and continues to do so?
- Do they wish to destroy us or absorb us?
- Is it possible to conclude peace with them?
- Do they have allies and if so whom? If not now, who might they seek out as allies?
- Do they want to attack the West and United States before they accomplish their goals in the Muslim world or afterwards?
...and many more questions
Then run to your local bookstore and buy Walid Phares' Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against the West.
This is simply the best book I have read so far about our current war hands down. As such, I am not going to give it my usual one-post review, but will summarize the book sections at a time. Today's topic; "Who Are the Terrorists?"
Don't get me wrong, there are other books that I highly recommend. Mark Steyn's America Alone, Melanie Phillips Londonistan, Bill Bennett's Why We Fight , and Richard Miniter's Disinformation are must-reads.
But if there is only one book that you read, let it be Future Jihad. Like America Alone and Londonistan, it's not a particularly encouraging book.
The bottom line to what Phares has to say is this; the enemy is much bigger, better organized and has much clearer goals than most people imagine. If you think that the only people out to get us are Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network, you're only seeing a tiny part of the picture.
The point is that people we consider "terrorists" are only a part of the enemy. Many are not trying to kill us, at least not yet.
Phares relates a debate that took place on al Jazeera shortly after 9-11. The show was titled Opposed Directions, and it was set up like a Hannity and Colmes or Crossfire, where the arguments get hot and heavy. The two guests, Phares says, were almost literally at each other's throats.
The question at hand was over the "worthyness" of bin Laden's attacks, whether he had done good or bad to the Arab world. However, one was not for the attack and the other agains. They both argued in favor of the attack. The only difference was that one thought that bin Laden should have waited a few years until the time was more ripe.
This debate, Phares says, was representative of what went on across the Arab and Muslim worlds.
Before we get to who the terrorists are, let's clear up the meaning of the word "jihad", for it is central to understanding who the terrorists are and what they want.
Put simply jihad is "a call for action" to spread the faith. Jihad is the sum of all efforts, and was declared by early Muslim leaders to be a sixth unofficial pillar of Islam. In a "normal" situation, Muslims think, their faith would spread without jihad, for people should recognize that Islam is the true faith and it would be only logical to accept it. Only when things are not going smoothly is jihad needed.
The call to jihad can only be given by a legitimate authority. It is not something that can be done unlilaterally by individuals. Under the Caliphate of old, only the Caliph or his designated local political authority could declare a jihad. Jihad, then, is a "state of effort at the service of the umma, the state, and Allah (umma meaning "community of Muslims").
Jihad can be used for defense, but is primarily to spread the faith. Jihad should lead to Fatah, or conquest. And it is the goal of jihadist thinkers to spread the faith to the entire planet, violence and forced conversions if necessary.
It is also important to note that the jihad need not be violent in it's initial stages. As will be seen in later posts, infiltration leading to violence is a key element in their strategy.
The people we call "terrorists" call themselves "men of jihad" in their videos and on their websites. So rather than call it a "war on terror", it seems to me a better term is War on Jihadism.
Phares stresses that in the Middle East among Arabs there is no debate as to the meaning of the word "jihad". Everyone there, he says, knows that it essentially means spreading the faith by violence and forced conversion if necessary.
Many in the West, however, have been hoodwinded. Shortly after 9-11, the church I was attending held an "information meeting" in which two local Muslims were going to tell us about their faith. The woman insisted that it was a total misunderstanding to think that jihad meant something violent, that rather it meant a peaceful inner struggle one had in one's mind to purify yourself before God. At the time I knew she was lying, but until I read Future Jihad I didn't know by how much.
Strangely to Westerners, Muslims regard the jihad as a defensive action. They see the world as being divided into the dar el Islam, or "house of peace", and the dar el harb, or "house of war". Historically the Caliphs justified their wars by telling infidels "you will have peace if you surrender to my rule."
Islam would spread through jihad, with the Caliphs justifying their actions by saying that the infidels had not accepted their offer of peace. It is important to note this definition of "peace" whenever we are dealing with jihadists.
To make a long story very short, some time after Muhammed died in 632 AD the new Muslim world consolidated itself politically. An absolute ruler emerged called the Caliph, essentially a combination king and pope. Family dynasties emerged, each of which ruled from a particular city for a few hundred years before being supplanted by the next. The Umayyads, for example, ruled out of Damascus from 661 - 750 AD. The Abbasid's ruled from Baghdad from 750 until 1258. The whole thing ended with the Ottomans ruling from Istanbul from 1299 - 1923. The last Caliph was overthrown by Musafa Kemal in that year and a secular Turkey emerged.
The ending of the Caliphate threw the Muslim world into confusion. Without a central leader, many of their tenants seemed irrelevant. How would they spread the faith? Who could declare jihad? Who was the leader?
One effect was the jihad was privatized. Whereby during the days of the Caliphate only the legitimate political ruler could declare a jihad against the infidels, now it seemed that any Muslim could. Once freed from state control, it was only a matter of time before organizations under or guided by religious leaders developed which declared that they now had the authority to declare jihad.
And the goal of those who believe in a "fundamentalist" version of Islam is that the faith must be spread thoughout the world, by violence and forced conversion if necessary.
al Qaeda, then, was an inevitability once the Caliphate fell.
The Logic of the Jihadists
Phares puts it bestPut simply, in the mind of the jihadists, there is no rupture in the evolution of the Islamic state since its inception in Medina. No refoem has taken place, and therefore the jihadists are in line to fulfill a mission launched centures ago.
Modern Jews and Christians acknowledge their history, but most of us don't base our world view on Talmudic or Biblical passages (though some do). To us the crusades are ancient history. But to the jihadists it may as well have happened yesterday. Phares againIn essence, the Islamists movements, from which the doctrine of jihadism flourished, see themselves as a direct continuation of the Islamic state and strive for its reestablishment - including its past expansionist drive.
Phares relates stories of jihadist websites in which the posters discuss ancient battles as if they occured last week and are relevant to todays newspaper headlines. bin Laden himself calls the West al Rum, or "the Byzantines"
Frozen in the Middle Ages
During the early Abbasid dynasty, the Muslim world was truely the center of learning, science, and literature. While Europe was stuck in the Dark Ages, Baghdad was experiencing what we would later call the Enlightenment.
The Abbasid's ruled the largest empire the earth has ever seen before or since. Since it was all due to the will of Allah, and expansion (fatah) had been successful so far, it only seemed natural that it would continue forever.
Then it all came to a sudden halt.
The Muslim world was invaded first by crusaders and then by Mongols. The first were bad enough, but the slaugher by the Mongols under Genghis Khan exceeded even that of the crusaders. Worse, Muslim armies seemed incapable of stopping either. The Mongols even sacked Baghdad itself and ended the Abbasid dynasty in 1258.
The full story is obviously complicated, but essentially a movement developed which concluded that the reason the Muslim world was defeated was improper adherence to the teachings of Muhammed. The leading scholar of this movement was one Ibn Taymiya (1263-1328). He developed the doctrine of takfir, essentially the Muslim equivalent of the inquisition. This would later develop into the Salafi movement which would in turn spawn Wahabism, both important concepts that we will take up in some detail in later reviews of Phares' book.
What is important is that Taymiya led a "back to the Dark Ages" movement. Gone was enlightened or "progressive" thought. While Europe would go from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance and Enlightment a few centuries later, the Muslim world did just the opposite.
And it has remained frozen in time ever since.
Phares stresses that this is not all ancient history to those who are our enemiesThe literature of the modern jihadists, their speeches, their texts, and their web sites lead directly back to Ibn Taymiya's thought. ...
The complex ideology of the Salafi jihadist movement could be defined in simplest terms this way: It is a movement that wants to return the Muslim world to the times of its earliest conquests and move forward from there. This movement wants to being back Muslim society to a strict applicatiion of Sharia laws despite all the intervening evolution accomplished by Muslims through history. Finally, it is a movement that wants to resume fatah and conquests desite all norms of internationl relations and laws.
As Phares says, it sounds like something out of a Hollywood move, but unfortunately it's true.
Next up: Who are the Jihadists?
In the next part of this book review I'll reveal the three branches of the jihad as identified by Walid Phares. Stay tuned, because it's not just a small band of al Qaeda that are out to get us.