The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has laid out a strategy for preventing reference to terrorism in association with Islam. They are targeting training and education for the military and law enforcement, and pursueing their strategy by working through NGOs, think tanks and international organizations to label as Islamophobes those counter-terrorism trainers who were not approved by specific front-organizations. This article looks at the most recent initiative in this campaign of political warfare: a report by the Muslim Public Affairs Council entitled Not Qualified: Exposing the Deception Behind America’s Top 25 Pseudo Experts on Islam.
As Sun Tzu pointed out, the greatest warrior is one who can win without having to fight. Political warfare—operations designed to influence the perceptions or beliefs of one’s adversary—is thus an invaluable tool because it is a way of winning a conflict without having to use force. The Soviets knew this well, as did numerous other totalitarian regimes, and the OIC is now using this form of attack to shut down crucial counter-terrorism experts and training in the United States. This meets both a theological and a strategic imperative for the OIC. Theologically, the campaign of psychological warfare against CT experts helps to shut down criticism of Muhammad and of Islam, which is deemed forbidden, based upon several different verses of the Koran. Strategically, it is an advantageous approach because it neutralizes those who have become most knowledgeable on the Islamist threat, thus allowing even greater impunity for agents working to undermine U.S. national security.
The strategy to shut down critical analysis of Islam by declaiming Islamophobia was made public in 2005. That year, The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), with its 56 member nations, stated that Islamophobia would be a major focus for the coming decade:
A Ten-Year Programme of Action has been developed, which reviews the most prominent challenges facing the Muslim world today…establishing the values of moderation and tolerance, combating extremism, violence and terrorism, countering Islamophobia, achieving solidarity and cooperation among Member States, conflict prevention, the question of Palestine, the rights of Muslim minorities and communities, and rejecting unilateral sanctions.”
In order to combat Islamophobia, the report stated, the OIC would take a number of steps: it would establish an observatory to monitor all forms of Islamophobia, work with the UN to adopt a resolution to counter Islamophobia, and urge states to enact laws to combat it. The broad conclusions of the 2005 meeting were these: Islam can never be criticized and Islam must be de-linked from terrorism.
The OIC campaign scored its first big success with the March 2007 publication of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) “Resolution 4/9 on Combating Defamation of Religions,” which stated, “the council expresses deep concern at attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human rights violations.” The resolution further stated that the Council would urge member states to ensure that “public officials, including members of law enforcement bodies, the military, civil servants and educators, in the course of their official duties, respect different religions and beliefs and do not discriminate against persons on the grounds of their religion or belief, and that any necessary and appropriate education or training is provided…” The UNHRC document specifically points to education and training for law enforcement and the military as the target of these efforts.
By the following year, the Islamophobia Observatory was up and running, and in March 2008, The 1st OIC Observatory Report on Islamophobia was published. The report stated: “…the proponents of Islamophobia continue their campaign in defaming Islam and Muslims.” In laying out a strategy to prevent and preempt this perceived Islamophobia, the report stated that members would work with think tanks and NGOs in the US, the UK and Europe, to monitor and counter the “anti-Islam campaign” (sic). What followed was a series of reports and articles attacking the alleged critics of Islam. In much the same way the Soviet Union used peace movements, trade organizations, and unions as front groups for their anti-American activity, so the OIC and individual Muslim funders worked through international and Western organizations for their purposes. The first notable example was the University of Exeter’s Report entitled, Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: A London Case Study. Published in January 2010, the study called on the UK government to evaluate its current policies, asserting that “counterterrorism strategy still wrongly conflates the al Qaeda threat with other Islamist groups which in turn licenses anti-Muslim hate crimes.” The study was funded by Muslim sources: Islam Expo, the Cordoba Foundation, founded by Anas al-Tikriti, son of a Muslim Brotherhood leader inIraq, and Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qasimi, a member of the Supreme Council of theUnited Arab Emirates and current ruler of the Sharjah emirate.
In the United States, the funding behind similar studies was never made public, but the themes are strikingly similar to those set forth by the OIC: concerns over Islamophobia, defamation of Islam, and the need to change the counter-terrorism policies and practices of law enforcement and military. Among the relevant studies in the United Statesis the Washington Post’s major story entitled Top Secret America. Published in July 2010, the Post openly stated that more than a dozen WP journalists spent two years developing the study, a significant commitment of resources for a newspaper today. The report was a wide-scale condemnation of the way theUnited States had addressed terrorism post-9/11. But what is most interesting about the report is its close adherence to the OIC strategy of targeting the trainers of law enforcement and the military: “Seeking to learn more about Islam and terrorism, some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies.”
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Katharine Cornell Gorka is Executive Director of The Westminster Institute, a non-governmental think tank whose mission is to promote individual dignity and freedom for people throughout the world, with a particular focus on the threat posed by extremism and radical ideologies. firstname.lastname@example.org