CIA director John Brennan is at it again—equivocating over the nature of jihad by evoking paradigms familiar to the West.
Last Tuesday, “during an event at the Council of Foreign Relations, Brennan was asked about the ‘war of ideas’ surrounding Islam, which the questioner said many Americans tend to equate with violence.”
The CIA chief responded by saying that al-Qaeda’s ideology is “a perverse and very corrupt interpretation of the Qur’an”; that “al-Qaeda has hijacked” Islam; that “they have really distorted the teachings of Muhammad.”
Even so, “that ideology, that agenda of al-Qaeda,” confirmed Brennan, “has gained resonance and following in many parts of the world.”
So what is the CIA chief’s explanation as to why such a “perverse and very corrupt” understanding of Islam—one that has “distorted the teachings of Muhammad”— resonates among Muslims?
He gives none—other than to say that this ideology is “fed a lot of times by, you know, political repression, by economic, you know, disenfranchisement, by, you know, lack of education and ignorance, so there—there are a number of phenomena right now that I think are fueling the fires of, you know, this ideology.”
Interestingly, if you watch the video clip of Brennan talking, you will note that he only “you knows” in the above quotation (four times) and right before it, when he says that al-Qaeda has “distorted the teachings of Muhammad, you know, for violent purposes.”
The rest of his talk is relatively smooth.
Could Brennan be self-conscious of his own equivocations—hence all these stilted “you knows” in one sentence?
Could he be aware of the Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009? It found that “Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.”
At any rate, this is all déjà vu. Back in May 2010, I closely examined Brennan’s Islamic apologetics in an article that, in light of these recent remarks of his, is as applicable today as it was nearly four years ago. It follows:
Obama’s Top Counterterror Adviser’s Inability to Think Outside the Box Bodes Disaster
“The greatest hurdle Americans need to get over in order to properly respond to the growing threat of radical Islam is purely intellectual in nature; specifically, it is epistemological, and revolves around the abstract realm of ‘knowledge.’ Before attempting to formulate a long-term strategy to counter radical Islam, Americans must first and foremost understand Islam, particularly its laws and doctrines, the same way Muslims understand it—without giving it undue Western (liberal) interpretations. This is apparently not as simple as expected: all peoples of whatever civilizations and religions tend to assume that other peoples more or less share in their worldview, which they assume is objective, including notions of right and wrong, good and bad. …. [T]he secular, Western experience has been such that people respond with violence primarily when they feel they are politically, economically, or socially oppressed. While true that many non-Western peoples may fit into this paradigm, the fact is, the ideologies of radical Islam have the intrinsic capacity to prompt Muslims to violence and intolerance vis-à-vis the ‘other,’ irrespective of grievances…. Being able to understand all this, being able to appreciate it without any conceptual or intellectual constraints is paramount for Americans to truly understand the nature of the enemy and his ultimate goals.”