Breitbart, By Charles Ortel, Feb. 5, 2015:
PJ Media, By Andrew C. McCarthy On January 30, 2015:
How is our nation dealing with the continuing menace of Islamic supremacism, the ideology that catalyzes the jihadist and cultural threat to the West?
At the Freedom Forum in Iowa last Saturday, Newt Gingrich drew an apt analogy to the period from the end of World War II through 1948, as the Iron Curtain consigned half of Europe to tyranny: Imagine that the president of the United States had been not Harry Truman but Stalin’s useful idiot, Henry Wallace – the former vice president whom FDR thankfully dumped from the Democratic ticket in 1944.
Had that happened, Gingrich opined, our president would have been assuring us, “There is no KGB. There is no Comintern. The Soviet Union is not a threat. Communism is okay. I don’t think you should be worried about all these things.”
Meaning: What we’d have had is defeat in the Cold War.
Newt’s admonition was clear. In a rousing speech about “America’s survival,” the former House speaker argued that, after being at it for fourteen years, we are losing “the war with radical Islamists.”
His main point, one very similar to the contention advanced by Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal (in a recent London speech that was the subject of my NROcolumn last weekend), is that we are at war with an enemy that seeks to destroy the West, and that we cannot win the war without telling the truth about the enemy — indeed, “without admitting it’s a war.”
In the interest of candor, then, I will concede that I am not crazy about the term Newt uses to describe the enemy: “radical Islamists.” The right term is “radical Islam.” An Islamist is a Muslim who wants repressive, discriminatory sharia imposed. In the West, an Islamist is radical by definition.
It is not pedantry to raise this difference. When we say “radical Islam,” we concisely divide our enemies – extremist, sharia-supremacist Muslims, violent or nonviolent – from the rest of Islam, with which we would like to live amicably. But saying “radical Islamist” implies that there must also be “moderate Islamists.” There aren’t, of course, but the progressives’ insistence that there must be has led to exactly what the former speaker is rightly concerned about: paralyzing political correctness and reckless policy errors (e.g., Obama’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood) – the things that obscure the threat to us.
Still, any difference of opinion on this point is narrow. “Radical Islamist” is geometrically more clarifying than the Beltway’s willfully blind preference, “violent extremist.” Moreover, in invoking “radical Islamists,” the former House speaker is clearly referring to violent jihadists – i.e., Islamists who commit terrorism. Terrorists are radical even among Islamists – although Islamist support for terrorists (at least moral support and often material support) is alarmingly high.
Our bipartisan ruling elite attempts to minimize the ideological underpinning of the Islamist threat as well as its geographical scope. Gingrich was firm that the jihad is formidable, unified and global. In its blatant contempt for our government, the Iranian regime locks up a journalist and enables its proxies to rout Yemen (which Obama had touted as a counterterrorism success) — confident that the Obama administration will keep talking to them and appeasing them no matter what they do. ISIS, of course, has obliterated the border between Iraq and Syria even as Western leaders grope for country-specific policies based on a map that no longer exists.
But that’s not the half of it. As Gingrich elaborated, Western intelligence estimates about ISIS in Syria and Iraq warn us of at least 1,000 jihadists from France, 600 from Britain, and 100 from the United States. Many if not most of these Islamists will return home not just with training and combat experience but with an enhanced prestige that comes with taking part in the jihad – a prestige that makes them more effective recruiters, fundraisers, and practitioners of domestic jihad.
Meanwhile, as the threat intensifies, Western governments, led by our own, continue to lie about it. The ruthless Boko Haram jihadist organization in Nigeria has 10,000 fighters (and, as the Wall Street Journal reported this week, it eyes conquest in nearby Chad, Cameroon and Niger). Yet, under Hillary Clinton, the State Department would not even designate it as a terrorist organization – even though, Gingrich sharply observed, Boko Haram named one of their main training camps “Afghanistan” in honor or the Taliban.
Again, that’s not the half of it. Under Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton, the State Department has declined to designate the Afghan Taliban itself as a terrorist organization. This underscores Newt’s on-target assessment that, when it comes to obfuscation about Islamic supremacist ideology, the State Department was nearly as bad under Bush as under Obama. And while Bush at least included the Taliban as a terrorist organization in a 2002 executive order, Obama spokesmen have spent this week spinning the risible yarn that the Taliban is not a terrorist organization but a purely domestic “insurgent” group.
In truth, as the former speaker asserted, we have an elite in both parties that is unwilling to tell the truth. You can’t win the war without telling the truth and without admitting it’s a war. As he put it, there is a common thread that unites the enemy, wherever on earth the enemy operates: They “hate our civilization and would impose their religion by force.”
This cannot be blinked away – neither by what Gingrich tartly but accurately diagnosed as Obama’s “pathological incapacity to deal with reality,” nor by the ineffable John Kerry’s insistence that jihadist terror has nothing to do with Islam – that these atrocities are committed by “specific, unique, random individuals” who just happen to be Muslims bent on imposing sharia.
From his national security right perspective, Newt anticipated and dismissed as “Baloney!” an attack on his position from the strange-bedfellow alliance of antiwar leftists and extremist libertarians who see U.S. counterterrorism as a greater threat than the jihad. It is the claim that what Gingrich is really calling for is “an army of 7 million” so we can “occupy everywhere” in the Middle East.
As he countered, we are talking about defeating an enemy whom we must identify. And in identifying that enemy “we can draw a clear distinction.” To wit:
If you are a Muslim, and you want to live in peace with your neighbors, and you have no problem with people converting in both directions, and you’d like to be allowed to have a mosque but, by the way, they can have a synagogue, a temple, or a church – I have no problem with Muslims who are prepared to live in diversity. But if you’re a Muslim who believes you are going to impose sharia by cutting off my head, I have a desire to kill you before you cut off my head.
The ensuing standing ovation from Freedom Forum attendees carried a salient message for the GOP’s field of would-be presidential nominees: A Republican will not win the White House in 2016 unless national security is a major issue and one on which Republicans hold a decisive edge.
The keys to gaining that edge are candor, clarity and courage. As Newt recounted, Churchill took the time to read and understand Mein Kampf. He was unafraid to call the threat to civilization what it was, even when no one in England or Europe wanted to listen. Reagan – “not having gone to Harvard Law School and been thoroughly educated in how to avoid reality” – understood that when Stalinists said they wanted to conquer the West, what they meant was … that they wanted to conquer the West. In his “magnificent” post-9/11 speech to a joint session of Congress, George W. Bush warned rogue regimes that they had a choice to make: With us, or with the terrorists?
It is again time – past time – to be bold in calling the threat against us what it is, and in understanding why it seeks to conquer us (i.e., in grasping that it is about their ideology not our flaws). That has been the essence of self-defense throughout history, and it hasn’t changed.
Among the best parts of Newt’s excellent speech was its call for practical action. With Republicans now in control of both houses of Congress, he argued that conservatives can serve the cause of national security by demanding months of hearings to examine, to speak bluntly about, the Islamist challenge to the West. Gingrich’s suggestions along these lines tracked his recent Wall Street Journal op-ed:
- Appraise the strength and growth rate of the enemy.
- Assess the danger on a country-by-country basis, through each jihadist hub – Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.
- Shine a spotlight on the Muslim Brotherhood – the enemy’s theoretical backbone that is “so little understood by Washington elites that it deserves its own set of hearings.”
- Identify the primary sources of funding, especially in the Gulf.
- Learn from Arab countries that have successfully contained the radicals.
- Study the radicalization process, particularly the role of mosques and social media in recruiting young Muslims into terrorism.
- Tackle “the Islamist cyberthreat” – in fact, as Gingrich declared (to much applause), we should be “driving them off the Internet.”
The recent barbarities in Paris, the stepped up pace of al Qaeda and ISIS atrocities, must be a wake-up call. For Newt Gingrich, conservatives do not just have an opportunity to lead the way. If America is to survive as we know and love her, conservatives must see that opportunity as a duty. The hour is growing late.
Jihad against the West cannot be attributed to policy disagreements; it is based on a doctrine of perpetual warfare.
By Ryan Mauro:
The U.S. government has confirmed that Douglas McAuthur McCain has become the first American to die fighting alongside the Islamic State. Now, a second American, Abdirahmaan Muhumed, has been killed in Syria. The two died in the same fighting near Aleppo against rival rebel forces.
Muhumed is a Somali-American from Minneapolis, Minnesota. A news outlet confirmed in June that he was in Syria fighting for the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). He said he was “happy” with being called a terrorist.
Muhumed began posting photos of himself with the Islamic State and holding weapons in January. His friends did not see any previous signs of extremism and said he was known as Abdifatah Afweyne. Muhumed told MPR News that the Islamic State is “trying to bring back the khilaffa [caliphate]” and “Allah loves those who fight for his cause.”
Minnesota Somali-American activist Abdirizak Bihi confirms that Islamic State members are reaching out to Somalis in the area. He has blamed the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for inhibiting his anti-radicalization work and the subsequent U.S. government investigations into the matter.
“They [the Islamic State] are brainwashing them to marry them off to jihadists,” Bihi said. “They call them to help out as nurses, help out the wounded — but the real catch is they will be sexually exploited,” he explained.
Bihi’s information is reminiscent of the arrest of a Colorado woman, Shannon Maureen Conley, who was intercepted as she planned to go to Syria via Turkey to marry an Islamic State member she met online. Conley planned to live with him, work as a nurse and give military training to the group.
Muhumed’s death comes shortly after the U.S. government said that Douglas McAuthur McCain became the first American member of the Islamic State to die.
Read more at Clarion Project
- U.S. Jihadis -Discounting the San Diego terror connection (culturaljihad.wordpress.com)
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), identified by the U.S. government as an entity of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, issuggesting a New Year’s resolution for the media: Stop using the term “Islamist.”
CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, who expressed his desire for “the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future” in 1993 and, again, in 2003, writes that the media shouldn’t say “Islamist” anymore because it is “currently used in almost exclusively pejorative context.”
Hooper argues that being an Islamist isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He quotes from the Associated Press Stylebook that describes an Islamist as a “supporter of government in accord with the laws of Islam. Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.”
This, he says, is no different than a Christian politician being influenced by Biblical values. But Christian politicians are influenced by the Bible as a moral influence. There’s no authoritative Christian doctrine on how a “Christian State” should be run. As the definition itself says, Islamists view their religion as a system of governmental “laws” and a “political model.”
Hooper says that Muslims are unfairly called Islamists when there are political disagreements — sort of like the word “Islamophobe,” which he hypocritically uses in the very same sentence.
The attempt to eliminate the word “Islamist” from the media’s vocabulary is a reflection of what was said during a secret U.S. Muslim Brotherhood meeting in Philadelphia in 1993 that the FBI wiretapped. Two officials that founded CAIR the following year were present.
“Forming the public opinion or coming up with a policy to influence …the way the Americans deal with the Islamists, for instance. I believe that should be the goals of this stage,” said Hamas operative Abdel Haleem al-Ashqar.
The meeting participants, who repeatedly referred to themselves as Islamists, understood that friendly media coverage was essential to their goal of influencing public opinion and policy towards them. As pointed out by the Investigative Project, future CAIR co-founder Omar Ahmad said at that meeting:
“The fourth goal is becoming open to the media in the U.S. and the Western society to ease the intensity of the campaign and to explain the legality of the opposition led by the Islamists,” he said.
The government determined from these transcripts that deception was an integral part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s procedure. In a 2007 court filing, federal prosecutors state: “From its founding by Muslim Brotherhood leaders, CAIR conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists …the conspirators agreed to use deception to conceal from the American public their connections to terrorists.”
Read more at The Clarion Project
- AP Submits to Islamic Political Correctness (culturaljihad.wordpress.com)
- The AP Capitulates to the Muslim Brotherhood (americanthinker.com)
- Muslim Brotherhood-CAIR Goons Strong Arm AP Wimps to ban “Islamist’ and they do (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
CAIR Claims Victory Over Associated Press’ Definition of “Islamist” (clarionproject.org)
AP’s New Islamist Denial Orwellianism (frontpagemag.com)
- On Language (dianawest.net)
- Politically correct AP strikes again! (wnd.com)
By Daniel Greenfield
“When it was my turn, they took me blindfolded,” the thief said. “Suddenly I felt a pain in my right hand that was out of this world. My hand had just been chopped off.”
This is Gao, once the seat of an empire, and then a glorified village, and now a city the size of Scranton under the boot of its Islamist conquerors. Gao has become a place where thieves have their hands cut off, where women are forced to wear the stifling Hijab in 113 degree heat or be lashed and where unmarried couples are stoned to death.
Borders are an illusion in Africa. No more than paper mirages that cannot be seen from the air or the roads where a thousand ethnic groups with dreams of glory move back and forth, striving and feuding, until the blood begins to flow.
The Tuaregs were one of them. Like so many others they wanted their own country. Like so many others they were a minority that felt aggrieved and persecuted by the majority. Like so many others they found neighborhood patrons willing to give them money and a sanctuary in exchange for more fighting. After their uprising failed, the Tuaregs set up shop in Libya under Gaddafi who was always looking for a few more African mercenaries to remake the continent into his hashish-fueled visions. And when Gaddafi fell, the Tuareg separatist militias still dreaming of glory, took his weapons and went west to carve out a state in Mali.
For the last hundred years there have been two kinds of movements in the Muslim world. Nationalist and Islamist. Some Tuareg dreamed of a nation. But others dreamed of merging into a Caliphate that would impose Islamic law on thieves and little girls, on Gao and Timbuktu and then on the whole world. Both sets of Tuaregs had stockpiles of Libyan weapons. But the Islamists had a lot more money and support from the dark heart of the Middle East where the oil wells pump and the preachers scream the call to prayer. And the Nationalists didn’t have a prayer.
Al Qaeda now has its own Alqaedastan in Northern Mali, a territory the size of Texas. Al Qaeda began its true war against the West in Africa. The continent which wavers between a Christian and Muslim majority is to Islamic Colonialism in the 21st Century what it was to European Colonialism in the 19th Century. But the Muslim colonizers were here first, ferrying cargos of slaves into caves and then selling them in the slave markets of Gao.
The Tuaregs are among the few in Northern Mali to still keep slaves, but now that the Islamists have taken Mali, it is uncertain who the masters and the slaves are. Many of the Islamist fighters wandering around Gao are foreigners, from North Africa and beyond, dedicated Salafis and mercenaries drawn by Gulf oil money, aspiring drug dealers looking to protect smuggling routes and rapists and thieves plying their trade with the authority of the Koran.
Around the core of Koranic students who memorize verses and preach death, is a larger outer ring that consists of sociopaths, stray killers, hustlers, junkies and young men looking for adventure and a group that is organized enough to feed them and provide them with a spot on the ground floor of a shiny new Emirate where women have no rights and their weapons are the only law that counts. That is what Al Qaeda really looks like: a ball of dung gathering speed and growing in size as it rolls downhill. A gang of sadists building their own forts in the cliffs and fighting to hang on to the new kingdom that opened up for them when Libya fell.
Nations are oases of order in the desert. As cruel and ugly as they might be, they provide some structure to the eternal feuds and grudges that are only ever truly settled with slavery or death.
Obama toppled Gaddafi without considering or caring for the consequences. An Alqaedastan in Mali is one of those consequences. Weapons from Libya have gone west and east carried by old militias looking for a new fight. Gaddafi’s weapons stockpiles are in Gaza and Aleppo now, they will soon find their way to Afghanistan, if they haven’t already, and tens of thousands more will die.
Read more at Front Page
IPT News – January 4, 2013
After doing everything it can to ensconce a new word, “Islamophobia,” into conversational English, the nation’s most visible Islamist group is trying to stop use of a well-established word: Islamist.
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) national spokesman Ibrahim Hooper released a column urging journalists to “Drop the term ‘Islamist.'”
It was added to the latest Associated Press Stylebook – the guide for spelling, punctuation and other rules – that is used by journalists at the smallest community papers and the largest television networks, Hooper wrote. AP defines Islamists as “Those who view the Quran as a political model encompass a wide range of Muslims, from mainstream politicians to militants known as jihadi.”
Journalists should ignore that, Hooper argued, because it is used in a negative way, and used by “Islam-bashers” who really hate the faith of Islam but want to cover their tracks. “Yet they fail to explain how a practicing Muslim can be active in the political arena without attracting the label ‘Islamist.'”
Plenty of practicing Muslims work bravely in opposition to Islamist ideology. Britain’s Quilliam Foundation was started by Muslims who walked away from radical Islamist thought and now counter the arguments Islamists offer.
“Challenging extremism is the duty of all responsible members of society,” the foundation’s website says. Not least because cultural insularity and extremism are products of the failures of wider society to foster a shared sense of belonging and to advance liberal democratic values. With Islamist extremism in particular, we believe a more self-critical approach must be adopted by Muslims.” [Emphasis added]
Hooper may have had the Investigative Project on Terrorism in mind with his comment, as we try to distinguish between the faith of Islam as practiced by individuals, and its application as the foundation for political action and law. When devout Muslims espouse this “separation between mosque and state,” Hooper dismisses them as “a mere sock puppet for Islam haters and an enabler of Islamophobia.”
Hooper’s demand that “Islamist” be removed from the lexicon is ironic, since his bosses seemed more than comfortable placing themselves firmly in the world of “Islamists” back in 1993. CAIR founders Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad joined two dozen Hamas supporters in Philadelphia for a fall weekend in an urgent meeting called to discuss ways to “derail” the U.S.-brokered Oslo Accords.
The FBI bugged the meeting room. Transcripts entered into evidence during a 2008 Hamas-financing trial show the participants referred to “Islamists” dozens of times. Ahmad helped lead the meeting, helping determine who might attend and calling it to order.
The FBI described the group as Hamas members and supporters. “Hamas’ agenda was not only to eliminate Israel,” prosecutors wrote, “but also to sabotage the Oslo Accords and to replace the secular PA regime with an Islamist government that would control all of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.”
Awad, who remains CAIR’s executive director nearly 20 years later, addressed the meeting about media strategies.
“The fourth goal is becoming open to the media in the U.S. and the Western society to ease the intensity of the campaign and to explain the legality of the opposition led by the Islamists,” he said. [Emphasis added]
Ahmad, who served as CAIR chairman emeritus until 2009, also discussed media strategy for Islamists in America.
“The first goal was relating to activism among Muslims and Palestinians but we must broadcast our point of view in U. S. media. There is a very good reason for that which is bringing the voice of the Islamists to the surface, keeping them informed and explaining their positions in order to case the severity of allegations of radicalism and other things,” Ahmad said. [Emphasis added] “This will also make our position known to Muslims and sympathizers whom we cannot reach via our media tools.”
A speaker identified only as “Akram” told the group opposition to the Oslo deal did not “have anything to do with any living conditions. We have undisputable rights in Palestine as Islamists. They don’t change with the changing of the events.” Later, he said Islamists were the only ones willing to oppose the agreement publicly.
“We must be clear that we oppose this thing 100% and that we, the Islamists … different from what is being suggested for Palestinian activism,” Akram said. No one disagreed.
Their claim on Palestine was not limited to the West Bank and Gaza, Ahmad said, agreeing it was not a wise strategy to say so publicly.
“We’ve always demanded the 1948 territories,” Ahmad said.
“Yes,” an unidentified speaker responded, “but we don’t say that publicly. You cannot say it publicly. In front of the Americans…”
“No,” Ahmad agreed, “we didn’t say that to the Americans.”
Nearly 20 years later, Ahmad’s organization doesn’t want Americans to say the same words he and his colleagues embraced.
“Unfortunately, the term ‘Islamist’ has become shorthand for ‘Muslims we don’t like,'” Hooper wrote. “It is currently used in an almost exclusively pejorative context and is often coupled with the term ‘extremist,’ giving it an even more negative slant.”
This is revisionist history. In addition to Hamas supporters, fundraisers for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad used the “Islamist” in laudatory fashion. During a 1989 conference by Sami Al-Arian’s Islamic Committee for Palestine, Cleveland Imam Fawaz Damra described heroic battles Islamists waged in sparking the intifada against Israel.
“We acknowledge that Islamists were absent from the arena of jihad for a long while, Damra said. “This is not the time to examine the causes of that absence. But this was their return with an unflagging spirit, determined to do battle and to confront ….an important development. Then occurred the fleeing operation, executed by six mujahideen towards the middle of the fifth month of ’87. This was followed by specific operations executed by these youth, one of the most important of which was the killing of the Military Police chief in Gaza. In other words, the events rekindled the spirit of hope and the spirit of self-confidence in the people.”
Damra would later describe Al-Arian’s committee as “the active arm of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine” and urge people to write checks intended for the Jihad to “write it in the name if the Islamic Committee for Palestine, ‘ICP’ for short.”
Evidence also showed that Al-Arian served as secretary on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s governing board.
CAIR defended both men.
CAIR officials also have supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, even as it rammed through a constitution that epitomizes Islamist aspirations and makes religious law the law of the land. The Brotherhood has no problem calling itself Islamist.
If the word is to be used, Hooper wrote, it “should not be used unless a group applies the term to itself.” So the Brotherhood can be called “Islamist.”
CAIR doesn’t use the term itself, not “to the Americans,” anyway, but we’ve offered a tiny sample of the examples of Islamists using the word privately. CAIR’s background – the FBI cut off contact with the group in 2008 over questions about “whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS – should be taken into consideration by anyone entertaining Hooper’s request to serve as language cop.
By the way, the AP did remove a related word from the newest Stylebook: Islamophobia.
by Zeyno Baran February 27, 2008
Washington, D.C. has suddenly become very interested in the Muslim Brotherhood. American policymakers are debating whether to engage non-violent elements of the Muslim Brotherhood network, both inside and outside the United States, in the hope that such engagement will empower these “moderates” against violent Wahhabi and Salafi groups such as al-Qaeda. Unfortunately, this strategy is based on a false assumption: that “moderate” Islamist groups will confront and weaken their violent co-religionists, robbing them of their support base.
This lesser-of-two-evils strategy is reminiscent of the rationale behind the Cold War-era decision to support the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet army. In the short term, the U.S. alliance with the mujahideen did indeed aid America in its struggle against the Soviet Union. In the long term, however, U.S. support led to the empowerment of a dangerous and potent adversary. In choosing its allies, the U.S. cannot afford to elevate short-term tactical considerations above longer-term strategic ones. Most importantly, the U.S. must consider the ideology of any potential partners. Although various Islamist groups do quarrel over tactics and often bear considerable animosity towards one another, they all agree on the endgame: a world dictated by political Islam. A “divide and conquer” strategy by the United States will only push them closer together.
Even though the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun) does not openly call for violence or terrorism, it still does little to oppose it. In fact, it may provide an ideological springboard for future violence. This is not to say that all Salafis will one day become terrorists; the vast majority will never engage in violence and likely abhor terrorist acts. Nevertheless, the first step on the road to jihadi terrorism is instruction in Islamist ideology. Nearly all individuals involved in terrorism—whether as a foot soldiers executing the attack or an upper level mastermind, financier, or recruiter—start out as non-violent Salafi Islamists, and many were once Brotherhood members. For example, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks, told U.S. interrogators that he was first drawn to violent jihad after attending Brotherhood youth camps. It is therefore inexplicable that policymakers should seek to empower Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood as a strategy to combat terrorism.
The deciding factor in determining which Muslims can be allies in the “long war” cannot be based on tactics—that is, whether or not a group eschews violent methods. The deciding factor must be ideological: Is the group Islamist or not?
What do I mean by “Islamist?” The term was coined by the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, in an effort to politicize Islam. Broadly, the label Islamist applies to individuals or groups who believe that Islam should be a comprehensive guide to life. Islamists do not accept that the interpretation of Islam could evolve over the centuries along with human beings’ understanding, or that the religion could be influenced or modified by the cultures and traditions of various regions. Nor do they recognize that Islam can be limited to the religious realm, or to simply providing its followers with a code of moral and ethical principles. With this definition in mind, a nonviolent, American-born Islamist should not be considered an ally of the U.S. Yet a devout, conservative Muslim immigrant to Europe—one who does not even speak any Western languages but rejects Islamist ideology—could be.
Islamists are strenuously opposed to secular governance. Instead, they believe that Islamic rules and laws based upon the Quran and the sharia code must shape all aspects of human society, from politics and education to history, science, the arts, and more. Islamic jurisprudence developed and codified over the course of the 8th and 9th centuries and has not changed since then. In wholly sharia-based countries such as Iran, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia, there is little distinction between religion and state, leaving no room for liberal democracy. The institution of electionsmight be maintained, but this will inevitably be an illiberal system without dissent, individuation, or critical thinking.
Today’s Islamists adhere first and foremost to the works of the Muslim Brotherhood’s most famous ideologue, Sayyid Qutb, and are not necessarily concerned with Islam’s spiritual or cultural aspects. Qutb, like his ideological predecessors Ibn Taymiyya and Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, was preoccupied with the relative decline of the Muslim world. All three believed this deterioration was a result of Muslims having strayed from pure Islam. Qutb argued that Islam’s crisis could be reversed only if “true” Muslims, emulating the ways of the Prophet Muhammad, worked to replace existing governments in the Muslim world with strictly Islamic regimes. Accordingly, followers of Qutb desire the overthrow of their current governments and declare armed jihad against non-Muslim states. It is important to underline that this step is often viewed as “defensive jihad,” an interpretation which has broad acceptance among many Muslims. This logic has been be used to justify attacks in Spain (which was ruled by Muslims for several hundred years) and any other Western countries that are deemed to be waging a war against Islam, either militarily or culturally. The next step is the establishment of the caliphate. Islamists believe that bringing about such changes is an obligation for all Muslims. They are not bound by constraints of time—they have been fighting this war for many decades already and will continue as long as it takes. Nor are they hindered by location—the new caliphate can be established anywhere.
Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood are engaged in a long-term social engineering project. The eventual “Islamization” of the world is to be enacted via a bottom-up process. Initially, the individual is transformed into a “true” Muslim. This Islamization of the individual leads that person to reject Western norms of pluralism, individual rights, and the secular rule of law. Next, the individual’s family is transformed; then the society; then the state; and finally the entire world is expected to live, and be governed, according to Islamic principles. This ideological machinery is at the core of Islamist terrorism and it works to promote separation, sedition, and hatred. The tactics of the Muslim Brotherhood may be nonviolent in the West and less violent than other groups in the Muslim world, but the ideology behind those tactics remains fundamentally opposed to the Western democratic system and its values.
Many critics of the War on Terror complain that it fosters an “us versus them” attitude between Muslims and non-Muslims. In reality this mentality did not begin with the Bush Administration; it has long been part of the Islamists’ rhetoric. For decades, Brotherhood-affiliated organizations have been telling Muslims that they are different—in fact, superior—and must remain separate from non-Muslims. While more recently, some Islamists in the West have begun talking about integration or participation, these concepts are meant to be followed only if they serve the long-term Islamist agenda.
Non-Islamist Muslims understand the inherent incompatibility between Islamism’s desired imposition of sharia law upon society at large and Western society’s pluralism and equality. To the Brotherhood and groups like it—whether in the Middle East or the United States—the Quran and Islam are not merely one possiblesource of law; they are the only source of law. As the Muslim Brotherhood declares in its motto, “Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Quran is our law, jihad is our way, dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”
When the U.S. government engages with Islamist organizations in conferences or government outreach programs, it lends legitimacy to an ideology that does not represent—at least not yet—the views of the majority of American Muslims. American policymakers who advocate pursuing such a strategy are actually facilitating Islamism by endorsing it as a mainstream ideology. Both at home and abroad, this policy is leading to disaster. Liberal and non-Islamist Muslims—having already been denounced by Islamists as apostates—are now being told by Western governments that they do not represent “real” Islam.
Through engagement, the U.S. government effectively legitimizes the Islamists’self-appointed status as representatives of Muslim community. This also legitimizes the Islamists’ self-appointed ability to judge “Muslim-ness” of others. Bestowing this status and capability upon Islamists is particularly dangerous in America. Muslims living in the U.S.—particularly converts and those born to immigrants—are more vulnerable to being won over by Islamist ideology because America does not have a strong native tradition of Islam. American Muslims searching for a greater understanding of what it means to be Muslim often find little information available except the Islamist perspective. This is because most prominent Muslim organizations in America were either created by or are associated with the Brotherhood—and have therefore been heavily influenced by Islamist ideology.
The Brotherhood Infiltrates America
The Muslim Brotherhood began operating in the U.S. in the 1960s upon the arrival of Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and South Asia. These individuals sought a university education (mostly at the leading state schools of Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan) and greater professional opportunity. A number of these Muslims were Brotherhood members escaping the persecution and repression of their native lands. Starting in the 1950s, many Middle Eastern governments began cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly in Egypt. The Ikhwanis soon recognized that American social and political liberties would enable them to easily spread their Islamist ideology. Still, they cloaked themselves in secrecy from the start, publicly referring to their organization as “The Cultural Society.”
The 1960s was also when Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi establishment began its global Islamization project, partnering with Brotherhood members who had left countries where the group was targeted for repression. One former U.S. Treasury official estimated that the Saudi government has spent some $75 billion supporting Islam and Islamic institutions worldwide. In 1962, the Muslim World League (MWL) was estab lished in Mecca, with Brotherhood members in key leadership positions, to propagate Wahhabism worldwide. Over the ensuing decades, the MWL has funded many legitimate charitable endeavors but also a number of Islamist projects. Some of this money has come to support Brotherhood activists in the U.S., in part to change the perception of Wahhabism in America from “extremist” to “mainstream.”
A primary focus of the MWL and the Brotherhood has been on education and indoctrination—especially of the youth—as the critical first step of their bottom-up approach. According to the Brotherhood’s own documents, “In 1962, the Muslim Students Union was founded by a group of the first Ikhwanis in North American and the meetings of the Ikhwan became conferences and Students Union Camps.” The next year, a more formal organizational structure was created by two Brotherhood members, Ahmed Totonji and Jamal Barzinji, who helped found the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In its early years, the MSA distributed at its chapter meetings English translations of the writings of al-Banna, Qutb, and other Islamist ideologues. Arab Muslim members of the MSA who adopted these ideologies would then be recruited into the Brotherhood.
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