Trump’s ‘Principled Realism’ Is Not Very Realistic about Islam

The principal fiction in the president’s speech in Saudi Arabia was the claim that we share ‘common values’ with the sharia society.

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, May 22, 2017:

So for what exactly is the “extreme vetting” going to vet?

That was the question I could not shake from my mind while listening to President Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia on Sunday to dozens of Sunni Islamic leaders and a global television audience.

There were certainly some positives in the president’s rhetoric. Trump did not cite American policy or “arrogance” as a contributory cause of jihadist savagery, as President Obama was wont to do. He was less delusional about the splendor of Islam than were Obama and President George W. Bush. Gone were absurd inflations of Islam’s historical achievements and place in the American fabric; gone were allusions to the “religion of peace and love.” In their place was an acknowledgment that Islam is besieged by a “crisis” of terror that is engulfing the world, a crisis that is ideological in nature and that only Muslims themselves can solve.

All true. Nevertheless, the theme that came through the speech is that terrorism is something that happens to Islam, rather than something that happens because of Islam. That is simply not the case, even though it is true, as Trump asserted, that the vast majority of those killed by Muslim terrorists are themselves Muslims.

There is thus a good deal that is not real about “Principled Realism,” Trump’s name for what he heralds as a new American strategy — “new approaches informed by experience and judgment,” a “discarding” of strategies “that have not worked.”

The principal fiction in “principled realism” is that we share “common values” with Sunni Arab sharia societies. That is problematic because these purported “common values” — in conjunction with “shared interests” — are said to be the roots of Trump’s approach.

The president stressed that during his first overseas trip as president, he would be “visiting many of the holiest places in the three Abrahamic faiths.” The irony was palpable, at least to some of us. Trump is not visiting the holiest places of Islam.

Yes, upon departing Saudi Arabia, he headed to Israel where he prayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. In the offing is a jaunt to Rome, to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Francis. But for all the treacle about “why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation [Saudi Arabia] that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic faith,” Trump sidestepped the fact that he is not welcome in those two sites, Mecca and Medina.

Why? Because the president is a non-Muslim. Non-Muslims are not allowed to step their infidel feet in Islam’s sacred cities.

That iteration of Islamic intolerance is squarely based on scripture — see, e.g., the Koran’s Sura 9:28: “Oh you who believe! Truly the idolaters are unclean, so let them not, after this year, approach the sacred mosque” — a verse that specifically relates to the Grand Mosque in Mecca (Makkah), and has been extended by Islamic scholars to Medina. That is why Trump’s House of Saud hosts enforce a ban on entry by non-Muslims to both cities.

I say that this ban is just one “iteration of Islamic intolerance” for two reasons.

First, there are many other iterations. Scripturally based Islamic doctrine systematically discriminates against non-Muslims in many particulars, and against women in many others. Since Trump’s “principled realism” is said to be rooted in “common values,” it might be worth a gander at the guidance Trump’s State Department provides to Americans pondering a trip to the kingdom:

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, imprisoned, subject to physical punishments, or even executed. Penalties for the import, manufacture, possession, and consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs in Saudi Arabia are severe. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences, heavy fines, public floggings, and/or deportation. The penalty for drug trafficking is death . . .

Faith-Based Travelers: Islam is the official religion of the country and pervades all aspects of life in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi authorities do not permit criticism of Islam, religious figures, or the royal family.

The government prohibits the public practice of religions other than Islam. Non-Muslims suspected of violating these restrictions have been jailed. Church services in private homes have been raided, and participants have been jailed.

Muslims who do not adhere to the strict interpretations of Islam prevalent in much of Saudi Arabia frequently encounter societal discrimination and constraints on worship.

Public display of non-Islamic religious articles, such as crosses and Bibles, is not permitted.

[And, of course . . .] Non-Muslims are forbidden to travel to Makkah (Mecca) and Medina, the cities where two of Islam’s holiest mosques are located . . .

LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual relations, even when they are consensual, are criminalized in Saudi Arabia. Violations of Saudi laws governing perceived expressions of, or support for, same sex sexual relations, including on social media, may be subject to severe punishment. Potential penalties include fines, jail time, or death.

The State Department guidance suggests that readers consult the International Religious Freedom Report produced in 2015 by State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. It relates the brutal punishments meted out by some Islamic countries — not jihadist organizations, but governments in Muslim-majority countries — for blasphemy and apostasy. The paragraph on the Kingdom is worth reading:

In Saudi Arabia, media and local sources reported that the General Court in Abha sentenced Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh to death for apostasy in November, overturning a previous sentence of four years’ imprisonment and 800 lashes (the death sentence was subsequently overturned in February 2016 and a sentence of eight years’ imprisonment and 800 lashes imposed). Officials from the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice initially arrested Fayadh in August 2013, after reports that he had made disparaging remarks about Islam. In a separate incident in January, authorities publicly lashed Raif Badawi 50 times in accordance with a sentence based on his 2013 conviction for violating Islamic values, violating sharia, committing blasphemy, and mocking religious symbols on the Internet.

This is why, watching Trump and his senior aides prance about the palace in Riyadh, doing “the sword dance” with their fellow male revelers, I couldn’t help but wonder if they realized how often their host regime uses the scimitars to carry out beheadings for violations of Islamic law. There were 153 decapitations last year and 158 in 2015.

It is worth emphasizing: That is not something that was done by ISIS for violations of sharia. It was done by the government of Saudi Arabia for violations of sharia.

Which brings us to the second reason why Islamic intolerance must be noted in our consideration of “principled realism”: That intolerance is the foundation of “extremism,” the studiously unexamined term Trump now applies to jihadist terrorism, just as Obama and Bush did before him.

There was much ado in the lead up and delivery of Trump’s speech regarding how he would describe the phenomenon he labeled “radical Islamic terrorism” throughout the 2016 campaign — ridiculing the craven political correctness of rivals who shied away from this terminology. As with much else Trump said on the hustings, the label is the subject of intense infighting in his administration.

Reflecting the view of former military commanders who serve in the administration’s top ranks (and who carried out Bush’s “Islamic democracy” building and Obama’s embrace of our Islamic “partners”), national-security adviser H. R. McMaster is said to be repulsed by the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” apparently seeing it as needlessly provocative. Other Trump strategists, who supported the campaign’s promise to be unflinching in illustrating the nexus between Islamic scripture and Muslim terrorism, strongly favor the term. Trump, who simultaneously wants (a) profitable relations with the Saudis, (b) the refutation of claims that he is anti-Muslim, and (c) credit for being honest about the connection between Islam and terror, seems torn.

The intramural squabble was evident during the speech. As prepared, the text had the president calling for “honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires” (emphasis added). But when he actually delivered his remarks, Trump departed from the script, speaking instead of “honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.”

An unidentified aide insisted to the New York Times that the president was “exhausted” and simply misspoke when he invoked “Islamic.” To the contrary, I believe he is struggling to resolve this tension. As I pointed out prior to his inauguration, however, it is unclear that Trump grasps why the tension is significant: For him, it may reflect concern over the inevitable criticism if he abandons hot campaign rhetoric, not over whether the distinction between Islamic and Islamist is viable.

We draw this distinction out of a conviction that Islam the religion should not be confounded with Islamism the political ideology. This conviction may be more a matter of wishful thinking than anything that can be called “realism.” That is manifest when we review the afore-described State Department guidance. Intolerance of non-Muslims and subjugation of women is not a reflection of jihadist “extremism”; it is mainstream Islam as practiced and codified in sharia societies.

So here is the problem: The definition of “extremism” that Trump’s “principled realism” sets itself against is artificial and incoherent. It is true, of course, that not all Muslims who support the intolerance rooted in Islamic doctrine and expressed by the policies of majority-Muslim regimes will become violent jihadists. Nonetheless, violent jihad is a natural progression from that intolerance. Yet Trump’s “principled realism” holds that the American people and sharia societies share “common values” that will cause the latter to fight jihadism.

How could anyone believe this is the case unless he is willfully blind to how the kingdom is governed, the longstanding support Saudis have provided for terrorism, and the number of Saudis complicit in anti-American terrorism? Trump is trying to have it both ways: acknowledge that the threat is ideological (and demand plaudits for brave political incorrectness in doing so), but pretend that the violent aspects of the ideology can be — indeed, have been — compartmentalized from the intolerant dehumanization of non-Muslims at the core of the ideology.

If this is Trump’s position, then why all the fuss about “extreme vetting”?

If you are myopically focused on terrorism, you are missing most of the challenge posed by sharia encroachment.

The imperative to enhance the vetting process for people trying to enter the U.S. from hotbeds of radical Islam was a major plank of the Trump campaign. It is the eventual goal hovering over disputes over temporary travel bans the president has tried to impose since the start of his administration. But does anyone remember the objective of “extreme vetting”? It was to bar entry to those adherent to the ideology (which I prefer to call “sharia supremacism”) that promotes not just terrorism but anti-Americanism and anti-constitutionalism. Our immigration law already vets for ties to terrorism.

In his “principled realism” speech, however, the president takes the position that we’re only concerned about violence. “We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do,” he says. Our “goal is . . . to conquer extremism” — a term the president narrows to mean terrorism — lest he insult his “gracious hosts.” If you are myopically focused on terrorism, however, you are missing most of the challenge posed by sharia encroachment. Jihadist terror is not pointless; its purpose is to impose sharia — a version of it similar to what the Saudis enforce.

The president is up in a balloon because, as he explained in his speech, he has “signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.” Perhaps his strategists could inform the president that when Saudi Arabia invests in America, the result invariably includes the construction of schools and mosques that propagate the ideology that causes the State Department to issue the travel guidance outlined above. (See, e.g., my 2010 profile of the Dar al-Hijra mosque in Virginia.)

According to the president, “principled realism” is based not only on purported “common values” but also “shared interests.” That does make sense. The Trump administration is returning American foreign policy to its pre-Obama orientation against the Shiite jihadist regime in Iran. The Sunni states also oppose Iran. That is the “shared interest.” It is a significant area of agreement, but a narrow one. We should not delude ourselves into thinking it signifies “common values.”

In a passage that could as easily have been spoken by President Bush, and probably even by President Obama, President Trump asserted:

This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between Good and Evil [capitalization in White House-issued text].

So we’re back to the question whether Islam has anything to do with Islamist (or Islamic) terrorism.

I’ll take it from the Saudi perspective. Let’s say, as the president does, that we are truly engaged in a battle between good and evil. When you read the State Department’s guidance regarding travel to Saudi Arabia — guidance that is necessary because of the way the Saudi government treats non-Muslims, women, apostates, and homosexuals — do you suppose the Saudis and their Sunni confederates see the United States as the “good” or the “evil” side?

President Trump is banking on the former. I’m not.

The West has Failed to Defend its Most Innocent and Precious

 

Terror Trends Bulletin, by Christopher W. Holton, May 23, 2017:

Yesterday, 22 May, Jihadists struck again in Great Britain, this time in Manchester at the famed Manchester arena.

In this latest attack, Western civilization has been exposed. We Westerners have failed to protect the most innocent and precious among us, our little girls.

Make no mistake, in Jihadi circles our inability to protect this segment of our population is being viewed with ridicule and disdain today, further emboldening a barbaric, pitiless enemy.

It can be no accident or coincidence that the Jihadis picked as a target a music concert where young teen age girls would be most prevalent.

The concert embodied much of what Sharia-compliant Islam finds abhorrent about Western culture: music, fun, frivolity, and females enjoying themselves independently in public. Wherever Sharia rules–Saudi Arabia, Taliban Afghanistan, Deobandi Pakistan, northern Nigeria, Somalia, the Islamic State, Iran and parts of regions around the globe–music is largely forbidden, women are covered and rendered to be essentially chattel.

The Jihadists chose to lash out at this event in this location on purpose. They pre-selected their victims for this act of war: teenage girls.

What does it say about our society in the West today that we seem to only be able to respond to barbaric, bloody acts of war with sadness?

It is no accident that the Jihadis targeted one of the West’s pop culture celebrations, of which our youth are so consumed. The Jihadis chose a symbol and an idol of our pop culture to target, kill and terrorize the most innocent among us.

The reaction of the Western entertainment industry tells all one needs to know about where we are as a culture and why we are so impotent in fighting back against this scourge in our midst–particularly in the all-important war of ideas.

There was singer Katy Perry lamenting on Twitter that she was “broken hearted for the state of the world.”

This isn’t about the “state of the world.” It’s about the war that is being waged upon us–not just in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, but in our own cities, our own concerts, night clubs, churches, and celebrations. It’s about Islamic jihad. We have been on the receiving end repeatedly of these barbaric attacks rooted in a savage religious doctrine.

It’s not about “hate.” It’s not about “extremism” or “radicalism.” It’s about Islamic jihad, a doctrine that goes back many centuries to the origins of sharia.

When the Nazis bombed Britain during the Blitz in 1940, was the reaction, “What is going on with the ‘state of the world’?”

For that matter, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, raped Nanking and seized Singapore, was the world’s reaction sadness over the “state of the world?”

Or was the reaction to these acts of war resolve? Was it healthy, understandable anger and a firm intention to respond to the attacks and defeat the enemy? Of course it was. Our grandparents and great grandparents didn’t respond with teddy bears, flowers and candlelight vigils. They knew that they had a mission and a purpose to make things right and save the free world.

Don’t think for a second that what happened in Manchester could not happen in the United States. Of course it could. It has already happened in Orlando, San Bernardino, Boston, New York, Chattanooga, Little Rock, Garland, Washington, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere.

Western civilization must wake up to the fact that we are under assault. We are on the receiving end of a modern-day Blitz, like Britain was in 1940. Today’s Blitz is a very different kind of Blitz, but it is war nonetheless. It is high time that Western leaders quit regarding these attacks as “tragedies” or even “crimes.” They are acts of war. Until we acknowledge that they are acts of war, treat them as acts of war, and respond to them as acts of war, not only will they continue to escalate, but our ability to fight back will continue to be crippled by our own impotence.

Another entertainer who tweeted in response to the Manchester Jihadi attack was Miley Cyrus, who counts among her fan base many of the same young girls who are fans of Ariana Grande. Cyrus called for “No more war.”

Exactly how is that supposed to come about? The young girls massacred last night didn’t know they were at war because they have been lied to by Western leaders and entertainment icons.

The West could lay down its arms today and the Jihadis would only move in and seize control. If the Jihadis laid down their arms, their nail bombs, suicide vests and AK-47s, there would be no war.

Do you think there were any signs in London in 1940 calling for “no more war?” Who in Hawaii was shouting out “no more war” in December 1941? “No more war” in those days would have meant a plunge into darkness and death on an unimaginable scale.

We shouldn’t be calling for no more war today. We should take a clue from our ancestors, who were clearly better than we are, and call for victory.

Our collective mindset must change and it cannot change as long as massacres of civilians in attacks carried out by enemies in our streets are labeled as “tragedies” and regarded as mere “crimes.” We need a war mindset. The survival of our way of life depends upon it.

The only heroes in the current scenario are the first responders, the men and women who arrive on-scene after the carnage is through.

We also need other kinds of heroes–rough men who stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.

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Also see:

Manchester Arena bombed at conclusion of Ariana Grande concert

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, May 23, 2017:

An explosion rocked the Manchester Arena in England at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert last night. At least 22 people were killed and 59 others wounded by the blast.

The Islamic State has issued a statement claiming responsibility for the bombing. The message doesn’t provide any details about the bomber.

“With Allah’s grace and support, a soldier of the Khilafah managed to place explosive devices in the midst of the gatherings of the Crusaders in the British city of Manchester, in revenge for Allah’s religion, in an endeavor to terrorize the mushrikin [polytheists], and in response to their transgressions against the lands of the Muslims,” the statement reads.

The Islamic State’s claim continues: “The explosive devices were detonated in the shameless concert arena, resulting in 30 Crusaders being killed and 70 others being wounded. And what comes next will be more severe on the worshipers of the Cross and their allies, by Allah’s permission. And all praise is due to Allah, Lord of the creation.”

The statement doesn’t indicate that the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber and implies that multiple improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were used. Also, the Islamic State claims that 30 people were killed, which is more than independent reports say.

It is suspected that a suicide bomber was responsible and it appears that only one bomb was detonated. It is possible that the terrorist responsible accidentally killed himself in the explosion. But the precise details still need to be confirmed.

Manchester police think that a lone individual detonated the IED, but they are investigating the possibility that other people were involved.

“We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe, at this stage, the attack last night was conducted by one man,” Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said in a statement released online. “The priority is to establish whether he was acting along or as part of a network.”

“The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena,” Hopkins added. “We believe the attacker was carrying an improvise explosive device which he detonated causing this atrocity.”

During a press conference this morning, British Prime Minister Theresa May said that authorities have identified the perpetrator, but his name cannot be publicly confirmed at this time. British officials are attempting to identify any possible accomplices.

Initial reports indicate that the bomb may have been packed with shrapnel, such as nails, nuts or bolts. The first issue of AQAP’s English-language Inspire magazine, which was released in 2010, provided step-by-step instructions on how to build such a device. The article, “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom,” instructed followers to “use iron pipes, pressure cookers, fire extinguishers, or empty propane canisters.”

“You need to also include shrapnel,” AQAP explained. “The best shrapnel are the spherical shaped ones.” But AQAP advised that jihadists “may use nails” if “steel pellets are not available.”

Similar explosive devices were used by two brothers in the Apr. 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, which were celebrated in another edition of AQAP’s Inspire.

Improvised explosive devices were also used during the Sept. 2016 attacks in New York and New Jersey. The man accused of committing those bombings, Ahmad Khan Rahami, left behind a notebook in which he cited both Al Qaeda and Islamic State figures.

Although AQAP first sought to inspire would-be jihadists to carry out “lone mujahid” attacks in the West, the Islamic State has had more success in inspiring and guiding such plots since 2014. Islamic State members, such as Reyaad Khan, have used online applications to guide their followers in the UK and elsewhere.

Khan provided his would-be accomplices with “construction plans” for IEDs and also helped them identify “targets,” according to an investigation by the UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee. Khan was killed in Britain’s first targeted drone strike ever in Raqqa, Syria on Aug. 21, 2015. British officials justified the bombing by citing intelligence indicating that Khan and his co-conspirators generated threats on an “unprecedented scale.” [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Why the UK launched its first targeted drone strike ever.]

Most of the attacks connected to Islamic State in Europe have used vehicles, knives or other means, as opposed to IEDs. For example, a jihadist who struck near the UK Parliament in March drove his vehicle into a crowd, then jumped out and used a blade to assault other people.

A jihadist did use backpack bomb in a July 2016 attack in Ansbach, Germany. That bombing was also claimed by the Islamic State.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.

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7 Moments from Trump’s Speech in Saudi Arabia

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in Saudi Arabia (Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, May 22, 2017:

President Trump’s brazen speech in Saudi Arabia is being praised from (almost) all quarters. Its powerful moments will be remembered for years and will reverberate throughout the Middle East. But no speech is perfect.

Here are seven moments from the speech, starting with what may be the closest President Trump may come to having his “Tear Down This Wall” moment:

  1. It is a choice between two futures – and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you.
    A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out.
     DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship.
    DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities.
    DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and
    DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH.
    This is strongest statement towards the Muslim world uttered by an American president since 9/11 and perhaps in history. These words—and the Trumpian delivery of them—will be remembered for years to come. While eloquent words favored by speechwriters and high-brow elites are usually forgotten, these won’t be.There are also two clear sub-messages: One, that the Muslim world is not adequately “driving them out,” meaning, the Islamists still thrive in mosques, holy lands (which would include Saudi Arabia) and Muslim communities. The enemy are not fringe, undetectable loners. Secondly, don’t outsource your responsibility for this to America.

    We won’t let you scapegoat us and have us respond by apologizing for the grievances you use to excuse yourself from responsibility. This is your problem: Own it.

  2. Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear: Barbarism will deliver you no glory – piety to evil will bring you no dignity. If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and YOUR SOUL WILL BE CONDEMNED. This is another strike in the ideological war where the Trumpian way of speaking is powerful, especially when you consider how accustomed the Middle East is to the softer diplomatic tone of the West in contrast to the fiery hyperbole that is common place in that part of the world.Trump recognized something crucial: The enemy believes it is pious and is impacted by religious teaching from authoritative figures. It’s not about anger over foreign policy or joblessness or lack of education. It’s about piety and a belief that dying in jihad is a guaranteed ticket to Paradise.
  3. That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews and the slaughter of Christians.

    Most of the speech used vague, relative terms like “terrorism” and “extremism.” The focus was almost entirely on ISIS and Iran. But then came this paragraph. President Trump identified the enemy not just as Islamist terrorist groups, but the Islamist extremism foundation necessary for those groups to manifest.Of special note is the line about “persecution of Jews.” This was not stated with some moral equivalence about how Israel shares blame for stifling the nationalist aspirations of Palestinians. No, Trump identified anti-Semitism as a central problem outside of the context of Israel. That omission is powerful.The identification of the enemy as Islamist extremism is refreshing, but as Dr. Daniel Pipes points out, “one statement does not a policy make.” Even Obama uttered the word “jihadist” on a few rare occasions.

    The framing of the enemy as Islamism should have been the focal point of the speech, rather than waiting until the middle and the end to use the term. What should have followed was a strategy, with the sticks and carrots, to uproot the sustainers of the ideology so it dissipates into history. A question is left hanging, “Now what? What changes?”

  4. The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and so many others must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams.

    The inclusion of Hamas and Hezbollah in this section is very significant. It wasn’t a call for Hamas and Hezbollah to drop terrorism to achieve their goals, as if they are freedom fighters gone astray.The argument wasn’t that their actions are counterproductive: It was that their very existence has sabotaged a potentially promising future from the people of the Middle East—not just Palestinians and Lebanese, but everyone. Again he framed the issue not as a consequence of Israel, thus negating claims of Hamas and Hezbollah of being “liberation” movements.

  5. The birthplace of civilization is waiting to begin a new renaissance. Just imagine what tomorrow could bring.This is a call for a reformation into modernity (as opposed to the “reformation” offered by the Islamist movements). President Obama acknowledged this necessity—but he did it in an interview, not in a historical speech to the Muslim world from Saudi Arabia.Ideally, Trump would have given a little more time to describe what is holding back this renaissance beyond a generic attribution to “extremism.” He should have taken a queue from Egyptian President El-Sisi and consulted with progressive Muslim reformers.

    Trump called for “gradual change,” but failed to mention freedom, even gradually-granted freedom. His team likely worried that the mention of freedom would be interpreted as a synonym for democracy promotion, but caveats could have addressed that. This renaissance and rolling back of Islamism will require greater political and religious freedom, and acknowledging so does not make one an advocate of hasty destabilizations.

  6. Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.President Obama’s attitude towards Iran unnerved our Sunni Arab partners in the region. The heavy focus on Iran should help address that, but the fixation on the Iranian regime seemed to echo the Saudi line that Iran is responsible for practically all of the terrorism and extremism in the region. This let the Sunni side of radical Islam get off easy.The statement about hoping for a better government for the Iranian people is positive, as it at least welcomes regime change.However, it does not signal an American commitment to regime change in Iran or even regime destabilization. President Trump’s opposition to regime change is clear. To the ears of skeptical Iranians seeking freedom, this will sound like another investment in the hope that the Iranian  “moderates” in the regime can slowly gain support in the theocratic system.
  7. The Sunni governments got off easy.If you listened to the Saudi king’s speech before Trump’s—where he said sharia protects innocent life and promotes peace and tolerance [basically engaging in dawa (proselytizing) to the world] — you’d see that he was one small step from declaring an American-Sunni jihad on Iran. It gave the impression that the Saudis saw the words of the speech as relating to ISIS and Iran alone, not holding them accountable.Based on the way Trump talked about the Saudis, you would have thought they were modern day Minutemen in need of a motivational speech. I shared Dr. Daniel Pipes’ reaction of “gagging” at the praise he gave to King Salman, who is known to have directly financed jihadists.The massive sale of arms to the Saudis was described as “blessed,” as if God’s hand had arranged and approved of the transfer. The Saudis’ opening of a Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology was praised as “groundbreaking,” even though we’ve heard this story over and over and have no details with which to judge it as “groundbreaking” or not. At this point, it’s more like the wolf guarding the hen house.Qatar and Kuwait, two major financiers of Islamist terrorism and extremism, were praised shortly before Trump praised the Gulf Cooperation Council for blocking terror-financing.

Overall, the speech had tremendous moments, with important subtleties that are important to notice. But the speech was not a launch of an ideological war against Islamism. While it was a great call to action, it was not a plan of action. If this speech is to produce concrete results, the declaration of a bold plan of action must soon follow.

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s Shillman Fellow and national security analyst and an adjunct professor of counter-terrorism. He is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. To invite Ryan to speak, please contact us.

Trump in Saudi Arabia: Fight ‘Islamic Terror’ & ‘Drive Them Out’

President Donald Trump delivers a speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit, at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, May 21, 2017:

President Donald Trump delivered the first major foreign policy speech of his tenure Sunday evening in Riyadh, discussing his vision for how America should conduct its international affairs.

America will engage with the world through the lens of a “Principled Realism,” Trump explained, “rooted in common values and shared interests.”

The president delivered on a crucial campaign promise to identify the global jihadist movement as one of the key threats to world stability. Speaking in Saudi Arabia, in front of the leaders of dozens of Muslim nations, Trump called upon the world to “drive out” the “Islamic terror” movements that persist within their countries.

“The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams,” he proclaimed.

In labeling the enemies of world order as “Islamic” terrorists, he diverted from a final prepared transcript of the finished speech that referenced “Islamist” terrorists. The departure is significant. Defining the enemy as “Islamic” signals a call for reform within the religion, while labeling the enemy as “Islamist” refers to a violent supremacist political ideology.

The president demanded that leaders confront “the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamist and Islamic terror of all kinds.”

“And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians,” he added.

Delivering an impassioned plea to his counterparts in the Muslim world, he argued that “a better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists.”

“Drive. Them. Out!” the president exclaimed. “Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land, and drive them out of this earth.

Marking a departure from the Obama administration’s coziness with Iran, Trump highlighted the threat posed by the Iranian regime and its proxies in Lebanese Hezbollah and the Houthis of Yemen. He called on American allies to isolate the Iranian regime and stop it in its quest for global dominance.

“From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror,” President Trump said. “It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.”

The president called upon “nations of conscience”  to “work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.”

Trump will wrap up his visit to Saudi Arabia this evening and depart for Israel, where he will spend the next two days.

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.

Also see:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Trump must tackle Saudi fanaticism when he’s in Riyadh

Fox News, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, May 19, 2017:

As he leaves behind a maelstrom of domestic political troubles, President Trump must be one of the few people in the world who goes to the Middle East for some peace. However, the region badly needs some of Trump’s characteristic disruption.

On Saturday and Sunday, the president will meet Saudi leaders in Riyadh. The Saudis have organized a sprawling “Arab Islamic American Summit” around Trump’s visit, with leaders from dozens of Muslim countries visiting. No doubt his hosts will want Mr. Trump to focus on strategic issues, in particular the threat to them and other Sunni states posed by Iran. Yet he should resist the temptation to read from Riyadh’s script.

For decades, there has been bipartisan concern in America about Saudi Arabia’s role in disseminating radical Islamist ideology around the world.

After the initial shock of the 9/11 attacks, Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) investigated the risks posed by Wahhabi ideology in the United States. Hearings uncovered a serious problem, but the Bush administration opted to focus on acts of violence, not the ideology underlying the violence.

President Obama’s former representative to Muslim communities, Farah Pandith, visited eighty countries between 2009 and 2014.

“In each place I visited, the Wahhabi influence was an insidious presence . . . funding all this was Saudi money, which paid for things like the textbooks, mosques, TV stations and the training of Imams,” she wrote in 2015.

Just last year, Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), stated that thousands of schools in Pakistan funded with Saudi money, “teach a version of Islam that leads . . . into an . . . anti-Western militancy.” Yet Obama, like Bush, did little to counter these Saudi efforts, despite their obviously harmful effects around the world.

Americans elected Donald Trump because they wanted to shake things up, and not only in Washington, D.C. When he is in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Trump should shake things up by publicly raising three issues:

1. Salafi Wahhabi ideology

In the 18th century, a desert warrior named Ibn Saud formed an alliance with a Hanbali religious reformer, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab. Saud wanted power. Wahhab aimed to return to Islam’s “pure” early history. The two decided to join forces.

In modern times, Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist clergy has been given an effective monopoly over education and religious instruction in the Kingdom, while the royal family has run economics and foreign policy.

The problem is that Wahhabi Islam is highly discriminatory towards women, non-Muslims and religious reformers.

It fosters radical Islamic indoctrination (dawa) which lends itself easily to violent jihad. This is what Saudi’s Grand Mufti, ibn Baz, argued in an English-language book in 1998:

The aim of dawa and jihad is not to shed blood, take wealth, or enslave women and children; these things happen incidentally but are not the aim. This only takes place when the disbelievers (non-Muslims) refrain from accepting the truth and persist in disbelief and refuse to be subdued and pay the jizya [the tax levied on free non-Muslims living under Muslim rule] when it is requested from them. In this case, Allah has prescribed the Muslims to kill them, take their wealth as booty and enslave their women and children . . . this religion (Islam) . . . is superior to every law and system.

2. The funding of dawa, the ideology of radical Islam

From 1973 through 2002, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia spent an estimated $87 billion to promote dawa efforts abroad.  Some of this money landed in the United States: Saudi Arabia helped finance at least 16 Islamic and cultural centers in California, Missouri, Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Virginia and Maryland.

A study by Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom in 2005 found that “Saudi-connected resources and publications on extremist ideology remain common reading and educational material in some of America’s main mosques . . . including Los Angeles, Oakland, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Washington, and New York.”  The publications contained anti-American, anti-Semitic, and jihadist ideology, and advocated removing women from the public sphere entirely. Since 2005, a number of overtly hateful materials have been removed from American mosques, but as of 2017 the ideological infrastructure of political Islam in America remains largely intact.

The Saudis also continue to influence America’s top universities. In 2005, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Alsaud donated $20 million to Harvard and another $20 million to Georgetown to advance Islamic Studies. Georgetown created “the Bridge Initiative against Islamophobia”. Increasingly, that word “Islamophobia” is used to silence anyone, even Muslim reformers, who dare ask critical questions about radical Islam.

President Trump must make it clear that this type of funding of dawa in the United States must stop immediately—including contributions from Saudi NGOs and private individuals who support radical ideology within the United States.

3. The imams or the agents that are trained and funded by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and others

Saudi Arabia has played a harmful role by indoctrinating Muslim clerics from around the world at Wahhabist institutions such as the University of Medina.

Many Western citizens are concerned about the human rights abuses committed by the radical group Boko Haram, including the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls. But how did radical Islam establish itself in Africa’s most populous state? The answer is: Saudi Arabia.

According to one recent study, the spread of Islamic extremism in northern Nigeria began “with graduates of the Islamic University of Medina who returned home in the 1990s and 2000s.” Although the founder of Boko Haram, Muhammad Yusuf, was not himself a Medina graduate, he was a protege of Shaykh Ja’far Mahmud Adam, who had studied at Medina.

It happened here, too. Warith Deen Umar was for two decades the top imam in New York’s prison system. With help from the Saudi government, Umar traveled to Saudi Arabia and returned to indoctrinate to New York’s expanding ranks of Muslim prisoners with Wahhabism. Umar ministered to thousands of inmates and training dozens of chaplains. Yet this was the man who in 2003 told the Wall Street Journal that the 9/11 hijackers should be “honored as martyrs”.

For decades, to be sure, American officials have raised these concerns with the Saudis, but only privately. The Saudis usually promise some improvement, which never materializes. Almost inevitably, short-term military considerations lead us to drop these concerns.

After 9/11, the U.S. even accepted the Saudi demand not to associate Islamic terrorism with Islam itself—hence the endless repetition of the empty phrase that “Islam is a religion of peace.”

The result is a worldwide epidemic. Saudi Salafi-Wahhabi Islam can now be found in all corners of the world, destabilizing Pakistan, the horn of Africa, Nigeria, and even Indonesia.

More than 15 years after 9/11, it is now time to do things our way.

During his election campaign, Donald Trump pulled no punches on the issue of Islamic extremism. He pledged to “eradicate radical Islamic terrorism completely from the face of the earth.”

Former Muslims like me dared to hope that an American president might finally get serious by tackling not only terrorism but also the wells of extremist ideology from which terrorists drink long before they commit acts of violence.

Yet for Mr. Trump, eager to seek a political “success” story after weeks of White House turmoil and negative media coverage, the old path of least resistance must now look tempting. No doubt he is being advised to raise the three issues I have described above only privately, if at all. No doubt he is being urged to focus on military cooperation, like his predecessors.

But if Mr. Trump does not follow through on this promise to tackle radical Islamic ideology at the root, he will be passing up an historic opportunity.

The world has suffered for too long from Saudi Arabia’s toxic ideological exports.

The Kingdom’s young reforming leader is not the first Saudi prince to ask for American help. This time, Donald Trump should ask for something meaningful in return.

Now is not the time, and Saudi Arabia is definitely not the place, for the most disruptive president of modern times to dial it down.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is founder of the AHA Foundation, which exists to protect women and girls from abuses of the sort described in this article. She is also a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford.

How to Prepare for a ‘Meet Your Muslim Neighbors’ Event

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during an open day at Finsbury Park Mosque in North London. Visit My Mosque Day, London, UK – 05 Feb 2017 On Visit My Mosque Day over 150 mosques around the UK open their doors to the public, offering a better understanding of religion in effort to counter rising Islamophobia. (Rex Features via AP Images)

PJ Media, by Hugh Fitzgerald, May 19, 2017:

Have you visited a mosque lately?

“Meet Your Muslim Neighbors,” “Ask A Muslim,” “Coffee, Cake, and Islam.” These are some of the welcoming names for these events you may have seen advertised recently, events at which local imams and other Muslims promise to tell visitors “the truth about our faith.”

These events are highly scripted — and highly predictable. What they actually deliver: a well-practiced lecture that sanitizes Islam, confirming the rose-colored, politically correct concept of the religion that dominates the political Left.

The event ordinarily begins with a fulsome welcome. The Muslim hosts mention being thrilled that so many have come out to “meet your Muslim neighbors” because “so many of you, I know, want to learn more about our faith.” Most importantly, “you are probably confused by all the stories in the media, so we thought we’d try to set the record straight. For there can be no better way to learn about Islam than by meeting Muslims themselves to tell you what it’s all about.” Then a short lecture is given, with a Q and A afterwards. And — an important part of the charm offensive — generally some amazing Middle Eastern food is laid out to end the evening, leaving everyone sated and content.

The lecture generally begins with the declaration by the hosts that “Islam means peace,” and this is flatly false. Any Arabic speaker would know that Islam means “submission.”

But who would be impolite enough to take issue with a welcoming Muslim telling you that he believes Islam means peace? Probably, some guests may think there’s room for doubt in translation, but in any case, why would they cause a fuss already when they are all trying to get along?

Then it’s on to the Five Pillars of Islam, which are always given pride of place: the Shahada (profession of faith); Salat (the five canonical prayers); Zakat (the required charitable giving); Sawm (the fasting at Ramadan); and Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca that a believer should make, if he can afford it, at least once in his life).

The list is winningly exotic, great fun for the guests to take notes on — oh, but there’s no need, they’ve been given a sheet that lists all five and their supposedly authoritative definitions — and memorize. The Five Pillars may seem comforting, too, because they do sound familiar to Judeo-Christian guests: a profession of faith, prayers, fasting, charitable giving, pilgrimage.

Yet these presentations never inform the audience that the Five Pillars are not shared elements of the Abrahamic religions, but in fact radical departures.

For example: Salat, the five daily prayers, include the repeated recitation — 17 times a day — of a phrase condemning Jews and Christians from the Fatiha, the first sura of the Qur’an. The last two verses of the Fatiha ask Allah:

Show us the straight path, the path of those whom Thou hast favoured; not the (path) of those who earn thine anger nor of those who go astray.

According to virtually all Muslim Qur’anic commentary, including that deemed most authoritative both today and throughout Islamic history, those who “earn thine anger” are the Jews, and those who “go astray” are the Christians. These descriptions of the Jews and Christians appear elsewhere throughout the Qur’an, removing any doubt. In both cases they are to be avoided by Muslims; they are cursed people.

But what Muslim host will admit “we curse the infidels 17 times a day”? And what infidel guest who attends such an event will know enough about the Fatiha to ask about the matter?

Similarly, Zakat is described as the charitable giving required of Muslims, and this certainly puts Muslims in a good light. But what will not be explained is that charity is to be given only to fellow Muslims. These may include recent converts to Islam who may be wavering, and need a kind of bribe, in the form of zakat, to guarantee their continued allegiance. The infidel guests at these events will not be told any of this, and again, likely would not know to ask.

Then it’s on to the Qu’ran. The hosts will explain that “Muslims believe the Qur’an is the immutable word of God.” The “suras,” these are “our chapters,” and some of the titles of the 114 suras will be given — “The Cow,” “The Bee, “The Ornaments of Gold,” “The Small Kindness” — to amuse the infidel guests. It’s all so new and exotic! The Muslim hosts may mention that “just as you have Bible competitions, we have Qur’an competitions to see who has memorized all of the Qur’an; we call such a person a hafiz. We have contests to see who can recite the Qur’an most beautifully.” Continuing in this insubstantial vein, they may explain why Muslims treat the physical Qur’an with such respect. And why Muslims should ideally read the Qur’an in Arabic; how beautiful it sounds to those who know the language.

A lot of time is being used up, and the guests are under the illusion they are learning something of substance. They are not.

On to the Qur’an itself: Whatever other verses the Muslim hosts may choose to discuss, two that are almost certain to be mentioned are 2:256 and 5:32. Qur’an 2:256 states:

There is no compulsion in religion.

This seems unambiguous. But if we know just a little about Islam, which our Muslim hosts hope we do not, we may be aware that the penalty for apostasy in Islam is death. Could there be a more severe kind of “compulsion in religion”?

If we also know about the treatment of the dhimmi — a word that will never be brought up by the Muslim hosts — we will have a still more skeptical view of 2:256. An unbeliever has only three choices in a Muslim state, according to the Qur’an: to convert to Islam, to be killed, or to endure life as a dhimmi by paying a heavy tax called the jizyah and submitting to many other humiliations. This is, of course, as severe as “compulsion” gets. But most infidels would simply take Qur’an 2:256 at face value during these events.

The second verse that is certain to be quoted is 5:32:

[W]hoever 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.

Well, that sounds like proof the “real,” peaceful Islam we’ve all been hearing about. But the Muslim hosts never get around to reading the very next sentence, 5:33, because all of this hinges on the word “innocent”:

The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after  corruption in the land  will be  that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land.

Who “makes war upon Allah and His messenger”? Why, the infidels, of course. But who among the guests at these Meet-Your-Muslim-Neighbor nights will know enough to question this deceptive matter of quoting 5:32 without 5:33?

Just as there are a handful of verses sure to be quoted, there will be others left carefully alone. No Muslim at these Meet-Your-Muslim-Neighbor affairs wants you to know about Qur’an 9:29:

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book (the Jews), until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

Nor will they want you to know about Qur’an 9:5:

Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

There are more than 100 other Jihad verses, similarly blood-curdling, including several that command believers to “strike terror” into the hearts of non-believers, which will also be left carefully unremarked.

And that’s not all that will be left out. What about Muhammad, the Perfect Man? What Muslim at these affairs will willingly discuss little Aisha, whom Muhammad married (and consummated the marriage) when she was nine and he was in his 50s? What Muslim will talk about how Muhammad had certain people who had mocked him assassinated (Asma bint Marwan, Abu ‘Afak, Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf)? What Muslim will want to talk about Muhammad as a slave-owner?

What Muslim will discuss Muhammad’s ordering and participating in the slaughter of 600-900 prisoners of the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe?

What Muslim will talk about Muhammad’s raid on the Khaybar oasis, where he seized Safiyya after having killed her husband, father, and other relatives, and “married” her?

What Muslim will want to discuss Kinana, a Jewish man from Khaybar, tortured gruesomely on Muhammad’s express orders just to extract information about hidden treasure?

What Muslim would want to explain, given all that, that Muslims consider Muhammad to be “the Perfect Man” (al-insan al-kamil) and the “Model of Conduct” (uswa hasana)?

By all means, go to these events. Shunning them simply leaves the floor wide open for Muslim apologists and propagandists. You have a duty to inform your fellow infidels about all these misrepresentations and evasions.

Go prepared: learn about the Fatiha’s kuffar-cursing, about zakat, about the two Qur’anic verses you will definitely be force-fed, and about the “Jihad” verses that will be deliberately kept from you. Bring a dozen of the most disturbing verses on notecards, ready to be rattled off. Know the more piquant details of Muhammad’s life, beginning with little Aisha, that suggest Muhammad was not a “Model of Conduct.” Ask your host to comment on Aisha, or Asma bint Marwan, or the Banu Qurayza. Ask, as innocently as you can, why Qur’an 98:6 describes infidels as ‘the vilest of creatures.”

You can help undermine the meretricious farce of these Meet-Your-Muslim affairs. Even a little learning about the Qur’an and Muhammad can be, if you are rightly guided, a dangerous thing for your hosts and a service for your community.