Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Dangerous Retreat From The War Of Ideas

Within the past week, Homeland Security released the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, and Defense Department released the Quadrennial Defense Review. These are major reports designed to drive policy for the next few years. Yet reading through the two of them, there seems to be something missing - like any mention of the threat from "Islamic" terrorists. Indeed, other than a mention of al Qaeda and generic "terrorists," the word "Islam" and its derivations do not appear in either report.

This is PC madness. It is wishing the problems away. We will never - repeat never - win the war against Islamic terrorism unless and until we engage in the war of ideas against the ideology driving that terrorism. I criticized Bush for only engaging in the war of ideas half heartedly. But that is a half more than Obama has done. Obama has completely retreated from the war of ideas. That is a dangerous retreat indeed, as to quote former terrorist Dr. Tawfiq Hamid, "the civilized world ought to recognize the immense danger that Salafi Islam poses; it must become informed, courageous and united if it is to protect both a generation of young Muslims and the rest of humanity from the disastrous consequences of this militant ideology."

Let's highlight that for a moment. Let's do a little exercise.

1. Do you know the person pictured at the top of this post?

2. He is a cleric in what denomination of Islam?

3. What is his background?

4. Why is he important?

5. Ideologically, what differentiates him from, say, Zhudi Jasser or David Suliman Schwartz, two prominent Muslims in America?

6. What is different about the pictured man's version of Sunni Islam from . . . let's pick the Shafi'i school of Sunni Islam prevalent in Indonesia during Obama's time there?

If you can answer those questions, that puts you ahead of probably 99.99% of all other Americans. Yet these are questions about which most Americans should have at least some idea.
The Answers:

1. The man pictured at the top of the post is Anwar al Alaki.

2. Alaki is a Wahhabi / Salafi cleric.

3. He was born in America and raised here until he was 11, then went to Yemen for ten years before returning to receive his college education in America. It is not clear whether he was radicalized here or in Yemen, though that would be very helpful to know. Salafism is the prevalent form of Islam practiced in Yemen, but most mosques in the U.S. are owned by Salafists (compliments of Saudi petrodollars) and there is a strong radical element funded through Saudi Arabia on most campuses.

4. Alaki is a member of al Qaeda. He played a central role in both the Ft. Hood Massacre and the attempted slaughter by Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day Undiebomber.

5. Alaki, in full accord with the doctrines of Wahhabi / Salafi Islam, believes Western society is incompatible with Islam and wants to impose sharia law throughout the world. Also in accord with the teachings of Wahhabi / Salafi Islam, he views use of force and terror as legitimate means to that end. Zhudi Jasser and David Suliman Schwartz are Muslim reformers. Both seek modifications of Salafi Islam and both practice forms of Islam that they believe are compatible with Western freedoms. Both are highly critical of Salafism and neither wants to see Sharia law imposed in any state.

6. Salafism is militant, triumphalist, and deeply discriminatory. The Shafi'i school, practiced in Indonesia during Obama's stay there, was far less militant and very open to coexisting with other religions. It is changing now as Salafists are being sent to Indonesia in force by Saudi Arabia. They are radicalizing influence on Islam in Indonesia. That said, historically, terrorists have not arisen from practitioners of the Shafi'i school; they have virtually all arisen from the Salafi / Wahhabi school and schools heavily influenced by Salafism.

If most Americans knew the answers to those questions, it would tell us and the world that we are not at war with Islam, but that we are at war with the ideology of Salafists. It would give standing and recognition to those Muslims who are fighting the overtaking of their religion by Salafits. Given the warning signs put out by Major Nidal Hassan prior to the Ft. Hood massacre, and given that he was a Salafist, it would likely have meant that the warning signs would have been heeded and the massacre aborted months before it occurred. It would place Salafism where it needs to be - in the full and direct light of the public, subject to the strongest force a democratic world can muster, public opinion. It is only that which will force a moderation of Salafi Islam. But if we can't answer those questions, than we can do nothing to "to protect both a generation of young Muslims and the rest of humanity from the disastrous consequences of this militant [Salafi] ideology."

In this, it seems, Obama has thrown not merely us, but all of the non-Salafi Islamic world under the bus. Add that to a national counterterrorism effort in tatters and you have a recipe for disaster - not to mention never-ending war with the law of averages being that one day, these terrorists will succeed in a nuclear attack on America.


OBloodyHell said...

Good piece.

Anonymous said...

Even mainstream Islam, regardless of which school of Islamic jurisprudence is followed, remains the same totalitarian political ideology. While I'd agree that Saudi Wahabism or Salafism more extreme, this doesn't make any other school of thought in Islam less dangerous. And, what about Shi'ia Islam, in my opinion, far more dangerous than mainstream Sunni Islam?

Anonymous said...
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GW said...

OBH: Thx

Anon: You make a good point, and I have blogged before that all of Islam needs to go through an enlightenment / reformation as happened in the western world. That said, most schools don't emphasize the militant doctrines nor do they have their foundations in the writings of Ibm Taniyah - which is what makes Salafism of a much much more dangerous ideology.

As to Shia Islam, in its home in Iran, it was, throughout much of the 20th century, much more pacifistic than Salafism - and indeed, coexisted well with other religions in that country. Khomeini was personally influenced by Salafi Islam which made its way out of Arabia after the Sauds conquered Arabia, including Mecca and Medina.

Khomeini bastardized over a millenium of apolitical Shia tradition when he imposed the veleyat-e-faqi on Iran, turning it into a highly militant theocracy. It was Khomeini who turned the respect for martyrdom into something unheard of - glorification of suicide in the Muslim world. That is something which runs at complete odds with the Koran. And now there is a small subdenomination of Shia Islamists - the Mahdists - who are quite apocolyptical indeed. They are incredibly dangerous - and they include many near the center of power in Iran today.

But as you can see happening in Iran, the regime does not have the support of the goverened. They are using terrorism against their own people to stay in power against a movement that wants to wipe the veleyat-e-faqi into history's dustbin. When that happens, the threat from the Shia world will come to a grinding halt.