Get this. Radical Islam is at war. We are its ultimate target. There is no central command, but the forces of radical Islam are slowly coalescing around a handful of movements led by charismatic, cunning Islamists who think and plan on a grand scale.
While the battles at the moment are far away, they will not stop where they currently rage. The Islamists’ tactical focus, today, may be regional, but their strategic focus, today, is global.
We’re not suggesting that someday soon Islamist ships will land on our shores and release swarms of invaders. It won’t happen that way at all. What we believe, and those in the defense and intelligence establishment openly acknowledge (even if the White House doesn’t) is that the ever-growing number of deadly attacks against any one or any group of people who do not subscribe to the Islamists dark-age, apocalyptic view of the world will pervasively increase. Already Islamist attacks against the other have become de rigueur across the Middle East, and Africa, and have begun to emerge in Europe, India and, of course, in America.
Right now the Islamists are mostly ravaging the so-called low-hanging fruit; those relatively helpless people within their grasp and who are on their enemies list simply because they are not them. Among “the other” are Muslims who do not share their vision of world conquest, Jews, Christians who they still see as Crusaders, and other minority sects who simply follow another path to religious fulfillment. But we, the United States of America, are the real enemy. We are the manifestation of all they abhor — Individual freedom, religious freedom, gender equality, separation of church and state, democracy, and, perhaps most of all, a society that progresses and grows and, over time, prospers.
Because of the Islamists penchant for attention, they enthusiastically and graphically display their barbarity, and in so doing they are creating a gruesome historical archive in real time. We have reviewed their ever unfolding graphic photo and video catalog of horrors – the mass kidnappings of school girls in Nigeria, the kidnapping and murder of Jewish teenagers in Israel, the beheadings of children (yes, we did say children) and adults in Iraq and Syria, the displays of severed heads on stakes, the firing squads, and the stonings and, yes, the senseless rocket barrages directed at population centers in Israel in order to serve up the resulting civilian casualty stats (when the Israelis strike back) to a media with a ravenous appétit for destruction and suffering.
Because of the fighting in Gaza, a direct result of Hamas’s wanton murder of Israelis and rocket attacks on Israeli population centers, the world had largely been lulled into thinking that radical Islamic excesses were primarily about Muslims and Jews, as though 9/11, in which more Americans were killed than at Pearl Harbor, had never happened. Then came ISIS, or, as it likes to refer to itself, the Islamic State. The world watched the Islamic State’s butchery of Shiite Muslims, and then their butchery of Iraqi Christians and the minority Yazidis, and then the grotesque beheading of American journalist, James Foley, which riveted the attention of the entire world.
What the western world doesn’t understand, or doesn’t want to understand, is that none of this is new, nor is it an aberration confined to the Middle East. Over 23,000 attacks by radical Islamists have been catalogued since 9/11. We have pored over cases of lethal attacks by Islamists directed solely at Christians. There have been over 1100 attacks by these fanatics directed at Christians during the past decade. Christians are being systematically attacked in their churches, in their homes and on their streets. Attacks have been directed at Christians in Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Dagestan, Congo, Egypt, England, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Mali, Netherlands Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, UK, USA, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. In case the reader just skimmed the list presented above, Europe and America are well represented on the list.
While such attacks on Christians (and Jews and others) have, to date, been largely uncoordinated and isolated, they will we believe begin to coalesce around a handful of organizing movements because such organizing movements now exist. They have money, and communicate and coordinate openly and regularly over the Internet. They are on the move.
Just yesterday the Islamic State released over the Internet, an eleven-minute video of the mass conversion of Yazidi men who chose to give up their faith rather than their heads. They are told by their Islamic State captors, “right now you are kuffar (infidels)…after your conversion you will become Musims and you will have rights.” The Yazidi men then grimly recite the Muslim invocation of faith “there is no God but God and Mohammed is his messenger.” It is the inquisition revisited, but in this place, and in this instance, the victims are not Jews and their tormentors are not Christians.
We look at ISIS, or the Islamic State, as though some new, threatening and evil movement has suddenly emerged on the world stage. Nothing could be further from the truth. ISIS is a metastasis of a gaggle of old movements with, simply, a new name. It is, in a way, a mélange of Al Qaeda, Bako Haram, Hamas, Islamic jihad and any one of 50 other terrorist groups officially categorized by the US State Department. They all are unified in their radicalism, their hatred of Western values, their hatred of the “other” and their absolute willingness to create mayhem and murder.
While President Obama, not so long ago, analogized ISIS as sort of a junior varsity team that thinks it can play in the majors by donning Lakers uniforms, his top defense people had a more sober assessment. Secretary of Defense Hegel in a rather direct contradiction of the Commander-in-Chief advised “ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They’re beyond just a terrorist group,” adding that “the U.S. will have to take a “cold, steely hard look and “get ready.”
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey responding to a reporter said,” to your question, can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria? The answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border,”
It seems clear that our military leaders understand what the President doesn’t ( or didn’t) – that defeating ISIS will require an expanded campaign that will probably mean attacking the enemy on both sides of what used to be the Syrian/Iraqi border.
But what about what may be happening within our own borders? A former CIA officer believes Islamic State (ISIS) sleeper cells are already planted on U.S. soil, and an unnamed US intelligence official told CNN that there are ISIS sleeper cells in Europe that could target US embassies and other American interests. CNN reported that these intelligence officials voice concern ISIS militants with passports will travel to the United States to launch attacks on American soil.
In recent essays we have quoted the Prime Ministers of Great Britain and Germany who have stated that the threat to their nations from radical Islam is clear and present. Jihadists in Spain have issued a warning Spanish authorities are taking very seriously. The Spanish Islamists warned, “ (We) say to the entire world as a warning: We are living under the Islamic flag, the Islamic caliphate. We will die for it until we liberate those occupied lands, from Jakarta to Andalusia (the Arabic name for those part of Spain, Portugal ad France that were occupied by Muslim conquerors from 711 to 1492) and we declare Spain is the land of our forefathers and we are going to take it back with the power of Allah.”
The Spanish Islamists have produced a video in which they vow to liberate al-Andalus from non-Muslims and make it part of their new Islamic Caliphate. The video shows a jihadist speaking in Spanish with a heavy North African accent. He says: “In recent years, the return of “occupied” Al-Andalusia to the fold of Islam has become an obsession for Muslims of all stripes, and calls to reconquer al-Andalus have become more frequent and more strident. Commenting on the latest video, Spain’s Secretary of State for Security, Francisco Martinez, said police were remaining “vigilant” in the face of a “grave” jihadist threat.
In several telephone conversations with a Reuters reporter over the past few months, Islamic State fighters suggest their leader, Iraqi Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is planning something for the West – and that attacks could take place through sleeper cells in both Europe and the United States.
Sources say that about 100 Americans are being tracked by the FBI because of their travels to Syria, some to join ISIS, analysts say. And ISIS is actively recruiting Westerners and European Muslims who could easily enter the US.
Haras Rafiq of the Quilliam Foundation told CNN, al-Baghdadi is “a narcissistic psychopath” on a barbaric mission. “He wants to be bigger than Osama bin Laden, and one of the ways he will measure that is how effective and how big the terrorist activities he can carry out in the West are compared to what bin Laden was able to do.”
The grizzly beheading of James Foley, a non-combatant American journalist who committed no act of hostility toward ISIS nor anyone else, is a challenge to America and to American leadership in the world. James Foley was beheaded for the sole act of being an American.
So, what to do? The West must confront this ever-growing threat to its safety, or accept growing and ever more costly attacks on its people, institutions and infrastructure. The western world, in concert with westward-leaning allies in the Middle East, needs to act in unison to face the threat of radical Islam at the source, where it is incubating, metastasizing and spreading havoc, or we will face the threat on our own soil and in our own cities. It will take steadfast resolve and substantial resources…and it will take leadership.
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