Charles Martel, the father of Charlemagne, halted the advance of radical Islam into Europe at the battle of Poitiers in 732. It took another 700 years before the last remnants of Islam, as a ruling class, were to be pushed from the Iberian Peninsula. As we have written in recent essays, radical Islam is on the move again, and it is uncompromising, primitive, and, well, barbaric.
We had best get used to it. Old-fashioned barbarism is back and, if not checked, will surely spread like a bacillus or virus with an insatiable appetite for the conquest of non-conforming peoples within (or adjacent to) the lands within its grip. The winds of conflict blowing westward from this Islamist movement are probably not controllable other than by countervailing winds from within Islam. We in the West cannot successfully wage war against the chaos wrought by such militant religious fanaticism, no matter how repulsive such movements may be to western culture and values. This is a struggle that, ultimately, must be waged within Islam.
While we do not consider ourselves to be alarmists, we, nonetheless, find certain hard realities to be alarming. Leading opinion research organizations including Pew Research, Gallop Organization, Zogby International and others have, in recent years, conducted many surveys of public opinion within the Muslim world. We can conclude that only about 10% to 15% of Muslims worldwide consider themselves to aligned with radical Islam, but that still represents a pool of between 130 million and 200 million Muslims from which radical Islam can attempt, and is attempting, to recruit Jihadists. Of equal concern, a substantial chunk of the world’s Muslims who consider themselves to be moderate Muslims are sympathetic to much of the agenda of the Islamist movement.
For example, with respect to suicide bombing of civilians, 68 percent of Palestinian Muslims said suicide bombings of civilians were justifiable; 51 percent of Shiite Lebanese Muslims said suicide bombings of civilians were justifiable and 43 percent of Nigerian Muslims said suicide bombings of civilians were justifiable. What about freedom to choose ones religious preference? Eighty-six percent of Jordanians support death for anyone who leaves Islam. 84 percent of Egyptians support death for anyone who leaves Islam. 76 percent of Pakistanis support death for anyone who leaves Islam. What about personal intimate behavior? Eighty two percent of Egyptians support stoning for adultery; 82 percent of Pakistanis support stoning for adultery and 70 percent of Jordanians support stoning for adultery. Our point is, of course, that culture matters and the cultural-religious divide between western society and Islamic society is immense, and with respect to the radical Islamists it is a deadly serious divide.
In Iraq and Syria a huge swath of both countries is in the hands of radical Islamists, who are shooting, beheading and enslaving people who have different religious beliefs, mostly Shiites, Christians and the ancient minority Yazidis. This is raw, dark-age barbarity at the hands of 21st century Barbarians who now call themselves The Islamic State. They have threatened to overrun the key Kurdish city of Erbil, emptied Mosul of its entire Christian population and are now threatening to flood much of Iraq by destroying the huge Mosul dam. Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes, fearing that the new Barbarians will kill or enslave them. Their fears are well founded.
Whether it is Boko Haram that kidnapped and enslaved 200 school girls last April in Nigeria, or The Islamic State (ISIS) that is machine gunning Christians and beheading Yazidis, or Hamas that has fired over 3200 rockets at Israeli cities, it is, by any other name, Barbarism.
The western world needs to understand that radical Islam’s hatred of the west actually has little to do with any current conflict. While Israel or support of Israel, or the presence of one faction of Islam (or any non-Islamic religion) might infuriate Islamists, their hatred of “the other” especially the West, is almost inborn. It is taught from the cradle. It has nothing to do with who we support and everything to do with who we are. To radical Islamists (Jihadists) we are simply unbelievers – infidels, and basic tenets of Islam, literally embraced, call for the conquering, subjugation or killing of infidels. That, in a nutshell, is what it means to be a Jihadi. Most Muslims no more embrace the most literal commandment to engage in Jihad than most Christians or Jews adhere to the most radical or extreme interpretations of their respective scripture. Radical Islamists, however, do embrace the most inflammatory writing in their scripture. They have enemies against whom they must wage holy war. They embrace three major methods of achieving their ultimate objective, Jihad. The first is to fight the Near Enemy prior to fighting the Far Enemy. The Near Enemy is anyone inside Islamic lands, whether it is an occupier or someone who has taken away territory that used to be Islamic (beware Spain and Portugal). The second method is to fight the Greater Unbelief—the major enemy, which today is the United States—before the Lesser Unbelief. And the third method is to fight the Apostates (false Muslims) first, and then the other Unbelievers. It is tempting to delude ourselves into thinking of ISIS (the Islamic State) or other such gaggles of Islamic extremism as nightmarish apparitions and isolated islands of insanity, which represent no danger to the West in general, or the United States in particular. That would be wrong – dead wrong.
Jihad means armed warfare on behalf of the greater glory of Islam. The Sufi interpretation of jihad is that Jihad is simply a spiritual struggle against temptation and other personal vices. But the Sufis make up perhaps one percent of the Islamic world and are viewed as heretics. We, in the west are told that the Sufi interpretation is the real meaning of Jihad, but the authoritative Encyclopedia of Islam tells a different story. It simply states, “The spread of Islam by arms is a religious duty upon Muslims in general. Jihad must continue to be done until the whole world is under the rule of Islam… Islam must completely be made over before the doctrine of jihad [warfare to spread Islam] can be eliminated.”
Most westward looking Muslims do not subscribe to this doctrine, but this is precisely the dogma that informs today’s radical Islamists. Numerous sources have attempted to catalog the on-going instances of Islamic terror. It is almost impossible to accurately pinpoint the number of attacks perpetrated by radical Islamists since 9/11, especially with the battles being waged by the likes of ISIS and other well-organized Islamist movements, mostly against other Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Jews, but the consensus points to over 23,000 attacks by radical Islamists since 9/11.
The US State Department has identified scores separate Islamic terrorist groups worldwide. Collectively they represent an alphabet soup of terror and it appears that new and powerful groups spring up faster than our government can keep track of them. For example the new, self-proclaimed caliphate of ISIS doesn’t appear on the government’s list at all. Among those identified by the United states are: Abu Nidal Organization (ANO), Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB), Ansar al-Islam (AAI), Army of Islam (AOI), Asbat al-Ansar (AAA), Gama’a al-Islamiyya (IG) Hamas Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HUJI) Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) Harakat ul-Mujahideen (HUM) Hizballah Indian Mujahideen (IM) Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) Jemaah Islamiya (JI), Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LT) Lashkar i Jhangvi (LJ), Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM) Mujahadin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) National Liberation Army (ELN) Palestine Islamic Jihad – Shaqaqi Faction (PIJ) Palestine Liberation Front – Abu Abbas Faction (PLF) Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) Al-Qa’ida (AQ) Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al-Shabaab (AS) Tehrik eTaliban Pakistan (TTP).
These new Barbarians are not yet at the gates, but you can bet that the GPS settings of the new Barbarians are pointed westward. Let us jettison political correctness when addressing the threat of the new Barbarians. Marauding and murder by radical Islamists is wanton evil. Good only triumphs over evil when good confronts evil. The consequences of doing less are unthinkable.
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I appreciate reading your blogs and this piece, in particular, is compelling. How you unfold the insidious and pernicious purposes of these groups cannot be ignored. Nor subordinated to “radicalism that takes care of itself”. We in the west have a penchant for thinking that problems go away. We have a short memory. I look forward to your blogs
As bleak as your outlook is, I think it is too optimistic. You stipulate that only Islam can fix Islam. I know of virtually no Muslims who have spoken out against Jihad or terrorism generally. Not even the westward looking ones you cite. Whether this is from sympathy or simply the fear of being murdered makes no difference. Correction is not coming from within.
People born before this century are probably so war weary and fixated on correctness to face the challenge. In my view, it is inevitable that our grandchildren or their children will have to fight Islam at sea, in the air and on the ground, until we can restore the conditions that prevailed after the 15th century. Then maybe we can count on another few hundred years of civilized behavior before the next wave of fundamentalism starts again.
John has it right.
Our country and our allies need to understand what it takes today to save tomorrow for our grandkids
Of great concern for the future of our country are many factors including the abysmal lack of knowledge by our general population about this looming threat.In large measure it arises from the abysmal failure of our media to alert us to this threat due to their obsession to be politically correct and to extend every preference to those peoples that they deem in their judgement to be disadvantaged.The cause and effect of these peoples plight is of no matter to the media provided that they can be portrayed as the underdogs. The consequence is a distortion the real facts and issues in keeping with their own devices and a failure to truthfully inform the public of the great turmoil developing around the world. Equally instrumental in the public’s ignorance of the true facts is the articulation of false or half-truths uttered by politicians eager for election who falsely attempt to imply their mastery of our foreign affairs by uttering false reassurances and mislead the citizenry about the real threats that exist. Also of importance are the utterances of the Chief Executive diminishing the concept of our proud history, American exceptionism and enterpenurship which further weaken our self-identity and resolve. Lastly, assumption of a posture of pacifism, lack of resolve, doublespeak and “leading from behind” by our Executive branch has seriously undermined the confidence our allies have long placed in us and weakened us against the inevitable foe of radical islam.
It appears that the Europeans and our own liberal intellectuals hate Jews far more than they fear Radical Islam. Until our President tells the American public the extent of the threat and chooses to show leadership against Radical Islam the Jews will remain the villains and the West will remain a playground for Islam. Politcal correctness has killed the ability of the West to recognize problems and the fortitude to solve them. Hence we do not confront either Barbarism or our own anti Semitism.
Excellent work, gentlemen. Thank you for this.
John Fairfield makes the very important point concerning so called moderate muslims failure to condemn the fanatic muslim agenda.
Applying this existential threat to our national politics is absurd as some of the readers of this column suggest The threat to .western civilization is real and urgent.What is needed is an international effort to counter the jihadists of radical islam.This will have to be what the next presidential candidates campaign on..
By the way,Sadam Hussein understood the situation a lot better than Bush,Cheney,Rumsfeld,Wolfowitz and Perle did..Their ignorance of the islamic threat and their arrogance helped create this mess,altho it was probably inevitable.
If much of what you say is so, how do you explain obama’s & much of the congress – their slow response to an enemy like ISIS? WE were slow to learn prior to Japan’s attack at Pearl & of course Hitler. When will we learn that the two oceans that used to protect us are no more. 9/11 proved that.
The lone voice of sanity in a deaf world of political correctness. If only more could heard your clarion call.