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On War Against Terrorists, Part 3

There are more than one billion professed Muslims in the world. US Intelligence says that at its height, Al Qaeda numbered perhaps fifty thousand members and another hundred thousand supporting persons. That works out to about 0.015% of all Muslims. If all terrorist groups and - let's be generous - all radical Islamist groups which desire to attack the West and Israel are counted, that number reaches a total of perhaps ten million people, or just 1.0% of all Muslims. While Islam has many factions which are hostile to American values and policies, it must be understood at the outset that the overwhelming majority of Muslims have effectively nothing in common with terrorists. The common complaint from the West that Muslims must protest the behavior of terrorist groups misses the point that most Muslims already consider terrorists to be well beyond the pale, so that protesting against them would make no more sense than believing that young white Christian men should disavow any connection to Ted Bundy, Timothy McVeigh, or Charles Manson - it should not be necessary to state the obvious.

This is not to claim that the Muslims are just like Christians, except for a few different customs and spiritual practices. Islam is a strongly evangelistic faith, based on the belief that only Islam is true in God's eyes, all other beliefs being in error or outright rebellion against God. Tradition is revered in Islam, because Islamic law (Sharia) is rooted in the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed and his hand-picked disciples and successors (the Caliphs). This is roughly comparable to the old Roman Catholic practice of considering the Church of Rome to hold the full authority of Peter as granted by the word of Jesus Christ Himself, back in the day when the Pope could call up armies to kill in the name of God. It should be noted, however, that the Caliphs of Islam are long removed to the past, so that no current Imam has the authority to speak for all of Islam. From time to time, someone gets bold enough to declare himself the Mahdi, basically the Muslim equivalent of the Messiah, which effort up to now has invariably resulted in a bloody war of conquest, ending in the death of the false Mahdi and his supporters. This point is significant, in the light of reports that the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been pushing to have himself proclaimed the Mahdi of Islam or Twelfth Imam (the 'hidden Imam'). This is not merely narcissism, but also a power play intended to promote the ascendancy of the Iranian race, the Aryans (yes, those Ayrans) as the natural leaders of Islam. Ahmadinejad appears to be playing Sunni against Shia in order to advance a racial caste to the top, conveniently his own. While to Western eyes and ears this kind of claim may appear laughable, there are various accounts which purport to describe the physical appearance of the Mahdi, and Ahmadinejad has been spinning the ones which happen to work in his favor (not all of them do, of course).

- continued -

Ahmadinejad's attempts to spin himself as a spiritual leader are part of the Middle East political movement renewing state ties to religion. This is actually a periodic cycle for the region, dating back to the Islamic Caliphates prior to the Fatimad Empire, which shifted the center of power to Egypt and created a meritocracy in the government. This secularization was further continued by the Khan invasions of the thirteenth century, which saw the Mamluks come to power through their defense of the nation (note, defense of the nation, not the faith). Later, Islam became influential in politics again under the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughul empires, but as the names imply, this regional division of power devolved the unity of Islam still further.

Following the first World War, the Ottoman Empire essentially collapsed, and the vacuum was partly addressed by the rise of Wahhabism, a movement begun in the eighteenth century which argued that Muslims were being punished by Allah for an impure faith. It is important to understand that the leader of that movement allied himself with one Abdul Ibn Saud, who successfully claimed the territory of present-day Saudi Arabia for himself, and not coincidentally this territory included the two holiest places in Islam, the cities of Mecca and Medina. Saud's success seemed to indicate that radical Islam could prevail over the colonial powers, restoring Muslims to their rightful control of their own land.

To Muslim eyes after World War 2, modern history shows the consistent rise of Muslim power, from the removal of colonial powers, to the end of secular masters, to the increased wealth and power worldwide of Islamist states. The existence of Israel and the annoying habit of Americans in demanding that their views become global polity aside, the leaders of the Islamist movement came to believe that their power and influence would only increase, and all that was left to do was to simply follow through.

'Following through' did not work out so well. Attempts to invade and destroy Israel failed over and over again, and frequently cost the Muslim forces much more than it did the Israelis. The various oil crises posed threats to the United States, but they too seemed to end to the Americans' advantage. The Islamists have a bad knack of choosing the wrong friends, from Germany in both World Wars, business negotiators who could not see beyond the end of the decade, and religious leaders whose extreme ideology made their doctrines inpracticible in any real sense. Unfortunately, rather than admit errors and rethink the strategy, the Islamists in positions of power reacted with hostility and malice. It is no random fact that the Muslim Brotherhood, which engaged in small-scale murders and thuggery in the 1920s, evolved into more elaborate and extensive conspiracies to topple undesirable regimes (e.g. the Shah), blackmail wealthy families into bankrolling terrorist operations (Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Egypt, especially), and seek to eradicate western presence through violence and intimidation.

The western response also evolved. Early capitulation in paying ransoms and acceptance of hard-line Muslim dogma (such as refusing to do business with Jews, women, or blacks in positions of importance as corporate representatives) became less attractive as groups became less mercenary and more bloodthirsty. American businesses began demanding better protection from their own government, and mercenary armies came into being to protect western compounds and facilities. Eventually, this need to protect American interests influenced official policy under the Reagan and Bush Administrations. Even the Clinton Administration supported sub rosa operations, which were accepted by Middle East governments because they did not embarrass the officials personally. But by the end of the twentieth century, it was becoming apparent that terrorist groups had taken on a new dimension; the façade of legitimacy.

The recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza territory is a solid example of what happens when terrorists are allowed to gain political power and to present themselves as the duly elected representatives of the people. But Hamas is not the first group to play this role. Elements of the PLO, Islamic Jihad, and of course Al Qaeda have all played the game of diplomat, in some cases becoming able to claim the image of respectability, as seen in Afghanistan under the Taliban, the Sudan, and Yemen. This was a tipping point for the George W. Bush Administration, the concern that the sense of control in their own territory would lead to attacks on American soil. This concern, of course, was built in large part on the character and scale of the 9/11 attacks. The profile of the conflict, as well as the stakes, changed completely almost overnight.


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Comments (15)

what are you an idiot? Ahma... (Below threshold)
Ali:

what are you an idiot? Ahmadinejad does not claim to be the Mahdi . . . that would be outright heresy from a shia point of view, something punishable by death in Iran. he claims to be awaiting his return, just like Evangelicals claim to wait for Jesus's return. any Muslim on the planet (1 out of 5 people) would immediately point this out to you. next time, do us all a favor, and do basic research before posting something on the internet

Sorry Ali, I know credible ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Sorry Ali, I know credible people who dispute your claim.

'In the business', so to speak.

"...it must be understood a... (Below threshold)

"...it must be understood at the outset that the overwhelming majority of Muslims have effectively nothing in common with terrorists."

I am beginning to think that this is wrong. The clash between Islamic terrorists and the rest of the world is looking more and more like a war between civilizations. As with any war, the vast majority (on either side of the conflict) is not on the front lines. But this does not mean that the vast majority isn't tacitly supporting what's happening on the front lines.
http://www.rightklik.net/

I wouldn't be surprised if ... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

I wouldn't be surprised if Ahmadinnerjacket made that claim, only because he knows who the real one is. Islam is very much like Christianity. The trick of most extremists is to divide people with the differences.

You wrote, "Tradition is re... (Below threshold)
Roland:

You wrote, "Tradition is revered in Islam, because Islamic law (Sharia) is rooted in the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed and his hand-picked disciples and successors (the Caliphs). This is roughly comparable to the old Roman Catholic practice of considering the Church of Rome to hold the full authority of Peter as granted by the word of Jesus Christ Himself, back in the day when the Pope could call up armies to kill in the name of God."

I am a little baffled by your position here. Generally, I thoroughly enjoy your posts, but I feel that I have to point out a couple of things:
1. It strikes me as odd that you make this effort to understand Islam (an effort we should all certainly be making), but then make no effort, as belied by your comment, to understand the Catholic Church.
2. What you call the "old Roman Catholic practice" is, in fact, still the Roman Catholic practice. Perhaps you meant that, but just to clarify, Roman Catholics still believe that the Church of Rome holds the full authority, descended from Peter, that was vested in him by Christ.
3. Any effort to understand Catholic history must acknowledge that there is the teaching of the Church, and then there are the actors who attempt to carry out that teaching. At times (and sorrowfully many times in the long history of the Church) those actors are wrong in their interpretation of what ought to be done, or in fact have bad will themselves. Such was the case during the worse moments of the Crusades, or other times when, as you put it, the Pope calls up armies to kill in the name of God.
But this is not to say that the Church is killing in the name of God. This is an important distinction, and ought to be contrasted with the often aggressive, violent Muslim evangelism that does claim to kill in the name of God, and claims to do so, as you point out, with the full authority of their religion.
Of course, this is only a cursory treatment, but I felt that it must be clarified. I greatly appreciate your work here, and I look forward to reading more of your reflections, but I also hope that you display an equal graciousness to the Catholic Church as you do towards the general Muslim population.

Ummmmm....you missed a poin... (Below threshold)
Chad:

Ummmmm....you missed a point. Not only is Islam evangelistic, it's evangelistic BY FORCE. Major difference. Catholicism had it's period where it carried out that doctrine as well, but not for a Very long time. There is NO freedom of religion in an islamic sharia state. Oh sure, you can choose not to be muslim, but you'll end up destitute or dead. Read the parts of the koran that discuss how to treat infidels in conquered territory. I've got to tell you, your comparison to manson, mcveigh, et al., is way off base. We executed or imprison them. Islam supports them. Not just a little bit, either. Look at the amounts of money that are spent on weapons, supplies, propaganda, and such. These people have the tacit support of their religion. Of course a large number of muslims don't directly support terrorism, but they don't resist it, either. At least not outside of Iraq and Afghanistan.

I've got to tell y... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:
I've got to tell you, your comparison to manson, mcveigh, et al., is way off base. We executed or imprison them. Islam supports them.

chad, the CIA was behind manson, etc. Islam is a faith that is very much like Christianity. Don't mistake extremists for true Muslims. They fight for what they believe in, but only if necessary, and would never support maniacs like manson and mcveigh. The media is very good at distorting believes and what people stand for, they are especially good at confusing the average American when it comes to who the real enemy is.

jeez, *beliefs... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

jeez, *beliefs

Yeah, the CIA was behind Ma... (Below threshold)
Chad:

Yeah, the CIA was behind Manson, and McVeigh. Put on your tinfoil hat. So the people dancing in the streets on 9/11 were such a small minority, weren't they. That's crap. One of the foundations of Islam is that there's two groups of people. ALL of us are in one of two groups. The house of Submission (to Allah), or the house of War. That's straight from the koran, no allowances for any differences. Their religion has declared war on every non-muslim. Period. I've read the koran, have you? Islam is not like christianity. Christianity (don't go all old testament on me) is based on the new testament of the bible, not just the judaic law. According to the new testament, salvation is by grace, not by killing the enemies of Islam. Christ's blood is what buys our forgiveness, not killing our daughters for being seen in public without a Burka. Just a few of the differences for you.

Christ's blood is ... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:
Christ's blood is what buys our forgiveness, not killing our daughters for being seen in public without a Burka.

Christ's blood has already been shed for our forgiveness and freedom from bondage. No one said that the Burka had anything to do with that. The fact that the Muslims have a different culture does not mean they don't believe in the resurrection of Christ and his return to this earth. I suggest you look a little further into manson and mcveigh. If you did, you would find some unusual connections with mind control, staged events, and false flags.

What you believe is up to you, but if you just use the "tin foil hat" stance, you have stopped thinking based on what "everyone knows" because they are told. Your immediate cynical response shows me that you have.

Mr Drummond, unless I misse... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Mr Drummond, unless I missed it, you failed to point out that the concept of "Mahdi" and the "Twelfth Imam" are restricted to the Shia version of Islam. Ahmedinijad is, indeed, a Shia, but most Muslims are not.
LaMedusa, no link to a Youtube video "proving" that the CIA was in cahoots with Manson?

LaMedusa, no link ... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:
LaMedusa, no link to a Youtube video "proving" that the CIA was in cahoots with Manson?

Bruce, you have no real interest in what crap CIA is pulling against the American people, otherwise your response wouldn't be so smug, and you would have made an attempt to "prove" me wrong. Don't put words in my mouth, either, I never said they were in cahoots.

And there is nothing "restricted" about Ahmedinejad's deceit, nor who his real master is, but you go right ahead and assume he's playing by the rules you suggest.

Bad news from Obama's Inaug... (Below threshold)
wileysnakeskins:

Bad news from Obama's Inaugural address:

Quotes from Obama's inaugural speech:

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of 'Christians' and Muslims, 'Jews' and 'Hindus' -- and 'non-believers.' "
AND:
"To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect."

Just what kind of mutual interest and mutual respect can we there be with people who profess this?
Quotes from the Koran:
--The unbelievers are your inveterate enemy. (4:101)
-- Surely the vilest of animals in Allah's sight are those who disbelieve. (8.55)
-- Mohammed is God's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another. (48:29).
-- It is unlawful for a believer to kill another believer, accidents excepted. (4:92)
-- Believers, take neither the Jews nor the Christians for your friends. (5:51)
-- Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion shall reign supreme. (8:40)
-- Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God's religion reigns supreme. (2:193)
-- The true believers fight for the cause of God, but the infidels fight for the devil. (4:76)
-- We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. (3:151)
-- I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers. (8:12)
Quotes from the sayings of mohammed:
Muhammad said to the Jews: "If you embrace Islam, you will be safe. You should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I want to expel you from this land. "
Sahih Bukhari [4:52:176] Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar:
Allah's Apostle said, "You (i.e. Muslims) will fight with the Jews till some of them will hide behind stones. The stones will (betray them) saying, 'O 'Abdullah (i.e. slave of Allah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him.' "

Mohammed said, "I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.." (otherwise it will not). Vol. 4:196
Mohammed said, "Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him." Vol. 9:57
Mohammed said, " No Muslim should be killed for killing a Kafir" (infidel). Vol. 9:50
Muhammad said:
Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war, ...(Sahih Muslim 4294)
YUSUF QARADAWI, the spiritual leader of the Muslim brotherhood and the most popular and influential Islamic religious authority in the world today, is on the recommended reading list of local mosques. Among other Islamist-supremacist things, he wrote:
"Islam came to be followed, not to follow; to be dominant, not subordinate."
"Islam came with its complete, comprehensive and eternal sharia (law) for the whole of mankind."
ABUL MAUDUDI, the most important and popular Islamic writer of the 20th Century, wrote: "The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the faith of Islam. Any nation or power that gets in the way of that goal, Islam will fight and destroy."
________________________________________
The statements about Islam above are from the most highly revered and respected Islamic sources, not from "Islamophobes"!
Does Obama agree with these statements?
Does he disagree with them?
Does he even know about them?
Isn't it part of his professional duties as president to know about Islam?

Ever hear of the Crusades? ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Ever hear of the Crusades? Guess what? In the Middle Ages, when Islam was founded, pretty much all religions said crap like that.
And these Muslim scholars who YOU proclaim as the "most influential in the World today"? They're still living in the Middle Ages.
As are you if you let this scary stuff get to you. We're Americans, Dude. Man up.

Oh, and George W Bush didn'... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Oh, and George W Bush didn't even know the difference between Sunni and Shia until the president of Afghanistan explained it to him.




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