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10 Lies About the Israel-Hamas Conflict
A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas may have been reached on paper, but evidence already indicates that it is unlikely to hold. A top Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader has already warned that the ceasefire would be short and that a "new, more savage round" of fighting with Israel lies ahead. The agreement establishes Egypt as the guarantor of peace between Israel and Hamas even though President Mohammed Morsi and members of his government openly aided and supported Hamas in the conflict.
The ceasefire will likely embolden Hamas, which views it as a victory over Israel. History shows that ceasefires do not deter Hamas from firing rockets into Israel. Further, Iran’s admission that it has given improved weapons technology to Hamas serves as a warning of an increased Iranian effort to destabilize Israel. In the end, this ceasefire represents merely a lull in the fighting, not a beginning of lasting peace. Here are 10 examples of misleading assumptions and conventional wisdom:
1. Hamas Will Adhere to a "Ceasefire"
Hamas accepted a ceasefire with Israel in this latest escalation. However, the Arabic word for truce, "hudna," is perceived differently within the Hamas mentality. In this modern context, a hudna involves a temporary lull in the violence that allows Hamas the necessary time to organize and re-arm itself in anticipation of a future conflict with Israel. It is different from a ceasefire in that it is an agreement to halt hostilities for a defined period of time only, not a peace agreement.
The duration of Hamas’s current hudna with Israel remains unknown, and we can be assured that fighting will resume once Hamas decides to do so. Once a hudna is agreed to, observing it becomes a religious duty for the Muslim party as long as the non-Muslim party observes it. It runs counter to the term sul d’aim, which means permanent peace and the recognition of the non-Muslim party’s right to exist. 
Hudna was the first word used in Muslim history to describe a ceasefire, found in context of the 7th century Treaty of al-Hudaybiyya – referring to a truce that came six years after Muhammad and his followers deserted Mecca for Medina. This agreement allowed Muhammad and his followers to pray in Mecca, which was then under control of the Quraysh tribe, for a decade. However, when Muhammad’s army became strong enough, it used an attack by the Quraysh-aligned Banu Bakr tribe two years into the pact as a pretext to give the Quraysh an ultimatum to disavow their allies, pay restitution for their attack against the Muslims or nullify the treaty. The Quraysh chose the final option and Muhammad marched on Mecca and easily conquered the city.
This event set a precedent, justifying the abandonment of operations for the purposes of regrouping and rearming, allowing for a future attack on the territory left behind. The late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat alluded to the Treaty of al-Hudaybiyya while giving a speech in a mosque in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1994, suggesting that peace with Israel would be temporary.
History has proven that Hamas subscribes to this perspective, and that it uses hudnas as temporary lulls in the fighting prior to renewing hostilities. In June 2003, Hamas announced a hudna with Israel, yet it ended violently with a suicide bombing two months later in Jerusalem that killed 22 people and wounded more than 130. Likewise, Israel’s 2008 incursion into Gaza led to a hudna as well. However, Hamas ended this temporary truce by firing rockets into Israel sporadically since the last "ceasefire," escalating the attacks dramatically in the past month.
Modern interpretations of hudna mean there will be no end to the religiously-inspired struggle until Israel is defeated. The Hamas covenant proves this point: "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals, and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors." Hamas co-founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin regarded the hudna as a "tactical move" in its war with Israel. Discussing the prospect of peace with Israel earlier this year, Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzook indicated that his organization would be open to a hudna with Israel, but it would never renounce its goal of Israel’s destruction.
2. Hamas is Interested in Peace
Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, does not distinguish between the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and pre-1967 Israel. To it, all of "Palestine" is occupied. The Hamas charter explicitly calls for the destruction of the Jewish state as its top priority. In fact, Hamas prides itself as the main "resistance" (code word for terrorism) movement against Israel. "All the energies of the people and the ummah (nation) [are needed] in order to uproot the oppressive Entity," al-Qassam Brigades Commander Muhammad al Deif said just before the current ceasefire.
Any recognition of Israel’s right to exist is unacceptable to the Hamas leadership. This belief is the root of the conflict. In light of a Nov. 21 bus bombing of in Tel Aviv, Hamas member Ezzat Rishq confirmed that the attack was a "repercussion of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip." Rishq added that "the Zionist Entity should know that the continuation of aggression and crimes against our defenseless people in Gaza will double the state of rage, boiling excitement and discontent among our people everywhere against their crimes, soldiers and extremists, pointing out that the Zionists have to expect worst."
3. The Problem is Israel’s Siege of Gaza
With Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, removing every Jewish resident and soldier from the territory, Palestinians were given a chance to fully govern themselves and build their society. However, instead of trying to improve Gaza’s standard of living, Hamas remained focused on its hostility toward Israel by firing rockets at the Jewish state immediately after taking over. Since Hamas first exerted control in Gaza in 2006, 6,109 rockets have hit Israeli territory. It fully seized power in a bloody Palestinian civil war with the rival Fatah faction in 2007. In response, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza in an attempt to curb the flow of arms to Hamas. This year alone, 1,822 rockets have hit Israeli territory. From November 10-13, immediately prior to Israel’s operation, Hamas fired 121 rockets into Israel. Hamas launched another 1,500 rockets after Israel initiated Operation Pillar of Defense on Nov. 14. Israel’s blockade is by no means an "occupation" – rather, it is a necessary response to stem Hamas’ weapons smuggling into Gaza, actions that threatens Israel’s security. This tactic is nothing new, as the United States blockaded Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and the United Kingdom blockaded the Falkland Islands during its war with Argentina in 1982. A 2011 United Nations report concluded that Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip is legal under international law.
4. Israel Deliberately Targets Civilians
Israel went to extraordinary means to minimize innocent Palestinian casualties in response to the terrorist rocket barrage. Prior to any action, the Israeli military dropped thousands of leaflets in Arabic warning Gaza residents of impending attacks. This effort gave residents time to evacuate the area. Collateral damage happens because Hamas intentionally embeds itself in population centers in violation of international law. If Israel deliberately targeted civilians, its military superiority would allow it to inflict far greater casualties. An Israeli pilot actually aborted a strike mission on a rocket launch pad located in a playground because he saw Palestinian children nearby. That rocket ended up being fired at Tel Aviv, causing Israeli children to run for the bomb shelters. Imagine what the United States government would do if the Mexican drug cartels fired thousands of rockets at San Diego, Phoenix, or other cities along the Mexican border from the safety of Mexico.
5. There is a Moral Equivalence Between Actions by Israel and Hamas
Israel strives to minimize civilian casualties. Hamas tries to maximize Israeli civilian casualties and strike fear into the population. This is self-evident based on the fact that Israel strategically targets Hamas terrorists with accurate, pinpoint airstrikes. Hamas, on the other hand, indiscriminately fires deadly rockets at Israeli cities with the intent of killing or maiming Israeli civilians. Hamas purposefully fires from Palestinian population centers to elicit an Israeli response that occasionally results in civilian casualties that who it can use for strictly propaganda purposes. The terrorist group also uses Palestinians as human shields to protect military targets, which is considered a war crime under international law.
"Hamas … has a media strategy," Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren wrote last week. "Its purpose is to portray Israel’s unparalleled efforts to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza as indiscriminate firing and children, to Israel’s rightful acts of self-defense into war crimes. Its goals are to isolate Israel internationally, to tie its hands from striking back at those trying to kill our citizens and to delegitimize the Jewish state."
Unfortunately, many in the mainstream media implicitly allude to a moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel by insinuating that both sides are at fault for this recent escalation. For instance, Ethan Bronner from the New York Times started his Nov. 17 report by stating: "When Israel assassinated the top Hamas military commander in Gaza on Wednesday, setting off the current round of fierce fighting …" Bronner conspicuously omitted the fact that Hamas fired more than 100 rockets in the days leading up to Israel’s operations. There is absolutely no moral equivalence between actions by Hamas and Israel – this recent escalation would have been avoided had Hamas not initiated the rocket fire.
6. Hamas is a Reliable Source of Information
It is in Hamas’ interest to inflate Palestinian casualty figures. Throughout the years, Hamas has used fake images, staged funerals and lied about specific casualties to enhance the perception that Israel was committing deliberate massacres. This recent escalation has been no different. A photo was circulated in the media following the start of the recent conflagration allegedly depicting a Palestinian child who was supposedly killed by Israel. In fact, the child was one of the 30,000 casualties of the Syrian Civil War. Another infamous picture making headlines shows visiting Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh embracing a dead Palestinian boy whom they label as a victim of an attack by the Israeli Air Force. However, "experts from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said they believed that the explosion was caused by an errant Palestinian rocket" that landed within Gaza. Hamas creates these fabrications and lies to gain ground in the public relations war with Israel – the only battle it can win. In the social media and communications age, the propaganda war is a vital component to get Hamas’ message across.
7. Gaza is Besieged and Starving
Israel continues to transfer goods and supplies into the territory to help Palestinian civilians despite the rocket fire from Gaza. In fact, Gaza civilians do not suffer from a scarcity of food or other basic needs. Throughout this recent escalation, the Jewish state has facilitated the transfer of essential food, water, fuel and electricity. Moreover, Israel continues to treat Gazans in Israeli hospitals.
8. Egypt Is an Reliable Mediator
Post-uprising Egypt, which is now ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood, has explicitly thrown its weight behind Hamas and blamed Israel for this latest violence. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi tweeted on Nov. 16: "Egypt stands as a protective shield for the Arab and Islamic nation" and "O People of Gaza, you are of us and we are of you. We will not abandon you." In the past, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak played a crucial role as a mediator between both sides. Morsi is personally linked to Hamas, which was created as the Palestinian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. As Morsi panders to domestic sentiment and engages in a concerted effort to garner more global public support for the Palestinians, Egypt cannot continue to claim that it is an honest broker for truce talks between Israel and Hamas. It is clear Egypt is not a neutral party.
9. Turkey is a Constructive Player in the Crisis
President Obama has engaged Turkey as a constructive player in this crisis. Turkish Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently called Israel a "terrorist state" in response to Israel’s defensive actions in Gaza. This comment is ironic, given Turkey’s own terrorist insurgency conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). In one incident, Turkey was responsible for the death of 35 civilians in an airstrike near a Kurdish village. Turkey has also illegally occupied Northern Cyprus since it invaded the island in 1974. In contrast, Israel has no forces stationed in Gaza. Turkey believes it is justified to retaliate against aggressive actions in its own case – but vilifies Israel for defending itself against Hamas attacks.
Furthermore, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) put Turkey on its list of "countries of particular concern." This action places Turkey among the world’s most repressive states such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea. In addition, Turkey jails more journalists than any other country in the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, which reported at least 61 Turkish journalists are imprisoned directly because of their work. Under Erdoğan’s Islamist government, Turkey has suffered severe setbacks on their religious and media freedom. On Nov 20, Erdoğan declared that Israel is engaging in ethnic cleansing in Gaza, a preposterous accusation coming from a government that refuses to acknowledge its nation’s responsibility in the Armenian genocide of 1915 or the millions of Greeks, Assyrians and other minorities who were ethnically cleansed by the Turks after World War I.
10. This Conflict Has Nothing to Do with Iran
Iran’s fingerprints are all over Hamas’ rocket arsenal, including the Fajr-5 long range rockets which were fired at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Iran is Hamas’ main benefactor – supplying weapons, providing training, and sending money. Furthermore, Iranian Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari told Iran’s Fars News Agency that it has given Hamas the technology to build its own Fajr-5s. Iran may have ordered Hamas to initiate this round of violence to cause problems for Israel and distract international attention from Iran’s nuclear weapons program. In its quest for regional hegemony, Iran continues to be a major state-sponsor of terrorism, and constitutes the greatest threat to global stability. By enlisting its proxy to attack Israel, the fundamentalist government in Iran is reinforcing its commitment to see Israel wiped off the map.
 Ḥarūb, Khālid. "Resistance and Military Strategy." Hamas: A Beginner’s Guide. 2nd ed. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Pluto Press, 2010. 55.
 Tamimi, Azzam. "7: The Liberation Ideology of Hamas." Hamas: A History From Within. Northampton, Mass.: Olive Branch Press, 2007. 159.
 Susser, Asher. Challenges to the Cohesion of the Arab State. Tel Aviv: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University, 2008. 149.
 Rudolph Peters, Islam and Colonialism: The Doctrine of Jihad in Modern History (The Hague: Mouton, 1979), pp. 41-2.
 Cook, David. "Banu Isr’al to the State of Israel." Contemporary Muslim apocalyptic literature. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2005. 117.
The Myth of Self-Radicalization
by Patrick Dunleavy
When seven people are killed including 3 children, who is responsible? When a van carrying Hasidic students is attacked by automatic weapon fire, killing one and wounding several others, who is held accountable?
It would seem according to some reports that the victims fell prey to the "lone terrorist" or "self-radicalized" individual. Is this an accurate description of what took place?
Recent studies and statements by several government officials, including the director of the FBI and the secretary of Homeland Security, tell us that the greatest threat facing us post 9-11 is the individual terrorist.
But in looking at two specific cases of Islamic terrorist attacks we may find that definition an over-simplified version of what actually took place.
The first is the case of Mohamed Merah, the 23-year-old French / Algerian in Toulouse, France who shot three French paratroopers and four Jewish civilians, three of whom were young children.
The profile coming out initially said he was self-radicalized because of the economic poverty he grew up in. A victim of high unemployment and discrimination against an immigrant minority caused the anger that fueled the fire in him. If that is true, where did the $26,000 found on him come from? Not to mention the cache of weapons and the expenditures necessary for him to travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan? Who provided the funds, the contacts, and the weapons?
The second description said he "self-radicalized in prison." Is that possible? Is prison a place where you can be left to yourself to evolve into something?
As someone who has worked in the criminal justice system for 26 years and a considerable amount of that time in the prison system, I can tell you emphatically that Merah’s radicalization was much more than self-induced. One does not become "self-radicalized" in prison. The constant interaction that occurs within a prison negates that. There is always a facilitator, an influence, or a catalyst. Be that literature, another cellmate, or a clergy. What was the integer in this case?
French authorities had known for some time that mixing convicted Islamic terrorists with low-level criminals in the prison’s general population contributed to radicalization.
Who were his cellmates? Who visited him? What literature did he have access to?
The second case is that of Rashid Baz, the Lebanese/Palestinian immigrant known as "the Brooklyn Bridge Shooter" responsible for the death of Hasidic student Ari Halberstam in 1994. The case was initially thought to be "road rage." It wasn’t until 1999 when US Attorney Mary Jo White opened an investigation into the crime and found it was indeed a terrorist act that it was reclassified.
Yet, despite the evidence, it was declared that Baz acted alone. The final report stated, "Baz acted on his own … and there appear to be no unpunished co-conspirators." He was by definition a "lone wolf" terrorist. And since then he has been free to move about the general population of the prison influencing other inmates and even working as the chaplain’s clerk in the prison mosque.
Now, from his prison cell in Attica 18 years later, Baz admitted that he had intentionally targeted Jews on that fateful day in March. Why? Was no one else involved?
Looking back at the evidence, the answer is disturbing. Two relatives helped him hide the weapons he used in their house. When the guns and ammunition were found, they said that they knew nothing of his involvement in the crime nor did they share his radical hatred for Jewish people.
Phone records obtained by police show just the opposite. The family members were in contact with a member of an Islamic terrorist organization, Hamas.
Hamas is sworn to the destruction of Israel by any means including killing Jewish civilians.
In addition, at least two witnesses testified that, just prior to going on a rampage, Baz attended a service at the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. There, he heard a fiery sermon preached calling for revenge on Jews for an incident that had recently occurred in Hebron. That was Feb. 25, on the eve of the first anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 by radical Islamic fundamentalists.
One of the witnesses testified that Baz was enraged after the speech, determined to act. Was this the catalyst that sent him over the edge?
To this day, neither the imam nor the mosque president has been held accountable for that. Why?
Yelling "fire" in a crowded movie theater is not freedom of speech, nor is promoting a message, either spoken, written, or on the internet, that instructs someone to kill others in the name of God.
A terrorist is not hatched overnight, nor are they produced solely in the dark vacuum of self.
Even the National Counter Terrorism Center acknowledges this in its definition of radicalism. "Radicalism is a dynamic and multi-layered process involving several factors that interact with one another to influence an individual," it says.
Instilling grievances, preaching and religious dogma all play a role.
When we say that a person was self-taught or self-motivated, we look at them in a positive light.
When used in recent descriptions of Islamic terrorists it has quite the opposite effect.
It tends to triteness and absolves anyone else of complicity in the act. There is an overuse of the word, a diluting of the meaning, a deliberate misuse in an attempt to simplify the issue of radicalization.
Those who contributed to the radicalization process must be held accountable.
Patrick Dunleavy is the former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections and author of The Fertile Soil of Jihad.
Related Topics: Patrick Dunleavy
Egyptian Liberals Speak Out Against Brotherhood
Speaking out against religious extremism takes courage in today’s Egypt, especially when extremists make up an absolute majority in Parliament. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has translated the comments of two courageous Egyptian intellectuals who took to Arabic television to denounce the dominant Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi parties.
As Egyptian liberals, these two commentators have made it their goal to get the message out about the dangers of the Brotherhood and Egypt’s Salafi movement.
Philosopher Murad Wahba told Egypt’s CBC TV that the Muslim Brotherhood was the latest in a line of historic movements trying to bring Egypt back to religious extremism. These groups "all took us back to the context of the 13th century, and we have developed ‘antibodies’ against the 21st century. This is the real crisis of our society today," he said in a March 8 broadcast.
For Egyptian thinker Sayyid al-Qimni, the Brotherhood doesn’t just reject modern society and the West. To him, there really isn’t much distinction between political Islamists like the Brotherhood and Salafis, or even violent jihadists like al-Qaida.
Both the Brotherhood and the Salafis are willing to have "blood on the streets" to protect constitutional guarantees that Islam serves as the state religion and Islamic law as the source of all legislation. Their insistence on protecting state-sponsored discrimination against secular and Christian Egyptians is "ripping Egypt apart," Qimni lamented on Arabian Gulf channel Al-Arabiya TV on Feb. 23.
Both political Islamists and jihadists are willing to do whatever it takes to form an Islamic state ruled by strict religious law, with al-Qaida preferring open violence and the Brotherhood relying on manipulation of the political system, al-Qimni said.
"For one thing, they differ in degree, but not in their nature… some groups say they are conducting political activity, but at the same time declare that they reject democracy," he said. And when the Brotherhood says "that Man cannot make laws unto himself, since Allah alone makes laws – that is exactly what Al-Qaida and other such groups say."
Salafi leaders have confirmed their ideological closeness with the Brotherhood. "At the end of the day, we and the Brotherhood want the same thing. What is that?" Sheikh Ayman Shrieb, the leader of the Salafi al-Nour Party, asked in December. "Well, we want an Islamic state. Every vote we don’t get, we hope it goes to the Brotherhood."
The Brotherhood and the Salafis differ in one other key area, al-Qimni said. The Brotherhood is notorious about making political expedient comments at one time and turning on a dime when the moment is right. "Therefore, the difference [between the Brotherhood and al-Qaida] is not in nature, but in timing – one moment they [the Brotherhood] say something, and the next moment they deny it," al-Qimni told viewers.
The examples are abundant. The Brotherhood promised last year not to run a presidential candidate, to respect concerns about the forceful and total transition of the country into an Islamic Republic. But following the group’s domination of parliamentary elections, the MB’s No. 2 man has thrown his hat into the ring in next month’s presidential race.
This flip-flop resembles the group’s stance on parliamentary elections and on the independence of its political party from the Brotherhood.
Early last year, officials issued statements that the party would be "completely independent" of the movement, and pledged that the FJP would not contest more than a third of the seats in Egypt’s first parliamentary election in more than 30 years. But the FJP is made up almost exclusively of Muslim Brotherhood leaders, and has acted as a tool of the Brotherhood to legalize its ideological platform.
The Brotherhood quickly changed its aim on winning seats in parliament. In early April, Mohsen Radi, a former lawmaker and Brotherhood leader, told Egypt’s Al Masry Al Youm that the Brotherhood had raised its target "to secure 35 percent to 40 percent of parliamentary seats." Apparently sticking to earlier cautions, Radi reassured the Egyptian daily that "the Brotherhood will not run for more than 49 percent of parliamentary seats."
But less than a month later, the group’s stated plans changed again—albeit ever-so-slightly. On April 30, the Brotherhood Shura Council acknowledged its plan for the FJP to contest half of Egypt’s parliamentary seats. In a public display of confidence, Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie also stated that if his group was to contest all available seats, it would be able to win upwards of 75 percent.
Egypt is going to need more voices like Wahba and al-Qimni to remind their countrymen about the promise of last year’s peaceful revolution that appears to be fading rapidly.
Related Topics: The Muslim Brotherhood
Jasser’s Appointment Riles Islamists
He has different views than most of the national Muslim advocacy groups featured in the media, and for that, Islamist groups have worked to keep Zuhdi Jasser from gaining traction in the national debate over religion and extremism.
He has been smeared as an Uncle Tom, a clown and even a "sock puppet" for anti-Muslim forces. So when it was announced Monday that Jasser had been appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Islamists frothed with hyperbolic excess.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called the appointment "farcical" and urged supporters to sign a petition protesting the move. An "action alert" mailed to its listserv also steered supporters to the petition, "calling on community members and people of conscience to sign a petition for" Jasser’s ouster.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council directed its Twitter followers to the petition, too, copying its claim that "Zuhdi Jasser Does Not Belong on the USCIRF." In a separate action alert, MPAC urged supporters to protest to their elected officials, calling the appointment "an affront to all Muslims."
Jasser is a Muslim. It’s doubtful the move is an affront to him.
A group called the Muslim Peace Coalition issued a statement similarly calling supporters to protest the appointment, calling it "a huge insult to the American Muslims and it will have consequences in terms of demonizing Muslims abroad … This is a guy who has made a living advocating to curb religious liberties for Muslims RIGHT HERE in the US. The contradiction and hypocrisy of this action could not be more underscored."
Jasser joining the USCIRF board is "like appointing David Duke as chair of NAACP," wrote Fida Mohammed on the petition page.
The federally-funded commission is tasked with monitoring and advocating "for religious freedom abroad wherever that right is being abused."
Jasser, an Arizona physician and Navy veteran, founded the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, advocating the separation of mosque and state and taking on Islamist groups he sees as working to slowly inculcate religious practice and dogma into public policy. The United States offers Muslims the greatest freedom to practice their faith because it maintains the separation.
In contrast, "The theocratic ‘Islamic’ regimes of the Middle East and some Muslim majority nations use Islam as a way to control Muslim populations, not to glorify God as they portend," the AIFD web page says. "The purest practice of Islam is one in which Muslims have complete freedom to accept or reject any of the tenants or laws of the faith no different than we enjoy as Americans in this Constitutional republic."
But those contesting his appointment cast Jasser as an opponent of religious liberty. His sin? Disagreeing with them while accepting funding from conservative sources, supporting law enforcement counter-terror efforts and publicly criticizing the proposed Ground Zero mosque.
"How can an individual who supports the curbing of Muslim civil and religious liberties at home be trusted as a ‘commissioner’ to review and analyze violations of religious freedoms abroad?" a web page featuring the petition says.
With the appointment, the USCIRF "is telling the American Muslim community and Americans of conscience, ‘we are happy to insult your intelligence by pretending not to know the link between Zuhdi and some of the most vile anti-Muslim funders and entities in the country, and that we do not mind the contradiction between having him preach to the world about religious liberties while simultaneously advocating to curb YOUR liberties in THIS country,’" CAIR-Chicago Director Ahmed Rehab wrote on the petition site.
Writer Reza Aslan, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, posted a link to the petition on his Twitter feed, dismissing Jasser as "Glenn Beck’s favorite Muslim." CAIR national spokesman Ibrahim Hooper echoed Rehan when he claimed Jasser has no credibility among Muslim Americans. "He has long been viewed by American Muslims and the colleagues in the civil liberties community as a mere sock puppet for Islam haters and an enabler of Islamophobia."
In an interview, Jasser said his views are being grossly distorted. Though he opposed the proposed Ground Zero mosque, his record and that of his family has been in helping build mosques in Wisconsin and Arizona. In none of the releases and Twitter posts issued this week is Jasser quoted saying anything against religious liberty or Muslims.
"If I’m such a Muslim hater, they can’t find one quote from Zuhdi Jasser?" he asked. "It’s like something out of Pravda or the Syrian media."
The level of vitriol directed at Jasser, and the accusation he is anti-Muslim, "is not based on anything rational. It’s just name calling," said Qanta Ahmed, author of In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor’s Journey in the Saudi Kingdom. Like Jasser, Ahmed is a Muslim American physician who stands against radical elements of her faith and against Islamist political movements.
Disagreement with the national groups automatically triggers a backlash and accusations of bigotry, Ahmed said, all emanating from "monstrous organizations that want to drown out diversity."
Jasser has repeatedly taken on CAIR and its positions. In response, CAIR has tried to diminish his views, arguing he runs a small operation with a modest following. That was the line CAIR Governmental Affairs Director Corey Saylor took last March in criticizing Jasser’s appearance before a House committee hearing on radicalization within the Muslim-American community.
Jasser, Saylor said, "is not representative of the mainstream Muslim community and not connected to the activities of the Muslim community to one – cooperate with law enforcement, and two – secure the civil liberties of our community."
One might say the same about CAIR. A survey released last summer by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center found just over 10 percent support for CAIR among Muslim Americans. CAIR’s true following is difficult to gauge. In June 2007, the Washington Times reported that CAIR membership had plummeted 90 percent since 2001.
The group failed to file tax returns in the past three years which would show the amount of revenue from membership fees. That move prompted the IRS to strip CAIR of its tax exempt status last spring.
"This proves that they operate under the assumption that they represent all Muslims by virtue of calling themselves ‘Islamic’ or ‘Muslim’ in their names," Jasser said. "And if anybody disagrees with the cause of their existence, which is Islamism, they somehow are anti-Muslim."
His appointment stands to threaten that monopoly the Islamist groups wish to maintain. Jasser believes quieter lobbying has been used against him in the past with mixed results. Last July, groups opposed his appearance at a briefing on the uprising in Syria, where Jasser’s family came from. One Islamist group tried to remove him from the panel, telling a congressional office it "would give him too much credibility." Jasser participated in the briefing.
But later in the summer, Jasser appeared to be sailing toward confirmation for a White House appointment to the State Department’s Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. He cleared all the background checks and the vetting process, but the appointment was rescinded at the 11th hour without explanation.
Despite the "scorched earth attack" against him, Jasser said he is eager to start work with the USCIRF advocating for religious freedom for all faiths, including Muslims living under dictatorship and other repressive conditions.
The campaign against him is meaningless. There is no mechanism to undo the appointment, so it appears to be all about tainting his image. "I’m not surprised," Jasser said. "They lie and deceive about my work on a daily basis."
In this mailing:
by IPT News • Mar 19, 2012 at 11:41 am
Monday’s shooting attack in Toulouse, France stands as a reminder that Jews face terrorist threats anywhere in the world, recently retired Israeli counterterror chief Nitzal Nuriel warns.
At least four people were killed – three of them children – when a helmeted gunman hopped off a moped and opened fire outside a Jewish school in Toulouse Monday morning. A man fitting a similar description killed three soldiers in separate attacks in the region last week.
Some reports indicate the same gun was used in all three attacks.
Three of the four dead include a teacher at the school and his two young children. French President Nikolai Sarkozy vowed to catch those responsible.
"You cannot murder children like this on the territory of the Republic without being held to account," he said. "Today is a day of national tragedy."
"I want to say to all the leaders of the Jewish community, how close we feel to them. All of France is by their side," Sarkozy said.
Though the killer’s connection is not yet known, Nuriel told the Jerusalem Post that a coalition of terrorist groups has agreed to strike Israeli and Jewish targets anywhere possible. "They attack whoever they can and wherever security is lax," he said.
Israeli and American security officials have warned Jewish organizations in the United States that they could be targeted in future terrorist attacks, especially if Iran or Hizballah decide to strike here.
Related Topics: IPT News
by IPT News • Mar 19, 2012 at 3:06 pm
A radical Islamic cleric forced out of the United States is finding trouble in Egypt, after uploading a video calling the late head of the Coptic Church the "head of infidels."
Wagdy Ghoneim’s remarks prompted three lawyers to file a complaint alleging he defamed Christianity, Al-Ahram reports.
Coptic Pope Shenouda III died Saturday after serving for decades as spiritual leader to Egypt’s estimated 10 million Copts. Ghoneim attacked Shenouda by blaming him for inciting sectarian violence and calling all Copts "infidels."
Ghoneim has exhibited hostility toward other faiths in the past, most notably with a series of anti-Jewish screeds while he lived in the United States. "They killed the prophets and worshipped idols," he said in a 1998 speech to the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) held at Brooklyn College. His remarks also included leading the audience in a song with the lyrics, "No to the Jews, descendants of the apes."
A year earlier, he told the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) that violent jihad was the only way to liberate Palestine.
"The Jews are scared by the word ‘jihad,’ Ghoneim said. "We have to prepare ourselves for jihad against Jews and to liberate Aqsa Masjid. This is a must whether we accept it or not."
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested Ghoneim in November 2004, citing "his past speeches and participation in fund-raising activities could be supportive of terrorist organizations."
American Islamist groups rallied to his defense, saying he was being treated unjustly.
"The whole Muslim community today is under a microscope of scrutiny," Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Southern California chapter said at the time.
"There is a perception in the community that there is selective targeting and enforcement, and that is a widespread perception," echoed CAIR-Anaheim public relations director Ra’id Faraj.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) also took up Ghoneim’s cause, arranging meetings with homeland security officials and U.S. Rep. Chris Cox, R-Cal., who headed the House Select Committee on Homeland Security to protest Ghoneim’s detention.
"To use Muslims as scapegoats for political agendas, that is not helping us win the war on terrorism," said MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati.
Ghoneim agreed to leave the country voluntarily in December 2004. Ayloush called his departure "a dent in our civil rights struggle" and lamented the "high level of fear" in the community.
by IPT News • Mar 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm
In the video, titled "urgentmessage," Hammami tells viewers in both Arabic and English that because of differences over "matters of Shariah and matters of strategy" he now feels his "life may be in danger by the Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen."
The video is simplistic—only a minute in length and lacking the usual production glitz of Hammami’s previous releases. He dons a black and white keffiyeh and stands in front of a plain backdrop adorned only with an al-Qaida flag and a Kalashnikov.
The message is short and to the point. No further details are given as to the differences that have led to the current state of concern for Hammami.
If his claim is proven true (and, for instance, is not a hoax being orchestrated by Hammami in cahoots with the Somali terrorist group), it would be a stark change of fortunes for the American Shabaab leader.
Florian Flade over at Jih@d notes that just last year, Hammami had appeared at a number of rallies held by al-Shabaab and "was even holding speeches on the occasion of Osama Bin Laden’s death in Pakistan in May 2011."
Flade speculates that the current situation Hammami finds himself in may be the result of increased suspicion of foreigners by core Shabaab leaders:
"Some fighters—especially from Kenya and Ethiopia—had been accused of being spies and were executed. Perhaps Hammami is now facing a similar fate."
Related Topics: IPT News
American Islamist Groups Mum on Iranian Repression
In what has become a recurring pattern, American Islamist groups again have turned a blind eye to the misdeeds of the brutal Iranian regime, further calling into question their inconsistent positions on civil rights violators and their tacit support of the radical Iranian government.
Amnesty International released a new report Feb. 28 documenting the growing campaign of repression orchestrated by the regime in Tehran against dissenters in advance of new parliamentary elections.
"The net of repression is widening in Iran," Amnesty’s description said. "The authorities are arresting filmmakers, bloggers, human rights defenders, women’s rights activists, lawyers, students, journalists, political activists, religious and ethnic minorities – simply for speaking out against the government or expressing views with which the authorities do not agree."
That was followed by a 36-page report on human rights in Iran issued Wednesday by a United Nations special envoy. It finds and "alarming increase" in executions, which reached 650 people last year, compared to less than 100 people in 2003, the Wall Street Journal reports.
In addition, the report cited arrests of journalists and banned students critical of the government.
Despite the reports’ damning evidence about unjustified arrests, unfair trials, torture, and even executions – some involving minors – the self-proclaimed bastions of civil rights and Muslim freedom in the United States have been silent about Iranian cruelty. When they do speak of Iran, it is to lament the way the Islamic Republic is being treated.
"The problem in the case of Iran is that it is singled out as the threat. We [the U.S.] don’t deal with North Korea the same way we deal with Iran," Salam al-Marayati, President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), told a panel on Russia Today’s Cross Talk on Feb. 29. "With other countries, we utilize the IAEA, we use multilateral instruments to deal with the nuclear problem. In this case with Iran, there is no dialogue, there is [sic] no negotiations, it is all confrontational policies that is part of a war mongering mentality here in the U.S. and they’re just waiting for the tripwire and then the machinery of war will begin."
Ironically, Marayati said in the same appearance that "any change that happens in Iran must come from the people."
These are the same people being targeted by the government for seeking to enact change. In fact, Human Rights Watch blasted last week’s parliamentary vote as fundamentally unfair, since "opposition leaders are either barred from participating, serving unjust prison sentences, or refusing to participate in what they consider sham elections."
In the end, candidates loyal to Ayatollah Ali Khameini swept to wins in 75 percent of the parliamentary seats.
In a policy paper on the Iranian nuclear threat released Jan. 30, MPAC urged the United States to tone down talk of military action and also to scale back sanctions against Iran, which, it argues, are hurting civilians. This position ignores the effect these sanctions have had in weakening the Iranian government, making it more vulnerable to internal and external pressure to reform or step down.
Another prominent Islamist group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has also been shy in commenting on the widespread repression in Iran, only speaking out sporadically in a handful of civil rights cases, mostly involving foreigners (for examples see here or here).
Like MPAC, however, CAIR has instead focused its attention on undermining U.S. policy towards Iran’s nuclear program and casting doubt on the credibility of the U.S. position on this issue.
On Jan. 31, Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR’s Michigan chapter responded to an article in which America’s top intelligence officials identified Iran as a top threat to U.S. cyber security by tweeting, "Funny thing is these are the same reporters who reported w/o questioning if Iraq had WMD. They are doing same w/ Iran."
CAIR National also posted two articles in the last week that call into question the wisdom of a military strike to neutralize Iran’s nuclear program.
Additionally, CAIR representatives continue to appear on Press TV, the Iranian government’s English-language broadcast outlet. These appearances, including two in late February, are invariably critical of some U.S. policy or of the supposed mistreatment of Muslims in America and feed into Press TV’s anti-U.S. narrative.
On Feb. 22, Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s National Communications Director, was interviewed on Press TV about the recent burning of Qurans in Afghanistan by American troops. Speaking of U.S. authorities, Hooper said, "They are saying they are launching an investigation but unfortunately these investigations often lead nowhere."
A day earlier, the civil rights manager for CAIR’s New York chapter, Cyrus McGoldrick, told Press TV that surveillance of Muslims by the New York Police Department represents "the end of democracy." Americans need to "recognize that this is a human rights issue, this is not a Muslim issue, this is a human rights issue and that we really need to reclaim ideals, you know, if they ever existed, have now been fully overturned," he added.
Forgetting the irony of a Muslim civil rights manager appearing on an Iranian media outlet accusing U.S. law enforcement of human rights violations, it is also interesting that groups like CAIR and MPAC are sensitive to civil rights issues in some instances, but not when it comes to Iran.
Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, MPAC has thrown its support behind the persecuted Syrian people and called for an end to Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which has demonstrated a blatant disregard for human rights in dealing with the protests that have swept its nation.
"In solidarity with Syrian communities around the world, including the United States, the Muslim Public Affairs Council has one overarching goal for the Syrian Spring for Freedom: it seeks to support the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people," wrote MPAC in its introduction to its special report on the Syrian revolution released in early February.
Similarly, CAIR voiced its support for the Syrian people and echoed MPAC’s call for the Assad regime to step down.
"We call on the Obama administration and Congress to support all those who seek to exercise their universal human right to freedom of political expression," said CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor in a statement Feb. 23.
In the same statement, Saylor expressed concern for the treatment of anti-government protestors in Bahrain and urged the U.S. government to withhold arms shipments to its Gulf ally until it respected the will of its people.
"We should also stop deliveries of military hardware and services to the Bahraini government as long as it is engaged in persecuting peaceful protestors," Saylor stated. "American items and services should serve the needs of freedom, not assist in repression."
Two other Islamist groups, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) have also condemned government atrocities in Syria, while neglecting to comment on similar crimes being committed against civilians in Iran. ISNA wrote a letter to President Obama on Feb. 1 urging him to provide humanitarian relief to the Syrian people and ICNA questioned why the world intervened on behalf of the Libyan people but won’t do the same for the Syrians.
"We are sickened and outraged by the actions of the Assad regime," ICNA wrote in a Feb. 20 press release. "The brutality of Assad and his people is no less than that of Qaddafi, and yet the whole world is silently watching as blood is shed on a daily basis in the streets of Syria."
Again, no mention of Iran’s repressive crackdown on dissidents.
Even in light of the fact that accurate accounts of Syrian repression are difficult to find, American Islamist groups have proven to be extremely outspoken in favor of Syrian aspirations for democracy and civil rights. Yet, faced with detailed reports about similar crackdowns by the Iranian government, these groups say next to nothing and even defend the guilty regime.
These groups indeed seem like unlikely allies of the mullahs, but Iran is lucky to have them.
In this mailing:
by IPT News • Feb 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh saluted the Syrian revolution during a rally Friday in Cairo, in the group’s first sign of support for rebels fighting their former patrons. The comments indicate Hamas may be moving out of the Shiite Syrian-Iranian orbit, and into alliances with conservative Arabian Gulf countries and new Islamic regimes throughout the Arab world.
"I salute the heroic Syrian people, who are striving for freedom, democracy and reform," Haniyeh told thousands at a rally supporting the Palestinians and Syrians at Cairo’s Al-Azhar mosque. "No Iran, no Hezbollah. Syria is Islamic," protesters chanted, referring to Iranian influence in Syria and particularly in suppressing pro-democracy protests.
The comments show a clear break against Syria, which has long supported Palestinian terrorist organizations in order to extend its power in the region. They follow the apparent relocation of Hamas politburo members out of Damascus, and Hamas’ recent campaign to court new supporters in the Islamic world. This has included signing a new three-stage energy agreement with Egypt, which will provide Hamas’ Gaza territory with fuel and electricity transfers, despite claims by former Egyptian diplomats that Hamas suppressed Egypt’s pro-democracy uprising.
Hamas also faces additional indirect pressure from Israel, which has threatened Hamas rivals Fatah with isolation if it joins a coalition government with the terrorist organization. The coalition deal was considered controversial in Hamas, and has divided the organization into factions for and against union with Fatah.
by IPT News • Feb 27, 2012 at 11:16 am
A Pennsylvania judge is drawing flak from the right and the left after throwing out a case last week against a Muslim man accused of harassing an atheist who dressed as a "zombie Muhammed" in a Halloween parade.
In addition, Judge Mark Martin lectured the alleged victim, Ernie Perce, for his insensitivity toward Muslims. Initial reports had Martin identifying himself as a Muslim during his remarks from the bench, but in a subsequent statement, he said he is a Lutheran.
Perce, a member of a group called Atheists of Central Pennsylvania, dressed as "Zombie Muhammed" in the Mechanicsburg parade. He was accompanied by someone dressed as the "Zombie Pope," but his friend was not accosted. The defendant, Talaag Elbayomy, argued that Perce crossed a line in offending his prophet, and as a Muslim, he was obligated to respond. If anyone committed a crime, Elbayomy said, it was Perce.
Perce posted a video of the incident on YouTube. He claims he was grabbed and choked as Elbayomy tried to grab his sign identifying his costume as "Muhammed of Islam."
The judge sided with Elbayomy, an immigrant to the United States, saying it boiled down to Perce’s word against Elbayomy’s. But he also said Perce strayed "way outside" First Amendment protections. "I think you misinterpreted things. Before you start mocking someone else’s religion you may want to find out a little bit more about it it makes you look like a doofus and Mr. (Defendant) is correct. In many Arabic speaking countries something like this is definitely against the law there. In their society in fact it can be punishable by death and it frequently is in their society."
The decision appears so flawed that it generated similar criticism from legal analysts Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Turley, two people who rarely see eye to eye.
McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who led the prosecution of blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, posted a transcript of Martin’s remarks, writing that "one’s ‘attitude toward Muslims’ is irrelevant to one’s right in America to walk the streets and express opinions people may find offensive without being physically attacked and intimidated."
Martin’s speech shows a bias that should have prompted his recusal from the case, rather than his "entertaining a sharia defense to a violation of Pennsylvania law," McCarthy wrote. "The judge had no business ridiculing an American citizen as a ‘doofus’ and hectoring him with Martin’s views about Islam, its requirements, its purportedly extraordinary significance to Muslims (compared to other believers who, according to Martin, are less devoted to their faiths), or about the Muslim perception of ‘ugly Americans.’"
Turley, who represents Palestinian Islamic Jihad member Sami Al-Arian, agrees: "I fail to see the relevance of the victim’s attitude toward Muslims or religion generally. He had a protected right to walk in the parade and not be assaulted for his views. While the judge laments that ‘[i]t’s unfortunate that some people use the First Amendment to deliberately provoke others,’ that is precisely what the Framers had in mind if Thomas Paine is any measure."
Feb 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm
London’s Queen Mary University will allow Hamas-supporter Azzam Tamimi to address the student body on Tuesday, at a Palestine Solidarity Society event called "One State or Two State Solution." The move has sparked outrage on the campus because of Tamimi’s outspoken support for terrorism and the destruction of Israel.
"Anybody in the world, with faith or without faith, must come together in order to eradicate this cancer from the body of humanity," Tamimi said about Israel on a 2006 YouTube video of a London "al-Quds Day" rally. "It is just a matter of time. You count my words and you remember these words. It’s a matter of time – as they withdrew from South Lebanon because of the great jihad of Hizballah, and as they withdrew from Gaza because of the great jihad of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, this black chapter in the humanity of history will eventually come to an end."
In 2004 BBC interview, Tamimi claimed that he would carry out a suicide bombing if possible, and stated that his inability to travel to Israel was holding him back. "You see sacrificing myself for Palestine is a noble cause. It is the straight way to pleasing my god and I would do it if I had the opportunity," he said in the heated discussion with journalist Tim Sebastian.
Despite Tamimi’s support for violence, a university spokesman defended the invitation, saying "freedom of expression and the sharing of ideas and beliefs are at the heart of Queen Mary’s ethos." The head of the university, Professor Simon Gaskell, also didn’t seem fazed by the activist’s expressions of violence. "In making these arrangements we neither endorse nor deny the views expressed; rather we are allowing freedom of expression within the law," he told reporters. It was in the power of the students to make judgments about opinions and beliefs presented to them, he added.
Related Topics: Campus
Latest NC Terror Report Offers More Baseless Conclusions
Federal law enforcement has amassed an impressive record identifying and interdicting would-be jihadists bent on waging terrorist attacks before they can acquire the means to kill people. The American military has killed or detained senior terrorist leaders, including those tied to a slew of homegrown terror plots.
So when a spike in those plots from 2009 ebbs, those seeking an explanation might start by looking at these documented successes.
Not University of North Carolina sociologist Charles Kurzman.
In a report issued last week, Kurzman tallied 20 terrorism prosecutions in 2011 as further proof of his theory that the threat of Islamist terrorism is exaggerated and the country’s response still rooted more in emotion and fear than reason.
The New York Times promoted the report a day before its release, leading with Kurzman’s conclusion that, "A feared wave of homegrown terrorism by radicalized Muslim Americans has not materialized."
"The public perception of threat does not match actual case-by-case attacks," Kurzman also told the Raleigh News & Observer. "We’re getting a skewed perception of the prevalence of these figures."
Neither newspaper challenged Kurzman’s premise and methodology and neither sought out an opposing viewpoint. For the Times, it is yet another example of its long time collaboration with uncritically and falsely presenting militant Islamist groups and officials as "moderate."
But the Kurzman report is flawed by its assumptions and by Kurzman’s conclusion that the data shows the threat of radicalization has been repelled, an opinion for which he offers no evidence.
He is careful to say there is a threat, noting that "revolutionary Islamist organizations overseas continue to call for Muslim-Americans to engage in violence." But in a Muslim-American population of 2 million, such cases barely register a blip in a country "on track to register 14,000 murders in 2011."
Murderers and terrorists both kill. But the comparison ends there. Murders tend to be individual acts, committed for personal or monetary reasons. Terrorist attacks seek mass casualties and seek to instill mass fear to deep economic harm and political surrender.
Kurzman authored a book last year detailing his theory. In a question-and-answer posting on his webpage, he explains that if Islamic radicalism were a genuine crisis, "we would see far more than the 20 Muslim-Americans, on average, who engage in terrorist plots each year." Until perspective comes to the debate, he writes, "we may wind up scaring ourselves into panicky policy decisions and a paranoid quality of life."
James Carafano, deputy director of the Heritage Foundation’s Institute for International Studies, said it was misleading to use raw numbers on an issue like terrorism. Terrorists are "fringe elements of society" whose number never will equate to the damage they can cause.
"You could quadruple the number of attacks by Islamic terrorists and it would still be a small number [of the population]," said Carafano, who studied 40 disrupted homegrown terror threats. "Would people say that’s not a problem because it is less than 2 percent? No, they would be apoplectic."
By defining the problem solely among Muslim Americans, Kurzman can avoid studying some terror financing cases involving foreign nationals. It doesn’t matter what a person’s passport says. If they are in the United States plotting terror, they are part of the problem.
For example, he omits an Islamist man’s arrest for plotting to assassinate President Obama after believing it had been sanctioned by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Ulugbek Kodirov pleaded guilty last week to providing material support to terrorist activity, threatening to kill the president and firearm possession by an illegal alien.
In addition, a civil lawsuit filed by the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan alleges that Hizballah laundered hundreds of millions of dollars through a network of drug sales and automobile smuggling from the United States to West Africa, with the money routed through the Lebanese Canadian Bank and other outlets.
It’s a massive case implicating car lots throughout the country and showing the potential depth Hizballah, an Islamist terrorist organization funded by Iran, has in the United States. And it’s completely absent from Kurzman’s report.
Terrorists Against Terror?
Other statements and postings by Kurzman further call into question his understanding of terrorism and those who support it.
Kurzman’s website also contains a page showcasing "Islamic Statements Against Terrorism" without comment. Most of the statements condemn the 9/11 attacks. The problem is, many of those cited have repeatedly endorsed other terrorist attacks or are involved in terrorist groups.
For example, influential Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi is cited for joining in a statement after 9/11 that "All Muslims ought to be united against all those who terrorize the innocents, and those who permit the killing of non-combatants without a justifiable reason. Islam has declared the spilling of blood and the destruction of property as absolute prohibitions until the Day of Judgment."
If that was one’s only exposure to Qaradawi, he might seem like a moderate voice of peace. But Kurzman’s list leaves out messages to the contrary, such as Qaradawi’s call for Muslims to acquire nuclear weapons "to terrorize their enemies," his support for suicide bombings targeting Israel, his prayer for the chance to kill a Jew before his death, and his fatwa declaring that those killed fighting American troops in Iraq are martyrs.
Other signatories to the anti-terror statement include Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, and Tunisian Islamist Rachid Ghannouchi – who recently predicted Israel’s demise and met with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh.
Mustafa Mashhur, the fifth head of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, is also cited by Kurzman as being against terror. However, in his book, Jihad is the Way, he stated that there is an "unavoidable personal duty for every Muslim to equip himself and prepare and gear-up towards jihad." Another Kurzman citation, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, former head of the extremist Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, claimed it was a jihad to fight American forces in Afghanistan.
Kurzman cites a separate statement from Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khameini, despite Iran’s long-time support for terrorist groups Hizballah and Hamas, and the Islamic Republic’s suspected involvement in terrorist attacks around the world.
Some of his other positions have been woefully off base.
In 2010, he wrote about the difficulty Islamist parties face in open elections. "When we examined results from parliamentary elections in all Muslim societies, we found a very different pattern: Given the choice, voters tend to go with secular parties, not religious ones." He made similar points during a 2009 lecture at UNC, saying "There’s been a lot more Islamic parties competing in parliamentary elections than is generally acknowledged. These parties are generally not wildly popular. The freest elections do not lead to their largest support."
Elections in Tunisia and Egypt should trigger a re-examination of that research. In Egypt, Islamists swept more the three-fourths of parliamentary elections and are poised to write the country’s first constitution since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. Tunisians gave Islamists a strong plurality.
And his statements overlook the sweeping parliamentary victory by Hamas during 2006 elections over the secular Fatah movement.
At the heart of Kurzman’s work is a belief that counter-terror debate and policy are driven by emotion. On his website, he writes, "I am trying to refrain from offering specific policy changes at this point — I am focusing for now on helping to tone down public paranoia enough that we can have a sensible, evidence-based debate about what policy changes might be appropriate."
His research is published by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, (TCTHS) a collaborative effort between Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and RTI International.
RTI, the Research Triangle Institute, is a non-profit research center that works with academia and the government. A subsidiary, the Institute for Homeland Security Solutions (IHSS), has received nearly $10 million from the Department of Homeland Security through a contract initiated in 2008.
Triangle Center Director David Schanzer also serves as the IHSS director for strategy and outreach.
Schanzer and Kurzman are in lockstep when it comes to their terror research. "We have to put it in context," Schanzer told the Raleigh newspaper. "This is a real threat, but it’s a diminishing one."
Those charged with protecting Americans from attack, and presumably those privy to intelligence about terror threats, seem to draw no similar comfort. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who follows Obama administration policy by refusing to refer to Islamist extremism, choosing instead to describe "homegrown violent extremism," told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Jan. 31 that the threat remains pervasive. Homegrown radicals "are constrained tactically by a difficult operating environment in the United States," he said, but he warned the threat from would-be jihadists "may be evolving" based on past failures into "an increased willingness to consider less sophisticated attacks."
In addition, tension with Iran could make the Islamic Republic "more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived US actions that threaten the regime." A disrupted Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington by making the hit look like an al-Qaida attack is evidence of this new attitude, Clapper said in his written remarks.
Later that week, ABC News reported that Jewish and Israeli facilities in the United States are on high alert, and receiving extra attention from law enforcement, out of concern more Iranian plots could be under way.
The plot against the Saudi ambassador involved a bombing. The ABC report quoted an unnamed federal official who said the lack of concern over collateral damage by Iran "was an eye-opener."
Kurzman’s report, meanwhile, grossly mischaracterizes one of the cases he lists. He described Emerson Begolly as "a 21-year-old former white supremacist who converted to Islam and posted violent-sounding material on the Internet. When his mother tricked him into meeting with FBI agents outside a fast-food restaurant, he got into a tussle and bit them."
The biting episode did prompt the initial charge against Begolly, but his August guilty plea for soliciting violence made clear that he sought far greater bloodshed through a jihadist website. He urged jihadists to attack government buildings, Jewish schools and daycare centers, transportation targets and utilities. "No peace," he wrote in July 2010. "But bullets, bombs and martyrdom operations."
In a statement issued after Begolly’s guilty plea, U.S. Attorney David Hickton praised agents who were able to stop a brewing threat before "a perpetrator commits actions ending in tragedy."
Material Support Minimized
Kurzman does talk about terror financing cases in this report, but does not include them in his chart of terror cases. We noted this when we wrote about his previous report in 2010. Then, he explained terror financing didn’t count because those cases are for "exclusively non-violent activities … because, in our view, individuals have not fully radicalized unless they are willing and have taken steps toward violent action to further their radical views."
When U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., criticized the omission on CBS, Kurzman issued a rebuttal revising history. In 2010, terror financiers weren’t counted because they weren’t fully radicalized. In response to King, he said he didn’t have the money to study it.
"This decision," he wrote, "was not politically motivated. Given limited resources, the study focused only on violent plots. I would be pleased to do a comparable study of terrorist financing cases if research funding is made available."
Kurzman’s latest report discusses terror financing prosecutions for the first time, but he does not include them in his grid of terror arrests.
"The number of Muslim-Americans indicted for support for terrorism is more than double the number indicted for violent plots – perhaps not surprising, since it would appear to be far less of a commitment to engage in financing than to engage in violence," Kurzman writes. "Nonetheless, this finding underscores the relatively low level of radicalization among Muslim-Americans."
To claim material support doesn’t count as terrorism because the perpetrators are not ready to plant a bomb is like saying a money launderer in an organized crime syndicate is not a gangster because he doesn’t mule dope, run a brothel, break the legs of recalcitrant shake-down victims or personally murder the opposition. The money mover facilitates what the dirtier hands do, even if he looks somewhat cleaner.
Kurzman also makes a point that there were no new cases of Somali terrorism in 2011. By focusing solely on prosecutions, he avoids having to explain what motivated more than two dozen young Muslims to leave their homes in the Minneapolis area to join the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. Several of them have died in attacks, including at least one who killed himself in a June suicide bombing attack on African Union peacekeepers.
In the first House hearing on radicalization among Muslim-Americans, the uncle of another man who died in Somalia testified about the resistance he met from the organized Muslim community when he sounded the alarm and cooperated with law enforcement. Abdirizak Bihi called the reaction by the Council on American Relations "a slap in the face for the Somali American Muslim mothers who were knocking on doors day and night with pictures of their missing children and asking for the community to talk to law enforcement about what they know of the missing kids."
Aggressive law enforcement helped stem the flow of money and men from Minnesota to Somalia. Kurzman cites past case volume, but only to accentuate the point that there were none in 2011 rather than credit the success.
Kurzman’s reports share a practice of using data to promote advocacy for a political agenda. That technique allows him to ignore law enforcement and military successes in stemming the growth of Islamist terrorist plots hatched at home and abroad and argue instead that the problem is overblown. That this is underwritten by federal research grants makes even less sense, and should be re-evaluated immediately.
South Park Plea Exposes Network of Homegrown Radicals
Many homegrown Islamist terrorists labeled as "lone wolves" may not have been so lone after all, court papers filed Thursday in Virginia show.
Jesse Morton, a founder of the radical website Revolution Muslim, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and two counts related to communicating threats. The charges stem from threats posted on Revolution Muslim against producers of the animated comedy "South Park" after an April 2010 episode featured a character that was supposed to be the prophet Mohammed fully concealed in a bear suit.
The reference was meant to lampoon the violent reaction some Muslims have to images of the prophet.
A statement of facts filed with the plea shows that Morton had contact with several "lone wolf" terrorists, and that others were subscribers to the site. CNN, citing an unnamed senior counter-terrorism official, reported that "Investigations had revealed that Revolution Muslim was the ‘top catalyst for radicalization for violence in the United States’ over the last several years."
For example, after one reader reached out to him last April, Morton advised him to be wary that someone helping "start a jihad group to kill U.S. Army veterans in the United States" may be working for the FBI. Jose Pimentel may not have heeded Morton’s advice. He was arrested by New York police six months later as he assembled a pipe bomb in his home that he intended to use to kill soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.
Morton also endorsed Rezwan Ferdaus’s desire to wage jihad. Ferdaus reached out to Morton early in 2010, asking if martyrdom operations were acceptable in Islam. It depends on the motivation, Morton wrote back. "[E]very act is judged by intention and so we reserve an opinion on this matter. We can however say that these operations have apparent detractions, but also enormous benfits (sic) in a war of attrition."
Ferdaus was arrested in Massachusetts last September in connection with a plot to use remote-controlled planes to fly bombs into the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. He also made switches to detonate explosive devices that he intended to supply to al-Qaida terrorists targeting American troops.
The statement of facts in Morton’s plea ties him and the Revolution Muslim website to:
o Colleen LaRose, also known as "Jihad Jane," who admits to plotting to kill a Swedish cartoonist who drew images of the prophet Muhammad, and to recruiting people to wage terrorist attacks.
o Antonio Martinez, who pleaded guilty to plotting to blow up a Maryland military recruiting center.
o Carlos Almonte and Mohamed Alessa, who entered guilty pleas last March to conspiring to join the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab to kill civilians "whose beliefs and practices did not align with their extremist ideology."
"We may never know all of those who were inspired to engage in terrorism because of Revolution Muslim," said U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride, "but the string of recent terrorism cases with ties to Morton’s organization demonstrates the threat it posed to our national security."
In addition, the statement of facts shows that Morton communicated with Samir Khan, an American al-Qaida propagandist credited with publishing the group’s English-language magazine, Inspire. Khan is believed to have been killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen that also killed American-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
Morton and Chesser also let radical British cleric Bilal Ahmad post directly to the Revolution Muslim site.
In November 2010, Ahmad posted on the Revolution Muslim website praise for Roshanara Choudhry after she tried to kill Member of Parliament Stephen Timms for supporting the Iraq war. Ahmad then posted the names of all members of Parliament who supported the war, with a prayer that her actions "inspire Muslims to raise the knife of jihad against those who voted for the countless rapes, murders, pillages, and torture of Muslim civilians as a direct consequence of their vote."
Morton and his colleague Zachary Chesser followed the teachings of Awlaki and Abdullah Faisal, a radical Jamaican sheikh who preached the need to kill non-believers. Faisal’s sermons calling for Muslims to kill the "enemies of Islam," including Jews, Americans and Hindus, led to his 2003 conviction in the United Kingdom for soliciting to murder.
Their postings on Revolution Muslim often sounded similar themes, the statement of facts said, and they republished Inspire, which contained calls to violence and instructions on carrying it out.
Chesser is serving a 25-year sentence after pleading guilty to related charges.
In the "South Park" case, Morton told investigators in October that the decision to post the threats was made without seeing the program. It turned out that the show never depicted the prophet, just someone in a bear suit who other characters called "Mohammed."
"He said that he would have pulled the South Park post made by Chesser in April 2010 if he had known that the episode really didn’t depict the Muhammad as he thought it was going to."
When the show aired, Chesser told Morton that Iran’s fatwa calling for author Salman Rushdie’s murder following his publication of The Satanic Verses inspired radical European Muslims. Threats against "South Park’s" Trey Stone and Matt Parker could have the same galvanizing effect in America.
Morton also posted a threat against a Washington woman who advocated having an "everyone Draw Muhammad Day" in response to the "South Park" threats.
"Morton asserted that Islam’s position is that those that insult the Prophet may be killed under Shariah law just as if they were fighting with a weapon," the statement of facts said. "Morton exhorted his listeners to fight the ‘disbelievers near you.’"
Morton, 33, could be imprisoned for up to five years for each of the three counts in his plea when he is sentenced in May.
In this mailing:
by IPT News • Feb 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm
Iran has increased its threats against the West and targets in the Arabian Gulf, in response to Western sanctions and the boycott of Iran’s Central Bank, a report from the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) shows.
The report shows that the threats have come from all levels of the Iranian government, military leadership, and society. Iranian parliament member and national security deputy chairman, Hossein Ebrahimi announced last week that Iran would not allow its oil to be boycotted and would instead turn the Gulf into "graveyard" for foreign forces.
In December, the conservative Serat News published an article called "We Welcome War," which called for jihad against American forces by Muslims around the world. Another Iranian information portal, Mashregh News, published photos of American military installations in the region and in Turkey and gave detailed plans of how to strike U.S. forces.
Even a leader of the Basij, Iran’s plainclothes semi-official militia, has repeated similar rhetoric. "The U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, the American land forces [base] in Kuwait, and the U.S. Air Force [base] in Qatar are entirely surrounded by holy fighters of the Islamic ummah who are counting the minutes in anticipation of the command to wipe out the U.S." said militia commander Mohammad Reza-Naqdi, at a November Basij convention.
While many Iranian outlets and government agencies have called for violence against America before, active plots by Iranian military groups and proxies shows a new level of aggression. Azerbaijan recently broke up an Iranian-led plot to kill the Israeli ambassador. The United States thwarted an Iranian plot in October in which Iran’s Revolutionary Guard tried to contract out the killing of the Saudi ambassador in Washington, as well as the bombing of the Saudi and Israeli embassies there.
Related Topics: IPT News
by IPT News • Feb 3, 2012 at 11:58 am
FBI Director Robert Mueller called cyber threats the top future threat facing America in testimony this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee, InformationWeek reports. The broad range of online threats, both from state and non-state actors, highlights a complex threat to key institutions of the government, economy, and media.
"I do not think today it [cyber terrorism] is necessarily [the] number one threat, but it will be tomorrow," Mueller said. "Counterterrorism — stopping terrorist attacks — with the FBI is the present number one priority. But down the road, the cyber threat, which cuts across all [FBI] programs, will be the number one threat to the country."
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper underscored the complexity of threat. Internet attacks are difficult to predict and act on, he said, and "many intrusions into U.S. networks are not being detected." Joining major state actors China and Russia, Iran has also broadened its capabilities and hyped up its willingness to act on attacks. In addition, hacker groups like Anonymous, which brings together thousands of members of the public to act on its own ‘campaigns,’ have struck key sectors of the economy.
Congress is taking this threat seriously after dragging its feet for years, with the House dealing with cyber security legislation this week and the Senate considering a more comprehensive bill later this month.
Israel provides a model for how cyber attacks occur and how they can be countered. It is fighting an online war with Arab hackers, who have struck financial and governmental websites, as well as released Israeli credit card data.
Related Topics: IPT News
by IPT News • Feb 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm
U.S. intelligence officials are surprised over the rapid deterioration of the Syrian Army, the Washington Post‘s David Ignatius reported Thursday. U.S. intelligence reports say that on Monday, 350 Syrian soldiers defected from the national Army controlled by President Bashar Assad to the opposition Free Syrian Army.
"I am stunned at how fast this is moving, and how fast Assad is falling," said a senior U.S. official who coordinates policy towards Damascus. American officials say Assad is no longer able to exert control over the entire country.
Between 7,000 and 10,000 Syrian soldiers have defected from the military, and an estimated 15,000 more have gone AWOL. They are believed to have taken refuge in Turkey or Jordan or to have gone underground in Syria. While these soldiers are hardly capable of taking on the 300,000-man Syrian Army by themselves, it’s clear that things are spiraling rapidly downhill for Assad, whose family has run the country for more than 40 years.
In an effort to prevent opposition forces from making further inroads in embattled major cities like Aleppo and Damascus, the Syrian military is withdrawing units from embattled cities like Idlib, Homs and Hama—leaving them more vulnerable to capture by opposition forces. Thursday marked the 30th anniversary of the Hama massacre, in which the Syrian military, under orders from Bashar’s father, President Hafez Assad, slaughtered tens of thousands of its countrymen in suppressing a revolt by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Assad’s decline is worrying Iran, which last month dispatched Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ Qods (Jerusalem) Force to Syria, where he offered weapons and financial assistance to the Assad regime.
But at the same time, Tehran may be hedging its bets. Ignatius reports that Iran has reportedly opened secret contacts with opposition forces, and may offer them a limited amount of weapons and funding.
"Such an effort to back two sides at once would be characteristic of Suleimani, who employed similar tactics in Iraq in his role as chief of Iranian covert action," Ignatius writes.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials are worried that Damascus may transfer weapons of mass destruction to Hizballah. A senior Israeli defense official said that as the situation worsens for Assad, it may try to transfer weaponry to Hizballah control—possibly at Tehran’s behest. Doing so, one official said, would be tantamount to "a declaration of war."
Related Topics: IPT News
by IPT News • Feb 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm
A group of American and Canadian Muslims is standing by the content of a documentary criticized by Islamist groups and the media after it was shown to New York Police Department officers last year. In doing so, the American Islamic Leadership Coalition (AILC) emphasizes some points overlooked by critics of "The Third Jihad."
"The Third Jihad explicitly distinguishes between the religion of Islam, and the highly politicized ideology of religious hatred, supremacy and violence characteristic of political Islam, often referred to as ‘Islamism," the AILC said in a statement.
Film narrator Zuhdi Jasser, the Arizona doctor and head of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, is a part of the AILC. He also has written in defense of the film and criticized the media uproar surrounding it. The AILC statement focuses on a New York Times story last week, which it said echoed and amplified "the party line of well-known Muslim Brotherhood supporters in the U.S."
Those groups seek to stifle "rational discourse concerning the very real threat posed by "radical Islam" to Western societies, and to Muslims at large." See similar points by IPT Executive Director Steven Emerson here.
Writing separately on the same issue, Supna Jaidi, an attorney and senior fellow at the Stonegate Institute, says the episode shows how well Islamists have stifled legitimate debate by tarring any critic as intolerant.
"As Islam has also been given this deference in the West," she writes, "it is ironic that the success of Islamists there has been advanced by convincing many Westerners that there can be no separation between the personal and the political in Islam. As a result, one cannot question their activities unless one is ready to be called a bigot, racist or ‘Islamophobe.’"
The entire AILC statement is copied below:
American Muslim leaders support "The Third Jihad"
Decry New York Times attack on film
WASHINGTON, DC (February 1, 2012)—The American Islamic Leadership Coalition (AILC) has expressed serious concern at the vilification of the documentary The Third Jihad by the New York Times, which appears to be echoing and amplifying the party line of well-known Muslim Brotherhood supporters in the U.S. In its public statement, the AILC warned about the grave dangers of instrumentalizing Islam, from either end of the political spectrum:
"Well-intentioned Muslims and their allies on the left (including the New York Times) should beware of politicizing Islam, or seeking to prevent rational discourse concerning the very real threat posed by "radical Islam" to Western societies, and to Muslims at large. For those who deny a threat whose existence is self-evident to a majority of our fellow citizens, will share in the responsibility if and when that majority loses patience amid the heat of a future crisis—lashing out at Islam itself, and all Muslims, for the behavior of Muslim supremacists, whose ideology our intellectual and political elites have so dismally failed to acknowledge or address.
In light of the swirling controversy over the New York Police Department’s use of a film, The Third Jihad, for training purposes, we feel it is our civic, moral and religious duty to publicly address a number of issues raised by this controversy.
We have viewed The Third Jihad, and regard the information presented therein to be both factually accurate, and important for our fellow Muslim and non-Muslim citizens to understand, debate and address.
The Third Jihad explicitly distinguishes between the religion of Islam, and the highly politicized ideology of religious hatred, supremacy and violence characteristic of political Islam, often referred to as "Islamism." While the film does not examine the pluralistic, tolerant and spiritual traditions of Islam that lie at the heart of our own understanding thereof, this does not imply that the film is inaccurate in its depiction of what it specifically terms "radical Islam," as exemplified by movements such as al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Wahhabism (aka "Salafism") and the Muslim Brotherhood.
We agree with the view expressed in the January 24, 2012 edition of the New York Times, that The Third Jihad is "a dark film" and "an explosive documentary." However, contrary to the Times’ insinuation, this is not because of any falsehoods contained in the film. Rather, both the violent—and non-violent, subversive—methods employed by Islamist movements to achieve their goal of political domination are indeed "dark" and highly disturbing (hence, "explosive") to most people who come to recognize, but do not share, the Islamists’ worldview and agenda.
Significantly, since the attacks of 9/11, the NYPD has evidenced greater courage and recognition of the factors that cause radicalization among Muslims, than have the various federal agencies explicitly tasked with defending our nation and its people. Notwithstanding Islamist claims to the contrary, we believe there is nothing inappropriate about the NYPD or other security agencies using the film The Third Jihad to help their staff understand and recognize the ideology of religious hatred, supremacy and violence that underlies and animates Islamist terrorism.
The NYPD’s initial denial of having widely used the film for training purposes—and subsequent public apologies issued by Commissioner Kelly ("It shouldn’t have been shown") and Mayor Bloomberg ("Somebody exercised some terrible judgment. I don’t know who. We’ll find out.")—are in and of themselves deeply troubling, and say far more about the current state of American society than about The Third Jihad itself. In fact, these public denials and apologies demonstrate the remarkable success achieved by the Islamist lobby in North America, which seeks to prevent any and all public discussion of the supremacist political ideology that non-violent Islamist organizations share in common with terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda. In other words, the behavior of the NYPD, in this matter, tends to confirm the film’s thesis.
Islamist groups and their allies are, predictably, now seeking to exploit the opportunity presented by the current controversy over The Third Jihad to call for "oversight," "corrective training" and "participation" by the "Muslim community" (i.e., Islamists!) in all counter-terrorist programs initiated by the NYPD.
The American Islamic Leadership Coalition recognizes and deplores the rise and spread of genuine Islamophobia in North America and Europe. However, we ascribe this rise of anti-Islam and anti-Muslim attitudes primarily to the actions of Muslims themselves (i.e., Islamists), whose efforts to establish an Islamic caliphate, an Islamic state, and/or to impose an antiquated and falsely-divinized human understanding of Islamic law upon others by force, dominate our daily headlines, and inevitably generate a strong sense of disgust—and visceral mistrust—among many of our fellow citizens.
Any and all efforts to conceal the Islamist agenda, or render its discussion beyond the pale of acceptable discourse—by branding such talk as "Islamophobia" or "hate speech"—threatens not only our common freedom and security, but the very future of Islam itself. For the Islamists’ prime goal is the silencing of Muslim opposition, and of any voice in the Muslim world that would challenge their monolithic, sterile and shallow understanding of Islam, which lacks the spirituality that enables religion to serve as a true path to God.
Islamist opposition to The Third Jihad, a film narrated by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, clearly demonstrates this point. The Islamists’ uproar is driven by a desire to stifle alternative and truly moderate voices such as that of Dr. Jasser, a member of this coalition whom we know to be a devout Muslim committed to the highest values of Islam, and to our nation’s founding principles. The New York Times’ decision to embrace the Islamist "party line" on this matter hinders sincere efforts to identify and address the ideological source of Muslim radicalization, and to promote true reform within Islam, consistent with its primary message of universal love, compassion and mercy for all God’s creatures.
The current, highly-politicized nature of public discourse about Islam, in the West, is thus deeply worrying to us. Those who are truly Islamophobic often fail to acknowledge any redeeming qualities in Islam, or the faith of observant Muslims. Instead, they tend to demonize Islam, and seek to convince the majority of our fellow citizens that Islam itself is the threat, because its "true" and "authoritative" teachings are ostensibly identical to those of the Islamists.
Simultaneously, many on the left minimize or dismiss the threat posed by Islamists and instead proclaim Islam to be purely "a religion of peace," while depicting the dire warnings of their political opponents as the raving of xenophobic and delusional hate-mongers, who seek to ostracize, and victimize, Muslims in general.
The result of these conflicting views is institutional paralysis in the West, and a complete lack of societal consensus as to the nature of the threat we face from "radical Islam," and how we should address it.
For those who seek clarity amid the chaos of this dispute, it may be helpful to realize that those at both ends of the political spectrum, described above, share one salient feature in common with the Islamists themselves: i.e., they seek to instrumentalize the religion of Islam for political purposes.
Thus, an essential step towards establishing a rational, sound and mutually beneficial policy towards Islam and Muslims is for the U.S. and other Western nations to depoliticize this issue and create a bi-partisan/international consensus. Failure to do so will inevitably lead to greater polarization in the coming years, and the likely emergence of a societal consensus in the West whose demographics were on stark display in the summer of 2010, in polls concerning the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque": i.e., approximately 30% in favor, and 70% opposed. In Europe, this is the path of ethnic and religious cleansing, advocated by Anders Breivik and a rising populist movement. Here in the U.S., it is similarly the path of fear and hatred. To willfully and/or blindly continue along this path—especially at a time of nuclear proliferation and widespread political instability in the Muslim world—is the height of irresponsible folly."
Related Topics: IPT News