Score One For The Muslim Brotherhood
By CLARE M. LOPEZ (Middle East Times)
Published: April 28, 2008
SPECIAL REPORT: The Bush administration has decided that calling the enemy by his name is too risky, too politically incorrect, or oddly, somehow too laudatory.
And so, henceforth federal agencies of the United States government are to refrain from identifying the Islamic jihad with words that in any way convey genuine understanding about the links between terrorism and religion in the war that has been launched against Western liberal democratic civilization.
The U.S. government seems to think that declaring such links don't exist will make it so. Score one for the Muslim Brotherhood.
As Walid Phares describes in his post-9/11 three-book series on the meaning, structure, and progress of the current jihad, words can be enormously influential in the war of ideas. So, when the White House announces that government employees both at home and abroad must employ euphemisms such as "violent extremists" or "South Asian youths" instead of "Muslim jihadis" because the latter somehow confers legitimacy on the enemy, the entire Islamic world understands that the U.S. leadership has been infiltrated and influenced to a state of almost unbelievable confusion about this war.
This serves to encourage the enemies of the United States and dismay its friends and would-be friends within the Muslim world. It also leads the American public to a dangerous misunderstanding of theological motivations that drive jihadis to hate and seek to destroy Western civilization.
That the U.S. administration could even suppose that its choice of vocabulary might influence the jihadi enemy betrays a woeful lack of understanding about what actually motivates him. Concern about offending non-jihadi Muslims must not deter the country from conducting a realistic assessment of the Islamic roots of jihadi terrorism. Non-jihadi Muslims are the target and victims of jihadis to a far greater extent than kufar (non-believers in Islam). They welcome the West's outreach and need the empowerment it could offer, but are weakened when political correctness replaces focus on defining and defeating the enemy that would dominate both societies.
What motivates the international Islamic jihad movement is a literal textual interpretation of doctrinal Islam as laid out in the Koran, hadith, and Sunna plus centuries of Islamic scholarship and consensus on the concept of just war. Within this construct, it is true that words such as jihad, mujahedin, and Caliphate carry intensely positive and honorable connotations – for the Muslim jihadis – but hardly for the rest of us, their intended targets for subjugation within the totalitarian system that Sharia would impose.
In any case, use or non-use by infidels of the very terms by which jihadis identify themselves, to the extent that it might even be noticed, cannot possibly confer any additional measure of legitimacy on what has been for the mujahedin a centuries-old campaign of duty to spread their faith.
What Americans need to understand is that Islamic jihadis, whether part of a formal terrorist organization such as al-Qaida or the Muslim Brotherhood, or merely ideologically driven by the actions and proclamations of such groups, are internally motivated by what they believe is a divine mandate to fight and kill until the entire world comes under the sway of Dar al-Islam (where Sharia law prevails). The only relevance for this enemy that the choice of descriptive words may have is in the area of psychological operations.
If the jihadi enemy can achieve such a state of muddled confusion among the top administrative, legislative, and military leadership of its primary enemy (the United States of America) that we no longer even permit ourselves to utter the name of those sworn to our destruction, then truly they are winning the "War of Ideas."
From a series of excellent recent media pieces, as well as extensive documentation entered into evidence in last year's Holy Land Foundation terror financing trial, we now know the extent of Muslim Brotherhood activity throughout our society.
Muslim Brotherhood organizations such as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), all three listed by the Department of Justice as unindicted co-conspirators, have achieved unprecedented access to the Department of Defense and even the White House.
But aware now of the enemy's stealth and cunning in seeking to influence U.S. national security policy, the nation is obligated to reject his agenda — an agenda that prioritizes concealment until it is too late of the true nature of their campaign of conquest, whether by Dawa (persuasion, including by way of deception) or terrorist attack.
Many millions of Muslims, the overwhelming majority of whom have no desire to associate with or support in any way the agenda of Islamic jihadis, are looking for American leadership. They need the commitment of the nation's enormous national resources to this long war because it is their war for existence, too. Millions of Muslims, both U.S. citizens and others, look to American courage of conviction and the will to defend our common belief in universal human dignity to encourage their own desire to speak out, stand up, and seize back the everyday practice of the Islamic faith from those who now control it — and them. Muslims who are humanists, who abhor the violence jihadis derive from Islamic doctrine, need an ally who will encourage them to set aside that doctrine but still remain faithful to a spirit of Islam that is tolerant, not bent on world conquest.
When the world sees American resolve quail in the face of a resurgent, aggressive Islamism, because it refuses to admit it is attacked by an enemy who defines his assault in religious terms and quotes the revealed scripture of his faith to justify his murderous rage, the world loses not just respect but hope.
Issuance of a misguided primer on U.S. government usage of those terms does nothing to confront or defeat that rage. Instead, it leaves federal employees and U.S. citizens alike only more confused about who and what they are fighting.
Distracting American attention from the enemy's real identity, persuading the people that it is only some inchoate "extremists" with no connection to the doctrine of Islam who attacked the United States on 9/11, in Nairobi, and Dar Es Salaam, and Aden, and Dhahran must be recognized for what it is: a denial and deception tactic designed to deny the nation the ability to grasp clearly the reality of this menace.
The way to win this confrontation with jihadism has less to do with word-smithing than with a candid assessment of the enemy's capabilities, ideology, motivations, intentions, and scope of operations. To be effective at this, national leadership must first assess the extent of Muslim Brotherhood penetration of the government and society, root it out, and then move forward with a vocabulary that is appropriate to defeating the jihadi enemy.
Clare Lopez is vice president of the Intelligence Summit, a professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies (CI Centre) in Alexandria, VA, USA, and a private consultant on issues related to the Middle East.