The Big Picture: ISIS in Context
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It’s hard to keep up with the news about Islam. One week, the focus is on Boko Haram, then it shifts to Hamas, and then to ISIS.
Every once in a while, it helps to step back and take a look at the big picture—that is, the big picture in regard to the Islamic resurgence. Not that there aren’t other big threats on the horizon—such as Russia, China, and North Korea—but let’s confine ourselves here to the Islamic threat.
That threat comes in two forms: armed jihad and stealth jihad. Since armed jihad is more conspicuous, it gets most of our attention. It’s difficult not to notice the activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria or ISIS in Iraq, or the major terror attacks that occur once every year or so—the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the London bus and subway attack, the bombing of commuter trains in Madrid and Mumbai, and the mall massacre in Nairobi. In the back of our minds, we also know that Pakistan has nuclear weapons and that Iran will soon acquire them (although some American bishops assure us that Iran has no such intention).
The balance of military power still favors the West—although it’s no longer clear whether Turkey, which has the second largest military in NATO, will come down on the side of the West or on the side of the Islamists. But military power can be offset by asymmetrical warfare—in other words, the type of warfare that terrorists favor. A small team of terrorists can incinerate the World Trade Center or paralyze Madrid or Mumbai, and there’s not much that F-16s or nuclear submarines can do about it.
Which is where that other form of jihad comes in. Stealth jihad, which, as the name implies, is the less noticeable type, can create a base for armed jihadists to ply their trade. Stealth jihad, in essence, is an attempt to turn a culture in an Islamic direction by infiltrating and influencing key institutions such as schools, courts, churches, media, government, and the entertainment industry. The “Trojan Horse” plot for taking over 10 schools in Birmingham, England is one example of stealth jihad; the national security establishment’s purging of training materials that cast a critical eye on Islam is another.
But, in order to do the long march through the institutions, you have to have enough bodies to do the marching. Thus, many critics look upon Muslim immigration into non-Muslim societies as a form of stealth jihad. For example, in their book Modern-Day Trojan Horse: The Islamic Doctrine of Immigration, Sam Solomon and Elias Al-Maqdisi describe Muslim immigration as, well, a “modern-day Trojan Horse.” They’re not saying that every single Muslim immigrant wants to subvert your local school, but rather that mass migration and Islamic conquest have been linked ever since Muhammad and his followers migrated from Mecca to Medina and commenced the takeover of Arabia.
Many places in Europe have changed almost beyond recognition due to the combination of mass immigration and high Muslim birth rates. And the political makeup of Europe is also changing. Since Muslims in Europe and the UK tend to vote as a bloc, politicians have begun catering to them, thus magnifying their influence. It’s widely thought, for instance, that the victory margin for French President Francois Hollande—a strong proponent of Muslim immigration—was provided by Muslim voters.
It used to be that anyone who talked about the Islamization of Europe was dismissed as an “alarmist.” But plenty of Europeans are talking about it now– including European Muslims who proudly march with signs proclaiming their intention to dominate Europe. Social-network researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have concluded that “when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakeable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.” France is already over 10 percent Muslim, and the majority of Frenchmen, like most Europeans, don’t seem to have any strong convictions about anything outside of an unshakeable belief in long vacations and early retirement.
In significant ways, stealth jihad paves the way for armed jihad. In its early stages, it can create localized environments where homegrown jihadists can grow and flourish. In its later stages? The ultimate aim of stealth jihad is to put the reins of power in the hands of Muslims. What if, as seems increasingly likely, France and England concede more and more political power to Islamists? Both countries are nuclear powers with advanced delivery systems. Given the rapid rate at which the old order of things is being turned upside down, it is not inconceivable that these weapons could someday fall into the hands of Islamic radicals.
As for the Muslim nations—those with nukes and those without—they too are rapidly changing. The reason that the West was so unprepared for the reappearance of traditional Islam as a world force is that, up until relatively recent times, most of the major Muslim nations were under the control of secular-minded strongmen who made a point of suppressing the full expression of Islam. The 1979 Iranian Revolution changed all that, and most of the Westernized secular strongmen were replaced over time by leaders who felt they need answer only to Allah. For example, Turkey, which for years was touted by Westerners as a model moderate Muslim society, is now run by a rabidly anti-Semitic, Muslim Brotherhood true believer who seems intent on making Turkey the world’s foremost Islamic power—as it was as recently as one hundred short years ago.
Where does this leave the United States? Most Americans, I would venture to guess, are of the opinion that it can’t happen here. While many are now willing to admit that jihadists can once again damage America through terrorist attacks, few can imagine the possibility of an Islamicized America.
Yet Islamization is occurring in Europe, and many of the same conditions that make it possible there make it possible here, as well. Stealth jihad is already a fact in America. Its influence can be seen in textbooks and on college campuses, in the media, and even in the movies. Moreover, there are numerous American activist groups—offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood—which are dedicated to stealth jihad. Although disguised as civil rights groups, these organizations would like nothing better than to see sharia become the law of the land. And their own litigators are as adept at lawfare as ISIS is at warfare.
Surprisingly, they meet with little resistance. That lack of pushback can be explained by considering one other factor in the overall mix—political correctness. Political correctness greases the skids for stealth jihad. It’s the “open sesame” password that allows the stealth jihadists in America to go just about anywhere they please. Right now, most Americans are more afraid of violating the rules of PC than they are of another 9/11 occurrence. They’re afraid, in other words, of being thought bigoted, racist, or—God forbid—Islamophobic. There’s little resistance to stealth jihad in America, because the few that do resist are reliably cast by the PC enforcers as anti-Muslim haters. Most people don’t want that to happen to them. So they don’t make a fuss when Muslims make demands. They go along to get along. As just one tiny example among hundreds of others, consider the recent story about a bistro in Winooski, Vermont, that removed a window sign advertising their delicious bacon because a Muslim woman claimed it was offensive.
That’s a fairly minor concession, but your nation’s really in trouble when Muslims complain about “insensitive” training materials used by the Department of Defense and the FBI, and the Department of Justice immediately complies by ordering a purge of all training manuals in all security agencies that contain even a hint of a link between terrorism and Islam. On the other hand, when five Congressmen complained that they had good evidence of Muslim Brotherhood penetration of the State Department and other government agencies, they were treated to a resounding rebuke by fellow legislators for having offended the Muslim community. Who needs ISIS when ISNA (the Islamic Society of North America) is allowed to vet military training manuals, or when Congress members who complain about such things risk being sent off to sensitivity training camp?
But wait a minute, you may be tempted to say, Europe’s slow-motion surrender can’t happen here because Europe’s birth rate imbalance and Muslim immigration problem don’t exist here. That’s true enough, but there is one other factor to consider—conversions. Right now, conversions to Islam by U.S. citizens remain on the low side. But remember that Muhammad also had a conversion problem. For the first twelve years of his ministry, he never had more than 100 followers. Then he moved to Medina, started raiding and looting, and the numbers kicked in. There seems to be a tipping point in the affairs of men which can result in a dramatic acceleration of conversions. Once a movement starts looking like the coming thing, more people will contemplate jumping on board.
We may be at one of those tipping points now. For the middle-aged and arthritic, it’s difficult to understand why thousands of recruits from all over the Western world are signing up with ISIS. But ISIS and similar groups do have a certain “cool” appeal to those of fighting age. Some Western analysts mistakenly believe that contact with Western pop culture will have a de-radicalizing effect on potential jihadists. But that’s not necessarily the case. Recall that Muhammad Atta and his crew partied it up at bars and strip clubs in the weeks before 9/11. Or consider that a British rapper is the main suspect in the Islamic State’s beheading of American journalist James Foley. It seems that the Islamic encounter with pop culture may turn out to be a case of “they came, they saw, they co-opted.” That’s because much of pop culture is already halfway there.
To youngsters brought up on gruesome video games and gangsta rap, YouTube videos of severed heads aren’t appalling, they’re “awesome.” Graduates of relativist pop culture don’t think in terms of right and wrong, they think in terms of cool and uncool. ISIS types are also very savvy exploiters of social media. “Like #ISIS in #Iraq” has become a popular hashtag. And the Daily Mail reports that “ISIS militants and their supporters are using social media to encourage protestors in Ferguson [Missouri] to embrace radical Islam and fight against the U.S. government.” Why should black Americans embrace Islam? Well, because “Racism and discrimination are rampant” in America and “In Islam there is no racism.” If the militants ever decide to hang up their bomb belts, they can always find work on Madison Avenue.
There is another disturbing possibility that needs to be taken into account when assessing the Islamic threat to America. In a recent column, former U.S. representative and retired lieutenant colonel Allen West stated that Barack Obama “is an Islamist in his foreign policy perspectives and supports their cause.” West isn’t saying that Obama was born in Mombasa or that he wears a secret Muslim decoder ring, but that his policies suggest a deep sympathy with Islamist causes. West provides a list of particulars, including this eye-catching item: “The Obama administration has lifted longtime restrictions on Libyans attending flight schools in the United States and training here in nuclear science.” To which the obvious reply is “What could possibly go wrong?”
Here are two other items on West’s list:
- Returning sanction money, to the tune of billions of dollars, back to the theocratic regime led by Iran’s ayatollahs and allowing them to march on towards nuclear capability
- Providing weapons of support to the Muslim Brotherhood-led Egyptian government—F-16s and M1A1 Abrams tanks—but not to the Egyptian government after the Islamist group has been removed.
The second item also troubled Michele Bachmann and four other House members when they asked for an investigation two years ago into possible Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the government. They expressed concern that the Department of State had “taken actions recently that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests.”
If not many Americans have taken notice of the administration’s Muslim Brotherhood bias, the Egyptians have. When then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Alexandria in July of 2012, her motorcade was pelted by tomato-throwing protestors who charged that Washington had helped the Muslim Brotherhood come to power. A year later, after the overthrow of the Brotherhood, demonstrators at a huge rally in Cairo roundly criticized Obama and U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson. A typical poster read: “Obama, stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood fascist regime.” In December 2012, an Egyptian magazine, Rose El-Youssef, claimed that six American Islamic activists working within the Obama administration were Muslim Brotherhood operatives. And this past week, it was revealed that the Egyptians had teamed up with the United Arab Emirates to bomb Islamist forces in Libya, but purposely neglected to tell the Obama administration of their plans. It doesn’t take a mind-reader to guess why. They obviously feared that the Americans might leak the operation to the enemy. The point is that Obama’s consistent pro-Muslim Brotherhood policies reveals a lot more about his sympathies than his occasional don’t-slander-the-Prophet type remarks.
Whether or not Obama is a secret Islamist (as claimed by another Egyptian newspaper) is almost beside the point. Judged by his policies, he might as well be. And long before its romance with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the current administration had shown a distinct favoritism toward Muslim Brotherhood offshoot organizations such as ISNA and CAIR. So also did the Bush administration. As I wrote two years ago:
In Europe, the rise of Islam has been a slow, incremental process—the result of decades of immigration combined with high birthrates for Muslims and low birthrates for indigenous Europeans. In America, Muslim strategists may have found a way to shortcut the long process.
Thus far, stealth jihad has met with relatively little resistance in America. That’s not to say that we should ignore armed jihad. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, Iran is acquiring them, and Turkey has the eighth largest army in the world. ISIS, Hezbollah, and Hamas have well-equipped fighting forces and all are capable of carrying out terrorist operations far from their home bases. And the United States? The U.S. plans to shrink its Army to pre-World War II levels. One other factor to be considered when assessing the big picture is that the U.S. is drastically reducing the size and strength of its military. Just at the point when the rest of the world is arming to the teeth, the American solons think it’s safe to bid a farewell to arms.
When you put together all the pieces of the big picture puzzle, it begins to look like a decidedly grim picture.
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