President Barack Obama’s plan to counter violent extremism is doomed because it puts more importance on protecting Muslim sensitivities than confronting the unvarnished truth about the homegrown jihadist threat.
Last week President Obama unveiled his strategy to counter the problem of violent extremism. The eight-page paper titled “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States” provides a three-pronged approach that includes community engagement, better training and counter-narratives. But Obama’s plan defies reality by going to great pains to avoid singling out Muslims with what the administration calls a “more holistic approach.”
Specifically, Sunni extremists were identified with about one-half of all terrorist attacks across the world in 2009, according to a 2010 U.S. National Counter Terrorism Center report. Those attacks accounted for 62% of all terrorism-related deaths and the majority of the victims were Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Islamic threat is now spreading to America’s shores as never before.
The incidences of homegrown Islamist terrorism have increased significantly over the past two years, a trend that is expected to continue. Thirty-one American citizens or legal residents were arrested over the past two years in connection with 22 homegrown Islamist terrorism plots, according to the Congressional Research Service. By comparison, there were just 21 plots over the previous eight years.
The growth of domestic Islamic terrorism is attributed to the radicalization of American jihadist wannabes via online Internet efforts by Islamic ideologues like Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Al-Awlaki uses videos and websites to indoctrinate American Muslims such as Major Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood, Tex., jihadist who communicated with Awlaki before his 2009 massacre that left 45 dead or wounded.
Fortunately the American people are waking up to the relationship between the Islamic religion and terrorism. A spring 2011 Pew Research Center national survey found 40% agree, 42% disagree, on whether “the Islamic religion is more likely than others to encourage violence.” A similar poll in 2002 found just 25% of those surveyed believed Islam encourages violence, while twice as many (51%) disagreed.
Even Obama’s anti-extremist plan acknowledges the Islam-terrorist nexus. “Al-Qaeda and its affiliates and adherents represent the preeminent terrorist threat to our country,” states Obama, but then he cautions al-Qaeda not to “divide us” over religion. Al-Qaeda wants to create a “backlash against Muslim Americans,” Obama wrote in his plan, to feed its propaganda that America is “at war against Islam.”
Obama states Al-Qaeda would use the threatened “war against Islam” “backlash” to bolster its recruiting and “threaten our values of religious freedom and pluralism.” Perhaps fear of the “backlash” is why Obama’s anti-extremism plan is so milquetoast regarding the Islamic threat.
Rather than explicitly target homegrown Islamic extremism, Obama’s plan offers “guiding principles” to address generalized “challenges of radicalization.” He proposes networks of community officials address extremist threats using politically correct principles such as “enhance our understanding of the threat” and don’t “stigmatize or blame communities because of the actions of a handful.”
This is meaningless drivel, especially when one considers the urgency of the threat. Obama then cites the Department of Justice’s “Comprehensive Gang Model” as a framework for mobilizing communities to fight extremists. This model might work for criminals and maybe for environmental wackos, but there are significant differences between these groups and Islamists radicalized by a religion-based ideology and supported by a global Muslim community.
U.S. Rep. Peter King (R.-N.Y.) hosted a hearing this spring to address the problem of Islamic extremism in the Muslim American community. King, the chairman for the Homeland Security Committee, said at the hearing, “But there are realities we cannot ignore.”
Those realities include teachings in Islam’s doctrinal texts: “The Koran and the Hadiths” (the Prophet Mohammad’s views or stories). They are the dogmatic basis for a “world view that postulates perpetual war facilitated by jihad and martyrdom,” according to William Gawthrop, a retired army officer and a supervisory intelligence analyst with the U.S. government, who wrote a July 2011 article titled “Dogmatic Basis of Jihad and Martyrdom” for Small Wars Journal. Gawthrop’s extensively documented article outlines the stark teachings of Islamic dogma concerning the Muslim’s obligation to war against non-Muslims until they convert them or die. “The ultimate goal of Islam is its domination over other ideologies, and the means for achieving that goal includes ‘jihad’ at the individual collective and personally obligatory level,” Gawthrop wrote.
The zakat, Islam’s obligatory alms-giving, is one of the pillars of Islam, and mandates contributions for those fighting for Allah (jihadists), according to Gawthrop. A Muslim gets jihad credit for contributing his zakat to Islamic fighters by providing arms, equipment, money or care for a jihadist’s family.
These Islamic obligations are powerful tools in the hands of groups like Al-Qaeda which seek an all powerful global caliphate (Islamic state). They entice wannabe Islamists through ideological persuasion that includes hatred for the West and ends with acceptance of their jihad duty to commit violence which includes acts of martyrdom that promise salvation, pleasures in paradise, and Allah’s favor.
What should our anti-extremist plan include? Clearly it should acknowledge that some of Islam’s mainline dogma—like my way or no way—are incompatible with pluralistic American ideals of freedom, equality and democracy. The plan should also call on Muslim Americans to condemn violent jihad, refuse to give any portion of their zakat to violence-seeking jihadists, cooperate with community leaders to identify Muslims at risk of radicalization, and identify outsiders who seek to recruit wannabe jihadists.
Finally, Muslim Americans should fully integrate within our culture to include abandoning any pretense of imposing Sharia law. America doesn’t want to be like the Middle East or modern Europe, which allows Islamic ghettos that eschew local culture and teach hate for the West.
Obama’s anti-extremism plan fails to confront the most dangerous extremist threat facing America, Islamic terrorism. America must confront this threat with the truth about Islam, and Muslim Americans must embrace pluralism and eschew their religion’s dangerous teachings.