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A Muslim Miscellany

Herewith a miscellany of mostly-recent news items, possibly of interest to our readers and certainly relevant to our site's purpose.

Rod Dreher has excerpts from the Muslim Brotherhood's 1991 plan, recently put in evidence in the HLF trial, for taking over the United States by gradual means. I'm no Crunchy Con, but that just makes me all the more pleased to see Rod publicizing this stuff. It is perhaps worth pointing out that the Muslim Brotherhood, dedicated to "dying in the cause of Allah" and "the way of jihad" was founded in 1928. I'll let y'all think about the relevance of this fact to some of the rationales given for Muslim rage, jihadist activities, and so forth.

In other news, Houssein Zorkot, a medical student in Dearbornistan who is a big-time Hezbollah supporter was arrested for wandering about in a public park with a loaded AK-47. A group of people in the park called 9-11 when they heard what they believed to be the sound of his cocking the gun. Screen caps from his web site show one picture with the caption "The Start of my Personal Jihad (in the US)." The Hezbollah supporters in the Dearborn area also send death threats to columnist Debbie Schlussel. (Language alert on the links. Schlussel quotes the e-mails she has received.) This is a "take notes" moment for those who believe that Hezbollah is not our problem.

And in the "tiny minority of extremists" department, we have the report from Germany that authorities there are having a dickens of a time getting tips from the Muslim community about radicals and plotters in their midst. Somehow, I doubt they're getting much help there rounding up remaining suspects in (just) the latest European bomb plot.

Finally for this brief list we have the news from Brussels, where police applied...interesting tactics in arresting peaceful marchers on 9-11 against the Islamicization of Europe. Welcome to the 21st Century in the European Union.

My thanks to Jihad Watch for existing. (And there's a lot more information where these stories came from.) I would have had to have lots of hat tips for this one if I hadn't simply linked to stories through JW, where I first found most of them, though I actually saw the one about the police brutality in Belgium first on TROP. Here's hopin' Robert Spencer packs heat for self-defense, and the editor of TROP as well.

Comments (18)

But I thought they were all in Afghanistan where if we had stayed everything would have been alright.

Also I thought that there is no inter-relationship between groups and factions, to many differences, nothing in common and all that.

We must be provoking them, shame on us. We'll just have to restrain our lesser selves.
1928, how interesting!

Johnt is right. We need to start bombing Virginia, Michigan, Germany, and Brussels.

I'm quite sure none of our contributors has advocated on this site (at least) any view to the effect that there are too many groups with nothing in common. To the contrary. A recognition of the importance of jihadist ideology in Islam _should_ show the common factor underlying the hatred of the U.S. by various groups. That, indeed, was the point of my dig about Hezbollah. It's very important that we not play "good Shia terrorist vs. bad Sunni terrorist" mind games with ourselves, much less with our policies at home and abroad.

Yes, it is good Dreher is writing about the da'wa that occurs under our noses.

Senator Lieberman last week asked the these 4 leaders what, if anything, the top security departments of our government are doing to counter the threat of Islamic groups within the U.S. who could be spreading jihadist idealogy:

1. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III announced that the FBI has no counter-ideology response other than its “outreach” to Muslim-American communities;

2. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff also said nothing is being done domestically to battle Islamist extremist ideas. The department’s incident management team, he said, is focused on civil rights or civil liberties — not fighting terrorists’ ideology;

3. National Counterterrorism Center Chief , Retired Vice Adm. Scott Redd, who has a strategic operational role in countering terrorism, said one of the “four pillars” of the U.S. war strategy is the “war of ideas,” but he noted that there is no “home office” for that effort in the United States;

4. Director of National Intelligence, Retired Vice Adm. Mike McConnell, , said the intelligence community does not conduct any battle of ideas against terrorists in the United States unless there is a foreign connection;

See, Bill Gertz, Washington Times article http://washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070914/NATION04/109140086/1008

Who would like to bet that neither of these four "leaders" know what the term da'wa means?

I can't believe I'm bothering to respond to this challenge, but here goes.

It depends on what we're taking "inter-relationship" to mean. If we are supposed to accept that Hizbullah, Al Qaeda, Al-Ikhwan and the Baath Party (!) all belong to a conglomerate called Islamofascism or something equally absurd, then I am quite pleased to reject such a view. I heartily reject it, because it is moronic. It also happens to distract from the actual religious nature of jihadism and conflates it with unrelated, dead ideological enemies, but I've said plenty about that before. If we're talking about more fundamental points of agreement among different groups of jihadis that Islam calls for violent struggle on its behalf or the argument that jihadism is not some bizarre aberrant strain of Islam but something that can be found in the "mainstream" religion itself, that's something else. In this sense, Hizbullah partakes of many of the same ideas, but nonetheless remains a distinct group that is quite adamantly hostile to Salafists and Wahhabis, etc. Confusing them all in one big blob of jihadism is about as strategically useful as declaring that Yugoslavs, Chinese and Russians were all the same and had the same interests because they were all commies. Thinking in these terms blinds us to opportunities to exploit divisions and rivalries among our enemies.

Of course, just because there are jihadi groups out there that are pursuing their objectives for domination in one part of the world and *ultimately* would like to bring all lands under their control does not mean that all of our policies have been wise or prudent. If jihadism predates U.S. intervention, and it does, that doesn't meant that interventionist wars are the smart thing to do. It does not mean that the present scale of the threat described by alarmists is correct. Some policies may have exacerbated the evil, which does not mean that the evil did not already exist. It does mean that exacerbating an evil is a foolish thing to do. The threat may not be anywhere near "existential" and yet might still be, and is, very grave and serious. Occupation could have something to do with making jihadism more widely popular than it might otherwise be, which doesn't mean that jihadism will disappear if occupation ends. We could stand to keep a sense of proportion about all of these things.

It is also not a question, as a matter of U.S. foreign policy, of whether such and such a jihadi group is "good" or "bad," but whether the group threatens U.S. interests. This is where sloppy thinking gets us into trouble. Insofar as Hizbullah keeps its activities limited to Lebanon, we should really have little quarrel with them, just as we should not have any particular quarrel with jihadis in Kashmir unless they give us reason to. As these groups threaten our allies, it becomes more of our concern.

Lydia's post was valuable for drawing attention to where the greatest potential danger lies: the internal subversion from within unassimilated immigrant countries. Of course, it is worth mentioning that some of the sternest warnings about this subversion have come from the same people who argued most strenuously against invading Iraq.

"...internal subversion from within unassimilated immigrant countries"

Just a clarificational question: Did you mean "unassimilated immigrant communities"?

Several comments:

On alarmism. Those considered as alarmists may be wrong about specifics or the extent of the danger (e.g., of a nuclear Iran), but if so they are not so far wrong as to be ridiculous. I don't know that Iran is going to get nuclear bombs and use them on somebody, but I don't know that Iran isn't going to do so. What we should do about it or if anything at this stage can be wisely and legitimately done is a different matter but irrelevant to the facts. As to other things--such as gradual jihad-by-demography and sort-of-legal means in the West--I've never met anyone on those scores that I would definitely call an alarmist yet. We could use more alarm about that subject.

On exacerbating jihadist rage by our foreign policies: I do not think, and never have thought, that this is enough of a clear causal factor that it should affect policy. Note that I apply this even to policies where I would agree with paleos and others who do use this argument. For example, I opposed the invasion of Iraq, but not on the grounds that it would make jihadists more angry at us, make us more of a target for terrorism. Do I know that there are no people who join terrorist groups or who plot terrorist acts who wouldn't do so if we adopted all paleo foreign policy recommendations? No, I don't know that for sure. But I think it unlikely that there are enough of them for the effects to be noticeable. Terrorist hatred of Americans and America and terrorist plotting against the West is, IMO, very much causally overdetermined. With some paleo policy recommendations I would probably agree. With others I most emphatically and strongly disagree. But I think those policies have to be argued on grounds other than that of exacerbating the jihadist threat.

On Hezbollah: First, the fact that the unassimilated immigrant groups in various parts of the U.S. (Dearborn, esp.) are rabid Hezbollah supporters is itself relevant in various evidential and causal ways to how dangerous they are. These aren't just any unassimilated immigrants. Support for Hezbollah should be taken into account in our immigration policy. This is unlikely to be done if Hezbollah is treated as not an enemy of the U.S. and as merely a problem for some unrelated foreign countries. Second, I believe that laws against sending money to Hezbollah (even abroad) are mild, just, and only reasonable. In fact, I think such laws should appeal to people who favor various economic incentives like tariffs and who are opposed to military intervention. If we should try to prevent Americans from using their money to buy foreign-made goods merely because of the indirect effect buying foreign has on American jobs, how much the more should we try to prevent people in America from using American money to support a vicious group of murderous thugs who hate America virulently, try to destroy our allies, and torture and kill our military officers?

On playing various Islamic, terrorist, and terrorist-sponsoring groups and countries off against one another: If it could clearly be done so effectively as to be worth the various costs--practical and moral--it should be considered. I've seen some proposals. Color me skeptical. I prefer my isolationism straight up. If there's one nice thing about it, it's that it might get us more disentangled than we are now from the whole dirty business of benefiting one group of horrible people who hate us and do horrible things to their own people and to their neighbors in the hopes (too often vain) that this will help us to limit the actions of another such group.

Zippy, how do you know I'm right, or wrong, before I even say anything? Is this one of your hypotheticals, semi-hypothetical, quasi-hypothetical?

Besides, I would never bomb Germany or Brussels.

Zippy, how do you know I'm right, or wrong, before I even say anything?

You did say something.

Er, yes, communities, not countries. Sorry about that.

Lydia: the one place where I am uneasy with your position is here (note that my isolationism also has more to do with protecting us than with not riling them: I expect at this point that serious isolationism would rile them very much, because among other things of what it would do to their prospects):

But I think those policies have to be argued on grounds other than that of exacerbating the jihadist threat.

It is my view that in formulating policy (or strategy or whatever) that there needs to be a very clear division between factual assessment, policy assessment, and policy choice.

That means that in factual assessment, everything that might be even a little pertinent should be on the table. Nothing is excluded a priori.

The same goes to some extent for policy assessment. This is a process of generating options. When generating abstract options, no possible and morally acceptable options should be left out, however wacky they may seem. Again, everything on the table.

Policy choice is another matter. There the space of all possible options collapses to what we actually choose to do. But when I was the boss, this collapse would occur only when and how I chose it to occur. Artificially limiting my options before this step is unwise.

I think people try to rule out all kinds of things from consideration because they want them out on some a priori grounds. In the messy domain of trench politics that may be wise, because people are always jumping to conclusions; but it is far from ideal. Ideally we take nothing off the table until it has to be taken off the table.

I merely meant that as a factual matter it seems to me that this argument--that invading Iraq or being allies with Israel or whatever--makes jihadis more angry, makes them target us more, is implausible. At least if "more" is supposed to mean something sufficiently significant as to be visible to the naked eye, so to speak. So my "have to be" in "have to be argued" wasn't so much a priori as a posteriori. One can bring up all sorts of "mights" when you're saying that some given policy might have this or that effect. If you get creative, you can generate so many "mights" that you're paralyzed. It's possible--as those who favor the Iraq war argue--that the Iraq war _lowers_ our risk for terrorism. You have hypothesized a very odd and unexpected sort of possible risk-lowering effect of our being involved in the Iraq tar-baby. If anything, your theory seems more probable to me than the theory that we are _raising_ our terrorist danger by making 'em mad. So it seems to me that "might be's" are at least a wash when it comes to the various policies in question. And this is in no small part because I think I've seen evidence of significant over-determination and opportunism on the part of jihadist enemies when it comes to finding a cause. If it weren't one thing, it looks like to me, it would be another. But all of this is, of course, an empirical matter.

I should probably admit, though, that I have a very strong constitutional inclination to oppose anything remotely like negotiating with terrorists. When we're talking about evil people who hate us and who, we know, are already out to get us, there is something exceedingly distasteful to me about arguing that we shouldn't do this or that because it might make them hate us _more_. This looks like...cowardice, pandering, etc. Surely, I am inclined to think, there are grounds of other sorts that will give us information on whether the policy in question is a good or bad one so that "let's tiptoe around the terrorists" won't be just the thing that tips the scale. And there is a practical aspect, too: Danegeld usually just leads to demands for more danegeld. Do we really want to set a precedent to terrorist groups that we do or don't do this or that because we don't want to make them angry? Is that itself likely to be prudent in the long run?

Brussels is under a real existential threat, from capitalists.

Since you brought it up, the Brotherhood was founded in 1928 as a political response to the defeat and breakup of the Ottoman empire and it was rooted in a growing nationalism within post-colonial Egypt. The group was subverted decades later by two writers combining communist revolutionary ideology with the strongest militant verses in the Koran. Maududi and Qutb were successful in incorporating a virulent and puritanical strain of Muslim fundamentalism. They both called for the overthrow of all secular governments, although they differed on some of the details of implementing the revolution.

As a side note, it is too bad for us that there are no nonviolent or intellectual sects within Islam that we could support. Oh wait, there is the Nizari Ismaili and Qadiriyyah Sufis. Sure would be a shame if we tried to promote those brands of Islam. If Saudi money can fund all these hardline Wahabbists madrassas, why should we stay neutral about educating young Muslims?

Re: Hezbollah. As a matter of justice, if someone is attacked by a gang of thugs, it takes a weird sort of vigilantism to declare a campaign to fight all gangs while also dismissing as nearly irrelevant the gang that committed the attack. That was the only point I was making on the previous thread, not this notion that violent gangs are fine and dandy as long as they aren't attacking us. At the end of the day I am willing to let pragmatic decisions determine when and how we oppose or make truce with various militant groups (this is our current strategy in Iraq, but it is too little far too late).

Step2, I'm a little astonished that you can respond to the story I actually linked about Brussels with your particular quip about capitalists. I think the one I linked was story enough in itself, and I had thought liberals cared about police brutality. Surely police brutality in the service of suppressing criticism of Islam is a noteworthy news item.

I am not qualified to dispute your account of the ostensibly mild and kindly beginnings of the Muslim Brotherhood, though it arouses my suspicions. But even on your account of the history of the Brotherhood, it was hardly a response to, say, the first Iraq war. (Blowback...) And I can't help thinking that the ideology you attribute to Qutb would have carried him forward aside from (say) the founding of the State of Israel and U.S. support for it.

On supporting this or that "school" of Koranic interpretation, I would defer to Robert Spencer. I will say that *every single time* I see some "moderate" Muslims touted as government advisers and the like, they turn out to have the most unsavory links and not to be moderate at all, so there are very few people I would trust on that one. The truth is, the texts in question *are there* in the Haditha, the Koran, etc. This is a point Spencer makes again and again. He, too, would like to find reformers. But he points out quite reasonably that the existence and prevalence of the objectionable aspects in the founding texts must be acknowledged or real reform cannot take place.

On Hezbollah, you were not my target. In fact, on that and also on the reasons for "Muslim rage," my target rather was a constellation of ideas that one finds among paleoconservatives, rather than specific comments of yours, here or elsewhere.

But he points out quite reasonably that the existence and prevalence of the objectionable aspects in the founding texts must be acknowledged or real reform cannot take place.

It is even worse in the details than this implies, because if you reject or try to softpedal some explicit precept in the Koran you run smack into the quite explicit self-referential demands of the Koran itself, e.g.:

We did not leave anything out of this book.[6:38]

This Quran could not possibly be authored by other than GOD. It confirms all previous messages, and provides a fully detailed scripture. It is infallible, for it comes from the Lord of the universe.[10:37]

I'm not optimstic that you can get from there to something like (say) an Islamic version of Anglicanism or Eastern Orthodoxy or Catholicism that shares the authority of the Koran's explicit requirements with coequal tradition and an episcopacy, giving the latter two some ability to permanently soft-pedal (say) the requirement to kill the infidel. The Koran (quite unlike the Bible) seems to be just too bloody explicit and self-referential, and will probably always assume the role of trump card in Islamic theology based on its own internal logic. Hadiths and Islamic clerics will ultimately always take a back seat to the literal sense of the Koran, in the long run. Unless Islamic reformers find some way to give up "...and Mahomet is His Prophet" I just don't see how Islamic reform can be anything but a delaying tactic.

In some ways Spencer is an optimist. Though I'd love to be proven wrong.

Zippy, I agree. In fact, I agree wholeheartedly. This is no doubt why one ends up with oddities like "atheist Muslims" and such and why these are the only people Spencer can honestly endorse as "moderates." Spencer's own evidence is against what is left of his optimism. Or something like that.

Conservatives are so pessimistic. It is like a required personality trait or something. I agree that it is not easy to get to a moderate form of Islam from its current mainstream form, but ye of little faith, despair not. :)

One thing I would very much like to know, and perhaps Daniel can answer this, is why the Iranian revolution triggered such a massive wave of fundamentalism all through the Muslim world? From everything I have read it was a pivotal event in modern Islamic history, but I don't know the reason it was such a major catalyst for change.

"Conservatives are so pessimistic. It is like a required personality trait or something. I agree that it is not easy to get to a moderate form of Islam from its current mainstream form, but ye of little faith, despair not. :)"

Why believing in facts and laws of Nature is pessimism? Are people who believe in Newton laws pessimists and conservatives?
Does believe in overcoming Newton laws is faithful and liberal?

Islam is built around Koran,
Koran is a word of God, perfect and unchangeble.
Koran calls for conversion, dhimmitude or murder of infidels.
How you going to get from this to a moderate form?

In fact, accordingly to R. Spencer and/or Hugh Fitzgerald, attempt was made to move Islam to a more moderate form very early in Islam history.

One of the caliphs, just a few generations removed from The Child Molester, was supportive of intellectuals who try to do that. Dispite support from the very top, movement has died out very soon. It was too easy for a traditional Mullah to declare moderate version not authentic.

Islamic world must be weakened to such degree that they will start questioning their religion and convert to Christianity.

Islam based on Koran is not reformable by definition.

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