Saturday, January 28, 2012

7 Myths About Islam

One of the few positive effects of 9/11 has been renewed American interest in Islam and the Middle East. Unfortunately, much of the information disseminated in the media about those topics is ignorant and misleading. This is unfortunate because any hope that the predominantly-Christian West and the Muslim world might transcend conflict requires that the former be accurately informed about the latter (and vice-versa, but that’s an issue for another column). There are in particular seven myths about Islam and Islamic history that have been repeated so often in the media that they’ve achieved conventional wisdom status.
First, it is untrue that Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion.(Mormonism and Scientology also claim this, but few outside of Salt Lake City and Hollywood believe it.) As Philip Jenkins of Penn State University demonstrates in his work Christianity—in particular Pentecostalism—is the world’s most-rapidly growing faith. Currently there are 2 billion Christians and 1.3 billion Muslims (out of a world population of 6 billion), and in the 21st century Christianity will maintain its lead, thanks to explosive growth in sub-Saharan Africa and China.
Second, despite the claims of even President Bush in a number of public statements, Islam is not solely a “religion of peace.” Yes, there are verses of toleration in the Qur’an: Sura(chapter) al-Baqarah:256 says “there shall be no compulsion in religion;” Sura al-Furqan:65ff says that Allah will be merciful to those who repent and do good works; and Sura al-Nisa’:19ff enjoins Muslim men to provide financially for wives and ex-wives. But verses such as these are arguably outweighed by others: Sura Anfal:12ff and Sura Muhammad:3ff command the beheading of unbelievers; Sura al-Nisa’:34ff allows for beating of one’s wives and in verses 74ff and 94ff, promises great reward for those who die fighting for Allah; Sura al-Ma’idah:51 says “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends.” Of course there are violent sections in the Bible—or at least in the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament (Joshua and David were military leaders as much as religious ones). But no one denies that, as many—both Muslim and non-Muslim—deny these violent and misogynistic passages in the Qur’an. Many arguments can be made against such verses (they must be contextualized, they are applicable only to that time, they are metaphorical, etc.) but one cannot say they do not exist. Someone who simply rehashs that “the Qur’an teaches peace” obviously hasn’t read it. No doubt most Muslims do not read the passages about decapitation as a blueprint for today. But just as some Christians take literally, for example, the command of to Christ handle poisonous snakes (Luke 10:19), some Muslims take literally the injunction to behead unbelievers. And the latter practice is a bit more injurious to other folks than the former.
Third on the misinformation parade is the allegation that jihad does not mean holy war. This falsehood crops up often in text books and in the media, where the politically-correct tirelessly repeat that jihad actually means only “striving to be a good Muslim.” This is half-right. But early on in Islamic history, jihad came to mean fighting against unbelievers in order to expand the territory under Muslim rule. al-Bukhari lived in the 9th century CE and was the most authoritative compiler of sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad; he mentions jihad many times as meaning “holy war.” Jihad as “Muslim piety” is mainly the province of the Sufis, the mystics of Islam, and has become a minority view today. Furthermore, Islamic history is chock-full of leaders declaring jihads against their enemies—even the moderately Muslim Ottoman Empire declared a holy war against the French, British and Russians in World War I!
Fourth is the whopper that Islam spread peacefully from Arabia, as if the followers of Muhammad went door-to-door ringing doorbells and handing out brochures. From the mid-7th century CE Muslims militarily overran regions and then pressured the conquered to convert. (Yes, Christian kingdoms did the same—but, again, no one denies that!) Muslim Arab armies destroyed the entire Persian Empire (modern Iran), replacing its official Zoroastrian religion; about the same time they invaded the surviving Christian Roman (Byzantine) Empire and within a few decades had taken half its territory. In 732 CE a Muslim army from Morocco was in France! By 750 CE Muslims ruled from the Iberian Peninula to India. And Muslim armies would stay on the offensive for the next millennium, with only two exceptions: the “Reconquista” in Iberia and the Crusades.
The fifth tiresome myth is that the European Catholic Crusaders started the war with Islam and that for eight centuries Muslims have been brooding over the horrible injustices thereof. Actually, the Crusades, 1095-1291, were simply the first time that European Christians managed to take the fight to their enemy’s territory. And besides: why are the Crusades being constantly used as a club with which to beat the West—remember the scathing attacks on President Bush when, not long after 9/11, he referred to a “crusade” against terrorism?—when the Muslims won? Usama bin Ladin’s constant references to Americans as “Crusaders” is thus a perfect marriage of historical illiteracy with keen psychological insight into his enemy’s self-hate.
Another fairy tale about Islam is that poverty produces terrorists. This hoary myth tells us more about the worldview of its American adherents than it does about the ranks of the Islamists. Most of the 9/11 and London bombers were university-educated and at least middle-class. The same is true for Palestinian suicide bombers and most likely those in Iraq. Naive Americans take their domestic paradigm about poverty and crime—that the former causes the latter—and apply it to a context where it doesn’t fit Regarding the recent London bombings, a British terrorism expert said that “socioeconomic background does not appear to [have] play[ed] a role.” Poverty may be necessary, but it is hardly sufficient, to explain Islamic terrorism.
And finally, we have politically-correct mendacity number seven, which even British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently repeated: that Islam has been “hijacked” by terrorists. In this view Bin Ladin, the ayatollahs in Iran, the former Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, the Saudis with their Wahhabism (a particularly puritanical brand of Sunni Islam)—all are twisting a “moderate” religion to suit their purpose. The “Islam = peace” brigade essentializes Islam as peaceful. UBL essentializes it as jihad. Although there are Qur’an verses, and sayings of Muhammad, on both sides, many do support Bin Ladin and his ilk. Also, Islamic history is replete with Muslim scholars whom the modern Islamic fundamentalists draw upon. The most famous is Ibn Taymiyah who, 700 years before George Bush said “you’re either for us or against us,” divided the world into the domain of Islam and that of war. The only good ruler is a Muslim ruler, asserted Ibn Taymiyah. And by that he meant one that enforces shari`ah, or Islamic law. Most Muslims do not agree, but some do. (And only 10 percent of 1.3 billion is 130 million.) But it is no use pretending that the UBLs of the world have falsely “hijacked” Islam. Indeed, their view of the faith—however intolerant and violent it may seem—has a basis in Islamic theology and history.
Islam is where Christianity was before the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and then the Enlightenment led the West to divorce religion and state, thereby removing (mostly) the threat of religious-based warfare. As a fellow monotheist with Muslims, I pray that the moderate strands within Islam win out over the more fundamentalist ones, allowing that civilization to follow suit. And for we in the West to help with that, we need to open our eyes to the reality of the harsher aspects of Islam and Islamic history. Anything else is simple—and dangerous—self-deception.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Taste of Islam

An Interview with Bill Warner

By Mark Tapson

In the years after the 9/11 attacks, more non-Muslims than ever before have studied Islam to understand the religious motives of those who had declared war on us. And yet non-believers who are alarmed at what they have found in the foundational texts of Islam are always told by apologists that we don’t understand the true Koran, that we labor under misconceptions about the Religion of Peace, that we don’t understand the complexities of sharia, that our objections and criticisms stem from racism (even though Islam is not a race) and an irrational fear of Islam and its adherents. The problem always seems to lie with us. What is the truth and how can we get to it behind the contradictions and the mystification?

Bill Warner has the answer. The founder and director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam (CSPI), he holds a PhD in physics and math. He has been a university professor, a businessman, and an applied physicist. But Dr. Warner has also had a lifelong interest in religion and its impact on history, and so the day after 9/11 he decided to make the source texts of Islam available for the average person who wants to know more.

As part of that effort, Mr. Warner has produced a dozen books, including a Koran, a biography of Mohammed and a summary of the political traditions of Mohammed. He writes articles and produces news bulletins that record the suffering of the victims of political Islam. And he has spoken nationally and internationally about Islamic political doctrine.

This Tuesday in Los Angeles, Mr. Warner will present “A Taste of Islam.” See here for information about attending.

Mark TapsonMr. Warner, your background is in physics and mathematics. How did you come to devote yourself to the study of religion and to feel compelled to share your insights on political Islam? How did the field of statistics shape your perspective on Islam?

Bill Warner: I was raised in a very religious family and read the Bible a great deal. I studied physics and math, but my interest in religion expanded to the effects of religion on history. After graduate school I was attracted to mysticism and Eastern religions. So, forty years ago, I looked into Sufism, mystical Islam. I went to Sufi dances, learnedzikr (a Sufi devotional practice), met Sufi masters and read Sufi literature. But, there was always this jarring background noise of the history of Islam. So, I left my study of Sufism.

Twenty years later as a professor I had Muslims in my classes and they sparked my interest in the Koran. It was a tough read, but I read it cover to cover. The text was literally a puzzle, but I set it aside until 9/11.

On 9/11 as soon as the second plane hit the second tower, I knew it was an act of jihad. I stood up, turned off the TV and I haven’t watched it since. In that moment it came to me that the rest of my life would be spent explaining the meaning of Islamic texts.

I sat down and reread the Koran, read the Sira (Ishaq and Al Tabari), read the Hadith (Bukhari and Muslim). These are the absolute foundational texts of Islam, the source code, the DNA. I was following Sun Tzu’s advice; know your enemy and attack your enemy’s strategy.

My attack was to reveal the Koran, Sira and Hadith in a rational form that was easy to read. This became the Trilogy Project. I assembled a team of volunteers and paid writers and editors. From the beginning, I knew that it was the political aspect of Islam that offered the only chance of success. The religious aspect has too much misunderstood protection of the First Amendment.

MT: What is the Trilogy Project?

BW: The approach to the Trilogy was new and unorthodox, and its only chance of success lay in a scientific approach to the texts. Every paragraph can be verified by going back to the source texts. These books are not opinion, but give us the facts of the sources. For this reason, nearly every paragraph has an index number that allows it to be verified.

The greatest fun was solving the Koran puzzle. The Koran must be the most famous book that is not read or understood. The first step, which is not unique to me, is to lay out the Koran in the correct time sequence. The bookstore Koran is arranged by chapter length, and is not in the right time order. It was created by Uthman, the third caliph. The bookstore Koran is Uthman’s Koran.

If you take the life of Mohammed, the Sira, and lay it out alongside the Koran in the right time order, it is like matching a key to a lock. What is happening to Mohammed is reflected directly in the Koran. So if you integrate the life of Mohammed into the same text as the Koran and use separate fonts, so there is no confusion, you get a recreation of the Koran of Mohammed, the historical Koran. The Koran becomes an epic story that begins with a hymn to god and ends with the triumph over the world—the annihilation of all other civilization.

In 2006, I published the complete foundational doctrine of political Islam in three volumes. The Trilogy Project was finished. Now anyone can read and understand the Koran, Sira and Hadith. You can know Allah and Mohammed from the source texts.

This system of knowledge integrates the entire body of Islam into one view. If it is in the Trilogy, it is Islam. If it is Islam, it must be in the Trilogy.

Once the Trilogy was assembled, there was a bonus prize. Part of making the texts readable included sorting and reordering of the ideas. Once the work was all correlated, concepts leapt off the page. The ideas of Islamic ideology stood out. The simple statistical method of counting the words devoted to ideas clearly showed the themes of the doctrine.

The biggest statistical surprise was the dualistic nature of Islamic doctrine. Islam holds contradictory ideas that are simultaneously true. Now this confounds all Western logic, but this gives Islam its great strength. Islam is peace. Islam is jihad. Islam is a brother to Christianity and Judaism. Islam annihilates Christianity and Judaism.

I find it revealing that 64% of the Koran deals with Kafirs (non-Muslims), not Muslims. The Trilogy has a greater textual devotion to Jew hatred, 9%, than Mein Kampf. We are led to believe that there are a few verses about jihad in the Koran, but 24% of the Koran written in Medina is about jihad.

My work is from the view point of the Kafir, the non-Muslim. The Kafir is the victim in nearly every verse by Allah and most actions by Mohammed. The grandest lie of Islam is that Muslims have the correct view of Islam. But dualism demands that there are two correct views that contradict each other and cannot be logically aligned. Hence, there is the Kafir-centric view of Islam that is equally valid as the Muslim-centric view. Islam, the universities, and the apologists all insist that only the Muslim view is the true view. This is an error that is not supported by facts.

We can now hold fact-based discussions about Islam. There is no longer any need for “experts”, since we have the supreme experts in our hand — Mohammed and Allah.

MT: You’re speaking in Los Angeles on “A Taste of Islam.” Why is it necessary to appreciate “the full menu” of Islam in order to understand it?

BW: It is impossible to understand Islam based on just the Koran, but it is simple to understand when you look at the entire picture, both of Allah and Mohammed.

Muslims and their apologists want us to look at Islam one verse at a time. But this is like trying to understand a jigsaw puzzle by looking at it one piece at a time. If we put all the pieces together, as a system, the picture is obvious.

MT: Pointing out the theological motivation of Islamic fundamentalists always brings the politically correct objection that they constitute a “tiny minority of extremists” who have “hijacked” a religion of peace and interfaith tolerance. How are we to answer that objection?

BW: The use of the term “extreme” implies that something is being measured, and it is off the chart. There is one and only one measure of Islam and that is its doctrine as found in the Trilogy. For example, Mohammed preached the religion of Islam for thirteen years and made only 150 converts. But when he turned to jihad, ten years later he died, he was the ruler of Arabia and every Arab was a Muslim. Conclusion: jihad is normal, not extreme. But notice that since Islam is dualistic, Muslims can claim that it is peaceful.

As to the claim that the jihadists are few in number, look at war statistics. During WW II only 10% of our population was in the military. Did that mean we were not at war? No. In war only a few are doing the actual work, the rest of the country backs them with labor, money and morale.

There are four ways to be a jihadist – sword, pen, speech and money. Jihad is incumbent on ALL Muslims; therefore, it is the sixth pillar of Islam.

MT: Especially in the wake of the Arab Spring, the Obama administration wants us to draw a distinction between the terrorists and the “moderate” Islamists we can work with. How do you respond to that?

BW: First, a terrorist is a jihadist, modeled after Mohammed, the supreme jihadist. A moderate Muslim can be one who is not observant or it can be a Muslim who is following the Koran of Mecca, the religious Koran.

The apologists always want to talk about people, Muslims, not doctrine. Remember: when a Muslim is talking to a Kafir, there are twelve verses of the Koran that state that a Muslim is not the friend of a Kafir. Also, Mohammed repeatedly told Muslims to deceive the Kafir if it would advance Islam. There is one Muslim who will tell us the complete truth about Islam and that man is Mohammed.

The iron rule of Islamic doctrine is: if someone is talking about Islam and does not mention Mohammed or Allah (Koran) they are only building castles in the air.

An Islamist wants Sharia. Sharia destroys human rights and Kafir civilization. Why would we want to cooperate with someone who wants Sharia?

We don’t need politicians, religious leaders or academics to explain about Islam, we now have Mohammed and Allah. Forget the opinions of experts. For the first time in history, the common man can read the facts of the Trilogy and find out all of the answers without the “experts.”

Hitler Admired in PLO Youth Magazine

Hitler tells a Palestinian girl in her dream: "I killed them [the Jews] so you would all know that they are a nation which spreads destruction all over the world."

The following is an excerpt from Deception: Betraying the Peace Process, chapter 14, section 1: 

The Palestinian Authority funds a monthly educational magazine for children calledZayzafuna. The magazine is made up of material written by the magazine's staff and also includes essays and poems written by children. Accordingly, Zayzafuna both represents the values of the educators and serves as a window into the minds of the participating Palestinian children. The magazine is published with the sponsorship of the PLO's Palestinian National Committee for Education, Culture and Sciences.

Most of the content in Zayzafuna is positive and educational. It promotes family values, encourages children to read and to participate in building a modern, democratic society. However, these positive messages are directed at Palestinian society, Muslims, Christians and Druze. When it comes to portraying Israel and Jews, Zayzafuna changes its tone and includes items glorifying Jihad against Israel and praising Martyrdom death for Allah, and the Martyrs themselves.

The most extreme expression of demonization of Jews is the inclusion of an essay submitted by a teenage girl in which Hitler is presented as a positive figure to be admired because he killed Jews in order to benefit the world.

The girl in her dream asks Hitler: "You're the one who killed the Jews?" Hitler responds: "Yes. I killed them so you would all know that they are a nation which spreads destruction all over the world." Like the other hate messages, this appears in a story with positive messages by other admired figures, including a Muslim Nobel Prize recipient and a math scholar. See the full text below.

In addition, the magazine portrays a world where "Palestine" has replaced Israel by referring to Israeli cities such as Haifa and Jaffa as places in "Palestine" or as "occupied" cites. It denies Israel's right to exist by saying that Israel is on "stolen" or "occupied" land, and demonizes Israel and Jews. Approximately one fourth of the children's submissions are on nationalistic topics, and among them are expressions of hatred and delegitimization against Jews and Israel that mirror the messages transmitted by the PA leadership through official media, PA education and other structures under their control.

It is specifically because this is not a hate magazine, but in general a positive publication promoting good values, that the hatred expressed towards Israel and Jews is so damaging. All the positive messages about coexistence and peace, which abound throughout the magazine, apply to everyone but Israelis and Jews. The message ofZayzafuna concerning Israelis and Jews is that they are in a unique category separated from other peoples and religious groups: For others - peace, cooperation and coexistence; for Israelis and Jews - hatred, confrontation and Jihad.

Hitler admired because he murdered Jews

The Zayzafuna magazine chose to publish an essay written by a girl in 10th grade in which Hitler is admired because he killed the Jews - an act that is presented as a positive accomplishment for the benefit of humanity. The girl describes a dream in which she meets four historical figures, all of whom are presented as admired role models, and each one's special accomplishment is the topic of a short conversation with the girl. Three of them are the ninth-century Muslim mathematician Al-Khwarizmi; Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz; and Saladin, the Muslim leader who defeated the Christian Crusaders and conquered Jerusalem in the 12th century. The fourth and only non-Muslim role model in the dream is Adolf Hitler.

All four are presented as positive figures and each one offers advice to the young girl, which she accepts. Hitler is admired because he killed the Jews "so you would all know that they are a nation which spreads destruction all over the world." Hitler advises the girl to "be resilient and patient" in facing the suffering the Jews are causing. The girl thanks Hitler for his advice.

Significantly, Zayzafuna's editors chose to include this submission in the magazine, without dissociating themselves from the admiration of Hitler. They found it an acceptable message to have Hitler appear with other role models for Palestinian children.

The following is the essay in Zayzafuna presenting Hitler with other positive role models.

"One hot day, I was very tired after a hard day... and suddenly I saw four white doors in front of me. I opened them in no particular order.
I opened the f irst door and saw a beautiful place full of f lowers. I was surprised to see a man there. I asked him, 'Who are you?'
He said, 'I am Al-Khwarizmi.' [Ninth century Persian mathematician who lived in Baghdad, known for his contribution to the development of algebra.]
I said: 'You're the one who invented mathematics and arithmetic?' He said: 'Yes. What's your situation like today?'
I said: 'The Arabs and Muslims are in a deep sleep; they can't do anything. They have moved away from all the sciences.'
He [Al-Khwarizmi] said: 'Yes, I know that. The day will come when the Arabs will return to their glory. And you - you have a great duty, which is to take an interest in the Islamic sciences and to protect them from being forgotten.'
I said, 'I promise,' and left the door.

I turned to the next door; there Hitler awaited me. I said, 'You're the one who killed the Jews?'
He [Hitler] said: 'Yes. I killed them so you would all know that they are a nation which spreads destruction all over the world. And what I ask of you is to be resilient and patient, concerning the suffering that Palestine is experiencing at their hands.'
I said [to Hitler]: 'Thanks for the advice.'

Then I turned to the third door, and met Naguib Mahfouz [Nobel Prize- winning Egyptian author], who was the one who knew best the value of time and how to use it.
He said: 'People's pastime, these days, has become killing time and wasting it, as though they are punishing themselves. So strive to use your time in the best way.'

At the fourth door I meet Saladin Al-Ayoubi [Muslim leader who defeated the Christian crusaders and conquered Jerusalem in the twelfth century]. He said: 'I am Saladin.'
I said: 'You were the one who liberated Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa [Mosque].' He answered: 'Yes.'
I said: 'Return, oh Saladin, for Jerusalem and Palestine cry out and no one answers.'
He [Saladin] said: 'I know, but every time has its men, and the right man to liberate Jerusalem is still to come.'

And before I could finish my dream, the alarm clock rang and I woke up. It was seven in the morning, and I needed to go to school early, because I had promised Naguib Mahfouz that I would use time well."
[Zayzafuna, February 2011]

Although repugnant, a Palestinian teenager's admiration for Hitler because he killed Jews, alongside other Muslim role models, is not unexpected. As PMW documents,Palestinian children are brought up with the teaching that killing Israelis and Jews is heroic. The PA has named streets, schools, sporting events and more after Palestinian terrorists who have killed hundreds of Israeli civilians. In Palestinian cultural, educational and social events, every Palestinian child is exposed to repeated glorification of terrorists who have killed Jews. Palestinian children have participated in summer camps named after Dalal Mughrabi who led a bus hijacking in which 37 civilians were killed, and played in football tournaments named after Abd Al-Basset Odeh, a suicide bomber who killed 31 Israelis at a Passover dinner. It is not surprising that a Palestinian child who has been educated to see those who have murdered Jews as heroes and role models will conclude that Hitler, the one who murdered the most Jews in history, is likewise worthy of admiration.

About the publishers and advisory staff of Zayzafuna:

The magazine is published by the Zayzafuna Association for Development of Children's Culture, and sponsored by the PLO's Palestinian National Committee for Education, Culture and Sciences.

The magazine's advisory board is comprised of Palestinian Authority officials and educators, including PA Deputy Minister of Education Jihad Zakarneh, and former PA Minister for Women's Affairs Zuheira Kamal. [Zayzafuna, February 2011]

The Zayzafuna magazine is part of a larger education program funded by the Palestinian Authority which contributed 90,000 Shekel ($24,370) in 2010 and 10,000 Shekel ($2,700) a month in 2011.

Since August 2011, the magazine is also sponsored by UNESCO and the MDG Achievement Fund (MDG-F), a UN humanitarian foundation funded by the Spanish government. [Zayzafuna, August 2011.] In the October 2011 issue a note appears: "Opinions expressed in this magazine don't necessarily express UNESCO's views."

Deputy Chairman of the Zayzafuna organization Abd Al-Karim Ziyada has explained the following about the funding of Zayzafuna:

"The magazine has advertisements, which cover some of the costs. For the year 2010-2011 we have subscriptions by students and schools, and that also helps [funding the magazine]. We are fortunate in that the Palestinian Authority and the Prime Minister [Salam Fayyad] have helped us this year with aid in the amount of 90,000 Shekel ($24,370) to cover the magazine and organization costs, and that has given us a push forward. Allah be praised, there is a new agreement for a monthly [PA] payment of 10,000 Shekel ($2,700) to cover the magazine [costs]."
[PA TV (Fatah), May 9 and 13, 2011]
This excerpt above is from a chapter in the book Deception: Betraying the Peace Process, recently published by PMW. The book includes a longer analysis of the other material as well found in issues of Zayzafuna from May 2010 through August 2011, focusing on messages relating to Israelis and Jews. A short summary of the positive messages in Zayzafuna and that are unconnected to Israel, is also included.

To purchase Deception: Betraying the Peace Process click here

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Three Fundamental Mistakes in Dealing with Islam

By Daniel Greenfield

We made three fundamental mistakes in our dealings with Islam. First, we assumed that the only politically acceptable answer was also the right answer. This is the most common mistake that politicians make.

Second, we established a construct of a moderate and extreme Islam that reflected how we saw it from the outside. This construct had no theological relationship to any actual belief or movement within Islam. Had we made the division into modern and fundamentalist, we would at least have been using words that meant something. Instead we used moderate and extreme in a military sense to mean hostile and friendly or neutral. But as a Vietnam era president and military command should have known, in a guerrilla war not everyone who isn’t shooting at you is friendly or even neutral.

Our construct was black and white with few shades of gray. But the Muslim world is all shades of gray. The absolute choice we wanted them to make, “you’re either with us or with the terrorists”, was foreign to their culture and their way of life. Multiple layers of contradictory relationships and alliances are the norm in the region. You expect to betray and be betrayed, much as you expect to cheat and be cheated while bartering for a carpet at the souk. In a region where coalitions of Fascists, Communists and Islamists are doable, contradictions don’t exist, all alliances are expedient and built on an expected betrayal. The rise of Islam itself was built on broken peace treaties. So it is no wonder then that in response to Bush’s call, they chose both us and the terrorists. Appeasing America and the Islamists at the same time was their version of the politically safe middle ground, the path of least resistance and the only acceptable option.

And the more we prattled about the peacefulness of Islam, the more we looked like we could be easily appeased with a few gestures. And so it was the Islamists who were more threatening, who got the benefit of of their appeasement. We had asked Muslim countries for an alliance with no mixed allegiances, in a region where only kin could ask or count on such an arrangement. And we are not their kin, neither by blood and certainly not by religion. While we insisted that all people were the same, this was a statement of our belief, not theirs. And they did not believe that we believed it either.

Rather than learning what the Muslim world was, we had already decided what we wanted it to be. But our perspective was a foreign one. They might pander to it, but they would never dictate their own beliefs by it. We might talk of a moderate or extreme Islam, but that is our idea, not theirs. There is more than one form of Islam, they are not defined by their extremism or moderation. Nor by their approach toward violence. No more than we are.

Muslim theology is violent, because violence has always been a tool of its expansion. When we ask Muslims to disassociate themselves from violence, we are really asking them to disassociate themselves from Islam. And this they will not do. They will contextually condemn some acts of terror, depending on the identity of the perpetrators and the targets, and the impact of the acts on the nation and ideology of the Muslim or Muslims in question. But they will dub other acts of terrorist as valid resistance. The differences are not moral, but contextual.

The Muslim world is a gray zone full of alliances written on sand where every principle can be bent at need, but is dominated by a religion that pretends to be morally absolute. This is an inherent contradiction. And like most moral conflicts it is resolved through self-deception. Our absolute standards have no meaning when applied to the Muslim world. They have moral force, but little practical relevance.

Islamic moderation is not theology, but pragmatism. Its fanatics are the most trustworthy, and its pragmatists the least trustworthy. We have put our faith in the moderation of the pragmatists, but confusing pragmatism with moderate beliefs, morals or friendship is no better than lapping at the sand of a mirage and calling it water.

Our third and final mistake was to believe that we held all or most of the cards, and were free to give away as many of them as we wanted to. But the more we thought we were calling the shots, the more we were shot at. Because we were not in control. The political, religious and armed conflicts we were engaged in were being fought on their terms, not ours. They began the war. They decided when to initiate the violence or call a halt to it. Their violence set the tone, we tried to defuse it. Our attempts to promote moderation in the Muslim world were reactive. It is the bomber who has the initiative once he chooses to act. And so we tried to teach the bombers not to bomb, while the bombers taught us to appease them.

When a psychiatrist rewards rats for finishing a maze, is it the psychiatrist who is training the rats to finish mazes, or the rats who are training him to give them cheese. The answer to that question hinges on who controls the experiment. While we thought that we were experimenting on the Muslim world to make them more moderate, they were actually experimenting on us to teach us to appease them.

While we were trying to force the Muslim world into our maze with two openings, one labeled ‘extreme’ and one labeled ‘moderate’, they were really moving us into their meta-maze with two openings, ‘death’ or ‘appeasement’. Our plan was to keep forcing them to choose the moderate openings in order to moderate them and break them of any attachment to terrorism. But our chief method for moving them there was appeasement. Once we got bogged down in Iraq, appeasement became our only method. While we thought that we were leading them to the moderate opening in our maze by appeasing them, they were leading us to the appeasement opening in their maze.

The rats turned out to be training the psychiatrist and they have done an excellent job of it. The Muslim world is more Anti-American than it was 10 years ago, while we are more pro-Muslim. Each time they finish the moderate maze and assure us how peaceful Islam is, we gift them with the cheese of appeasement. Rather than teaching them to be moderate using the reward of our appeasement, they have taught us to appease them using the reward of their faked moderation. Like tourists at the souk, we have been cheated badly by laying out good money for a fake rug. But worse than that we have been turned into rats in their maze, rushing to appease them in the hopes that they will reward us by being moderate.

Pavlov demonstrated that once you teach dogs to associate a ringing bell with a meal, they will salivate when you ring the bell even when there is no food. So too rats will keep running the maze even when there is no cheese. So too governments continue appeasing Islam, even when the promised cheese of moderation fails to yield any significant changes on the ground. A plot broken up here or there. Or even a mosque that opens its doors to the FBI or Scotland Yard is enough for them. But is it the FBI that is teaching Muslims to be more cooperative, or Muslims who are teaching the FBI to be more accommodating. Who is the psychiatrist and who is the rat?

By initiating violence, the Muslim world turned us into their rats. We reacted to their stimuli as we desperately looked for a way out of their maze of violence. Except when we took the initiative by attacking them– the locus of control was always in their hands. And even when we did take their initiative, it was still in response to their violence. We were still making war on their terms. Trying to work with them, reform them, reach them and appease them. We were running the maze and still are. Starving to death still searching for the cheese which isn’t there.

All this drives the flywheel of appeasement round and round. The more we turn it, the worse the violence becomes. The capacity for terrorism made Muslims prominent. They have become ticking time bombs we are driven to defuse. We shower the Muslim world with respect, money, political power and every possible thing that might keep them from killing us. It is absolutely vital in the minds of our leaders that we make them like us so that they won’t kill us. Which means that it actually is in their interest to kill us. Rather than rewarding them for their moderation, we are actually rewarding them for their extremism.

The more we appease them, the more violent they become. And the more we habituate ourselves to appeasement, the harder it is for us to stop. Our worst mistake in dealing with the Muslim world was to habituate ourselves to the appeasement solution. To make it a reflex action. American politicians chose it as their path of least resistance between complete surrender and all out war as their safe way through the maze. They rationalized it as a wedge strategy to split the minority of extremists who wanted a superislamic state from the majority who wanted peace and prosperity. By embracing Islam, we would reform it. The majority of Muslims would choose peace and prosperity, and ally with us to isolate the extremists. Then we would use the wedge strategy to split the extremists into the moderate extremists and the extreme extremists. Using the carrot of foreign aid and close ties to the United States and the stick of military intervention, we would force the terrorist groups and their state backers to choose either the carrot or the stick.

But it was the Muslim world which was forcing us to choose between their carrot and their stick. The carrot was a positive relationship with the Muslim world, the stick was a negative relationship. And since 2001 we have been chasing the carrot, while getting whacked over the head with the stick. Some of the politicians have realized that there is no carrot, only the stick. For these ‘New Realists’ avoiding the stick or at least minimizing the force of its blows has become the new carrot.

If we’re good little infidels, we’ll only have 5 terrorist attacks a year instead of 10. We’ll have 100 rapes instead of 200 if all wear our burqas. And even that is another illusion. The Muslim world cannot control its own violence, only channel it. There is no off switch. Only pipes that they can use to funnel it our direction. They cannot offer us peace. It is not within their power. Only by directing their own violence inward could they do this. And that is obviously not in their interest. Only by forcefully demonstrating that the violence is absolutely not in their interest, will we ever put a stop to it. And to do that we would have to pose more of a threat to them, than their own people do. Appeasement is the worst possible way to go about doing that.

With our first mistake, we limited our options to one single course of action. With our second mistake, we guided that course of action based on a construct that had no relationship to the reality of the Muslim world. With our third and final mistake, that course of action was hijacked and used to manipulate our behavior, causing us to repeat the same disastrous course of action over and over again. The more we did it, the more it seemed like the only possible course of action. And our only way to check whether we were succeeding or failing was a misguided construct that could not measure what we needed it to.

In real world terms, this is equivalent to driving the wrong way, using a map from the wrong country and repeating the same course over and over again, because rather than realizing that something must be wrong, we just look at the map and assume that if we repeat the course enough times, we will reach our destination. Even when we no longer seem to know what the destination is because we have become so used to going in circles that the circle has come to seem like our destination.

Like most mistakes that are based on a process that was wrong from the beginning, we can only begin to fix it by going back to the first broken train of logic, the first error in understanding. Only then will we be able to break the loop and begin anew.

Relax, this moderate says that there are more people died from dog bites than by terrorist attacks.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Golden Age of Islam

A Second Look 

By Richard Butrick

The period from the death of Muhammad through the 13th Century marks the glory days of the Islamic empire. It was a period of commerce, industry and intra-cultural synergies and a flourishing of the sciences, art, medicine and architecture. It was the epitome of what civilization should be. Just ask Obama. In his 2009 Cairo speech the president said that Islam "carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment," and praised the "innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed."

While Central Europe languished in the Dark Ages of ignorance, fear and superstition following the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th century (so the story goes), it was the Islamic world that carried the torch of Classical civilization to a Europe finally stumbling out of the Dark Ages in the 15th century.

By contrast the Islamic world flourished during the Dark Ages: by the 13th century, both Africa and India had become great centers of Islamic civilization, and soon after, Muslim kingdoms were established in the Malay-Indonesian world while Chinese Muslims flourished throughout China.

Islam therefore is a religion for all people from whatever race or background they might be: Islamic civilization is based on a unity which stands completely against any racial or ethnic discrimination. Such major racial and ethnic groups as the Arabs, Persians, Turks, Africans, Indians, Chinese and Malays in addition to countless smaller units embraced Islam and contributed to the building of Islamic civilization.

Moreover, so the story goes, Islam was not opposed to learning from the earlier civilizations and incorporating their science, learning, and culture into its own world view. Each ethnic and racial group that embraced Islam made its contribution to the one Islamic civilization to which everyone belonged.

The global civilization created by Islam also succeeded in activating the minds and thoughts of the people who entered its fold. As a result of Islam, the nomadic Arabs became torch-bearers of science and learning. The Persians, who had created a great civilization before the rise of Islam, nevertheless produced even more science and learning in the Islamic period than before. The same can be said of the Turks and other peoples who embraced Islam. The religion of Islam was itself responsible not only for the creation of a world civilization in which people of many different ethnic backgrounds participated, but it also played a central role in developing intellectual and cultural life on a scale not seen before.

Quite a story. And it is a story being fed to US students from k-12 on through graduate schools. Quite a story? More like a fairy tale.

Victor Davis Hanson has taken down Obama's version of the Golden age of Islam:
In his speech last week in Cairo, President Obama proclaimed he was a "student of history." But despite Mr. Obama's image as an Ivy League-educated intellectual, he lacks historical competency in both facts and interpretation. … Obama … claimed that "Islam . . . carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment." [In fact] medieval Islamic culture … had little to do with the European rediscovery of classical Greek and Latin values. Europeans, Chinese, and Hindus, not Muslims, invented most of the breakthroughs Obama credited to Islamic innovation. … Much of the Renaissance, in fact, was more predicated on the centuries-long flight of Greek-speaking Byzantine scholars from Constantinople to Western Europe to escape the aggression of Islamic Turks. Many romantic thinkers of the Enlightenment sought to extend freedom to oppressed subjects of Muslim fundamentalist rule in eastern and southern Europe.
Andrew Bostom has skewered the myth that Cordoba was a model of ecumenism:

Expanding upon Jane Gerber's thesis about the "garish" myth of a "Golden Age," the late Richard Fletcher (in hisMoorish Spain) offered a fair assessment of interfaith relationships in Muslim Spain and his view of additional contemporary currents responsible for obfuscating that history:
The witness of those who lived through the horrors of the Berber conquest, of the Andalusian fitnah[ordeal] in the early eleventh century, of the Almoravid invasion — to mention only a few disruptive episodes — must give it [i.e.: the roseate view of Muslim Spain] the lie.

The simple and verifiable historical truth is that Moorish Spain was more often a land of turmoil than it was of tranquility. … Tolerance? Ask the Jews of Granada who were massacred in 1066, or the Christians who were deported by the Almoravids to Morocco in 1126 (like the Moriscos five centuries later). … In the second half of the twentieth century a new agent of obfuscation makes its appearance: the guilt of the liberal conscience, which sees the evils of colonialism — assumed rather than demonstrated — foreshadowed in the Christian conquest of al-Andalus and the persecution of the Moriscos (but not, oddly, in the Moorish conquest and colonization). Stir the mix well and issue it free to credulous academics and media persons throughout the Western world. Then pour it generously over the truth … in the cultural conditions that prevail in the West today, the past has to be marketed, and to be successfully marketed, it has to be attractively packaged. Medieval Spain in a state of nature lacks wide appeal. Self-indulgent fantasies of glamour … do wonders for sharpening its image. But Moorish Spain was not a tolerant and enlightened society even in its most cultivated epoch.
Serge Trifkovic also has a general take-down of the overblown account of the accomplishments and comity of the Islamic Golden Age in his FrontPage article, The Golden Age of Islam is a Myth.

And now we have Emmet Scott, in a soon to be released study, Mohammed & Charlemagne Revisited: An Introduction to the History of a Controversy, advancing the thesis that Rather than preserving the Classical heritage, the expanding Islamic empire destroyed it and brought about the Dark Ages.

Armed with new archaeological evidence, Scott makes the compelling case, originally put forward in 1920 by Henri Pirenne, a Belgian historian, that Classical civilization did not collapse after the fall of the Roman empire but was gradually attrited by the onslaught of Arab armies and raiders. The Islamic Golden Age came close to permanently destroying the classical humanistic culture of the West.

Hanson has pointed out the factual errors in Obama's paean to Islam's Golden Age. Andrew Bostom has skewered the myth that Cordoba was a model of ecumenism Trikovic has shown that the continuation of learning, science, technology of the "Golden age of Islam" prospered in spite of Islam and not because of Islam and now we have Emmet Scott skewering the myth that the Golden Age of Islam saved Classical humanistic Western culture. What is next? The glory of Sharia?

Islam and the “Golden Age” of Scientific Discovery

From TRoP

The Myth

Muslims often claim that their religion fostered a rich heritage of scientific discovery, “paving the way” for modern advances in technology and medicine.  On this topic, they usually refer to the period between the 7th and 13th centuries, when Europe was experiencing its “Dark Ages” and the Muslim world was acquiring new populations and culture through violent conquest.

The Truth

Although there is no arguing that the Muslim world was relatively more advanced during this period than the “Christian” world, the reasons for this have absolutely nothing to do with the Islamic religion (other than its mandate for military expansion).  In fact, the religion tends to discourages knowledge outside of itself, which is why the most prolific Muslim scholars have always tended to be students of religion rather than science.

[Note that the country of Spain alone translates more learning material and literature into Spanish each year than the entire Arab world has translated into Arabic since the 9th century.  As the Saudi Grand Mufti bluntly put it in 2010, "The Quran with its stories and knowledge are sufficient for us... we don't need the Torah, or Gospels, or any other book].

The many fundamentalists and other devotees who dress as Muhammad did and adopt 7th century lifestyles to some degree or another underscore the importance of tradition in Islam.  The religion is highly conservative and resistant to change, which is viewed with suspicion.  As scholar Bernard Lewis points out, in Islam an innovation is presumed to be bad unless it can be proven to be good.

Beyond this, there are four basic reasons why Islam has little true claim to scientific achievement:

First, the Muslim world benefited greatly from the Greek sciences, which were translated for them by Christians and Jews.  To their credit, Muslims did a better job of preserving Greek text than did the Europeans of the time, and this became the foundation for their own knowledge.  (One large reason for this, however, was that access by Christians to this part of their world was cut off by Muslim slave ships and coastal raids that dominated the Mediterranean during this period).

Secondly, many of the scientific advances credited to Islam were actually “borrowed” from other cultures conquered by the Muslims.  The algebraic concept of “zero”, for example, is erroneously attributed to Islam when, in fact, it was a Hindu discovery that was merely introduced to the West by Muslims. 

In truth, conquered populations contributed greatly to the history of “Muslim science” until gradually being decimated by conversion to Islam (under the pressures of dhimmitude).  The Muslim concentration within a population is proportional to the decline of scientific achievement.  It is no accident that the Muslim world has had little to show for itself in the last 800 years or so, since running out of new civilizations to cannibalize.

Third, even accomplished Muslim scientists and cultural icons were often considered heretics in their day, sometimes with good reason.  One of the greatest achievers to come out of the Muslim world was the Persian scientist and philosopher, al-Razi.  His impressive works are often held up today as “proof” of Muslim accomplishment.  But what the apologists often leave out is that al-Razi was denounced as a blasphemer, since he followed his own religious beliefs – which were in obvious contradiction to traditional Islam.

Fourth, even the contributions that are attributed to Islam (often inaccurately) are not terribly dramatic.  There is the invention of certain words, such as alchemy and elixir (and assassin, by the way), but not much else that survives in modern technology which is of practical significance.  Neither is there any reason to believe that such discoveries would not have easily been made by the West following the cultural awakening triggered by the Reformation.

As an example, consider that Muslims claim credit for "inventing" coffee - in the sense that they popularized an existing discovery by Africans who were caught up in the Arab slave trade.  However, it is also true that the red dye used in many food products, from cranberry juice to candy, comes from the abdomen of a particular female beetle found in South America.  It is extremely unlikely that the West would not have stumbled across coffee by now (although, to be fair, coffee probably expedited subsequent discoveries).

In fact, the litany of “Muslim” achievement often takes the form of rhapsody, in which the true origins of these discoveries are omitted - along with their comparative significance to Western achievement.  One often doesn't hear about the dismal fate of original accomplishments either.  Those who brag about the great observatory of Taqi al-Din in [freshly conquered] Istanbul, for example, often neglect to mention that it was quickly destroyed by the caliphate.

At the end of the day, the record of scientific, medical and technological accomplishment is not something over which Muslim apologists want to get into a contest with the Christian world.  Today’s Islamic innovators are primarily known for turning Western technology, such as cell phones and airplanes, into instruments of mass murder.

To sum up, although the Islamic religion is not entirely hostile to science, neither should it be confused as a facilitator.  The great achievements that are said to have come out of the Islamic world were made either by non-Muslims who happened to be under Islamic rule, or by heretics who usually had little interest in Islam.  Scientific discovery tapers off dramatically as Islam asserts dominance, until it eventually peters out altogether. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

U.S. Turns Afghanistan Over to the Taliban

By Clare Lopez

The word “Talib” - طالب - comes from the Pashto language of southwest Asia and means “student.” It is actually a loan word that has the same meaning in the Arabic language and together with the Farsi (Iranian) plural ending, -an, becomes the plural form, Taliban – طالبان - meaning “students.”

Specifically, “Taliban” refers to Muslim students who attend a traditional madrassa, which is a school where Islamic studies comprise most of the curriculum (although, historically, other subjects including architecture, astronomy, and philosophy also were taught). Madrassas initially were established in the early centuries after the death of the Muslim prophet Muhammad in order to preserve religious conformity through the uniform teaching of Islam.

As the armies of Islam conquered vast territories whose inhabitants were neither Arab nor Muslim, but rather Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Persian Zoroastrian, the need to standardize the new belief system that was forcing its tenets at the point of the sword on such diverse communities gave rise to the institution of the madrassa. There, subjects like fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), the Sunna (acts and sayings of Muhammad, or hadith, and his biography, or Sira), and Tafsir (learned Qur’anic commentary) were taught in various levels of complexity. Such schools typically are attached to an Islamic Center or mosque.

More basic Islamic schools, that mostly focus on rote pronunciation and memorization of Qur’anic verses (often in the complete absence of any comprehension of Arabic), also sprang up to meet the lower-level needs of young students in the village setting. More recently in the 20th century, the word madrassa has come to be associated almost exclusively with these Qur’anic study schools that often attract poor boys who otherwise would get little or no formal education.

Fast forward to the lawless years after the 1989 withdrawal of the Soviet Army from Afghanistan, when Mujahedeen warlords, backed variously by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate and Interior Ministry, devastated whatever was left of a country laid waste by the bloody decade of fighting the Russians.

Accurately analyzing the desperation felt by many Afghans and well-aware of the indoctrinating role played by Pakistani madrassas (many associated with the jihadist Deobandi movement and funded by Saudi Arabia), some Pakistani generals hit on the idea of turning to the thousands of poor Afghan madrassa students for a ready source of puritanical fanaticism that could be formed into a potent army, easily managed and zealous to cleanse their homeland of its corrupt and warring factions.

This is how the modern-day conglomeration of groups known as the Afghan Taliban emerged in the early years of the 1990s. Afghans, weary of blood and privation and attracted by the Taliban’s pious image, flocked to their support and soon, they were unstoppable.

By the time Taliban forces captured Kabul in September 1996 and the world was just beginning to realize that a dangerous new force was filling the power vacuum in Afghanistan, it was too late. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri returned to Afghanistan in that year after several years of safehaven in Sudan, where they had forged ominous alliances with Iran and Hizballah and established the foundations of what would soon become al-Qa’eda.

Warlords like Mullah Omar, the top Taliban commander, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom bin Laden and al-Zawahiri knew from the 1980s, were now controlling the government in Kabul and readily welcomed them back to Afghanistan. Under the protection of Mullah Omar, bin Laden and al-Qa’eda were free to operationalize their relationship with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and intelligence service (MOIS-Ministry of Intelligence and Security).

As the Taliban focused on terrorizing the Afghan people, al-Qa’eda, Iran, and Hizballah launched a succession of terror attacks of their own (Khobar Towers, East Africa Embassies, USS Cole), punctuated by two public declarations of war, in 1996 and 1998, which were largely ignored, or at least misunderstood, by the U.S. national security leadership.

Islamic doctrine obligates Muslim jihadis to issue a warning, a call to Islam (Da’wa), before a military attack and this is exactly what Osama bin Laden, his al-Qa’eda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, and others did. Their Islamic faith, reasoning, and philosophy were all spelled out in great detail in essays, letters, proclamations, and other writing; to no avail, though, as the West refused to understand then (as now) that Islamic doctrine, law, and scripture command the faithful to jihad.

The result of that failure, of that “willful blindness,” as the brilliant former Department of Justice prosecutor Andrew McCarthy calls it, was 9/11. Now as the U.S. enters the 2012 election year, one of the top priorities of the Obama administration appears to be completing the full withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

Reporting indicates that State Department envoys actually have been in secret talks with Mullah Omar about the terms of that retreat for as much as a year already. Under consideration, according to those reports, are the opening of a Taliban political office in Doha, Qatar, and the possible release from detention at Guantanamo Bay of a number of top Taliban officials.

Additionally, some reports (described as “not accurate” but also not denied by the White House) have suggested that the U.S. has been availing itself of the mediation services of Yousef al-Qaradawi, the venomously anti-American, antisemitic ideological leader and spiritual guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, in those discussions with the Taliban.

Challenges abound before the U.S. can complete its Afghanistan withdrawal, not least of which are objections from the Afghan president Hamid Karzai (our ostensible ally) about those secret talks the U.S. has been holding with the Taliban. The Taliban and its al-Qa’eda and Iranian regime allies already have achieved some major victories, though, among which one of the most critical was manipulating the U.S. government into supporting the drafting of an Afghan constitution that subjugates the country to Islamic law (shariah).

That is, the Afghan constitution that the U.S. State Department helped write stipulates the death penalty for adultery, apostasy, blasphemy/slander, and homosexuality; amputation, flogging, and stoning as criminal penalties; and the forcible repression of women and girls. Once strictly enforced, it is exactly what the Taliban (and al-Qa’eda) want for Afghanistan.

As departing American troops begin to relinquish control to their Afghan government counterparts of territory wrested from Taliban control, Taliban warlords, coffers full from the opium trade and assured of safehaven just across the Pakistan border whenever they need it, once again are carving out districts where shariah is the only law.

With the impending full withdrawal of U.S. and other Western troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban eventually will achieve another of its key goals, which is the removal of all kuffar (infidel) forces from Afghan Muslim soil. The ultimate re-establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan under Taliban control is now within reach and so is the possibility that al-Qa’eda and Iranian jihadis once again will find there an amenable host under whose protection new terror plots against the American homeland and global allies may be hatched.

After all, as Vice President Joe Biden announced in December 2011, “the Taliban…is not our enemy….” And he has a point: the Afghan Taliban (unlike its Pakistani counterpart, the Tarek-e Taliban Pakistan) has never been placed on the official U.S. government list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

So, despite their support for al-Qa’eda both before and after the 9/11 attacks, atrocious human rights record, rock solid commitment to the violent imposition of shariah Islam, and the thousands of Afghan, U.S., and coalition troops injured and killed by Taliban jihadis, they still get a pass…because the erstwhile leader of the free world has decided Afghanistan’s just not worth it and wants out.

U.S. Set to Release Key Taliban Figure in 9/11 Attacks

The U.S. intelligence community is warning that the Taliban have abandoned none of their goals to conquer all of Afghanistan and enforce strict Islamic law (shariah). A new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which represents the collective judgment of the most senior U.S. intelligence analysts, warned the White House in December 2011 that the Taliban would settle for nothing less than total control over “an Islamic emirate.” Nevertheless, the Obama administration acknowledges that its envoys have been pursuing talks with the Taliban for the past year, are working on the opening of a political office for the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, and are considering the release of several Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay—as a “trust-building measure.” What could possibly go wrong?

Aside from the fact that Afghan President Hamid Karzai seems somehow to have been left out of this flurry of diplomatic activity with the Islamic jihadists who have been fighting for the better part of two decades to take over his country, the continuing failure of U.S. leadership to know the enemy cripples our ability to defend America’s most critical national security needs and exposes the homeland to the very real possibility of another 9/11. The December 2011 NIE on the Afghan Taliban plainly stated that Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Pashtun warlord whose government sheltered Usama bin Laden and al-Qa’eda in the 1990s, remains totally committed to taking over all of Afghanistan and subjugating it to the harsh dictates of shariah.

When the Taliban ruled The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from 1996 until they were ousted by U.S. forces in late 2001, the world saw the most barbaric cruelties of Islamic law inflicted on the Afghan people: amputation, flogging, and stoning, as well as the savage repression of women and girls.

As became obvious on one clear day in September 2001, it wasn’t the Afghan people alone who would suffer at the hands of the Taliban. Mullah Omar’s Afghanistan harbored Usama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the rest of al-Qa’eda as they plotted the attacks of September 11 together with the Iranian regime. As we now know from the December 2011 ruling in the Havlish case by Judge George Daniels of the Southern District of New York, the top levels of the Iranian regime, and specifically the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and intelligence service (MOIS—Ministry of Intelligence and Security), were closely involved in providing “direct and material support” to al-Qa’eda in the 9/11 attacks—and it was Mullah Omar whose steadfast loyalty to Usama bin Laden and secret dealings with Iran allowed those attack plans to proceed.

This is the same Mullah Omar with whom Department of State envoy Marc Grossman has been meeting for months, unbeknownst to the American people and unbeknownst to the thousands of American troops who are still fighting against the Taliban, dying, and coming home maimed for life, in a valiant effort to defeat the forces of shariah Islam.

Unfortunately, most Americans and most of our service members probably don’t know that the Department of State long ago helped write the Afghan constitution, which placed the country firmly under Islamic law, complete with dictates that apostasy is punishable by death, blasphemy/slander against Islam is a capital crime, minority faiths such as Buddhism and Christianity face institutional discrimination, women are officially second-class citizens, and freedom of speech and expression is non-existent. This means that, for the last decade or so, thousands of Americans and other NATO coalition forces have been fighting to defend a government in Kabul that was already subjugated to shariah (one of the key objectives of al-Qa’eda and the Taliban in the first place). 

Late December 2011 and early January 2012 reporting indicates that the situation may yet become even worse. There are indications that the U.S. government is considering the release of several senior Taliban leaders who have been held at Guantanamo Bay for years and have until now been considered too dangerous to let go. Now, however, in a desperate effort to complete the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and entice Mullah Omar’s Taliban jihadis into negotiations, the White House is thinking of setting free some of the worst of the worst Taliban terror leadership—including at least one figure who personally arranged and attended a pre-9/11 planning meeting with Hizballah, Iranian, and Taliban officials.

Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa is a former Governor of Herat Province, Afghanistan who served under Mullah Omar’s Taliban government from 1999-2001. Khairkhwa met in Kandahar directly with Usama bin Laden and other jihadi fighters at least once in early 2000 and also after 9/11 at a clandestine October 2001 meeting between senior Iranian intelligence and Taliban officials at which Iran pledged to assist the Taliban in its war against the United States.

Indeed, according to the Havlish case documents, Khairkhwa had been appointed Governor of Herat Province in western Afghanistan with the explicit mission to improve relations between Iran and the Taliban. Guantanamo Bay Combatant Status Review Board transcripts show that he fulfilled that tasking by bringing senior Taliban leaders such as Hizbi-I Islami commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar together with Usama bin Laden and Hekmatyar associates in the Iranian IRGC and MOIS. Khairkhwa was captured in 2002 and transferred to Guantanamo Bay; significantly, Washington, D.C. District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina denied Khairkhwa's petition for a writ of habeas corpus in an opinion issued in May 2011.

Now, the U.S. government is considering releasing Khairkhwa anyway and perhaps several other senior Taliban figures as well, all of whom were closely associated with al-Qa’eda and all of whom the U.S. military has assessed as posing a high risk of returning to Taliban ranks to continue fighting jihad if let out. This would be in return for nothing from the Taliban except some promises to continue talking.

Khairkhwa’s close relationship with the Iranian IRGC and intelligence service only compounds the danger of allowing him out of U.S. custody. And yet, that is exactly what reportedly is now under serious consideration by the U.S. government. With Afghanistan under Islamic law, U.S. and allied Western troops soon to withdraw, and now possibly the Taliban’s top jihadis to be released from American detention, it would be a clean sweep total victory for the forces of shariah Islam. Minus Usama bin Laden and some other former top leaders now gone from the scene, but bolstered by the incredible wholesale collapse of Western resolve, al-Qa’eda and the Taliban, together with jihadist allies in Iran and Pakistan, would be free once again to consolidate their hold over Afghanistan.

As Iran continues to drive towards a deliverable nuclear weapons capability and with Pakistan already in possession of a nuclear arsenal, the forces of shariah Islam clearly are ascendant across multiple fronts. Prospects for stability in West Asia look increasingly dim. Prospects for American leadership in defense of genuine democracy and freedom look even worse.

Clare M. Lopez, a senior fellow at the Clarion Fund, writes regularly for, and is a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on Middle East, national defense, and counterterrorism issues.

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