10 More Uncomfortable Truths About Radical Islam

(Photo: from Islamic State propaganda)
(Photo: from Islamic State propaganda)
  1. Early Islam was formed as an imperial system with continual jihad to spread the dominion of Islam as a fully integrated component. One of the conquerors of North Africa, Uqba bin Nafe even famously rode his horse into the Atlantic ocean after a successful raid through what is now Morocco and declared,“O Lord be Thou witness, that I have taken Thy Message up to the end of the land and if this ocean were not in my way I would have proceeded to fight the pagans until none would be worshipped except Thee.”
  2. Traditionally jihad had a host of rules to limit the brutality of war, including prohibiting cutting down trees and harming women, children and non-combatants.
  3. The theological arguments used by contemporary jihadi groups to justify suicide bombings and the mass murder of civilians are very recent. They date back to the 1960s’ thinker Sayyid Qutb,who argued that all contemporary Muslim societies are living in a state of jahilliya (spiritual ignorance) and elaborated on the doctrine of takfir, which enabled his followers to proclaim whole swathes of people as heretics and therefore deserving of death.
  4. Some people just like killing. Those people will join whichever gang or group provides them the opportunity to do that.
  5. Some people just love money and will fight for any army or terrorist group, as long as the cash keeps coming.
  6. Some people are depressed and alienated and will join whichever group takes them in and gives them meaning.
  7. Some people are drawn to Islamism because they are deeply ideologically driven. They don’t care about economics or social inclusion, they just want to spread what they see as God’s law.
  8. The media directly contributes to terrorism by magnifying the brand of the groups that do it and broadcasting their atrocities worldwide in real time. The purpose of terrorism is to use violence to send a political message, and it works in part because we pay so much attention to it. Terrorism has grown alongside the internet and high-quality instant streaming video services and is calibrated to what will provide the best coverage.
  9. It is almost impossible to win against America and her allies militarily. Even assassinations or guerrilla attacks against soldiers are prohibitively difficult. Therefore, striking soft targets makes military sense for a jihadi campaign that wants to wear down its enemy in a war of attrition and undermine faith in the state’s ability to protect its citizens.
  10. Extracting a financial cost to waging the war on terror, both in terms of military engagements abroad ($5.6 trillion since 9/11) and security measures such as an enhanced TSA is part of the jihadi plan of attrition. Al-Qaeda openly boasts in its propaganda about spending tiny sums of money in attacks that force the U.S. to spend billions.

 

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Elliot Friedland
Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.

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