We explained in yesterday’s Ordered Liberty post that the publication of jihad heavyweight Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s communiqués, disseminated from the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, herald the return of the pre-9/11 paradigm: jihadist terror treated as a mere law-enforcement problem, not a war. Now, we turn to the propaganda aspects of KSM’s published writings, which — so far as we know at this time — include an Islamic-supremacist manifesto (published by the Huffington Post) and a lengthy letter to a social-worker pen-pal in Britain (reported on by the Guardian).
Let’s start by observing that it would have been inconceivable during, say, World War II, for the U.S. government to permit imprisoned German or Japanese enemy combatants (of which there were thousands) to enable publication of ideological propaganda from American detention facilities. It would have been nearly as inconceivable for American lawyers to argue that alien enemy combatants had a “right” to communicate with the outside world this way, or for American news outlets to publish enemy propaganda under the guise of “news” reporting. The two latter institutions have changed for the worse, and the government (very much including the courts) is bending to accommodate, rather than resisting, the Lawyer Left and the media.
For the reasons detailed in yesterday’s post, this is an alarming development. The national imperative in wartime should be victory over our enemies. We should not be at war unless we have that commitment — it is a profound betrayal of the young men and women we put in harm’s way to enable our enemies. KSM has no constitutional rights, we owe him only humane treatment, and it is ludicrous to suggest that he has a right to get his messages out to the world while he is lawfully detained as an enemy combatant.
Yet, the Obama Defense Department told Fox News that it is capable of vetting jihadist communications to ensure that their publication poses no threat. Even assuming for argument’s sake that the government has such a duty — and it does not, there should be a blanket prohibition — the claim is laughable.
As I demonstrated in yesterday’s post, the communications of imprisoned jihadists, even those that seem ostensibly harmless, increase the prestige of the inmates in the eyes of Islamic supremacists. They can be exploited by the imprisoned jihadists’ confederates for purposes of fundraising, recruitment, and calls to violence. It is not a matter of what our genius government analysts believe they can divine in the way of jihadist commands and coded messages. It is a matter of how the jihadists on the outside can use communications from imprisoned terrorists to promote anti-Americanism and jihadism.
But even putting that aside, our government is incompetent when it comes to vetting jihadist communications. It cannot be competent because it has spent the last quarter century putting its head in the sand on the matter of Islamic supremacist ideology and the nexus between Islamic scripture and jihadist violence.
Back in 2008, I wrote a book called Willful Blindness about what even then was a longstanding dysfunction. Yet, things have gotten much worse, particularly under Obama’s watch. The government has now purged information about Islamic supremacism from instruction materials used to train our military, intelligence and law-enforcement agents — effectively giving Islamist organizations and operatives (many with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and red-carpet access to the administration) a veto over what our investigators and analysts may be taught about the ideology that catalyzes the threat to our nation.
The resulting debacle is elucidated by the press reporting on KSM’s communiqués, which shows why information of this sort should never be published in wartime. The HuffPo story uncritically reports, for example, that KSM is now trying to persuade people to come to Islam peacefully and that forcing people to convert to Islam is against the Koran. The obvious agenda is to put KSM — the most evil mass-murderer ever to be in American custody — in a more sympathetic light, or at the very least to bleach away any nexus between Islamic principles and atrocities committed by Muslims in the name of Islam.
But KSM has not changed and neither have his beliefs — they remain as enduring as our conscious avoidance of his ideology.
In point of fact, Islamic law teaches that, before waging offensive jihad, Muslims must first invite non-believers to accept the truth of Islam. Doctrinally, this summons to Islam is a necessary precondition to waging violent jihad. There are numerous examples of bin Laden and Zawahiri (bin Laden’s deputy and now the leader of al Qaeda) issuing public statements calling on infidels to accept Islam. Under their interpretation of sharia, it is a box they are supposed to check before they start blowing things up and steering airplanes into skyscrapers.
The reporting makes much of KSM’s assertion that the Koran forbids forcible conversion to Islam. The narrative now making the rounds is that KSM “has renounced violence,” as Canada’s National Post puts it.
Even a cursory familiarity with Islamic supremacist ideology would put this specious claim to rest. It is true, in the most narrow of senses, that Islamic doctrine forbids forcible conversion: Muslims are not supposed to hold a gun to your head to force you to convert. But Islamic doctrine endorses violence for the purpose of promoting Islam, and conversion is not close to being the most significant way of promoting Islam.
I began The Grand Jihad, my 2010 book on the Muslim Brotherhood, with what may, from the Western standpoint, be the most important verse of the Koran, sura 9:29. It commands:
Fight those who believe not
In Allah nor the Last Day,
Nor hold that forbidden
Which hath been forbidden
By Allah and His Messenger,
Nor acknowledge the Religion
Of Truth [i.e., Islam], from among
The People of the Book [i.e., Jews and Christians]
Until they pay the Jizya [which I’ll explain momentarily]
With willing submission,
And feel themselves subdued.
Jihadists are not overly concerned with your conversion to Islam; their obsession is your society’s adoption of sharia. We commonly refer to sharia as “Islamic law” but, to be more accurate, it is Islam’s totalitarian societal framework, aspiring to regulate every aspect of human life — from great public matters of governance and war down to picayune matters of personal hygiene.
KSM and his fellow terrorists want Islamic governance, not conversions. It is the implementation of sharia that is deemed to be the necessary precondition for establishing the caliphate — Islamic rule. Acting on the Koran’s injunction, the jihadists are not trying to convert you; they are trying to make you submit to the authority of sharia. As sura 9:29 makes clear, you can keep your non-Islamic religion as long as you pay the jizya willingly. The jizya is the tribute or poll tax that non-Muslims must pay to the Islamic authorities for the privilege of living under the latter’s protection.
This is known as dhimmitude. Dhimmis are non-Muslims who have submitted to sharia. While Islam allows them to remain non-Muslims, they learn, upon submitting to Islamic authority, that sharia discriminates severely against them and in favor of Muslims. By design, it makes life difficult for infidels, especially when it comes to worship. That is in fulfillment of sura 9:29’s closing edict that Muslims make sure non-Muslims “feel themselves subdued.”
You see, jihadists play an extortion game: You don’t need to coerce people into conversion if you so rig the system against non-Muslims that, eventually, most people will “voluntarily” see the good sense in converting. In the meantime, jihadists are not in a big rush to have you convert. Indeed, in the history of Muslim conquests, the jizya was vital to the financial health of the Islamic state. The caliphs were in no hurry to have everyone convert as long as they were submissive and paid up on time.
So how much has KSM actually changed? He says he is against violent conversions, but conversion was never what the violence was about in the first place. He says he believes people will accept Islam through peaceful persuasion, but the setting for that persuasion — jurisdictions where sharia rules — may be created by aggression. And, in another bit of legerdemain, his manifesto still favors “defensive” jihad when Islam is under attack by non-Muslims.
What you find with Islamic supremacists is that defense is in the eye of the beholder: Islam is “under attack” whenever it is merely subjected to critical analysis; when there are objections to its repressive, iniquitous laws; and whenever the thin-skinned supremacists feel insulted or put upon. It is not like an armed invasion and occupation are necessary to trigger “defensive” jihad. And the U.S. government, in its willful blindness to our enemies’ ideology, still does not grasp that what it sees as benevolent American occupations and interventions to try to make life better for Muslims are seen by many of those Muslims as “Islam under attack.”