Within three days there have been two jihadist attacks in Canada, carried out by Canadian citizens who recently converted to Islam. No terrorist organization has claimed responsibility, at least as yet. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Stephen Harper showed no reluctance in calling the terrorists … terrorists.
Whether the attackers were incited by the summons to jihad from groups like al Qaeda and ISIS, or were actual members of such groups, there should be no question that these were terrorist attacks. The Obama administration’s practice of denying that terrorist attacks are terrorist attacks has been profoundly foolish – and it was good to hear the president seem to inch away from it today.
The point of this cockamamie denial approach is part political correctness and part plain politics.
President Obama has repeatedly claimed to have “decimated” al Qaeda and put it “on the path to defeat.” Actually, the terror network is on the rise. Furthermore, it is now rivaled by ISIS, a jihadist organization that may be even stronger. Denying obvious instances of terrorism, such as the jihadist mass-murder at Fort Hood, is a transparent effort to conceal the obvious falsity of the president’s claims. If these attacks are not really terrorism, the reasoning goes, then there must be less terrorism; therefore, the pretense of defeating terror networks can be spun as validated. As I’ve said before, it is a way of miniaturizing the threat.
It is more than that, though. Terrorism is fueled by an ideology. It is rooted, quite literally, in Islamic scripture. To cite one of many examples, in the Koran’s sura 8:12, Allah instructs Muslims: “I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their fingertips off them.” Thus, Omar Abdel Rahman, the infamous “Blind Sheikh” I prosecuted for terrorism in the nineties, used to exhort followers:
Why do we fear the word “terrorist”? If the terrorist is the person who defends his right, so we are terrorists. . . . The Koran mentions the words “to strike terror,” therefore we don’t fear to be described with “terrorism.” . . . We are ordered to prepare whatever we can of power to terrorize the enemies of Islam.
The United States government tried to portray Abdel Rahman as deranged and representative of no mainstream current of Islamic thought. In point of fact, he was a doctor of Islamic jurisprudence graduated from al-Azhar University in Cairo, the seat of Sunni learning for over a millennium. His capacity to command terrorists, although he was physically incapable of committing terrorist acts, stemmed from his indisputable mastery of sharia and Islamic doctrine – subjects I daresay he knew a good deal more about than President Obama. He was spokesman for a well-known interpretation of Islam that, as the Iraqi Shiite cleric Ayad Jamal al-Din recently acknowledged, has existed for 1,400 years.
A Muslim who commits an atrocious act with the purpose of becoming Allah’s instrument for “instilling terror into the hearts of the unbelievers” has committed terrorism. A Muslim who employs violence with the intention of “intimidating or coercing a civilian population; influencing the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or affecting the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping,” to borrow from the federal statutory definition of international terrorism, has engaged in terrorism. He need neither be wearing an al Qaeda team jersey nor be formally sworn in as a member of ISIS for us to state this palpable fact with confidence.
Shouldn’t we be able to agree on at least that much?