The Obama administration calls its national security strategy “Countering Violent Extremism.” In the benighted times before January 20, 2009, we used to call it counter-terrorism.
Why does Obama insist on the more fuzzy “extremism”? Because “terror” has its roots in Islamic scripture. This fact ought to be undeniable, but Obama denies it — and in Washington, he’s far from alone in that.
It is not just that the word terror appears several times in the Koran; it is that the word appears in a particular context: The duty of Muslims to act as Allah’s instrument to terrorize non-Muslims is a recurring scriptural theme. In Sura 3:151, to take one of several examples, Muslims are admonished:
Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers.
Omar Abdel Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh” I prosecuted in the mid-’90s after his cell bombed the World Trade Center and planned similar strikes against other New York City landmarks, was a renowned scholar of Islamic jurisprudence. Indeed — and this is worth pausing over — his mastery of our enemy’s ideology was the sole source of his authority to approve jihadist attacks. Think about that: his blindness, and various other maladies, render Abdel Rahman unable to do anything useful for a terrorist network. He can’t build bombs, command forces on the battlefield, execute assassinations, and so on. But his authority is unquestioned because of his scholarship and rhetorical power in the scripture-based doctrine our president pretends is non-Islamic and of marginal importance.
Sheikh Abdel Rahman was adamant that terror is fundamental to Islamic doctrine:
Why do we fear the word terrorist? If the terrorist is the person who defends his right, so we are terrorists. And if the terrorist is the one who struggles for the sake of God, then we are terrorists. We … have been ordered with terrorism because we must prepare what power we can to terrorize the enemy of Allah and your enemy. The Koran [said] “to strike terror.” Therefore, we don’t fear to be described with “terrorism.” … They may say, “He is a terrorist, he uses violence, he uses force.” Let them say that. We are ordered to prepare whatever we can of power to terrorize the enemies of Islam.
Obama’s national security strategy is suicidal because it mulishly denies two unavoidable facts: (a) terrorism is rooted in Islamic supremacism’s literalist construction of scripture, and (b) even if Islamic supremacism is not the only way of interpreting Islam, it is a mainstream interpretation of Islam.
Islamic supremacism is not merely the creed of outlier “violent extremists,” but of hundreds of millions of Muslims, the ocean in which jihadists comfortably swim. A commander-in-chief who does not or will not come to terms with those facts is unfit for his most basic responsibilities. His stubbornness renders him incapable of protecting the nation.
That’s Obama. Understand: the president is not refusing to associate terror with Islam out of political correctness. His delusion is ideological. It informs his every decision. It is why the terrorist threat has so intensified, and why we are in more peril today than at any time since before the 9/11 attacks.
The Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) strategy has gotten some way overdue attention in the two weeks since 14 Americans were killed by the San Bernardino jihadists. As I’ve recently recounted, Obama’s Department of Homeland Security published CVE training instructions for federal agencies involved in national security. All of the two-page “Do’s and Don’ts” [sic] document is breathtakingly detached from life here on earth, but buried in the middle is a specific directive that speaks volumes:
Don’t use training that is all “war stories,” which may rely too much on outdated information and overgeneralizations. Regaling an audience with a blow-by-blow account of a 2003 terrorism investigation does not address the changing nature of violent extremism we face today.
Obama believes the nature of terrorism is changing. This is absurd. The violence today is executed by jihadists. They are motivated by a scripture-based doctrinal command to impose sharia — Islam’s societal framework and legal code, which is the necessary precondition to Islamicizing a society and, ultimately, establishing a caliphate. That is why they kill today, it is why they killed in 2003, in 1993, in 1800, in 1565, in 1064, in 732, and so on all the way back to the raids Muhammad himself led in the seventh century. The technology and tactics of violent jihadism have changed over time; the nature of it has been the same for nearly a millennium-and-a-half.
The Obama administration has thoroughly politicized national security (just as it has politicized law enforcement and most everything else), so I would not disappoint you by saying the president’s approach to “violent extremism” is all ideology and no cynicism. By bleaching out the ideological catalyst for mass-murder attacks and attributing them to “extremism” without acknowledging what the killers are extreme about, Obama promotes an ugly moral equivalence between jihadists and his political opposition, whose members are habitually smeared as “extremists.” It is no surprise that, while unable to bring itself to concede that the Fort Hood massacre was a jihadist attack, the Obama administration was issuing Homeland Security Department memos that profiled conservatives and U.S. soldiers returning from war as potential violent extremists.
Still, Obama really is ideologically impenetrable when it comes to the motivation and even the identification of actual terrorists. In an important report over the weekend, the Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes detailed the president’s serial lies about the jihadist detention camp at Guantanamo Bay – lies about how many enemy operatives he has released during a time of increasing terrorist threat, lies about the backgrounds of the terrorists he’s sprung. Particularly telling, though, were the president’s remarks about jihadist recidivism, a combination of duplicity and delusion:
We assume that there are going to be – out of four, five, six hundred people that get released – a handful of them are going to be embittered and still engaging in anti-U.S. activities and trying to link up potentially with their old organizations.
Of course the recidivism rate is astronomically higher than Obama is letting on, but pay close attention to why he says jihadists go back to the jihad: They are “embittered.” You are to understand it is not their belief system – one that burns strong enough in jihadists that many are willing to die for it – but the fact that they are held in captivity.
Yes, some of this is cynicism: It’s a powerful political cudgel to claim that policies you condemn (like Obama condemns Gitmo) are not only wrong but responsible for mass-murder. Obama, however, has internalized his ideological pieties. The nature of terrorism, he believes, has changed. Terrorists kill not because of their doctrine – as the DHS guidelines tell us, that kind of thinking is so 2003. “Extremists” kill because of policy grievances, some of which the president shares. So if we just release them, leave them alone, and change policy course, all will be well.
Consider how the president’s worldview endangers the country. Ibrahim Qosi is now a leader of al Qaeda’s most deadly competent franchise in Yemen. Until 2012, he was a detainee at Guantanamo Bay. But Obama released him – just as the Obama and Bush administrations have released hundreds of Gitmo detainees – rationalizing that Qosi would be participating in a “rehabilitation” program run by the government of Sudan. Many other former prisoners go through a rehab program run by Saudi Arabia. These are Islamic supremacist countries in which sharia is the law. Indeed, the Saudi government competes with ISIS each year over which will lead the Middle East in beheadings. Sending a jihadist to a rehab in a country whose sharia culture is a jihadist assembly line is like sending an alcoholic to rehab at the local bar.
Yet, because Obama will not come to grips with the ideological basis of jihadism, a violent conquest doctrine rooted in Islamic scripture, he sees no problem sending the dynamite back to the fire.
To protect the nation, a president has to grasp the source of the threat, who it is coming from, where and why it is likely to strike next. We do not have such a president. That is why we have become so vulnerable to catastrophic attack.