Developed countries throughout the Western world are slowly realizing that radical Islamic terrorism is not limited to the Middle East. Even so, few realize just how aggressive the proponents of Islamist ideology really are. M. Zudhi Jasser, a Muslim who champions American freedom and separation of Sharia (Islamic law) and state, explained just how pernicious this ideology can be.
Islamism is “a forward aggressive offensive ideology, an evangelical movement that seeks to destroy countries that are free,” Jasser, founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), told PJ Media. He used the word “evangelical” deliberately, not to connect Islamism with evangelical Protestantism, but to emphasize “evangelizing here as a verb.”
This evangelization is not limited to militant groups like the Islamic State (ISIS) or even the Muslim Brotherhood. Rather, it goes all the way to the top of the Middle Eastern power structure, and has spread into the West via their proxies. The most common Islamist ideology behind terror is Wahhabism, a “puritanical” reform movement which inspires radical acts.
“I met with the Saudi governments, they defend Wahhabi ideas, saying that the Al Qaedas of the world misinterpret Wahhabism,” Jasser, whose parents came to the U.S. from Syria and who has personally traveled the Middle East advocating for religious freedom, recalled. While Saudi government leaders attempt to distance themselves from terror, they are preaching the same message.
“The Saudis are distributing ideas that are commensurate with ISIS,” the AIFD president explained. The Saudi leaders “discuss the defeat of the Jews and the Christians, that the Christians are no longer monotheists, but polytheists. The House of Saud defends the theological legitimacy of Wahhabi ideology.”
Jasser pointed out that the Saudi government will often arrest individuals who dare to criticize the government and charge them with apostasy against Islam. They can be even more ruthless than ISIS, and Jasser claimed that Saudi Arabia carried out more beheadings in the last twelve months than ISIS.
“The bottom line is the ideology is the same,” the AIFD president stated, bluntly. “Let’s say it was cocaine, the government distributes cocaine on the streets so that people get addicted and then they legitimize a police increase, and then martial law. That’s not a conspiracy theory, that’s the reality.”
Pointing to dictators like Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad, Jasser said, “Every one of these dictators are both the arsonists and the firefighters,” in order to manipulate and control their own people.
Jasser compared the spread of Islamism with the spread of communism in the Cold War. “The funding and global spread of Saudi Wahhabism and Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood is an evangelical operation that is 50 years ahead of us,” he argued. Just as the Soviet Union “tried to spread communism and socialism” through the vehicle of “soviet imperialism,” so the Wahhabi oil states are pushing Islamist ideology to take over non-Muslim countries.
While Jasser admitted that other factors, such as poverty in the region and U.S. military interventions, might exacerbate tensions and contribute to Islamism and the resulting terror, he emphasized that these are at most contributing factors, rather than the central issue, which is the proselytizing ideology of Sharia supremacy, advocated by powerful players in the Middle East and elsewhere.
The power of this global movement led Jasser to warn against “the whack-a-mole approach to Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram.” He argued that “these groups are going to keep coming back until we have a strategy that enables the people to rise up against both the terror and the military dictatorship.”
When it comes to Islamism spreading outside the Middle East, Jasser warned, “The non-violent Islamist evangelists are far more dangerous than their militant freelancers.” These leaders give Islamist ideology a legitimacy which undermines efforts to combat it as the terror-spawning worldview that it is.
But Jasser did not just point out the Islamist threat, he also presented a longterm strategy to defeat it. “The answer is to fight that by evangelizing liberty with a reformed, classically liberal, Islam,” the AIFD president said. His book, A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith, points in that direction.
Some may argue that such a view of Islam is not possible, but Jasser, a military veteran and former member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, stands as living testimony that it is.