Understanding Islamic Jihad’s Challenge to America

Last fall I visited Dearborn, Mich., to attend a high school class reunion. I arrived early enough to drive around my old neighborhood. To my surprise, it had become almost totally an Arab population. Every business I passed displayed Arab-English signs, and on the front lawn of one of Dearborn’s public schools was a 5-by-7 foot “Peaceful Ramadan” sign. Apparently, the Supreme Court’s rules about religious symbols on public school property are not honored in Dearborn. It would be interesting to know why.

After settling in to visit with old classmates, the conversation eventually turned to the size and nature of Dearborn’s Arab community. I told them about my profile of Osama bin Ladin and about his Declaration of War against the West—in particular, against the United States and Israel. When I noted that the bin Ladin family was Yemeni-born, some of them expressed fear that there might be jihad cells among the thousands of Yemeni in their town.

We also discussed the Danish cartoon issue and how, in my view, that issue had laid bare the underlying strategy of the huge, worldwide jihad movement—i.e., war against Jews and Christians. Indeed, reaction to the cartoons demonstrated how extensive jihad influence had become in the West, especially in Europe. After a few days’ hesitation, during which millions of Muslims around the world proclaimed their indignation, most European editors pronounced the cartoons distasteful and refused to publish them. And what was the jihad strategy in this situation? Its leaders wished to suppress free speech around the world in the name of Islam.

I also told my friends that there were three or four basic facets of Islam that ought to concern all Americans. The most important of these is its transnational nature—a little known characteristic of Islam. It refers to Islam’s claim that it always stands above the laws of every nation because it is ultimately a religious rather than political movement. Westerners need to understand that there is no distinction in Islam between religion and politics, no separation of church and state. Thus, in the case of the recent American-supported constitutions of Afghanistan and Iraq—constitutions loudly proclaimed to be democratic—each has a clause stating that Islamic law transcends all other laws. This means for them, and all Muslims with few exceptions, that they have a greater loyalty to Islam and its worldwide goals than they do to the nation in which they happen to live. My friends obviously wondered where ultimate loyalty lay among Muslims in America.

Second, Muslim countries have produced millions of young men who are trained in the “virtues” of jihad. They are happy—no, overjoyed—to support jihad as they ponder eternity with scores of young virgins for their personal entertainment. Parenthetically, it is striking to note that in Islamic countries, birthrates are two to three times greater than among European natives. Surely this spells doom for Europe in the next decade or two. This is another example of the old axiom: Demographics are decisive in defining the future.

Americans also ought to take notice of the fact that no Islamic leaders, anywhere in the world, have clearly condemned jihadists. Time and again when asked directly whether they condemn the practice of jihad, Islamic leaders everywhere fail to clearly state their opposition to it. Indeed, there is plenty of evidence that many mosque leaders in the West actively support jihad efforts since Osama bin Ladin and his kin went on the war-path in the late 1980s.

I discussed one more facet of Islam: Jihadists and their supporters are engaged in a religious war against the West, something Washington leaders avoid stating. This war is but a late chapter in the 1300 year fight Islam has waged against all non-Muslims, the medieval crusades being the most notorious example.

Driving home from the class reunion, I wondered how our elected leaders in Washington could be so slow to understand the meaning of the bombing of the USS Cole and embassies in Africa, not to mention the first attempt to destroy the World Trade Center in 1993. And then 9-11 happened. Why is that disaster not called what it was, like the embassies and the USS Cole, a jihadist act in a religious war against us? It certainly is accurate to call the jihadists terrorists as the president does, but that is not enough! It would convey more of a sense of urgency for the president to call these radical Islamic acts “jihads” because they are another chapter in the on-going religious war against the West by radical Muslims. Likely that designation would not be politically correct, or even multi-culturally correct. It is time, however, to move beyond those social fads and do some plain talking about what we face.

Will it take another 9-11 or worse to wake up the American people to the fact that we are in a serious struggle for the survival of our civilization? Hopefully the alarm will go off and shatter our drowsy apathy toward the jihad movement’s threat.