Andrew McCarthy is the former Assistant United States Attorney who prosecuted the Blind Sheikh and his friends for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. After he secured convictions, he recounted what he had learned along the way in Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad. When it comes to the subject of civilian trials for unlawful enemy combatants and of the Islamist war against the United States, McCarthy is like Walt Whitman: He is the man, he suffer’d, he was there. I find myself returning to this book regularly.
And McCarthy has stayed on the case. In The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America, published last week, McCarthy follows up with a closely argued account of Islamist designs on, and inroads in, the United States.
In a sense, the book provides a counterpart to David Horowitz’s The Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left, whose argument McCarthy cites below. Whereas Horowitz’s book focused on the Left, McCarthy focuses on the Islamists, elaborating on events that have occurred and lessons we have learned since Horowitz’s book was published in 2004.
Among these events are a few in our own backyard, including the election of Minnesota Fifth District Rep. Keith Ellison in 2006, a man who embodies the alliance between Islam and the Left. McCarthy rightly calls Ellison “CAIR’s congressman.” McCarthy also discusses the case of the flying imams — a case he calls “the sabotage campaign in action”– arising from an incident at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after an imams’ conference at which Ellison had spoken. McCarthy also devotes an entire chapter to “The Enclave of Minnesota.”
I’ve been after Andy to provide us something on his new book for readers of Power Line from the time I heard he was writing the book. He has graciously responded with this hard-hitting account of his hard-hitting book:
As a faithful Power Line reader, I am as thrilled as I am grateful to be able to say a few words here about my new book, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.
What is surprising, and dismaying, is that the book’s message should come as news to anyone, as if there were real question about whether such a grand jihad exists. Though our opinion elites and their media allies remain desperate to suppress the story, the proof of an Islamist conspiracy to destroy the West is stark and undeniable, and the instances of Islamists being aided and abetted by Leftists are too numerous for serious people to deny the alliance – not merger but alliance – between the two.
As demonstrated at the Holy Land Foundation terrorist financing trials in Texas, internal Muslim Brotherhood memoranda are unabashed in describing Islamists as engaged in a “civilizational” war against the West. In America, the Brothers attest that theirs is a “grand jihad” to destroy the United States – mainly from within, mainly by “sabotage.”
I use the term Islamist advisedly. In the book’s second chapter, I’ve tried to take on the excruciating question of whether the existential challenge we face is Islam itself. On this, besides views I’ve developed over the last 17 years, I read widely and consulted learned people on both sides of this question, several of whom I’m fortunate to call friends. When I was finally done writing the chapter, and rereading it for the zillionth time, I thought maybe I should rewrite it, to make it shorter and just get to the bottom line. But I decided to leave it as is. If it seems throughout as though I am having an argument with myself, it is because I am, and the argument is anything but settled.
The problem is that those who say Islam is the problem have the better case. I was first struck by this sad fact during our terrorism trial in 1995, when I had to get ready to cross-examine the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman. Though he ended up opting not to testify, I still had to prepare. Back then I thought that if what we were saying as a government were true – if these terrorists were lying about Islam and perverting its doctrine in order to justify mass-murder attacks – then surely I should be able to locate three or four places where the Blind Sheikh had misstated the Koran and the other species of Muslim scripture. I searched high and low, but there were none.
To be sure, Islamic scriptures say a lot of things, and some of them are admirable. Good faith contentions can surely be made that passages terrorists cite need to be considered in conjunction with other passages they omit. (That’s a weak argument, by the way, but not a risible one.) But the point is that where the Blind Sheikh cited scripture, he did it quite accurately. Moreover, he is not, as we’d like to have it, a lunatic; he is a renowned doctor of Islamic jurisprudence graduated from al-Azhar University in Egypt – the seat of Sunni learning and one of the oldest and most respected academic institutions in the world. His construction of Islam, however frightening, was literal and cogent.
Islam is not a religion of peace and Islamic doctrine is not moderate. There is, for those willing to pierce political correctness and grapple with fact, an undeniable connection between Islamic doctrine’s commands to violence and domination, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the often savage acts and the civilizational campaign carried out by Muslims against the West. For that reason, Islam is very problematic. There is, however, the other side of the coin: there are hundreds of millions of Muslims who, quite clearly, are moderate, tolerant people. These Muslims either reject terrorism (at least in the form of sneak attacks that kill civilians in the U.S.) or they don’t see terrorism as having anything to do with them. Thus, people who don’t want to grapple with Islamic doctrine point to these tolerant, moderate Muslim individuals and demand that we deduce that Islam, too, must be moderate and tolerant – regardless of what its scriptures say.
But this “Islam is as Muslims do” approach is no more a rationale for giving Islam a pass than it would be for condemning Islam based on the actions of the terrorists. More importantly, to convince the people who need convincing – namely, Muslims, not Western intellectuals – there must be a cogent, persuasive construction of Islamic doctrine that can compete effectively with the ideology that fuels the terrorist attacks and the broader plot to destroy the West from within. The latter ideology is an instinctive turn-off to Westerners because it is supremacist, totalitarian, and violent. Yet, it happens to be an ideology drawn faithfully and logically from scripture – which is why it is endorsed by so many influential clerics and shariah authorities who have spent their lives in Islamic study.
As I point out in The Grand Jihad, it is fair enough to conclude that peculiarities of al Qaeda ideology are favored by only a fringe of the world’s Muslims. Here, I refer to the claim that it is legitimate to kill even other Muslims who reject the terror network’s strict interpretation of Islam. Now, I find even that fringe distressing. After all, 10 percent of 1.4 billion Muslims is a lot of people.
Here, though, is the truly distressing part. In 2007, the University of Maryland joined with the pollster World Public Opinion to survey Muslim views in nations across the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia – i.e., both Arab and non-Arab Muslims. They found that about two-thirds (65.5 percent) endorsed the requirement of “a strict application of sharia law in every Islamic country.” About the same number wanted to see all Muslim countries unified under a single caliphate, a position shared even by half of Muslims in Indonesia – where one of the most moderate brands of Islam in the world is practiced. These findings match up with other disturbing figures – like the 93 percent of young Palestinians (and 75 percent of all Palestinians) who deny Israel’s right to exist, and the 40 percent of British Muslims who would like to see sharia become the law of England.
The point is that Islamist ideology – the modern version conceived by Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, refined by thinkers like Sayyid Qutb, and expounded by the likes of Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, probably the most influential Sunni cleric living today – is very mainstream. Sure, it is an aberrant position to endorse the killing of Muslims who fail to adhere to a strict interpretation of Islam; but if the proposition at issue becomes, say, “I support the killing of Americans operating in Muslim countries,” or “I would like to see the U.S. Constitution replaced by sharia law,” we find the percentage of approving Muslims shoots skyward. Indeed, while much was made of Qaradawi’s condemnation of the 9/11 attacks (a condemnation that was more tactical position than a moral one), the same Qaradawi issued a fatwa in 2004 calling for attacks on American troops in Iraq – and in so doing drew strong support from scholars at al-Azhar University.
The thrust of my book is that we need to come to terms with this in order to defend ourselves. There is a vibrant debate in the Muslim world about terrorism. We need to understand, though, that it is a debate about methodology. Islamist terrorists and other Islamists are in harmony about the endgame: they would like to see sharia installed and the West Islamicized. That a person is not willing to mass-murder non-Muslims in order to accelerate that process does not make him a moderate.
In the chapter about what to call the threat, I ultimately conclude that it is best to describe it as “Islamism” or the “Islamist” challenge. I do this as a hopeful nod to the millions of Muslims who both reject violence and do not want to live in sharia societies. But I do it with my eyes open. It may well be that these Muslims will not succeed in reforming their creed, in stripping from it the elements that cannot coexist with such core tenets of Western liberalism as freedom of conscience, the proposition that people have a right to make law for themselves, the proposition that freedom really is freedom rather than perfect submission, the equality of men and women and of Muslims and non-Muslims. Still, I think we have to support the reformist cause. I do not believe we can entice natural allies to our side by telling them their religion is irredeemable. They are trying to redeem it, and it is in our interest to help them – while recognizing that they may very well fail.
Finally, since the book was published last week, I’ve been asked questions like: “So, are you saying that President Obama wants to implement sharia?” and ” Isn’t it true that if Islamists came to power, the Left would have a lot to fear?” Again, the alliance between Islamists and Leftists (not all progressives, but the modern hard Left) is an alliance, not a merger. Leftists and Islamists have worked together numerous times in history and, as we look around us today, we see them working together on Obamacare, global warming, the Palestinian cause, the campaign to close Gitmo, the campaign endow terrorists with constitutional rights, and so on. That they work together is not a hypothesis on my part; this partnership exists, period.
And why it exists is simply explained, it if we are willing to look at the facts.
While they differ on a number of significant issues, Islamists and Leftists are in harmony on many parts of the big picture. Islamism and today’s Leftism (which, as I note in the book, David Horowitz aptly calls “neocommunism”) are both authoritarian ideologies: they favor a muscular central government, virulently reject capitalism, and are totalitarian in the sense that they want to dictate all aspects human life. They both see the individual as existing to serve the greater community (the state or the umma). Saliently, they have a common enemy: Western culture, American constitutional republicanism, and their foundation, individual liberty.
When I argue that Islamists and Leftists are working together to sabotage America, this is what I am talking about. Historically, when Islamists and Leftists collaborate against a common enemy (e.g., the Shah in Iran, the monarchy in Egypt), these marriages of convenience break apart when the common enemy has been eliminated. We are a long way from that point in America – and, hopefully, we never reach it. We must expect, though, that Islamists and Leftists will continue their alliance as long as the Western way of life remains an obstacle to their respective utopias.
See also yesterday’s New York Post column by McCarthy, “The ‘peaceful’ Jihad in America.”
The Grand Jihad is clearly one of the books of the year. I urge our readers to acquaint themselves with this important book.