Heeding the Times from Harry Antonides' Desk

Militant Islam Reaches America
Daniel  Pipes, W.W. Norton & Company.
326 pp
 

Militant Islam distinguishes itself from any other contemporary political movement in the magnitude of its ambitions, seeking not just to influence the adherents of one religion or control one region. Rather, it aspires to unlimited and universal power. 

Some time ago, I watched what was presented as a documentary on the PBS network, Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet. Anyone unfamiliar with this topic would not have known that this was a highly sanitized version of Islam. It was in fact nothing but religious propaganda. None of the hard questions were even hinted at, e.g., about the wretchedness of life in most Islamic countries, the cheering in the streets when innocents were killed by terrorists who acted in the name of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad. 

A religion of Peace?

The one great question looming over any discussion of Islam is whether it is a religion of peace and freedom or of violence and oppression. The answer to that question depends on whom you ask. 

Islam apologists hasten to assure us that Islam is a religion of peace. The critics, who invariably take great pains to distinguish between Islam as such and its militant version, tell a very different story. 

What are we to believe? The problem is that the Koran is divided on this point. In some parts it speaks of peace and goodwill; in many others, however, it speaks of warfare and forcibly subduing the infidels, especially the people of the Book, Jews and Christians. The history of Islam’s rapid advance into North Africa, southern Europe and eastward even into India by military force and conquest is a clearly established fact. 

As to the current scene, no one can be totally ignorant of the many Muslim-controlled countries where only one way of believing and living is rigidly enforced. The cruelty to which women and those who refuse to fall in line are subjected is grotesque. The daily diet of hatred toward Israel, the West and especially the “Great Satan” spewed from the Muslim-controlled media and the mosques in those countries is creating a poisonous reservoir of fanaticism and fury.   

Millions of Muslim have migrated to the western democracies where they are free to practise their religion. To be sure, many of them, probably even a majority, are not interested in imposing their beliefs on anyone else and are prepared to live in peace with their new neighbours. The problem is that they are a silent majority (apart from some very courageous souls). Worse, a substantial number of these newcomers or converts, egged on by their fanatical mullahs, seek nothing less than taking over their new homelands. 

Many of these militants are uncritical admirers of Osama bin Laden and the late Ayatollah Khomeini who masterminded the 1979 revolution in Iran. Though benefiting from the hospitality and prosperity of the West, some serve as a fifth column trained for sabotage and murder. This highly secret network of “sleepers” is responsible for planning, financing or carrying out attacks on every continent, including in the U.S. and Canada.  Think of Ahmed Ressam, who was caught when he crossed the Canada-U.S. border with the intention to blow up the Los Angeles airport. 

Those who speak out to protest against this kind of criminal behaviour in the West better brace themselves for some rough treatment. They are bound to meet with strong condemnation and vilification. For example, some well-organized Muslim organization in North America, such as the Council on American-Islamic relations, the American Muslim Council, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council are ready to pounce on any one who dares to point out these facts and to denounce them as racists and hate mongers. 

Jihad Comes to America

If you think that I am exaggerating and possibly suffering from an overdose of conspiracy theories, read Daniel Pipes’ Militant Islam Reaches America.  This book is a catalogue of deception and criminality carried on under the cover of Islam right in the heartland of the free world.* 

The author has devoted a lifetime to the study of Islam, and is the author of numerous articles and ten books. He is director of Middle East Forum, a prize-winning columnist, has served in the U.S. departments of State and   Defense and has taught at the University of Chicago and at Harvard University. This book is a collection of articles written between 1994 and 2002, but they have lost none of their relevance. In fact, they have only increased in urgency. 

Pipes strenuously draws a distinction between the religion of Islam and the ideology of militant Islam, or Islamism. His criticism is aimed at the latter. He acknowledges that there are also moderate Muslims although they are overshadowed and often intimidated into silence by the Islamic militants. 

 In part one of this book Pipes deals with such questions as: Is Islam a threat? Is its militant version caused by poverty? Do moderate Islamists exist?  He details the inner struggles of Islam, the western incomprehension of this religion, and the tendency to accept too uncritically the claims of its apologists. 

The second part of this book takes a look at the claims of the militant leaders of Islam in America. In some instances these spokesmen for Islam are regarded as upstanding American citizens. Take Siraj Wahhaj, a black convert to Islam, described by Reuter’s news agency on April 24, 2001, as “a respected scholar and leader of the Muslim community in Brooklyn.” In June 1991, he was the first Muslim to deliver the prayer invocation for the U.S House of Representatives. Nonetheless, this is what he said to a gathering of Muslims in New Jersey in late 1992: “If we were united and strong, we’d elect our own emir [leader] and give allegiance to him … take my word, if 6-8 million Muslims unite in America, the country will come to us.” In 1998, he openly called for replacing the U.S. government with a caliphate. 

Wahhaj is no exception. Others urge their followers to remember that they came to the U.S. for one reason only, to serve as “ambassadors for Islam.” In the words of a Muslim lecturer in San Francisco -- as reported by Jeffrey Lang, a convert who was dismayed upon hearing this -- all Muslims “are obligated to desire, and when possible to participate in, the overthrow of any non-Islamic government  -- anywhere in the world – in order to replace it by an Islamic one.” 

Stealth and Slander

Against the background of this audacious call to take over America, the author discusses the secretive network of support via fundraising, propaganda, indoctrination, and even smuggling, theft and forgery. He writes that most of the converts to Islam are African-Americans, while the total number of Muslims in this category is estimated to be one million. 

One notorious convert to Islam is convicted murderer Jamil Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown. Despite his criminal record, the Muslim leadership has come to his defence and hailed him for his “moral character,” all the while playing the “race card” and a perceived anti-Muslim bias to the hilt. All of this makes a mockery of the much-touted moral purity of Islam. 

What makes this a highly valuable source of information is the author’s careful and thorough research. Every critical statement about militant Islam is backed by precise names, dates, sources and pronouncements that make this book invaluable. It also details the extremes the militants go to in order to silence the critics by threats and intimidation. 

It takes raw courage and strong convictions to do what Muslim critics of their militant leaders are doing. A number of them in Muslim-controlled countries paid with their lives. But Islamic death squads even reached into the West, including the United States. For example, Rashad Khalifa, an Egyptian-born biochemist and vocal opponent of militant Islam, was stabbed to death in Tucson, Arizona in January 1990. 

However, not only immigrants to the U.S. encounter the wrath of the fanatics. One such person is Steven Emerson, author of an award-winning television documentary that used material from Islamist videos to expose their anti-Semitic and anti-American ideology. He received death threats that made it impossible for him to lead a normal life right in the heartland of the free and the brave. 

An Intellectual Scandal

Not surprisingly, Daniel Pipes has been at the receiving end of all the usual accusations of racism and bigotry issued by Islamist spokespeople, especially the Council on American-Islamic Relations. His detractors have slandered him in numerous publications and demanded that he be fired. They even created a website devoted to destroy his reputation, forcing him to respond in detail to each of those accusations. Though no one has issued a fatwa against Pipes, as far as is known, he has received some very chilling threats. 

(When he was invited to speak at York University in Toronto this spring, protesters and faculty demanded that his invitation be withdrawn. To its credit, the university administration refused to give in to this demand, but the meeting could only proceed by careful screening of attendees and the presence of a large contingent of police.) 

The aggressive mob tactics of the militants have persuaded many commentators to shy away from doing what Pipes is doing. They play it safe and issue nothing but pious blandishment. In response, Pipes reserves his strongest criticism for his academic colleagues who play this game of appeasement, either out of conviction or cowardice. He calls this attempt to avoid or whitewash the true meaning of the Islamic jihad an “intellectual scandal.” 

This is an insightful book by a courageous author. It will help you to know that next time you watch the PBS documentary or similar attempts at sanitizing Islam, you are not watching a true documentary, but propaganda of the kind that Hitler’s spin doctors would be proud of. 

*Daniel Pipes’ website, www. DanielPipes.org contains information about the author and a large number of his columns and other writings.