Robert Spencer

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Pamela Geller

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Bat Ye'or

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Brigitte Gabriel

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Daniel Pipes

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Debbie Schlussel

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Walid Shoebat

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Joe Kaufman

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Wafa Sultan

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Geert Wilders

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The Nuclear Card

Book Review: “The Missing Martyrs” by Charles Kurzman

Posted on 14 August 2011 by Emperor

Having completed the book I was about to sit down and do a review, however I stumbled upon this one from MotherJones which reflects to some degree my thoughts on the book:

Why Aren’t There More Muslim Terrorists?

by Aaron Ross (MotherJones)

Immediately after last month’s terror attacks in Norway, Islamic extremism shot to the top of almost every list of suspected culprits. Among the soothsayers of creeping Shariah, there was never any doubt who was responsible. Others’ more rational, if hasty, assessments of Norway’s threat matrix pointed to the same (wrong) conclusion. For all their differences, both lines of reasoning shared a common assumption: that the sheer volume of Muslim terrorists out there made their involvement likely. Or as Stephen Colbert skewered the media’s rush to judgment: “If you’re pulling a news report completely out of your ass, it is safer to go with Muslim. That’s not prejudice. That’s probability.”

Charles Kurzman begs to differ. In his new book, The Missing Martyrs, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill sociology professor rejects that Muslims are especially prone to violent extremism. “If there are more than a billion Muslims in the world, many of whom supposedly hate the West and desire martyrdom,” he asks, “why don’t we see terrorist attacks everywhere, every day?”

In theory, we should. After all, there’s any number of ways a terrorist committed to murdering civilians could attack (and our gun lobby certainly isn’t making weapons harder to get a hold of). But we don’t. No Islamist terrorist attack besides 9/11 has killed more than 400 people; only a dozen have killed more than 200.

As it turns out, there just aren’t that many Muslims determined to kill us. Backed by a veritable army of fact, figures, and anecdotes, Kurzman makes a compelling case. He calculates, for example, that global Islamist terrorists have succeeded in recruiting fewer than 1 in 15,000 Muslims over the past 25 years, and fewer than 1 in 100,000 since 2001. And according to a top counterterrorism official, Al Qaeda originally planned to hit a West Coast target, too, on 9/11 but lacked the manpower to do so.

Even so, it sure seems there are a lot of Muslims committed to the West’s destruction. What else to make of the celebrations in Middle Eastern streets after 9/11? Or Pew Research Center opinion polls of multiple predominantly Muslim nations showing significant support for suicide bombings? But Kurzman warns against conflating anti-Americanism with actual willingness to engage in terrorism. In reality, he says, the young man sporting the bin Laden T-shirt in Islamabad is probably more like the American teenager in Berkeley with the Che poster on his dorm room wall than a future Al Qaeda jihadist.

Yet even if only 1 in 100,000 Muslims is a terrorist, that still leaves something like 15,000 terrorists from a global population of around 1.5 billion Muslims. Surely that’s enough to inflict serious damage? It could be—and Kurzman concedes that Islamist terrorism should be taken seriously—but in practice, several factors conspire against Al Qaeda and its allies’ aspirations of regularly striking Western targets with spectacular attacks.

For one thing, Islamist terrorists are bitterly divided between globalist groups like Al Qaeda and localists like the Taliban and Hamas. The Taliban, for instance, opposed (and still opposes) Al Qaeda’s international ambitions, so much so, Kurzman claims, that its foreign minister sent an envoy to warn American and UN officials in the summer of 2001 about a possible, albeit unspecified, attack. Meanwhile, rifts within the Muslim world about issues like democracy, liberalism, and the role of women have crippled support for global jihadists. Insistent that all streams of Islamic thought conform to their rigid doctrines (and willing to murder fellow Muslims to make the point), Al Qaeda and its affiliates have alienated millions of potential supporters, rendering themselves far easier targets for unsympathetic Middle Eastern regimes to go after.

After pressing his case with almost prosecutorial precision for the first two-thirds of the book, Kurzman’s analysis veers off the rails as he detours into an alternately banal and pedantic discussion of everything from America’s need to balance liberty with security to the lexicological origins of sociology. In a case of epically bad timing, he devotes the better part of six pages to praising recently discredited philanthropist Greg Mortenson as “a role [model] for American foreign policy.” Kurzman is unfortunate more than anything else here, but after arguing that American foreign policy doesn’t really affect Muslims’ views of the US, his sudden fawning over Mortenson’s in-vogue “hearts and minds” counterterrrorism strategy is somewhat befuddling.

Still, Kurzman’s hard-headed empirical approach to an issue so often locked in emotion-fueled back and forth makes The Missing Martyrs (or at least most of it) a must-read. Early on, he states his aim: “to reduce the panic by examining evidence about Islamist terrorism—the actual scale of it and the reasons it is not more widespread.” It’s an important goal—perhaps more so now than at any point in recent memory—and Kurzman has made a valuable contribution.

Aaron Ross is an editorial intern at Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here. Follow him on Twitter and email tips and insights to aross [at] motherjones [dot] com.

51 Comments For This Post

  1. JengaBob Says:

    But we don’t. No Islamist terrorist attack besides 9/11 has killed more than 400 people; only a dozen have killed more than 200.

    Uhm, there was a triple suicide attack against Yazidis that killed over 400 in Iraq.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Yazidi_communities_bombings

    I’m not sure of the author’s point really is – ‘oh, but how many 400+ casualty attacks have radical Muslims carried out in the past decade, hmm? Hmmm?’

    Wow. That’s some argument.

    It’s clear that Islamic terrorism is both qualitatively and quantitatively unique from other other forms of terrorism. It’s global, interconnected – primarily ideologically but also operationally, has broad support, carried out in the name of religion and is justified through the texts and teachings of religion – which are subsequently used to recruit from the larger pool of Muslims who are either supporters or were once indifferent.

    No other terrorism, apart perhaps from Far-Left/Communist terrorism of previous decades, had these same attributes that Islamic terrorism has today – withstanding the interconnectedness of terrorism and the endless pool of support Islamic terrorists can receive funding, cover and members from.

  2. WebDawah Says:

    This might actually be a good idea for a new section on Loon Watch. A section dedicated to only book reviews. If there are people who take the time to author books that debunk loon conspiracies, let’s get their works out there.

  3. WebDawah Says:

    @ JengaBob

    “It’s clear that Islamic terrorism is both qualitatively and quantitatively unique from other other forms of terrorism. It’s global, interconnected – primarily ideologically but also operationally, has broad support, carried out in the name of religion and is justified through the texts and teachings of religion – which are subsequently used to recruit from the larger pool of Muslims who are either supporters or were once indifferent.”

    Terrorism is terrorism. Whether done by a small group of people, or the army of a country. It’s ironic that the military campaign first launched against Iraq in 2003 was named “Shock and Awe.” A thesaurus will lead you back to the same meaning- Terrorism. There is nothing unique about causing terror.

    I know people in the military who say that their shooting target during boot camp were referred to as “muzzies” and “ragheads.” There was an expose done about the scopes of US military rifles with verses of the Bible imprinted on the lens.

    Islam has never justified suicide, genocide, or attacks on civilians during a battle.

    There are truths, and there are talking points. They are not the same.

  4. Khushboo Says:

    ^this has been repeatedly said to Jenga many times but he must have amnesial because he keeps repeating the same BS every chance he gets!

  5. Nemo Fish Says:

    @JengaBob

    You can not be taken seriously unless you acknowledge that State Terrorism (specialty by Israel and the USA) is also a horrible form of TERRORISM, only worse, because it has a legal cover.

    BTW, I learned that precondition of “you acknowledge so and so first” from Israel, so don’t bash me for learning from the master.

  6. harmlesstree Says:

    @JengaBob

    “It’s clear that Islamic terrorism is both qualitatively and quantitatively unique from other other forms of terrorism. It’s global, interconnected – primarily ideologically but also operationally, has broad support, carried out in the name of religion and is justified through the texts and teachings of religion – which are subsequently used to recruit from the larger pool of Muslims who are either supporters or were once indifferent.”

    Wow that’s some BS!

    Anyone who thinks that Islamic terrorism is qualitatively different than other forms of terrorism, i.e. attempts to single out Muslims from all other groups, is an ignorant and irrational ideologue who has obviously never even bothered to undertake a somewhat thorough investigation of Islamic terrorism, and most importantly its causes!

    The reasons behind Islamic terrorism are similar to those behind all forms of terrorism!

    If we look at the West, for instance, the primary reason behind the attacks against the United States and Europe have everything to do with the hideous and violent policies pursued by Western Governments ( especially the United States government) within the Islamic World, and no one even remotely connected to reality would suggest otherwise!

    Islam’s role in these acts of terrorism is qualitatively similar to that of the Irish Nation, or Irish Nationalism’s, role with respect to IRA terrorism, despite the apparent differences. However, these differences are superficial and not fundamental.

    In the case of Islam, the Ummah ( in a sense the Islamic nation) has been under attack, and has been occupied, by external forces, just like Northern Ireland. And just like in Northern Ireland’s Irish, a small minority of Muslims have decided to take the fight to those forces that have perpetrated numerous injustices against their nation.

    The difference is with regard to Islamic terrorism and IRA terrorism is that Islamic terrorism, especially in the case of Al-Qaeda, operates within the framework of an interpretation (certainly not a mainstream one) of religion’s ( Islam) just war theory. But this difference is not fundamental. The fundamental causes of Islamic and IRA terrorism are the same.

    And if you happen to read the writings of Bin laden, or the statements of other Islamic terrorists, my aforementioned contention will be confirmed!

    “To the Americans:

    Why do we attack you…because you attack us and continue to attack us…You attack us in Palestine…You attacked us in Somalia; you supported Russian atrocities against us in Chechnya, the Indian oppression of us in Kashmir, and the Jewish aggression against us in Lebanon. Under your supervision, consent, and orders, the governments of our countries which act as your collaborators, attack us on a daily basis…Your forces occupy our countries; you spread your military bases throughout them; you corrupt our lands and besiege our sanctuaries…You have starved the Muslims of Iraq…These tragedies and calamities are only a few examples of your oppression and aggression against us. It is commanded by our religion and intellect that the oppressed have a right to respond to aggression. Do not expect anything but jihad, resistance, and revenge. Is it in anyway rational to expect that after America has attacked us for more than half a century that we will then leave her to live in security and peace?”

    Osama Bin Laden, October 6 2002.

    “I want to plead guilty and 100 times more” to let the U.S. know that if it did not get out of Iraq and Afghanista­n, halt drone attacks and stop meddling in Muslim lands, “we will be attacking U.S.”

    “It’s a war. I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizin­g the Muslim nations and the Muslim people,”

    Faisal Shahzad ( Time Square bomber)

    “Yes, I am a terrorist, and proud of it as long as it is against the U.S. government and against Israel, because you are more than terrorists; you are the one who invented terrorism and using it every day. You are butchers, liars and hypocrites.”

    Ramzi Yousef

    For 13 years, Osama bin Laden, his lieutenants, their allies, and numerous anti-Islamist commentators across the Middle East have patiently, repeatedly, and explicitly explained to the bipartisan U.S. governing elite and its media and academic acolytes that the Islamists attacking America do not give a tinker’s damn about its lifestyle, liberties, freedoms, or elections. Orally and in print, U.S. leaders have been told what motivates the Islamists’ war on America is the U.S. government’s foreign policies in the Muslim world. Foremost among these are U.S. support for Muslim tyrannies, the U.S. military’s presence in Muslim lands, and unqualified U.S. support for Israel.

    Michael Scheuer ( former head of the Bin Laden Unit at the CIA)

  7. Ahmed Says:

    This book makes sense. There are so many ways that terrorists could kill people. One would be to just walk down the street stabbing people – the chances are you would be able to kill 3-4 people before you got caught. Or poison foods – very easily done. Or just hire a lorry and park it on the train track. Again, no way this can be defended again.

    The fact we don’t see this happening shows two things – 1) The threat of terrorism is overplayed 2) Most Islamic terrorists want to do a spectacular (like blow something up) than to kill people in other ways. This shows that most Islamic terrorists want to make a political statement with their actions rather than kill people.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that making a political statement by killing people is right, it is NOT. The point I am making is that the rubbish that is often spewed that Islamic terrorists want to kill anyone who is not a Muslim is simply not true.

  8. Sahra Says:

    Sorry, but when it comes to international terrorism, i mean the real definition of the sense of the word, U.S.A is the leading terrorist organisation in the world, fallowed a close 2th, not because it lacks in the cruelty department, but because on the scale it operate, is the zionist state, by a very far 3rd is AQ…

  9. sadia Says:

    a very far 3rd is AQ….you mean the CIA don’t you :)

  10. Sahra Says:

    @Sadia…You’re absolutely right, sorry to have forgot about those…

  11. JengaBob Says:

    ^ Don’t forget what entity really owns and controls the U$ and al-CIAda….

  12. NassirH Says:

    The bigotry of JengaBob (formerly known as JihadBob, JustBob, etc.) has both quality and quantity.

    Ah, and look at his ridiculous first comment. Absolutely nothing about what motivates terrorists (like Osama bin Laden, Faisal Shahzad, Ramzi Yousef etc.), by their own admission. And of course we have the old “texts and teachings” canard. I’m sure anyone who reads a mukhtasar is bound to strap bombs onto themselves.

  13. Sahra Says:

    @jengy…Do you have a secret to share?? If yes, then tell us the entity who really owns and controls the U$ and al-CIAda..

  14. JengaBob Says:

    ^ Same one that owns the banks, wall street, the media and hollywood?

  15. NassirH Says:

    ^ You mean the Leftist-Mooslim alliance?

  16. JengaBob Says:

    @Nass, you’re right, we should look at OBL’s own writings and statements to the Muslim world to determine what motivates their actions.

    Tell me, how many Koranic versse and sayings of the prophet did OBL cite in his ~3 page declaration of war against the US, her allies and world Jewry?

    You can exclude all but the verses that talk about warfare, violence, dehumanization of the other and martyrdom so your count isn’t padded with otherwise innocuous passages.

  17. Sahra Says:

    jengy…Can you be more specific, are those “same ones” americans themselfs or foreign entities infiltrating america??

  18. NassirH Says:

    “@Nass, you’re right…”

    Of course I’m right. The Leftist-Mooozlim alliance is out to get chubby short guys who like to pretend that they’re objective scholars. We’re quite open about this. I thought you already knew, despite your severe case of epistemic closure.

    “Tell me, how many Koranic verse and sayings of the prophet did OBL cite in his ~3 page declaration of war against the US, her allies and world Jewry?”

    As others have pointed out, you completely ignore/reject out of hand any evidence that contradicts your preconceived notions. This is why you (as well as other Islamphobes) come to warped conclusions. You want to “count” how many verses from the Quran Osama bin Laden cited, but you don’t want to confront the explicit reasons he gives for his actions. Could this be because the evidence, when taken in conjunction, refutes your assertions?

    Why do we attack you…because you attack us and continue to attack us…You attack us in Palestine…You attacked us in Somalia; you supported Russian atrocities against us in Chechnya, the Indian oppression of us in Kashmir, and the Jewish aggression against us in Lebanon. Under your supervision, consent, and orders, the governments of our countries which act as your collaborators, attack us on a daily basis…Your forces occupy our countries; you spread your military bases throughout them; you corrupt our lands and besiege our sanctuaries…You have starved the Muslims of Iraq…These tragedies and calamities are only a few examples of your oppression and aggression against us. It is commanded by our religion and intellect that the oppressed have a right to respond to aggression. Do not expect anything but jihad, resistance, and revenge. Is it in anyway rational to expect that after America has attacked us for more than half a century that we will then leave her to live in security and peace?” — Osama bin Laden

  19. NassirH Says:

    The fact remains that terrorists have largely failed and will continue failing recruiting Muslims. This is despite the fact that many Muslims feel that injustices have been done against them, often with the backing of the United States—historically in Chechnya, Afghanistan Bosnia, Palestine, Kashmir, the southern Philippines, etc. Taken in conjunction, millions of people have been expelled and killed. As we can gauge by the terrorists own statements, this is what motivates them.

    I am not denying that Muslims have oppressed and persecuted (in contrast, you have unequivocally said that “I don’t believe Islamophobia exists in the West”), but that’s not the point. The fact is that the oppression of Muslims is what terrorists explicitly say motivates them. Attempts to invoke religion are incidental.

  20. Link182 Says:

    JengaBob posted: ”It’s clear that Islamic terrorism is both qualitatively and quantitatively unique from other other forms of terrorism.”

    No. The overwheliming majority of terorism in the West is carried out by non Muslim groups. Worldwide, state terrorism far exceeds that of individual groups in terms of scale and scope.

  21. JengaBob Says:

    Why do we attack you…because you attack us and continue to attack us…You attack us in Palestine…

    As Raymond Ibrahim has pointed out, OBL has said Muslims will attack the West regardless of what she does.

    “Our talks with the infidel West and our conflict with them ultimately revolve around one issue… Does Islam, or does it not, force people by the power of the sword to submit to its authority corporeally if not spiritually? Yes. There are only three choices in Islam… Either submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die.”

  22. Mosizzle Says:

    JengaBob, why don’t you answer the author’s question:

    “If there are more than a billion Muslims in the world, many of whom supposedly hate the West and desire martyrdom,” he asks, “why don’t we see terrorist attacks everywhere, every day?”

    It’s tempting to say that it’s because a billion Muslims haven’t properly understood or read the Qur’an yet, but this explanation fails on many levels. I and other Loonwatchers here have read the verses that supposedly call for unlimited warfare against infidels yet none of us have felt the need to detonate ourselves in a busy shopping mall. What about the numerous Imams and scholars around the world, many of whom have memorised this “Book of War”, why aren’t they engaging in terrorism? Surely the Grand Muftis of all the Muslim countries will have understood Islam fully, and will be familiar with Hadith and books of fiqh, so why is it that they chose to condemn terrorists like Bin Laden and Anwar Awlaki rather then accept their mission.

    So no, it can’t be because the “Missing Martyrs” haven’t read the Quran since even those who know it best are not engaging in terrorism. Perhaps, you’re into the “dormant jihadi” theory that is currently popular amongst Jihadwatch commenters — the peaceful Muslims are simply jihadis waiting to be “activated”, at which point they will wage the war that is supposedly required by Islam.

    You claim that there is an “endless pool” of potential recruits. But this is the very perception that Kurzman is trying to tackle. If your theory is true, then why isn’t there more terrorists? If waging war on infidels is required of all Muslims, and they all seek to destroy the West, and the attraction of jihad is universal, and the pool of potential recruits is “endless”, then where are the billion+ terrorists?

  23. Ahmed Says:

    1) OBL does not represent Muslims.
    2) There is no proof that was said was OBL. It was one of his supposed letters.
    3) Raymond Ibrahim is a bit like Robert Spencer – he takes the very worst of Muslims and tries to pass them off as true Islam.

  24. JengaBob Says:

    Attempts to invoke religion are incidental.

    al-Qaeda, an international terrorist group, recruits life long Muslims, converts to Islam (who were peaceful before their conversion), Western Muslims, Muslims in the East, in the Arab world, Turkish Muslims, Kurdish Muslims, Pakistani Muslims, African Muslims, would not exist as we know if not for religion as the unifying factor and a desire to ultimately implement Islamic Law.

    No one can dispute what I’ve said when I say Islamic terrorism is qualitatively and quantitatively different from all other forms of terrorism.

    The non-Muslim terrorist groups that are typically compared to some Islamic terrorist group are always just as different as they are similar. There are ultimately few non-Muslim religious terrorist groups compared to Muslim terrorist groups. The ones that exist, such as the LRA, are often so beyond the pale of normative teachings that it’s hard to actually identify them as actually mainstream Christian or some of other religion they claim to represent. Others, such as an allegedly Christian terrorist group in India (with a secular manifesto) are unknown to the Christian world outside of India and, in fact, outside the Indian state they’re fighting in.

    The bottom line is that there is no shortage of Muslim terrorist groups that exist today willing, ready and able to kill in the name of their religion. Their religiosity make them qualitatively different from the IRA, ETA or LITE. Their numbers make quantitatively separate from the NFLT, a terrorist group allegedly rooted in Christian fanaticism.

  25. Jack Cope Says:

    “al-Qaeda, an international terrorist group, recruits life long Muslims, converts to Islam (who were peaceful before their conversion), Western Muslims, Muslims in the East, in the Arab world, Turkish Muslims, Kurdish Muslims, Pakistani Muslims, African Muslims, would not exist as we know if not for religion as the unifying factor and a desire to ultimately implement Islamic Law.”

    Most ‘converts’ that are recruited are from the prison population or have some other sort of dodgy past or are simply along for the ride, as a new adventure.

    Secondly, none of these groups are in any way ‘unified’ with their belief; AQ is like a brand and everyone else is a franchise but unlike KFC or Pizza Hut, the HQ has no control over it’s franchises who all largely do their own thing, compete with each other and often have very different views. TO consider them as some sort of homogenous monolithic group is wrong, everyone from MI5 to the CIA don’t do that, AQ is simply seen as a brand and nothing more.

    “No one can dispute what I’ve said when I say Islamic terrorism is qualitatively and quantitatively different from all other forms of terrorism.”

    Depends, what do you class as a ‘terrorist group’? Plenty would say that the state sponsored terrorism carried out by the CIA et all was far more destructive and powerful than some guys in a cave.

    “The non-Muslim terrorist groups that are typically compared to some Islamic terrorist group are always just as different as they are similar. There are ultimately few non-Muslim religious terrorist groups compared to Muslim terrorist groups. The ones that exist, such as the LRA, are often so beyond the pale of normative teachings that it’s hard to actually identify them as actually mainstream Christian or some of other religion they claim to represent. Others, such as an allegedly Christian terrorist group in India (with a secular manifesto) are unknown to the Christian world outside of India and, in fact, outside the Indian state they’re fighting in.”

    So wait, only Muslims can be evil in the name of their faith? Really? Did you read this Norway bombers manifesto per chance? He spent a whole chapter backing up what he did with Christianity. But so what? Nutters of all faiths. The fact is that these so called ‘Islamic’ terrorists go way beyond the pale of Islam, it’s hard to find any rules they *haven’t* broken…

    “The bottom line is that there is no shortage of Muslim terrorist groups that exist today willing, ready and able to kill in the name of their religion. Their religiosity make them qualitatively different from the IRA, ETA or LITE. Their numbers make quantitatively separate from the NFLT, a terrorist group allegedly rooted in Christian fanaticism.”

    Give it a few years, unfortunately there are other extremist groups rising rapidly in the shadows. The militias in the US, anarchists in Europe, Neo-Nazis in Russia, Hindu ultra-nationalists in India… all of these groups are sadly going to be massive soon. Heck, the extremism on the rise in the US military will be a big issue in the coming years.

  26. Jack Cope Says:

    And yes the whole concept of this book is pretty solid; where are these terrorists? No one can answer that, you can prattle on and on about ‘Muslim terrorists’ but the fact is that a) they are a small percentage of Muslims (including supporters) and b) they are a tiny number anyway. Sure, 9/11 was only a handful of guys, but it was a handful of very very very lucky guys who only just managed to get away with it. In fact both the CIA and the FBI had enough information between them to uncover the plot, agency rivalry prevented intelligence sharing, this was one of the first things that Bush sorted.

    I do not expect to see any major ‘Muslim’ terrorist attacks in the future, maybe one if the intelligence services bungle big time, but no more. While all this attention is on ‘Muslims’, other groups are going to rise, a fair few of them on anti-Muslim rhetoric. Sad.

  27. sadia Says:

    It is common sense that when a people are under attack by an invading force, they will defend. But strangely, this act of defense carried out by Muslims is given an even stranger name ‘Islamic terrorism’. It just doesn’t make any sense, anything ISLAMIC cannot be TERRORISM and vice versa.

    If Palestinians need to defend form Israel, that’s not terrorism.
    If Iraqis need to defend their lives, resources & nation from USA and its allies, that’s not terrorism.

    But if a Muslim(individual or a group) set out and shoot innocent public killing them , like the Norway terrorist, then that’s real terrorism. and don’t be surprised, ISLAM rejects and condemns such killings.

    As a matter of fact, the Quranic verses about fighting were revealed when the early Muslims were oppressed by the ruling tribe quraysh in makkah who forced them to exile, looted their homes, tortured and even killed the weak Muslims. Thus Islam allows one to fight for a just cause i.e., to defend to protect lives, homes, lands and above all the right to worship one true God.

    But even in battles, Islam has laid principles based on Qur’an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), who set exemplary practices toward the conduct of war. The most important of these were summarized by Muhammad’s successor and close companion, Abu Bakr, in the form of ten rules for the Muslim army:

    “Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for your guidance in the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.”

    As for the quality from west all i can remember is – carpet bombings, white phosphorous, blind drone attacks, depleted uranium, & lets not forget the nuking of japan.
    And of course who can forget, the trial’less’ imprisonment for years and years, water-boarding, sleep deprivation, rape & torture, …….in short abu ghraib.

  28. NassirH Says:

    Raymond Ibrahim, checking from his articles, gives absolutely no source for the quote. One article posted on the “Middle East Forum” links the quote to another on “Pajamas Media” (from one hate site to another), making it impossible to check the context of the quote, the exact origin of the quote, what he’s trying to hide with the ellipses, or if the quote exists at all (and thus isn’t a complete fabrication). Neither the MEF nor Pajamas media are reputable sources and indeed both articles are written by the same disreputable writer, Raymond Ibrahim. Is Ibrahim lying? Considering his history of distortions (e.g. he lied about a Coptic girl regarding her conversion to Islam), it’s quite likely.

    One problem with Ibrahim’s ridiculous theory is that “offensive jihad” can only be launched by a legitimate caliph (there are also other caveats restricting its practice, basically making it impossible in today’s context). Even those ulema of bin Laden’s orientation (regarding jihad) condemn him for his actions (for killing civilians, for example). More importantly, bin Laden doesn’t purport his actions as offensive but instead as defensive. His talk of offensive jihad, it seems, is thus purely theoretical, making him similar to the Hizb ut-Tahrir in this regard — the Hizb ut-Tahrir being an organization that doesn’t engage in violence.

    “Osama bin Laden is all too often depicted as a fundamentalist and a salafist attempting to revive the jihad of the classical era. In reality, whatever his ultimate ambitions, his statements explaining the case for war against America are thoroughly modern—that is they rely for the most part on the idea of resisting unprovoked aggression. Indeed, bin Laden is quite clear that ‘he who commences hostilities is the unjust one’. Under pressure from an Al-Jazeera journalist, he wondered: ‘what is wrong with resisting those who attack you? All religious communities have such a principle, for example the Buddhists, both the North Koreans and the Vietnamese who fought America. This is a legal right…this is a reassurance that we are fighting for the sake of God’. The main argument of this section is that, although he must inevitably draw upon broader, religious elements of the jihad tradition to make an intelligible case against America, bin Laden actively seeks the legitimacy of defensive war by moulding his basic argument into the self-defence paradigm.” (Brahimi, Alia. Jihad and Just War in the War on Terror. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 106. Print.)

    The central product of this religiously driven political perspective is the notion that al-Qaeda is leading a defensive jihad. This form of war arises ‘when an enemy is expelled from the jihadists homeland’; and, ‘[u]nlike offensive jihad, defensive jihad is a compulsory duty’ for all Muslims, though most Muslims question al-Qaeda’s insistence that engaging in jihad demands acts of violence. Hence, Scheuer argues that ‘[e]stablishing the U.S.-led Crusaders as aggressors’—a fundamentally political designation—‘is a vital to bin Laden in religious terms because it enables him to ask all Muslims to participate in defensive jihad…’. In bin Laden’s words, ‘Religious scholars throughout Islamic history have agreed that jihad is an individual duty when an enemy attacks Muslim countries’; and today, in his view, ‘We are only defending ourselves against the United States. This is a defensive jihad to protect our land and people.’
    (Geltzer, Joshua Alexander. US Counter-terrorism Strategy and Al-Qaeda: Signalling and the Terrorist World-view. London: Routledge, 2010. 86. Print.)

  29. harmlesstree Says:

    @JengaBob

    “Our talks with the infidel West and our conflict with them ultimately revolve around one issue… Does Islam, or does it not, force people by the power of the sword to submit to its authority corporeally if not spiritually? Yes. There are only three choices in Islam… Either submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die.”

    Can you tell me where this supposed quote comesfrom? I have an English translated edition of Bin Laden’s writings, which is where I got the quote I used above from, and this comment breaks with defensive against oppression paradigm found within those writings.

    Incidentally, the book that contains OBL’s writings is called “Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden”

    It’s a scandal that the media has made no attempt to disseminate these writings over the years, which has allowed this nonsense about hating our freedoms and the new Caliphate to grow, and, hence, has become mainstream opinion with regard to the reasons behind 9-11.

    Michael Scheuer, the former head of the bin Laden Unit at the CIA that I cited earlier, notes this within his blurb on the back of Messages to the World:

    “Western Media have made no consistent effort to publish bin Laden’s statements, thereby failing to give their audience the words that put his thoughts and actions in a cultural and historical context…Bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us. None of the reasons have anything to do with our freedom, liberty, and democracy, but have everything to do with U.S. policies and actions in the Muslim World.”

  30. JengaBob Says:

    ^ The source for the English translation of the quote is from The Al Qaeda Reader, p42.

    Check out the book to see if the source is given there.

  31. Mosizzle Says:

    Great idea, Bob! We’ll just go out and buy it just to check one quote.

    Why is it that the only source Raymond can give for the quote is from his own book?

    Also, Bob, can you explain why there are so few Muslim terrorists even though there is an “endless pool” of recruits and terrorism is, according to you, explicitly commanded by Islam?

  32. Sahra Says:

    @sadia…..Most of the so called “westerns” knows everything you’ve mentioned about Islam by now, and the rare ones who are not aware yet, can easily find that information, how many muslims have explained, time and time again, that islam do not approve of the killing of an unarmed, innocent beings, that islam have nothing to do with the terroristic act of a few ect….
    Since how long now islam has been in the internatonal media, and on the world stage, 10 years, maybe more, still it feels like as if we were in the same chaos that fallowed the weeks after 9/11, nothing has change, its even got worse, islamophobia is at the highest level, mosques objections, hijab ban, minarets ban, halal slaughter ban, sharia frenzee, you name it, but all of this are not happening because they dont know the facts about islam, but they’re choosing to ignore it, it is kind of a strategic omission.. There is a deliberate war on islam that is going on, and has been since 9/11, but if they’ve tried to down played it before, now its out all in the open, for everyone to see…SO all of this strange names like “islamic-terrorism”, “islam-ist” or “islam-ism”, are all derogatories terms and are part of the strategy, those words are no different than the strange “mohamadans”, insult of the old islamophobic orientalists…I guess we can say that the so called ‘western world’ haven’t evolved after all, where islam is concern…Salam

  33. JengaBob Says:

    Also, Bob, can you explain why there are so few Muslim terrorists even though there is an “endless pool” of recruits and terrorism is, according to you, explicitly commanded by Islam?

    The same reason why there are so many Muslim countries that aren’t chiefly run on Islamic law? Real life is more complex than Charles Kurzman’s ‘gotchya argument’.

    I’ve never argued that Muslims are automatons or that terrorist groups are automatically the only recourse for religious fanatics/militants.

    Incidentally, terrorist groups are aware that the Koran says very few Muslims will take up arms to defend/fight for the Ummah. For them, the fact that so ‘few’ Muslims are members of terrorist groups is a fulfillment of a Koranic prophecy.

    If I have time, I’ll re-read the relevant portions of Rudolph Peters’ book on Jihad and provide the relevant passages from the Koran.

    But I disagree with you that Islamic terrorist groups do not have an endless supply of recruits. They most certainly do, though sometimes the valve on the Islamist pipeline is squeezed, there is always a flow.

    He spent a whole chapter backing up what he did with Christianity. But so what?

    You’re providing me an excellent example of the qualitative difference between Islamic terrorism from other forms.

    Yes, Breivik (sp?) did quote the Bible and provide his own commentary in addition to cherry picking some quotations from past Christian scholars, I believe. But that is where the similarities end and differences emerge. There’s no comparison between Jihad theorists in the Muslim world – of which there are plenty – to non-existent holy war theorists in Christendom. Holy War in Christianity has been a dead clause for several hundreds of years. This is unlike holy war in Islam that is an unbroken culmination of 14 centuries of religious scholarship. Add to this that Breivik was not a religious individual and opposed the establishment of a Christian theocracy, we clearly see the differences between Breivik citing the Bible for whatever reason and terrorist groups that have their own scholarship committees to guide their groups’ actions under the principles of Islamic Law – or at least their own interpretation. And I am in no way exaggerating when I say groups like al-Qaeda do indeed have religious scholars on board just for that sole purpose.

  34. Jack Cope Says:

    bob that is hardly even worthy of a response but anyway, this is the crux of your point:

    “There’s no comparison between Jihad theorists in the Muslim world – of which there are plenty – to non-existent holy war theorists in Christendom”

    First of all, these ‘Jihad theorists’? Well yeah, ‘Jihad’ in it’s various shapes and forms is part of the Fiqh, both for historical reasons and scholarly reasons, so any student of Islam (self included) will study it at some point. So what? That is meant to mean something?

    Secondly you think that there are no ‘holy war theorists’ in Christianity? Google my man, Google.

    Anyway, none of this really matters, all you are saying is ‘there are some Muslim ‘scholars’ that discuses Jihad and legislate on it’. So effing what if you’ll pardon my French? There are whole institutions and education centres in the US and UK such as West Point, Cranwell and so on dedicated to the education of combat and divisions in top universities (such as Kings College Air Power studies division) dedicated to it’s study. There is no difference.

    Going back to your old point, this is especially pointed when we consider that in the US groups like the MRFF have been fighting legal battles to have ‘Christian propaganda’ removed from training manuals. The latest of course was the infamous ‘Jesus loves Nukes’ thing where training programs for missile launch operators (who have to press The Big Red Button). So no, it is wrong to say that ‘Christianity did away with that years ago’. It’s still there.

    “Add to this that Breivik was not a religious individual and opposed the establishment of a Christian theocracy”

    You’ve not read his manifesto have you? I unfortunately have, go back and read it then get back to me.

    “And I am in no way exaggerating when I say groups like al-Qaeda do indeed have religious scholars on board just for that sole purpose.”

    You are, name me names and provide evidence please. I’ve already given you names of US and UK institutions dedicated to warfare and it’s study, so go ahead.

  35. Sam Seed Says:

    There is no ‘Islamist’ or ‘Islamic’ terrorism, let’s not suck up to this Islamophobic term to tarnish Islam with a hateful terminology. Terrorism is not derived from religion but by those who have nothing to live for. Peace is the essence of Islam. Don’t let the haters tell us what it should be, by living as good human beings we know what Islam is.

  36. Sahra Says:

    @sam Seed.. I agree 100%..Ramadan Kareem, brother

  37. JengaBob Says:

    Secondly you think that there are no ‘holy war theorists’ in Christianity? Google my man, Google.

    First of all, I was obviously referring to extremist (more extreme than regular Muslim scholars, that is) scholars such as Umar Abd al-Rahman, Abdullah Azzam, and Muhammad al-Maqdisi, for starters.

    And no, there aren’t modern day holy war theorists, notwithstanding your ridiculous comparisons.

    Re: Anders Breivik, so are you not disputing that Anders opposed a religious theocracy, welcomed non-Christians to join his Knights of Templar organization or described himself as moderately religious and a man of logic and reason?

    Re: al-Qaeda and religious committees:

    The Law Committee reviews Sharia law, and decides whether particular courses of action conform to the law.

    The Islamic Study/Fatwah Committee issues religious edicts, such as an edict in 1998 telling Muslims to kill Americans.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qaeda#Leadership

  38. Jack Cope Says:

    Ridiculous comparisons? What is ridiculous about a group coming up with a training program based on the Bible that states it is A-OK to nuke the hell out of someone?

    And Re: Anders Breivik, I dispute that, again, read his manifesto. He is heavily into Christian symbolism, everything from his uniforms for his pathetic gang to the fact that he attended his own ‘martyrdom service’ at a church before his ‘mission’ reeks of Christian symbology. Time and time again the words ‘Christian values’ or similar come up, often with the word ‘defending’. As for ‘Christian theocracy’, how does that even come into it? He goes very little into government other than to say it has strayed from ‘Christian values’ so much. Doesn’t matter what he is ‘describing’ himself as, again his shite is covered with symbology. You cannot deny that.

    Now AQ’s so called communities, well a) they have failed if they do exist since AQ’s actions are against anything remotely close to Sharia (I assume they try to pass it off as ‘defensive actions’) and b) how is it different to my ‘ridiculous comparisons’? It’s not, both are trying to stamp war with a faith of some sort.

  39. Jack Cope Says:

    And again, you really fail to show how this is actually relevant to anything being discussed.

  40. Nur Alia Says:

    Mr JengaBob…or anyone for that matter.

    What terrorism is, and an example of it, although all of it is an autocity and a blot on humanity, to be REALLY honest is relative to where you live, and the victims you relate to most. (they are your ethnic group, speak your language, know them personally…etc)

    Although it happend many years ago, in the context of war, the most horrid terrorist attack on this side of the world is the dropping of an atomic device on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. If we are counting the number of victims, and the amount of damage, these two terrorist attacks by far would be the worst ever in recorded history.

    I know it is hard for Americans (yes, even my brothers and sisters of Islam who are American) to understand that..creating a weapon of such mass destruction…knowing it’s indiscriminate killing power…and purposely dropping it on a civilian population…twice…is a terrorist attack, but it is…no matter how you might want to overlook that fact.

    I would like the anti Islamic crowd especially to tell me…what was the justification they used for such an attack, because it had to be something ‘supernatural’ about creating a weapon to kill indiscriminatly, and using it twice. You can not say this on ‘self defence’

    Then, bring that justification to ‘today’, and justify…for example a drone bomb dropped on a wedding party in Afganistan…apperantly by a ‘precision guided weapon’.

    Mr JingaBob…please address this question without using Islam as a referance. Come from your own point of view.

  41. Sam Seed Says:

    Thanks Sahra, and wish you a Ramadan kareem mashallah.

  42. Jack Cope Says:

    Very well put Nur, it is often overlooked that the indiscriminate ‘statigic bombings’ by Allied and Axis forces during WWII are in fact terrorism. Indeed, their only goal was to break the moral, i.e. terrorize, the other side. The firebombing of Dresden, a city with no real strategic value that was bombed in an attack that wiped out 15 square miles of the city center, is a tragic example of this. The attack, which was intended to deliberately create a firestorm in the city (a massive fire that is so huge it sucks the oxygen from the surrounding area and is effectively impossible to put out) coupled by Allied air forces strafing rescue workers, even disgusted many Allied commanders. The same can be said for the firebombing attacks on Tokyo, Hamburg, London and other cities. Both sides did it but remember, not just the Nazis were monsters, the US firebombed 67 Japanese cities alone.

    Of course, some will argue that ‘it had to be done to defend ourselves/they were doing it to us/we were at war’ but that is the same argument used by people like bin ladan and his gang. Funny that isn’t it?

    Oh and the atom bombs? Inexcusable, even on the scale of things done during the tragic waste of life that was the World Wars. For starters, Japan was pretty much ready to surrender even before the bombing, there was no need to drop it on a city. If the intention really was to show the Japanese that there was this powerful new weapon that could destroy their cities in seconds then why not drop it on a mountain to show them the damage it could do and then say ‘surrender or that things coming to Tokyo’? It would have worked just the same as dropping it on a city.

    No, in my mind the atom bombings were simply ‘research’, the Allies wanted to see what they would do to a city, in fact they deliberately chose Nagasaki and Hiroshima since these two cities were largely intact and hadn’t been bombed much before. This is especially obvious when you consider that, if the intention was merely to show the Japanese that there were these weapons, the bombing of Nagasaki wasn’t needed. As a mater of fact, Hiroshima was hit with a Uranium bomb and Nagasaki with a Plutonium bomb; the allies wanted to compare the effects.

    But of course, that ‘ain’t terrorism…

  43. NassirH Says:

    On p. 4 of Missing Martyrs, Charles Kurzman highlights the letter of a would-be terrorist (Taheri-Azar) before his attack. As usual, the evidence refutes the assertions of Islamophobes.

    “Due to the killing of believing men and women under the direction of United States government, I have decided to take advantage of my presence on United States soil on Friday, March 3, 2006, to take the lives of Americans and American sympathizers as I can in order to punish the United States for their immoral actions around the world.”

    Taheri-Azar also affirmed in his 911-phone call to the operator that his actions were motivated out of a desire to “punish the government of the United States.”

    Other academics that specialize on the topic (Habeck, Geltzer, Brahimi, etc.) concur that sentiment similar to that expressed above is indeed at the root of “jihadism.” Incidentally, Spencer wrote an absolutely pathetic “review” of Mary Habeck’s book and it was palpable that he didn’t read it.

    “I’ve never argued that Muslims are automatons or that terrorist groups are automatically the only recourse for religious fanatics/militants.”

    Whoa, I though “violent jihadism” was the inevitable route for any religious Muslim? I

    As for “automatons,” Islamophobes have argued on numerous occasions that each and every Muslims is bound to go off eventually. Hugh Fitzgerald says that those who don’t will reproduce and have children who will, inevitably, contribute to the takeover to the West.

    “Incidentally, terrorist groups are aware that the Koran says very few Muslims will take up arms to defend/fight for the Ummah. For them, the fact that so ‘few’ Muslims are members of terrorist groups is a fulfillment of a Koranic prophecy.”

    Really? Can you show us this verse?

  44. Perseveranze Says:

    Wait wait wait so let me get this straight………..

    - So a man invades another country, rapes, beats, tortures imprisons and murders civilians, and we call that – COLLATERAL DAMAGE.

    - But when a man decides to blow himself up and kill civilians, we call that a – TERRORIST

    What lol

  45. Norwegian Says:

    Yesterday the norwegian politician Carl I. Hagen dared say that the majority of terrorists are muslim. This was immediately tried refuted by many (left-wingers and christian do-gooders) by referring to Europol reports (TE-SAT) that lists very few if any islamist terrorist attacks at all. What they invariably fail to convey is that the Europol report numbers are collected from only 13 european countries, not the world as a whole as with the Worldwide Incident Tracking System by the american National Counterterrorism Center. The leftists are som stubbornly in denial it can almost be considered a feat. It is like the religious faiths they so enjoy bashing.

    Greetings from an atheist liberal, growing more and more nationalistic.

  46. JengaBob Says:

    Wait wait wait so let me get this straight………..

    Your definition are consistently applied throughout the world. The Muslim world is no exception. The Palestinians, the first to refer to the Israeli government actions as state terrorism, thought highly of murderous dictator Saddam Hussein. Other examples of hypocrisy in the Muslim world, among the Palestinians in particular, abound. Hamas is a supporter of the brutal dictatorships in Syria, Iran and Sudan – the most oppressive governments in the Arab world, no less.

    When you first sweep off your own front porch, then you can come here with your ‘insightful’ musings to enlighten the sheeple in the Western world.

  47. Dream on Says:

    Since neither side is neutral… lets all just go away. Right?

  48. MrIslamAnswersBack Says:

    @ Norwegian if we were to look at the world as whole , Muslims would still be the least terrorist as in most of the world has no incidents of attacks of terror by Muslims. No terror attacks in Central and south America, No Attacks by Muslims in the carribean. Rare incidents in subsaharran Africa. Rare Incidents in South east asia. None in japan by Muslims, None in China by Muslims. These places make up more of the world than Just America,and the UK. So sorry ,you would still be disappointed that if the world was look as a whole ,Muslims would still be the least “terrorist”.

  49. harmlesstree Says:

    @Norwegian

    It would take many centuries (millennia in fact) for Islamic terrorists, at current rates, to unleash the amount of violence the United States, alone, is responsible for over the last 60 years or so, let alone European Civilization!

    And if you are embracing right-wing nationalism, which is as immoral as it is irrational, then you are no liberal!

    “Nationalism is an infantile disease; it’s the measles of mankind” – Albert Einstein.

    “Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy.”- George Bernard Shaw.

    “Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”- Arthur Schopenhauer

  50. Zakariya Ali Sher Says:

    @ Norwegian:

    Sorry mate, don’t know who Carl Hagen is, and I likely don’t care. He sounds like another Geert Wilders rip off… There are Muslim terrorists, sure, but they are given undue weight in western media for several reasons. One of which is the fact that ALL Muslim terroists are automatically linked by the media based solely on religion, despite being entirely different entities. Al-Qaeda is not the same as HAMAS or the MILF or whatever group you want to name. Conversely, there are quite a few prominent non-Muslim terrorist groups, even within Europe. The Tamil Tigers, IRA, PKK, Zapatistas, ETA, FARC, the Lords Resistance Army, several Maoist groups in India, FALN… That last one carried out well over a hundred bombings in the US in under a decade!

    @JengaBob:

    Iran isn’t part of the ‘Arab world,’ and in fact is far more democratic than Saudi Arabia (a US ally). Syria and even Sudan are far more livable than Saudi Arabia, as could be attested by the religious diversity if nothing else (of particular note, the Assads are ‘Alawites, a religion many do not consider to be Mulsim, and there are several Christians in government positions as well).

    But double standards are nothing new. Most people have them. Quite honestly, western governments are more than willing to tolerate allied states which are dictatorships (like the aforementioned Saudi Arabia) and oppose other states that do the same (Libya for example, or the former Iraq). Just look at the Arab revolt. The right wingers were absolutely apalled by the idea of Mubarak getting ousted, ostensibly because of the ‘Muslim Brotherhood,’ but also because the new Egyptian government might do something like, say, recognize Palestine. The same in Bahrain. The US only cares about having military bases, so they looked the other way when the Sunnis (and Saudi government) crushed the rebellion there. So much for democracy eh?

    But the biggest doublestandard ultimately comes to state actions itself. It’s no big secret that the US has assassinated scientists in Iran. How would you feel if Iranian troops assassinated nuclear scientists in the US? Middle Eastern lives are treated as disposable, while US lives (especially military ‘contractors’ or mecenaries, to drop the formalities) are treated as sacrosanct. Strikes me as a doublestandard of the highest order.

  51. JengaBob Says:

    Iran isn’t part of the ‘Arab world,’

    Reading comprehension problems?

    Syria and even Sudan are far more livable than Saudi Arabia, as could be attested by the religious

    And this has what to do with what I said?

    The US only cares about having military bases, so they looked the other way when the Sunnis (and Saudi government) crushed the rebellion there. So much for democracy eh?

    When does revolt=democracy?

    It’s no big secret that the US has assassinated scientists in Iran.

    Actually that’s linked to proxies linked to Israel.

    The US is recruiting Iranian scientists to emigrate to the US.

    Strikes me as a doublestandard of the highest order.

    Why don’t you just answer my question.

    If suicide bombings are created simply from oppression or some other such simplistic nonsense – as if human actions were an equation – why aren’t there foreign jihadis blowing themselves up in Khartoum?

    Shouldn’t we be seeing that? Or is reality more complicated than Leftist/Muslim apologist talking points?

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