How to Defeat the Jihad
An all-star panel lays out what the West must do to win at the West Coast Retreat.
Editor’s note: Below are the video and transcript to the panel “How to Defeat the Jihad,” which took place at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2016 West Coast Retreat. The event was held April 8-10 at the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, CA.
Richard Miniter: What we need is a full-throated full-on war to defeat an enemy which is eminently defeatable. We have against us, even by the largest estimates, an enemy no larger than 85,000 people. It is a very small enemy, and we, 6 percent of the world’s population, are almost 42 percent of the world’s economy. The idea that they can defeat us is only possible if we come to believe that dangerous and ridiculous idea. Instead, we must put aside Barrack Obama’s idea of war and, frankly, even George Bush’s idea of war, and go back to an idea of war much closer to that which we had in World War II: A total, complete mobilization against jihad. And this has a number of factors. We look at what the enemy has done, and we need to use that word “enemy.” I remember sitting in these press briefings in Iraq and Afghanistan and the military would always talk about the “bad guys,” the “other guys.” This was under instructions. This is the kind of political correctness that’s even taken over our military. We must first begin by using the word “enemy.” And the next word we have to find again is the word “jihad,” the so called holy war of radical Islam. We must call a thing what it is or we’re never going to be able to defeat it. And we have to realize that since 1928 Hassan Albanna put together the beginning of something called the Ikhwan Muslimin, the Muslin Brotherhood. He was looking at our societies with hate, but with accuracy, looking for weak points.
The No. 1 Muslim Brotherhood philosopher, the man who wrote “In the Shade of the Quran” and “Milestones,” Sayyid Qutb, in 1946 comes to visit the United States. Of course he came as a guest perfectly legally – we let in lots of these radicals – and he made a journey from New York City. He went and taught briefly in a place called Greely, Colorado. And in Greely, Colorado in between classes he walked down the street. In his diary, which was later published in Egypt, he recorded what he saw and he said it was a parade of horrors. Here’s what he saw: there was a man changing the oil of his car, listening to the radio with his garage door open visible from the street. The next house lit from behind was a woman looking out the window washing and drying her dishes. At bowling alleys, men and women who were not married to each other were bowling together. This is what he wrote about. These are the evils he saw. Because our society did not follow the strictures of radical Islam in which no one is visible from the public street, in which women are invisible except in very private settings, in which music is forbidden. This is how total the view of the Muslim Brotherhood is. These three scenes that I described to you, even the most left-wing Americans would say they’re perfectly harmless scenes. It takes an extreme ideologue to see those things as examples of things that he should hate and want to destroy. But the Muslim Brotherhood through Sayyid Qutb and Hassan Albanna and others have been examining our society and looking for weak points and they have found them.
Let’s look very briefly at each weak point because this is where we need to strengthen things. This is where we need to fill in gaps and wage our total war. Let’s start with the welfare state. We know from captured Al Qaeda documents – and you can read these yourselves. You can go into the Combating Terrorism web site at West Point. More than two million captured Al Qaeda and ISIS documents are there that have been translated. Many of them have been translated into English. And they advise – there was a wonderful saying about half way through advising what to do when you go to a Western country as a jihadi. The first thing they suggest you do is get on welfare. And they’re very explicit as for saying the reason why. The infidels will pay you so that you do not have to work, so that you can work full time on jihad. Isn’t it time we reformed our welfare system so that it’s not so easy for jihadis to get on the dole? Do we not see that we’re literally financing people who have time to plot and plan against us? Of course we should live in a society in which the poor are taken care of, but we should not live in a society in which the poor, or the so-called poor, have a chance to kill us. That’s a separate thing. We must be honest about the need for welfare reform as part of the war on terror.
We should also look at immigration. The vast majority of religious visas – there are visas given for religious clerics, people of all religions, to come to the United States to preach, to raise money, to study, to go to theology school and so on. More than half, the majority, of visas go to Muslim imams. The answer is not to shut out all Muslims, but maybe it’s time to look at the backgrounds of some of those people we’re giving religious visas to. Hamas bragged last year that the No. 1 source of its financing was the United States itself.
Let’s look at student visas. We know that some of the 9⁄11 bombers came to the United States on student visas in the years before the attack, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the planner of the 9⁄11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people. No one’s ever looked into what the atmosphere on campus did to radicalize and mobilize these jihadis. Let’s look at it very briefly. First of all, we know that students who come to study in U.S. military schools never end up as jihadis, but those who go to civilian schools do. Why? Because the political correctness isolates and alienates and puts, for example, all the Arabs or all the Muslims together, and there are parents who complained. When I was writing a book called “Mastermind,” which is a biography of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, his Kuwaiti parents complained that my son went to America loving America, disco and freedom and he came back and told me that I need to cover my hair. He came back from America radicalized. He came back from the American campus radicalized. Why do we allow for the segregation of people by religious and ethnic backgrounds? If instead the schools had made a point of giving them non-Muslim roommates and encouraging them to join other student associations, their view of America might have been different. Except a small radical group takes over those groups of Arabs or Muslims down on the campus and the others realized they have to either go along and join or be totally ostracized, both from the larger American campus experience and from the experience of people who come from a similar background as them. We’re putting them in a horrible choice and we’re setting up a dangerous situation for our society and we’re not even thinking about it. Instead we’re letting the coalition of universities and students – universities and colleges and graduate schools, which make enormous amounts of money off foreign students – to have a total free hand as to what students they admit, under what circumstances they admit them, and by the way, they don’t even verify that these people are in classes. They could arrive on our shores with a student visa and never turn up on campus and there’s not a single report that’s filed with the INS or any other immigration service. There’s no tracking. There’s no follow up.
In addition to these visas and immigration and welfare reform, we also have to look at what creates homegrown terrorists. The CIA has studied this, as has the FBI extensively. We know from a lot of demographic work they’re by and large college educated people who come from intact middle class families, whose fathers are either professionals or paraprofessionals. That means there’s something in our society, at the top of our society, that is at least turning a blind eye, if not encouraging their radicalization. Every radicalization should be seen as a tragedy, as something that we save someone from just as we’d intervene in someone’s life to stop them from spiraling into alcoholism or some other terrible addiction. But instead, because of political correctness, we put up our hands and we say there’s nothing we can do. That’s his religion. That’s is choice.
Now let’s look at the prisons, another weak point, where radical Islam has recruited a lot of followers. Imams assistants get access to a phone to the outside world that is unmonitored. Most prisoners, by the way, when they do talk to the outside world, those calls are recorded. But for the imam and the imam’s assistant, who is a prisoner, a convicted criminal serving time in federal or state prisons, they have access to unmonitored phones. The U.S. Department of Prisons says that less than 3 percent of the Arabic phone conversations that they record are ever translated. Less than 3 percent. Does this sound like a country at war? Does this sound like a country that’s mobilizing every fiber of its being to fight the enemy which is so clearly knocking on our door?
What can we do? There are some people who say it’s hopeless. They’re going to win in the end. That’s why I told you about the 85,000. There are very few of them and there are many, many, many, many of us. We don’t have to give up. We don’t have to shrug our shoulders and say it’s inevitable. Far from it. We could win quickly and relatively easily if we got serious about fighting a real war. If we got serious the way we did against the Nazis, the Japanese and the fascists. The way we did intermittently against the Soviets. If we were serious for just a few years the difference would be immense. The fall of the Berlin Wall seemed to happen very suddenly, but it happened as a product of 40 years of half-hearted work and 8 years of very serious dedicated work under the Reagan Administration. Is there not a lesson in that for all of us?
Now there are those out there who’ll tell you we have no weapons. We can drop bombs on them, but look what happened in Iraq. Of course you can make any war look like a defeat when you leave halfway through. Doesn’t anybody remember those bumper stickers that the Vietnam vets had on their cars in the early 1970s? ”We were winning when I left.” Well, now those stickers should come back because in Iraq we were winning when the Bush Administration left and we were winning for the first 2 years of the Obama Administration. But if you leave too soon, you reap the whirlwind, which is what we’re suffering now in Iraq and Syria and elsewhere. Of the few planes that Obama dispatches over the skies of Iraq to bomb ISIS, three out of every four return without dropping a single bomb. They can’t get legal authority to bomb their targets. That’s according to sworn congressional testimony from the head of the U.S. Air Force. That’s not a way to fight a war. We’re measuring the number of bombs we’re dropping in pounds, unlike in World War II, when we measured them in tons per day.
As you think about this, you need to realize, and you need to tell your neighbors, this is a war. And a war is a total, all-encompassing thing. It’s not a thing where we’re worried about offending someone. Political correctness is weakening us. Everyone talks about Islamophobia, but no one talks about jihadophobia. Because jihad really is something to be afraid of. And that’s what we should say in response. No we’re not afraid of Islam. We’re afraid of jihad. There is a difference. And we should insist on that difference. And when they insist on saying that those like us who want to fight this war are racist, we should say, “Really? Is Islam a race or isn’t it racist to imagine that Islam is a race?” We should have the confidence to argue back. A good war, a true war, can really only begin in truth. We need to call things what they are. We need to call this a war. We need to call the enemy the enemy. We need to call jihad the enemy of all civilized peoples on the face of the planet.
And I want to leave you with a picture, something to think about. Imagine you’re taking a swim in the sea just outside here and as you’re swimming along in the cool salt water, a tentacle wraps itself around your ankle and begins to drag you down. And you fight off that tentacle and you make it back to shore. What do you do? Do you say, “Well, I was probably swimming in the monster’s territory anyway I should stay out of the sea.” Or do you gather your friends and neighbors and don scuba gear and go into the dark lair where that monster lives and find his giant eye and stab it until it stops looking? Which of those two things do you want to do? That’s the kind of war we need to fight. Thank you.
Bruce Thornton: Well, that was great. How not to fight jihad. And you hit the nail on the head. What I want to do is remind us that the war we’re talking about has been going on for 14 centuries. It started in the 7th Century A.D. when Muslims conquered the Greco-Roman, Jewish-Christian Byzantine Empire. It conquered places like Egypt. It’s interesting that people say Egypt is the largest Arab nation in the Middle East. Why are there Arabs in Egypt? The guys who built the pyramids, the guys who were Pharaohs, they were not Arabs. They were Egyptians. They were there as conquerors, as the descendants of conquerors, colonizers and imperialists. They conquered Spain. They held it for 7 centuries until they were driven out. They were defeated in 732 at the Battle of Tours by Charles Marling. Fell when they were attempting to move up into France. They continually raided the Roan River Valley. They occupied Southern Italy and Sicily. They occupied the Balcones.
It wasn’t until 1683 that at Vienna, September 11 and 12 – make what you will of that date – that they suffered a devastating defeat. And until the rise of modern jihadism they never again challenged Europe. In fact, they began a series of retreats. There’s one date that’s very interesting and that’s 1699. That was the Treaty of Karlowitz. And you say, “Well, what’s the big deal about that treaty?” That was the first time a Muslim power ever had to sign a treaty which was to a Muslim disadvantage. In 1798 Napoleon invades Egypt. And the only reason that came to a bad end is the British destroyed his fleet and he abandoned his army. In other words, up to the point Richard was talking about, what happened before 1928 and the creation of the Muslim Brotherhood? 1924. Well, what happened in 1924? The dissolution of the Caliphate. When after 9⁄11, Bin Laden referenced a catastrophe, he wasn’t talking about 1948 was he? He said it was 80 years ago. What happened 80 years ago? The dissolution in 1924. The dissolution of the Caliphate.
So in other words, my point is that we are in a war that has been going on for 14 centuries. And the Taliban have a saying, “You have the watch as we have the time.“ They are in a spiritual – I’m using that word neutrally – a spiritual reality in which this century, that century – Israel’s not even 100 years. We can wait. Crusaders were there 200 years, we got rid of them. We are obsessed with the here and now and we think the past doesn’t matter. But the past matters very much. And in their mentality this is an ongoing eternal war between the believers and the infidels. And this is where we are at now. We are in a war. A long war.
The second point is what’s the nature of the enemy? Now, we all know and I know this group knows because you’ve had the opportunity to listen to people like Robert, we know that jihad is a central doctrine of Islamic theology. It is not an aberration. It is not some sort of self-improvement or anything like that. It is a communal obligation of the Muslim people. So we know that. But there’s another dimension to the enemy that we have to keep in mind as we go forward in terms of how do we fight this enemy and that is, what’s curious about Islam is that it is, as I may, theologized tribalism. It is very tribal. And you can talk about the American Indians. You can talk about the Gauls that Caesar fought, the Germans that Cesar fought, the Britons that the Romans fought. Any tribal people, they have some similarities. And one of them is the tribe is everything and everybody else is nothing. The tribe is everything and everybody else is nothing. A lot of tribes don’t even have a word for humans. Humans are themselves. Islam follows this. There’s the dar al-Islam, the dar al-harb. There’s the world of Islam, the believers, and there’s the world of war. That’s it. So they have built in a kind of supremacy as we see in Islam today. Their belief, as Quran 3:110 says, is that they are the best of peoples, that Allah intends to rule the whole world. They really believe that. That’s why they’re continually at war with the infidels, particularly the infidel West.
There are two other dimensions of tribalism that are, I think, key for understanding this enemy. One is the role of prestige. What I was just talking about, that notion that we are the important people. We are the ones that deserve to rule the world. It’s very different from the ancient Hebrews being the chosen people. They were never told go kill all the gentiles the way the Quran says slay the idolater wherever you find them. That’s a huge difference. But they are universal in their aspirations. And their prestige, their esteem, is huge. For awhile after 9⁄11 we kept hearing, “Well, you know they feel bad because Europeans have been picking on them and everything.“ And I think that I wrote at the time that their problem isn’t low self-esteem. Their problem is too damn much esteem. Right? They think too highly of themselves. And that needs to be knocked out of them. They need to be humiliated. They need to be convinced that, sorry, in the real world that we live in, you’re not so special.
So one of the things that we have to think about is defeating them – not just defeating them militarily, but humiliating them. Now that’s going to sound really kind of archaic and old-fashioned and mean and everything, but you know what, that’s exactly what the Allies did in World War II, wasn’t it? The point of unconditional surrender was that they had learned in World War I, when Germany did not surrender there was an armistice signed with its army still in France and Belgium, and they never knew they were defeated. So they spent the next 20 years scheming, long before Hitler came along, to get back to the position that they thought they deserved as the greatest power in continental Europe. So next time around in World War II they had to be thoroughly defeated and made to know that no, sorry, you’re not the super race. Germans do not have a right to rule everybody else. Similar thing happened in Japan and they’ve been very good global citizens since then.
Now think about it: the Arabs attacked Israel three times, in 1948, 1967, 1973. What price did they pay for those defeats? What Arab capital was bombed, occupied, the way Berlin was occupied? When have they ever paid a price for their aggression? They sided with the Axis powers in World War II. What price did they pay? In Egypt the green shirts, including people like Anwar Sadat, were colluding with the Nazis against the English in the north and then the Americans in the North African campaign. What price did they ever pay for that? They have never, ever in the modern period suffered a mind-concentrating lesson about the stupidity of their beliefs. And then we wonder why they keep coming back and they keep fighting.
So what this means is they have to be defeated militarily, whatever that takes. That means killing a bunch of people. And I know nobody wants to hear that today. Oh, you’re just a warmonger; you’re a chicken hawk; you’re this; you’re that. Sorry, that’s just the way it’s been since humankind were bashing each other’s brains out with rocks. They have to be defeated military. They have to suffer the wages of their aggression. They have to live it every day. Their people have to live it every day until they realize, at least for now, this is a bad idea. We’ll still be Muslims, but this whole jihad thing, I think we’ll tone it down a little bit. We won’t press it too much. Now what do we do? We do the opposite, don’t we? Gee, how did we offend you after 9⁄11? What did we do? And all this nonsense about Sykes-Picot. It’s driving me crazy, Sykes-Picot. 1916, Sykes-Picot. Sykes-Picot had nothing to do with what happened in 1918, 1919. But ISIS puts up a billboard in its territory that says, “We will draw our borders, not Sykes-Picot.“ Sykes-Picot didn’t draw the borders of Jordan and Iraq or any of that. That’s historical falsity.
So how do we fight this enemy? For one thing, let’s get the history straight. Let’s get the history of 14 centuries of Islamic aggression and violence against the West straight. Don’t let people talk to us about colonialism. There were no European colonies in the Middle East. And I couldn’t believe Charles Krauthammer, one of the smartest guys around, was talking about Sykes-Picot and the colonial borders. I threw a shoe at the TV. What are you talking about? That belonged to the Ottoman Empire until 1919. And they’re the ones that decided to throw in with the Germans because they thought they could get back their European empire that they had lost in the preceding decades. Has nothing to do with colonialism. And by the way, don’t ever let some of history’s most brutal successful imperialist powers whine to us about imperialism or colonialism. Egypt is an Arab colony. North Africa is an Arab colony. Anywhere there’s an Arab Muslim outside of the Arabian peninsula there is a colonist, a descendant of a colonist, of an imperialist or at best an immigrant.
So we shouldn’t put up with this false history. First thing, get the history straight. We saw this mistake made by the British in the decades before World War II events – oh, you know, really, World War I was our fault and we were kind of mean to the Germans. We provoked this huge mistake. Because the Germans were like Muslims back then.
Winston Churchill’s two first books are great reading and they’re a manual of how to fight this war. Not how to defeat jihad, how do you defeat the enemy that believes in jihad? That’s the second one. The first one is a history of the Malakand Field Force. You know, the Brits have India, and where Pakistan and the Afghan border is today, the same people that are the Taliban today, their ancestors were there. Every so often they would start preaching jihad and they’d go on a rampage, and the British had these mobile field forces. They’d send them out there. They’d track them down. They’d kill a bunch. They’d disarm the rest. They’d burn their villages and then they left. They didn’t say we’re going turn you into a liberal democracy. They didn’t say we’re going to build schools and have three cups of tea with you, right? They didn’t say we’re going to liberate your women or convert you to Christianity. No. They didn’t say we will ever leave. They didn’t put a date certain on it. Everybody knew if you do this again we will be back again. And if you do this forever we will be back forever. Because they understood the nature of the enemy.
And the second, the River War, which is a brilliant book by the way. And as you know, in 1885 a guy called the Mahdi – now you know from Shia Islam the Mahdi is the messianic figure that’s going to usher in, I don’t know what he’s going to usher in, but anyway. One of these rose up in Khartoum, built a huge army, started attacking the ex-patriots there, the Europeans. And the famous Charles Chinese Gordon, British general, was there overseeing the evaluation. They overran Khartoum and they killed him. It took 13 years, 1898, and the British put together a huge expeditionary force. Churchill got himself on the – Kichener didn’t want to have anything to do with him because he knew he was a publicity hound; he used his mother’s influence. And the big battle at Omdurman near Khartoum took place, and it was a huge slaughter. And Kichener went to the tomb of the Mahdi – he had died before then – broke the tomb open, dragged the body out and he threw it into the Nile. See, he understood you humiliate and you damage their prestige and you say, if I may quote Bin Laden, “We’re the strong horse and you’re the weak horse.“ There was nothing that they wanted there in Sudan. They didn’t want to colonize it. There was no oil. There was nothing there they wanted. They turned around and they went back home.
If we don’t start getting that mentality, if we keep thinking that we can bribe or negotiate or sweet talk or understand or tell them how wonderful their religion is and how much we love it and do all the things that Richard documented, which are absolutely wrong things to do, then if you say, “How to defeat the jihad?” we’re not going to defeat jihad. It will be incremental. It will be insidious and at one point in the near future we’re going to wake up and we’re not going to recognize the country we’re in. Thank you.
Robert Spencer: I have to apologize to you straight up because I’m a little bit distracted this afternoon. I was talking to my wife just before I came to the hall today and we’re having a little trouble with her brother. He thinks he’s a chicken and I said to her, “You know, we’re going to have to have him committed” and she said, “I would but we need the eggs.“ And that about sums up the Obama administration’s foreign policy. They won’t call Islamic terrorism, Islamic terrorism. And Obama has said I won’t call Islamic terrorism Islamic terrorism because that will only empower and embolden and validate these people, who are not Islamic, who call themselves Islamic and wrap themselves in the mantle of this noble and peaceful religion.
So I ask you, imagine if you were a Muslim and you were about to join ISIS. And then you heard John Kerry say that they were not Islamic. That would make you change your mind, right? Because everybody knows that Muslims look to non-Muslim political leaders to tell them what’s Islamic and what isn’t. Now that’s just as absurd as if you were an observant Christian, let’s say, and you’re in your church and you heard that the supreme leader of Iran was saying that what your church was doing was not Christian. That would make you stop because everybody knows that the supreme leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini is an authority on Christianity.
Obviously people who are observant believers in one religion are not likely to look to political figures who don’t even hold to that religion to get the idea of what is and is not the proper exercise of the religion. But more importantly, besides the absurdity of the Obama administration position is the fact that our refusal to call this conflict what it really is only exacerbates the conflict and emboldens the enemy because it leads us to underestimate the problem.
Obama has also said that Muslims are our best allies in fighting terrorism. I had a friend who went to the Council on American Islamic Relations, Florida Chapter Convention last year and sent me photos of the fliers and brochures that they had out. A picture of the Statue of Liberty going “shh” and saying, “Don’t talk to the FBI.” And these are the people that Barack Obama is saying we can go to and depend on to fight against terrorism. He refuses to acknowledge that the problem is rooted in Islam and so he refuses to acknowledge that there is any possibility that it could be a larger problem than just ISIL, as he calls them, and Al Qaeda and maybe a few other groups. It absolutely does not enter his mind or the mind of the Washington establishment in general that this could be a problem inside American mosques because they refuse to acknowledge that it’s Islamic.
Four separate independent surveys have all shown since 1998, 80 percent of American mosques are teaching hatred of Jews and Christians and the necessity of the Constitution to be replaced by Islamic law at a certain point when that is possible. These studies were all done separately by different people and they all came to this same result. And it’s not in the least a surprising result when you read the Quran and see that it does say make war against the unbelievers. And it says in particular to make war against and subjugate the People of the Book, that is, the Jews and the Christians. Now this is another way in which calling these things by wrong names and pretending that the problem is other than what it is and continuing to apply failed solutions is only making things worse.
We’ve spent hundreds of billions of dollars building schools and hospitals and highways and the like in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, how many people who were handed a basketball by an American soldier do you think thought, “Gee, the Americans are really nice. I’m not going to become a jihadi”? It doesn’t work. It’s predicated on the idea that poverty causes terrorism and if we empower these countries by building their infrastructure then everything will be okay and the jihad will evanesce. Study after study shows that jihadis are actually better educated and wealthier than their peers. And the jihadi imperative in the Quran is not predicated on whether or not the infidels are nice to you. It is predicated on the fact that they are infidels and only on that fact, and so no matter how many schools and highways and hospitals we build there will still be people who will point to the Quran and say we have to fight these infidels because they are infidels and they will not in the least be dissuaded by the fact that these infidels have been so very nice to us.
The idea that poverty causes terrorism I think was most deftly exploded by an incident that was related to me a few weeks ago. I was giving a seminar that was attended by some military people, and a colonel who had served in Iraq, he told me about an Iraqi that he worked with, quite extensively, and he was going back to the States. And so he was saying goodbye to his Iraqi counterpart, and the Iraqi said to him, you’re a good man, and it’s been good to work with you, and I’m going to be very sorry when the time comes for me to kill you. True story.
Now, the idea that we can spend away this problem is so deeply entrenched in both parties that if we’re going to be serious about defeating jihad, then there needs to not just be a new president in January 2017, but an entire cleaning out of the foreign policy establishment, and a rejection, a definitive repudiation of the people who have applied these failed policies again and again and keep on applying them and keep on recommending them despite the ever increasing evidence that they are failed, and that they don’t work, and that they’ll never work. If we had a presidential candidate who was saying that, well, that would be one worth supporting. And we also need to reconfigure our international alliances. Our international alliances are still based on the Cold War. I’m happy to say the Cold War is over. The Soviet Union is gone. Maybe, it’ll be back. But right now, to continue to pretend that Pakistan and Turkey are our allies is just a waste of money to the point of being suicidal. George W. Bush made a deal with the Pakistani president after 9⁄1,1 giving him, at that time, $1.3 billon a year to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It was soon documented that a lot of that money was being funneled by the Pakistani government to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and Congress, what do you think Congress did in response to this revelation? They increased the money. That’s right. You know how the system works. They increased the money being given to Pakistan. This would be a joke if people weren’t getting killed.
John Kerry went to ask Turkey to please stop the oil sales that ISIS is using to finance its operations. ISIS overran quite a few oil wells in Iraq, and they’re making millions if not billions of dollars on the basis of selling black market oil. The Turks refused. Why? They’re buying it. And we consider Turkey an ally. There’s abundant evidence that they are allowing ISIS fighters to travel across Turkey into Syria and Iraq to join the group. So, meanwhile, Vladimir Putin said, “Obama we need an international alliance against jihad terror,” and Obama refused. Now, I think Putin has a terrible record in many ways, but we allied with Stalin to beat Hitler. We can’t ally with Putin beat ISIS? We need to reconfigure our alliances such that we are standing with the countries that are threatened by jihad, as we are, and against the countries that are enabling it. Instead, right now, we are allied with far too many countries that are enabling it, and we are helping to finance our own killers.
We need to stand finally for own values, and Bruce alluded to this a little bit, that there has been nothing like the way that we confronted the Nazis and the Japanese in World War II. We went into Iraq and Afghanistan, defeated the people who were in power very quickly, and then the whole thing went wrong because we implemented Sharia constitutions in both countries that enshrined as law the very same beliefs and attitudes that had led those countries to be hostile to the United States in the first place. It is as if we had gone into Germany after the war and put Goering in charge after Hitler had killed himself. In the Japanese occupation, Douglas McArthur, the leader of the occupation, issued an edict very soon after he got there saying that there will be no representation for state Shinto, which had fueled Japanese militarism, in the government or in the schools. Imagine if we had done that in Iraq and Afghanistan and said you’re perfectly free to pray to Allah and read your Quran, but there’s not going to be any Islam taught in the schools and any representation of political Islam in the government. Things would look very different today. But we have never stood. If we had gone into those countries and said, “Women who are being beaten, non-Muslims who are being terrorized, you have safe-haven in the American-controlled areas.” We didn’t do it. We could have gotten a huge ground swell of support among people in Muslim countries who were just as threatened by jihad and hate Sharia just as much as any freedom-loving American. Missed opportunities.
If we’re going to defeat Jihad, we need this kind of massive reconfiguration of policy. I hope whoever becomes president next year will do these things, and I think the force of reality will ultimately make some president have to do them, but unfortunately, it’s most likely that that will come at a time of great crisis due to the fact that we have been emboldening and enabling the jihadis for so long, and they will continue to strike here. Thank you very much.
Jamie Glazov: I want to crystallize two things and just ask each of you, please. I know it would take an hour, but just 2 minutes on these vital issues that you discussed. Again, I mention his name and his book – all of these books are crucial – but I just wanted to say that in “Catastrophic Failure,” Stephen Coughlin says something that this whole debate about “Is this really the real Islam and are these really Muslims, etc.“ – and Stephen Coughlin says none of that is even important in the sense that what the enemy believes is important. So even though it’s not the true Islam, hypothetically, if the jihadis believe that it’s the true Islam, that’s all that counts.
Bruce Thornton: No, I think you’re right. And what they know is they know history and they know their doctrine the way your average Christian doesn’t really know their own history. And they see that the Islam that they believe in was the original Islam, and that it was immensely successful. I mean it is unbelievable that tribes of Bedouins brought down the Persian and Byzantine empires and threatened Europe. At one level you’ve got to say that’s a great achievement. And when they look and see the history after 1924 particularly, we see regimens try communism, they try fascism, the Baathists, they try a little bit of democracy, they try all these things and then none of them work. And Albanna and these guys said, ”Why don’t we go back to the true Islam, the original Islam, the Rightly-Guided Caliphs?” And that’s what they’re doing. And as Robert was saying, for anybody not a Muslim to say that’s not the real Islam, well then what is the real Islam?
Jamie Glazov: But also the key is that on some realms it doesn’t matter. As long as the jihadis believe that it is.
Bruce Thornton: Exactly.
Jamie Glazov: Robert?
Robert Spencer: Well, what Steve Coughlin is saying there is that the government has to study this Islam that the jihadis believe in because we have to understand the enemy’s motives and goals. We can’t defeat an enemy that we don’t understand, much less one that we refuse to understand, which is the situation we’re in now. And that is absolutely true. But it also does matter whether or not this is not necessarily the only true Islam but a genuine interpretation that is mainstream within Islam because that means that it could come up anywhere. And then anywhere there’s a believing Muslim with the Quran then there could be a Jihadi. And we cannot discount that fact; we need to understand not only the nature of the threat as it stands today but the potential of so-called radicalization. If it is something that is truly within Islam then it could come up at any point and we have to be aware of that and deal with it in some way.
There was a kid at the University of North Carolina a few years back. He was very secular, an Iranian-American, and he decided after some crises in his life to become religious and to discover his religious tradition. So he got a Quran and he started reading it and then he rented an SUV and drove it on campus trying to kill as many students as possible because he read this in the Quran that he ought to be killing infidels. And so we do need to understand whether this is a genuine form of Islam or not. Because it will elucidate for us what exactly we’re up against.
Jamie Glazov: Thank you, Robert. Richard?
Richard Miniter: I guess I have a slightly different view of this. I spent a lot of time in Muslim-majority countries. There is something like 1.2 billion Muslims on earth, and there is a broad diversity of belief among them. And I don’t know what the real Islam is but I can tell you that every terrorist group that you’ve ever heard of and many that you haven’t all belong to one particular type of Sunni Islam, and that is to say they are Salafis and you can identify them fairly easily by the way they dress and by the way they interact in Arab society. So on the streets of Cairo if you see a woman wearing black gloves because her idea of modesty is that she cannot even show the skin of her hands to strangers in 100 degree heat, she is most likely Salafi.
The Salafis believe that they are the true Muslims. They believe that they are going back to the four Rightly-Guided Caliphs that were mentioned a few minutes ago. That’s a period, by the way, of 38 years out of more than 1,000. The four Rightly-Guided Caliphs were the first four, the last one of which I believe is Uthman, who died by assassination shortly after evening prayers one Friday night. So it was a very brief period. The periods of enlightenment that people talk about in Islam are actually very misleading. Robert has a lot more on this. But in those two periods of enlightenment were when the Islamic world was run by Persians and not by Arabs. And so this preservation of Greek text and translation of Greek text had been a Persian habit before the Persians were converted to Islam and is something in those brief periods when the Persians ruled that that kind of toleration seemed to flourish.
But what we have to do is we have to find Arab Muslim allies to join us. And fortunately there are hundreds of millions of them. Let me tell you about one. In 2006 I was in Kuwait City and I had an appointment to see the head of Interior, which is their intelligence service, that was delayed. So they said, “Do you want to meet the Minister of Education?” It’s a woman. And I agreed to meet her because she was threatened with death that very morning by 40 members – there were only 100 members of the Kuwaiti parliament. Forty percent of it threatened her with death because she had been sworn in that day without covering all of her hair. So I went to see her and she said my own daughter thinks I should die. Her British-university-educated daughter, who covers herself completely has been totally absorbed into this Jihadi/Salafi belief. Well, she herself is fighting for a society that’s much more like ours. Is it a Jeffersonian democracy? No, but it is one with individual rights and rule of law and concepts of free speech in it. Those allies exist. They’re often alone. They’re often brave and they’re often killed. We need to reach out to them. We need to raise them up as heroes. We need to defend them when possible and lionize them when they fall.
Audience Member: All right, this question’s for Robert Spencer. I get the impression that you feel like none of the presidential candidates have offered the real solution to fight radical Jihad. Have you heard from any of the presidential candidates any effective measures to fight radical jihad and who suggested it? I’d be interested in hearing the views of the others, too, to this.
Robert Spencer: Well, of course there was tremendous controversy about Donald Trump’s proposal to temporarily stop Muslim imigration, and I thought what was interesting in the avalanche of criticism that he received and the comparisons to Hitler and so on, was that nobody offered any alternative solution. And there really isn’t one. When ISIS is saying to its operatives to appear to be secular, to shave the beard, get rid of the Quran, don’t go to mosque, even go to church and blend in with the society, be the modern Muslim that everybody’s placing all our hopes for the future on, and then we’ll call you when we need you, there is no way to screen for those people. Tashfeen Malik, the San Bernardino killer, had passed five separate background checks from five different U.S. agencies because they check for criminal records. She didn’t have one. ISIS doesn’t recruit people with criminal records. They recruit people who are clean and are going to pass all the background checks and not arouse any suspicion.
So it’s been said many times, but I think it aptly sums it up: if I gave you a bowl of M&Ms and said only 10 in there are poisoned, would you just grab a handful and eat them? And so ISIS had said in February 2015, we’re going to flood Europe with 500,000 refugees. They meant they were going to have jihadis among them. The Lebanese education minister estimated in September 2015 that 25,000 active jihadis were in the refugee camps in his country waiting to get to Europe. So I am completely with Trump on that. I’m not with him when Pamela Geller and I had a free speech event in Garland, Texas last May. We had a Mohammed drawing contest. Now we don’t really care about drawing Mohammed. There’s a lot of confusion about this issue and there was a lot of controversy about it. And even people on the right condemned us.
But let me put it to you this way, when they’re killing Mohammed cartoonists we have two choices; we can draw Mohammed and say we’re going to stand up against this violent bullying or we can say, “Oh, we won’t draw Mohammed anymore because you’re going to kill us,” and thereby send the signal that they can kill us and get what they want and that all they have to do is kill some of us and we will do their bidding. So we were standing for free speech. Trump denounced us after that. He has no idea of the war against free speech. So with that pro-Trump and anti-Trump statement I will conclude.
Audience Member: Yes. Mr. Thornton, when you were talking about humiliating the enemy, how would you characterize what happened between Russia and Afghanistan? Is it just the aid of the U.S. that kept them –
Bruce Thornton: Absolutely.
Audience Member: – completely victorious? Okay.
Bruce Thornton: Yeah, it was the stinger missiles that brought down the helicopters. I mean remember the Soviet Union to that point was already in its death throes. Our State Department, which has been wrong in almost everything, didn’t know it yet but it was already in its death throes. And that was the genius of supplying the Mujahideen with stinger missiles and the Russian people turned against it. And so that was a huge boost.
For modern, contemporary jihads there are two events that are absolutely critical: one is the Iranian revolution in 1979 and the other was 10 years later the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. And in jihadist propaganda it’s like those are the two super powers. Those super powers were humiliated by faithful Muslims, right? We can win this. And you can see it in Bin Laden’s training sermons and writings. All of these guys, they continually refer to that. They refer to Reagan’s retreat from Beirut in 1983, from Mogadishu. They refer to Saigon ‘75. Every humiliation they see as an opportunity. And so we may not like that mentality, but that’s their mentality, and I think it needs to be exploited.