Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dealing with militant Islam

If you are liberal, you may have opinions on how to deal with militant Islam. I want to urge you to take a step back, and examine the evidence. If your opinion is simply the result of your dislike for Bush, you are not examining the evidence. Here are some questions to ask:

What does militant Islam want?
How does it plan to achieve those goals?
Can it be satisfied by concessions?
How does Iraq fit into the thinking of militant Muslims?

And the answers to these questions need to come from the statements of militant Muslims. It is not enough to think what answers they might give. You need to go find out what they are actually saying. Furthermore, you need to think about which statements are more helpful:

1) What they say, in English, to Westerners, or
2) What they say, in Arabic, to their own people.

I believe that the second group of statements is far more valuable. The first group of statements is intended to get Westerners to do what they want. Therefore, it is not particularly helpful in trying to understand their ultimate motivations. The statements that will explain what they want is what they say that is not intended for Western consumption.

Most readers of this probably don't speak Arabic. So you have to go to translations. That's why a book like the Al Qaeda Reader is so valuable. Raymond Ibrahim has gone to the trouble of finding what top al Qaeda leaders wrote, in Arabic, to the Muslim world. That is where you can get the best evidence of Al Qaeda's motivations, and its short-term and long-term goals.

If you research these questions, and you are honest with yourself when you look at the evidence, you will come to answers something like this:

1) Top militant Muslims, such as Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, want to convert the entire world to Islam. They have openly said so many times. (Here is another example) Furthermore, al Qaeda has won many supporters throughout the Muslim world. Therefore, it is fair to say that militant Islam, as a whole, is working towards this goal.

2) They plan to use force and violence to achieve these goals. They constantly say so, and they constantly glorify their violent deeds.

3) Short of the entire world converting to Islam and agreeing to adopt
Sharia law, no.

4) Top militant Muslims view the defeat of the U.S. in Iraq as a stepping stone to other, intermediate-term goals. Commonly-expressed goals include the overthrow of secular Muslim regimes such as those in Pakistan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia and the destruction of Israel. Examples are here and here.

If you are honest with yourself, and if you listen to what these people are saying, these are the conclusions you are likely to reach. And if you reach those conclusions, you will realize that in this fight, there can be no end save victory. And you also realize that like it or not, the Iraq war is part of this fight.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The al Qaeda we are fighting in Iraq is the real al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda.

Many Americans seem to think that the al Qaeda we are fighting in Iraq is somehow not the real al Qaeda. Here, for example, is how the New York Times describes it:

An insurgent group operating in Iraq, called Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, is actually a homegrown Sunni Arab extremist group that American intelligence agencies have concluded is foreign led. The extent of its links to Osama bin Laden's network is not clear. Some leaders of the group have sworn allegiance to Mr. bin Laden, but the precise links and extent of affiliation are unknown, and it was created after the American invasion.

It is revealing that the New York Times does not cite any evidence to support its assertion that al Qaeda in Mesopotamia [i.e, Iraq] is "homegrown". By contrast, I will give you evidence to support my assertion that al Qaeda in Iraq is part of Osama Bin Laden's al Qaeda. That's how honest debate works. If you make an assertion, you give evidence to support it.

First of all, way back in 2003, Newsweek magazine reported that Osama bin Laden was shifting his fighters from Afghanistan to Iraq:
Bin Laden's Iraq Plans

By Sami Yousafzai, Ron Moreau and Michael Hirsh

Monday 15 December 2003

At a secret meeting, bin Laden's reps give bad news to the Taliban: Qaeda fighters are shifting to a new front.

During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, three senior Qaeda representatives allegedly held a secret meeting in Afghanistan with two top Taliban commanders.

The confab took place in mid-November in the remote, Taliban-controlled mountains of Khowst province near the Pakistan border, a region where Al Qaeda has found it easy to operate?frequently even using satellite phones despite U.S. surveillance.

At that meeting, according to Taliban sources, Osama bin Laden's men officially broke some bad news to emissaries from Mullah Mohammed Omar, the elusive leader of Afghanistan's ousted fundamentalist regime. Their message: Al Qaeda would be diverting a large number of fighters from the anti-U.S. insurgency in Afghanistan to Iraq. Al Qaeda also planned to reduce by half its $3 million monthly contribution to Afghan jihadi outfits.

All this was on the orders of bin Laden himself, the sources said.
More recently, al Qaeda in Iraq has made its feelings about Osama bin Laden perfectly clear:

Al-Qaida front group airs video glorifying Osama bin Laden
Friday, June 8, 2007

BAGHDAD: An al-Qaida front group aired a nearly hour-long video Friday showing dozens of masked men singing religious and patriotic songs and brandishing automatic weapons as they praised Osama bin Laden and the leader of the Taliban.

The Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group that includes the terror network, included footage with excerpts from old speeches by the al-Qaida leader and slain al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who died a year ago Thursday in a U.S. airstrike northeast of Baghdad.

The songs praised jihad, or holy war, as well as bin Laden and Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar . . .

Furthermore, there is the matter of the home countries of the suicide bombers of Iraq. For this, my source is none other than . . . the New York Times. In an article last November, the Times detailed data captured by American forces during a raid in northern Iraq. The country that supplied the largest number of foreign fighters was none other than . . . Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, you may remember, is also the home of 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers, and of Osama bin Laden.

So what do these foreign fighters do when they arrive in Iraq? Buried deep within the article, much of which is intended to give the reader the impression that Al Qaeda is not an important part of the insurgency, the Times gets to the heart of the matter:

After the raid on the Sinjar cell, the number of suicide bombings in Iraq fell to 16 in October — half the number seen during the summer months and down sharply from a peak of 59 in March. American military officials believe that perhaps 90 percent of such bombings are carried out by foreign fighters. They also believe that about half of the foreign fighters who come to Iraq become suicide bombers. (emphasis added)

OK. So maybe you don't trust the American military. Perhaps they are making that up. Or maybe you don't trust the Times. I don't either, but when it reports news that goes against its liberal philosophy, my trust level for the Times increases. But just for the sake of argument, let's say you aren't yet convinced.

There is also the matter of whom the suicide bombers target.

Here, for example, is a 2005 report from Human Rights Watch (definitely not a gang of pro-Bush Zealots) which states unequivocally

In terms of casualties, the religious or ethnic group most targeted by insurgents in Iraq is Shi`a Muslims . . .

Shiite Muslims are, of course, the very same group that Zarqawi described in his leter to al-Zawahiri as

. . . the lurking snake, the crafty and malicious scorpion, the spying enemy, and the penetrating venom.

They also generally support the Iraqi Government, which, since it is trying to be a democracy, does not rule by Sharia, and is supported by Americans, falls into a group of governments that al-Zawahiri has variously described as "outcasts", "apostates", and "infidels".

Still not convinced? Let's take a look at the tactics of the two [in your mind, allegedly different] al Qaedas. First of all, there is al Qaeda #1, Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda. They like to use multiple bombs, timed to go off at the same time (or as close as possible), and planned to kill large numbers of innocent civillians. That's what they did on:

September 11,
The African Embassy bombings,
The Madrid bombings, and
The London bombings.

Then there is al Qaeda #2, al Qaeda in Iraq. Coincidentally, they also sometimes use multiple bombs, timed to go off at the same time, and planned to kill large numbers of innocent civillians. That's what they did on:

The Amman bombings (which, in what you must believe is a strange coincidence, happened on 11/9)
The bombings that killed several hundred Yazidis
These attacks which killed about 100 Iraqi Shiite civillians

On other occasions, al Qaeda in Iraq has used only a single bomb:

This attack, aimed at Sheikhs opposed to al Qaeda in Iraq;
This assassination of a sheikh opposed to al Qaeda in Iraq.

Summing up: Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda and al Qaeda in Iraq both:

* get large numbers of recruits from Saudi Arabia
* love Osama bin Laden
* communicate with each other via videos and letters
* agree that it is desirable to kill innocent civillians
* agree that Shiites are scum, and
* use coordinated suicide bombings

In light of all of this, the New York Times' description looks strange, doesn't it. It would have been much more informative if the Times had written a paragraph laying out the overwhelming evidence that the "two" al Qaedas are part of the same organization. But that conclusion, which is as obvious as could be, is not convenient for the Times. So instead they published the paragraph quoted at the beginning of this post:

An insurgent group operating in Iraq, called Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, is actually a homegrown Sunni Arab extremist group that American intelligence agencies have concluded is foreign led. The extent of its links to Osama bin Laden's network is not clear. Some leaders of the group have sworn allegiance to Mr. bin Laden, but the precise links and extent of affiliation are unknown, and it was created after the American invasion.

Now that you are aware of the evidence, it should be clear as day to you what the Times is doing. By slyly attributing the conclusion that al Qaeda in Iraq is foreign led to "American intelligence agencies", the Times leaves the door wide open for any reader who doesn't trust such agencies to doubt the truth of that conclusion. Of course, in doing this, the Times is economical with the truth, as it ignores all the evidence described above.

Then, the Times makes another sly statement: the extent of the connection between al Qaeda in Iraq and Osama bin Laden's network is not clear. Well, of course not; terrorists don't work in the open. But it is clear that the "two" al Qaedas share the same name, goals, tactics, targets, and leadership. What more do you really need?

Lastly, the Times points out that al Qaeda in Iraq was formed after the American invasion -- leaving the door wide open for the reader to blame Bush. Once again, the Times is ignoring the overwhelming evidence that al Qaeda in Iraq is doing Osama bin Laden's bidding, but hey, when United States public opinion is at stake, who cares about trivia?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The New York Times is mystified about why Al Qaeda in Iraq is murdering innocent Iraqi Shiite civillians

Here is the headline of a recent story from the New York Times about al Qaeda in Iraq:

Al Qaeda's war aims

Shortly after September 11, and in response to this letter from American intellectuals, bin Laden wrote a letter to the American people. This letter is reproduced in The Al Qaeda Reader. It details why Al Qaeda is at war with America and Al Qaeda's war aims.

This extraordinary document is 12 pages in length. This fact alone should give great pause to any American who thinks that we can have peace by withdrawing from Iraq.

Here are a few of the reasons bin Laden says he is at war with us:

The British, with your help and support, handed over Palestine to the Jews, who have occupied it for more than fifty years . . .

You attacked us in Somalia; you supported the Russian atrocities against us in Chechnya, the Indian oppression against us in Kashmir, and the Jewish aggression against us in Lebanon.

. . . the governments of our countries -- which act as your agents, -- attack us on a daily basis . . . . The removal of these governments is an obligation on us . . .

You steal our oil at paltry prices . . .

After saying that his list (of which only part is quoted above) are only some of the reasons he has gone to war with us, bin Laden then states what he is trying to accomplish, i.e, his war aims. These war aims are more expansive than those quoted here.

First, the United States must convert to Islam:

The first thing we are calling you to is Islam . . .

Secondly, the United States must begin living by Bin Laden's moral standards:

We call you to . . . reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling, and usury.

You are a nation who, rather than ruling through the
Sharia of Allah, chooses to invent your own laws . . .

Go ahead and boast to the nations of man that you brought them AIDS as a Satanic American invention!
[bin Laden seems to have forgotten that this portion of his letter is about war aims, not grievances]

. . . the Jews . . . control your policies, media, and economy . . .

Additionally, the United States must stop supporting Arab governments that do not govern by Sharia:

We call upon you to end your support of the corrupt leaders in our countries . . . .Leave us alone, or else expect us in New York and Washington.

The reader should understand that the above is only a portion of the war aims bin Laden lists in his letter.

Bin Laden then makes it clear that to end the war, the United States must agree to all of his conditions, not just some of them:

If you fail to respond to all these conditions then prepare to fight . . .

Friday, March 21, 2008

Al Qaeda is at war with the Muslim world, too.

The next essay in the Al Qaeda Reader was written by Ayman al-Zawahiri. It is entitled Sharia and Democracy. To understand this essay, it is important to understand that under Sharia, the punishment for a sane adult male apostate is execution.

In this essay, al-Zawahiri makes plain his beliefs about the current rulers of the Muslim world. In his typical style, he repeats and restates this belief, over and over again:

The current rulers of Muslim countries who govern without the Sharia are apostate infidels. It is obligatory to overthrow them, to wage jihad against them, and to depose them, installing a Muslim ruler in their stead.

The Koran, the Sunna, all demonstrate that exchanging the Islamic Sharia with something else is infidelity -- especially in the despicable manner that we see today in the lands of Islam. These regimes that exchange the Sharia of Allah are outcasts . . . .

Al-Zawahiri also makes it clear that support Democracy is infidelity to Islam. As usual, he repeats the point many times:

. . . democracy is an infidel religion . . .

. . . we summarize the many faces of blasphemy that are inherent to democracies . . .

The bottom line regarding democracies is that the right to make law is given to someone other than Allah Most High . . . . whoever agrees to this is an infidel . . .

In the process of enumerating one of the many sins of democracies, al-Zawahiri makes perfectly plain his beliefs regarding the status of women.

[Allah] said: "Men have authority over women, for Allah has made the one superior to the other." But in a democracy, women have the right to emulate the dignity and legal status of men.

In his final summing up, al-Zawahiri restates the main point one more time, in case the reader has missed it:

whoever claims to be a "democratic-Muslim" . . . . is an apostate infidel.

Remember that under Sharia, the penalty for apostasy is death. This is always true for sane adult men, and often for women as well. It is because of this principle that Al Qaeda believes that attacks such as the following are justified:

Iraqi Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha murdered by al Qaeda shortly after he meets with Bush

Several hundred Yazidis murdered in four bombings shortly after an al Qaeda front group circulates leaflets warning that an attack is imminent because Yazidis are "anti-Islamic"

Car bomb kills 18 in quiet Shiite Baghdad neighborhood. Bombing bears hallmarks of Al Qaeda.

Suicide bombings on 11/9 (which is 9/11 in Jordan since they put the day before the month) kill at least 60 in three hotels in Amman, Jordan. Al Qaeda in Iraq takes responsibility.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Osama bin Laden is at war with us -- part 3 -- Iraq

Al Jazeera aired a new tape from Osama bin Laden today. The tape gave us a perfect reminder of three blatantly obvious facts:

(1) Osama bin Laden is at war with the United States.
(2) Osama bin Laden sees Iraq as the most important part of this war.
(3) If the United States withdraws from Iraq, Osama bin Laden will declare that he has won a great victory and continue the war by attacking both Israel and secular Muslim countries.

The tape is brief enough that its text can easily be quoted in full: [edit: apparently, the following was an excerpt. The full translated text is available here.]

This message is to the Muslim nation on the siege imposed on the Gaza strip and how to break Gaza and Palestine free of the shackles of the Zionist enemy. The suffocating siege imposed on the Gaza Strip came into the existence after the support offered by the Arab governments to the United States and the Zionist Entity in Annapolis at the expense of the resistance in Palestine. This support is one of the ten forms of sacrelige, and as a result of their support, the Arab states are accomplices to this heinous crime. It is no secret to the Muslim nation that the nearest battlefield of Jihad to support and assist our fellow Palestinians is Iraq. We must brear this in mind and channel all our efforts in this direction. The duty of support and assistance must be shared by all Muslims in the neighboring countries.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Al Qaeda is at war with us -- part 2

The second essay in the Al Qaeda Reader was written by Ayman al-Zawahiri. He is Al Qaeda's second in command, and also its chief theoretician. The essay is entitled "Loyalty and Enmity." This is Zawahiri's doctrine that Muslims must be true friends to each other only, and that all non-Muslims are their enemies.

The essay consists of three parts: theological fundamentals of the doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity, recent deviations from the doctrine, and a conclusion.

Zawahiri gets straight to the point in the opening sentence of part 1:

Allah Most High said: "Let believers [Muslims] not take for friends and allies infidels [non-Muslims] rather than believers; whoever does this shall have no relationship left with Allah -- unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions.

The remainder of part 1 repeats, restates, and expands on this point. The following passage is typical:

Love and friendship for them contradicts faith. Allah Most High said: 'O You who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christains for your friends and protectors; they are but friends and protectors to each other. [underlining in the original].

Part 2 is about deviations from the doctrine espoused in Part 1. For example, in the following passage, Zawahiri makes it plain that his contempt extends to the rulers of several Muslim countries:

Any observer of the Arabian Peninsula, Gulf Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan will see that they have been changed into bases and camps providing administrative and technical support to the Crusader's forces in the heart of the Islamic world . . . .

Through a chain of conspiracies, secret relationships, direct support, bribes, salaries, secret accounts, corruption, and recruitment, the enemies of Islam -- especially Americans, Jews, French, and English -- have succeeded in giving this clique power over the fates of Muslims.

In case Zawahiri's contempt for these rulers is not sufficiently clear to the reader, he sums up by saying this:

They are like lethal bacteria trying to overcome the human immune system, trying to destroy it to sow corruption in the cells of the human body.

In part 3, the conclusion, Zawahiri restates (again) the fundamental doctrine:

Befriending believers and battling infidels are critical pillars in a Muslim's faith.

He also repeats (again) his views about the secular rulers of most Muslim countries:

We renounce you; enmity and hate shall reign between us until you believe in Allah alone [i.e, accept the doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity].

Monday, March 17, 2008

Al Qaeda is at war with us -- Part 1

In order to understand Al Qaeda, it is not enough to watch videotapes of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri understand that these will be translated into English and read in the West.

In order to understand them, one must read that which was not intended for Western consumption. One must read what they wrote, in Arabic, to the Muslim world.

Fortunately, a book entitled The Al Qaeda Reader allows one to do exactly that. It is a collection of English translations of Al Qaeda's most fundamental texts. It is Al Qaeda's version of Mein Kampf.

If you read these texts, you will immediately understand that Al Qaeda's war against us is total, absolute, and utterly uncompromising. It is not limited to any one country or issue. Rather, Al Qaeda's war aim is nothing less than the conversion of the entire world to Islam. Osama Bin Laden's offer to the US to end his war against us if we agree to convert was serious. Until the West converts, agrees to pay Jizya to Muslims, or destroys Al Qaeda, the war will continue.

The first essay in the Al Qaeda Reader was written by Osama Bin Laden. The essay was motivated by an exchange of letters between American and Saudi intellectuals. The Americans started the exchange with a letter entitled What We're Fighting For. It was an affirmation of American values and an explanation of the American response to September 11. The Saudis replied with a letter entitled How We Can Coexist. It welcomed a dialogue with Americans and explained certain points of agreement and disagreement with the American letter.

Bin Laden was deeply offended by the Saudi letter, not least by its title. He therefore wrote an open letter to the Saudis entitled Moderate Islam is a Prostration to the West.

Bin Laden gets right to the point in his opening sentence:

Praise be to Allah, who said: "O People of the Book [Christians and Jews], let us reach an agreement: that we worship none beside Allah, nor assign partners to Him, nor take each other as masters in place of Allah.

The essay -- and in the English translation, it is 40 pages long -- repeats, restates, and expands on this point, over and over. The following passages illustrate:

What the West desires is that we abandon the doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity [Zawahiri's doctrine that Muslims must be loyal to each other and hate non-Muslims], and offensive Jihad [the struggle to force non-Muslims to convert or pay Jizya]. That is the very essence of their request and desire of us. Do the intellectuals, then, think it's actually possible for Muslims to abandon these two commandments and simply to coexist with the West?

Battle, animosity and hatred -- directed from the Muslim to the Infidel -- is the foundation of our religion. The West perceives fighting, emnity, and hatred all for the sake of religion as unjust, hostile, and evil. But whose understanding of justice and righteousness is right -- our notions of justice and righteousness, or theirs?

Furthermore, how can [the Saudi intellectuals] claim that we have no right to force a people to change its particular values, when they transgress the bounds of nature? Such are lies. In fact, Muslims are obligated to raid the land of the infidels, occupy them, and exchange their system of governance for an Islamic system, barring any practice that contradicts the
Sharia from being publically voiced . . . .

Having read these passages, you should not fool yourself. Al Qaeda will not be satisfied by American withdrawal from Iraq, from Afghanistan, or by any other concession, short of American conversion to Islam, or agreement to pay Jizya. Instead, these partial concessions will merely encourage Al Qaeda, smelling success, to step up its war against us.

This is not a pleasant truth, or a truth Americans want to hear. But it is the truth. As a nation, we must make our decisions based on that which is real, not based on that which we wish were real. We must understand the truth of Al Qaeda's intentions, accept it, and act on it. That is not the path we want to follow, and it is not an easy path. But if we wish to maintain our values, it is the only path that is open to us.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

John McCain for President

I am coming off the fence and declaring my support for John McCain. He has been right very often:

In 2003, McCain says more troops are needed in Iraq.
In 2004, McCain says that more troops are needed in Iraq.
In 2005, McCain wants to send more troops to Iraq.
In 2006, McCain says more troops are needed to stabilize Iraq.
In 2007, McCain is a supporter of more troops in Iraq.

McCain calls for Alberto Gonzales to resign.

McCain believes that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming.

McCain believes in evolution

McCain supports NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, and WTO, and opposes subsidies

McCain is against earmarks -- and doesn't even try to get them for his own state.

McCain says that rising costs are the fundamental issue facing American health care -- and adds that he will not tolerate deceptive practices by the industry.

McCain supports the death penalty.

Is he right about everything? No. There are some issues where he is half right:

McCain is against medical maraijuana -- but at least he doesn't want to arrest very sick people for using it.

On gay rights, he is all over the place. One gets the feeling that he wants to support it, but knows it would anger a lot of his supporters. Even Mr. Straight Talk sometimes makes the politically expedient decision.

McCain would be comfortable with a gay President.
McCain supports gay marraige.
McCain opposes gay marraige.
McCain supports leaving gay marraige to the states.

And on a few issues he is wrong:

McCain generally opposes abortion rights.

McCain opposes gun control.

Overall, McCain is right far more often than he is wrong. And he is right about the most important issue. A withdrawal from Iraq would be wrong, wrong, wrong, dead wrong; possibly as dramatically and disastrously wrong as Neville Chamberlain's surrender of the Sudetenland to Hitler. Therefore, I support John McCain for President.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Duke University still doesn't get it

When you've wronged someone, try to silence them. That's how Duke is handling the aftermath of the Lacrosse case.