By Tashbih Sayyed, Ph. D.
There is no denying that the war on Islamist terrorism is not going according to the original plans. In fact, the only side that can make any claims of any victories is political Islam not the West. By successfully painting this war on terrorism as a crusade, Islamists have made significant inroads in Muslim societies pushing the moderates further into a corner. Even in countries where secular Muslim governments were in the process of laying down the preliminary network of secular social order like in Indonesia, Tunis and Morocco, the Islamists have been able to reverse the course.
In Indonesia, the radical Islamists have already penetrated almost all spheres of society. Radical Islamists there are waging a successful campaign to recruit mujahideen (Holy Warriors) by organizing themselves into small cells that can cover the hundreds of islands that make the largest Muslim nation and raising millions of dollars to fund these efforts. Gatherings in Indonesia where the participants ritually shout anti-American slogans have become as normal as prayer meetings in the mosques. In one of such gatherings, a leader was heard saying, "America has already started its so-called crusade. It's only natural that every Muslim should join in the jihad." He then added, "This war by the United States is a war to demolish all Muslims and all Muslim countries. It's not for destroying terrorists."
Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (Known by its French acronym GICM) has now been in operation for almost five years and has a significant following among the Moroccans. It demonstrated its existence by hitting Casablanca, Morocco on May 16, 2003, with four simultaneous explosions.
A Salafist group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), according to many reports, has set-up a very elaborate network in Tunis. In April 2002, an explosion near a synagogue in a Tunisian resort that killed 11 Germans was traced to the same radical Islamists.
But the subject of this column is not the spread of Islamism in the Muslim lands; the rise of radical Islam in the traditional Muslim lands can be explained in the usual apologist terms but what is hard to swallow is the rising power of radical Islam within the mainland U.S.A. The unwillingness of American Muslims to accept U.S. policies as anything but anti-Islam is not only disturbing but threatening to the national security. And more disturbing than the rising power of Islamism in the U.S. is administration's inability to see the threat.
As a direct consequence of this U.S. weakness, the country is fast succumbing to the forces of Islamism. And it is only a matter of time before Jeffersonian faith of equality and justice will be replaced by a fascist Shariah under which only Islamists approved Muslims will have any rights - all others having been consigned to the status of perpetual Dhimmi.
Administration's shortsightedness is allowing Radical Islam to use American tolerance for multi-culturalism to gain acceptability for itself. By casting its fascist agenda in terms of human right and civil libertarian terms, political Islam has successfully been able to use the American liberal and progressive groups to project itself as an American phenomenon and win American intellectual elite, liberals and the media with left leanings on its side.
Islamist organizations like CAIR and MPAC have transformed our democratic institutions of free speech and academic freedoms into a weapon of mass destruction to defend their jihad by creating an environment of doubt about the U.S. policies among the masses with tragic results.
It is frustrating to see that administration has failed to gauge the reasons behind this rising anti-Americanism among American Muslims. Washington still wonders as to why it is having such difficulties in finding trust worthy Muslim interpreters and analysts to assist the U.S. in this war on Islamism. Secretary Michael Chertoff has accepted recently that he does not know the real depth of the threat. It is therefore not surprising that despite being formally under Islamist attack for more than six years the administration has yet to find a way to connect with the Muslim Main Street. Washington must know that Islamists in the U.S. are not waiting; the administration has to find the answer to this Muslim riddle soon or they will have a much bigger problem in their hands - the home grown terrorism.
America has to know that there is nothing wrong with American Muslims. Most of them are what President George W. Bush said they are, ". . . good Americans who practice the Muslim faith who love their country as much as I (Bush) love the country, who salute the flag as strongly as I (Bush) salute the flag." But they are being controlled by an Islamist leadership that represents foreign interests not the U.S. interests.
This leadership has perpetuated itself in the U.S. with one specific purpose - to replace American constitution with a Wahhabi doctrine. But before they can do that, they will have to take care of an urgent chore at hand - the destruction of the Jewish state by controlling the direction of the American foreign policy and by influencing the legislative process in Washington to force the U.S. to abandon its support for Israel.
The Islamist leadership in the U.S. has many shades some of them work as a front of either Wahhabi establishment or Muslim Brotherhood and some of them represent Hamas, Hezbollah and other jihadi and anti-Semitic ideologies. Then there are many that are purely nationalists in their outlook and disposition which represent their military and strategic agendas like that of Iranian intelligence and Pakistan's ISI.
But all of them have one thing in common a hatred for U.S. The U.S. has to take note of the millions of dollars that are being invested in this country to advance the causes of radical Islam at the cost of Americanism.
These organizations continuously and persistently paint each and every U.S. policy move to eradicate Islamist terrorism as part of an anti-Islam campaign. With the result that Muslims everywhere are convinced that this war is basically a crusade against Islam which is aimed at controlling their natural resources and empowering Israel. The most alarming aspect of this disconnect is the fact that the American Muslims living here in the mainland U.S.A., carrying American passports, participating in the legislative process of the country and using its judicial system to their benefit and determined to control its foreign policy one day, also consider the U.S. policies as anti-Islam and anti-Muslim.
Experts who follow the happenings in the Muslim communities and the workings of the organizations that champion the Muslim causes here in the U.S. are concerned that the Muslim distrust viz a viz Washington is increasing with every passing day. The situation becomes much more threatening when one looks at this problem in the light of what happened in London in 2005. The terrorists who bombed the subways and the busses there were not foreigners - they were homegrown. They wonder if the Muslims in the U.S. are also moving in the same direction.
The situation is so precarious that the Homeland security officials have acknowledged that although they are in dire need of Muslim interpreters and analysts to keep them on the right track in this existential struggle, they find it extremely difficult to recruit Muslims in this cause.
The administration has to understand that the quandary they find themselves in is a proof of Islamist leadership's success in the U.S. and so long as these Muslim leaders representing foreign agendas are in control of the American Muslim lives, the U.S. cannot expect an unconditional loyalty toward the U.S. from a big chunk of American Muslims.
(Tashbih Sayyed is the Editor in Chief of the weekly newspapers 'Muslim World Today', and 'Pakistan Today', President of Council for Democracy and Tolerance, (a non-profit organization) an adjunct fellow of Hudson Institute, and a regular columnist for newspapers across the world.)