Islamic extremism is back -- not that it ever went away. Following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai and the continuing threats from Iranian proxy Hamas, the question must be asked: When will the West wake up?
For Winston Churchill, the 1930s were, as he aptly described them, "the wilderness years." This was the period when he was out of office and deeply unpopular for his continual warnings about the rise of Nazi Germany and the threat it posed to Western democracies.
His was the now most famous voice warning of impending catastrophe -- but he was a lone voice that turned out to be correct!
Today a few voices have been raised in concern about a coming cataclysm, one which poses a far greater threat to the peace and security of the Western democracies!
Longtime Harvard University professor and political scientist Samuel Huntington, who died Dec. 24, 2008, was one of those voices. His 1993 landmark study The Coming Clash of Civilizations warned of the inevitable clash between Islam and the West, a part of the historic continuum of struggle between Europe and Islam. (The phrase "clash of civilizations" was earlier applied to this conflict by Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis in 1990.)
After Sept. 11, 2001, "half the world hailed Huntington as having foreseen the conflict between Islam and the west and half mistook him for a promoter of it" (Christopher Caldwell, "Huntington's Disputed Legacy," Financial Times, Jan. 3, 2009).
Many thought the events of 9/11 would usher in this monumental clash of civilizations. "Not so, argues a vast cohort of academics, journalists, writers, and retired diplomats," according to Efraim Karsh, head of the Mediterranean Studies Program at King's College, University of London.
Instead, they say, "The attacks were a misguided, if not wholly inexplicable, response to America's arrogant and self-serving foreign policy by a fringe extremist group, whose violent interpretation of Islam has little to do with the actual spirit and teachings of this religion" (Islamic Imperialism: A History, 2006, p. 2).
Through all the major terrorist attacks since 9/11, this continues to be the predominant reaction of those employed in academia and the media.
Author and Middle East expert Daniel Pipes observes:
"But for the real target of Islamist terror, the world at large, the experience has become numbed, with apologetics and justification muting repulsion and shock...Indeed, as one reflects on the most publicized episodes of Islamist terror against Westerners since 9/11 -- the attack on Australians in Bali, on Spaniards in Madrid, on Russians in Beslan, on Britons in London -- a twofold pattern emerges: Muslim exultation and Western denial. The same tragedy replays itself, with only names changed" ("Still Asleep After Mumbai," The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 10, 2008).
During and after the November 2008 Mumbai massacre in which nearly 500 people were killed or injured, a great deal was said and written about the backgrounds of the perpetrators, who were poorly educated and came from poverty-stricken families.
The implication was that poverty breeds terrorism. This simple reasoning overlooks the fact that those who committed the atrocities of 9/11 and the July 5, 2005, subway and bus bombings in London came from affluent backgrounds. Clearly, the answer to terrorism is not simply raising the level of economic prosperity of Muslims throughout the world.
And Muslim terrorism is what we are talking about. Of all the terrorist ideologies in the world, Islamic terrorism poses the greatest threat to the peace and security of the West, even though most Western leaders are in denial over this serious and pervasive threat.
Because most terrorist attacks happen in faraway countries that most people in the West cannot locate on a map, few people are concerned. Even Western leaders consider terrorism in underdeveloped countries a "local" matter, of little concern to us.
The Mumbai attacks, however, were far from a simple local matter. Nor were they mainly about the Indo-Pakistani conflict that goes back more than six decades. British, American and Jewish victims were singled out for special atrocities during the attacks.
A headline in the Dec. 25, 2008, Mumbai Mirror highlighted the treatment of these foreign nationals. In an article titled "Terrorists Sexually Humiliated Guests Before Killing Them," the newspaper reported being in possession of photographs showing that some of the foreign victims were stripped naked before being killed. Jewish victims were reportedly sexually mutilated.
The West was the primary target. It was not just a local matter of no concern to us.
Columnist Mark Steyn points out that the attackers' method was anything but random:
"Yes, the terrorists targeted locally owned hotels. But they singled out Britons and Americans as hostages. Yes, they attacked prestige city landmarks like the Victoria Terminus, one of the most splendid and historic railway stations in the world. But they also attacked an obscure Jewish community center. The Islamic imperialist project is a totalitarian ideology: It is at war with Hindus, Jews, Americans, Britons, everything that is other.
"In the 10 months before this atrocity, Muslim terrorists killed more than 200 people in India, and no one paid much attention. Just business as usual, alas. In Mumbai the perpetrators were cannier. They launched a multiple indiscriminate assault on soft targets, and then in the confusion began singling out A-list prey: Not just wealthy Western tourists, but local orthodox Jews, and municipal law enforcement.
"They drew prominent officials to selected sites, and then gunned down the head of the antiterrorism squad and two of his most senior lieutenants. They attacked a hospital, the place you're supposed to take the victims to, thereby destabilizing the city's emergency-response system" ("Mumbai Could Happen Just About Anywhere," Nov. 28, 2008).
This terrorism, writes London's Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips,
"is both global and local. It is not 'our' fault; it has nothing to do with Muslim poverty, oppression or discrimination...No less important was the wish to destroy the ever more vital strategic alliance between India and the West in common defense against the Islamist onslaught.
"That was why British and American visitors in those two grand hotels were singled out. And that was why Mumbai itself was chosen -- as the symbol of India 's burgeoning commerce and prosperity and its links with the West" ("The Mumbai Atrocity Is a Wake-Up Call for a Frighteningly Unprepared Britain," Dec. 1, 2008).
Phillips' article continued to show that major Western cities will likely suffer attacks similar to the ones in Mumbai in the months and years ahead:
"The Iranian-born foreign affairs specialist Amir Taheri has pointed out that the Mumbai attacks embody the plan outlined by a senior Al Qaeda strategist after the U.S. decided to fight back following 9/11 -- a decision that the Islamists had not expected.
"This new strategy entails targeting countries with a substantial Muslim presence for 'low-intensity warfare' comprising bombings, kidnappings, the taking of hostages, the use of women and children as human shields, beheadings and other attacks that make normal life impossible. Such a simultaneous, multi-faceted onslaught quickly reduces a city and a country to chaos. It can be repeated anywhere -- and British cities must be among the most vulnerable.
"This is because -- astoundingly -- Britain now harbors the most developed infrastructure of Islamist terrorism and extremism in the Western world. The security service has warned that it is monitoring at least 2,000 known terrorists, and has said repeatedly that although many outrages have been averted a major attack may not be preventable...
"The Government and security establishment refuse to acknowledge that what we are facing is a religious war. Instead, they think that Islamist terrorism is driven by grievances which are basically the fault of the West. But you have only to look around the world or at the history of the past four decades and more to see the absurdity and ignorance of this view.
"Look at Thailand, for example, currently convulsed by Islamist terrorism in the south with bombings, beheadings and the murder of Buddhists. Look at the persecution of Christians in Nigeria. Look at the Islamist terrorism in the Philippines. Look...at the attacks variously upon New York, Bali, Istanbul, Jakarta, Sharm el Sheikh, Casablanca, Madrid, London and India.
"If we don't understand what we are fighting, we cannot defeat it. Mumbai is yet another wake-up call -- to a Britain that is still in a trance of denial."
How many more "wake-up calls" are needed before the West will wake up?
American columnist Cal Thomas went so far as to call for a fundamental and far-reaching change to immigration policy in the United States and United Kingdom:
"What is needed in Britain -- and America -- is a change in the thinking that naively believes that simply exposing foreign nationals to our way of life means they will 'catch' it as they might the flu. Allowing immigrants from nations in which the dominant religion mandates the forced subordination of every other faith (or no faith) and their subjugation through state power under Sharia law, increases the likelihood of more attacks.
"At the very least, all non-Western immigrants to Britain and America should be told prior to their arrival that our intention is to westernize them. They must learn English, study and embrace the history of their host nation and, if they are Muslim, they will be allowed to worship only in existing mosques.
"No new ones should be built. Existing mosques must be monitored to make sure that hate is not taught and aggressive behavior toward their host countries is not promoted. If such behavior and speech are detected, the mosques should be closed and the imams arrested or deported" ("Lesson of Mumbai Explained," Dec. 2, 2008).
Shortly after the Mumbai terror attacks, Gaza hit the headlines. That is not to say there was no problem there earlier. Israel completely pulled out of Gaza in 2005. Since then Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules Gaza, has sent more than 6,000 missiles and mortar shells Israel's way.
People in Israeli communities within range have suffered around-the-clock danger, never knowing when a shell or rocket would hit their homes, their children's schools or their car while driving. Finally, after years of asking Hamas to desist from such attacks and warning of possible consequences, Israel hit back.
Of course, it was only at that point that the issue made the headlines. When Israelis were suffering, it wasn't news. As soon as Israel attacked the Hamas terror structure, it was big news throughout the world.
As with Mumbai, the Western media is once again in denial about Islamic militancy. The thinking behind most media coverage is that the poverty of the Palestinians is behind support for Hamas, a self-proclaimed terrorist organization whose charter calls for the elimination of Israel.
On Sunday, Jan. 4, I was watching one of the Sunday morning news programs on American television. A panel of four well-known journalists was being asked by the host to discuss top news stories, including the events in Gaza. A quote from Hamas was displayed on the screen and read by the host. In it, the leader of Hamas made it clear that Hamas would never negotiate with Israel and would not stop until Israel was wiped off the face of the earth.
The panel continued to discuss the need for peace talks as if they had not heard a word. They just didn't get it. Hamas wants Israel destroyed. They want to rid the world of the "Zionist entity."
As former Jerusalem Post editor Bret Stephens wrote in The Wall Street Journal:
"Hamas, to its perverse credit, does not lie, at least not on fundamental issues...It is sworn to Israel's destruction. Its charter is nakedly and aggressively anti-Semitic; no fig leaf of 'anti-Zionism' there...'Anyone who thinks Hamas will change is wrong,' said supreme leader Khaled Mashal in 2006. Could he be any clearer?" ("The No-State Solution," Jan. 13, 2009).
Even in the West, many blame Israel for everything. It's all reminiscent of the 1930s when fascist parties in Europe blamed the Jews for everything that had gone wrong.
Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby highlighted the growing tendency toward anti-Semitism in the United States, a country that has long been a refuge for people of the Jewish faith and is home to more Jews than Israel itself.
"Criticizing Israel doesn't make you anti-Semitic," he wrote. "If it's been said once, it's been said a thousand times. Yet somehow that message doesn't seem to have reached the hundreds of anti-Israel demonstrators in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who turned out last week to protest Israel's military operation in Gaza. As their signs and chants made clear, it isn't only the Jewish state's policies they oppose. Their animus goes further.
"Demonstrators chanted 'Nuke, nuke Israel!' and carried placards accusing Israel of 'ethnic cleansing' and bearing such messages as: 'Did Israel take notes during the Holocaust?'...To the dozen or so supporters of Israel gathered across the street, one demonstrator shouted: 'Murderers! Go back to the ovens!'" ("Yes, It's Anti-Semitism," Jan. 7, 2009).
Until 9/11 most people in the West thought that religious conflict was something from the Middle Ages. The last few years have shown the fallacy of this reasoning. But even now few see the growing threat of Islamic terrorism and the increasing possibility of a major clash of civilizations.
The Bible shows such a clash lies ahead. In Psalm 83 we read of a future conflict between a confederacy of Islamic nations and the modern state of Israel. This is also mentioned in Revelation 17:12-14.
"Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million, and I heard the number of them," states the apostle John (Revelation 9:16). Islam, with more than 1.2 billion adherents in the world, could easily, at this time, field an army of 200,000,000!
The Bible also shows that the Middle East is at the very center of Bible prophecy. YEHOVAH God warned His people: "Behold I will make Jerusalem a bowl of reeling [cup of trembling] for the peoples all around. Judah [Israel] shall be caught up in the siege upon Jerusalem, when all the nations of the earth gather against her. In that day, I will make Jerusalem a stone for all the people to lift; all who lift it shall injure themselves" (Zechariah 12:2-3).
Gaza is only one geographical area of conflict between the Israelis and Islamic militants. The West Bank is another. Northern Israel, lying within range of Hezbollah rockets from Lebanon, is yet another. Jerusalem, as it has been for years, remains the biggest single scene of potential conflict.
The problem of Islamic militancy is clearly not going to go away. The West had better hope that its leaders WAKE UP to that fact.
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