The Grand Jihad

During an address on Thursday, May 27, 2010 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, John Brennan, the Obama administration's lead counterterrorism adviser, provided a transparently bowdlerized perspective on jihad. Brennan's statements were breathtaking in their profound cognitive dissonance regarding this uniquely Islamic institution, which continues to wreak daily havoc in our era.

Despite over 15,350 jihad terror attacks by Muslims worldwide since the cataclysmic acts of jihad terrorism committed against the United States itself on September 11, 2001, Brennan insisted,

Nor do we describe our enemy as 'jihadists' or ‘Islamists' because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one's community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.

Closing this willfully blind circle of "reasoning," Brennan further asserted that "describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie propagated by Al Qaeda and its affiliates to justify terrorism -- that the United States is somehow at war against Islam."

Brennan's views -- a dangerous concatenation of hard-left, Islamophilic cultural relativism and the relentless, successful "Islamic dawa" efforts of generations of jihadists -- represent the apotheosis of phenomena analyzed with uncompromising lucidity in Andrew McCarthy's The Grand Jihad.

An accomplished former federal prosecutor, McCarthy convicted the infamous jihadist "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman for his role in orchestrating the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and planning other acts of jihad terror. McCarthy recounted this prosecution in a prior book, Willful Blindness, which characterized the motivating Islamic ideology, goals, and methods of contemporary purveyors of violent jihad. He juxtaposed their openly declared jihad war campaign to the "conscious avoidance" of this threat by both America's leadership elite and its masses in a game effort "to expose this suicide ethos as it pertained to maintaining our security against the terrorist threat." In The Grand Jihad, McCarthy extends these previous observations, and focuses upon the more pervasive threat of jihad's non-violent manifestations, which he describes so appositely, as

...the wolf, that comes, if not quite in sheep's clothing, as nothing more dangerous than a sheepdog-is the more insidious one. ...Very simply the purpose of jihad is not violence for its own sake. It is to pave the way for the imposition of sharia, the Muslim legal code and the necessary precondition for erecting an Islamic state and society. That is a peril we don't want to deal with. Doing so would require confronting the brute fact that such a state would be antithetical to American democracy.

Central to McCarthy's presentation -- and containing key extracts eponymous to the book's title -- is a document whose contents were revealed during the Texas Holy Land Foundation jihad-terrorism funding trial. This internal Muslim Brotherhood statement dated May 22, 1991 was written by an acolyte of the Brotherhood's major theoretician, lionized Qatari cleric, popular Al-Jazeera television personality, and head of the European Fatwa Council Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Entitled "An Explanatory Memorandum On the General Strategic Goal for the Group In North America," the document is indeed self-explanatory.

The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and by the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated  and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions.

The Grand Jihad's masterful, remarkably compendious narrative elucidates how the Muslim Brotherhood program has taken shape, concretely, in America. McCarthy offers this summary assessment:

[T]his grand-jihad-by-sabotage has been underway for nearly a half century. Its bottom-up elements have stressed Islamist domination of Muslim education, community centers, and mosques. That means it is now raising, in our midst, its third generation of operatives and sympathizers.

And McCarthy amplifies this discussion by placing such developments within their global Islamic context, past and present, doctrinal and historical. He boldly introduces the reader to all of the following, without apologetics: how Islam's understanding of freedom (hurriyya in Arabic) as "perfect slavery to Allah" is antithetical to uniquely Western notions of individual liberty; the doubly totalitarian nature of Islamic jihadism and its accompanying goal of the universal imposition of Islamic Law (Shari'a) on all of humanity; and, finally, contemporary polling data from a rigorously conducted survey indicating that fully two-thirds of a representative sample of the entire global Muslim community (i.e., Muslims from Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan, and Indonesia) favor the "strict application" of the Shari'a and the (re-)creation of a transnational Islamic superstate, or Caliphate.

McCarthy's informed, forthright contemporary presentation recalls the intellectual and moral clarity -- and urgency -- of his legal antecedent, Antoine Fattal, expressed five decades earlier.

Nine years ago, via the wise and generous mentoring of Bat Ye'or and David Littman, I was introduced to the writings of Fattal. Perhaps best known for serving the Lebanese administration under Amin Gemayel and negotiating a May 1983 Peace Treaty with Israel the Syrians later forced the Lebanese to abrogate, Antoine Fattal (d. 1987) was an esteemed law professor. Fattal also wrote Le Statut légal des non-Musulmans en pays d'Islam, which remains one of the seminal works describing what Bat Ye'or subsequently termed "dhimmitude," the legal status of non-Muslims vanquished by jihad and living under Islamic law. Fattal's treatise contains timeless insights on the jihad and concludes with a very prescient warning about the real peril of this living, uniquely Islamic institution, sounded in 1958 -- the year Le Statut légal des non-Musulmans en pays d'Islam was published.*

Fattal's meticulous study of the foundational Islamic texts and jurisprudence crystallized these classical formulations of the jihad as an open-ended, religiously-mandated war of aggression.

Dhimma (or dhimmitude) ... is one of the results of the jihad or holy war.  Connected with the notion of jihad is the distinction between dar al-harb (territory or "house" of war) and dar al-islam (house of Islam). The latter includes all territories subject to Muslim authority. It is in a state of perpetual war with the dar al-harb. The inhabitants of the dar al-harb are harbis, who are not answerable to the Islamic authority and whose persons and goods are mubah, that is, at the mercy of Believers. However, when Muslims are in a subordinate state, they can negotiate a truce with the harbis lasting no more than ten years, which they are obliged to revoke unilaterally as soon as they regain the upper hand, following the example of the Prophet after Hudaibiyya

After similarly detailed attention to the doctrinal and historical legacy of jihad-imposed dhimmitude, Fattal observed,

The dhimmi, we might say, is a second-class citizen. If they [the ruling Muslims] tolerate him it is a calculated step, whether because they cherish the hope of converting him or for material reasons, because they force him to shoulder virtually the entire burden of taxation. They provide a place for him in the state, but not without reminding him continually of his inferior status. They prevent him from occupying high positions in society, and if by merit or intrigue he manages to climb to such places everything conspires to relegate him once again to obscurity. If the dhimmi acquires an independent legal status or privileges associated with his personal position, if he is permitted even his own courts, it is only because he cannot share with the Faithful the advantages of their own justice, which is essentially religious. In no case is the dhimmi the equal of a Muslim. He is condemned to social inequality and forms part of a despised caste: inequality so far as his personal rights are concerned, inequality in taxation, and inequality before the law, since his testimony is neither accepted by the Muslim courts of justice nor even, for the same minor crime, is the punishment the same ... No social relationship, no fellowship is possible between Muslims and dhimmis.

And Fattal concluded his scholarly 1958 analysis with this warning, which anticipates by fifty years McCarthy's even more pressing admonition to abandon our delusional complacency, and now.

Even today, the study of the jihad is part of the curriculum of all the Islamic institutes. In the universities of Al-Azhar, Najaf, and Zaitoune, students are still taught that the holy war is a binding prescriptive decree, pronounced against the Infidels, which will only be revoked with the end of the world... The (Muslim) Prophet did in fact say... and his words have not expired: "I came with the sword...Jihad is engaged now and to the day when the last handful of men of my nation will be called to fight the ‘Antichrist.'"  Islam will not emerge from this impasse until the day when its scholars take the initiative to open wide the doors of ijtihad.

Andrew McCarthy closes The Grand Jihad with an aptly trenchant commentary on Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey's absurd yet pathognomonic observations following Nidal Hasan's act of mass-murdering jihad terror at Fort Hood. Epitomizing how the toxic amalgam of cultural relativism and Islamophilic jihad-denial fostered by Islamic propaganda has infested even our highest military institutions, Casey whimpered during an NBC News interview, "And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that's worse." McCarthy's rejoinder notes the opposite views of Hasan's jihad martyrdom operation taken by modern violent jihadists, and their broad-based ideological, if not tactical, supporters within the entire global Muslim community, represented by the Organization of the Islamic Conference -- and Koran 3:110.

They believe they are, as the Organization of the Islamic Conference put it [citing Koran 3:110], "the Islamic Umma that Allah made the best Nation." They intend to fight to the end because they believe they will win, and that they fully deserve to win.

In the years just prior to his September 1982 assassination, Bashir Gemayel, the late Lebanese president whose surviving administration (under his brother Amin) Antoine Fattal served, implored Lebanon's indigenous non-Muslims not to accept their dhimmitude (see pp. 43,150,219,236,238,290,298,411) while repeatedly urging Western governments to defend the core values of Western civilization (see pp.12,15-16) against encroaching jihadism. Andrew McCarthy's brilliant jeremiad The Grand Jihad echoes Gemayel's sentiments, updated for our era. Let us pray that his clarion call is heeded.

(*English translation of extracts from Fattal's Le Statut légal des non-Musulmans en pays d'Islam, Beirut, 1958, derive from A.E. Vacalopoulos, The Greek Nation, 1453-1669,  New Brunswick, 1976,  David Littman and Bat Ye'or, Protected Peoples Under Islam, Geneva, 1976 and my own The Legacy of Jihad, Amherst, 2005. Additional material was kindly translated by  Nidra Poller.)
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