Islamic Terrorism: Ignorance Is Not Bliss

With the growing focus on the scandalous personal behavior and questionable professional comportment of former CIA Director David Petraeus as related to the September 11 Benghazi attack, the investigation into what happened in this tragedy is becoming deeply mired in political muck.  The politics of the moment has thus served to hinder America from taking advantage of yet another opportunity to learn why Muslims turn time and again to violence against American interests.

If our nation is ever going to successfully defend itself from terrorism committed by Muslims, we need to come to grips with the unpleasant reality that the doctrines of Islam animate this behavior.  Why did 9/11 happen?  Not because the hijackers were a group of mindless radicals; rather, they did what they did because they relied on the teachings of their holy books, which mandated them to commit violence against unbelievers.  Why did Nidal Hasan shoot up his fellow servicemen at Fort Hood?  Not because he was a disgruntled employee who wanted to take revenge on what he considered to be his noxious co-workers; rather, he fired at them as a self-proclaimed soldier of Allah based on his study and application of the Quran.  Why did Benghazi happen?  Not because of some perceived offense at a YouTube video (a notion that has been thoroughly discredited), but because, undoubtedly, the terrorists who tortured and murdered Ambassador Stevens and his compatriots simply followed the directive in Quran 9:5, which teaches Muslims to kill unbelievers wherever they find them.

Since Mohammed Atta and his band of jihadists used four commercial aircraft as weapons of mass destruction on 9/11/01, America has been challenged to assess why this evil was committed against us.  At first, we were willing to recognize that Islam had something to do with it, and it was not uncommon during the Bush era for the political class and the punditry to discuss terrorism as having at least a nebulous connection with Islam.  But the federal government and the media during the Bush era were unwilling or unable to point to Islamic doctrine directly and acknowledge that a person who hijacks an airplane and flies it into a building while yelling "Allahu akbar" is actually behaving in accordance with the commands of the Quran.  Whether through ignorance or duplicity, the Bush administration and the mainstream media managed to convince altogether too many Americans that it is a misapplication of the tenets of the religion for someone to commit terrorism in the name of Islam.  The 9/11 Commission Report goes so far as to make this statement (on p. 363):

Islam is not the enemy.  It is not synonymous with terror.  Nor does it teach terror.  America and its friends oppose a perversion of Islam, not the great world faith itself.  Lives guided by religious faith, including literal beliefs in scriptures, are common to every religion, and represent no threat to us.

On Bush's coattails, President Obama has done a keen job of enforcing a public policy of divorcing Islam from the behaviors of Muslim terrorists, and his media darlings have not challenged him on this matter at all.  Any time during his tenure that events which the rest of America clearly sees as Islamic terrorism occur, Mr. Obama calls such episodes "violent extremism" and addresses them with a schizophrenic combination of drone strikes against extremist Muslim individuals and pretty speeches lauding Islam as "an important part of promoting peace" (as were his words here during his 2009 Cairo speech).  The president has reportedly directed his staff to avoid the use of any terminology that could possibly convey the notion that Islamic teachings are in any way connected to the actions of Muslim men like the Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan, the Christmas Day bomber Umar Abdulmutallab, and the Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, all of whom engaged in terrorism under Obama's watch.

Yet the fact remains that the aforementioned terrorists share a common quality: they were all influenced to act by Islam.  It is logical to hypothesize that the RPG-wielding hooligans in Benghazi too had Islamic religious mandates in mind when they stormed the American consulate.  The Benghazi killers may have had some immediate pretense that triggered the attack, which due to political obfuscation by the Obama administration remains unknown at this time; however, because Islam teaches that enmity between believers and non-believers is perfectly acceptable and that violence against non-believers is a glorious defense of the faith, the Benghazi terrorists would have needed nothing more than a belief in Islamic doctrine to find justification for their attack.

In 2012 America, it has become politically incorrect to associate "Islam" or "jihad" with terrorism and violence.  Thus, it was quite bold for Mitt Romney in the third presidential debate on 10/22/12 to use the word "jihadist" in describing the "anti-American" terrorist groups who have been fomenting unrest and committing acts of violence in the Middle East against American interests (see here).  Had Romney been elected, it is possible that our federal government might actually have started admitting that an act of violence like the Benghazi consulate attack could have been spurred as much by the teachings of Islam as by anything else.  However, with Obama at the helm for a second term, there is little likelihood that the American people will be given information from the federal government or the mainstream media about how Islamic teachings would have served as the ideological fodder for the terrorists in this event. 

America will continue to be a very large target of Islamic terrorism if we persist in ignoring the reality that Islamic doctrine demands its followers to behave as the Benghazi killers did.  Our nation cannot adequately develop a strategy to protect itself until we examine the Quran, the Hadith literature, the biography of Muhammad (called the Sira), and the sharia.  These works together constitute the written doctrine, ideology, and jurisprudence of Islam, wherein one will find copious directives for Muslims to commit acts of violence against non-believers and anyone who opposes the expansion of Islamic hegemony.  Additionally, Muhammad's life is lauded in Quran 33:21 as the example upon which Muslims should model themselves, so when they turn to the pages of the Hadith and the Sira to examine his words and deeds, they find a man who preached and lived a life of violence.

Considering the original Islamic sources, and contrary to the assertion of The 9/11 Commission Report, Islam does in fact teach terror, and it is not hard to find in the Islamic literature a clear commission for Muslims to engage in violent jihadism.  We can be grateful that many Muslims do not put these teachings into practice.  Unfortunately, it takes only a few individuals who believe seriously in Islam to create terrible tragedies in the name of their religion. It is long past time for America to learn these truths about Islam so we can develop a proper plan to protect America from the violent behaviors of its adherents.

John Steinreich is the author of The Words of God, an analytical comparison of the Bible and the Quran, which can be found here.