(Jerusalem, Israel) — If you read nothing else from this column, please read and remember these four critical points:
- While it’s absolutely true that the vast majority of Muslims are not a threat to us, it’s also true that the vast majority of terrorists in our time are motivated by, driven by, even consumed by a radical, violent, murderous and bloodthirsty interpretation of Islam. That may not be politically correct to say, but that’s the truth.
- If American leaders are not studying the theology and even the eschatology of Islam — and the civil war going inside Islam between the Radicals (jihadists) and the Reformers (moderates) and their vastly differing interpretations of Muslim history and Islamic scriptures — they’re not going to understand what drives our enemies to kill us.
- To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blind-sided by it.
- Neither President Obama, nor the two presumptive presidential nominees — Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump — have demonstrated that they have truly studied and understand the theology and eschatology that is driving our enemies. Until they do, and until they develop and are committed to executing sound national security strategies consistent with the actual threat of Radical Islam, they will continue to put Americans and our allies in grave danger.
Let’s be clear: Omar Mateen, the 29 year old terrorist who murdered 49 people in Orlando earlier this month, wanted the world to know exactly why he did it: he was a Radical, violent, murderous Muslim who was inspired by and loyal to the vision of the leaders of the Islamic State.
While there is no evidence suggesting Mateen was trained or deployed directly by ISIS leaders, the leadership of the Islamic State quickly took credit for the attack and praised Mateen for being inspired by their vision of slaughtering infidels according to their interpretation of Islam. What’s more, ISIS has called for more attacks in the U.S. by “lone wolves” inspired by their theology and eschatology.
President Obama, however, adamantly refuses to call Mateen a follower of Radical Islam and dismisses the term as a “political distraction” that serves no practical purpose.
“For a while now, the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize this administration and me for not using the phrase ‘Radical Islam,'” noted the President in a June 14th statement to the media. “That’s the key, they tell us. We can’t beat ISIL unless we call them Radical Islamists. What exactly would using this label would accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer, is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction.”
Is the President right to directly and consistently reject the term “Radical Islam”? Yesterday, I was interviewed on the Fox News Channel about the President’s comments. I’ve posted the transcript of the interview below. To watch the video, please click here.
FOX NEWS ANCHOR SHANNON BREAM: Let’s take a closer look now at the fight against ISIS, particularly the threat here at home in the wake of Orlando. We’re joined now by Joel Rosenberg, political advisor and New York Times best-seller. His latest book is out now is The First Hostage. Joel is joining us live from overseas. Thank you, Joel, for being with us today.
ROSENBERG: Good to be with you, Shannon, thank you.
BREAM: All right, I want to go first to the President, one of his statement’s this week where he talked about using the terminology of “radical Islam,” he sort of mocked those who have called for him to do that, saying it’s not going to solve the problem. But in your estimation, and knowing what you know about that region and your deep experience and studies there, does it make a difference or not?
ROSENBERG: It does. There’s no question that the vast majority of Muslims — 1.6 billion Muslims in the world — are not violent. They’re not dangerous. They’re not a threat. But all the polling shows that between 7% and 10%, roughly, of the Islamic world does believe in suicide bombings, does support the Islamic State’s violence, does support al Qaeda. So this is a problem because in a world of 1.6 billion Muslims, that’s upwards of 160 million people who could be recruited and drawn into violence in the United States or around the world.
BREAM: And how important is it to use the correct language, to use the correct terminology? Because the President often says that we have to be careful about our statements so that the world does not think that we are at war with the Muslim faith, with those who are Muslims. You mentioned more than a billion people that we’re talking about. But doesn’t that make the language we use even that much more important?
ROSENBERG: Sure it does. Absolutely. But look at people like Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. He went to the “Harvard” of Sunni Islam — al Azhar University — a few years ago, and he challenged the clerics and the leaders of Sunni Islam that they’ve got to get their house in order, that there is, essentially, a civil war going on inside Islam. Yes, the vast majority of Muslims do not interpret the Qur’an as encouraging violence against unbelievers. But there are verses in the text [that encourage violence], and el-Sisi challenged the theological leadership of Sunni Islam to fight and explain what the differences are. Jordan’s King Abdullah has also made that case and has gotten more than 500 Muslim clerics to sign onto a statement explaining the difference between this sort of radicalized, violent Islam that is in the text but many Muslims don’t agree with it, and what more moderate Muslims think. This is an important argument. And I would say that if American leaders are not studying the theology and even the eschatology of Islam, they’re not going to understand what motivates the “lone wolf,” or the movements like the Islamic State.
BREAM: What could we be doing better in the United States? What could our leadership be doing, on both sides of the aisle, to better combat this? Because there’s been a big conversation, obviously, about whether or not the Orlando gunman was directed by or inspired or motivated by [Radical Islam]. The end result is the same. We’ve seen dozens of innocent people who are dead.
ROSENBERG: Well, this is the most dangerous part of saying this is just “violent extremism.” That’s what the President is saying. Well, it’s certainly violent extremism, but what is it that motivates a young man, 29 years old — Omar Mateen — to be a killer of 49 people in a club? That’s not just being a violent person. He believed he was being driven by a version of Islam. That’s what he believed. It doesn’t matter what President Obama believes about Islam. It matters what the individual believes. So we’ve got to study what it is — the narrative, as well as the theology — that’s drawing Americans but also people all over the world into murderous, sometimes even genocidal, levels of violence. If you ignore that, you are ignoring the heart of the problem, which is the motive.
BREAM: Joel Rosenberg, we thank you for visiting with us today, and I hear your new book is going to be out the first of next year, or early next year, so we’ll look forward to that as well. Thank you, Joel.
ROSENBERG: Thank you. I appreciate it.
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