What do we know about the terrorist who killed 84 in Nice, France? Here’s the latest — including an ISIS call for Muslims to plow over people in cars. UPDATE: ISIS claims credit, says its “soldier” responsible for attack in Nice.

Nice-attack2016UPDATE: “An Islamic State-run media outlet says the man who barreled his truck into a crowd in the French coastal city of Nice is a ‘soldier’ of the group,” reports the Associated Press. “The Aamaq news agency on Saturday cited a ‘security source’ as saying the attacker ‘carried out the operation in response to calls to target the citizens of coalition countries fighting the Islamic State.'”

ORIGINAL POST: The man who killed 84 people — including at least two Americans — in Nice, France, last night was a 31-year old French resident of North African origin named Lahouaiej Bouhlel.

Born in Tunisia, Bouhel used a large commercial truck to drive over crowds of pedestrians and tourists, often accelerating along his two kilometers killing spree, before being stopped, shot and killed by French police. Inside the truck, authorities found “a pistol, a larger gun, and a number of fake weapons and grenades.”

French President Francois Hollande called the event a “terrorist” attack even thought no terror organization has yet claimed responsibility. Still, the Islamic State has called for Muslims to killed Americans and Frenchmen in any way possible, including plowing into them with cars.

“If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of their allies,” said ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani in one of his first speeches, according to a translation from the SITE Intelligence Group. “Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car.”

A French newspaper reports: “We can confirm the identity of the driver of the truck that drove into the crowds Tuesday night, according to our information.  It is the owner of the identity card that was found in the truck by police. He is from Nice and is of Tunisian origin, aged 31, called Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. Police raided his apartment in the Nice Nord district this morning. He works as a delivery driver and is known for criminal acts, including violence, but any radicalisation has gone unnoticed. His act seems yet to have been premeditated. He may have hired the truck on Wednesday in a neighboring town of Nice. The investigators are still is looking for possible accomplices.”

Please be praying for the wounded, and for the family and friends of all those who were killed. At the same time, please be praying for French authorities as they deal with yet another terrorist attack. Indeed, we need to be praying for leaders in the U.S., throughout Europe and around the world to be far more serious and decisive in combatting the threat of Radical Islam.

“A Bastille Day fireworks celebration was shattered by death and mayhem on Thursday night in the southern French city of Nice when a large truck barreled for more than a mile through an enormous crowd of spectators, crushing and maiming dozens in what France’s president called a terrorist assault,” reported the New York Times. “It came eight months after the Paris attacks that traumatized the nation and all of Europe.”

“Officials and witnesses in Nice said at least 84 people, including children, were killed by the driver of the rampaging truck, who mowed them down on the sidewalk,” the Times added. “He was shot to death by the police as officers scrambled to respond on what is France’s most important annual holiday. Graphic television and video images showed the truck accelerating and tearing through the crowd, dozens of victims sprawled in its path, and the bullet-riddled windshield of the vehicle. Municipal officials and police officers described the truck as full of weapons and grenades.”

“The horror, the horror has, once again, hit France,” President François Hollande said in a nationally televised address early Friday. He said the “terrorist character” of the assault was undeniable, and he described the use of a large truck to deliberately kill people as “a monstrosity.”

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Putin crosses a line — bans Russians from preaching the Gospel outside churches. Here’s the latest.

Putin-doorway-Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has just crossed a very dangerous line. He has just signed a law making it illegal for Russian followers of Jesus Christ to share or preach the Gospel anywhere outside the walls of their church, or even email their family and friends to invite them to church. What’s more, he has done so under the guise of preventing “terrorism.”

As I have been warning for a decade (see here, here, here and in my 2006 book, Epicenter), Putin — who is fashioning himself as a rising Czar — is an increasingly dangerous despot. He continues to centralize government power and control to himself. He is trampling over human rights, the media, and NGOs. He is rebuilding the Russian military. He has invaded neighboring Georgia and Ukraine. He is arming and building alliances with Radical Islamic countries, particularly Iran.

Now, Putin is positioning himself as an enemy of Christ and His Church. If he doesn’t not reverse course, he risks bringing disaster upon himself and the people of Russia.

As Christianity Today reports, last week “Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a package of anti-terrorism laws that usher in tighter restrictions on missionary activity and evangelism. Despite prayers and protests from religious leaders and human rights advocates, the Kremlin announced Putin’s approval yesterday. The amendments, including laws against sharing faith in homes, online, or anywhere but recognized church buildings, go into effect July 20.”

Please read and share this important article from Christianity Today with others. Please be praying for God to change Putin’s heart. Please be praying for the pastors and Christian leaders and lay people in Russia. And please pray for the Russian people. This is a very dangerous road they are now heading down.


EXCERPTS FROM THE CT ARTICLE:

……Though opponents to the new measures hope to eventually appeal in court or elect legislators to amend them, they have begun to prepare their communities for life under the new rules, reported Forum 18 News Service, a Christian outlet reporting on the region.

Protestants and religious minorities small enough to gather in homes fear they will be most affected. Last month, “the local police officer came to a home where a group of Pentecostals meet each Sunday,” Konstantin Bendas, deputy bishop of the Pentecostal Union, told Forum 18. “With a contented expression he told them: ‘Now they’re adopting the law I’ll drive you all out of here.’ I reckon we should now fear such zealous enforcement.”

“There are potentially very wide-sweeping ramifications to this law,” Joel Griffith of the Slavic Gospel Association said in a Mission Network News report. “It just depends on, again, how it is going to be enforced, and that is a very huge question mark.”

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Earlier CT reporting (June 29): Christians in Russia won’t be allowed to email their friends an invitation to church or to evangelize in their own homes if Russia’s newest set of surveillance and anti-terrorism laws are enacted.

The proposed laws, considered the country’s most restrictive measures in post-Soviet history, place broad limitations on missionary work, including preaching, teaching, and engaging in any activity designed to recruit people into a religious group.

To share their faith, citizens must secure a government permit through a registered religious organization, and they cannot evangelize anywhere besides churches and other religious sites. The restrictions even apply to activity in private residences and online.

This week, Russia’s Protestant minority—estimated around 1 percent of the population—prayed, fasted, and sent petitions to President Vladimir Putin, who will have to approve the measures before they become official.

“Most evangelicals—leaders from all seven denominations—have expressed concerns,” Sergey Rakhuba, president of Mission Eurasia and a former Moscow church-planter, told CT. “They’re calling on the global Christian community to pray that Putin can intervene and God can miraculously work in this process.”

Following a wave of Russian nationalist propaganda, the laws passed almost unanimously in the Duma, the upper house, on Friday and in the Federation Council, the lower house, today.

“If this legislation is approved, the religious situation in the country will grow considerably more complicated and many believers will find themselves in exile and subjected to reprisals because of our faith,” wrote Oleg Goncharov, spokesman for the Seventh-day Adventists’ Euro-Asia division, in an open letter.

Proposed by United Russia party lawmaker Irina Yarovaya, the law appears to target religious groups outside the Russian Orthodox church. Because it defines missionary activities as religious practices to spread a faith beyond its members, “if that is interpreted as the Moscow Patriarchate is likely to, it will mean the Orthodox Church can go after ethnic Russians but that no other church will be allowed to,” according to Frank Goble, an expert on religious and ethnic issues in the region.

Russian nationalist identity remains tied up with the Russian Orthodox church.

“The Russian Orthodox church is part of a bulwark of Russian nationalism stirred up by Vladimir Putin,” David Aikman, history professor and foreign affairs expert, told CT. “Everything that undermines that action is a real threat, whether that’s evangelical Protestant missionaries or anything else.”

Sergei Ryakhovsky, head of the Protestant Churches of Russia, and several other evangelical leaders called the law a violation of religious freedom and personal conscience in a letter to Putin posted on the Russian site Portal-Credo. The letter reads, in part:

The obligation on every believer to have a special permit to spread his or her beliefs, as well as hand out religious literature and material outside of places of worship and used structures is not only absurd and offensive, but also creates the basis for mass persecution of believers for violating these provisions.

Soviet history shows us how many people of different faiths have been persecuted for spreading the Word of God. This law brings us back to a shameful past.”

Stalin-era religious restrictions—including outlawing religious activity outside of Sunday services in registered churches and banning parents from teaching faith to their kids—remained on the books until the collapse of the Soviet Union, though the government enforced them only selectively.

Some have questioned whether the government could or would monitor religious activity in private Christian homes.

“I don’t think you can overestimate the Russian government’s willingess to exert control,” Aikman told CT. If history is any indication, the proposed regulations reveal a pattern of “creeping totalitarianism” in the country, he said….

If passed, the anti-evangelism law carries fines up to US $780 for an individual and $15,500 for an organization. Foreign visitors who violate the law face deportation.

Russia has already moved to contain foreign missionaries. The “foreign agent” law, adopted in 2012, requires groups from abroad to file detailed paperwork and be subject to government audits and raids. Since then, the NGO sector has shrunk by a third, according to government statistics….

[To read the full article, please click here]

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Elie Wiesel understood the terrible power of silence, the danger of not speaking out against evil, notes Natan Sharansky.

former political prisoner in the Soviet Union, current chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel and friend of Wiesel.

Elie Wiesel’s great mission on behalf of Soviet Jews

By Natan Sharansky, op-ed in the Washington Post on July 4

Perhaps better than anyone else of our age, Elie Wiesel grasped the terrible power of silence. He understood that the failure to speak out, about both the horrors of the past and the evils of the present, is one of the most effective ways there is to perpetuate suffering and empower those who inflict it.

Wiesel therefore made it his life’s mission to ensure that silence would not prevail. First, he took the courageous and painful step of recounting the Holocaust, bringing it to public attention in a way that no one else before him had done. His harrowing chronicle “Night,” originally titled “And the World Remained Silent,” forced readers to confront that most awful of human events — to remember it, to talk about it, to make it part of their daily lives. Then, as if that weren’t enough, he turned his attention to the present, giving voice to the millions of Jews living behind the Iron Curtain. Although he is rightly hailed for the first of these two achievements, it was the second, he told me on several occasions, for which he most hoped to be remembered.

Wiesel first traveled to the Soviet Union in 1965 as a journalist from Haaretz, on a mission to meet with Jews there, and was shocked by what he saw. Those with whom he spoke were too afraid to recount Soviet persecution, terrified of reprisals from the regime, but their eyes implored him to tell the world about their plight. The book that resulted, “The Jews of Silence,” was an impassioned plea to Jews around the world to shed their indifference and speak out for those who could not. “For the second time in a single generation, we are committing the error of silence,” Wiesel warned — a phenomenon even more troubling to him than the voiceless suffering of Soviet Jews themselves.

This was a watershed moment in Soviet Jewry’s struggle. While the major American Jewish organizations felt a responsibility to stick to quiet diplomacy, wary of ruffling Soviet feathers and alienating non-Jews in the United States, Wiesel’s book became the banner of activists, students and others who would not stay quiet. He had realized that the Soviet regime wanted above all for its subjects to feel cut off from one another and abandoned by the world. Indeed, I can attest that even 15 years later, Soviet authorities were still doing their utmost to convince us — both those of us in prison and those outside — that we were alone, that no one would save us and that the only way to survive was to accept their dictates….

[To read the rest of this column, please click here]

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Amidst ISIS darkness, is an unprecedented spiritual revival happening in the Muslim World? Yes. (My interview with CBN News.)

CBN-MuslimsTurningToChrist

“Is there an unprecedented spiritual revival taking place in the Islamic world?”

I was recently asked this question during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. The answer, remarkably, is a resounding “Yes.”

Amidst the darkness of Radical and Apocalyptic Islam and the war, terrorism, widespread poverty, illiteracy, alcohol and drug abuse and other pathologies they produce, millions of Muslims have, in fact, been leaving Islam and turning to faith in Jesus Christ.

This is a dramatic and encouraging trend, one I’ve been writing about on this blog (see here, here, here and here), and one that deserves more far more attention and detailed reporting.

To see the CBN interview and story, please click here.

Here are excerpts: Best-selling author Joel Rosenberg recently spoke to CBN News about the incredible revival in the Muslim world. He cites a 19-page peer-reviewed study detailing the unprecedented wave of Muslims who are coming to Christ.

“From 1960 to 2010, the number of Muslims that have converted to faith in Jesus Christ has grown from fewer than 200,000 to some 10 million people” Rosenberg said, citing the study.

Rosenberg says the increase of Muslims converts to Christ could correlate to the turmoil in the Middle East.

“A lot as happened in the last fifty years in the Middle East. There’s a lot of revolutions, war, turmoil, poverty, and what I think is happening, especially in the last 10-15 years, is many Muslims are deeply uncomfortable with the idea that ISIS, or Iran’s leadership, or Assad are the type of people that represent Islam.”

Many Muslims are finding their questions answered through dreams and visions about Christ.

“God is moving very powerfully using dreams and visions Muslims are having of the Man in white, of Jesus Himself,” Rosenberg says.

But even though God is revealing Himself to Muslims through dreams and visions, Christians are still fundamental to fulfilling the Great Commission in the Muslim world.

“In a world of 1.6 billion Muslims, we have a long way to go. So if we are going to fulfill the Great Commission and reach every nation with the Gospel, we are going to have to pick up our game and be much more faithful,” Rosenberg says….“This is a moment to be praying for them, that God would open their eyes.”

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Last August, the ISIS magazine put Turkey in the jihadis’ crosshairs. Now all signs point to ISIS, says Turkish PM, as death toll rises in Istanbul bombings.

128

Dabiq-Erdogan

Few Westerners have paid much attention until now, but the Islamic State has put the people and leaders of Turkey — and particularly Istanbul, which for centuries served as the seat of the Islamic kingdom or “Caliphate” — in its crosshairs.

These two threats echoed a video ISIS released in the fall of 2014 vowing to “conquer” Turkey and declaring to Erdogan, “Be prepared for the good news, for the time for your rule to end is getting close at the hands of the state of the caliphate.”

Ironically, Erdogan (pronounced “AIR-do-wan”) is an increasingly dangerous and authoritarian Islamist himself, and a rising threat to the West, as I noted in a column last month. He is cracking down on journalists who criticize him. He’s building close ties with the terrorist leaders of Iran. He provides safe haven for Hamas terror leaders. He has also been allowing foreign fighters to cross through Turkey for years to join ISIS and other jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq and, for the most part, turning a blind eye to their presence.

These are some of reasons Turkey plays a key role in my new novel series, including a terrorist bombing in the heart of Istanbul in The Third Target.

But as a member of NATO, a long-time ally of the U.S., and a cooperating partner in the European Union economy, Erdogan isn’t nearly Radical enough for the leaders of ISIS. Nor does Erdogan share the fanatic End Times theology driving the leaders of ISIS.

What’s more, Turkey has diplomatic ties with the State of Israel, and has actually been working on improving those ties in recent months. Notably, yesterday’s savage terror attacks at Istanbul’s main international airport came on the same day that Turkey and Israel announced the normalization of diplomatic relations after six years of strains.

In recent months, therefore, ISIS is believed to have been responsible for planning a series of terrorist attacks in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey, though some (fortunately) have been foiled. Last October, 128 people were killed in suicide bombings in Istanbul. Turkish officials said they believed ISIS was responsible.

And earlier this year:

Now Turkey’s new Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim, is telling reporters that all signs point to ISIS being responsible for these latest attacks in Istanbul.

So far, however, ISIS has not formally claimed responsibility.

Meanwhile, the death toll keeps climbing. As of 5pm local time on Wednesday, there were 41 confirmed deaths, as well as at least 239 people wounded. Also dead are the three terrorists involved in the operation, two of whom detonated suicide bombing vests after opening fire with automatic weapons.

Please pray for Turkey.

  • Pray for the Lord to comfort & heal all those injured in & traumatized by the attacks.
  • Pray for the Lord to comfort the families and friends of all those who were killed.
  • Pray for Turkish authorities to get serious in defeating ISIS and protecting their people — and foreign guests, businesspeople, tourists, etc — rather than allowing ISIS fighters to transit the country with a free hand.
  • Pray for the Church in Turkey to be bold, loving, compassionate servants to the Turkish people.
  • Pray for the Gospel to be proclaimed to every person in Turkey that they may find the hope, peace, healing, comfort, forgiveness and eternal life only available through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Developing….

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The vast majority of the Islamic world is not a threat. Why, then, do I say 7% to 10% of the world’s Muslims are Radicals? Here’s why.

Pew-ISIS-support-poll

On Sunday, I made the following assertion during an interview on the Fox News Channel:

“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.”

A number of you have asked for the data behind such an assertion. So let me explain the sources I’ve used over the years to develop a rough estimate of the number of Muslims that could reasonably be considered “Radicals.” Let’s start with data from 2007. Then we’ll look at more recent data gathered between 2013 and 2015.

How Many Radicals Are There? (Gallup Data From 2007)

In 2008, authors John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed published a book titled, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think. Esposito was a professor of Islamic studies at Georgetown University and founding director of the school’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Mogahed, herself was a devout Muslim, and was executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies. (I cited their work in a non-fiction book I wrote in 2009, Inside The Revolution, about trends in the Islamic world.)

As Esposito and Mogahed stated in their introduction, “This book is the product of a mammoth, multiyear Gallup research study. Between 2001 and 2007, Gallup conducted tens of thousands of hour-long, face-to-face interviews with residents of more than 35 nations that are predominantly Muslim or have substantial Muslim populations. . . . In totality, we surveyed a sample representing more than 90 percent of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims, making this the largest, most comprehensive study of contemporary Muslims ever done.”

What these two scholars discovered was fascinating, and sobering.

First, the good news. After asking scores of different questions to test attitudes and intentions, the Gallup poll revealed that upwards of 93 percent of Muslims worldwide in 2007 fit Esposito and Mogahed’s definition of a “moderate”—that is, peaceable, nonviolent, and traditionally religious but unlikely to pose a threat to Western security interests. In Egypt, for example, 94 percent of Muslims said they would like to have a constitution that would guarantee “allowing all citizens to express their opinion on the political, social, and economic issues of the day.” In Iran, 93 percent said they wanted such personal and political freedom, as did 90 percent of Muslims in Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic country. In Turkey, 93 percent of Muslims believed women should have the right to vote, as do 89 percent of Muslims in Iran and 90 percent in Bangladesh. Nine in ten Muslims in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Turkey, and Lebanon believed that women should have the same legal rights as men. All very good news, indeed.

Now the bad news. While the overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide were moderates in 2007, about 7 percent at the time would have been classified as Radicals. That is, they were supportive of anti-American and anti-Western terrorism, believed it is fully justified, and thus were sympathetic of and potentially helpful to violent Islamic extremists. This constituted the pool from which current Radical jihadists are recruiting future jihadists, and thus they pose a serious threat to Western security interests.

“According to the Gallup poll, 7 percent of [Muslim] respondents think that the 9/11 attacks were ‘completely’ justified and view the United States unfavorably,” Esposito and Mogahed concluded. “By focusing on the 7 percent, whom we’ll call ‘the politically radicalized,’ we are not saying that all in this group commit acts of violence. However, those with extremist views are a potential source for recruitment or support for terrorist groups. . . . They are also more likely to view other civilian attacks as justifiable.”

At first glance, 7 percent may seem like a relatively small number. But the implications of such results are staggering. Seven percent of 1.3 billion Muslims equals 91 million people. It may comfort people to know that the vast majority of the world’s Muslims are peaceful people. But how comforting is it to know that 91 million Muslims are “politically radicalized”? After all, were these 91 million people to form their own country—the Islamic Republic of Radicalstan, say—they would represent the twelfth largest country on the planet, having twice the population of Spain, nearly three times the population of Canada, almost ten times the population of Sweden, and more than twelve times the population of Israel.

Extensive polling also found that the Radicals were not necessarily more religious than moderate Muslims; nor did they necessarily attend mosque more frequently or read the Qur’an more often. They were simply differently religious. That is, they were fully devoted to a radicalized interpretation of the Qur’an, such as the theologies taught by the Ayatollah Khomeini, Sayyid Qutb, and Osama bin Laden.

Moreover, these Radicals did not tend to be poor, uneducated, unsophisticated people living in some hovel somewhere, though there are certainly Radicals who come from impoverished backgrounds. According to the Gallup poll data, the typical profile of a Radical in 2007 was young, male, smart, college-educated, financially well-off, technologically literate, highly mobile, deeply determined, and thus incredibly dangerous. According to the study:

  • 49 percent of political Radicals are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine.
  • 62 percent are male, while 37 percent are female.
  • 67 percent have secondary education or higher.
  • 65 percent say they have average or above-average income.

As I noted in Inside The Revolution, not all scholars agreed in 2007 with the Gallup data that only 7 percent of Muslims were Radicals. Other research suggested the 7 percent figure may have actually been too low. According to a 2007 Pew Research Center poll, 28 percent of Egyptian Muslims said they believed suicide bombings against civilian targets were sometimes or often justified; 17 percent of Turkish Muslims agreed, along with 10 percent of Indonesian Muslims, 14 percent of Pakistani Muslims, 29 percent of Jordanian Muslims, and 46 percent of Nigerian Muslims. (See Andrew Kohut, “Muslims in America: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream,” Pew Research Center, May 22, 2007, http://pewresearch.org/assets/pdf/muslim-americans.pdf, accessed June 24, 2008.)

How Many Radicals Are There? (Current Polling Data From Pew Research)

Where are we now, nearly a decade after the sweeping Gallup study?

First, the global population of Muslims has increased to more than 1.6 billion, up from about 1.3 billion.

Second, looking closely at more recent data in recent years, I’m less comfortable saying only 7% of the Muslim world would be considered Radicals and now believe the figure is more likely between 7% and 10%. This still shows the vast majority of Muslims are not a threat to us. But, of course, 10% of 1.6 billion is a staggeringly large number of people from which the Radicals can recruit.

Here are some of the data I’ve been looking at:

Consider a November 2015 study by the Pew Research Center examining support for the Islamic State in Muslim-majority countries:

  • Lebanon — 0% support for ISIS
  • Israeli Arabs — 1%
  • Jordan — 3%
  • Indonesia (256 million people, 87% of whom are Muslims) — 4%
  • Palestinians — 6%
  • Turkey (80 million people, 99% Muslim) — 8%
  • Pakistan (200 million people, 96% Muslim) — 9%
  • Malaysia (30 million people, 61% Muslim) — 11%
  • Nigeria (181 million, 50% are Muslims) — 14%

While this Pew study did not look at every Muslim country, the data are helpful. They corroborate the premise that the vast majority of Muslims do not support ISIS. However, they also reveal that overall, roughly 7% to 10% of Muslims do, in fact, have a favorable view of the violent — even genocidal — theology, strategy and tactics of the Islamic State. In some specific countries, support for ISIS is even higher than the median.

Consider also a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center examining Muslim support for al Qaeda.

The key finding was that after all the violence inflicted on the world since the mid-1990s — and perhaps especially after all the Muslims that have been killed by al Qaeda in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere, Muslim support for the al Qaeda terror movement has been dropping.

  • “In our 2013 poll, a median of only 13% among Muslims across the 11-countries surveyed had a favorable view of al Qaeda,” reported the Pew Research team.
  • “The highest support was in the Palestinian territories, where 35% of Muslims had a favorable view of al Qaeda. But elsewhere, less than a quarter of Muslims held a positive opinion of the extremist organization. Support was lowest in Lebanon, where only 1% of Muslims had a favorable impression of al Qaeda.”
  • “Support for al Qaeda among Muslims plummeted most dramatically in Nigeria, by 40 percentage points, during the 2010 to 2013 time period, probably as a result of increased terrorist activity by al Qaeda-linked Boko Haram,” notes Pew.
  • “In Jordan, [support for al Qaeda] fell by 21 points among Muslims during the same time period.”

Note: while Pew finds that an average of 13% of Muslims worldwide supported al Qaeda in 2013, it seems likely that three years later that percentage has continued to drop and may be closer to 10% or 11% today.

Consider several 2013 and 2014 reports by the Pew Research team showing that Muslim support for suicide bombings against civilians to defend Islam has dropped significantly over the past decade or so.

“Overall, support for suicide bombing and related forms of violence has declined in the last decade across the Muslim publics surveyed,” noted Pew researchers.

  • In Indonesia — again, the world’s largest Islamic country — Muslim support for suicide bombings against civilians dropped from 15% to 9%.
  • In Pakistan, support for suicide bombings dropped from 41% to just 3%.
  • In Lebanon, support for suicide bombings dropped from 74% to 29%.
  • In Jordan, support for suicide bombings dropped from 57% to 15%.
  • In Nigeria, support for suicide bombings dropped from 34% to 19%.

“For the most part, support for suicide bombing is not correlated with devoutness,” observed the Pew researchers. “Generally, Muslims who say they pray five times per day are no more likely to support targeting civilians to protect Islam than those who pray less often. The only exception is the Palestinian territories, where 66% of Muslims who pray five times per day say suicide bombing is often or sometimes justified versus 49% of those who pray less than five times per day.”

Conclusion

The bottom line is that is right and fair and accurate to say that the vast majority of Muslims are not violent, not dangerous and do not pose a threat to the national security of the United States or our allies.

But the data are also clear that roughly 7% to 10% of the world’s Muslim population do hold Radical theological, eschatological, ideological and political beliefs that cause them to support the murderous vision, strategies and tactics of the Islamic State, al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. This represents upwards of 160 million people. Not all will become suicide bombers or join violent jihadist movements. But this is the pool from which the followers of Radical Islam are recruiting.

It is, therefore, critically important that American and other world leaders closely study the theology and eschatology that is motivating this minority of the Muslim world to support the killing of civilians.

If we refuse to properly study and define our enemies, we will never be able to defeat them. And if our leaders continue to misunderstand the nature and threat of the evil we face, they will continue to be blindsided by future attacks.

Let me close with two questions:

  • Why do upwards of 1-in-10 Muslims hold a theological interpretation of the Qur’an and hadiths that lead some of them to murderous violence and others to outright genocide?
  • How do we mobilize the 90% of Muslims who hold moderate theological views to challenge the Radicals?

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Four critical truths the President & candidates need to understand in the debate over Radical Islam.

Fox-Joel-Shannon-June2016(Jerusalem, Israel) — If you read nothing else from this column, please read and remember these four critical points:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blind-sided by it.
  4. 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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BREAKING NEWS: Terrorist pledged allegiance to ISIS before launching Orlando attack. Now, ISIS officially claims responsibility. Are more attacks coming?

OmarMateen-2

Leaders of ISIS have now officially claimed responsibility for the murders in Orlando. Given that just days ago they called for acts of terrorism inside the U.S. and across Europe, is it possible that more lone wolf attacks — or larger attacks — are coming soon? Federal authorities are trying to answer this question and so many others. Here’s some of what we know so far.

UPDATE: “Hours after the attack, the Islamic State claimed responsibility in a statement released over an encrypted phone app used by the group,” reported the New York Times. “It stated that the attack ‘was carried out by an Islamic State fighter,’ according to a transcript provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadist propaganda.” That said, “officials cautioned that even if Mr. Mateen, who court records show was born in New York and had been married and divorced, had been inspired by the group, there was no indication that it had trained or instructed him, or had any direct connection with him.” For additional coverage from other sources, click here.

UPDATE: “Four days before a shooter in Florida killed at least 50 people and wounded dozens others in the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, a pro-ISIS organization released a hit list with more than 8,000 people,” reports The Daily Caller. “The list includes more than 600 people who live in Florida…Known as the “United Cyber Caliphate,” the pro-ISIS group that released the ‘kill list,’ CBS 12 reports, hacked U.S. Central Command, and threatened President Obama. The organization reportedly sent out the names, addresses and emails of thousands of civilian Americans.”

UPDATE: President Obama spoke to reporters this afternoon and confirmed this “this was an act of terror” and an “act of hate” which he called a “horrific massacre.” However, he refused to suggest the possibility that this was an act of Radical Islam. Nor did he mention or comment on reports that the suspect had pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State. For the moment, the President is right not to speculate. He should wait for all the facts to come in. The question is whether he will point to the threat of Radical Islam if that is, in fact, where the facts lead.

(Washington, D.C.) — A senior Member of the House Intelligence Committed says there is evidence that the terrorist responsible for the mass shooting in Orlando pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State prior to acting.

We still need to cautious about what we learn in these early hours. It may take time to sift out precise information from rumors. But this is what an elected official and the media is reporting at this hour, so I’m passing it along to you.

Omar Mateen “made a pledge of allegiance to ISIS,” California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said on CNN, reports the New York Post.

“The fact that this shooting took place during Ramadan and that ISIS leadership in Raqqa has been urging attacks during this time, that the target was an LGBT nightclub during (LGBT) Pride (month) and, if accurate, that according to local law enforcement the shooter declared his allegiance to ISIS, indicates an ISIS-inspired act of terrorism,” Schiff said.

“Whether this attack was also ISIS-directed, remains to be determined,” said Schiff. “I’m confident that we will know much more in the coming hours and days.”

Meanwhile, US Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) cited intelligence sources to say that there “appears to be” a link to Islamic radicalism and ISIS, the Post also reported.

“I asked the FBI if there was any connection to Islamic radicalism. There appears to be,” Nelson said. “But they are naturally cautious and waiting throughout to see if if this is, facts emerge.”

“At this point, this is an incident, as I can see it, we can certainly classify as a domestic terror incident,” Jerry Demings of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said.

UPDATE: Orlando suspect’s father hosted a TV show and now pretends to be Afghanistan’s president. (Washington Post)

Developing…..

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BREAKING NEWS: 50 dead, 53 wounded in act of terrorism in Orlando. Worst mass shooting in American history comes days after ISIS calls for attacks inside the homeland.

OmarMateen-selfie

The worst mass shooting incident in American history — 50 dead, 53 wounded — took place in Orlando, Florida this morning, and federal authorities are already describing it as a “terror incident.” 

The question is whether the ghastly attack on an LGBT nightclub was an act of domestic terror, or one motivated by Radical Islam.

Federal authorities say the shooter — Omar Saddiqui Mateen, 29, of Port St. Lucie (who was shot and killed by police on the scene) — was a U.S. citizen, born to parents from Afghanistan. One news report indicated that twice in recent years the FBI has investigated Mateen but found no reason to prosecute.

Let’s give law enforcement time to properly investigate this act of evil before we draw conclusions about Mateen’s motives.

But it should be noted that the horrific attack comes days after a spokesman for the Islamic State called for lone wolf terror attacks in the U.S. and Europe.

“Ramadan [is] the month of conquest and jihad,” said Abu Mohammed Al-Adnani in a recently released audio recording. “Get prepared, be ready…to make it a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers…especially for the fighters and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America.”

I categorically condemn this act of unjustified terrorism against the LGBT community. All American citizens, residents and visitors — all, regardless of who they are and what they believe — have the right to life. Indeed, I hope all Christians will condemn this act and that we’ll all be praying for the families and friends of those killed, and praying for full recoveries for those wounded.

Let us also all be praying for our national leaders that they would be clear-eyed and resolute in fighting terrorism of all kinds and all motivations, including that driven by Radical Islam and Apocalyptic Islam.

Whatever Mateen’s background, associations and motives turn out to be, I believe ISIS, al Qaeda and other terror groups are Hell-bent on unleashing more and larger terrorist attacks inside the American homeland. May our leaders fully and truly understand the nature of the evil we are facing lest they be blindsided by it.

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Which presidential candidate truly understands the threat of Radical Islam, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

Hillary-Trump2(Washington, D.C.) — During my brief time here in the nation’s capital, in addition to working on my next novel, I’ve been meeting with Members of the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and other Middle East experts. We’ve been discussing the latest trends in Radical Islam and Apocalyptic Islam and how to confront these challenges in the years ahead.

On Thursday, I was interviewed by a political reporter about the presidential race and which presumptive nominee truly gets the magnitude of the threats we face in the epicenter and is effectively prepared to keep Americans and our allies safe. Here are excerpts from that interview:

EXCLUSIVE: RADICAL ISLAM EXPERT — HILLARY CLINTON ‘MOST CORRUPT AND DEEPLY FLAWED DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE’ IN HISTORY

By Alex Swoyer, Breitbart News, June 9, 2016

Joel Rosenberg, a New York Times best-selling and award-winning author who focuses on radical Islam, said presumptive Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt and flawed Democratic candidate in history — but the Middle East expert isn’t too excited about presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump either.

“We’re in a strange moment where Hillary Clinton has the most foreign policy experience, but her judgment on the key foreign policy issues — especially radical Islam — is horrible,” Rosenberg, who is a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, told Breitbart News during an exclusive interview on Thursday. “She’s the most corrupt and deeply flawed Democratic candidate that has emerged in history and it’s not clear that we have a candidate at the moment who is able to play against her weaknesses on the issue of foreign policy….

He spoke to Breitbart News about the threat of radical Islam following the terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in which four people were killed.

“This is a pretty serious breach of Israeli security,” he said of the attack, noting it’s the first attack in three months in which civilians were killed. He also referenced a terrorist attack in Jordan earlier in the week, noting that he had previously met with King Abdullah II of Jordan. “We’re in this together.”

“We are allies in a real war, a hot war, against radical Islam,” Rosenberg added.

“We know that we are not in danger from all Muslims,” he said. “This is about a radical, violent subset, which is probably ten percent or less of the entire Islamic world according to a lot of survey data….”

“What’s stunning is that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama absolutely refuse to define the threat to Americans and our allies as radical Islam. The president, of course, for seven and a half years absolutely refused to use the term radical Islam,” Rosenberg criticized, saying one must fully understand the threat posed in order to not be blindsided.

Although Rosenberg believes Clinton is an extremely flawed candidate for President of the United States, he isn’t supporting presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump either because he’s “deeply uncomfortable” with Trump’s rhetoric with regard to his proposed Muslim ban, in which Trump suggested stopping Muslim immigration into the United States until an improved vetting system was in place.

“Donald Trump will use the term ‘radical Islamic threat,’” he explained. “What gives me real caution about Trump is … first of all, he refuses to commit to ripping up the nuclear deal with Iran.”

“To give them nuclear energy, ballistic missiles and a pathway to nuclear weapons is insane and Donald Trump won’t commit to scrapping that insane nuclear deal that President Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry negotiated. That raises serious questions about whether Trump understands the threat or whether he’s just picked up the rhetoric of radical Islam,” He questioned.

He also criticized the billionaire saying, “Trump has said we’re going to go kill women and children who are wives and children of terrorists. This plays directly into the hands of terrorists.”

Although Rosenberg is critical of Trump’s rhetoric and his proposal to pause Muslim immigration, he says he doesn’t believe Syrian and Iraqi refugees should come into the United States.

“I do not support opening the floodgates to allowing Syrian and Iraqi refugees to flood into the United States. We do not have an ability to vet tens of thousands of refugees that are coming from countries where ISIS and other radical groups are completely infiltrated,” he stated. “Hillary Clinton’s proposal to bring 65,000 more Syrian refugees into the country is incredibly dangerous and we absolutely should not do that.”

He said Trump’s mistakes come “when he says sweeping statements,” which are made “through inexperience and flawed instincts.”

“What we need to be saying is that the vast majority of Muslims are not a threat and we need to focus on radical Islam,” Rosenberg said.

[NOTE: These are my own personal views as an American citizen. They don’t represent in any way the views of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-political, non-partisan organization.]

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