CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, February 17, 2015 – At long last two journalists have arrived at the realization, that ISIS is indeed Islam.
It has taken a long time to arrive at that determination by two members of the media. One writer, Graeme Wood of the Atlantic, is considerably more eloquent in his analysis than Keven Stevins of Red State, but they both arrived at the same general conclusion .
Stevens gets there by asking familiar questions about “where are the Muslim protests against ISIS” and “why is the Muslim street silent.”
He takes a back-door approach by asking “what could be a greater insult to Islam than to put up a state, call it the Islamic state, and then perform every form of barbaric butchery, every crime against humanity, and every form of evil you could possibly imagine?”
Stevens is on the right track, but his comments derail by taking the traditional point of view that Islam is something other than what ISIS portrays itself to be.
His analysis more or less rights itself with the conclusion that if Muslims do not speak out, then they must be complicit.
“The existence and naming of the Islamic State should be the greatest libel of Islam anyone has perpetrated in this century,” writes Stevens.
“What can we conclude? That Muslims worldwide believe the behavior of the Islamic State is neither an insult to, nor is it incompatible with, a statement of Islamic faith?”
Graeme Wood of the Atlantic has a deeper perspective that takes Stevens’ ideas to another level.
Quoting Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, Wood writes that Nagata has no illusions that we have yet to understand the “appeal” of the Islamic State. Said Nagata, “We have not defeated the idea. We don’t even understand the idea.”
Any way you look at that statement, it is a direct contradiction of everything we have been told from the White House.
But Wood carries his analysis further with a simple yet convincing explanation of the comparisons between ISIS and Islam.
He begins with the basic claim that the ISIS “state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival [emphasis added]; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.”
In the latest issue of Dabiq, the Islamic State’s online magazine, ISIS makes precisely the same point to its readers.
What Wood concludes next is frightening because it demonstrates that there are viable means of defeating ISIS though the West fails to recognize them.
ISIS “follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior,” says Wood.
The key here is that Islamic extremists play this game with reckless abandon against the West because they understand “how” we play it. Yet, the Koran provides a detailed road map for the war against Islamic jihad and the West ignores it.
“We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways,” Graeme writes. “First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. Bin Laden viewed his terrorism as a prologue to a caliphate he did not expect to see in his lifetime. The Islamic State, by contrast, requires territory to remain legitimate, and a top-down structure to rule it. (Its bureaucracy is divided into civil and military arms, and its territory into provinces.)
“We are misled in a second way, by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature [emphasis added]. Bin Laden corporatized terror and franchised it out. His foot soldiers navigated the modern world confidently. On Mohammad Atta’s last full day of life, he shopped at Walmart and ate dinner at Pizza Hut,” Wood points out.
The West lives in a 21st century world and therefore attempts to assign contemporary motives to the Islamic State. ISIS, on the other hand, may exist in the modern world, but its philosophies still reside in the 7th century.
“That jihadists are modern secular people, with modern political concerns, wearing medieval religious disguise—and make it fit the Islamic State,” explains Wood. “In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.”
Wood then adds, “they insist that they will not—cannot—waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers. They often speak in codes and allusions that sound odd or old-fashioned to non-Muslims, but refer to specific traditions and texts of early Islam.”
And finally, Graeme Wood adds the “kicker” with the most important statement of all, “The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic [emphasis added]. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam” [emphasis added].
Once the West and Barack Obama understand that, which they seemingly never will, the war against Islamic jihad and global terror can be waged with a true opportunity for victory.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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