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The path to … ?

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In the wake of this weekend's spate of actual and attempted car-bombings in the United Kingdom, I watched the uncut version of "The Path to 9/11" — ABC's dramatic portrayal of the events that contributed to, and culminated in, the deadliest attacks on U.S. soil to date. As the brilliantly crafted segments (written by Cyrus Nowrasteh) rolled by showing addled thinking, failed policies and missed opportunities to prevent those attacks, I kept thinking: What mistakes are being made today that will form the backdrop to the next, possibly far more horrific, terrorist strikes in this country?

When they occur, the official investigation will doubtless chronicle similar sorts of problems. Warnings ignored or not acted upon in time. Failures by government agencies to learn from past mistakes and take corrective action. Decisions by the perpetrators, by those trying to defeat them and by innocent victims that produced tragedies, potentially on an unimaginable scale.

My guess is the single most important contributor to our vulnerability to future attacks, however, will prove to be the result of a systematic failure by our government to understand the nature of our enemies, and to deal with these foes appropriately. A case in point was President Bush's visit to the Saudi-underwritten Washington Islamic Center last week.

The occasion was the mosque's 50th anniversary. It amounted to a celebration of Saudi Arabia's effort to promote dawa in America: the inculcation of Islam in this country and the domination of the Muslim faith by the Saudis' totalitarian Wahhabi cult.

The president's participation in the rededication of this facility is a perfect metaphor for his administration's central failure in this War for the Free World. The Washington mosque has repeatedly been found to be disseminating hateful, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and anti-American literature. Such material, and the indoctrination of which it is a piece, are at the core of the intolerant Islamofascist ideology promoted by the Saudi cult and practiced by its adherents, like Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda and myriad other terrorist groups.

Among the 200 invited Muslim and other guests were a number of Islamists like Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). As ever, the White House vetters were seemingly untroubled by the presence of an organization recently declared by the Justice Department to be a front for the Islamofascist Muslim Brotherhood and an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorist-financing plot involving the notorious Holy Land Foundation.

Orders for the FBI and Transportation Security Administration to use CAIR to tutor agents on Muslim sensibilities and outreach infuriates line agents who understand the true nature of this and affiliated groups, and are working to defeat them.

Mr. Bush seemed to be following similarly abysmal advice as he announced at the mosque that he would be appointing a "special envoy" to "listen and learn from" the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). This entity offers 57 countries with majority Muslim populations a platform for issuing joint statements and making common cause. Unsurprisingly, the OIC is, with scarcely any exceptions, sympathetic to jihadists, supportive of the nuclear weapons aspirations of member states like Iran and viciously hostile to the United States and other Western nations and peoples.

For example, as the New York Times reported in October 2003, the OIC members gave a standing ovation to their host, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who called on Muslims to join forces against Jews. Mr. Mahathir claimed that, despite the fact that the Jews are "a tiny community," they have "gained control of the most powerful countries" and, thus, "become a world power" and "rule the world by proxy."

The question occurs: As bad an idea as dispatching an envoy to the OIC is, will President Bush compound it by designating an Islamist who will, almost certainly, work against our interests there? Or, contrary to past practice, will he reject bad advice and appoint an authentically anti-Islamist, pro-American Muslim — one capable of truly representing this country, wherever necessary challenging and, yes, alienating some Islamic nations?

Still more worrying are persistent reports the Bush administration will not content itself with merely dignifying and legitimating Islamist individuals, organizations and institutions associated with and in the service of Saudi Wahhabis and their counterparts in a classic totalitarian good-cop/bad-cop routine — the Muslim Brotherhood. The administration is evidently intent on embracing the Brotherhood itself.

The ostensible reason for doing so is that the Brotherhood has eschewed violence and is content to obtain power through elections. Evidently, the imposition of a fascistic legal code called Shariah via balloting and/or the steady accretion of concessions made in the name of religious tolerance is supposed to be different from, and preferable to, that achieved via terror and mayhem. In the end, though, it amounts to the same thing: a world without freedom, a world without America.

If we are to prevent further terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans and their government must stop blurring the distinction between Muslims who are determined to bring about — one way or another — our demise as freedom-enjoying people, and Muslims who are fully committed to preserving the liberties secured for us 231 years ago tomorrow and subsequently preserved at great cost in lives and treasure. Otherwise, we will find our own footprints on the path to the next act of Islamofascist terror.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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