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BOOK REVIEW: How soft jihad worms its way here

- The Washington Times - Friday, July 30, 2010

THE GRAND JIHAD: HOW ISLAM AND THE LEFT SABOTAGE AMERICA
By Andrew C. McCarthy
Encounter, $27.95, 456 pages

Ronald Reagan once said, "Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction." Readers of this book are likely to conclude that the turning point may be much nearer than they thought. Its author, Andrew C. McCarthy, was the U.S. attorney in New York City who put away Omar Abdel Rahman, "The Blind Sheik," and his co-conspirators after the 1993 World Trade Center garage truck bombing. The case prompted Mr. McCarthy to become a deep and serious student of jihad.

Mr. McCarthy recognizes that jihad comes in two forms. The first is internal, in which the individual Muslim gets square with God. The second, the subject of this book, is often called "violent jihad," although it usually is stealthy rather than violent. Koranic teaching permits this kind of jihad when Islam is deemed to be under attack. It is considered to be defensive in nature (although early post-Muhammad conquests were anything but defensive). Some Islamist purists (Osama bin Laden comes quickly to mind) consider the slightest Western influence in Muslim lands as an attack or invasion, right down to selling Coca-Cola or Pepsi, and respond with bombings intended to drive out such influences.

Mr. McCarthy's focus is not on al Qaeda violence, suicide bombers or the Taliban, despite the importance of picking off their leaders, disrupting their finances and, whenever possible, putting them out of business. Rather, he concentrates on a nonviolent but pervasive and insidious form of jihad worming its way into American society. It is the "soft" jihad inspired and led by the Muslim Brotherhood, the "godfather" of most jihadist organizations operating in the Western world.

Most Americans are unfamiliar with the Muslim Brotherhood, created in Egypt in 1922 by Hassan al-Banna. It was Banna who first used the term "Islamist" to describe the belief system "which holds that Islam is the complete obligatory guide to human existence, governing all matters political, social, cultural and religious." Banna's description applies not only to the Osama bin Ladens of the world but also to a large number of Muslims who share the Osama goal of having Shariah law rule everywhere (although they do not actively promote violence themselves).

There are, of course, many Muslims who are happy living in societies led by secular governments and want nothing more than to pursue happiness for themselves and their families. Many Islamists, however, consider such co-religionists apostates for living this way and, according to the Islamist interpretation of the Koran and the haddith (Muhammad's teachings) say they will be considered disposable where and when Shariah law prevails. Mr. McCarthy took the book's title from a Muslim Brotherhood document unearthed when the Holy Land Foundation, an Islamist front, was put on trial two years ago.

It stated that Brotherhood members in this country "must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion (Islam) is made victorious over all other religions."

With this in mind, one can readily connect some dots: the proliferation of mosques and Muslim private schools in the United States and the proliferation of organizations - such as the Muslim American Society and the Council on American-Islamic Relations - whose role is to attack critics of Islamism. In several European countries, the immigration of Muslims, along with their high birth rate, threatens to undermine the indigenous majority's hold on the institutions of society. An Islamist strategy is to isolate its members into enclaves that demand internal control (and the beginnings of Shariah law). The Archbishop of Canterbury even made the foolish suggestions a few months ago that British courts should cede jurisdiction in certain matters pertaining only to Muslims to Shariah courts.

Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood's intellectual leader, has expounded on the differences between Islamists and Islamist terrorists, but the author makes it clear these are really distinctions without a difference. The goal is the same: "Islam applicable at all times and at all places."

Peter Hannaford is a member of the Committee on the Present Danger.

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