- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2003

The war on terror has been the object of our national attention for nearly three years now. Yet the impetus behind this conflict arguably remains as much a mystery to millions of Americans as it was on September 11.

While there are a number of contributing factors, a Senate Judiciary Terrorism subcommittee hearing chaired last month by Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, strongly suggested one overarching one: A long-term, global and often violent struggle for the soul of Islam being waged by the radical state religion of Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism, backed by the full resources, royal family and government of that kingdom.

To be sure, the Sunni Wahhabis’ counterparts in the Shi’ite sect — notably those supported by the ruling mullah-ocracy of Iran — are also contributing to the terrorist threat we face. Troublesome as these Iranian efforts are, however, they pale by comparison with those fueled by the rival Saudi-Wahhabi determination to dominate the followers of Mohammed worldwide, forcibly if necessary.

This is seen as a necessary first step toward establishing a new caliphate that will ultimately hold sway over both Muslims and non-Muslims under the extreme interpretation of the Koran that is, literally, the constitution of Saudi Arabia. Incredible as it may seem, this ambition is not new; it has its roots in the quintessential marriage-of-convenience forged between the House of Saud and the founder of Wahhabism, Mohammed ibn Abdul Wahhab, nearly 260 years ago.

What is frighteningly new, though, is the progress that the Kyl hearing showed has been made toward Wahhabi domination of the Islamic faith.

This has been made possible by decades of Saudi investment in promoting jihad (holy war or struggle) via mosques, their educational arms (madrassas) and numerous religious and ethnic front organizations on every continent — including, worryingly, North America and the United States. Al Qaeda is only the best known of a number of Wahhabi-associated terrorist networks that are engaged in murderously advancing their religion’s enterprise against those considered to be infidels, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

Few people have done more over a longer period of time to warn of the dangers posed by extremist Islam to its co-religionists and the rest of us than Daniel Pipes. Through decades of scholarship, writing (including numerous books and almost innumerable articles) and public commentary, he has helped to define the difference between peaceable, law-abiding, tolerant and pro-Western Muslims and “Islamists” who are none of the above. He has argued for years that the former have as much of a stake as anyone in countering the rising influence of the latter, and must be recognized and embraced as such.

Not surprisingly, those working for, funded by or otherwise associated with the Islamists have been infuriated by Mr. Pipes and his warnings that expose — and, if heeded, could defeat — their currently fraudulent claim to lead and speak for all Muslims.

One of the few signs that the Bush administration appreciates the important differences between Wahhabis and their Islamist ilk, on the one hand, and the rest of the Muslim world on the other, has been the president’s courageous nomination of Mr. Pipes to the board of directors of the U.S. Institute of Peace. While the post is not terribly influential, let alone visible, it nonetheless requires presidential appointment and Senate confirmation. The Pipes nomination will, accordingly, be the subject of a hearing tomorrow before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The possibility that a man who has broken the code on the threat posed by the Wahhabis and other Islamists — and has done as much as anybody to raise an alarm about it — might actually be credentialed in this way is driving their fellow-travelers to distraction. Organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations are mounting a vituperative campaign against the Pipes nomination, replete with press releases, phone banks and letters to committee members and other senators.

The good news is that a number of courageous non-Wahhabi Muslims have expressed strong support for Mr. Pipes’ appointment to the Peace Institute’s board. Even some tolerant, pro-American Muslims who say they disagree with Mr. Pipes’ positions on occasion appreciate that he has spoken on their behalf, as well as that of non-Muslim targets of Islamist enmity.

They are urging legislators not to cave in to what amounts to brute intimidation under the false pretense that those exercising it represent the entire American Islamic community.

Whatever happens to his nomination in the days ahead, Mr. Pipes has earned this column’s annual “Horatius-at-the-Bridge” Award for his sometimes controversial but always thoughtful, principled and tenacious efforts to inform his countrymen, both Muslims and non-Muslims, of the dangers posed by radical Islam. Like the legendary Roman who single-handedly saved his city by defending a bridge against hordes of enemy invaders, Mr. Pipes has rendered signal public service with his contributions to the war on terror, including those he made long before most of the rest of us knew it was under way.

Insofar as Horatius Pipes has understood so much for so long about the character and driving force behind the central conflict of our time, he is a brilliant choice to help guide an organization dedicated to promoting international peace. No one comprehends this better than those who would deny him this role — most especially those whose future influence and successful pursuit of the Wahhabi agenda depend critically upon suppressing public awareness of the high-stakes struggle now under way for the soul of Islam.

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

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide