Last week, John Brennan, the assistant to President Obama for homeland security and counterterrorism approvingly recalled a key point in the speech Mr. Obama delivered in Cairo in June: “America is not and never will be at war with Islam.” Unfortunately, that statement ignores the fact that the decision as to whether the United States is at war with anybody is not entirely up to our leadership or people. The real question: Is Islam at war with us?
Certainly, hundreds of millions of Muslims the world over are not seeking to wage war against the United States, or other non-Muslim states. America has, as Mr. Brennan noted in his remarks before the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Thursday, a powerful interest in not making all those who practice Islam into our enemies.
Yet it would be a grave mistake to construe the problem we face as Mr. Brennan proceeded to do in his speech at CSIS: “We are at war with al Qaeda which attacked us on 9/11 and killed 3,000 people. We are at war with its violent extremist allies who seek to carry on al Qaeda’s murderous agenda.” He described that agenda as seeking “to replace sovereign nations with a global caliphate.”
Unfortunately, that is the stated goal of all those who adhere to what authoritative Islam calls Shariah — a number that includes many millions of people the world over. Mr. Brennan’s speech made no reference to this wellspring of jihadism.
Of course, not all those who embrace Shariah are prepared to use terror against us. Shariah requires, though, that if its adherents do not actually engage in violent jihad, they must support it through financial or other means. After all, according to Shariah, the purpose of jihad is to bring about the triumph of Islam over the entire world. Shariah commands that the faithful must use violence where possible to advance that objective, and nonviolent means where not.
By failing to recognize this justification and catalyst for the threat we face, Mr. Obama and his administration effectively foreclose the possibility of countering it effectively. Worse yet, in their understandable desire not to give gratuitous offense to Muslims, the U.S. government has repeatedly deferred to those who are most easily and most vocally offended.
Specifically, the latter — notably, the putatively nonviolent, but virulently Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and its myriad front organizations — have come to dictate what our officials can and cannot say about the danger posed not just by al Qaeda and its “violent extremist allies,” but by all those who embrace the teachings, traditions, institutions and dictates of what authoritative Islam defines as “mainstream”: Shariah.
This practice effectively disenfranchises American Muslims who reject this Shariah program — precisely the sorts of people we should most want to empower. Last week, I discussed this problem on our talk radio program with someone who is trying to do something about it: Rep. Sue Myrick, North Carolina Republican.
As it happens, Ms. Myrick’s district is not far from where Daniel Patrick Boyd and other purported “homegrown” jihadists were reportedly plotting attacks abroad, and possibly here. What is more, the financial sector so prominent in the Charlotte area she represents is also a prime target of one of the most insidious forms of what author Robert Spencer calls “stealth” jihad: Shariah-compliant finance.
Ms. Myrick, a co-founder of the House Anti-Terror Caucus, recently convened a meeting to afford “moderate” Muslims an opportunity to interact with representatives of various federal law enforcement and other agencies responsible for securing this country.
According to Ms. Myrick, some of the officials seemed to discover for the first time that there are practitioners of Islam who do not embrace the seditious tenets of Shariah — and who were extremely concerned about the government’s almost exclusive reliance on those who do.
Fortunately, decisions in federal court in recent weeks may produce some urgently needed policy course-corrections. Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff in the Eastern District of Michigan recently cleared the way for accelerated and wide-ranging discovery in connection with a suit brought by a Michigan Iraq war veteran, Kevin Murray, against the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Board.
Mr. Murray is challenging on constitutional separation of church-and-state grounds the practice of a U.S. government-owned company, the insurance conglomerate American International Group Inc., promoting Shariah-compliant products.
It seems likely that the depositions that will now be taken by Mr. Murray’s legal team — securities litigator and Shariah expert David Yerushalmi and attorneys at the Thomas More Law Center, led by its director Richard Thompson — will shed important light on the federal government’s understanding of authoritative Islam’s seditious program. It may also reveal the extent to which U.S. officials have, with their failure to comprehend the true nature of the threat we face, acted, either wittingly or unwittingly, in ways that have enabled it to metastasize further.
Whether through the revelations of this lawsuit or through the work of influential legislators like Ms. Myrick, the time has come to recognize that even if we insist we are not at war with Islam, many of the authorities of Islam are at war with us. Only by so doing can we connect with and empower our natural allies in this war — Muslims who want to enjoy liberty in a Shariah-free America. And only by so doing, do we have a chance of prevailing.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for The Washington Times and the host of the nationally syndicated Secure Freedom Radio.