The mission statement of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, a part of the Army War College, notes that it is the Army’s most important education center for our warfighters. Its mission is to make “available contemporary and historical materials related to strategic leadership, the global application of landpower, and U.S. Army Heritage to inform research, educate an international audience and honor Soldiers, past and present.”
That is, as so long as the history, research and scholarship is deemed acceptable to partisan Islamic organizations.
As recently reported by Bill Gertz in his Inside the Ring column, the planned presentation by Raymond Ibrahim was cancelled by the War College under complaint and aggressive negative publicity by the self-described civil rights organization, Council of American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR.
Mr. Ibrahim is the author of an important 2007 book, “The Al Qaeda Reader,” published while he was a researcher at the Library of Congress. Mr. Ibrahim has the unique capacity to read and study modern and classical Arabic. He cites source materials the average researcher cannot access. Mr. Ibrahim translated boxes of captured al Qaeda documents unknown to that point. An important thesis of his book was that the messaging and communications by al Qaeda leadership was tailored to Western and Islamic audiences. Grievances to the West were couched in familiar political terms of oppression, racism, inequality. Messaging to Islamic audiences were based on Islamic religious doctrines, sharia law, mandates of jihad, and exhortations on the duties to fight in advancing Islam.
His now-cancelled presentation is based on his most recent book “Sword and Scimitar.” This historical work analyzes eight decisive battles between Islam and the West that shaped the modern world, from the Battle of Yarmuk in 636 to the near fall of Vienna Austria in 1683, including the sieges of Constantinople in 717 and 1453, the latter ending in the destruction of the Eastern Orthodox Roman Empire. With almost 1,000 endnotes and 216 works cited — a wealth of primary source and arcane texts — Mr. Ibrahim tells the story of these battles through the eyes of the participants in their own words and perspectives.
An important thesis of Mr. Ibrahim’s work is that the Islamic world has been in perpetual war against the West from its inception until the colonial era. And those wars were fundamentally rooted in Islamic religious dogma and drive. That is on its face, a historically arguable thesis and worthy of free academic inquiry and debate.
Mr. Ibrahim cites the late, great Arabist, Bernard Lewis: “We tend nowadays to forget that for approximately a thousand years from the advent of Islam in the seventh century to the second siege of Vienna in 1683, Christian Europe was under constant threat from Islam, the double threat of conquest and conversion. Most of the new Muslim domains were wrested from Christendom. Syria, Palestine, Egypt and North Africa, were all Christian countries, no less, indeed rather more than Spain and Sicily. All this left a deep sense of loss and fear.”
The exhaustive scholarship is unassailable. Historian Victor Davis Hanson writes in the foreword, “Sword and Scimitar is first-rate military history and a product of solid scholarship and philological research.”
However, in their letter opposing Mr. Ibrahim’s speech to the War College, CAIR made no academic arguments concerning the book’s merits; their message was simply that Mr. Ibrahim — who is ethnically Egyptian — is a racist Islamophobe, promoting “white nationalism.”
CAIR’s foundation is in Hamas, the combat jihad arm of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood. They were an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal material support to terrorism trial, the Holy Land Foundation trial. Ultimately, after years of public exposure, the FBI was forced to cut professional ties with them. I sincerely doubt the War College leadership is conversant on the goals, objectives and activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in America and its front organization CAIR. I will put it in terms they might understand. The trial discovery documents revealed their long view campaign plan, which is centered on “civilizational jihad”— their words.
To quote from their Explanatory Memorandum: “The Ikhwan [The Muslim Brotherhood] 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 Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
Canceling Mr. Ibrahim’s presentation at the Army War College demonstrates that the global jihad’s information warfare campaign is effective and operating within DoD academic halls.
Mr. Ibrahim’s cancellation had nothing to do with his scholarship, which is sound, resourced and thoroughly documented. This is about controlling the all-important narrative and historiography of Islamic history and the West — and cowardly academic and military leadership that, in bending to CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood, has unwittingly demonstrated Mr. Ibrahim’s thesis in Sword and Scimitar.
• Joseph Myers is a retired Army lieutenant colonel who specializes in counterterrorism and insurgency issues. He served in Afghanistan and as a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst.