Reviewed by Colonel (USA, ret) James L. Abrahamson, Ph. D.
Andrew C. McCarthy, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America, New York: Encounter Books, 2010, ISBN
978-1-59403-377-3, 455 pages, $27.95
Andrew C. McCarthy, former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District Of New York, began developing his understanding of Islam when assigned as the lead prosecutor for the 1995 terrorism trial of “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others. Rahman led the group of violent Muslims who murdered Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League (1990), bombed the World Trade Center (1993), and planned attacks (1995) on New York City landmarks, beginning with the two Hudson River tunnels, the United Nations, and the headquarters of the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force. In Willful Blindness, A Memoir of the Jihad, McCarthy related the story of the Blind Sheikh’s trial, highlighting the difficulties of trying jihadi terrorists in American civil courts. McCarthy now serves as a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and as contributing editor at National Review.
The Two Faces of Islamism
In Grand Jihad, McCarthy expands his focus beyond the minority of Muslim terrorists, who advocate and employ violence to defeat the West and impose Islamic government and sharia law on the world. To that end they attacked the World Trade Center, U.S. embassies, military installations, and rail systems. Any readers who believe those “extremists” advocate a corrupted form of Islam and pose the principal Islamic threat to the United States and the West will find McCarthy’s argument an eye opener. Perhaps half the world’s Muslims share the terrorists’ faith and aims if not their violent tactics. They pose as moderates because they regard violence as counterproductive and believe their non-violent approach a more effective means to the same ends.
Putting aside adjectives like moderate, extremist, and radical and recognizing that his terminology will not please all Muslims, McCarthy elects to follow common practice and label as Islamists all who wage jihad—violently or not—on behalf of traditional authoritarian Islam. Based on his research, McCarthy concludes that the Islamists may fairly be regarded as the true Muslims—however much Westerners may wish otherwise. Whether advocating Islamic expansion by violence or subterfuge, all Islamists regard Islam as a “complete, obligatory guide to human existence, governing all matters political, social, cultural, and religious, from cradle to the grave.” McCarthy regards Islamists as the major threat to the U.S. and the West.
The vast majority of the Islamists—e.g., Saudi Wahhabis and Salafists and the Egyptian Muslim Brothers—believe jihad is best pursued through subterfuge and sabotage, undermining Western societies while publicly concealing their intentions and endeavoring to appear as moderates. Certain lies being acceptable to faithful Muslims, Islamists may even publicly criticize the practitioners of violence. Both strains nevertheless share a common goal: to Islamize the United States and the West. Their Islam is no religion of peace, at least until they have Islamized the world and forced everyone to submit to Islamic totalitarianism. In the meantime, they hope the rest of us will continue underestimating and appeasing them. McCarthy hopes we will awaken to the threat and resist.
McCarthy is quick to acknowledge that not all the world’s or the West’s Muslims are anti-Western or support the imposition of a global Islamic caliphate. Hundreds of millions of Muslims, especially in Asia (e.g., Indonesia) and some of those resident in the West, eschew violence, live happily under popular governments, and give little thought to Islam’s brutal sharia law. They live in relatively free societies and may be willing to cooperate with the West in support of religious tolerance, individual liberty, and elected government. The Islamists, however, regard such true moderates as apostates worthy of execution because of their failure to practice the true faith and support the global spread of Islam and its totalitarian form of government.
The Muslim Brotherhood
Briefly setting his argument in a global context, McCarthy reports that, according to the CIA, in the thirty-year period prior to 2003, the Saudis spent $2 billion per year spreading their brand of Wahhabi fundamentalism well beyond the kingdom’s borders A truly open election might soon bring the Brotherhood to power in Egypt, and according to the Wall Street Journal Turkey’s Islamist government had its secularists on the ropes by mid-August. In the United States, McCarthy reveals, the Muslim Brotherhood has spent several decades creating and spinning off Islamist organizations working to undermine American resistance to the establishment of Islamist government—and it has found many non-Muslim allies.
As a result of the 2007 Texas trial of the Holy Land Foundation for financing terrorism, the FBI obtained the Brotherhood’s 1991 playbook, entitled “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.” Members of the Brotherhood—also known as the Ikhwan—“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 is made victorious over all other religions.” To that end, the Brotherhood has established Muslim schools and sharia-based mosques and staffed them with imams, like Anwar al-Awlaki. The former prayer leader of the Islamist Dar al-Hijrah mosque, has now fled to Yemen, from where he influenced the terrorist activities of both Major Nidal Malik Hassan, the Fort Hood shooter, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Detroit underwear bomber.
Typically, however, the Brotherhood has been subtler and less murderous if no less dangerous. When Muslim students began flocking to the United States in the Sixties, it created university chapters—now 600 in number—of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), which acquainted students with the work of the Brotherhood’s Islamist founders and sought to indoctrinate them with the true faith. To disseminate Ikhwan views worldwide, in 1972 it build on the MSA base the intolerant, boldly anti-Semiitic World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), based in Riyadh but with branches in the U.S. and financed by Saudi money. Ramsi Yousef, a WAMY member, found violence attractive and became one of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers. Another American-based (Michigan) organization, departs from the Brotherhood’s usual emphasis on non-violent jihad. The Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA) calls for suicide bombings in the U.S. and broadcasts fatwas “legalizing” such killings. The North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), a tax-exempt and Saudi supported organization, now effectively controls over two thousand U.S. mosques and the Islamist doctrine their imam’s preach. It has also joined with the MSA in the creation of an umbrella organization, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which provides a home for former MSA students—now graduated and electing to remain in the U.S.—and has become, according to McCarthy the “nucleus for the Islamic movement in North America.”
Before moving on, there are two other Brotherhood organizations—the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)—worthy of attention. Relying on First Amendment protections, in 1992 the Ikhwan created the overtly anti-American MAS to be the more overt U.S. face of the Brotherhood. Its leaders claim to oppose violence, though acknowledging that all Muslims have a divine right to engage in jihad to spread Islam. Its members conceal their conviction that religion and politics cannot be separated and that their ultimate aim is a United States under Islamic government. They hope to use American democracy to put faithful Muslims in elected office and throughout governmental bureaucracies. Since incorporated in Illinois in 1993, MAS has created fifty chapters and moved its headquarters to Alexandria, VA.
About the same time, Islamists incorporated CAIR as a supplement to the educational work of MAS. As an Islamic civil-rights organization, CAIR would focus on the media. Until exposed, it also worked closely with Muslims who were financing Hamas and became an unindicted co-conspirator in their trial, which sent several CAIR officers to prison. Despite that rocky start, CAIR soon began to achieve its purpose as a media spokesman for Islamic propaganda and Muslim civil rights. It described, for instance, the convictions of the 1993 WTC bombers as a “travesty,” long denied Osama bin Laden’s responsibility for 9/11, took a leading role in opposing the Patriot Act, and joined with the ACLU to condemn the Bush administration’s efforts to monitor al Qaeda communications. At the present, CAIR remains the American cable news go-to organization when an Islamic spokesman is needed.
The Appeasement of Islam
If the threat posed to the United States and the West by falsely moderate Islamist organizations is McCarthy’s first fully developed argument, his book’s first chapter introduces another theme when he wonders if the waist-deep bow President Obama made to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Azziz during the G-20 meeting in London might convey tolerance of the king’s desire to supplant “Western political, economic, and cultural values.” The absolute monarch of arguably one of the world’s most repressive, intolerant, anti-Semitic states and a global financier of Islamist (Wahhabi) institutions and Islamic terrorism, that is surely Abdullah’s goal.
The president’s Cairo speech also had McCarthy wondering about the intentions and values of the new American administration. Giving his speech at al-Azhar University, an ancient seat of Sunni learning, showed the president’s respect for Islam. What else did that choice convey in light of the fact that the university’s faculty supported terrorist operations against American troops in Iraq? Among its graduates are found such opponents of the West as the Blind Sheikh, Yusaf Qaradawi—a leading light of the Muslim Brotherhood—and al Qaeda founder Abdullah Azzam. In addition the studies of Islamic jurisprudence by the university’s Grand Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi support suicide bombing. Over Egyptian objections, Obama also insisted on inviting ten members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that murdered Anwar al-Sadat and that had just been found guilty in the largest U.S. terrorism financing trial to date. Just what, McCarthy wondered, was included in “The New Beginning” the president announced.
The president’s Cairo speech also included many fictional accounts of Islamic history and doctrine and a defamatory description of Israelis as morally equivalent to Southern slaveholders. Despite Islam’s spread during a millennium of anti-Christian and anti-Western Muslim imperialism, the president called Islam a religion of peace. To make the latter point, the president drew from the early portions of the Koran and ignored the more authoritative later verses calling for violence against Jews and Christians. Nor did the president remind listeners that Islam had no tradition of tolerance. Rather than co-existence Islam seeks hegemony. Conversion, slavery, or a second-class status are the best that non-believers can expect under its caliphate. The President need not have attacked Muslims for Islam’s history, but he hardly showed respect for them or the United States when his speech promoted myths.
Though McCarthy supports his condemnation of the President’s and the Left’s appeasement of Islamist Islam with numerous examples of their refusal to acknowledge the threat posed even by Islamists who claim to reject violence, liberal readers will surely react with outrage to McCarthy’s view of Obama and the Left. Even equally harsh criticism of the Bush administration’s appeasement of Islamic fundamentalism will not likely moderate liberal feelings.
McCarthy is nevertheless quick to acknowledge that the Bush administration — apparently blind to the differences between a truly moderate Islam and an Islamism with ties to violence and subversion — initiated the claim that Islam was a “Religion of Peace” or even of “Love and Peace.” Bush officials also tried to eliminate jihad from the U.S. Government’s dictionary and pushed the claim that the “true Islam” had nothing to do with terrorism. The new Department of Homeland Security then announced the nonsense that “Islam and secular democracy are fully compatible.”
As McCarthy sees it, the Obama administration has pushed ahead along that path of appeasement. The War on Terror became an Overseas Contingency Opearation. Islamist terrorists become Violent Extremists, with no reference to the Islam that inspired them. Though U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, tutored by Anwar al-Awlaki, formerly of the Islamist Dar al-Hijrah mosque, repeatedly shouted Allahu Akbar while murdering a dozen American soldiers at Fort Hood, the Obama FBI quickly asserted that no terrorism was involved. Army Chief of Staff General George Casey then described the Islamist inspired massacre as a “tragedy” that must not be allowed to harm the Army’s diversity policies, which were its great strength. Never mind that the diversity policy had for months caused Hasan’s colleagues to overlook his open support for Islamism and hatred of the United States. The Obama administration’s reaction to Detroit underwear bomber Uman Farouk Abdulmatallab was much the same. After fifty minutes of FBI questioning and a delay of three days, the president described Abdulmatallab as an “isolated extremist” and again stated that the United States is “not at war with Islam.”
Not all of Islam, not all Muslims, to be sure. Are American presidents — served by the world’s largest intelligence agencies — incapable of understanding that all Islamists, though not all Muslims, want to destroy American and Western democracies and put in their place a despotic and totalitarian Islamist caliphate? It would seem so. But why? Do they see the danger but fear to rouse an American public they perceive as unable to distinguish between those Muslims whose first loyalty is to Western-style secular government and individual rights and those who wish to impose on others an authoritative but medieval Islam? Do our leaders believe that they can help truly moderate Muslims win the struggle for modernizing their faith by appeasing Islamists and failing to inform the wider public of the dangers the latter pose to the West? Has multiculturalism so infected the West that its leaders fear to discriminate between enemies and potential allies?
James Abrahamson, a graduate of West Point and the holder of a doctorate from Stanford University, served 27 years in the U. S. Army retiring as a Colonel. He is a member of the board of directors of American Diplomacy Publishers and a Contributing Editor of American Diplomacy. He has authored four books on military history.