While President Obama finger-points at President Bush and downplays his own lack of accountability in the mounting chaos and genocide occurring in northern Iraq, atrocities continue to be carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The latest horrifying act of ISIS brutality was the recently publicized beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley. For many Americans, the savage murder of Foley brings back memories of the beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl, and media footage depicting so called peaceful Muslims dancing in the streets as Arabs around the world celebrated the attacks carried out by Al Qaeda on 9/11. Amid the atrocity of the ISIS slaughter of innocents by the self-proclaimed caliphate is the usual deafening silence from the rest of the Muslim world.
Since 1997, there have been countless terrorist attacks carried out by radical Islamic terrorist groups such as the Abu Nidal Organization, Abu Sayaf Group, Al Qaeda, Gama’a al-Islamiyya, Hamas, Hezbollah and others. Currently, ISIS, the group that President Obama dismissed in January as the “Junior Varsity,” is now taking center stage and is said to be gaining strength and overshadowing Al Qaeda. Members of these Islamic terrorist groups are virtually 100 percent Muslims.
This week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gave classified testimony on Capitol Hill and declared that ISIS is a clear and imminent threat to the security of the United States. He noted they are very well funded, are militarized and now hiding in plain sight as a self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Hagel further warned that ISIS also poses a threat to U.S. partners in the Iraqi region.
While ISIS members are largely recruited from within Iraq and Syria, the organization is also recruiting Muslims from all over the world to join their jihad. According to CNN, U.S. officials and intelligence analysts estimate that the group now has more than 10,000 fighters in the region.
According to demographic statistics, in 2010 there were approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. A study by PEW Research projects that by 2030, the world’s Muslim population will increase by 35 percent to 2.2 billion. That number represents approximately 26.4 percent, or more than a quarter of the Earth’s population. That study also disclosed that the Muslim population in the United States at the last census was approximately 2.6 million. The PEW study projected the number would more than double to 6.2 million by 2030. Examination of the study revealed that in virtually no corner of the world is the Muslim population declining.
To many non-Muslim observers of the hundreds of Islamist terrorist attacks that have occurred globally, the silence coming from the Muslim community is alarmingly troublesome. Outsiders to the Muslim faith who give any thought whatsoever to the extreme violence perpetrated by Islamist terrorists must question if there is an implicit connection between the silence of 1.6 billion Muslims and terrorism. The concept of a connection between Islamist terrorism and Muslims is very simple to understand. It is widely accepted that not all Muslims are terrorists. It should be just as widely accepted that all Islamist terrorists are Muslims. It is what it is.
On one side there are radical Muslims carrying out terrorist attacks against non-believers, i.e., the infidel as well as the slaughter of other Muslims, the moderates, who do not subscribe to radical Islamist extremist views. On the other side are peace-loving non-violent Muslims.
One Canadian Muslim Imam, Syed Soharwardy, recently reported to the Calgary Sun that he has undertaken a personal hunger strike in protest of the ISIS extremist group’s atrocities in an effort to raise the consciousness of the city’s local youth to reject ISIS recruitment efforts. This week, Soharwardy had a Facebook chat with another Canadian Muslim who traveled to join the ISIS jihad. The Imam said he was condemned by the ISIS fighter as a “bad Muslim” and was admonished for speaking out against ISIS. Soharwardy described the phenomenon of Muslim youth joining ISIS as “epidemic,” and called the city an ISIS recruitment ground.
There are of course Muslims who are non-violent; who will not take up arms against the West or other moderate Muslims, but who will openly or silently support the death and destruction brought about by Islamist terrorists. However, it is grossly unfair and indeed unjust to categorize all Muslims, as some do, as bad people and potential terrorists. There are those Muslims, much like Imam Soharwardy, who genuinely possess the love of Allah in their heart. As no good deed goes unpunished, the Imam’s attempts to speak out and reason with one who sides with the extremist’s interpretation of the Koran, were met with condemnation.
When those like Soharwardy speak out, their voices are rarely heard and are not much more than token whispers in comparison to the terrorist explosions and the wailing of the victims of the ISIS genocide. What is left amid all who follow Islam are the overwhelming majority of peaceful Muslims in the world who simply remain silent allowing their religion to be twisted and contorted to justify daily atrocious acts of savagery at the hands of terrorist groups like ISIS. The difficulty in defining the silence of the Muslim majority is staggering; or perhaps it is an example of Ockham’s Razor, that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.
If the global image of Islam is to be viewed as its followers preach, that it is the one true religion of peace and love, the message would likely be better received if not preached with the detonation of a suicide vest in a crowded square or with the removal of a journalist’s head by the edge of a sword. What also complicates the matter is that it is not entirely understood by the West and non-Muslims whether or not Islam has been hijacked by a minority of Muslim Islamic terrorists engaged in Jihad, or if there is a larger scenario involving the millions of peaceful Muslims whose history has yet to be written.
One does not need to be a Rhodes Scholar to simply view world events on the Internet or television to attempt to determine the rationale for why things happen. One’s next logical thought process after observing the repeated lack of sustained, appropriate or serious condemnation of terrorism from the entire Muslim community, is the reasonable assumption that millions of Muslims quietly condone and support the actions of terrorists. To some observers, Muslims appear to believe that the end somehow justifies the means regardless of how heinous. Logic would seem to dictate that those in the majority of the Muslim population, if indeed are of the moderate variety rejecting extremism and terrorist tactics, would also be at risk and they should also have grave concerns.
Experts note that Islamist terrorism is problematic for all Muslims and non-Muslims alike. If, as Imam Soharwardy pointed out, the recruiting and volunteerism of Muslim youth is epidemic, then Secretary Hagel’s warning is justified that these legal passport holders will eventually return to their homelands as seasoned jihadist fighters who are ready, willing, and able to carry out terrorist attacks. One can only shudder to imagine what radical Islam, if unchecked, will look like in 16 years when it is projected statistically that more than one in four human beings on Earth will be Muslim.
Radical Islam continues to gain ground in its efforts toward world conversion and the movement is running virtually unimpeded across the globe. Amid the combination of continued atrocities by ISIS and the resulting silence coming from the rest of the Muslim world, there is a justified cause for concern.
Opinion by Mark Politi