NASHVILLE (BP) — The U.S. government has been unwittingly complicit with a “pre-violent” form of Islamist attack on the West known as “civilization jihad.”
That was the allegation of Center for Security Policy president Frank Gaffney and other speakers during a Feb. 25 lunch at Proclaim 16, the National Religious Broadcasters’ International Christian Media Convention in Nashville. Part of civilization jihad, speakers argued, involves silencing critics of radical Islam and preventing law enforcement officials from investigating potential terrorists based exclusively on their ties with extremist Muslim groups.
The success of this tactic, speakers alleged, was one reason two terrorists in San Bernardino, Calif., were able to kill 14 people in December without being apprehended beforehand by law enforcement.
Civilization jihad “is a stealthy, not so much nonviolent as pre-violent form of jihad,” Gaffney said, “something that will be used to accomplish exactly the same purposes as the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, al-Shabab [and] al-Nusra Front.” Those purposes are “the triumph of Sharia [an Islamic legal system] and the rule of some religious authority.”
Civilization jihad is a useful tactic in situations where radical Islamists “are not strong enough” to establish Sharia “by brute force,” said Gaffney, an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration.
The strategy of civilization jihad was outlined in a 1991 memo written by Mohamed Akram, a senior Hamas leader and board of directors member for the Muslim Brotherhood in North America, the U.S. chapter of an Egyptian Islamist organization. An English translation of Akram’s memo became public when the federal government used it as evidence in the 2007 trial of the terrorist organization The Holy Land Foundation.
The “role of the Muslim Brother [sic] in North America,” Akram wrote according to the government’s English translation of his memo, includes “a ‘Civilization-Jihadist Process’ with all the word means.”
“The Ikhwan [Arabic for Muslim Brotherhood] must understand,” Akram wrote, “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 others.”
Victory in civilization jihad, Akram wrote, involves “enable[ing] Islam” and establishing it as “a part of the homeland in which it lives.”
The presidential administrations of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, influenced by individuals with ties to Islamist groups, unwittingly helped advance the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda by silencing criticism of radical Islam, said Sandy Rios, director of governmental affairs for the American Family Association, and Philip Haney, a senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy.
Rios lamented what she labelled “the infiltration of Islamists in the Bush White House among conservative Republicans.”
Haney, a former Department of Homeland Security employee, identified as the fruit of civilization jihad a January 2008 memo from the DHS’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in which the Bush administration counseled, “Words matter,” and advised government officials to exercise “caution in using terms such as, ‘jihadist,’ ‘Islamic terrorist,’ ‘Islamist,’ and ‘holy warrior.'”
The Muslim Brotherhood’s influence on the Obama administration was evidenced by the administration’s invitation of Muslim Brotherhood leaders to attend a 2009 speech the president delivered in Cairo, Haney said. When Obama visited a Baltimore mosque this month, Haney said, “he had no excuse [for] not knowing that mosque was a closely affiliated Muslim Brotherhood organization.”
The influence of Islamists has affected specific U.S. actions, policies and regulations, Haney argued. For example, the DHS’s 2010 Countering Violent Extremism Working Group included members who were “Muslim Brotherhood affiliates,” including two who were not U.S. citizens, he said.
In 2012, Haney said, the FBI stopped using training materials deemed anti-Muslim, a fact reported in numerous media outlets at the time. He also noted a 2016 lawsuit settlement in New York City that ended police surveillance of Muslim communities, a fact corroborated by a New York Times report.
Rios alleged the influence of Islamists contributed to Obama’s 2012 assertion in a United Nations address that “the future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam.”
Civilization jihad also likely contributed to the secular media’s lack of coverage of a knife attack last month in Columbus, Ohio, by an Islamic militant who yelled, “Allah Akbar” as he carried out his crime, Rios said. Similarly, civilization jihad probably helped silence neighbors of the husband-wife terrorist team in San Bernardino who saw “suspicious activity” but “did nothing because they were afraid they would be called Islamophobes.”
In an op-ed for The Hill last year, Haney said he conducted an investigation at the DHS which had the two San Bernardino terrorists “in our sights” but which was cancelled for fear of violating the civil rights of foreign Muslims travelling in the U.S.
The investigation targeted “numerous groups infiltrating radicalized individuals into this country,” Haney wrote, and involved creating records of “individuals, mosques, Islamic Centers and schools across the United States that were involved in this radicalization effort.”
However, “after more than six months of tracking; over 1,200 law enforcement actions and more than 300 terrorists identified; and a commendation for our efforts; the DHS shut down the investigation at the request of the Department of State and DHS’s own Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Division,” Haney wrote. “They claimed that since the Islamist groups in question were not Specially Designated Terrorist Organizations (SDTOs), tracking individuals related to these groups was a violation of travelers’ civil liberties.”
He added that the Obama administration “went back and erased” evidence gathered through his investigation.
“Why does the global jihad movement want to stop freedom of speech?” Haney asked at the NRB lunch. “Because freedom of speech is their greatest enemy. If they can shut down freedom of speech, there aren’t any defenses left.”
John Andrews, a former Richard Nixon speechwriter and Colorado state senator, compared Islamic jihadists’ attempts to silence all criticism of Islam with a gunman’s telling a large crowd to “freeze.” The gunman could hold hostage a crowd of several hundred people if everyone obeyed his command. But if a few people rushed the gunman and attacked him at risk of their lives, he could not possibly continue to hold the room hostage.
Similarly, Andrews said, Americans are more vulnerable to violent terrorist attacks as long as they obey calls by civilization jihadists to “freeze” all investigations or criticisms of radical Muslims.
“I speak not of all Muslims,” Andrews said, “but the Islamists and their political arm the Muslim Brotherhood. They cannot freeze the target of Christians and Jews and people of good will or no faith whatsoever…. They cannot silence us if we refuse to be silenced. But we must refuse.”