Jim Clark: Are all Muslims terror threats in America?
It is clear from Democratic and Republican presidential debates as well as public opinion polls that the threat posed by Islamic terrorists is foremost on people’s minds. Therefore, I would like to continue to explore that issue and comment on proposals to contain or eliminate the threat.
There are an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, of which approximately 2.7 million reside in the US. Are they all terror threats or is it just certain Muslim sects similar to the professed Christian cults at Waco and Jonestown? The answer is complicated.
The pillars of the Muslim faith are set forth in the Koran (“Qur’an”) and include daily prayers, alms for the less fortunate, fasting, pilgrimage and striving for perfection.
The Koran, from which Sharia Law is derived, is believed to have been given by God (“Allah”) to the Prophet Muhammed in the 7th century who then delivered it to his people as a final revelation.
It is specific, precise, held as sacred and, unlike the Christian Bible, has never been altered since it was first published. The Bible has been translated into many different languages and revised over the ages. The Koran is only studied in its original Arabic.
There are sociological differences between Muslims. Those from such places such as Afghanistan and Somalia suffer poverty, violence and intolerance but the primary split relates back to Muhammed’s death in the 8th century when Muslims divided into Sunni and Shi’ia factions, differences that persist to this day over who Muhammed’s successor should be.
What else should westerners understand about Islam? Shiraz Maher, a former Muslim extremist and now a research fellow at Kings College (London) studying Muslim terrorist groups, provides some interesting perspective.
According to Maher Muslim extremists despise any act, warlike or otherwise, that western powers perform. Whether it is air dropping medical supplies and food to help Yezidis or dropping bombs the incursion by the west is incendiary. They believe the Islamic state must conquer “Rome” in the “final battle” as prophesied in the Koran, and that the west is now “Rome.”
Maher feels that the current limited air campaign against ISIS is ineffective and that the west’s best strategy is to contain Muslim terrorism; the fact that ISIS now controls large land masses makes the problem more critical because they attract Muslims from all over.
Maher cautions against treating all Muslims as terrorists. He says terrorism is widely reviled by scores of Muslims and that ISIS engages in terrorist attacks such as Paris in order to produce a backlash against all Muslims by the west.
That drives non-extremist Muslims into ISIS’s camp. He believes that chances of a Paris-type attack in the US are low due to geography. On November 20, 2015 Maher predicted: “What the US is more likely to experience is a domestic attack coming from a Muslim in country who became radicalized.” Just 12 days later, the San Bernardino attack took place.
If western “boots on the ground” have not worked in the past and the limited air war is “ineffective” what policies should voters hope to hear from the current crowd of presidential candidates?
Donald Trump’s proposal to temporarily halt all Muslim immigration until a “vetting” system is figured out has certainly drawn criticism and might, as Maher suggests, even be helping ISIS recruit and radicalize. Yet the Rasmussen poll shows that 46 percent of all voters favor Trump’s idea with 40 percent opposed. Only 14 percent are undecided.
An allied coalition of anti-terror Muslim states such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others would seem like an effective counter force to regain land controlled by ISIS, but the Obama Administration has shown no ability or willingness to pull together such an organization.
The presidential wannabes have no official standing to pursue such a goal until one of them is elected, so it appears as though caution is in order until an adult moves into the White House.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.