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January 15, 2008

Rudy: Don't Blame Us For Terrorism

The New York Times editorial board recently offered a critique of Rudy Giuliani and his views on the causes of terrorism. Following Giuliani's assertion that al-Qaeda's hatred has nothing to do with American foreign policy but springs from a virulent strain of Islam that cannot abide anything outside of its precepts, the Times scolded Giuliani for ignoring the complaints of radical Islamists as a cause for their violence. Thomas Joscelyn rebuts this criticism with some history, and some facts:

Raymond Ibrahim explains the difference between our enemies’ propaganda and their real motives in his excellent book, The Al Qaeda Reader. Ibrahim says the theme of our enemies’ propaganda is “always the same.” In its messages to the West, al Qaeda says it “is merely retaliating for all the injustices the West, and the United States in particular, has brought upon Muslims.” However, the rationale al-Qaeda offers in its theological treatises, which were composed to justify their terror “within an Islamic framework,” are very different. In these statements, al-Qaeda’s hatred of everything we stand for shines through.

Democracy, women’s rights, secularism, and the right to pursue the faith of our choice are just some of the aspects of Western society al-Qaeda’s leaders cite as evidence of our supposed moral decay. Indeed, they argue “practically everything valued by the immoral West is condemned under sharia law.” That is, our Western society is wholly at odds with the fascist laws they seek to impose. We are, in al-Qaeda’s words, the “infidels” and the “Great Satan” and deserve to die.

Al Qaeda’s hatred is not new. Islamic terrorists have hated us for decades. One of the most influential jihadist ideologues of the twentieth century, Sayyid Qutb, seethed with hatred for America after studying in Colorado in the late 1940’s. Qutb hated everything about the America he saw, from jazz music to the mingling of the sexes at church dances. Qutb clearly hated us for who we are, and not our supposedly flawed policies. Al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorists around the world are the proud heirs of his hate today. Qutb’s writings are still among the most widely cited in jihadist circles.

The Times acts as though we are the only people targeted by al-Qaeda, and therefore we are to blame for their hatred. However, that is patently absurd. AQ has attacked and killed civilians in many other countries, most of whom do not share our foreign policy. Britain is our closest ally, and perhaps their London bombings could be dismissed as a proxy for an attack on us, but Britain has had a very welcoming policy towards Muslims (as have we, for that matter). Spain doesn't share our foreign policy views, and didn't at the time of the Madrid bombing, although they had participated in the liberation of Iraq.

But does Morocco share our foreign policy? Does Turkey? Bali, a tourist resort in Muslim Indonesia, has been attacked twice with hundreds lost. How about Kenya, where a 2002 suicide attack on a hotel killed 16? Or Algeria, where 27 people died last April in coordinated attacks? Or India, where an affiliate has conducted several terrorist attacks over the past few years?

One could find the Times guilty of a bizarre case of ethnocentrism and narcissism that falsely puts America at the center of the jihadi universe. Not every motivation for anger in the world starts or ends in the US. As the wide range of targets shows, al-Qaeda has much more on its mind than American foreign policy. It may comfort the shrieking Gray Lady to think that we can avoid their wrath simply by appointing a different Secretary of State, but that matters little to the jihadists.

Giuliani is correct; the fault lies with the lunatics who conduct the attacks. Their own writings and apologetics shows their hatred of all that lies beyond shari'a and their drive to destroy every last bit, until all kneel in submission to their interpretation of Islam. Rudy's clarity and argument on this point is one reason why Republicans, and Americans, ought to give Giuliani's candidacy serious consideration.


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