Emily's blog

'Terrorists Must Not Dictate Our Justice System'

A tribute to the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon terror attack. (Source: © Wikimedia Commons/Ingfbruno)

A tribute to the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon terror attack. (Source: © Wikimedia Commons/Ingfbruno)

M. Zuhdi Jasser, MD

When Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts associated with the terror attack he helped to carry out at the 2013 Boston Marathon, we at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) joined the nation in feeling that the verdict opened the door to at least some level of closure for all affected. 

While the horrors of that day can never be erased, there is healing in bringing one of the monsters responsible to justice.

The verdict has also spurned a debate our country has been having for quite some time: is it right to put a criminal to death? 

This time, however, the criminal is a terrorist, acting in support of a global ideology which seeks the demise of all who do not submit to its whims; and the debate on whether or not to execute Tsarnaev has raised the question: should the United States not sentence Tsarnaev to death because it might inspire further acts of terror?

While supporters of AIFD and anti-Islamist reform may espouse a range of views regarding capital punishment as a general matter, it is important to address the question of Tsarnaev as “martyr” in the eyes of Islamists and would-be terrorists the world over. 

It is imperative to refuse, with conviction, and without apology, to make any decision in our American justice system based on how they may or may not react. Islamists will never be defeated by appeasement or negotiation. A strong, sound defeat is the only answer.

If Tsarnaev is sentenced to death, will radicals the world over treat him as a martyr? Absolutely. (By the way, Rolling Stone helped to guarantee this.) Will they use the sentence to rally their base and gain new supporters? Without a doubt. Should this certainty impact the punishment chosen by our courts? Definitely not. Why? 

Because the simple fact is that he and other radicals are and will always be treated as martyrs and heroes by those who wish us harm. Even those not sentenced to death, like Aafia Siddiqui (“Lady Al-Qaeda”), Tarek Mehanna and others have inspired campaigns from the U.S. to Pakistan, with supporters ranging from well-intentioned but naïve university students to violent Islamists. 

Individuals like Siddiqui and Mehanna, despite being very much alive, are treated as martyrs and heroes by the likes of ISIS and Al-Qaeda. ISIS even demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui when it proposed a prisoner exchange, claiming that they’d release journalist Steven Sotloff.

Changing how we sentence criminals because it might upset terrorists who already hate us doesn’t just fail to keep us safe. 

It is part and parcel of the lax behavior that led to ignoring the obviously dangerous intentions of Nidal Hasan and his inspiration, Anwar al-Awlaki. 

(Awlaki was rightly recognized as an enemy combatant, but well after he had already incited murderous violence.) In this war, our security was better served with Imam al-Awlaki dead than alive, and the same would go for both Hasan and Tsarnaev.

Allowing terrorists to dictate our justice system is an appeasement that is far more dangerous to American security and values than the ephemeral risk taken by carrying out justice against those who have attacked us. 

As Americans, we must insist that we not change the strength of our sentencing standards in order to appease those who seek our destruction. Instead, we must demand that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – and all who carry out acts of terror – be punished to the very fullest extent of the law.  

American Muslims should be at the forefront of efforts demanding this. The only antidote to the global ideology of the Tsarnaevs, ISIS, Mehanna, and Siddiqui is the empowerment of liberty-minded American Muslims. 

It is only through firm conviction and consistent dedication to our values that we will defeat the victim mantra and murderous ideology that was behind the horrific attacks of April 15, 2013.

M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. is the Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD).

King Salman Talks Tolerance But Rewards Bigotry Promotion

Ali Alyami

Ten days after he bestowed a prestigious Saudi prize on Dr. Zakir Naik, an extremist admirer of Osama Bin Laden and a bigoted promoter of enslaving and raping women and of denigrating other beliefs, King Salman called on Muslims to shun religious intolerance.

During a reception for a throng of Muslim “scholars” in his palace on March 10, 2015, the newly inducted king told his compliant recipients of Saudi largess that “We have to follow what is stated in the Qur’an, the Sunnah of the Prophet and his followers.”  

“The Custodian” of Islam, King Salman, and the interpreter and promoter of its holy books, Dr. Naik, seem to be on the same page. They are committed into upholding, implementing and enforcing the content and “supremacy” of the Quran, the Shariah and the Hadith as they understand them and as they see fit. Dr. Naik, the president of the Islamic Research Foundation and the recipient of the prestigious Saudi prize (King Faisal International Prize and the $200,000 that comes with it), who is also a supporter of Osama Bin Laden, has repeatedly told his estimated 100 million Muslim followers (in person and in visual and print media) “there are many verses in the Koran which say you can have sex with your wife and with whatever your right hand possesses,” their enslaved women.

Additionally, the  xenophobic TV evangelist, who is scornful of other beliefs’ informed his large number of followers that “enslaving the families of the kuffar (non-Muslims) and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Sharia,” Islamic law. King Salman insists that Muslims must “follow what is stated in the Quran.”  

The Muslim people need to ask themselves if this is what Islam is or has become – a mitigating tool of enslavement, rape and intolerance of the overwhelming majority of the world’s population, most of whom are more socially, politically and scientifically advanced and religiously more tolerant than most Muslims.   

Is it conceivable that King Salman did not know what Dr. Naik preaches, stands for and advocates, prior to honoring him for “his service (disservice) to Islam,” especially Naik’s explanation of the Quran?

King Salman told the religious experts in his palace in Riyadh, “We have to follow what is stated in the Qur’an.” Does one assume that enslaving Muslim and non-Muslim women and raping them is “stated” in the Quran as Dr. Naik argues?

Is this the Islam Dr. Naik wants “every Muslim” to be a terrorist to defend? Defend Islam against whom, Muslims who use it to inflict death and destruction on each other or against non-Muslims who welcome and allow Muslims to build religious sanctuaries in their countries and to worship freely?

Dr. Naik is not the only influential Muslim who advocates unspeakable deeds in the name of religion and its texts.

Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban and other groups and individuals also promote malicious religious incitements with the intent of inflicting death and destruction on a multitude of Muslims and non-Muslims in order to gain power. They all quote the Quran, Shariah and Hadith to justify their atrocious actions. Their manifestos and recruiting manuals are filled with direct quotes from Muslim texts that Dr. Naik, King Salman, Mullah Omar and the Imams of the Red Mosque in Pakistan inculcate Muslims to follow and defend.

Calling on Muslims to “shun intolerance” contradicts the Saudi rulers’ well-documented actions of intolerance of religious differences at home and among different sects and brands of Islam, as exemplified by the raging Sunni-versus-Shi’a conflicts in which the Saudis play a major role.

It’s no secret that the centuries’ old conflicts and the current pervasive carnage in most Arab and other Muslim countries are deeply rooted in religious animosity, or assertions of who is a better and more authentic Muslim.

King Salman’s predecessor, King Abdullah, became some kind of global hero due his overt personal (not policy) advocacy of international interfaith dialogues, none of which was held in Muslim countries because that would mean acceptance of and recognition that other faiths are legitimate beliefs.

As the ruler of the land where Islam was established and where Muslims’ holy shrines are located, King Salman, along with his ruling family and the zealous religious establishment, shoulders a huge responsibility toward their muzzled and religiously divided population, the Arab people and other Muslims worldwide. King Salman can lead by example at home. He can eliminate discriminatory policies based on religion and gender at home if he hopes for other Muslims to “shun intolerance.”

The question is: how can King Salman and his intolerant clerics reconcile between rewarding people like Dr. Naik for commanding Muslims to reject and resent major religions (and their adherents) and call such incitements a service to Islam?

King Salman is right, some Muslims are leaving Islam and an astonishing number of Muslims are becoming more cynical of Islam and Muslims, in general, than at any time in Muslim history.

This trend is not likely to stop or be reversed because more Muslims attribute their misfortunes and social backwardness to Islam and to those who use religion as tool of violence, oppression, discrimination and manipulation.

The most severe critics of Islam are not Jews or Christians, but Muslims and ex-Muslims who found solace in other religions or in no religion.

The Saudi ruling dynasties can lead the way by setting a good example of religious tolerance and acceptance of “The Other” regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, beliefs and religious orientation.

Ali Alyami is the director of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia.

Subversive groups suppress free speech in America

Raheel Raza

We live in a country where we embrace liberal democracy, gender equality, freedom of speech and individual freedoms, so we naïvely think that everyone who comes here has the same values. Wrong. Those are the very values that the terrorists abhor.

We must be aware that there are organizations and individuals right here in the United States and Canada who have exactly the same ideology as Boko Haram, the Taliban and ISIS. The only difference is these North American organizations are required to follow the law of the land.

In many instances, these subversive organizations have succeeded in suppressing free speech by aggressively intimidating academic institutions.

This threatening, silencing and censoring is the other face of terrorism.

According to a UNICEF report published this week, an estimated 800,000 children in and around Nigeria were forced from their homes by Boko Haram extremists. This report was published almost a year after the mass kidnappings of nearly 300 schoolgirls from Chibok. There are reports that many of these kidnapped girls were terrorized, raped and later forced to marry their captors.

On the other side of the world, the Taliban have been consistently targeting women and girls. Human Rights Watch's World Report for 2015 says that there continue to be threats to women's rights and freedom of expression. The report notes that other setbacks for women's rights in 2014 included a continuing series of attacks on, threats toward, and assassinations of, high-profile women, including policewomen and activists, to whom the government failed to respond with any meaningful measures to protect them in the future. Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head for asking for education, is a sad testimony to the Taliban's hatred toward educated and empowered women and its terrorist attacks on unarmed schoolgirls.

In between these two worlds, there exists yet another terrorist threat to women. The Islamic State (ISIS) has consistently targeted women in their brutal battle for control of the Muslim world. In this process, members of ISIS have perpetrated barbaric and horrific attacks on minority Yazidi women. Haleh Esfandiari, the director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, explains how the extremist group attacks women when they seize an area. "They usually take the older women to a makeshift slave market and try and sell them. The younger girls, basically they ... are raped or married off to fighters," Esfandiari said. "It's based on temporary marriages, and once these fighters have had sex with these young girls, they just pass them on to other fighters."

What do these three groups, Boko Haram, the Taliban and ISIS, which are terrorizing our world today, have in common?

·         They are Islamists touting political Islam over the spiritual message and looking for political power and hegemony in the Muslim world

·         Their ideology is: We are the only ones who know the truth; we will lead and others should follow without questioning our tactics, and only then will they find salvation (perhaps a few virgins thrown in for fun); The West is evil and we will teach them a lesson; our ideology must engulf the Muslim world with the establishment of a Caliphate.

·         They work on creating terror among their victims by using tactics of intimidation and threats both physical and emotional.

·         As they operate in countries where there is little accountability or law enforcement, they are able to get away with acts of violence and terror, mostly against women and minorities.

Those of us living comfortable lives in North America, sometimes think that this is all happening "out there somewhere," and that we are safe from these terrorists. We live in a country where we embrace liberal democracy, gender equality, freedom of speech and individual freedoms, so we naïvely think that everyone who comes here has the same values. Wrong. Those are the very values that the terrorists abhor, as they tell us time and again.

We must be aware that there are organizations and individuals right here in the United States and Canada who have exactly the same ideology as Boko Haram, the Taliban and ISIS. The only difference is that these North American organizations are required to follow the law of the land. They therefore cannot use violent measures against women and minorities quite so overtly while living here; so they resort to subversive tactics.

They nevertheless follow similar ideologies as other terrorist groups:

·         Follow us -- we will represent you as we are the ones on the right path.

·         Others (especially women) who are speaking of reform and change within the Muslim world are heretics and not really good Muslims because many of them do not wear a hijab.

·         These "heretics" are friends with the "infidels" so how could they be true representatives of Islam or Muslims?

·         We will tell you what "authentic" Islam is, and anyone questioning the status quo is an Islamophobic racist bigot, so we will help you play the "victim card."

This is a message that resonates not only from some pulpits, but from some Muslim organizations based in U.S. and Canada, which like to say that they are the voice of the majority of Muslims living here. What is frightening is how many people fall into the trap of believing them, including some of the mainstream media.

It is not surprising, therefore, that a film such as Honor Diaries, which exposes injustices and violence against women in Muslim-majority societies, is a slap in the face of some of these North American Muslim organizations. They cannot handle the truth; they have been caught, cornered and trapped. The only way to deflect the issue is to intimidate and silence those who speak out. Like Boko Haram, the Taliban and ISIS, they specifically target women because they think they are the weaker gender.

In many instances, these subversive organizations have succeeded in suppressing free speech by aggressively intimidating academic institutions. Recently Asra Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, experienced Duke students trying to cancel her speech.

Recently, at The University of South Dakota, one screening of Honor Diaries was cancelled, and at another screening, there were threats and intimidation toward the faculty and the speaker.

This threatening, silencing and censoring is the other face of terrorism; it is no wonder that one such organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, famous for trying to silence free speech, finds its name on the terrorist list published even by the United Arab Emirates.

Raheel Raza is an award-winning author, journalist, and filmmaker on the topics of jihad and sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity. She is one of nine women's rights activists who took part in Clarion Project's film "Honor Diaries" which breaks the silence on honor violence against women.

This was originally posted by Gatestone Institute.

What's Behind the Obsession with the Niqab Among the World’s Islamists?

Women are forced to wear the niqab in public in Saudi Arabia (Photo: © Reuters)

Women are forced to wear the niqab in public in Saudi Arabia (Photo: © Reuters)

Tarek Fatah

In Khaled Hosseini’s soul-piercing novel A Thousand Splendid Suns, the character Nana, a poor, unwed mother, tells her five-year-old daughter, Mariam: “Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam.”

Hosseini’s best-selling novel was about life in Afghanistan, but in the 30 words above he sums up the way men govern the lives of women across much of the Muslim world.

Like Mariam, millions of Muslim girls are told very early in life by their mothers that their place in society is one of submission; submission not to God, but to man.

Hosseini’s 2007 book remained at number one on the New York Times bestseller list for four months.

In its first week on the market, it sold over one million copies.

But if there is someone who seems not to have read the novel, it’s Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau’s recent championing of the niqab as a basic human right has aided Islamism in Canada and undermined millions of liberal Muslims around the world.

This includes the women in my own family, not to mention my late mother, who threw away the niqab in 1946.

The controversy began with the case of Zunera Ishaq, a Pakistani immigrant who wanted to take her Canadian citizenship oath with her face covered.

On being told she could not do so, she went to court and won the right not to remove her veil, while taking the oath.

Ottawa has appealed this lower court decision with Prime Minister Stephen Harper mounting a vigorous attack on the niqab.

He told the House of Commons:

“This is a society that is transparent, open and where people are equal, and I think we find that (not uncovering one’s face while taking the oath of citizenship) offensive.”

A few days later, he told the Commons, “Why would Canadians, contrary to our own values, embrace a practice at that time that is not transparent, that is not open and, frankly, is rooted in a culture that is anti-women?”

Harper emphasized many moderate Muslims agreed with the government’s position of banning the niqab from citizenship courts.

For his part, Trudeau tried to portray Harper as racist, equating Muslim women not being permitted to wear face masks in citizenship court to the plight of Jews who fled Nazi Germany, but were not allowed to enter Canada.

Trudeau could not have been more wrong.

While the Jews on board the St. Louis were not permitted to land in Canada, and went back to near certain death, the Muslim immigrant, Zunera Ishaq, was welcomed to Canada after leaving the Islamic State of Pakistan.

Leaving her specific case aside, what is it about this piece of cloth that triggers so much self-righteous angst among so many followers of Islam?

How could the covering of a woman’s head or face — which is not a requirement of the Qur’an — end up as the most defining symbol of Islam?

And what is the rationale behind the obsession with the niqab among the world’s Islamists?

The fact is, the niqab and, I would argue, the hijab, are today not just medieval symbols of female servitude; they also serve as flags of Islamism, dictated by the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab world and its equivalent in South Asia, the Jamat-e-Islami.


Tarek Fatah, is a Canadian writer, broadcaster and anti-Islamist Muslim activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

The "Shockingly Anti-Western Views" of Supposed Moderates

The yellow Hezbollah flag worn by women at the 'Al Quds Day' protest in Toronto.

The yellow Hezbollah flag worn by women at the 'Al Quds Day' protest in Toronto.

Tarek Fatah

San Grewal is a Toronto Star reporter who first burst into limelight after 9/11 when he did a story on the hate being preached in Toronto-area mosques.

Five years later, in the  August 13, 2006 issue of the Toronto Star, Grewal, writes with sadness how the “fear of Muslims” has seeped into Canada as well as the UK, and how, as repugnant as this fear is, in his opinion many Muslims are actually contributing to this fear, by their anti-western views, while living in the west.

Grewal writes:

“But I regret to say that, in five years reporting since 9/11, I have met too many Muslims across the GTA who express extremely anti-western views. I have visited more than two dozen mosques and, in 2001, wrote of shockingly anti-western views expressed in many of them. I have also heard recent evidence in court against many of the 18 co-accused in the alleged terrorism plot by young Canadian Muslims to destroy buildings, kidnap politicians and harm innocent civilians. Yes, they are innocent until proven guilty. And yes, many Muslims in Canada have responded to the charges with the level of disgust the allegations warrant. But as each community Muslim steps forward to tell me — the brown-skinned reporter who surely must be sympathetic — that the charges of possible “homegrown” terrorism are part of a government conspiracy, I can’t help but shake my head and wonder, just how far apart are we from them.”

These are words from a journalist who sees himself as friend of the Muslim community. If Muslims do not pay heed to him, we risk a crisis that we will not be able to handle. By burning Israeli flags and waving Hizbollah’s Kalashnikov banners in Toronto, Muslim Canadians do no service to themselves. We simply alienate those who would be more than happy to be on our side as our advocates in our time of need.

The real problem is that many of these Islamists wear multiple masks. Within the poltical sphere, be it the NDP, the Liberal Party or the Tories and the Bloc, the same men and women who spout hate, masquerade as "moderate" Muslims, and sprinkle just enough words about "multiculturlaism," "charter rights" and "pluralism" to fool many in all the parties.

In the meantime the vast majority of Muslim Canadians, the 9-to-5 middle class secular liberal folks go unnoticed. Why? Because we don’t “look like Muslims”.

It is astonishing that the same guys who give feiry anti-west sermons are also working hand in glove with the RCMP and CSISRead and reflect.


Tarek Fatah, is a Canadian writer, broadcaster and anti-Islamist Muslim activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

White House Summit Insults Muslims Who Really Do Oppose 'Violent Extremism'

Anti-Islamist Muslims who were left out of the White House's summit “Countering Violent Extremism”

Anti-Islamist Muslims who were left out of the White House's summit “Countering Violent Extremism”

Tarek Fatah

On February 18, the White House hosted a three-day summit on “Countering Violent Extremism” to “counter hateful extremist ideologies that radicalize, recruit or incite to violence.”

Great care was taken by the Obama administration to avoid any mention of words associated with “Islam” or “Muslims.” Thus, “violent extremism” became the catch-all phrase to refer to Islamism, Islamist or Islamic extremism during the conference.

It soon became evident the three-day summit was a theatre of the absurd. The very people who have preached Islamism and promoted sharia in their sermons were invited to recommend how to undo the damage done by their teachings.

Imams from American mosques which practise gender-segregation and homophobia, representatives of Gulf Arab states who funded and promoted the ideology and the government of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and women sporting Muslim Brotherhood-mandated hijabs dotted the audience and speakers.

Conspicuous by their absence at the summit were prominent Muslims who have for the past decade been fighting the doctrine of the Islamic State (ISIS), which was the real focus of the conference.

One of the American Muslims not invited was the president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser.

Reacting to President Barack Obama’s speech at the conference, he said: “(Obama) is insulting millions of reform-minded Muslims who are trying to reject and push back theocracy … And the leader of the free world in the meantime is saying, ‘Well, these terror groups are sort of coming out of thin air and it’s just sort of a crime, education and a job problem’ — which is absurd.”

Defeating ISIS might have been the stated intention of White House officials, but they did not find it worthwhile to talk to the only groups that have defeated Islamic State on the battlefield. Those are the fighters of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization, and their Syrian allies, the Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG).

Another Muslim politician who should have been at the table was Ahmed Aboutaleb, the outspoken Muslim mayor of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Born in Morocco, Aboutaleb first came into the international spotlight when he addressed Dutch Muslims on a Dutch TV network following the Charlie Hebdo attack saying, “if you do not like it here … may I then say you can f… off.”

Aboutaleb, who spent 15 years in Morocco living off “one meal a day,” and “walking without shoes” took a stab at the Obama administration’s suggestion that a growth in job opportunities may reduce radicalization.

“I know how it is to be a product of poverty, and I cannot accept that poverty leads to terrorism,” he said. “Poverty must lead to a seek to knowledge, to sciences, to be better, to climb on the social ladder …”

The frustration of anti-Islamist Muslims was best reflected in the headline of an essay by two American Muslim feminists, Asra Nomani and Hala Arafa, that appeared in The Daily Beast days after the White House conference ended. The headline read:

“Will It Take The End of the World For Obama To Recognize ISIS As ‘Islamic’?”

My fear is by the time America wakes up to the reality of the Islamic State, it may be too late to stop them.


Tarek Fatah, is a Canadian writer, broadcaster and anti-Islamist Muslim activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

Condolences to the Chapel Hill Victims

The victims of the Chapel Hill shootings.

The victims of the Chapel Hill shootings.

American Islamic Forum for Democracy

From the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD):

AIFD wishes to send our condolences to the family and loved ones of Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, murdered in cold blood in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. These young people - ages 23, 21, and 19, respectively, may have  been targeted because they were Muslims - and in the case of the Yusor and Razan, who both wore headscarves, they were visibly so.

We know little about the suspect - Craig Stephen Hicks, age 46. Social media indicates that he was someone who wished religion would be eliminated entirely; some have questioned if there was some dispute between the parties over parking in the neighborhood. But as details emerge and as his ideology is examined, one thing is undeniable: unchecked and dangerous hatred is at the core of any senseless murder such as this.

The victims were young, but had already chosen paths that involved giving back to their communities: from feeding the homeless in North Carolina and providing them with medical supplies, to donating dental care to Syrian refugees and working to provide support to deaf communities.

Some have speculated that these murders were connected to vengeance - that is, revenge for the horrors committed under the banner of Islamism. Again, while we do not yet know what motivated Hicks, we must continue to work to combat the kind of hatred and hostility that pits good people of all faiths and none against one another.

As liberty-minded Muslims, we at AIFD receive  hostility and worse from all fronts: from those within the Muslim community who wish to see us silenced, to those outside of our community who harbor hatred toward all Muslims. Young people in particular who choose a path of peace and positive action represent the future of not just this country, but of our improved global security and international peace.

It is essential to remember that the militants of ISIS and their ilk would like nothing more than to enflame the world into a tit for tat of public executions. Our prayer is that our fellow Americans join us, reform-minded Muslims, on a firm trajectory towards anti-Islamist reform globally, which promotes genuine liberty under the law. This cannot be done without the full constructive engagement of American Muslim communities.

We extend our deepest sympathies to the family, loved ones and friends of Deah, Yusor and Razan; and to the entire Chapel Hill community, now rocked by this senseless and horrific violence. Our hearts are with you.


What Will It Take to Win the 'War on Terror': The Missing Factor

Pro-Taliban refugees charge a press convoy in Afghanistan (Photo: © Reuters)

Pro-Taliban refugees charge a press convoy in Afghanistan (Photo: © Reuters)

Dr. Tawfik Hamid

The recent burning of the Jordanian pilot is further evidence that Western measures to counter radical Islam since 9/11 have failed spectacularly. The U.S. and other free countries have spent trillions of dollars in the so-called "War on Terror." a futile attempt thus far to end or at least contain Islamic terrorism.

Our "strategy" (and I use the term very loosely indeed), which has relied predominantly on kinetic military confrontations, simply isn't working. The Western response to the problem has neither prevented the Taliban from regaining significant power in Afghanistan nor has it prevented the Islamic State (ISIS) from conducting barbaric terror acts in different parts of the world.

The beheading of the Japanese journalist, the recent killing of Charlie Hebdo journalists in downtown Paris, and too many other outrages are a continual reminder of our extraordinary ineffectiveness.  

History teaches us that wars only end when one side of the combatant groups is forced to surrender. History also teaches us that to force surrender generally requires a powerful deterrent. For example, World War II continued for years before the Allies forced first the Nazis, and then the emperor of Japan, to capitulate.

The deterrent in each case was the unambiguous threat that failure to submit would result inexorably in the utter erasure of the defeated nation from the face of the earth.  Similarly, during the Cold War, the deterrent-known as the MAD Doctrine (Mutually Assured Destruction) sufficed to prevent both the U.S. and the Russians from using nuclear weapons. Both sides wanted to live.

Our failure in fighting radical Islamists so far is fundamentally due to our failure to create a sufficient deterrent (or negative reinforcement tactic) that will sway the Islamic radicals from practicing their barbarism and from conducting future attacks.

Unlike the emperor of Japan and the Nazi leadership in WWII and unlike the Americans and Russians during the Cold War, Islamic radicals want to die!

Death for Allah is their ultimate goal. In other words, threatening to kill them too often works as a positive rather than a negative reinforcement factor.

The recent declaration that Jordan will execute failed suicide bomber Sajida Al-Rishawi "within hours" as revenge for the ISIS killing of hostage pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh is important but is not a sufficient deterrent.

She had intended to die a martyr. She failed. And now Jordan is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by handing her a triumphal martyrdom. In the view of Islamic radicals, she will inherit paradise forever. We really need to rethink our approach.

The situation for the Islamic radicals is a win-win-win. If they are killed they will be martyrs who will live in paradise with the prophet Mohammed (as they strongly believe); if they achieve earthly victory, they will be able to impose their barbaric ideology on the rest of us; and if they are caught by the Infidels (the non-Muslim world, esp. the West) they will be treated humanely and will find Human Rights activists defending their rights.  

Denouncing the attacks, demonstrating against terrorism, refusing to call radical Islam by its name, and making statements like, "We will bring them to justice" just make the radicals topple over with laughter. Similarly, the U.S. president's recent statement (during his comments on the burning of the Jordanian soldier) that the U.S.  will redouble the vigilance and determination to defeat ISIS has zero impact on the Islamists, who are well aware that redoubling the wrong approach will not suddenly bring results.   

The use of military power is certainly needed; however, the lack of an effective deterrent guarantees the failure of such a one-dimensional approach.

The sad reality is that the Western responses to the problem (which have relied largely on incorrect assumptions, unrealistic perceptions and vain imaginations) have served in many situations as positive reinforcement for Islamic terrorism over the last 10 years.

One such response -- the U.S. delay in giving the Egyptian army the Apache helicopters needed to fight the radicals in the Sinai Peninsula – has been a great boon to Islamic radicals. Many of the leaders of ISIS got their training in Sinai before travelling to wreak havoc in Iraq and Syria.

Additionally, attempts in certain U.S. circles to punish the CIA officials who conducted waterboarding to gain information from the terrorists has only encouraged Islamic radicals to continue their war against our civilization.

Despite the fact that death is not a deterrent for Islamic radicals, there are certain deterrents that can bring them to their knees and end or significantly diminish their barbarism.

Such deterrents need to form the basis of an effective psychological operation (PSYOP) strategy to utterly defeat the Islamic radicals. This war needs to end. The fact that these deterrents have not been used is likely due to ignorance that they even exist.

Western "experts" on Islamic terrorism can only recommend solutions that they themselves can understand. Unfortunately, these "experts" seem to have very little insight into the minds of the Islamic radicals, and even less understanding of how the radical mindset can be undermined, manipulated and controlled.  

A proper PSYOP strategy with correct tactical implementation would not only deter the terrorists from conducting more atrocities, but would also significantly diminish the attraction of radicalism in the minds of young Muslims.

We have both the technology and the capability to engage in highly effective PSYOPS. But our inability (or maybe unwillingness) to use really effective content is giving the radicals the upper hand in this war.

Reformation and education are vital components for a long-term solution to the problem of Islamic radicalism. These components, however, will have minimal effect on those who are already radicalized. The only thing that can affect (and defeat) those who are already radicalized or those who are flirting with radicalism is the use of a truly powerful deterrent. Such deterrent(s) do exist, but they are far beyond the imagination of Western minds.

Note: I must unfortunately refrain from disclosing the nature of these deterrents in this article as the details of such tactics must not be publicized (as this may lessen their effectiveness). 


Dr. Tawfik Hamid is an Islamic thinker and reformer, and one-time Islamic extremist from Egypt. He was a member of a terrorist Islamic organization JI with Dr. Ayman Al-Zawaherri who became later on the second in command of Al-Qaeda. Hamid recognized the threat of radical Islam and the need for a reformation based upon modern peaceful interpretations of classical Islamic core texts. Dr. Hamid is currently a Senior Fellow and Chair of the study of Islamic Radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

What Does It Mean When Anti-Islamist Muslims Are Ignored?

The Gatestone ad

The Gatestone ad

Tarek Fatah

Kenji Goto, a fellow journalist, died Saturday. Another innocent man beheaded by those among my co-religionists who wish to rule the world and to annihilate all non-Muslims.

This in order to pave the way for an end-of-times apocalypse.

Many Muslim heads hung in shame as Goto’s head rolled into a barren desert ditch, while western politicians and media refused to call the Islamic State jihad what it is, a jihad.

Similarly, the now-familiar masked man who kills for the camera and who beheaded Goto, was not referred to by most media as a “jihadi terrorist of the Islamic State” (which is who and what he is), but rather as “a militant with a British accent”.

At the official level, the Obama White House announced it will host a Feb. 18 “summit” to counter what it referred to as “violent extremism.”

Note the choice of words again. Not “jihadi terrorism” but the much more vague “violent extremism.”

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, head of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and a former U.S. Navy Lt. Commander, told me by not naming “jihadi terrorism” and “Islamism” for what they are, the White House has paid heed to Islamists within the administration who still exert influence over it.

In contrast to those who refuse to call jihadi terrorism what it is, over 20 Muslim leaders recently took out a remarkable full-page advertisement in The New York Times to denounce ISIS and Islamism.

In the ad, headlined: "What Can Muslims Do To Reclaim Their ‘Beautiful Religion’? "they wrote:

“Neither jihadism nor Islamism permit the equality of all humans irrespective of their race or religion and should therefore be rejected. Our denial and our relative silence must stop.”

The American signatories, led by Dr. Jasser, also had the support of former Danish MP Naser Khedar; former Pakistan ambassador to the U.S. Hussain Haqqani, now a professor at Boston University; Toronto Sun columnist Farzana Hassan; Canadian Muslims Raheel Raza and Munir Pervaiz and Britain’s leading Muslim warrior against Islamism, Majed Nawaz.

They declared, “It is the duty of … Muslims to actively and vigorously affirm and promote universal human rights, including gender equality and freedom of conscience. If Islam is a religion that stands for justice and peaceful coexistence, then the quest for an Islamic state cannot be justified as sanctioned by a just and merciful Creator.”

In a stirring challenge to ordinary Muslims, their New York Times ad went on to say:

We must also recognize and loudly proclaim that the quest for any and all ‘Islamic State(s)’ has no place in modern times. Theocracy, particularly Islamism, is a proven failure. The path to justice and reform is through liberty.

Instead of engaging with these progressive Muslims and supporting their call for reform, not only did the White House ignore them, but every media outlet I saw other than Fox News did as well.

As if to reinforce the blindfold the Obama administration wears on these matters, we also learned from Eric Schultz, the White House deputy press secretary, that the the U.S. government no longer considers the Taliban as a “jihadi terrorist” group, but rather as an “armed insurgency.”

If this is how America fights its war against the Islamic State, ISIS will win, but not before many more innocents like Kenji Goto die.​


Tarek Fatah, is a Canadian writer, broadcaster and anti-Islamist Muslim activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

To Fight Islamist Terror, We Must Fight Anti-Semitism

The Jewish supermarket, Hyper Cacher, which was attacked by an Islamist connected to the Charlie Hebdo attackers.

The Jewish supermarket, Hyper Cacher, which was attacked by an Islamist connected to the Charlie Hebdo attackers.

Tahir Gora and Ryan Mauro

The Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris included the targeting of Jews at a Kosher grocery by an Islamic State supporter. This anti-Semitism is at the root of the Islamist ideology and we must fight it instead of using it to prove points about the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Islamist ideology and anti-Semitism are intertwined. One of the main themes is that Jews and Islam have been at war since the times of Prophet Mohammed and will be at war until the end of days.

The charter of Hamas includes an Islamic verse stating that Allah’s final triumph “will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him.”

These anti-Semitic interpretations of the faith are why Islamist clerics preach that the West is controlled by a Zionist conspiracy. The emphasis on war with the Jews leads many Muslims to see all conflict as part of this greater war. It also opens the door to wicked anti-Semitic propaganda that makes peace impossible.

Unfortunately, many Muslims and non-Muslims treat attacks on Jews as if they are somehow different than attacks on non-Jews. The former is seen as an attack on Western civilization, while the latter is talked about as an extension of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The hatred behind the violence towards Jews is justified, even if the violence itself is condemned.

Turkish President Erdogan is a great example. He lashed out over the Israeli Prime Minister’s presence at the international rally following the Paris attacks.

“How can a man who has killed 2,500 people in Gaza with state terrorism wave his hand in Paris, like people are waiting in excitement for him to do so? How dare he go there?” said Erdogan.

Erdogan’s fury over Israel’s inclusion was fiercer than his condemnation of the Paris attacks. He even suggested that the attacks are part of a Western conspiracy against Islam and made the outrageous claim that, “As Muslims, we’ve never taken part in terrorist massacres.”

Islamist terrorists argue that they are defending the Muslim world from a Western-Jewish conspiracy against Islam. How is this any different than what Erdogan is saying?

One of the most famous Muslim leaders, Tariq Ramadan, wrote a similar kind of note on his Facebook page:

“Difficult to walk beside (or behind) leaders whose ideologies and political decisions have killed thousands of children, women and men, and are one of the causes of extremism. They march in Paris for human dignity and freedom of expression while their government is killing, torturing and destroying,” he wrote.

Erdogan, Ramadan and other pro-Islamism leaders always shift attention away from the illnesses within the Muslim world. The relatively few cases of mosques being attacked in the West get constant attention but little is given to attacks on mosques in the Muslim world or the mistreatment of Muslims by groups like Hamas.

The West should not think that cutting itself off from Israel will do any good. The Islamist leaders and their flocks will always see the West and Israel as one unit. Just as the West is characterized as Zionist puppets, Israel is characterized as a base for Western imperialism.

This is illustrated by a flyer that was distributed in Toronto in September 2012 among the 2,000 participants of demonstrations against a movie mocking Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. It stated at the top in all caps, “THE JEWISH PURPOSE THUS SERVED.”

The filmmaker wasn’t Jewish. Jews didn’t have anything to do with making the film. Neither did Israel. Yet, the protestors were chanting, “Shame, Shame Israel.”

Avi Benlolo of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center correctly wrote after the Paris attacks:

"The hate began with increasing violence against Jews and has now spilled over to society at large, threatening the very foundations of French liberty. But this is not only a Jewish issue or a French problem. Islamic fanaticism thrives on secrecy, censorship and fear, threatening all those who dare raise their voices against it."

Anti-Semitism is one of the most important pillars of Islamist terrorist beliefs. The first targets are Jews, but Jews are seen as a component of the West.

Muslim organizations need to proactively curb anti-Semitism and debunk falsehoods about Jews and about Israel, even if they disagree with Israeli policy. Supporting Palestinian statehood should not mean embracing all of Israel’s enemies or legitimizing anti-Semitic violence by using it to score political points against Israel.

We need to hold Muslim and non-Muslim leaders accountable when their criticism of Israel crosses over into outlandish conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic propaganda. We cannot have reasonable solutions when the problems are based on wild exaggerations and hatred.


Tahir Gora is a Pakistani and the Director of the Canadian Thinkers’ Forum, a member of the Coalition of Progressive Muslim Canadian Organizations. He can be followed on Twitter at Twitter.com/TahirGora.

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.

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