Monday, June 06, 2005

Daniel Pipes Weblog

Weblog (May 1 - 31, 2005)
The Muslim American Society's Goals I wrote about the Muslim American Society in "The Islamic States of America?" and how it seeks to replace the Constitution with the Koran. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross takes this further today in "MAS's Muslim Brotherhood Problem," where he looks closely at the MAS Minnesota website and notes that it calls on members to fulfill their "duties as outlined in the Message of the Teachings by Imam [Hasan] Al-Banna." Gartenstein-Ross then takes a look at The Message of the Teachings and finds that it instructs Muslims that they must work on reforming their government

so that it may become a truly Islamic government. … By Islamic government I mean a government whose officers are Muslims who perform the obligatory duties of Islam, who do not make public their disobedience, and who enforce the rules and teachings of Islam.

Al-Banna also instructs that Muslims should "Completely boycott non-Islamic courts and judicial systems. Also, dissociate yourself from organisations, newspapers, committees, schools, and institutions which oppose your Islamic ideology." Al-Banna also condones in this book spreading Islam with violence: "Always intend to go for Jihad and desire martyrdom. Prepare for it as much as you can."

The universality of Islamic law comes up repeatedly. MAS requires adjunct members to read To Be a Muslim by Fathi Yakun, which states that: "Until the nations of the world have functionally Islamic governments, every individual who is careless or lazy in working for Islam is sinful." Adjunct members also must read Sayyid Qutb's Milestones, which makes jihad a central obligation of Muslims.

Comment: Those of us who watch the growth of radical Islam in the United States tend to focus on the noisy organizations like CAIR, MPAC, and ISNA. The Muslim American Society, which claims 53 chapters and 10,000 members, tends to go about its work quietly; it is none the less dangerous – and perhaps more so – for that. (May 25, 2005) Permalink


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MSM Criticizes CAIR, CAIR Brazens It Out Just five days ago, Sharon Chadha and I criticized the mainstream media for mindlessly repeating CAIR's bogus statistics (see "CAIR's Hate Crimes Nonsense." Now, to my no little amazement, National Public Radio did a segment (granted, on the "Day to Day" program at 4 a.m., but one has to start somewhere) reported by Mike Pesca. It's titled "Non-scientific approach used by activist groups to obtain statistics supporting their claims about hate crimes" and the transcript is not online, so I am using the one provided at NEXIS.

It starts with host Alex Chadwick noting the "dubious methodology" of statistical reports on hate and bias. He hands the story to Pesca, who picks up with the CAIR annual report and the "fair amount of media attention" it got, mentioning articles in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, and Associated Press. Pesca points out one problem – that "any bias incident, from a Muslim being yelled at from a passing car, to a Muslim being profiled on a plane, can wind up in CAIR's report." He then quotes the CAIR report's author, Arsalan Iftikhar, acknowledging that some cases should not have been included. Alluding to the piece by Chadha and me, Pesca continues:

Soon after it was issued, the report was jumped on by a few conservative commentators who called it inaccurate. Two different men, originally reported as victims, have been charged with setting fire to their own businesses. Iftikhar says the removal of those cases does not affect the overall trend the report documents. Even so, the vagaries in the numbers point to the difficulty of compiling accurate statistics.

Spoken like a true Islamist – never apologize, never retreat. Caught with fraudulent stats, Iftikhar brazens it out, denying that the inaccuracies have any importance. Or, as a New York Times editorial ineffably expressed it in another context, "fake but accurate." Still, the important thing here is that NPR has questioned CAIR's reliability, and that is a major step. (May 23, 2005) Permalink


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Islamist Supremacism in Miniature A recent development at the University of Michigan's Flint campus summarizes the radical Islamic program in small compass. Shena Abercrombie of the Flint Journal reports how the Muslim Student Association took over a small space called the Meditation Room, used for non-denominational prayer services. Starting in November 2004, non-Muslim students began complaining about Muslim students monopolizing the room by filling it with their religious artifacts and also with anti-Israel literature. The room came to be filled with prayer rugs and books, the walls held posters, awards from the Muslim Student Association, and framed Islamic pictures.

Muslim students responded to the non-Muslim complaint with the usual line: "I do think that the current political climate does contribute to Islamophobia. … I do think that the reaction would have been different if the room was used predominantly by Christians or Jews," said Bishr Aldabagh of the MSA. Also, the brave student who initiated the complaint about Islamist aggression, Zea Miller, said he was subsequently stalked, harassed, and insulted. "I did this on behalf of others who were afraid to. It was not bigoted. I would have done this against any group who usurped the room. Now, at every move I'm being accused of anti-Muslim behavior. I am not anti-Muslim."

The Hillel Student Organization supported Miller. "The room is really important to us also, [and] we don't feel comfortable using it the way it is right now," said its president, Katie Segal. "The inside and outside had a lot of anti-Zionist propaganda and pictures and paraphernalia." Segal also denied the "Islamophobia" claim. "I think they're going to use that as their cover."

Finally, in March, the school posted rules for use of the Meditation Room that disallow leaving one's materials behind. Since then, peace apparently has returned.

Comments: (1) Islamists are always aggressive, no matter how small the stakes. (2) Islamists can be beaten back. (May 23, 2005) Permalink


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Does Terrorism Advance the Islamist Cause? The Islamist movement has two wings, one illegal and violent, the other legal and political. I believe the latter enjoys better prospects of success than the former. That's because law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and military forces know how to deal with the illegal and the violent, but the Western world lacks the muscles to defend itself from an insidious radical movement.

For these reasons, I consider the major terrorist assaults – 9/11, Bali, Madrid, Beslan – to be failures. They foul the nest and they rouse Westerners to action. Or, as I put it after the murder of Theo van Gogh, "Islamist terrorism in the West is counterproductive because it awakens the sleeping masses; in brief, jihad provokes crusade. A more cunning Islamist enemy would advance its totalitarian agenda through Mafia-like intimidation, not brazen murders."

Then along comes the irrepressible Mark Steyn who argues in the National Review ("A War Without Polkas") why 9/11 makes sense from the Islamist viewpoint. I am not convinced, but he does make an interesting case. He starts by assuming that Europe will be Muslim:

That being so, why louse things up by flying planes into buildings? Why not just lie low and in the fullness of time everything you want will come your way? The Wahhabists have successfully radicalized hitherto moderate Muslim communities from Albania to Indonesia; they've planted their most radical clerics as in-house padres throughout U.S. prisons and even the armed forces. Why screw things up by doing something so provocative it meets even [former secretary of defense] Bill Cohen's criteria for a response?

Here's why. It's always useful to test the limits of your adversaries, and, though it cost them their camps in Afghanistan and much of their leadership, the 9/11 attacks exposed many useful tidbits about the decadence of the West — the worthlessness of the post-modern NATO "alliance" and the active hostility of many of its key members to the United States, the immense deference accorded not just to Islam but to the most radical Islamic groups, especially when it comes to immigration and other aspects of national security. Many Islamists might have suspected all this, but it's heartening to have it confirmed: If the "sleeping giant" is hard to wake up, his European pals aren't sleeping so much as in irreversible comas. …

But the real battleground is the West itself, the heart of Europe, where bombs in Spain, murders in the Netherlands, "honor killings" in Germany prompt only shrugs or preemptive capitulation from the political class.

In other words, Steyn is saying, successful terrorist attacks boost Islamist morale and provide good intel. True, but this is not worth it. I see these atrocities as radical Islam's indulgences, not its path to victory. (May 23, 2005) Permalink


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Michael Isikoff, Meet Salman Rushdie Though myself critical of the Newsweek reporting about the Koran in the toilet, it is important to keep in perspective who is to blame for the rioting that caused sixteen deaths in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The responsibility lies squarely and uniquely on the radical Islamic movement, not on American reporters or even American soldiers. As many others have pointed out, there are plenty of legitimate responses to blasphemy, but murderous rampage is not one of them.

This incident brings to mind the even larger episode in 1989, when Ayatollah Khomeini sentenced novelist Salman Rushdie to death for his novel, The Satanic Verses, leading to the death of twenty people. I devoted a chapter of my book to the question "Blame Rushdie for the Furor?" In it, I looked at two main topics: Rushdie's own intentions to provoke vs. the prior history of blasphemous writings about Islam, and reached this conclusion:

despite the evident sacrilegious content of … others' writing, none of their works attracted Khomeini's ire. Rather, they continued quietly to be sold and read. This contrast with The Satanic Verses points to the absence of a predictable connection between the writing of sacrilege and retribution by Muslim authorities. These examples confirm the experience of all those who live with censorship; there is no way to guess in advance when the pot will be stirred. Some Muslims have done more than Rushdie and been punished less; others have done less and been punished more. According to strictly logical criteria, the demonstrators and Khomeini could have picked on any number of other books, or ignored Rushdie's. So, while it is true that Rushdie knew what he was doing, he could not have predicted what the Muslim response would be, for ultimately it was capricious.

Just as Rushdie cannot be held responsible for the death and disruption that followed his book's publication, so are Michael Isikoff and John Barry innocent in the current case. (May 20, 2005) Permalink


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How Many Islamists? Germany's interior minister, Otto Schily, spoke today at the release of the 2004 Verfassungsschutzbericht, the annual report by the domestic security agency that surveys Germany's extremist movements, as I have written, in a "frank and constructive way." Schily announced that, at the end of 2004, there were exactly 31,800 Islamist radicals resident in Germany, or 1 percent of the Muslim population of Germany.

This raises, again, that chestnut of a question: how many Muslims support the Islamist project? The current war clearly has very different dimensions depending on whether the answer is 1 percent or 50 percent. I proffered the estimate of 10 to 15 percent days after September 11, 2001; this figure has been questioned but has also been quite widely accepted.

Others have offered a wide range of numbers. Here is a sampling, in reverse chronological order:

Hisham Kabbani, head of Islamic Supreme Council of America: 5 to 10 percent of American Muslims are extremists. (Steven Vincent, "Where Are the Moderate Muslims?" The American Enterprise, April/May 2005, p. 27).

Kamal Nawash, head, Free Muslims Against Terrorism: "as many as 50 percent of Muslims around the world support the goals of the extremists." ("O'Reilly Factor," Fox News Channel, Aug. 5, 2004)

Daniel Yankelovich, pollster: At one extreme of Muslim society "are the hate-America Islamist fundamentalists, who are the most militant and totalitarian. The magnitude and influence of this group varies enormously. For example, in Indonesia this group has doubled, tripled, or quadrupled over the last few years. I would estimate that this group averages about 10% of all Muslims, with enormous variation from one Muslim country to another and particular strength in Arab nations." ("Cutting the Lifeline of Terror: What's Next After Iraq?" July 14, 2004, p. 20) (May 17, 2005) Permalink


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Don't Underestimate the Saudis It is easy to underestimate the Saudi leadership. It was not that long ago that they were predominantly Bedouin, remote from the modern world. They wear clothing that to a Western eye hardly inspires confidence. Their riches beyond avarice permit a self-indulgence that they fully partake of.

But the Saudi monarchy is a formidable institution that should not be sold short, one with many successful innovations to its credit.

I wrote today in "Will the Saudis Blow Up Their Own Oil Infrastructure?" about the extraordinary Saudi plans (revealed by Gerald Posner) to create "a single-button self-destruct system" on their oil and gas infrastructure, thereby rendering it useless for decades to come. This mechanism can serve either as a deterrent or (if it fell in the hands of some of the country's more radical elements) a suicide-bomb of global proportions.

This astonishing plan fits into a tradition of the Saudi leadership thinking outside the box. Other examples include:

The royal nomenklatura: The institution of the monarchy dates back millennia; so far as I know, the Saudis are the first to have expanded the reach of the family from a few individuals to a few thousand. Not only do royals occupy the key positions throughout the kingdom, but their numbers make them impervious to an assassination or other assault.
Naming the country after a ruling family: As the witticism puts it, Saudi Arabia is the only family-owned business with a seat at the United Nations.
Separate armed forces: Not wanting to be hostage to military officers, even royal ones, the monarchy relies on a national force to protect the borders, a tribal force to protect the family, and a mercenary force to guard the oil fields.
Making Wahhabism mainstream: What a century ago ranked as a fringe outlook has become perhaps the most authoritative form of Islam thanks to the dynasty's ideological dedication, its capture of Mecca and Medina, and its use of oil wealth.
Expanding the Wahhabi message worldwide: Through a massive effort, both legal (the "Wahhabi lobby" in the United States) and quasi-legal (Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation), and outright illegal (Al-Qaeda), the Saudis have promoted their brand of Islam to nearly all regions of the globe.
Non-governmental Saudis are also renowned for their imaginative prowess – think of as Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal in finance and Osama bin Laden in terrorism.

The Saudis collectively and individually should not be disdained but respected as a very worthy adversary. (May 11, 2005) Permalink


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In Praise of Routine Traffic Stops News comes today that Sami Ibrahim Isa Abdel Hadi, 39, was stopped for tailgating on Route 46 in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. Turns out, once the Bergen County police officer called in Abdel Hadi's North Carolina license plates, he learned that Abdel Hadi had been ordered deported to Brazil in December 2001 and is listed in the FBI's National Crime Information Center database. Even more interestingly, Abdel Hadi has a valid temporary I.D. from L & L Painting to paint the George Washington Bridge (a high-profile potential terrorist target).


Michael Wagner



This is hardly the first time that a routine traffic infringement has stopped actual or potential terrorists. In July 2004, Michael Wagner's not wearing a seat belt got him stopped in a SUV near Council Bluffs, Iowa, that had in it "flight training manuals and a simulator, documents in Arabic, bulletproof vests and night-vision goggles, a night-vision scope for a rifle, a telescope, a 9mm semiautomatic pistol and hundreds of rounds of ammunition."

Timothy McVeigh was stopped in April 1995 as he sped away from Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people and injured more than 500 because his car lacked a license plate.

A New Jersey state trooper noticed Yu Kikumura's odd behavior at a New Jersey Turnpike rest stop in April 1988 and thoroughly searched his vehicle, finding three powerful homemade bombs. Kikumura, a member of the Japanese Red Army, was sentenced to thirty years in jail followed by deportation to Japan.

Three members of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (Walid Nicolas Kabbani, Georges Fouad Nicolas Younan, and Walid Majib Mourad) were stopped by Richford, Vermont's only policeman in October 1987, because he was suspicious of their movements. Indeed, they were smuggling a bomb from Canada to the United States.

There are plenty of other examples; I shall record them here as I become aware of them.

Comments: (1) It is remarkable how many criminals, terrorist and otherwise, make elementary traffic mistakes. (2) There is no substitute for law enforcement on the ground. (May 4, 2005) Permalink


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After the Internet … Billboards? Robert Spencer today shows some pictures of a billboard in Los Angeles Los Angeles (at Sunset Blvd. and Fairfax Ave.) that features his website plus the words "Dhimmitude," "Eurabia," and "Bat Ye'or."



That reminds me to note here that, as of January 2005, a billboard has been up, visible from I-95 north of Philadelphia, showing the Middle East Forum's name, logo, and slogan ("Promoting American Interests").



The Forum thanks Terry L. Steen, president of H.A.Steen Industries, Inc., for this excellent new way to make itself known to the general public. (May 3, 2005) Permalink


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An Imam on the Cathedral Staff Next Sunday, Nov. 14, the imam of the Islamic Center of Ahl Al-Beit, Ibrahim Kazerooni, will be installed on the staff of Denver's historic St. John's Episcopal Cathedral. Eric Gorski writes in today's Denver Post that "a new chapter in interfaith relations will be written" with this step, certainly in Denver and perhaps nationally. To which I add: perhaps anywhere on the globe.

Kazerooni, 46, an Iraqi immigrant and a Shiite, will serve as interim director of the church's "Abrahamic Initiative," a project to build bridges among Christians, Jews, and Muslims. He will not receive a salary for of the Abrahamic Initiative, but will have his tuition paid at the Iliff School of Theology, where he is pursuing a master's degree.

Comment: This move by the Episcopal church is ecumenical and constructive. I would, however, feel a lot better about it if some mosque in like spirit hired a pastor – an idea that at this moment borders on the absurd. (November 11, 2004) Permalink


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Comments:
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