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Andrew McCarthy led the federal prosecution’s investigation of Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and others involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. I am picking up a copy of his new book ‘Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad’ (hardcover) as it arrives in book stores today.
He spoke with Kathryn Jean Lopez, the editor of the National Review Online, about it. Here is an excerpt and the link:
Lopez: What’s the most devastating lesson from 15 years ago we still haven’t learned?
McCarthy: That the primary cause of Islamic terrorism is Muslim doctrine, and that we are not fighting a tiny, rag-tag collection of fringe lunatics who have somehow “hijacked” the “true Islam.”
Mark Steyn reminds us of Toynbee’s observation that civilizations die from suicide rather than murder, and our mulish refusal to look at what we’re up against is case in point. It’s really a frightful commentary on the low regard we have for ourselves: that we don’t think we are capable of soberly assessing the Islamic challenge without smearing all Muslims as terrorists — as if, in the scheme of things, it’s more important to shield the tender sensibilities of Muslims than fulfill our duty to protect American lives.
The stubborn fact is: Islamic doctrine is supremacist, chauvinist and rife with calls to violence against non-Muslims. That doesn’t mean that these are the only elements of Islam. Nor does it mean that all Muslims, or even most, have any interest in acting on those elements. But moderate Muslims, no matter how great a majority of the faithful they may be, do not make Islam moderate. Islam is the font from which springs what we call fundamentalist Islam, radical Islam, militant Islam, political Islam, Islamo-fascism, or whatever we are calling it this week to avoid any hint that Islam has anything to do with the problem.
There are many different interpretations of Islam, of course. The one that truly threatens us — let’s call it fundamentalist Islam, since I think that’s closest to accurate — is not a fringe ideology. It is a comprehensive social system, with political, legal and theological prescriptions. It is fourteen centuries old; has in its history won the fealty of rich and poor, educated and illiterate, etc.; cuts across divides like Sunni-versus-Shiite; and today boasts hundreds of millions of adherents — not a majority of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims, but an influential, dynamic minority.
Only a small percentage of fundamentalists cross the line into actual terrorist activity, but even a small percentage of hundreds of millions of people means an awful lot of terrorists, and the equally significant point is that the others — to a greater or lesser extent — share the goals if not the methodology. Moreover, the leading fundamentalist figures, people like Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, exert a powerful influence over even moderates. Their erudition and conviction, their seeming authenticity and command of the scriptures, are very intimidating for the average Muslim who just wants to go about his life.
In any event, the forcible tendencies of fundamentalist Islam may be exacerbated or rationalized by poverty, resentment, lack of democracy, etc. But they are not caused by such pretexts. The violence is commanded by scripture.