Manchester Is Just The Beginning
By Umar Lee
I first came to know of the MEN Arena in Manchester, England following the early stages of the career of native son and former boxing champion Ricky Hatton. Hatton is a rabid fan of the Manchester City soccer team and was known as an “everyman” in his hometown. Cameras would often follow him through the city and help capture the spirit of the gritty working-class town. When I heard of the horrific bombing at the same arena Ricky Hatton rose to fame in I immediately thought of him. And, as a native of Manchester, Hatton was quick to take to social media to share his sorrow along with other British boxers.
The media responded to this attack in a typical clueless American and British fashion. “They were too young to die” said pundits who need to volunteer some hours at their local children's hospital. “How can they attack children?” others asked.
This question left me mystified. Children are killed by Islamist terror on a fairly regular basis whether it be attacks on Shia worshippers in Iraq and Pakistan or Boko Haram slaughtering Christians in Nigeria. In Russia, Chechen Islamist separatists and their Arab volunteers notoriously committed the 2004 Beslan school siege and massacre. Just in the past few days ISIS fighters massacred Coptic youth in Egypt on an outing. Israel has seen countless terror attacks perpetrated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad that have killed children and young people, and in some cases, have specifically targeted them.
In August of 2001 I was at the Dar al Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia (Suburban Washington) when it was announced a suicide bomber had killed 15 Israelis. The response from worshippers was one of hugs and pure joy. Seven children were killed that day and a pregnant woman and the unborn child. ( For those unfamiliar with Dar al Hijrah its ex-President was Musa Abu-Marzouk who is also the ex-President of Hamas, its ex-Imam is Anwar al-Awlaki the Yemeni al-Qaeda leader killed in an American drone strike, and the Ft. Hood shooter attended the mosque as did at least two of the 9-11 hijackers)
When I asked an American Palestinian activist and supporter of Hamas years ago how he could justify the blowing up of buses which included women and children and had no military significance his reply was simple “every man, woman and child is an occupier”.
History has taught us that when a political, racial or religious ideology otherizes and dehumanizes a particular group of people the door is opened to indiscriminate acts of violence and killing. This was true of Nazis in their search for a “final solution” to the “Jewish problem”, Stalin in his pursuit of “kulaks”, the Khmer Rouge in their quest for a perfect ideological state, and so many others throughout history.
In the case of Islamist violence the target is either the disbeliever in Islam or the Muslim who's been deemed an apostate. Disbelieves are targeted because they are seen as either direct enemies due to military conflicts and geo-politics or their existence is deemed as an impediment to the creation of a Muslim World Order led by a rightly-guided Caliph. Apostates are targeted because like Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot, Islamists first seek to ideologically and theologically “purify” the Muslim populace and eliminate those supporting current orders. The killing of the children of disbelievers and apostates is seen as both a punishment and torment to foes by Islamists and a warning.
Targeting of culture was also a feature of the Manchester attack at the Ariana Grande concert. A recurring theme in Islamist and conservative Muslim (and other religions) discourse is that Hollywood, pop music, and television programs constitute an attack on traditional values and culture. What differentiates the response of conservative Islam to these cultural forces is that the arguments are offered coupled with the belief that artists and entertainers are part of a Western and Jewish imperialist force to weaken the values of otherwise pristine and puritanical Muslim women and youth.
A simple social media search will illustrate Ariana Grande is extremely popular with Muslim girls just as Kim Kardashian and so many other American stars are. These women represent a dual-threat to Islamists and conservative Muslims in that they're both representative of modern Western secular values and they're confident, attractive and assertive women who can influence Muslim girls and women.
An attack on girls enjoying an Ariana Grande concert is an attack on girls who probably don't yearn to wear a hijab or niqaab or be submissive wives. A woman is on stage, she is the star, and the girls she inspires probably see a future for themselves other than being a broodmare for a dude with a big beard and bigger jihad fantasies.
The fact that the attacker so easily returned from Libya should trouble everyone in Europe. The UK has been a hotbed of Islamic radicalism for decades. I even know Muslim nuts who'll tell me “those brothers in Birmingham are too crazy for me”. The precise reasoning for the uniqueness and severity of the UK jihadi problem I have my theories about and are for another day, but the reality is that today British jihadis are spreading across the globe like a virus.
To hear that the bomber so easily returned from jihad in Libya tells us all one thing. We'll see many more attacks like Manchester. Keep in mind Libya is where NATO responded to the call from Islamists and others and helped to oust Muammar Gaddafi. There should be no reason for Libyan Islamists to rationally be upset with the UK. Without NATO air strikes you wouldn't see the mini Shariah states in Libya, the slave markets for black Africans, and jihadi migration to the North African state.
The fact that a Libyan jihadi is angry enough to blow himself up and murder children speaks volumes. “Give them an inch and they'll blow up your daughters” is a phrase that comes to mind. In the coming weeks and months hundreds, if not thousands, of ISIS fighters will be returning to Europe as their caliphate disappears and their Caliph meets the fate of so many other before him (death by a fellow Muslim more than likely). If the UK just casually allows these jihadis to stroll back in then they better be prepared for a Manchester a week.
I'm encouraged by the words of United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis in recent days to the effect that US forces will try and kill as many jihadis as possible before they're allowed to leave Syria (remember this, because this may be the only time I praise anyone in the Trump Administration). I can only hope these actions aren't limited to ISIS or the Syrian theatre, but encompass all jihad groups wherever they operate.
The extreme ideology being taught online and at many UK mosques doesn't begin with blowing oneself up at a pop concert. It begins with a theological worldview that teaches loyalty to the land where one is living, such as the UK, is a sign of Muslim hypocrisy, and the only loyalty a Muslim should have is to a global ummah. This piece outlines that worldview perfectly.
As believers are taught Western powers and Jews are responsible for the plight of the ummah true patriotism is righting this wrong. Therefore, serving in the American or British armed forces is a sign you're a bad Muslim and even held as an executable offense by some, and volunteering to fight jihad in Syria or Libya is seen as the height of Muslim heroism and masculinity.
It is important to point out at this point I’m not specifically referring to those fighting for ISIS. This refers to all jihad groups globally which attract international volunteers motivated by notions of Islamic solidarity and the desire to create an Islamic State (or caliphate).
While some of these groups may be more extreme than others they all tend to hold fast and true to some core principles;
The nation-state must be erased to make way for an Islamic State without permanent borders
Shariah Law supersedes all secular laws including human rights conventions
The state, or in the interim the Mujahideen, must enforce Islamic morality including the death penalty for non-sanctioned sexual activity between consenting adults
The death penalty for apostates or those who engage in critique or historical inquiry of Prophet Muhammad, the Quran, and the existence or role of a Creator
Severing the limbs of thieves
State or mujahideen mandated hijab or niqaab for women
The ultimate goal of a global caliphate uniting all Muslims
The belief that a Muslim convert in Argentina or Alabama, by the mere fact of being a Muslim, has more of a say or right in conflicts like Syria than non-Muslim or secular citizens of that nation
The belief that it is not only the right, but the duty of American and British Muslims, to travel to the lands of jihad and participate in armed struggle
That the non-Muslim state in which they may live or hold citizenship in personally owes them something due to crimes against the ummah
All of the above mentioned characteristics and jihad groups are also united upon a Salafi teaching of Islam. A methodology that at its core seeks to purify and cleanse the ummah of deviants. Wherever Salafi teachings flourish Muslim minorities suffer and the most vitriolic hatred Salafis have is for the Shia.
However, other Muslim groups have shown they're just as committed to these ideas, but perhaps have a more patient strategy. The Muslim Brotherhood comes to mind. The Brotherhood has deeply inserted itself into Western academic, political and media institutions. Wearing suits and ties with trimmed beards and fashionable hijabs often aligning themselves with progressive activists many see a big difference between the Brotherhood and Salafis missing out on the fact there is huge crossover. The Brotherhood is also actively engaged in many of the same conflicts with Salafi jihadis, often as a competitor, and with overlapping goals. In Egypt both Salafi jihadis and the Brotherhood have shown themselves to be suspicious of, if not murderous towards, the Copt minority. Different tactics. Same views. All of the Sunni and Shia revival movements are also united upon the delegitimization of Israel, a commitment to its destruction, and a belief it's the duty of all Muslims globally to hasten this outcome.
In Gaza, where the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood has complete power a mini-state is emerging that doesn't look much different than areas in Syria which jihadis control. The public activities of women are strictly enforced according to Shariah rulings by Hamas, free speech and freedom of the press have basically been eliminated, critics are dealt with violently, and children are taught the greatest achievement in life is dying while killing Jews. And everything I just said is rapidly applying to Turkey with President Erdogan’s desire to recreate an Ottoman order.
This ideology along with bad history and a sense of grievance (perhaps merged with sexual repression and societal or family issues) motivates thousands of Western jihadis. Perhaps worse than ideology though is bad history. A history Muslims are being taught that is basically this;
Sunni Muslims were united under one leader from the time of the death of Prophet Muhammad until Mustafa Kemal Ataturk abolished the caliphate in the 1920’s
Muslim rule, with minor interruptions, was always glorious and enlightened
The scholars of the past know better than the scholars of today
A history that omits the frequent persecution of non-Muslims and the abuses of the jizyah protection-racket , brutal repression, sexual slavery, armies of eunuchs, brutal infighting between Muslims, multiple rulers within the ummah at any one time, forced conversions, and if we wanna go back far enough the murder and persecution of members of the family of Prophet Muhammad by Muslims
The facts don't match the rosy account of Muslim history being taught to young Muslims. A serious look at Muslim history will show Muslim rulers and rule were just like every other absolute monarchist system. Some enlightened rulers and periods in between many tyrants, but overall like all monarchies a commitment to self-enrichment and preservation over anything related to preserving a divine-order. In other words not much different than European Christian kings or mafia dons for that matter- just tending to have much more active sex lives.
If the past was so glorious, as told by imams and read in books that read like they were written for small children, why not try and recreate it? If everything was beautiful under a caliphate and the military aggression and the conspiracies of the Jews robbed the ummah of its glory why shouldn't every young Muslim go and fight?
While those described above may be statistically few (while deadly beyond their numbers) there is a wider ecosystem of Islamist support preying on Western political cultures and systems.
Performance liberalism and false equivalence have created an environment where to criticize any Muslim, for any reason, puts one at risk of being accused of being an Islamophobic bigot. This is often taken to extreme lengths. A recent Twitter discussion featured a writer being attacked for criticizing the Shariah death penalty for apostates law. When I looked to see who was attacking the writer it appeared to be exclusively “white progressive allies”.
An Arab non-hijabi recently complained to me she’d be much more popular with progressives if she’d start wearing hijab and asked if white progressives knew Arab progressives have been fighting to take the hijab off for generations? Then there’s the case of the hijabi Muslim activist who’s only a hijabi when the camera is rolling.
The white ally of Muslims has also ushered in an era of white leftist converts to Islam who seem to have little connection to the religion outside of wearing a hijab, political organizing and chanting “free Palestine”. Things such as prayer, fasting, and piety seem to not be as important as joining a “marginalized group” and being “ intersectional”.
Important to the left intersectional ally dogma is that the threat of Islamist terror isn't that serious and the threat from white men is far worse. This of course is intellectual dishonesty of the highest order. Granted there are white nationalist extremists and killers today as there have always been ( and I am a firm supporter of the removal of all Confederate memorials); but it's Islamist terror that has destabilized much of the world, violently torn nations apart and fueled a refugee crisis.
The left has historically been at odds with political Islam, but if you're in the US and UK today good luck getting anything published in a progressive publication critical of political Islam. In the event you do publish something critical of Muslim figures be ready for attacks from both Muslim Twitter warriors and an army of white saviors riding in to save the day.
The odd thing of course is that wherever Islamists take power everyone and everything the left claims to love and care for comes immediately under attack. Homosexuality outlawed and gays thrown off buildings, women forced to wear hijab and be governed by institutionalized misogyny, the erasure of the concept of marital-rape, alcohol and intoxicants forbidden, the death penalty liberally given out, and yes even Islamic slavery reintroduced into society as we've seen in Libya, Iraq, and Syria.
Conservative ignorance adds to the problem. Bubba and Cooter drinking Busch and eating Cheetos in the exurbs claiming creeping Shariah is coming to the local Arby’s, there are no go zones on streets they've never been to, going on about Muslim sex with goats, claiming Muslims worship the moon, and harassing hijabis in public, is just dumb activity that doesn't help anyone. This is the ignorant class that is prone to extremism themselves as evidenced by Portland and many other places. Any racial or religious extremism is hardly a suitable moral voice for the defeat of Islamists.
The only way to fight the Islamist threat is by making it a bipartisan issue whether that be in the US or Europe . This means the left can't pander to Muslims to get cheap votes and the right can't vilify Muslims to appease their base.
The clueless states of the West have thus far shown very few signs they're up to the task. In America the Countering Violent Extremism program was developed to counter the threat. CVE was a doomed program to begin with because one it has no promise to be effective and two at its core it's unconstitutional.
CVE isn't effective because it's just another bloated Washington program created to fight a problem. Money for CVE is handed out to DMV Muslim swamp creatures with no ability to deliver on the desired goals. The program is nothing more than political patronage for Muslims and a payday for grant-thirsty academics to write papers few will ever read. It's unconstitutional because it's the state setting up a framework for acceptable religious teachings and practice and rewarding those who teach a favorable ideology. It sets up a precedent that can be applied to other religions. A Presidential Administration doesn't like the Chabad Lubavitcher movement? Start funding Satmars. An Administration doesn't like the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America? Fund the Missouri Synod.
Terrorism is a law-enforcement and national security issue and should be handled that way. Religious institutions, not government-funded and in the private realm, must minister and counsel at-risk congregants.
Needed measures must quickly be adopted to prevent further attacks like that in Manchester and sadly even with these measures all can't be stopped.
The immediate seizure of the passports of anyone on a terrorist watch list or in association with known jihadis
The stripping of citizenship of anyone who goes abroad to fight jihad. Let them stay where they are.
A permanent ban of internet and smart phone privileges of everyone on a terrorist watch list
The removal of children from the homes of Mujahideen into state custody
The prosecution of any family member and anyone else who helped to fund a jihadi in any way
The closing of any mosque teaching a violent theology or mosques where multiple worshippers have been convicted of terrorism or sent fighters overseas
NGO support for young Muslims fleeing oppressive situations. Dedicated group homes with social workers opening in every major city.
The closing of any organization connected to the international Islamist financial and terror network
This is my immediate response to Manchester. For all of the wonderful Muslims observing Ramadan have a blessed month of fasting. For all of the extremists pissed off reading this go choke on your samosa when you break your fast tonight. This is not about vilifying Muslims. I love Muslims. In America for every one extreme religious Muslim nut you'll find many more young Muslims cheering their NFL team on Sundays, going to concerts, and binge watching Game of Thrones. You'll also find more than a few in bars and dispensaries. Muslims drive our cabs, operate our emergency rooms, teach us in school, represent us in court, prepare our food, and are found in all cities in all professions and have been here since before the Republic was born. That still leaves a lot of people. And they must be defeated. It's us or them. Let God have mercy, we should have none with those who kill children.
(Note: Since writing this there's already been horrific terror attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippines)