Wednesday, June 11, 2008
“Stealth Jihad” and Violent Jihad
Among anti-Islam analysts, there’s a new term being bandied about—Stealth Jihad.
The crucial meaning of the term as used by these analysts is that the unjust danger of jihad can be, and is being, pursued apart from physical violence.
Here is a typical expression of this term for conceptual purposes:
. . . one of Al-Qaeda’s chief theorists [Sayyid Imam al-Sharif] rejects terrorism—leading to a cascade of both liberal and conservative voices rejoicing that the end of the war on terror is at hand.
Sayyid Imam al-Sharif. . . is not rejecting the idea that Muslims must strive to subjugate unbelievers under the rule of Islamic law. All he is doing is advocating a change in strategy: less terrorism, more stealth jihad. This news shouldn’t make Americans go back to sleep; it should spur them to become aware of the ways in which the jihadist agenda of Islamic supremacism is advancing without guns and bombs. [bold emphasis mine]
This quote is from Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch (whose upcoming book, in fact, showcases the viability of the Stealth Jihad concept). The related problem Spencer is alerting us to is that some Western analysts tend to interpret such rejections of terrorism as al-Sharif’s as a welcome sign of “reform” in Islam and as a substantiation of their belief in the Politically Correct Multi-Culturalist (PC MC) axiom that Islam is inherently peaceful, and so are the vast majority of Muslims, despite disquietingly massive and widespread data to the contrary.
There is a glaring problem with the Stealth Jihad concept, however. As the problem is somewhat complex, I shall explicate it in a list of points:
1) Stealth Jihad is a real danger and it is really being pursued by many Muslims and Islamic groups throughout the West.
2) However, Stealth Jihad does not necessarily work independently of violent Jihad: Stealth Jihad in fact works best when it works hand in glove with violent Jihad, and it usually has worked that way throughout history.
3) The cooperation of Stealth Jihad and violent Jihad works in the following way:
a) violent Jihad against a non-Muslim land terrorizes the non-Muslim population
b) over time, this terror causes the non-Muslim population to seek some way to stop, or lessen, the terror they are experiencing and the expected terror they dread
c) a perfect way to lessen the terror presents itself in Muslims and Islamic groups who do not pursue violence but simply pursue the expansion of Islamic culture, influence and power in non-Muslim lands through apparently non-violent means.
4) Then we must add to the mix the mainstream dominance of Politically Correct Multi-Culturalism (PC MC) throughout the West, by which the stubborn belief that Islam and the vast majority of Muslims are harmless and any attempts to link them to the violence perpetrated, and planned, by Muslims is not permitted in the light of public discourse and analysis—indeed, is positively vilified as “bigoted” at best. In this context, there is a perverse dynamic at work that aids and abets the cooperation of Stealth Jihad and violent Jihad: every new terrorist attack, and every new terrorist plot uncovered, arouses in the PC MC mindset a reflex reaction against linking those attacks and plots to Islam—for there is an implicit, semi-consciously anxious avowal that such data is, in fact, a disturbing indicator of something amorphously brewing among Muslims: and this semi-conscious anxiety, among PC MC people, then triggers the need to suppress the rational thought process that leads one from the data to questions about our prevailing axioms about how peaceful Islam must be, and how harmless the vast majority of Muslims must be. With each new terrorist attack, and each new terrorist plot uncovered, then, the PC MC people become perversely more, not less, susceptible to the seemingly sugarcoated deceptions of the Stealth Jihadists who are, you see, simply wanting their rightful piece of the Western pie like all the other “ethnic” minorities enjoy in our wonderful multiculturalist culture.
5) Change in historical circumstances: Throughout the Middle Ages and into the early modern era—i.e. for the millennium between the late 7th century A.D. when Muslims began to expand militarily outside of the Arabian peninsula until the late 17th century when Muslims launched their last military attack against the West—there was, of course, no mainstream dominance of PC MC. In the absence of that, Muslims pursued a more uncouth and aggressive form of indirect Jihad whenever and wheresoever frontal military assaults were temporarily inexpedient. For the most part, the only thing that limited violent Jihad as Muslims sought to conquer the West during that thousand years, was the persistent ability of the West to fight back. Thus Bruce Thornton, summarizing Andrew Bostom’s discussion of the Islamic method of Blitzkrieg attacks (razzia, the Italian and French transliteration of the Arabic ghazwa):
The great French historian C. E. Dufourcq’s description of the razzia—the preliminary raids by Islamic warriors to acquire slaves and plunder and to test a region’s suitability for full-scale conquest—should be read by anybody tired of hearing about Western depredations against the “religion of peace.” For centuries, town after town in southern France, Spain, and Italy was plundered, sacked, and looted for slaves; churches were particularly targeted for the precious articles of worship they contained. One purpose of such raids was to instill terror in the inhabitants so that they either would not resist and thus be softened up for later conquest, or would pay ransom to avoid this devastation. The 17th-century Muslim historian al-Maqqari is quite explicit about the intended effect of this terror: “Allah thus instilled such fear among the infidels that they did not dare to go and fight the conquerors; they only approached them as suppliants, to beg for peace.” One can’t help but think of the modern Europeans who have appeased today’s jihadists because they fear terrorists whose victims add up to a tiny fraction of the number killed and enslaved in earlier centuries. [bold emphasis mine]
The change in historical circumstance in the last 350 years from the 17th century to the present (particularly in the last century) has presented to Muslims who seek a revival of Islamic conquest a paradigm shift in imperialist strategy:
a) Prior to the 17th century, the West was consciously inimical to Islam both militarily and ideologically, and furthermore—even up to as late as the early 20th century—did not assimilate large numbers of Muslims in a demographic invasion of large-scale immigration. In addition, the West, while continually progressing in science and technology, had not sufficiently progressed beyond Islam militarily to do more than simply withstand conquest—in the process losing a giant chunk on its southwestern flank (Spain) for a good 700 years, only to lose another giant chunk on its southeastern flank (Byzantium) a few decades after it finally won the first chunk back in 1492. In this context, Muslims driven by their imperialist supremacist desideratum to conquer the world had the rather limited strategic options of trying to muster large-scale military offensives occasionally, while more often trying to puncture and weaken the Western tegument with innumerable razzias, which incidentally were far more widespread and long-lasting than Bruce Thornton’s description conveys (including, for example, centuries of piracy which involved raids of plunder, terror and kidnapping for slavery on coasts as far north as England and even once into Iceland, and lasting over a thousand years).
b) In the post-17th-century world, the West quickly became the dominant global superpower—a complex constellation of competing colonialist centers (Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, Britain) whose internecine conflicts while superficially centrifugal served to increasingly and exponentially strengthen the overall West. The astounding ascendancy of the West on all levels—military, technological, scientific, artistic, sociopolitical, geopolitical—gave it the power to colonize, along with other vast areas of the Third World, most of the Muslim world. For over two centuries, from the 17th century to the mid 20th century, the Muslim world reeled and recoiled, stunned almost senseless by this startling, relatively sudden plunge into the nadir of impotence unprecedented in all their previous history, offset by the humilatingly astounding superiority of their Infidel foes. As a result, the Muslim world turned in upon itself and hunkered down, its ability to mount any meaningful jihad against the West virtually disabled (save for some Barbary piracy in the Mediterranean and Atlantic up to the turn of the 19th century). Then something happened: A complex concatenation of circumstances and opportunities in the 20th century coalesced and has permitted the viable revival of various flavors of Islamic Jihad and its imperatives for world domination under its supremacist laws. (See my previous three-part essay Islam Redivivus on this.) Islam throughout its history, and centrally fixed in its foundational texts and laws, has conceived of, and pursued, Jihad mainly as a military and paramilitary endeavor.
6) “Moderation” as Stealth: While it is arguably the case from recent history that, for example, Muslims busy as beavers laid down a good deal of the framework for a Stealth Jihad in America through the 1980s and 1990s—prior to the electrically-charged post-911 atmosphere—nevertheless, it is also arguable that for the past seven years since 911, Stealth Jihad has been positively boosted, rather than diminished, by the increasing dread of terrorism: for the “stealth” in Stealth Jihad does not only refer to secrecy, it also refers to the phenomenon of being cloaked in plain sight, which is another word for the pseudo-moderation of the Stealth Jihadists busy planting their serpentine vines throughout Western Media, Politics, and Academe—powerfully aided and abetted (mostly in semi-conscious obtuseness) by the mainstream dominance of PC MC throughout the West.
7) And finally, while Stealth Jihadists will likely go very far in succeeding with many of their goals of infiltration, it will be extremely unlikely for Muslims to be able to finalize that infiltration in a successful sabotage leading to actual conquest, without at some point using violence—lots of violence. For, the West is, on all levels of comparison, light years ahead of the Muslim world, and when that final phase of sabotage begins to kick in, the West will resist, and such resistance and the necessary reaction against it on the Muslim side, will trigger violence on both sides—more likely than not major and widespread violence.
Given these new circumstances and opportunities—including most acutely the latest post-911 context which has undoubtedly augmented the pan-Islamic fervor of Muslims (with simultaneously centrifugal and centripetal effects)—Muslims are amorphously and somewhat semi-consciously crystallizing a new strategy that continues to forsake military Jihad (only because their military weakness persists) while it combines two less direct modes of Jihad: the paramilitary Jihad of terrorism/societal sabotage (a kind of updated and more flexible form of the earlier razzias), and Stealth Jihad.
In this new strategy, Stealth Jihad works hand-and-glove with violent Jihad: the Stealth Jihadists are the “good cops”, the violent Jihadists are the “bad cops”. Both work for the same goals, and each requires the complementary skills of the other: in the analogy, the “bad cop” threatens and abuses the person under interrogation, through such intimidation predisposing him to be softer and more amenable to the suaver wiles of the “good cop”—whom the relatively stupid person under interrogation does not realize is actually in cahoots with the “bad cop”.
As Muslims have been working out this new strategy, many of them are also catching on to the felicitous serendipity of the mainstream dominance of PC MC throughout the Dar-al-Harb, which is actually perversely and stupidly—yet all too effectively—enabling their new strategy. And even if a certain number of Stealth Jihadists are not consciously or even not willfully colluding with their violent Jihadist brethren around the world, their very propaganda and actions are nevertheless dovetailed with them.
A final quote from Robert Spencer, from an article today on Jihad Watch:
As a Muslim Brotherhood operative, Mohamed Akram, put it in 1991 memorandum outlining the organization’s strategy in the United States: “The Muslim Brotherhood must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” Akram explained that this sabotaging of Western civilization would take place not through terror attacks, but by numerous non-violent initiatives carried out by a variety of Islamic organizations. With the public geared to be on guard only against terror attacks, these efforts would slip by unnoticed. [bold emphasis mine]
This kind of analysis is curiously abstracted and detached from the actual context in which Muslims are pursuing their goals, and in which Westerners are more, or less, unwary of that pursuit. In the actual context, in which terror attacks have been proceeding apace (each planned attack prevented by intelligence counts as an attack, in intent and, more appositely, in the more or less subliminal terror it instills among Infidels), as has the more amorphous form of Jihad violence—various forms of criminality and sociopathy (gang-rapes, riots in France, intimidation of individuals and groups, death threats, vandalism of synagogues and churches, aggressive public demonstrations, etc.)—the efforts of subtler sabotage to which Akram and Spencer allude are not pursued by Muslims disconnected from that context: in fact, that context in our obviously electrically-charged post-911 world aids and abets that subtler sabotage, as explained in my 7-point analysis above.
The Problem of "Stealth Jihad" in a Nutshell
Stealth Jihad Watch
The Corner Robert Spencer Paints Himself Into
Clarifying "Stealth Jihad"
Jihad Watch still incoherent about "Stealth Jihad"