Feb. 15, 2016
Only in the last paragraph of his review does Walter Russell Mead gently suggest that the entire thesis of Peter Bergen’s book “United States of Jihad” may be dangerously misguided (Bookshelf, Feb. 2).
Mr. Mead tells us that Peter Bergen, CNN’s national security analyst, agrees with the Obama administration’s thinking about homegrown terrorism, which plays down the role of radical theo-political ideology (Islamism) in spawning terrorist acts and focuses instead on such factors as financial turmoil and mental illness that may turn a Muslim toward extremist thinking. The FBI now believes that psychological problems, and not the doctrines of Islamist supremacy, spark jihadist assaults. Yet this is bizarre. When a white supremacist guns down black Americans, it might be worthwhile to look at his personal troubles, but it would be ridiculous to discount his racism.
Mr. Bergen has explained that the policy not to connect terrorist acts with the religious orientation of the perpetrators was prompted by protests from, among others, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an Islamist lobby group (a Muslim Brotherhood legacy group), whose officials have suggested Israel was behind 9/11. Enough said.
In Britain, a recent study found that the extremist ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood can be a conveyor belt turning radical young Muslims toward terrorism. Obviously, American Islamist groups will never admit to the connection of Islamism to Islamist terror. The long-term threat lies not with sudden explosive acts of “lone wolves,” but with the pernicious effect of radical ideology that festers within self-segregated, Islamist-led Muslim communities.
For the safety of all Americans, including those brave, moderate Muslim voices fighting extremism in their own communities, it is bizarre to ignore such ideology and wicked to deny it.
M. Zuhdi Jasser
American Islamic Forum
Americans for Peace and Tolerance