A profound misunderstanding of Islam and a cultural tendency to see terrorism as the errant behavior of a few could transform the West for the worse if perceptions do not soon change, Andrew McCarthy, a federal prosecutor in the first World Trade Center bombing trial, said this week at a Heritage Foundation event.
Mr. McCarthy recently came out with a book on this topic, “The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.”
Terrorists “won’t stop until the entire world is brought to heel, either converting to their construction of Islam or agreeing to live under shari’a as non-Muslims, which would mean to live in an inferior status,” McCarthy said at the event Thursday. “So the title of the book may be provocative but I’m sad to say … all this information has been available to us in plain sight if we would only have looked at it.”
The Obama administration’s inability – or unwillingness - to make the explicit connection between Islamic doctrine and Islamic terror because of a fear of being seen as ‘declaring war on Islam’ wil only aid terrorists’ agenda, Mr. McCarthy said.
“If we’ve seen anything in the last two decades, it’s that this society - and this government in particular - is hell-bent on not allowing us to look at the ideology that’s behind these attacks,” he said. “Because Islamic doctrine cannot be reasonably divorced from Islamic terror.”
However, neither the political left nor the political right has defined the concept of “jihad” accurately, Mr. McCarthy said. He mentioned as examples top White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan’s statement this week that jihad was “a holy struggle” to become a better person, as well as the general view among conservatives that the term means “holy war” with the intention to kill non-Muslims.
“John Brennan … yesterday apparently unburden himself on the topic of jihad and he rejected the idea that there could be a war on terrorism because terrorism is a state of mind and jihad is … the struggle to become a better person,” Mr. McCarthy said. “That is a very flawed understanding of jihad. It is a struggle to become a better person - but by that they don’t mean brush your teeth three times a day. … What they mean is struggle to become a better Muslim and that has a very different meaning in Islamist circles.”
Part of the left’s misunderstanding of jihad comes from the Western assumption that Islam is a religion after the fashion of other faiths with which it is familiar, such as Christianity and Judaism.
“Islam is not a religion as we have come to know religions in the West,” Mr. McCarthy said. “It aspires to much more than governing the spirit realm. It is a full-purpose social, political, legal and religious system. It is an authoritarian system in that it has an immutable legal code, shari’a, which governs all aspects of life. What that ends up meaning is that if you take the position that Islam is a religion … you’re turning your eyes away from a lot of things that are not spiritual” and could have an impact on our national security, he said.