It was a normal summer day in Central Asia. Several of my col- leagues and I were scheduled to take a flight from Alma Ata in Kazakhstan to Moscow. The airport was crowded, the smell was stifling, and confusion seemed to be the rule of the day.
Our flight was supposed to take off at 8 a.m., but, as usual, we were informed that it would be late. After waiting for eight hours and still not knowing when or if we would leave, we boarded the plane. It was packed not only with people but also with various packages and suitcases of many sizes and shapes. Most were piled in the aisles.
As our plane rolled to the runway, we all felt that we had finally crossed the last hurdle. The Boeing 727 of Trans-Aero Airlines began its takeoff, but just before we rose into the air, there was a loud explosion under the wing. A tire blowout! The pilot tried to get the plane airborne, but ten seconds later there was a second explosion as the second tire on that same side also gave way.
As the plane was shaking terribly and swerving to and fro on the runway, one person was heard to cry out, “Don’t panic! Don’t panic!” Those instructions seemed strange at a time like that! Only in frightening situations do people ever cry out, “Don’t panic!”
Thankfully, the pilot was able to get the aircraft under control and bring it to a stop. We disembarked, only to have to wait for two more days in Alma Ata.
After the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, many were heard to say: “Don’t panic! Don’t panic!” Many were asking themselves how these warlike events could be happening in a peaceful, advanced society like America. As leaders tried to understand the chemistry of what had taken place, it seemed that some unknown forces were at play that made life different from the way it was the day before.
What were these forces that made the world sit up and take notice? Certain names and concepts now were on the lips of thinking people. Suddenly, average Americans were talking about Osama bin Laden, jihad, Muslim extremism, the Taliban, and so forth. New words and new ideas were now forming the basis of coffee table discussions.
A new day had dawned. Muslim extremism was now recognized as a more powerful force than most had imagined. It seemed like only yesterday that Christians and Muslims stood shoulder to shoulder when the Berlin Wall came down. Both saw Marx’s brand of atheism as an enemy of monotheism, and both saw a brighter day ahead. Faith had won out over disbelief. Christians felt that their ideas of individualism, liberalism, constitutionalism, human rights, equality, liberty, the rule of law, democracy, free markets, and the separation of church and state were now the norm, but suddenly another force had raised its head—one that was in total opposition to their basic belief patterns.
September 11 could best be described as “the twenty-first century shot heard around the world.” What happened in just one short day was the start of a new relationship between Islam and the West. “Don’t panic” seemed to be the cry, not only because of the terrible events of 9/11 but also because of the realization that a clash of civilizations was now much more visible than ever before.
Many woke up to the fact that the attack was not an isolated event but part of a well-planned and highly financed movement that has a desire to dominate the world. In the year 2000, bin Laden announced the formation of the World Islamic Front for the jihad against Jews and Crusaders (bin Laden’s term for Christians)—an umbrella group of radical movements across the Muslim world. He issued a fatwa stating that it is the duty of all Muslims to kill United States citizens and their allies.
Also, it has been publicized that Islam is the second largest and fastest growing religion in the world, numbering between one billion and 1.3 billion—about one-fifth of the population of the world. Many areas of the world have regional conflicts, such as Jews versus Palestinians, Hindus versus Muslims in Kashmir, and Russians versus Muslims in Chechnya. Are all of these related, or should they be seen only as separate occurrences in world history? After taking a closer look, it is apparent that there is a worldwide conspiracy for world dominance by Islam.
Understanding both the history and the dynamics of the conspiracy might help us. A simple explanation for the problem is not possible since there are political, cultural, economical, sociological, and religious implications. One writer, John Esposito, has stated that, in light of 9/11, we in the West must ask three questions:
1. Is there a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West?
2. Why do they hate us?
3. Is there a direct connection between Islam, anti-Americanism, and global terror?1
These questions, taken with the many facts before us, are reasons for concern. Attempts will be made to address all three in this book.
The growth of the Muslim population in the West and particularly in America has been both silent and alarming. Between 1989 and 1999, the Muslim population grew by more than 100 percent in Europe, to fourteen million (2 percent of the population), and in America by 25 percent. There are one thousand five hundered mosques in Germany, and five million Muslims in France. The number of the followers of Muhammad in the rest of the European Union is between twelve and fifteen million.2
Many believe that Islam will be the second largest religion in America by 2015. The number of participants in American mosques has increased by more than 75 percent during the past five years and there are now more than one thousand two hundred mosques in the United States.3 Islam is definitely on the rise.
From a worldwide perspective, it is also interesting to note that according to a United Nations demographic report, Muslims will represent at least half of the global birthrate after the year 2055.4 Islam’s rapid growth gives us new impetus to ask, “What strategy is Islam employing to facilitate such growth?”
While living in Germany, I had a long discussion with a Muslim leader from that country. He stated, “Islam’s race to win the world was detoured for about four hundred years, but now it is back on track to achieve our ultimate goal—the setting up of a world-wide ummah.”5
One school of thought founded in 1953 by Sheik Taqiuddlin an Nabhani states, “Muslims nowadays live in Dar-al-Kufr (the world of infidels). To them this is intolerable, and the only solution to the problem is for Muslims to reestablish the Khalifah or Islamic State.”6 According to this school of thought, the Islamic state does not yet exist in the world since Khalifah is one large Islamic state, ruled by a single leader (called a caliph) without national boundaries. Just as the founders of communism felt that world conquest by Marxism was inevitable, so do many Islamic scholars and politicians feel that the depravity of the West, coupled with the dynamism of Islam, will provide for a worldwide Islamic state in the future.
One well-known strategist was Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran. During his years of exile (supposedly supported by the French government), he developed the strategy that was so successful in bringing about revolution in his homeland. Literally hundreds of thousands of his taped sermons advocating an Islamic revolution flooded the country. His overthrow of the well-established Shah has been studied by many as an example of how a religious revolution against a contemporary secular government can be accomplished. It was common knowledge in Iran that Khomeini had as his goal a five-stage plan. It was as follows:
Step 1: The overthrow of the Shah and the establishment of an Islamic Republic in Iran.
Step 2: Encouraging the creation of Islamic Republics in the surrounding Muslim countries either by revolution, war, or negotiations (thus the war against Iraq).
Step 3: The defeat of Israel.
Step 4: The Islamic takeover of Europe.
Step 5: The fall of the Great Satan (United States of America) as the last step in the creation of a worldwide Islamic ummah.
Khomeini was one of the more important influences in the Islamic strategy. Some have said that only the Wahabi Sunnis have taken a hard-line position, but Khomeini, a Shiite, was probably the ultimate revolutionary leader. President Jimmy Carter’s ambassador to Tehran reported that Ayatollah Khomeini was a “twentieth century saint.” It is said that Carter himself, being a religious man, felt that it would be possible to deal with him. History has clearly shown that this was a wrong assumption. As we look at Khomeini’s plans for world dominance, it is interesting to see what he thought of the West. Here is a quote from Khomeini:
Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those who say this are witless. Islam says, “Kill all the Unbelievers” just as they would kill you. Islam says, “Kill them, put them to the sword and scatter their armies.” Islam says, “Kill in the service of Allah.” Whatever good there exists is thanks to the sword, and the shadow of the sword. People cannot be made obedient except by the sword. The sword is the key of Paradise, which can only be opened for Holy Warriors.7
In reading Khomeini’s Islamic Government, one has a tendency to compare it to Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Both state clearly their grand ideas of world conquest, but people today do not take such writings seriously. The key difference between the two is that Hitler was an atheist while Khomeini claimed to be a man of God.
Another so-called twentieth-century saint, the Mullah Muhammad Taqi Sabzevari, who also worked in Iran, was quoted as saying:
Allah has promised that the day will come when the whole of mankind will live united under the banner of Islam, when the sign of the Crescent, the symbol of Muhammad, will be supreme everywhere. But the day must be hastened through our jihad, through our readiness to offer our lives and to shed the unclean blood of those who do not see the light brought from the heavens by Muhammad. . . . The Satanic rulers must be brought down and put to death.8
It is no wonder that large numbers of Muslims claim to be international revolutionaries. They form an important part of the Muslim global strategy.
In the past few years various strategies have been proposed by either Muslim clerics or organizations. Some go as far as even listing which of America’s fifty states will be the first to become Islamic. On one list Michigan was given this honor. It is not so foolish as one might think, since one well-known Christian demographer, Jim Slack, the director of research for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, stated that in the year 2000 more than 50 percent of the population of Detroit proper was Islamic or of Islamic background. He also mentioned that Washington, D.C., and London, England, were not far behind.9 A news report from the Voice of America stated, “Dearborn, Michigan is said to have the largest population of Muslims of any American community. Other cities with large Muslim populations are New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.”10
When we look at the military scene, we are appalled. Among the nine largest purchases of arms in the world since 1983, four were by Arab states: Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Egypt.11 Most of the Arab states have twice as many of their people in military service as Western countries have in theirs. Recently on television, Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister of Israel, stated that the day would come when the West must fight against the Arab world. If it is now, it will be easier, but if we wait, it will be much more difficult since they are gaining military strength every day. Weapons of mass destruction are not far away for several Muslim states.
Some have said that 15 percent of all Muslims are sympathizers of extreme Islam. How many Muslims in America would fit into this category? What would happen if hundreds of thousands of soldiers from a foreign power invaded the United States? A great alarm would be sounded. Americans would be called upon to fight and defend the flag, our country, and our way of life. Yet, many Muslims in America are now politically sympathetic with the goals of the al Qaeda movement—yet we almost do nothing.
When did the Islamic revolution begin? What are its plans for the future? There has been contact and conflict between the Christian and Islamic worlds since the founding of Islam in a.d. 621. The Golden Age of Islam was said to be between the seventh and the fourteenth centuries. At the end of that period they began to suffer a number of defeats at the hands of Western empires. The era of colonization was then introduced, and the growth of Islam was halted. Some say Islam entered into its own “Dark Ages,” similar to our Middle Ages. Their period of enlightenment first began in the twentieth century.
A little-known fact today is that the Muslim Brotherhood grew up in Egypt in the 1920s as an imitation of European fascism, which itself was a revolt against modernity. In Italy and Germany they were known by their black or brown shirts. In Egypt they had green shirts, which symbolized the Muslim Brotherhood. Fascism failed in Europe but survived in Egypt and spread to other parts of the Islamic world.12 The influence of this radical movement is still very powerful in Egypt. It became fiercely anti-Western in the 1940s and 1950s under the direction of Sayd Qutb, an Egyptian fundamentalist. This movement was credited with many assassinations, including that of Anwar Sadat.
It was always easy to identify those who belonged to the Brotherhood in the Middle East. In 1983, when I attended a meeting of Baptists in Egypt, I and two of my younger colleagues were told that we all had to shave our beards. When we asked for a reason, we were told that in Egypt the only ones who wore beards were members of the Brotherhood.
This movement planted the seeds that were to grow during what Ralph Winters calls The Twenty-five Unbelievable Years.13 No matter how you look at it, the twentieth century was amazing, but no period had more change and more influence on today’s problem than did the twenty-five years described by Winters. This was a period that could best be described as “the official end of political imperialism,” or better, “the retreat of the West.” In his book, Ralph Winters shows that before 1945, 99.5 percent of the non-Western world was under Western domination. By 1969, 99.5 percent of the same area was independent.14 Political colonialism was ended. Economic, national, and cultural imperialism, however, remained.
Among those countries that experienced this new freedom were the Arab nations that formed the cradle of Islam. Those who talk about the Arab world are talking about the citizens of the states that are members of the Arab League created in 1945. It started with seven states (Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Yemen) and expanded its membership to twenty-two states, including latecomers such as Djibouti, Comoros, and Palestine. Also included are Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, and United Arab Emirates.15 Non-Arab countries such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other countries with large Muslim populations also escaped out from under the thumb of Western colonialism.
The extension of Islam into the West had many sources. Europe still had a residue of Muslims after the Moors were expelled from Spain and the Turks were defeated in the southeastern part of their continent. There continued to be some limited contact in America when Muslims were first brought over as early as 1717 during the African slave trade period. Years later, Muslims migrated voluntarily to America in five separate waves from 1875 to 1967. Most of those coming were unskilled Arabs who found work in the larger urban areas of the Northeast and the Great Lakes regions.
During the period of time prior to Winter’s closing date of The Twenty-Five Unbelievable Years, Muslims seemed to have little or no effect on the society. They either became a part of the “melting pot” or they hid themselves in small groups, so as not to be too conspicuous. The only exception to this was the Nation of Islam among African-Americans, but their form of Islam was so radically different that more orthodox Muslims shunned them.
After 1969, the more orthodox Muslims seemed to fall into one of two groups as described by Larry Polson. He said they were either “offensive-activists Muslims” or “defensive-pacifist Muslims.” The “offensive-activist” Muslims usually come from a traditional Islamic country like Saudi Arabia and seek to
propagate their faith and persuade Americans to abandon their current religious beliefs or secular lifestyle and convert to Islam. Their goals do not always include political conquest, but they refuse to assimilate into American society. The “defensive-pacifist” Muslims are Muslims who have come to America in search of greater economic and political freedom. They have assimilated into American culture and have played a huge role in the establishment of mosques and Islamic institutions for the purpose of helping Muslims preserve their Islamicity in the midst of “Christian” America.16
Jane Smith describes it differently, “Many Muslims living in the United States . . . want to assimilate as much as possible into American culture and try not to emphasize elements of their identity that would differentiate them from others.”17 She goes on to add, “Others do not want to relate too closely with the West but prefer what they refer to as the ‘real Islam.’”18 The end of colonization and the new world order now gave Muslims a new identity and a readiness to re-dream their original dream of world domination.
Muslim countries were now also free to determine their own religious future but still had to work under the constraints of cultural and economic imperialism. Radical Islam grew under these ripe conditions. The West was blamed for the lack of a better life as radicals took the moral high ground. The fact that most of the new developing countries established dictatorships actually helped fundamentalists, even when those leaders drew in the reins out of fear of a revolutionary takeover.
In Islamic thinking, the failures of the past or present can be blamed on economic oppression by the West and Christianity in general. Fatema Mernissi, a Muslim, stated, “Today few Arab heads of State would dream of a . . . [large] scale solution to the problems of unemployment and instability; their solution would more likely be to send an army into the streets or to imprison the rioters.”19
I would add “or to declare a jihad against the West to divert the criticism.” If the new nations did not flourish economically with their newly gained freedoms, Islam as a religion did.
As early as the 1950s, the situation in America began to change. There was an influx of a new type of Muslim. The new immigrants were better educated, and they came to live in the “land of freedom” because of the higher standard of living. Many had studied in America and grew to genuinely love their new homeland. Elisabeth Silddiqui says of this period:
. . . There was the formation of the early Muslim communities and mosques in such places as Detroit, Ann Arbor, Gary [Indiana], Cedar Rapids [Iowa], Sacramento and the like. Visiting scholars and missionary groups from the Middle East and the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent also began to arrive. And Islam began, in a very slow manner, to gain adherents among white Americans.20
This was also a time when the Muslim population of America began to look for their roots. They began to have conferences, find places to worship, and create organizations that could help them live as a people in a Western world. New national Islamic groups such as the Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada began to spring up. Even in the small town of Abique, New Mexico, there was the creation of a large training center for Islam. Many Muslims began to find their way back into the faith they had previously seen as dormant. Now a new dynamic was introduced into the community. For the first time Americans had to face the fact that the existence of Islam in their country was a reality.
Meanwhile in the home area of Islam, the newly founded countries of the Middle East began to see a growth of a more fundamental Islam—following the lead of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Other groups formed. The mixture of weak economies, oppressive governments, and frustration drove many back to their faith, one that allowed them to use might to find fulfillment, if necessary. The radical groups set up terror networks that distilled a host of economic, cultural, and political problems into a concentrated toxin of hatred aimed at Western cultures and their perceived flagship, America.
Many in the West saw this movement toward fundamentalism as only a small sect of Islam. However, in an article in Newsweek dated October 15, 2001, a Muslim leader, Fareed Zakaria, said, “To say that al Qaeda is a fringe group may be reassuring, but it is false. The problem is not that Osama bin Laden believes that this is a religious war against America. It’s that millions of people across the Islamic world seem to agree.”21
Around the globe new movements gave hope for Muslims living in poor conditions. From Indonesia to Nigeria a new enthusiasm emerged out of the former colonial, secular societies. The awakening appeared not only in the historic Islamic homelands but in all countries where the followers of Muhammad lived. The groundwork for September 11 had been laid.
While this new vibrancy in Muhammad’s religion was growing, the Christian foundation of the West was taking a beating. Patrick Buchanan, in his controversial book, The Death of the West, outlined how America and the West were losing the cultural wars. Buchanan wrote:
The West is dying. Its nations have ceased to reproduce, and their populations have stopped growing and begun to shrink. Not since the Black Death carried off a third of Europe in the fourteenth century has there been a graver threat to the survival of Western civilization.22
Among the threats to our present day society are (1) secularism, (2) immigration, (3) ethnic population decline, and last but not least, (4) Islam. Buchanan gives a convincing argument for the secularism of the West. It is a secularism that tends to disapprove of the Christian heritage of the West, with the separation of church and state—once a strong Baptist issue—now being used to rid the society of all remnants of its Christian heritage. Through the courts of the land and the media, a concerted attack is being made against the very soul of the West. It was an unprecedented attack against a faith that had stood for two thousand years.
It would appear that this decline of Christianity in the West has paralleled the rise of Islam in the West. In Europe, the death of the church is much more advanced, as is the rise of Islam. In America the process is more inhibited by a lingering faith. Buchanan and others have asked the question, “Where is the sense of outrage?” As the battle unfurls, the church seems to be silent. Buchanan quotes Jim Nelson Black as writing:
But one of the greatest reasons for the decline of American society over the past century has been the tendency of Christians who have practical solutions to abandon the forum at the first sign of resistance. Evangelicals in particular have been quick to run and slow to stand by their beliefs. In reality, most Christians have already vacated “the public square” of moral and political debate by their own free will, long before civil libertarians and others came forth to drive us back to our churches.23
What is the major problem facing the West? James Kurth, in The American Way of Victory, contends: “The real clash of civilizations will not be between the West and one or more of the rest. It will be between the West and post-West within the West itself. This clash has already taken place within the brain of Western Civilization, the American intellectual class. It is now spreading from that brain to other body politic.”24
While some see the major clash as being between Islam and the Christian West, I see that in reality there are three entities, each fighting against the other. The first two are already recognized as Islam and the Christian West. I dare to add a third—secularism. Christianity views this humanistic form of thought as a problem. Islam sees the resulting atheism as a residue of Western nonbelief that erodes Islamic influence with both Western Muslims as well as those in the predominately Islamic countries. Television, the Internet, radio, and international travel all seem to present a threat to their faith. The faith-based entities see humanistic secularism as a nonoption in their plans to win the world for their faith. The reason is obvious. Secularism preaches the oneness of man and the idea of pluralism but detests any group that claims to hold the true faith including Islam and Christianity. As the two largest religions of the world seek to further their own goals, they must keep a close eye on the third.
The second threat to the West is the mass migration of peoples, which has gained in intensity over the past twenty years. The world is going through a demographic change of a magnitude never before seen. People of many nations and tribes seeking a better way of life are invading the more affluent countries of North America and Europe. Uncontrolled immigration threatens to change the West at its very core. Muslims do not always desire to become a part of the new chosen land. For a variety of reasons (which we will look at later), many prefer to remain distant and distinct. I find it ironic that those from the Islamic cultures want to come to the West because of the failure of their own system, yet at the same time seek to impose their failed system upon the West.
Americans are growing more concerned about the problem. Many Americans now want immigration reduced, and others want English to be America’s official language. The remainder are human secularists who see a union of people as the salvation for mankind (with a liberal agenda, of course).
Europe is in a more difficult situation. It now has immigrants trying to enter into it from the south, east, and west. Today, many of the socialist led governments (such as in Belgium, Netherlands, France, Austria, and Germany) are in danger of falling because of their unqualified support for immigration. Only recently has there been an outcry from the far right for immigration reform. These governments are now changing and demanding laws that limit the numbers that can come into the country. Immigration is changing the face of many countries, and many of the immigrants are Muslims. In France it has been said that more Muslims participate in weekly religious services than do Roman Catholics and Protestants combined.
The decline of the ethnic (European) population is also a great concern. Today, it is as difficult to find a Western nation where the native population is not declining as it is to find an Islamic nation where the native population is not exploding. Secularization and the “good life” have presented us with a new problem. A combination of an extremely high number of abortions, the desire for higher economic security, and a better standard of living often hinders the formation of large families. Muslim families are generally two, three, or four times larger than non-Muslim families in the West.
The growth of Islam and the changing immigration patterns were seen as a positive aspect of a free global society simply trying to find itself. Many uttered soothing words about the positive aspects of political and religious pluralism. On September 11, many began to wake up and notice the dangers within pluralism. All acknowledged that the West was not at war with Islam, but it seemed clear that Islam was at war with the West.
In the summer of 1993, Foreign Affairs published an article written by the highly respected Samuel Huntington, which created a worldwide debate. It warned that a clash between Western culture and Islam would dominate global politics. Huntington followed up on the article by writing a book titled The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. He does not see much possibility of a cordial cohabitation of Islam and the West. He writes that people are trying to define themselves and find their cause to serve. He states, “Religion is a central, perhaps the central, force that motivates and mobilizes people.”25
Huntington is aware that the fault line between Islam and the West is not the world’s only major problem. He identifies eight distinctive civilizations: Islamic, Sinic (centered on the “core state” of China), Western (with the United States as its core), Orthodox (with Russia as its core), Japanese, Hindu, Latin American, and (somewhat tentatively) African. He says that divisions between each of these civilizations could be problematic. The major players in the forthcoming struggle are Islam and the Christian West. In a review of the Huntington book, A. J. Bacevich stated:
Huntington does not attribute the West’s recent difficulties with Islam to the influence of a handful of fanatics. The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism, it is Islam. A different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.26
Have politicians and analysts defined the current crisis accurately? Some describe the struggle as between democratic and nondemocratic forms of government. In theory, Islam is an inherently political religion. As well as being the bearer of divine revelation, the prophet Muhammad founded a political state. Those who followed him were primarily political leaders and heads of governments and empires rather than pious religious leaders. It is interesting to note that few of the Muslim states in the world are truly democratic. All of the Arab states seem to have a leader for life. When Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was asked if he was ready to allow free elections in his country, he answered that he had spent his entire life preparing to serve his people and he would be letting them down by not leading.
For Huntington, the concept of religion is extremely important since it signifies “who we are” and “who we are not.” Many see the fault lines of the next conflict as geographical, but neither Islam nor Christianity fits into this category. The problem today is not a clash of governments or cultures but rather of civilizations—which include governments and cultures. Increasingly, it is a clash of religions. Both Islam and Christianity now have adherents in all the countries of the world and are actively seeking to increase their numbers. Huntington refers to the global aspects of both religions as “an inter-civilizational phenomenon.” Both faiths continue to be vibrant and alive. The coming conflict will be between these two world religions and their related cultures.
At the beginning of this new century, most Americans felt that they were secure. Communism had been defeated, the economy was strong, and there was, after all, only one real world power—the United States of America. But when New York’s twin towers fell, this security began to unravel. For the first time, many began to see Islam as a threat. Most, however, had little or no idea of what Islam was and what Muslims believed.
After that fateful day in September, many Americans from foreign countries began to bear the brunt of persecution or were looked upon with suspicion when they boarded a plane. Among them were Hindus and Sikhs. Because they wore different types of clothing or hats, they were viewed as Muslims, but they also had their own problems with Muslims.
Many assumed that the new situation would be a distraction for Islam in its goal of converting America, but the opposite was true. When isolated instances of persecution occurred, many rushed to the side of those being threatened and harmed. This was to be expected since it is the American (and I might add, the Christian) way. What was not apparent was that the Muslims capitalized on the situation and made great gains in making their faith known to the American people. Americans were asking, “What is Islam?”
Mosques in America were put on the alert, and many of them immediately began to have open houses and public meetings so that they could explain what Islam teaches. Letters were sent to mosques telling their people how to take advantage of the events. I went to one of these meetings and was amazed to hear that Islam was a religion of love, peace, and forgiveness. The speaker distanced himself and his mosque from the evil events of destruction while promoting the positive aspects of his belief. It worked. Many mosques reported large numbers of Americans converted to Islam after 9/11.
Democratic America has been an excellent breeding ground for not only Islam as a religion but also for radical Islam. As the FBI and the CIA began to search for terrorist cells, they found numerous Muslim organizations with varying ties to radicals. In his book American Jihad, Steven Emerson gives a fascinating description of the various Muslim organizations now operating in America and their ties with various terrorist organizations. The political freedom afforded in this country gives a convenient cover to those who seek the establishment of a global Islamic state.
The key to understanding the link between Islam as a religion and the terrorist movement now dominating the news is to understand the Wahabi movement. Emerson quotes Sheik Muhammad Hisham Kabbani who spoke to an open forum at the United States State Department on January 7, 1999. Kabbani stated:
The man who brought it to the tribes was a Muslim scholar by the name of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. This was in the Eastern part of what we call Saudi Arabia during the seventeenth and eighteenth century. These ideas were going forth and back. Sometimes they were put down and other times they were supported. There was a struggle with the Muslims trying to keep them down with the support of the Ottoman Empire. They were successful until the Ottoman Empire dissolved and finished in the middle of 1920 and the new regime came—it was the secular régime of Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk). They then found an opportunity in the tribes, which no longer had the support of the Ottoman Empire in that area. They had freedom to go and change the ideas and brainwash the minds of the Muslims in this area. Slowly, in the many years from 1920 until today they were very successful in establishing a new ideology in Islam that is very extremist in its point of view. It was not so militant (at first), however; it didn’t take the form of militancy, but it took the form of revival or renewal of Islamic tradition.27
Wahabism was the religion of the al-Saud family when they unified the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula in the 1930s and seized power, establishing the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They are very orthodox and puritanical in their theology and tend toward a form of Islamic militancy that advocates reform through the use of the sword. Some have even stated that the religion of all of Saudi Arabia is Wahabism. It is no wonder that Osama bin Laden considers himself an adherent of this movement. Perhaps the most disconcerting part of this is that Saudi Arabia is taking the lead in the worldwide missionary work of Islam. Together with its seemingly unlimited economic strength and its religious fervor, this is where the main threat to the West lies.
Stephen Schwartz, author of The Two Faces of Islam, says we should not be alarmed by the growth of Islam in the United States but by who controls it. He writes, “I would say billions of dollars have been spent in the United States to advance Wahabism. The Wahabi sect, backed by Saudi Arabia, controls 70 to 80 percent of the mosques in the United States. That means they control the teaching, the preaching, the literature that’s distributed, and they control the training of the Imams.”28
Dale Hurd of CBN News gives another example of this situation. He says, “American Muslim leaders have said they are not under the control of Saudi Arabia because they don’t take money from the Saudi government, but only from private Saudi citizens. However, one spokesman admitted to the Associated Press that the ‘money does not come free. It always comes with strings attached.’”29
Da’wah consists mainly of motivating Muslims to do mission work, and many Muslim missionaries are heavily financed by Saudi sources. The main missions organization is the Muslim World League, which is a worldwide Islamic organization.30 Since the Saudis finance them, it is natural that they embrace the stricter form of Wahabism that is a part of the Saudi society. In his interview with the State Department in 1997, the moderate Sheikh Kabbani made two controversial assertions: “80 percent of all mosques and Muslim charitable organizations in the United States had been taken over by ‘extremists’ who did not represent the mainstream community; and Osama bin Laden represented an imminent threat to America.”31
From many different sources I have heard that 80 percent of all Imams in the mosques in America are Wahabis. My own experience in speaking with many Imams has confirmed this assertion. Often I will take a class of students to pay a friendly visit to a mosque. In our dialogue concerning what Islam believes, I often hear words of peace, love, and forgiveness, but when I enter the political realm, I find a completely different atmosphere. Bitterness and hate take the forefront; words that claim a future world conquest for Islam are spoken. At the end of the conversation there is a reverting back to peace, forgiveness, and love. Wahabism has made its mark not only on individual faith communities within Islam but on all of America.
In the fall of 2001, there was a strong debate in the halls of Washington, D.C. The question was simply, “Can we trust the Saudis?” In a briefing from the Rand Corporation to a Pentagon advisory board, the briefer charged that “the Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot soldiers, from ideologist to cheerleader.”32 There was an equally strong rebuttal from the Saudi ambassador. He denied that they were to be blamed for all that they were accused of doing. In a sense, both were telling the truth. Those in Washington have been taught to separate religion and politics in their thinking. In the Arab mind these two are one. Those from the Rand commission could look at the heavy financial aid given to groups in America that support terrorism as proof that they are seeking to aid the terrorists and seek the overthrow of democracy. The Saudis see it as a legitimate function of the state to support all Muslim work, no matter what form it takes.
The question must still be answered: Is Islam a threat? My experience of working with Muslims both in the Middle East and in the West has shown that the answer is a strong yes. Years before the fall of New York’s twin towers, I was saying there were storm clouds ahead. The rain has now begun to fall. I could give many hundreds of examples to support my answer. People have suffered greatly under Islam; some have lost loved ones, others have been beaten or had their homes burned down, and still others have been ambushed while worshiping peacefully in their church. Almost every day in some part of the world, there are news reports of brutalities against non-Muslims by Muslims. Those suffering often tell of the loud cries of “Allahu akbar” (“Great is God”) shouted by those who perform the evil deeds.