Amnesty International Votes for “Defensive” Jihad

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and a columnist for National Review. His book Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad (Encounter Books, 2008), has just been released in paperback with a new preface. Check out a description from Encounter Books. His new book, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America, is to be released by Encounter Books in late May.

FP: Andy McCarthy, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Amnesty International supports individuals such as Former Gitmo detainee Moazzam Begg. Tell us what exactly is going on here.

McCarthy: Jamie, it’s great to be here, as always.

People need to understand what Amnesty International is: a hard-left political organization. It is one of the bastions of what John Fonte calls transnational progressivism, and it’s agenda is a post-sovereign world theoretically governed by an abstraction AI calls “international humanitarian law” but, as a practical matter, ruled by the leftists who make up what this purported corpus of “law” means as they go along (just as they make up what “social justice” and other such abstractions mean to suit the exigencies of the moment).

This is not to say that AI is without authentic human rights activists. There are many people who are dawn to AI because of its admirable historic mission to pressure authoritarian governments that are serial human-rights violators. But as an institution, AI is a just another leftist hack, and the country it most chooses to pressure is the United States, for the American people’s great crimes of being free and self-determining and being uninterested in a post-sovereign order, and for pursuing our interests in the world, including our national security.

Moazzam Begg is a Taliban jihadist and former Gitmo detainee. The invaluable Tom Joscelyn (of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies) has done a great deal of work exposing him — such as in this Weekly Standard essay, which collects other Begg links. Much like CAIR, Begg has discovered that if you swaddle your Islamist activism in the rhetoric of human rights, and be sure to target the United States and Israel as the cause of the world’s problem, the hack leftist organizations will flock to you regardless of the atrocities you’re willing to commit or defend. Thus has AI made common cause with Begg and his British organization, “Cageprisoners.” That this should happen is not at all surprising to anyone who does a comparative study of leftist ideology and Islamist ideology — which is the subject of a book I’ve just finished, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America, to be released by Encounter Books in late May.

Of course, the tie between AI and Begg is upsetting to individual, authentic human rights activists, both because it associates their cause with an ideology that rejects basic human freedoms (conscience, equality of the sexes, equality of Muslims and non-Muslims, sexual orientation, the ability to legislate irrespective of sharia dictates, etc.), and because it holds up the mirror to what AI really is (as opposed to the utopian vision of AI that caused them to gravitate to it in the first place).

FP: What happened to Gita Sahgal, head of AI’s “gender unit,” recently and what is the significance?

McCarthy: Gita Sahgal protested AI’s association with Begg, and AI responded by censuring and suspending her. That is, AI decided its alliance with an unabashed Islamist who has predictably become a darling of the left was more precious to it than the inconvenient fact that this alliance betrays everything that AI purports to stand for. Of course, any objective person looking at AI’s record could have told Ms. Sahgal that AI had long ago crossed that Rubicon. But the Begg connection and the way AI is clinging to it gives us one of those welcome “king has no clothes” moments.

FP: There was a petition against AI recently for all of this and AI Secretary-General Claudio Cordone responded by defending “defensive” jihad, right? What happened?

McCarthy: That’s right, Jamie. In response to the petition, Cordone has issued a letter in vigorous defense of AI’s collaboration with Begg and Cageprisoners. Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism has the story, here. In the letter, Cordone states AI’s position outright: advocacy of “jihad in self defence” is not antithetical to human rights. Of course, that is absurd. Islamists reserve unto themselves the right to determine when Islam is, as they put it, “under siege,” and when, therefore, forcible jihad is justified in “self-defense.” As we’ve seen too many times to count (including throughout the Taliban’s reign in Afghanistan), Islamists have a very low threshold for what constitutes an “attack” on Islam. The “self-defense” canard, as Robert Spencer has demonstrated repeatedly (see, e.g., here), is just camouflage for what is a very aggressive offensive jihad campaign, involving both force and stealth. All this is plainly of no concern to AI — again, for AI, only actions America’s self-defense are worthy of condemnation.

FP: What does all of this mean about AI?

McCarthy: Simply stated, I think it demonstrates that AI and its wider movement are fraudulent. Maybe it was once about human rights. But now it is just about the international left’s campaign against human freedom.

FP: Well, all of this has very much to do with, as you say, the romance between the radical leftist and radical Islam. You have done a comparative study of leftist ideology and Islamist ideology in your new book coming out in May, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America. Can you tell us a bit of where leftist and Islamist ideology meet?

McCarthy: They meet in two very important ways, Jamie: One I’ll call ideological and the other tactical. On the ideological front, it seems to be conventional wisdom that Islam and the Left are antagonists. That’s a very shallow analysis, relying on a handful of issues on which the two are at odds: women’s rights, gay rights, abortion, and a few others. But in fact, Islamist ideology and Leftism have a great deal in common. They are totalitarian, revolutionary, corporatist systems in which the central authority seeks to control all aspects of the individual’s life. The individual is not seen as free and independent; he is just a cog in the wheel whose value lies in his usefulness to whole, as determined by the central authority.

The greatest obstacle to the aspirations of both ideologies is a system premised on individual liberty and rooted without apology in Western culture. That is to say, the greatest obstacle is America’s constitutional republic. And that gets us to the tactical aspect. Not only do Islam and the Left have structural similarities; they have the all important common enemy that has to be eliminated, or at least transformed into something radically different, if they are to thrive.

This is not to trivialize the differences between Islamism and what — as I detail in the book — our friend David Horowitz calls neocommunism (in his insightful book on this topic, Unholy Alliance). Marriages between the two have occurred frequently, especially in the last century. They endure only until the common enemy is eliminated, at which point the two are sure to turn on each other.

FP: Andy all of this appears so bizarre and depressing, and there is so much to be pessimistic about. The Left is in power, the Left has control of our culture in so many ways. It’s now even normal that the most known human rights organization in the world sides with Islamic jihad. The jihadists are winning on so many terrains. What concerns you the most? And what can and must average citizens do? And give us some grounds for hope and optimism. Where are we winning and where and how can we successfully protect ourselves and score a blow for liberty?

McCarthy: Jamie, the best things we have going for us in a period of ascendancy for Islamism and Leftism are … Islamism and Leftism. They are dead ends, roadmaps to a loss of liberty that liberty-loving people will not tolerate. We are seeing that in the Tea Party movement and the grassroots rejection of statism. The questions are whether the Unholy Alliance will do incurable damage before the people can wrest control from it, and whether new leadership will have the stomach (and it will take a strong one) to roll back the advances of statism and address its root cause: our wayward conception of why we have a central government and what its role should be. I’m not sure how we will answer these challenges because they are daunting. But I am encouraged by the appetite growing in the country — albeit not in the political class — to take them on in a serious way.

FP: Andy McCarthy, thank you for joining us.

  • solemnman

    The Tea people"s increasing popularity gives one hope that congress can become a barrier to the fulfillment of obama's dreams (which are our worst nightmares) but wresting the universities and media from the control of hard left activists and islamist princes seems a far more daunting. task.As long as the U.S. is not energy self sufficient the tail will continue to wag the dog.

  • Kim Bruce

    AI's stance on "Jihad for defensive purposes" would be like saying "It's okay for the Nazi brown-shirts to fight back against European Jews for defensive purposes."
    It's quite obvious that sharia has crept in to Amnesty International's camp.

    • Democracy First

      Good analogy.

  • ViewPoint

    Amnesty Int. is an arm/tool of the U.N… as well as Greenpeace Int., Greenpeace U.S.A., and UNicef… all wolves in sheep's clothing.

  • BS1977

    Amnesty never says a word about the ongoing slaughters in Darfur, Iraq, Pakistan, the endless bombings, terrorism, repression and assassinations…but let Israel try to defend itself against rocket and mortar attacks, and the loony leftists go nuts….just like the ACLU….far left, radical USA and Israel haters….ironically both groups supported by dumb and dumber liberal Jews.

    • guest

      You are correct–the agenda is the ANNIHILATION of Israel…and America eventually. And no, I have never been a conspiracy theorist. Consider: Tens of thousands of Muslims have been blown up, butchered over the past several years. By whom? Overwhelmingly by Muslims. Turn any day to CNNs synopsis of daily events and you can generally read the latest body count, much like following the weather. And…I have YET to hear of a SINGLE Muslim so-called "cleric" issue a Fatwa (Islamo-Mafioso call) for the death of a Single one of these butchers. Of course not–the Fatwas are reserved for far more serious offenses in our world–like Danish cartoonists (which, in reality, condemn barbaric Islam in favor of Reforming Islam) , visionary writers (like Salman Rushdie) or others who express their outrage at this pseudo-religious Totalitarian ideology that masks itself as religion and that has swept the world, with virtually every democracy ultimately a target (Islamic terror is now extant in some 15 or so nations). Obama is merely strengthening these forces in his bashing of Israel and after his empty rhetoric over the past 15 months having more or less given Iran a Green Light to race toward a nuclear arsenal. Change you can believe in…..Change you can be terrified of. How in the world did so many Americans get suckered by such an empty vessel?

      • Danny

        Too many Americans are empty themselves. To quote one of our great President-statesman, Abraham Lincoln, who unashamedly called the nation to repentance, "We have vainly imagined int he deceitfulness of our own hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own … we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us! It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended party and to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness … yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon … announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. Sorry to disappoint all progressives and liberal, but America was founded as a Christian nation (there are no verses from the Koran quoted on any of our federal buildings).

  • Independent Patriot

    So now everyone can see Amnesty's true face. Those of us who support Israel knew it for a long time.

  • JosephWiess

    The true test of an organizations authenticity is whether it believes that Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness applies to all people, regardless of sex, race, national origin, sexual orientation, or religion. If a group doesn't meet the basic tenants of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness, then it's a bogus group and has an agenda that stands diametrically opposed to the constitution.

    From what I have read about Islam and Muslims, Islam fails to meet those three criteria and as such, is a cult of thugs, not a group of freedom loving people.

    • Danny

      You're right Joseph. You can't pursue your dream and your happiness if you don't respect the liberty of the individual; you can't have liberty without respecting life. This is why for me the abortion issue has such priority. Those who don't respect human life are really against liberty. It's ironic that people today want rabidly to have the LIBERTY to kill a baby in the womb (abortion) when there can be no liberty without respect for life. What good is "the Pursuit of Happiness" if I don't have "LIBERTY" to pursue it? And what good is "LIBERTY" if I don't have "LIFE"! There is a reason these three were enumerated in this order by the Founding Fathers – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The three cannot be sustained if the order is inverted.

  • Rifleman

    Wow, that must mean defensive crusades are okay as well. How about it AI?

    • Gary Rumain

      Er, the Crusades were defensive. Weren't they?

      • Robert

        Yea, it was set up to defend against the Islamic invasions, which had made it as far north as Europe itself. If it wasn't for the Crusades, Europe would have been an Islamic nation. Most likely America also. Unfortunately, the left have succeeded in giving the Crusades a bad name, with the help of ignorant anti-catholic groups. The left are in collusion with Islam as they consider it an opponent of Christianity. To the left, Christianity must be destroyed by any means necessary.

        • Gary Rumain

          Actually, Europe owes more to Charles Martel and a Polish king than the Crusaders. The Crusaders were trying to hold on the Holy Land. Martel and the Polish king defended Europe itself.

          You'll have to trawl through this to find the history.

          • xman

            The Crusaders did in the end slow down the Jihad. Had they never been fought, Constantinople might well have fallen 200 years earlier than when it did, and Vienna would almost certainly have fallen had it been besieged in 1329 instead of 1529. Therefore the Crusaders certainly saved Central and much of Eastern Europe from being overrun by Saracens and probably Western Europe as well.

          • Gary Rumain

            Yes, you have a point there.

          • PW Virginia

            You have to also realize that Islam conquered the Christian holdings in the mideast i.e. The Byzintine once again the conquest of land by Islam is OK but the "liberation" of the conquest is not…another double standard that promotes Jihad

      • Rifleman

        Few of the ones in Europe were, but you're right, the plunder of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land (sanctioned and encouraged by mohamed) was what started the crusades to the Holy Land. My offhand point was that AI would consider no crusade as legitimate.

        • Gary Rumain

          No right to defend oneself, eh? Sounds like hypocrisy to me.

  • Ahmed

    Yes it is not even something I beleive in AMNESTY International is a ZIONISt Organization and they have a hiden agenda rather than accusing states when they fail to protect the rights of thier people.

    Amnesty has never said anything about GAZA Slaughter "the most recent genocide to Palestine" and We dont care if she said or Not

    Remember America will go DOWN and ISRAEL will do Before or even lest than 5 minutes after

    • Stephen_Brady

      "That'll be the day", as the Duke would have said …

    • xman

      Its time you got your deportation papers and was sent packing to Pakistan, infidel-hating parasite.

  • solemnman

    Do you mean the slaughter of Fatah supporters by Hammas thugs?

  • Chris Delia


  • Ghostwriter

    If I could I'd like to ask the people of Amnesty International a question it would be:
    Why are you working with a man who sees Americans as a people that must be stomped into the ground like insects?
    We're the ones under attack by people like Begg and his followers and AI looks the other way while people like him preach that the U.S. must be destroyed. Most Americans believe in freedom of religion,Begg and his followers do not. We only want to live our lives in peace. Sadly,it seems that Amnesty International doesn't care about the right of Americans to exist. If it did,it wouldn't step within a mile of someone like Moazzam Begg.

  • crypticguise

    The real problem is that the US Government (Executive Branch, Congress, US Military, FBI, Homeland Security et al) have all been compromised by CAIR and other offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood (All College/University Muslim Student Associations).

    No one bothers to read the Koran… and the other IslamoFascist tracts such as the Hadith and Sira. The Colleges and Universities do not allow questioning of Islam BULLSHIT. Oh, I forgot – American Academe no longer recognizes Freedom of Speech or open debate of ideas and concepts including the Muslim Religion of Peace – Islam.

    So, I suppose the ultimate solution is to KILL all IslamoFascists and their sympathizers and if necessary destroy Mecca and Medina. Then these IDIOTS can return to their roots in the sand.

    • Dan

      Facetiousness? It might come to that, crypt. Don't think Israel, in its fight for self-preservation, with our without the U.S., isn't thinking about it.

  • USMCSniper

    Mayve Spartacus is right, when he said: "There is but one solution. We must kill them all!"

  • Dan

    Well, the clash of the cultures is here. The only thing everyone has to do now is decide which side they're on and/or will die defending. Liberty or demonic Jihad!

  • crypticguise

    Ahmed is a perfect example of Islamofascist "thinking" – delusional, cognitive dissonance. Islam is a disease, a severe mental disease that has turned a billion plus people into hateful, ignorant zombies.

  • Dan

    Everyone concerned about this should get more informed and read the book coming out in May "The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America", I'm sure it's going to be a great read. Hope there are some good calls to action in the book. We can still turn this leftist lunacy around in America.