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Wiktorowicz’s defense of Salafism as a primarily non-violent movement and his warnings about alienating them expose him as the apologist for a radical movement whose control over mosques in America has been identified as a key factor in radicalization. Mainstream defenders of Islam try to separate Salafism from what they claim is a more moderate Islam– but Wiktorowicz even defends Salafis as peaceful.
The new strategy could have been written in Saudi Arabia. And for all intents and purposes was.
The New York Times cites the ACLU and a study by Political Research Associates as influencing the need for a sanitized presentation of Islamic terrorism to law enforcement. There is a reason however that the Times does not mention PRA by name, referring to it instead as “a liberal group”.
Political Research Associates is a radical left-wing organization that claims Christians are plotting to take over the United States. The hypocrisy of citing a study that claims law enforcement officials are exposed to conspiracy theories about an Islamic takeover of the United States– by an organization that accuses Christians of the same thing– may have been obvious even to the usually tone deaf Times, hence the evasiveness about naming PRA.
What PRA has in common with Saudi Arabia is that neither of them wants to allow a serious discussion about Islamic terrorism. Instead they want the conversation to be about how overblown and how dangerous such talk is. But if talk of Islamic terrorism is overblown, then why is it dangerous? And if it is dangerous, then why is it overblown?
“Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States,” replaces terrorism with euphemism. With words so generic that they mean nothing at all. And the content is equally generic. Swap out a few words and it could be about any social problem.
Even former Hizb-ut-Tahrir member Ed Husain, now at the Council on Foreign Relations, has been critical of the new strategy for not addressing Islamic ideology, and prison and campus radicalization. But that’s the essence of the new strategy. Inaction and ignorance.
The new strategy is eight pages of inaction. Eight pages of silence. Eight pages of noise. It is not a document that sets out real goals and objectives. Its only objective is to sideline serious critical work and replace it with blank buzzwords. With FBI agents and prosecutors visiting mosques, removing their shoes, pressing the flesh and then going back to doing nothing. Because they have no idea what’s out there anymore.
Intelligence is the first line of defense against any threat. To know the enemy is the first step toward defending against an attack. But how do you defend against a threat, when you can’t even spell its name?
The Orwellian blankness of the new strategy is a space of ignorance to mask the truth of terrorism. The enemy is reduced to a social problem, terrorism to violent extremism and the war on terror to programs teaching Muslims about the dangers of violent extremism on the internet. The same dead end European counter-terrorism strategies imported to the United States.
The new strategy begins with Obama carefully using the Arabic transcription spelling of Usama and al-Qa’ida, and ends on cautioning that, “Strong religious beliefs should never be confused with violent extremism.” Unless you’re Christian, of course.
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