The Real Difference Between Islamic ‘Extremists’ and ‘Moderates’

There were eras in human history whose great challenges lay in isolating chemical compounds, unlocking the structures of human genetic material and examining the hearts of dying stars. But the great challenge of our time is telling apart Muslim moderates and Muslim extremists.

Fly to Tripoli International Airport, take the Airport Highway into Tripoli, drive along the coast through all those towns and cities you heard about on the radio when the announcers were excitedly describing battles between the brave Libyan rebels and the despicable forces of the despot; Homs, Misrata, Sirte. Drive through the night while hugging the Mediterranean coastline until you reach Benghazi.

Benghazi is the city on whose behalf we went to war against Gaddafi. The imminent peril to Benghazi was the reason that Obama gave for the conflict. “We struck regime forces approaching Benghazi to save that city and the people within it,” he declared proudly. But the firepower that proved so potent in displacing and dismantling the Gaddafi regime could not protect Ambassador Stevens and the American consulate.

The Benghazi consulate’s own security forces had been stripped down to their bare essentials. Inside the compound, in their own barracks, were members of the February 17 Martyrs Brigade who were tasked with providing security for the consulate. The February 17 Martyrs Brigade is an Islamist militia affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The attackers firing off RPGs into the compound were members of Ansar Al Sharia, a spinoff of the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, associated with Al Qaeda.

On diplomatic paper the moderate February 17 Martyrs Brigade and the extremist Ansar Al-Sharia had nothing in common. In reality, the differences between the two militias were mostly cosmetic and the Martyrs Brigade had been contacted ahead of time by an Al Qaeda politician and asked to stand down while the attack took place.

A month later and a thousand miles away, the moderate Free Syrian Army and the extremist Al Nusra Front captured a missile base in Syria. The base was stocked with the rather popular S-75 SAMs which may be a bit dated, but had still managed to shoot down an F-111 over Libya back in 1981 and would make short work of most commercial airliners.

The Free Syrian Army is the force that almost everyone agrees we should be supporting. They are almost certainly the fighters that Obama is conveying weapons and trainers to. And the Treasury Department approved a license to provide direct financial assistance to the FSA. The Al Nusra Front however is linked to Al Qaeda and waves the black flag of the Caliphate. It considers the United States an enemy of Islam.

The rebel spokesman for the local franchise of the Brave Syrian People ™ explained, “We don’t distinguish between the groups Al Nusra and the other militias, as long as everyone is working toward one goal of ousting the regime.” Our beloved moderates were making no distinction between themselves and the extremists. By helping the Free Syrian Army, we were really helping Al Qaeda.

The missile base attack was not the first time that the Free Syrian Army and the Al Nusra Front had worked together. The exploits of the Free Syrian Army were often actually the work of the experienced Jihadi fighters of Al Nusra. When gullible Westerners thought they were applauding the daring acts of freedom fighters, they were actually cheering the fanatical murderous frenzy of their own enemies.

The S-75s of Aleppo won’t pose much of a threat to us because the Syrian Air Force promptly swooped in and blew the missile base to bits, thereby probably saving a few hundred or a few thousand American lives—not that they did it for that reason. The real mission of the FSA and Al Nusra however had been to dismantle Syrian air defenses on its northern border clearing the way for a Turkish invasion of Syria.

But there is no reason to worry about that. As the media incessantly inform us, Turkey is run by the moderate AKP Islamists. The moderate AKP Islamists proudly support Hamas, which is an extremist group, and they have ties to Al Qaeda, which is an even more extremist group, but that’s just because they’re all working toward one goal on behalf of the brave peoples of Gaza and Afghanistan to oust the Great Satan and the Little Satan.

To make moderate matters even more confusing, the Muslim Brotherhood regime which has taken over Egypt has been designated as moderate, and yet the only difference between the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza, better known as the immoderate Hamas, is the border between them. On one side of the border the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate while on the other side of the border the Muslim Brotherhood is extreme.

But let’s head back along the coast through Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Libya over to Tunisia, where the moderate ruling Islamist Ennahda Party has just had questions raised over its true degree of moderation by the release of a video that shows Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi collaborating with the Salafists on an Islamist takeover of Tunisia.

Ghannouchi’s previous declarations that America was the enemy of Islam while vowing to fight against it had been dismissed. His fatwa that “There are no civilians in Israel. The population– males, females, and children– are the army reserve soldiers, and thus can be killed” was just one of those genocidal remarks that did not discredit him as a moderate figure.

Tunisia was where the bloody Arab Spring had been born in a Muslim man’s fit of sexist pique at being slapped by a female police officer. Its enablers needed to believe that Ennahda was moderate while the Salafists enforcing Islamic law with their fists and storming the American embassy were the extremists. But instead, like their Libyan, Syrian and Egyptian counterparts, Tunisia’s moderate and extremist Islamists proved to be one and the same.

What is the true difference between the February 17 Martyrs Brigade and Ansar Al Sharia, between the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, between the Free Syrian Army and the Al Nusra Front, between the Salafists wearing suits in government buildings in Tunisia and Egypt, and the Salafists wearing robes and marching in the streets?

There are differences between them, but there are far fewer differences between these groups than there are between any one of them and us.

The Koran advises Muslims not to take Christians and Jews as friends, “for they are friends of each other.”  When going on a safari through the Arab Spring, it might be well for us to heed that advice when it comes to all the moderate Islamists springing out of the grass.

We have no friends among the Islamist forces of the Arab Spring; only enemies who hate us moderately and enemies who hate us extremely.

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  • pierce

    Is there a difference between extremists and moderates. They are still Islamists. I guess it is called semantics.
    Trust them, or don't trust them, it is up to you, but either way they scare the hell out of me. I don't know any, and I don't want to.

    • Atikva

      It's not them you should be scared of, for their only strength is our weakness.

      • Daniel Greenfield

        Excellent formulation

    • Geet Faar Ked Ded

      It ain't semantics, it is called lying.

      Describing the difference between moderate and extreme Islam is a bit like describing the difference between being a little dead and very dead.

      The result is the same.

      • Kufar Dawg

        For me picking between a "moderate" and "radical" islamofascist has all the appeal of picking between the SA and the SS.

    • Mark Robbins

      Why is it so hard to pick the right horse to ride into these battles? Before we send any arrms to 'moderate' Islamists (is this an oxymoron? or require oxycodone to believe.) we must get them on video extolling the virtues of our First Amendment. If they can't mouth those words then they must stand alone as just another sad enemy of human freedom. Barbarians extolling the ignorant on to more greivous injuries to human rights.
      NO First Amendment -> NO aid, NO arms, NO visas.

  • oldtimer

    The difference between islamic extremist and moderates: extremists: protest in the streets, use suicide bombers, carry guns, throw stones. Moderate: infiltrate governments, schools, organizations.

    • EJL

      Great comment. Thanks.

  • Jaladhi

    Don't be fooled by the words Islamic "extremists" and "moderates" – there is no difference between the two!! They are both one and the same!!! They both follow Quran which teaches them how to behave with and treat all non-Muslims and women!!!

    The West doesn't understand this or doesn't want to understand this – "bury your head in the sand" syndrome and is paying for it by its own destruction!!!

    • Michael

      Islamic "extremists" and "moderates" – there is no difference

      Yes there is, the spelling!

      (But apart from that, on the whole you're right (see what I did there? I did a Crowley, – I disagreed with you then straightaway agreed with you – that is doing a Crowley)

  • @undefined

    One that drives me crazy is The Economist always referring to Erdogan's government as "mildly Islamist". But I decided not to renew my subscription when they started using the phrase "the Prophet Mohammed."

    • Chezwick

      Charles Krauthammer, someone whom I otherwise admire greatly, also uses the term "moderate Islamist" to describe Erdogan and his regime. It is an oxymoron, to say the least.

      • Kufar Dawg

        Looking at how a given politician describes islam might be a great way to tell which ones have been compromised by islamofascism.

  • David R

    There's no difference because they follow exactly the same satanic teachings. However there is quite a difference between a Christian and a true Christian…a night and day difference. Unfortunately the wannabes are the cause of a lot of confusion in the world. It's the same in the Jewish world…some are even trying to destroy Israel !
    For an example, there's is quite a dfference between the children of God being martyred and persecuted in a God-hating world, and the Vatican clowns who control the world to their advantage while looking good and pious in their religious garb and trying to make the world forget the Inquisiton that murdered so many true Christians and their abuse of the most vulnerable. What hypocrisy!
    Well at least the Muslims are one and the same with the same goal and purpose…to destroy us and control the world to the glory of their diabolical moon-god. And boy are they coming close to that end!

    • Kufar Dawg

      Yet Robert Spencer is Catholic…

    • NoIslam

      Wow, "Vatican clowns"? Well, you suffer badly under the protestant propaganda, don't you? Let me tell you quick, if there were no "vatican clowns", than you would surely pray to your diabolical moon god right now, cause the only thing that capped europe safe from islamisation for hundreds of years was what?
      Nah, not you protestants! It was us, catholics :), yup! It's alright, you don't need to thank us!
      When it comes to your view on the true christians, who would that be? Evangelicals, anglicans, baptists, or one of the other more than 2000 churches? All of them are true christians? Somehow i doubt that, cause many of them have extremely different interpretations of the scripture. Just some points for you to think about.
      Btw. don't get me wrong pls, i have nothing against protestants, i consider them my brothers, nor do i have anything against jews or anyone else.

      • David R

        If you are a a Catholic, then you are certainly not my brother. You are seriously confused in that respect, but then aren't all statue-adoring, idol worshiping practitioners blind? The man-made sacrements, holy water, plaster statues, scapulars, burning candles for the dead, the satanic mass, indulgences to pay up for souls in purgatory? If that isn't a circus freak show, then what is?
        I was one of the Pope John-Paul II's bodyguards when he came to Canada in the 80's, and after spending 2 days with him, I can tell you that I didn't see anything Christian or Christ-like about him or his diplomatic cardinals and aids.
        Like the Jews, Christ and His true followers are the most hated persons on earth. It's not normal to be loved and adored by the world…unless you are a fake. This is what your pagan Roman Emperor Constantine started in 313AD…a fake counterfeit religion for the world..the Roman Catholic (or universal) faith.
        May God bless the Jewish people and all true Christians…and may His plan of destruction of His enemies unfold to His glory!

        • Kufar Dawg

          And ugly and true enough evaluation, but it doesn't in anyway refute what NoIslam stated about the Catholics being the force that saved Europe from being conquered by islam.

  • isiswirth

    Great article!

  • Horace

    Exactly right Daniel and exactly right old timer. Islam is well on the way to dramatic takeovers of more and more countries in the west through its masterful and practiced expertise in running a massive con job (taqqiya and kitman etc.) aided by our own destructive traitors in the dhimmicrat party and their ignorant lib-bots. The republicans also have their share of Islam appeasers – John McCain for example. Most Americans aren't paying attention to Islam's activities. Even the Bangladeshi jihadi mohammedan trying to blow up the Fed building in NY gets barely a ho-hum out of the sports fans and pop culture vidiots who've even heard of it.

    • Kufar Dawg

      I think if people knew the truth about islam there would be a lot more concern, but let's face it, our amoral, corrupt politicians and MSM have been whitewashing islamofascism for decades.

  • 11bravo

    In Right wing News there is a colonel who wrote a really good article on this subject; I would recommend checking it out-he gives solutions.

    • Geet Faar Ked Ded

      Well, don't keep us in suspense. Show us where it is!

    • Kufar Dawg

      Are you sure the person you're referring to isn't a retired Lt. Col.?

  • Horace

    Romney doesn't get it yet either- he said during his second debate with MObhamad that the Syrian government -(Bashar Assad) had slaughtered 30000 Syrian people. (How many would our government "slaughter" if there was a massive armed insurrection here in the USA ?) Romney and his advisors are still spouting the same old drivel showing their continuing ignorance on the Syrian situation and supporting the Syrian "rebels" who are obviously fellow travellers with Al Quaida. The jihadis will take over in Syria soon using "moderate" front men of course. We have to support Romney anyway because MObhamad is ten times worse. MObhamad along with Hillary and her muslim brotherhood girlfriend Huma are actively loading up the state department and executive branch with muslim jihadi infiltrators for crying out loud. Romney can possibly wake up and see whats happening in time and fire them. I hope. Fire Obama at the polls by getting a friend registered and to the early voting and see.

    • Kufar Dawg

      I believe Joseph Smith admired MuhahahahaMAD, mores the pity.

      • gray man

        only if you were stupid would you believe that.

    • curmudgeon

      i will answer your question. it didnt even take an armed insurrection. the act of 11 states announcing that they would exercise their legal right to unjoin the united states was used as justification to launch a war of annihilation, in which over a million americans were slaughtered. if the united states had obeyed its own laws, there would have been no bloodshed at all.

      • anonymous

        But there'd be a whole lot of slavery.

        Why don't we stick to the point here – The US needs to wake up and start deporting Islamic extremists back to the Middle East. The moderates will either be intimidated into staying that way, show their immoderate true sides and get rounded up for deportation too, or better yet, wake up and smell the **** oozing out of their Qur'ans and apostasize.

  • Marty

    The turkish prime minister, tayyip erdogan, recently indicated that "islam is islam" and, for once, can be taken at his word, good islamist that he is. And islam is supported in all its horror by sharia law. Some scholars will tell us that sharia is itself divided into various schools that range from moderate to radical, but they are being deceptive or, insome cases, delusional. Unless or until sharia is mostly dismantled, it cannot be consistent with the rule of humane law applied equally to all in a political democracy.

  • Geet Faar Ked Ded

    Notice how, even when they denounce the West and all its 'evils', they all wear western-style clothing.

    Is there something wrong with this picture, or has hypocrisy just had its arse touched up?

    • Lan Astaslem

      sometimes but more often they run around raging in filthy nightshirts that hang down to their ankles like muzzie drag queens

  • AntiSharia

    There is no such thing as a moderate Muslim anymore than there were moderate Nazis or moderate Stalinists. Islam is a totalitarian political movement as much as(if not more so) it is a religion. And in such totalitarianism there is no room for moderation.

    • Anonymous

      Amen. A moderate Muslim is someone with a nice job and a family who doesn't want to end up killed in a jihad, or simply a coward. However they all support the bolder, crazier Islamists with a lot less to lose and a whole lot more firepower. Round both types up and deport 'em!

  • BLJ

    This easy. An Extremist just smells worse.

    • Geet Faar Ked Ded

      Not quite. They all reek of the same stench.

  • zsqpwxxeh

    Moderate Islamist: You are assassinated.
    Extreme Islamist: You are assassinated, and your corpse is dragged through the street and defiled.

    Hope that helps.

  • Tmantom

    I hate the idea of a religious war, but according to my Bible, It's going to happen. I don't have the space nor time to tell or describe all, but at "The Time Of The End";- it will happen. One only need to read with deep comprehension of this 5000 year old history book to find these facts. Mohammed, while having fits in the cave, was possessed by satin himself, which leads us where we are today, waiting for that final battle between good & evil.

    • jwm

      It doesn't matter what you think about holy war, or if you even believe in it. The moslems are very busy waging it against us. It's on. now. We can either fight it or surrender to islam. No third option.


      • Gilbert

        Absolutely correct. And we continue to be in denial. Foolish, very foolish.

  • Kufar Dawg

    Another brilliant essay by Mr. Greenfield. Thank G-d for people like him in evil times like these.

    • David R

      And may the God of Israel and all true Christians bles His holy people!

  • Kufar Dawg


    I wish muhahahahaMAD had been possessed by satin, maybe he would've been a kinder person.

    • gray man

      allah is satan, muhammad was just madman and a foolish dupe.

  • riverboatbill

    An "islamic extremist" is one who carries a bomb. An "islamic moderate" is one who only lights the fuse.

    • Anonymous

      No, the moderate is the one who bought the bomb with his donations to some bogus Islamic charity.

    • jonmc

      An Islamic extremist (better called an orthodox Muslim imo) is the one rioting and murdering to get his demands met and the Islamic moderate is the one explaining why the "extremists" demands should be met.
      – – –
      An Islamic extremist is the one cutting your head off and the Islamic moderate is the one explaining why he's doing it.

      • Kufar Dawg

        Yes the "moderate" muslime provides the cover story about how the extremist was provoked into killing the victim and therefore, the extremist and islam are not to blame.

  • Drakken

    The only thing that people understand is in God(not allah) you trust, all muslims are suspect period. The progressives and yes some conservatives are tying themselves in knots trying not to villify islam because it might hurt the poor savages feelings, it will only serve as a reminder that the only thing these effing savages understand and respect is the mailed fist. War is coming and only the most brain dead can't see it.

  • Ghostwriter

    There are Muslims that don't wish us harm. The problem is it's hard to tell who are our friends and who are our enemies in the Muslim world.

    • Anonymous

      There are now reports that the Syrian rebels (using manpads from Libya) are taking out Assad's fighter jets. Syrians are posting to YouTube. Assad's regime may soon be replaced by radical jihadists. Thanks, in part, to Obama.

    • Kufar Dawg

      Really where? Which muslimes have renounced the antisemitic vomit found in all the holey books of islam again? Which muslimes have repudiated their holey prophets actions in murdering, expelling or enslaving all the Jews in Soddy Barbaria?

      • David R

        True…don't fall for this trap! All Muslims are two-faced.

        • Sunbeam

          David….not only two faced but dimensional faced. When they're nice, you'd exceptionally got to be extra careful.

  • jsfrom

    A professor in Canada (who is Muslim) is requesting that the Canadian govt stop accepting immigrants/refugees from non-democratic, Islamic states. He fears these radicals may destroy liberal, western values. (Also, the atroicities being committed in Syria are being done by both sides — both Assad's forces and the rebels are committing acts of barbarism — war crimes.) I don't want them in Canada, either. But, I don't think the Canadin govt is listening.

  • Aditya

    The true difference betwuen moderate muslims and extremist muslims is that the moderate muslim will hold u down while the extremist one beheads u

  • Aditya

    Teachings Of Holy Quarand.(Simplified version) Chapter 1: Wake up , Lift ur @ss in air and Sh!t. Chapter 2:Lift ur @ss in air and Then eat. Chapter 3: Lift ur @ss in air then lie to a kafir and then Kill the kafir. Chapter 4: Lift ur @ss in air beat ur wife & reproduce. Chapter 5: Lift ur @ss in air then goto sleep dreaming of 72 houris in janna.

  • Lookingback

    Pity we cannot have Bill Warner's You Tube video on Political Islam taught in our schools, universities and for it to be required viewing by all of our legislators (including Obama and Romney.

    "Why we are afraid"

  • EJL

    Great essay by D. Greenfield. Thanks.

  • Lady_Dr.

    We need to MAKE WAR ON THEM – Starting with Iran, the epicenter of Terrorism. Take out Iran, you take out Syria, Lebanon, Hezbollah, etc., etc. Even if you don't take them out, you silence them as they realize that AMERICA IS BACK.
    Does anyone remember the Wikileak from a few years ago – the Saudi's WANT America to take out their arch enemy Iran. Saudi Arabia is now our friend, but we ought to oblige them. Basically all the Saudis who are not religious fanatics are busy in the bath houses and/or smoking dope, bedding foreign maids, etc., etc. These guys like their luxuries except for the few religious crazies.
    BOMB IRAN and DRILL IN THE USA – that is all we need to do to be back on top.

  • blakbird

    IMHO a moderate muslim is a sneaky coward, as oldtimer said before ^ and also "Speaking at Kanal D TV’s Arena program, PM Erdogan commented on the term “moderate Islam”, often used in the West to describe AKP and said, ‘These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”
    Source: Milliyet, Turkey, August 21, 2007"

  • Linda

    Moderate or extremist, if their leaders call for jihad, they will go after us with the intent to change our religion or kill us because their religion requires it. Dangerous by any name…

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Don't have time to read all of that BS. If it is like his other articles, he doesn't have a clue.
    But anyway, labeling Muslims moderates and extremists is a false dichotomy. There are violent jihadists and non-violent stealth and deceptive jihadists, as Muslims are either jihadists or otherwise blasphemous apostates, and if you are the latter, then you must be executed per the dictates of Muhammad. Of the two classifications, the non-violent stealth and deceptive jihadists are by far more dangerous relative to the violent jihadists.

    Islam is a religion and also a very barbaric form of totalitarianism. Letting millions of Muslims migrate to the West under the guise that Muslims are moderates is analogous to letting millions of communists migrate to the West during the height of the Cold War. If we had been blinded by political correctness back then like we are today, we would have lost the Cold War.

    • gray man

      if you don't have time to read the article then shut up and stop commenting on something you have not read.

  • Mrs. Rene O'Riordan

    When someone tells you who they are – believe them!!! – Rene

  • yamini ramaswamy

    i think that moderates method was only the best as they alone made us to attain freedom.