Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
After Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook killed 14 Americans in their corner of the Jihad over in San Bernardino, the media began its long laborious search for their moment of “radicalization”.
The assumption that the intersection of terrorism and Islam can only be an aberration lead to the conviction that there was some moment in time at which Malik and Farook became “radical extremists”. Initial reports pegged that moment of “radicalization” as having happened at some point during the twenty minutes after Farook left the party. When the amount of firepower and preparation made the idea of a twenty minute radicalization massacre seem silly, the media tried to stretch it back for weeks.
Now they’ve had to give in and pull back that dreadful moment of radicalization for years.
But what if Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik were never “radicalized”? What if neither of them “influenced” the other? What if both were exactly what they appear to be, devout Muslims who hated America and believed that it was their religious duty to kill Americans? What if this attitude did not show up last week or last year? What if it was the way that their culture and religion taught them to live?
There are some easy ways to test that theory.
Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik were Pakistani Muslims. Farook was a second-generation Pakistani immigrant who was born here, but when it came time for him to marry, he picked a Pakistani Muslim girl who shared his commitment to Islam and contempt for America. And that’s not unusual.
A fifth of Pakistanis want to leave their country, but they don’t like America. In a Gallup poll three years ago, 92% of Pakistanis disapproved of us. More significantly, 55% believed that more interaction between Muslim countries and the West posed a threat. In a Gallup poll, 62% of Pakistanis disliked us.
While officially Pakistan is our ally, it’s a fairly thin line between ISIS and the ordinary Pakistani.
83% of Pakistanis favor stoning adulterers, 80% support cutting the hands off thieves and 78% want to kill anyone who leaves Islam. Looking at numbers like these, we have to ask when the 4 out of 5 Pakistanis, or 144 million people were radicalized? That’s certainly a huge tiny minority of extremists.
A majority of Pakistanis grieved for Osama bin Laden and 44% believed that the dead terrorist leader was a martyr.
Pakistan carefully hid Osama bin Laden. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been accused of meeting with the Al Qaeda leader by former officers of its ISI intelligence agency. Documents show that his brother attempted to negotiate with Al Qaeda and “reestablish normal relations” with the terror group.
The politics of Pakistan might seem far away to us, but Tashfeen Malik’s uncle is an important political figure with Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz party. The family is described as having connections to “militant Islam”, but then again so does the entire Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz party.
Its antecedents were in the Muslim League which committed horrifying atrocities in India to carve out an Islamic State. The atrocities committed by the Muslim League’s Islamic butchers might have even turned the stomach of ISIS. Long before ISIS, the Muslim League created its “impossible dream” of a Muslim Pakistan through mass murder, mass rape and terror aimed at Hindus, Sikhs and other non-Muslims. Horrors such as the Noakhali genocide and Direct Action Day were worse than ISIS.
They are also the reason why Pakistan exists. The current ruling party in Pakistan is the political stepchild of those abominations and atrocities. It’s also a quite popular political party.
Was it really Tashfeen Malik who was “radicalized” or was it Pakistan?
Around a quarter of Pakistanis support terrorist attacks on civilians in the United States. Under a third support attacks on American civilians working in Muslim countries. Around half supported attacks on American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That’s a minority, but it still means that as many as 45 million Pakistanis support Muslim terrorist attacks in the United States. And Pakistani Muslims are one of the fastest growing groups in the United States.
The problem is obvious and we can’t make it go away with gun control and wishful thinking.
Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook weren’t radical, they were mainstream. Most Pakistanis don’t run around killing people. But their country was made possible by genocide and it exists because of its repression of non-Muslim minorities at home and its sponsorship of terror against Hindus in India.
Over 40% of Pakistanis support Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Islamic terror group responsible for the Mumbai Massacre. It’s a Jihadist organization which declares that, “Jihad will continue until the Jews and Hindus throughout the globe meet their worst end”. Throughout the globe is a lot more expansive than India.
One of the worst Muslim terror plots in North America was a plan to kill thousands of Hindus in Toronto by Jamaat ul-Fuqra, a Pakistani terror group of black converts to Islam. It’s also responsible for a number of other attacks in the United States.
The ugly truth is that Malik and Farook weren’t radicals or extremists. Their attitudes and beliefs are mainstream in Pakistan. It’s only compared to the beliefs and attitudes of the average American that they appear deranged. But that’s a moral and cultural difference. It doesn’t mean that Farook and Malik were aberrant by Pakistani Muslim standards, only that they appear aberrant by our higher standards.
And attacking our standards is a big part of what Islamic terrorism is about.
We are not fighting radicals or extremists, but people who have a fundamentally different view of the world than we do. In their world, Muslims should rule over non-Muslims, leaving Islam should be met with murder and free speech should be illegal. These are values that the vast majority of Pakistani Muslims agree on.
Not all of them have considered how these values must be imposed, but most Germans didn’t think too hard about how Hitler would keep his promises and most Russians didn’t ponder too closely just how Lenin intended to fulfill his plans. Historically people who want a totalitarian result end up accepting the totalitarian means of bringing it about. The “radicals” just think harder about the means. The “moderates” accept the ends and don’t want to think about the means of achieving those ends.
But when the moderates are forced to choose whether they are willing to accept the means to preserve the ends, they shout “Heil Hitler”, they inform on their neighbors and dispatch them to gulags, they shout “Allahu Akbar” and celebrate the murder of Americans by the “radical extremists”.
Malik and Farook wanted an Islamic State where infidels would be kept down, Islam would be the law of the land and brutal Islamic punishments would be dispensed. That is what most Pakistani Muslims want.
The San Bernardino terrorist attack wasn’t caused by some phantom virus of “internet radicalization”, but by the toxic attitudes and values that permeate Pakistani Muslim society and have made it such a warm and willing host for Islamic terrorist groups. It’s not the internet that is a threat. It’s immigration.
High numbers of Pakistani Muslims support many of the same ideas and beliefs as ISIS. As the size of the Pakistani Muslim population in the United States grew, it was only a matter of time until a successful attack on this scale would happen. We may be able to stop the next attack, but only if we are willing to accept the hard truths about who are our enemies are and what they believe.
They aren’t radicals. They aren’t extremists. They’re the enemy.