Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Raymond Ibrahim, a scholar of Islam, prolific writer, and author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013); and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007) He has appeared on C-SPAN, Al-Jazeera, CNN, NPR, and PBS; his writings have appeared in the New York Times Syndicate, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst. A sought after speaker, Ibrahim has briefed governmental agencies, including the U.S Strategic Command, lectured at the National Intelligence University, and testified before Congress.
Introduction: On June 10, the US Army War College (USAWC) surrendered to the demands of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)—an “unindicted co-conspirator,” to quote the U.S. Dept. of Justice, in the largest terror funding case in American history, and a designated “terrorist organization” for nations such as the UAE.
CAIR’s hysterical propaganda campaign focused on presenting Ibrahim—a native Arabic speaker of Egyptian/Middle Eastern descent—as a “racist” and “white nationalist” who, if allowed to speak before the War College, would incite American soldiers to start murdering Muslims in the street. In response, the US Army War College capitulated and canceled Ibrahim’s long-planned lecture on his newest book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, which was scheduled for this coming Wednesday, June 19, at the War College, located in Carlisle, Barracks, PA.
Frontpage: Welcome, Raymond, to Frontpage Interview. It's an honor to have you here.
Let’s get right to it. What happened?
Ibrahim: Sure, Jamie, thanks for the opportunity. Here are the facts: On January 4, 2019, I received an email, portions of which follow:
Mr. Ibrahim: On behalf of the Director and Staff of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC), I am honored to invite you to speak as part of the USAHEC’s 2019 Perspectives in Military History Lecture Series. … [W]e would like you to speak about your new book, “Sword and Scimitar.” The Perspectives series attracts a wide audience including the U.S. Army War College students, faculty, and staff, ROTC cadets, Soldiers from regional military bases, university students and faculty, and the general public.
“On a personal note,” the author of the email added, “I think your new book, and a lecture based on it, will resound very well with the primary audience of our lecture programs—the students and faculty of the U.S. Army War College.”
After I accepted the invitation, my USAWC contact reiterated: “I am excited to book you, I think your topic will be perfect for my audience.”
Aside from a few more exchanges on dates and logistics, that was that -- until CAIR got wind of the event.
[Graphic on Left: A promotional image of Ibrahim’s now canceled lecture at the War College that circulated on social media in recent weeks.]
FP: And so what did CAIR do?
Ibrahim: CAIR initially tried to take the “professional” route. On May 28, CAIR’s PA leadership—namely Jacob Bender, Timothy Welbeck, Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu —sent a letter to USAWC Commandant Gen. John Kem and Provost Dr. James Breckenridge urging them to revoke “the decision of the US Army War College to invite Mr. Raymond Ibrahim to deliver the prestigious 50th Annual Lecture Series of the US Army War College.”
The reason cited by CAIR to disinvite me is that “Raymond Ibrahim’s book … advance[s] a simplistic, inaccurate and often prejudicial view of the long history of Muslim-West relations which we ﬁnd deeply troubling.” (A Task Force report titled, “Army War College under fire over historian’s upcoming lecture on ‘clash of civilizations’ between Islam and the West,” has the complete CAIR letter.)
Interestingly, and although my book is 352 pages, covering nearly fourteen centuries, not once did CAIR highlight a certain passage or excerpt in its letter to the USAWC to support its accusation that the book “is based on poor research.”
After media outlets began reporting on CAIR’s letter to the USAWC, the latter called and assured me that the event was still on. I also received a June 5, 2019 email from my USAWC contact saying, “We are good to go for the lecture.”
FP: Well that was promising, so what made them eventually cave in?
Ibrahim: Having seen that a formal, ostensibly rational sounding letter of “concern” would not suffice, CAIR and its allies decided that mass hysteria would have to do. On June 6, 2019, CAIR issued a number of screeds, including a Press Release and a petition addressed to the USAWC by Linda Sarsour’s Islamist group, MPower Change. The overall theme is that, if the USAWC goes ahead with my planned lecture, the “racist” military will get so riled that American soldiers will randomly begin to massacre Muslims at home and abroad. The following excerpts from the MPower petition are typical; note especially the last paragraph (bold and underlining in the original):
The U.S. Army War College invited Raymond Ibrahim—a well-known Islamophobe and disseminator of inaccurate, ahistorical, anti-Muslim rhetoric—to speak at their upcoming 50th Annual Lecture Series on June 19th.
In a time of rising white nationalism, Islamophobia, and horrific violence stemming from these ideologies, the College is endorsing and fostering anti-Muslim hate within the military by inviting Ibrahim….
Ibrahim’s rhetoric … normalizes and justifies violence against Muslims, which is already a burgeoning problem for the military….. Let’s tell the U.S. Army War College: If you don’t rescind Ibrahim’s invitation and denounce his Islamophobic rhetoric, you’re not only endorsing anti-Muslim hate, but dangerously nurturing Islamophobia and white nationalism within the military.
Just a few days ago, California Rep. Duncan Hunter—who ran an explicitly Islamophobic campaign for Congress—casually admitted that he and his unit “killed probably hundreds of civilians…probably killed women and children in Iraq.”
Tell the U.S. Army War College: Ibrahim’s lecture would push the same kind of incendiary, Islamophobic rhetoric that has led to violence inflicted on Muslim communities—both in the U.S. and abroad.
In the midst of their lies, CAIR and MPower repeatedly present me -- an Arab-American whose parents immigrated from Egypt to evade Islamic oppression -- as a “racist” associated with “white nationalism.”
Also like the original CAIR letter of May 28, the MPower petition repeatedly asserts that “his recent book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, advances an Orientalist and inaccurate view of Islam,” without once showing how; it merely claims that “His simplistic and flawed version of history -- riddled with prejudiced stereotypes of Islam -- espouses a dangerous agenda that demonizes Muslims.”
FP: That is rather telling. Considering how long your book is, couldn’t they find a single sentence to present -- by distorting it -- as “fake history”?
Ibrahim: Apparently not. Here’s the thing: although long suppressed by the Left, the history I present in Sword and Scimitar is ironclad, verifiable, and beyond well documented; with about a thousand endnotes, it is heavily based on primary -- especially Muslim -- sources, including material I translated.
It’s also important to stress that, whereas none of the CAIR activists petitioning the War College have any credentials in the discipline of history, here is what actual and highly regarded historians and scholars in the fields of Muslim-Western history say concerning the book (many more can be read here):
- “Raymond Ibrahim’s Sword and Scimitar is … first-rate military history and a product of solid scholarship and philological research.”― Victor Davis Hanson, America’s leading military historian and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution
- “[Sword and Scimitar is] a refreshingly honest account of Islamic expansion and Christian reaction that provides useful insights into today’s problems. This is history as it should be done: allowing the past to inform and guide the present, rather than distorting the past to fit contemporary political ideologies (emphasis added).”―Paul F. Crawford, Professor of Crusades history, California University of Pennsylvania
- “Ibrahim tells his story with extensive citations of primary sources … Moreover, his method reveals the religious, political, and material motivations of the leading Christian and Muslim actors in this enduring conflict of visions that seem so very different from many modern western secular sensibilities.”―James E. Lindsay, Professor of Middle East History, Colorado State University
- “An accessible and well-researched examination of extremely important but often neglected cultural phenomena and historical events that have impacted several civilizations up to the present day.”―Darío Fernández-Morera, Professor of Spanish History, Northwestern University, and author of The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise
- “[An] eye-opening introduction to a millennium of warfare between the Muslim and Christian worlds before the modern age.”―Thomas Madden, Professor of Crusades history, and award-winning author of Istanbul, Venice, and Concise History of the Crusades
FP: Raymond, why do you think CAIR has created such a hysterical smear campaign over a military history book, most of which deals with events that took place hundreds of years ago? They usually go after people who discuss Islamist machinations in current events, right?
Ibrahim: This is important to narrow in on, thanks Jamie.
I actually give CAIR credit in the perspicacity department: unlike many in the West, they know how important it is to control the historical narrative between Islam and the West -- a narrative which for decades has largely been in the keeping of their allies, that is, anti-Western, pro-Islamic leftist academics. Because this pseudohistory has long presented Islam as a peaceful and progressive force throughout history—certainly in comparison to the West -- all talk concerning modern day Islamic terror and extremism has invariably revolved around questions such as “What went wrong?” and “Why do they hate us?”
These supposedly all important questions that dominated public discourse after September 11, 2001 are fundamentally rooted to history. Think of it this way: If the Islamic world was a tolerant and advanced force for centuries, as generations of Americans have been led to believe, then surely its modern day descent into radicalism and terrorism must be based on other factors—hence the nonstop claims that economics, education, politics, grievances, “lack of jobs” to quote the Obama White House, etc., are the real reason.
Such logic is admittedly sound -- but only if one subscribes to its first premise, that Islamic history is largely peaceful and tolerant.
But for those who become acquainted with Islam’s true history vis-à-vis the West as recounted in the book—a millennium-long history of virtually nonstop jihad and mindboggling atrocities that make ISIS appear tame -- there is no “what went wrong?” or “why do they hate us?” to explain, only an unwavering, continuous line of violence and enmity -- one that was always, whether in its Arab, Berber, Tatar, or Turkish manifestations, articulated as jihad -- and one that went on hiatus during the colonial era but is now back in full force.
Hence CAIR’S unprecedented attack -- one described by neutral reporters as “the first time that a speaker at a U.S. military educational institution has been subject to such a campaign.” The “unindicted co-conspirator” of Hamas-related terrorism knows that the first and long unquestioned -- but ultimately false -- premise of all Muslim apologias is historical in nature, and is doing all it can to keep it safe from attack.
FP: Makes sense, thanks Raymond. Let’s get back to the War College. How did it respond to this second round of CAIR-induced hysteria dedicated to smearing you as a “racist” and “Islamophobe"?
Ibrahim: Spineless capitulation: on June 10, the USAWC caved in to the Islamists’ demands and canceled the event. In my last phone call with the USAWC on that same day, I suggested a compromise: turn my lecture into a debate, and pit me against any academic of CAIR’s choosing. Even though I was under no obligation to make such a concession, it still wasn’t good enough for the USAWC.
Perhaps the most dishonorable aspect of this entire fiasco is that, in a vain effort to save face and pretend that the prestigious United States Army War College is not surrendering to the demands of a notorious Islamist organization—whose subversive tactics and terroristic ties are well documented (here, here, here, and here, for example) -- the USAWC’s official story is that my lecture has only been “postponed,” and not because of CAIR’s demands.
As a June 10, 2019 report notes, the USAWC’s decision to “postpone” the event “comes in the wake of strong opposition from the Muslim community to the previously scheduled appearance of author Raymond Ibrahim. The Army War College on Monday, however, suggested that the postponement had nothing to do with the outcry from the Muslim community” (emphasis added).
Reality is clear enough: for the USAWC suddenly to postpone a long-planned event only nine days before schedule -- and just a few days after CAIR’s smear campaign -- is not a “coincidence”; it is a clear message for all.
FP: Just so absolutely pathetic.
If the War College is giving in to absurd allegations and fear mongering, is there any American institution that won’t buckle?
Ibrahim: That’s exactly it, Jamie—the most disturbing aspect of this entire incident. If an ethnic Egyptian and native speaker of Arabic, with verifiable credentials, whose extended relatives continue to be persecuted because they are Christian, can be characterized by Islamist groups with terror links as a “racist” and “white nationalist”; and if, of all places, the US Army War College, as opposed to the average “liberal” college, can so easily capitulate to such patently deceptive tactics—the true motives of which are to keep the actual and troubling history between Islam and the West concealed from the military -- the hour is very late indeed.
FP: I am so sorry about this Raymond -- both for you and for every one of us who cherishes freedom and freedom of speech.
This is a very ominous and frightening development.
Is there anything else we should know about?
Ibrahim: Yes, this incident is not over. Several concerned military and congress men and media have contacted me, and I’ll be in Washington DC this week to meet with them.
If true, here’s another disturbing development: the latest information I’m getting from people who say they live in the Harrisburg region is that, after CAIR’s hysterical campaign, there was a “disturbing tension” in the air among the Muslim community of Harrisburg, a “palpable fear” which some are saying contributed to the USAWC’s decision to appease local Muslims. For the record, I cannot independently verify any of this -- have never even been to Harrisburg -- but am just relaying what some anonymous (and apparently scared) locals are conveying to me.
It is interesting to note, however, that in support of these claims, in their May 28 letter to the USAWC, CAIR leaders Jacob Bender, Timothy Welbeck, and Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu, made the following assertions, which in retrospect seem to take on a more ominous meaning:
Indeed, as word of Mr. Ibrahim’s upcoming lecture has spread, we have been contacted by Muslims and interfaith allies from all over Pennsylvania, and especially from the Harrisburg area which houses over a dozen mosques, who called us to express their shock that such a prestigious institution as the US Army War College would invite, and thereby confer legitimacy on, an individual who spreads falsehoods about their faith, the faith of 1.6 billion human beings, and the fastest growing religion in the United States and the world. (emphasis added)
In light of what I’m now being told, this reads like a veiled threat.
FP: Scary times.
Raymond, thank you for giving joining us today and for giving us the full scoop. Thank you for all that you do -- and we wish you much strength in your endeavors.
Ibrahim: Thank you, Jamie, including for the opportunity to share.