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There is no "moderate" Islamist

Reader comment on item: War against Radical Islamists

Submitted by Timothy Farrell, PhD (Guatemala), Jun 16, 2002 at 11:22

The distinction that Deeb and Gerges are trying to draw - radical Islamists vs. moderate Islamists - is at best flawed. It is a false distinction.

By definition, all Islamists exist to to expand the Islamist Sharia the world over. (Critics should read V.S. Naipaul's "Beyond Belief" to understand that Islamists are not simply "believers", their ideological Islam IS their existence...it is not a case of belief and choice.)

The so-called radical Islamists are simply the physical warriors of the jihad, while the "moderate" Islamists represent their base of moral and political support. CAIR, for example, falls nicely into this category in the US.

I think that there is little room for doubt that if and when the physical jihadis make substantial geographic gains (war is geography) that they would not be quickly followed by their "moderate" moral and political jihadis to maintain the totalitarian sharia state estabilished in conquest.

Pipes' analogy to Nazis and "fringe Nazis" is most appropriate. The "radicals" are the storm troopers and panzer battlions that pave the way for the "moderate" political jihadis to maintain and defend their gains under the name of "legitimate" nationhood and governance (e.g. Afganistan).

The terror attacks on America and Americans are expressions of at least two strategies. The first is the rejection of what Deeb correctly articulated as the "fear" of the US. This is simply a more deadly game of "coup" where one touches an enemy to prove his bravery, then runs back to his home lines. It "proves" a lack of fear of the superior force. The message to the "moderate" jihadis is that they do not have to "fear" the US (this latest "coup" brought cheers and strutting when the Towers were hit).

The second strategy is the classic military strategy of diversion. Lacking the forces to do this effectively on a battlefield (or even a defined battlefield - since that is the entire world), Islamists are engaging in an organized system of feints. Even the most delierious of their leaders knows that there is no current way to physically conquer and occupy the US. However by executing a strike on US soil they draw attention away from local activities by occupying the US with a series of interminable threats of terror. The fact that there have been no "feints" in Europe is critical to understanding their larger goal (below).

This leaves "space" for the local groundwork that needs to be done by the political jihadis in terms of recruitment and strengthening for local support.

The Islamist leaders are right about one major advantage. Time is definitely on their side. The West's conception of time is about one generation - at most a lifetime. Islam's conception of time is boundless, as is China's. As the "moderate" jihadis preach. indoctrinate and recruit within their current borders (and within enclaves abroad), they buy time and build ideological momentum. Militarily, all these local activities can be likened to "securing the perimeter", posting guards and ensuring that "order" (sharia) is maintained.

The West, of course, and especially Europe not only tolerates, but encourages such enclaves in the name of freedom and diversity. The West, so proud of its neo-liberal positions, never dares to ask why religious and political quid pro quo does not exist in the Arab Islamist states.

As our tolerance increases, the time-line for Islamist expansion decreases. This inverse relationship is supported by the "no fear" and "diversionary" strategies of the "radical" jihadis, and operationalized by the "moderate" jihadis with the bewildered assistance from the West.

Why is Europe excluded from the "feints" of Islamists? Again the truth that "war is geography" provides one explanation. Europe is contiguous to the Islamist strongholds. Second, the demographic changes due to migration in Europe have already established a rather large footprint. Hence while the "radical" shock troops occupy the minds and budget of the US, the "moderate" Islamist foot soldiers slowely move to occupy physically the more vulnerable areas of Europe. The concept of time could be the most significant factor in the war with Islamists.

These strategies are supported by empirical, objective facts, and must lead to the conclusion that there are no strategic differences between the "moderate" and "radical" Islamists.

No, Virginia, there is no "moderate" Islamist.

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