National Security & Defense

The Corner

Believe What ISIS Says About Its Motivations

On Monday I wrote about Pope Francis’s flawed analysis of the root causes of jihad. Like many progressives, he located their murderous intent less in their religious faith and more in the injustice of the world economy. But if we want to understand why ISIS fights, why don’t we read what ISIS says? The excerpts below are from Dabiq, an ISIS magazine (hat tip to Rod Dreher): 

We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the oneness of Allah – whether you realize it or not – by making partners for Him in worship, you blaspheme against Him, claiming that He has a son, you fabricate lies against His prophets and messengers, and you indulge in all manner of devilish practices. It is for this reason that we were commanded to openly declare our hatred for you and our enmity towards you. “There has already been for you an excellent example in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people, ‘Indeed, we are disassociated from you and from whatever you worship other than Allah. We have rejected you, and there has arisen, between us and you, enmity and hatred forever until you believe in Allah alone’” (Al-Mumtahanah 4).

And:

What’s important to understand here is that although some might argue that your foreign policies are the extent of what drives our hatred, this particular reason for hating you is secondary, hence the reason we addressed it at the end of the above list. The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam. Even if you were to pay jizyah and live under the authority of Islam in humiliation, we would continue to hate you. No doubt, we would stop fighting you then as we would stop fighting any disbelievers who enter into a covenant with us, but we would not stop hating you.

As Rod notes, all too many people simply refuse to believe ISIS’s motivations. It can’t be what they say. It has to be rooted in controllable or adjustable factors — like western foreign policy or economic opportunity. A few days ago I was confronted by a young man who asked how could I possibly claim to know what jihadists believe. What were my credentials for analyzing jihadist ideology? I responded that I know what jihadists believe because they told me. I’m merely listening to their own words. They are proud of their beliefs — every bit as proud as the evangelist who knocks on your door. 

Our international progressive elite combines arrogance and foolishness. It arrogantly presumes to know more about ISIS than ISIS knows about itself. Then these same elites foolishly seek to conform foreign and domestic policies to address the allegedly ”true” motivations of our Islamic enemies. Thus they increase our vulnerability without doing anything to deter aggression. When it comes to fighting jihadists, the same realities hold in 2016 as they did in 1016. The west’s best weapons against jihad are its warriors, not its theologians — or its politicians.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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