As Rich notes, Hillary Clinton is essentially accusing Donald Trump of treason on the theory that his rhetoric aids and abets ISIS in recruiting Muslims because it affirms their narrative of a war between Islam and non-Muslims. This is as stupid as would be a claim that Mrs. Clinton is guilty of treason — as opposed to mere idiocy — because, by refusing to acknowledge the Islamic doctrinal roots of jihadist terror, she and her policymaking cohort blind us to the motivation, objectives, and strategies of our terrorist enemies.
As I have previously recounted, when I prosecuted the Blind Sheikh’s terrorist cell in the mid Nineties, the defense lawyers for the jihadists – who sounded just like today’s anti-anti-terrorist progressives – claimed that their clients had been lured into terrorist activity by U.S. government policy and by the enticements of a government informant who spouted Islam-against-the-world rhetoric. In response to this fatuous contention, we put a very simple question to the jury: “What would it take to turn you into a mass-murderer?” What policy could be so bad, what rhetorical us-against-them flourishes so inspiring, that a person would join the terrorist cause and commit acts of barbarism?
When a person with a modicum of common sense considers such a question, he or she knows that there could be no such policy. There is no controversial policy or figure that could cause a person to become a terrorist – not Gitmo, not harsh interrogation tactics, not Bosnia, not Abu Ghaib, not torched Korans, not anti-Muslim videos, not Donald Trump . . . or George Bush . . . or Dick Cheney . . . or Bill Clinton . . . or Pope John Paul II (the latter two of whom jihadists plotted to kill in the mid-Nineties).
Of course, all of these policies and people are exploited pretextually by jihadists in order to justify themselves and to play the West like a fiddle. But it’s all a side show. A person joins the jihad only if the person adopts jihadist ideology. A person is moved to commit mass-murder – an act that requires depraved indifference to the lives and the humanity of his targets – because there is no ideology as powerful as religious ideology, as the notion that God Himself has commanded the aggression because the infidels offend Him by their infidelity.
As I argue in today’s column, the roots of this fervor are found in Islamic scripture, which Islamic supremacists construe literally. Jihadists and their recruits care no more about Donald Trump’s bluntness (including his occasional over-the-top offensiveness, like threatening to kill the families of terrorists) than they do about Hillary Clinton’s inane, self-congratulatory nuance. In fact, regardless of which of them wins the presidency, jihadists will want to kill him or her, as they have wanted to kill all American presidents regardless of party. No matter who wins the presidency, jihadists will target America for mass-murder attacks, and will pretextually blame their actions on either Trump policies or Clinton policies, just as they blamed Bill Clinton’s, George Bush’s, and – yes – Barack Obama’s policies.
Perhaps the only thing more sadly hilarious than watching the political class tie itself in knots over whether a bomb should be called a “bomb” and whether a terrorist attack should be called a “terrorist attack” is Clinton’s claim that ISIS is rooting for Trump to be elected president. Newsflash: Jihadists don’t give a flying fatwa who wins American elections, or even whether there are American elections.
Islamic supremacists and their jihadist front lines are in the business of killing Americans and supplanting our constitutional republic with sharia. To claim that they care about our elections is to exhibit ignorance about who they are, who they think we are, and what they seek to achieve.
This is obviously news to Mrs. Clinton, but there is no point in speculating about what causes jihadist terror. As I explain in today’s column, the cause is Islamic supremacist ideology rooted in a fundamentalist, literalist construction of Islamic scripture. We know this not because I’ve figured it out and am letting you all in on the big secret. We know it because our enemies have explained themselves in the bluntest of terms.
In an essay called “The Caliphate’s Multi-pronged War” for the current (35th Anniversary) issue of The New Criterion, I described a recent edition of ISIS’s Dabiq magazine. The issue, called the “Break the Cross” edition, included a feature that should be required reading across the West. It is called, “Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You.” It asserts, among other things:
Your disbelief is the primary reason we hate you, as we have been commanded to hate the disbelievers until they submit to the authority of Islam, either by becoming Muslims, or by paying jizyah [the poll tax for dhimmis]—for those afforded this option—and living in humiliation under the rule of the Muslims.
Even if you were to stop bombing us . . . 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.
That is what causes terrorism, and it will continue to cause terrorism until the animating ideology of Islamic supremacism has been acknowledged, confronted, and marginalized to the point that influential Islamic authorities universally teach that the call to jihad in Islamic scripture is no longer operative in the modern world. That’s got nothing to do with Donald Trump … or, for that matter, with Hillary Clinton.