Blogs > HNN > An(other) Inconvenient Truth--about Terrorism

Oct 20, 2009 7:32 pm

An(other) Inconvenient Truth--about Terrorism

Last month the office of the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, published the 18-pp., glossy, maize-and-blue “National Intelligence Strategy of the United States of America.” Even if I weren’t an Ohio State fan, I’d have problems with it. In discussing the “Strategic Environment,” Iran’s missile systems and support for terrorism are mentioned—but not the Islamic Republic’s global da`wah that reaches as far as West Africa and Latin America (and which I heard about first-hand in Iran in 2008). As for non-state threats, the NIS lists “violent extremist groups” and “insurgents”—without bothering to note what ideology motivates the bulk of them: some variant of Islam. This willful ignorance continues into the “Mission Objec tives,” the first of which is to “Combat Violent Extremism” –for remember that according to the Department of Homeland Security these “extremists” could just as well be “Tea Party”-ers, Rush Limbaugh listeners or, perhaps—as Juan Cole has recently opined—those still-warlike Anglo-Saxons. At least in this section the NIS does manage to include al-Qa’ida [sic: correct transliteration is al-Qa`idah] in passing , but again sans any explication of the underlying ideology. The NIS authors’ obtuseness is all the more perplexing—and maddening—considering that under “Mission Objective 3: Provide Strategic Intelligence and Warning,” the U.S. Intelligence Community is encouraged to “build and access deep understanding of the cultural, political, religious, economic, ethnic, and tribal factors in operational theaters.”

Of course, it can be argued, what else might one logically expect from an administration headed by a Commander-in-Chief whose father was Muslim , who rejects “negative stereotypes” of Muslims and whose primary foreign policy directive seems to be “diplomacy is always having to say you’re sorry?” But, to be fair, his predecessor the “Crusader-in-Chief” was also a vocal proponent of the “Muslims are just Quakers with beards” approach. To both of them, and to the other Islamic apologists of the world such as Karen Armstrong, I submit the following problematic data:

The U.S. State Department has a list of 45 “Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” Of those, 25 are Islamic-based organizations; 11 are secular nationalist; 7 are Marxist or Maoist; and only two are religious-based but not Muslim: the Jewish extremist Kahane Chai, and the pseudo-Shinto Aum Shinrikyo of Japan. So well over half of the “current list of designated foreign terrorist organizations” have, as their motivating ideology, Islam in one form or another. Sorry, Professor Cole, no Anglo-Saxon organizations were on there (although a few Celtic ones were); neither were there any Christian ones. Perhaps less reliable, but no less damning to the “Islam is peaceful” mantra, is this list of terrorist organizations as designated by Australia, Canada, the European Union, UK, US, India and Russia. Of 126 terror-waging groups listed, here is the breakdown by ideology:
Islamic: 64
Secular nationalist: 36
Marxist/Maoist: 13
“Other”/Anarchist: 9
Christian: 2
Shinto and Jewish: 1 each
So, just over half the world’s terrorist organizations are Muslim in origin and function. No other religious ideology is close—not even, most notably, Christianity (with its 2 billion+ membership, you’d think more would be involved in violence, wouldn’t you?). Since Muslims make up 20% of the world’s population, their involvement in over 50% of the world’s terrrorist groups is telling and troubling—and something the NIS is loathe to admit, thus tainting its claim to “know…the nature of the threats.”

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

R. Craigen - 10/23/2009

Argh! Doesn't hnn support external links in comments any more? Try one more time:

R. Craigen - 10/23/2009

Sorry, here's that link to TheReligionofPeace.Com

R. Craigen - 10/23/2009

Sorry, Nick, it's you who appear to be playing a few face-cards short of a full deck here. See Pete Meeker's comment above for the proportion of terrorism associated with Islam. Better yet, keep track of the daily tally at TheReligionOfPeace.Com.

That said, it would be unfair and demonstrably false to paint all or even most muslims with the terrorist brush. If you think that Mr. Furnish is attempting to do so, you evidently have a reading comprehension problem, my friend.

You also have a discernment problem if you can't grasp the distinction between (i) observing the clear connection between traditional Islamic doctrine and contemporary Islamic terrorist groups and (ii) declaring that all muslims are terrorists.

Try erasing this kind of distinction in another setting: Most petty thieves are poor ... therefore all poor people are petty thieves??? If you can't fathom the existence of other logical possibilities, sir, you have an awfully stark (and totally degenerate) view of the world.

From his various writings on HNN I infer that Mr. Furnish would advocate working with muslims of good faith who advocate for western-style freedoms and liberties in their lands; evidently he doesn't share your inability to logically separate core Islamic teachings from the beliefs and practices of rank-and-file muslims.

We have many allies in the islamic world ... it is our misfortune, however, to have leaders who can't distinguish allies from hostile posers. It is the sharp thinking and reliable scholarship of folks like Prof. Furnish that give us some hope of better-informed leaders who can make better choices in the future.

nick claus - 10/21/2009

I'm not Muslim nor do I support their extremist brothers' ridiculous activities. But this article is stupid for the following fallacy.

1. You make it seem as if 20% of the world (who are Muslim) is involved in over 50% of the world's terrorist groups.

2. The MINORITY of extremist Muslims who are involved in over 50% of the world's terrorist groups may very well account for less than .0001% of the world. (I'm fudging this number) What about the rest of the peace-loving, law-abiding, majority of Muslims? What have they done to deserve you pointing your finger at them and calling them terrorists?

Tim Furnish, you are not a very bright one are you?

Peter Meeker - 10/21/2009

I did my own calculation of terrorist organisations a few months back: 79% are Islamic and of the religiously-based ones 94% are Islamic.

You can get link to my calculations here:

R. Craigen - 10/20/2009

Mr. Furnish, always glad to see you in print.

Let's hope this corner finds a comfortable home for a steady stream of your unique insights, generous crumbs from the table of your scholarship, and more tales of your travels around the world and encounters with all manner of colourful characters.

I share your disquiet about trends in national security, not only in your country but also in Canada and the rest of the west. Our politically correct pieties and our unwillingness to say what must be said threaten to be our undoing. When these things manifest at the highest levels of government our world is in grave danger.