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ConservativeHome: The President’s National Security Strategy Fails to Recognize that a Real, Dangerous Islamic Ideology Lies Behind Today’s Terrorism


Originally posted on ConservativeHome.

Joe Loconte is an assistant professor of history at The King’s College in New York City. He writes widely about religion and international politics.

It’s a good thing that the FBI agents who thwarted a terrorist bomb plot in Portland, Oregon over the weekend didn’t read President Obama’s 2010 National Security Strategy (NSS). If they had, they never would have suspected the Somali-born teenager, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, of any unpleasant intentions or any link to radical Islamic jihad.

That’s because phrases such as “Islamic terrorism,” “radical Islam,” or “Islamic jihad” do not appear anywhere in the NSS. Instead, the reader is informed about “the dangers of violent extremism,” but those dangers are not placed in any larger ideological context. Thus: “Terrorism is one of many threats that are more consequential in a global age.” That’s right: Terrorism—a tactic, not the political theology behind it—is no more fearsome than America’s dependence on fossil fuels, the threat of natural disasters, climate change, or the existence of global criminal networks. Yes, the Italian mafia is as worrisome as Al Qaeda.

This is what Team Obama calls our new strategic environment. This is not merely a blunt repudiation of the Bush administration’s national security assessment. This, we are told with fatuous contempt for reality, represents “the world as it is.”

Here is the world as it is: The 19-year-old Mohamud allegedly began exchanging e-mails last year with a co-conspirator with terrorist links in Pakistan’s northwest province, a hotbed of international Islamist radicalism and terrorist training.

Here is the world as it is: Under surveillance by authorities for about 15 months, Mohamud allegedly mailed bomb-making components to undercover FBI agents whom he believed were part of an international Islamist terrorist organization.

Here is the world as it is: Mohamud was arrested and charged with plotting to kill thousands of civilians at a Christmas-tree lighting in Portland’s central square—the signature act of barbarism by Islamist radicals who have repeatedly declared war on the West. As he was taken away by federal officials, Mohamud kicked his captors and screamed “Allahu Akbar!”—Arabic for “God is great”—the religious refrain of Islamic jihadists around the globe.

Here is the world as it is: Muhamud’s alleged plot fits the pattern of recent attempts by radicalized Muslims to kill civilians in the United States—from the Pakistani-born American arrested in a plot to blow up Times Square to the Pakistani-American accused of targeting the Washington, D.C., subway system to the Jordanian man accused of trying to bring down a Dallas building with a truck bomb. Religion—the religion of Islam—is at the toxic center of this new variety of the will to power.

It is true, of course, that most of the world’s Muslims reject radicalism and terrorism. Yet it is also true that the vast majority of terrorist acts since 9/11 have been committed by individuals using Islam to justify their deeds. They claim the sanction of the Quran and the moral inspiration of the Prophet Muhammed. They are sleepless in their determination to acquire the most destructive weapons possible to carry out the most horrific acts of violence imaginable. America’s overriding national security threat is bound up with a religious ideology that is itself bound up with Islam.

FBI agents would not have learned any of these facts from the president’s National Security Strategy. Team Obama finds such facts too inconvenient to contemplate. Yet this is the world as it is.

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