Monday, October 3, 2011

Another Victory for the Good Guys

by Michael Kaplan

But America thought that it could threaten the lives of others, kill and invade, occupy and plunder, and conspire without bearing the consequences of its actions. 9/11 was the answer of the millions of people who suffer from American aggression, and since then, America has not been safe.

Americans need to stop looking at themselves from their own lens, but look at themselves from the lens of the world. They will then see the ugly face of America. America is not despised only by Muslims, but by many millions of people around the world, and in America itself.

This is a day to celebrate. Anwar al-Awlaki, the most dangerous Al Qaeda leader after Osama bin Laden (even more dangerous according to my congressman, Peter King), is now a martyr in paradise surrounded by 72 virgins courtesy of a CIA predator drone. I do hope the good imam is suitably grateful to the nation he so despised and whose citizenship he tarnished, for enabling him to finally achieve, and none too soon, the martyrdom he so desired.

All credit to President Obama and his national security team: Secretary of Defense and former CIA Director Leon Panetta; current CIA Director and former commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, General David Petraeus; Admiral Michael Mullen, outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; and all of the men and women of the military and intelligence services. Whatever his mishandling of the economy and his humiliating diplomacy of apology for American greatness, President Obama has successfully built on the Bush administration’s strategy and methods in fighting the war on radical Islamic jihadism, the war against “Those Who Must Not Be Named.” The president who came into office pledging to reverse and repudiate George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror, shut down the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, put an end to enhanced interrogation and prosecute those CIA officers who used it, and try terrorist masterminds like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian courts, has done none of this much to the chagrin of the left. Instead the Obama administration has prosecuted the war in Afghanistan and expanded the use of predator drones and Special Forces for the targeted killing of our jihadist enemies. The result has been the elimination of bin Laden and Awlaki, Al Qaeda’s two most dangerous leaders, truly important victories in the war against the Jihad.

Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born son of Yemeni parents, a man with feet in both worlds, was the ideal propagandist for the Jihad. From his base in Yemen as a leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Awlaki used his intimate understanding of America, its culture and technology, to reach out to vulnerable American and British Muslim young men and turn them into jihadis. With the modern technology of the Internet, Awlaki recorded sermons in both English and Arabic which he posted to YouTube, spreading his hateful interpretation of Islam far and wide. Modern technology is indeed a two-edged sword. Like other demagogues Awlaki was a charismatic orator who, whether in person or through his recordings, held his listeners spellbound. This was his true power. Awlaki was not an organizer or a warrior in the field like Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri. He was a storyteller and a mythmaker. Journalist J. M. Berger, publisher of, has studied Awlaki and other American jihadis in depth. Berger writes that “Awlaki took traditional Islamic sources and breathed life into them, transforming religious texts into gripping and emotional stories, often with substantial embellishment. He tailored his idiom and analogy to Western language and culture, but his most important skill was the ability to transform often skeletal sources into gripping tales.” Among those who fell under Awlaki’s spell was U. S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan who killed thirteen people at Fort Hood, Texas, Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber, and the Nigerian underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab. Awlaki also had some involvement, as yet unclear, with several of the 9/11 hijackers. There’s no question that this imam was a bad actor who for years played a major role in advancing the Jihad.

To fully understand Awlaki’s importance to the Jihad and why taking him out is a major victory, you have to listen to his sermons—well at least excerpts from them. Listening to Awlaki is akin to reading Mein Kampf, a painful but necessary step to understanding who this enemy really is, what he really wants, and why there can be nothing between him and us but the sword.

In the clip posted above Awlaki explains that Islam does not mean peace: it means submission. A true Muslim submits to the will of Allah in all things without question. A man may not understand the sharia, it may at times seem irrational and make no sense. Nonetheless a true Muslim accepts this and submits. So just as Abraham submitted to God’s command to sacrifice Ishmael (in the Koran’s version—Isaac in the Bible’s version) so Muslims must be prepared to obey God’s command without question, even to becoming a suicide bomber. This in a nutshell is the heart of the jihadist worldwiew which must be defeated. Such unquestioning submission and obedience is anathema to Americans and Jacksonians, dedicated as we are to liberty. We believe that God expects us to use our own independent judgment and exercise free will as we engage His word in confronting the challenges of life; a tradition that goes back to the first British Protestant Dissenter settlers which is encoded in our cultural DNA. The enemy we are dealing with rejects free will, surrendering it along with his moral sense to theocratic tyrants. In the clip below Awlaki discusses how Islam was spread by the sword.

On November 8, 2010, Awlaki released a twenty-three minute video of a sermon in Arabic with the grandiose title, “That You Must Make It Clear to the People and Not Conceal It.” What Awlaki did make clear, without any attempt to conceal it, was his view of the Jihad as a world historical struggle between good and evil. Awlaki related the story of Umm Umar, an Australian Muslim woman who moved to Yemen to raise her children as proper sharia compliant Muslims free from the contaminating influence of the West. Umm Umar was a true heroine of Islam who gave up a comfortable modern life in Australia for the sake of her faith. This, Awlaki claimed, was in stark contrast to many Muslim women “who run behind the joys of this world, seeking husbands who will take them from Muslim lands to the West, to live it up in this fleeting and deviating world.” Then the Yemeni government, at the behest of its American masters, arrested and tortured Umm Umar, a woman who wanted nothing more than to live a virtuous Muslim life with her children. Going beyond what they were ordered to do, the Yemeni authorities became “more tyrannical than the tyrant, more Christian than the crusader, and more Jewish than the Jew.” They interrogated the heroic Umm Umar for six hours in a standing position, hoping to find some information that would win them favor in the eyes of America. Umm Umar pleaded with her interrogators that they should be helping her, a virtuous Muslim woman, not torturing her in service to the infidels, but to no avail. Whatever the truth of this story—and Awlaki no doubt embellishes the truth to add to the drama of the story and the power of his message—the lesson he draws is clear. The only path open to Muslims who want to preserve the purity of their faith and the virtue of their women is to fight America, “Hezboshaitan—the Party of Satan,” to the death.
Don’t consult with anyone in killing Americans. Fighting Satan does not need any religious verdict, consultation, or prayer for guidance in decision making. They are the “Party of Satan.” Fighting them is the obligation of the time. We have reached the stage where its “either us or them.” We are two opposites which can never coexist. They seek something which can never come to be unless we are annihilated. It’s a decisive battle. It’s the battle of Moses and Pharaoh. It’s the battle of truth and falsehood.

Awlaki tells a powerful tale in which he makes his ultimate goals as clear as can be. There can be no coexistence between liberty loving people in the West or anywhere else, and those who support the Jihad. What we seek, what Awlaki says can never be unless he and his ilk are annihilated, is a world in which all people, and that includes the people of the Muslim world, are free to enjoy the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Awlaki and his followers are telling you who they are and what they seek: a world where there is no liberty, only submission. They and their hateful ideology must be defeated and destroyed.

Awlaki was killed in a joint U. S. military-intelligence operation. It does the heart good to see the different service branches working together in a common mission instead of sniping at each other’s backs. While the military helped target Awlaki, the predator drone that blew him off the face of the earth was operated by CIA agents from a base in Yemen, with backup provided by manned American military aircraft. Predator drones are in fact the technological counterparts to Army Special Forces and Navy SEALS: targeted weapons for surgical strikes that take out the bad guys with minimum loss of American life and a minimum of collateral damage. This is the Jacksonian way of war, ruthless and effective. Jacksonians believe in using all of America’s advantages in technology and the professionalism of her soldiers to defeat the enemy and compel him to surrender or die. Nation building does not enter into the equation.

The targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki was a righteous act, whatever Glenn Greenwald on the appeasement left or Ron Paul on the isolationist right might think. By making war on the people of the United States, Sheikh Awlaki forfeited the constitutional rights and protections of American citizenship. Slowly but surely and inexorably the fighting men and women of Jacksonian America are taking Al Qaeda apart piece by piece and crushing its infrastructure. But this is not enough. It is the jihadist ideology of Islamic supremacy, which inspires young men without any other purpose or prospects in life to seek martyrdom in pursuit of a new Islamic caliphate (and 72 virgins), that above all else must be defeated and destroyed. J. M. Berger in an interview with Heather Childers on Fox News, raises the concern that Awlaki may prove “larger than death” and that his malevolent influence will live on via the Internet. Well, as Colonel Ralph Peters is fond of saying, “better a dead martyr than a living inspiration.” Jacksonian America’s attitude toward the bad actors of the world goes something like this: you leave us alone and we’ll leave you alone. But if you threaten or attack us then God help you, for we will pound you into the dust. This is a lesson that Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and Anwar al-Awlaki have now learned.

© 2011 Michael Kaplan

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