Faith fuels Islamic terror
Religion is the key motivator behind jihadists’ violence, not economic woes
Jobs — that is what the Islamic State needs. Jobs.
According to State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf, that is the solution.
But the reality is Islamic State radicals do not need a “shovel-ready,” five-step path to employment. The displaced, abandoned and abused Christians, Yazidis and peaceable Muslims are the ones who need help.
“We need to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, … (including a) lack of opportunity for jobs,” Harf told MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews.
Matthews cut her off, reminding her that there are always going to be poor people and there are always going to be poor Muslims. The truth is, poverty is not the root cause of the Islamic State — religion is.
“What makes these 17-year-old kids pick up an AK-47 instead of trying to start a business?” Harf asked.
The root is a relentless desire to see the Prophet Muhammad’s radical teachings realized. According to Quran 9:12, jihadists are called to fight the disbelievers “that they might cease.”
“Pretending that (the Islamic State) isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood and combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it,” Graeme Wood wrote in an editorial in The Atlantic.
How can the U.S. government address an issue that it has so far refused to clearly define? Even today, the White House will not acknowledge the Islamic State’s religious ramifications, even in the face of their bold action and unrelenting, theologically-charged rhetoric.
“Their only words were, ‘Jesus, help me,’” Pope Francis said in response to the video of the execution of the Coptic Christians uploaded Feb. 15. “They were killed simply because they were Christians.”
When the jihadi organization uploaded the video, titled “A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross,” President Barack Obama referred to the men executed as “Egyptian citizens” and the executors as “ISIL-affiliated terrorists,” doing everything he could to avoid acknowledging the religious,
“At this point, it is beyond burlesque — it’s pathological, it’s clinical, their inability and unwillingness to … accurately describe things,” political commentator on Fox News’ “Special Report” George Will said. “The secret of decent, strong communication is specificity.”
Perpetually changing the strategy and considering these terrorists victims of a poor job market is not going to bring safety to any of the thousands of displaced Christians throughout the Middle East.
In an interview with Newsmax, Pete Hoekstra, a former Michigan congressman who once chaired the House Intelligence Committee, and Johnnie Moore, former senior vice president for communications at Liberty University and author of the forthcoming book “Defying ISIS,” agreed that putting boots on the ground, along with sending lethal weaponry to our native allies, is the only option.
“We’re witnessing a vacuum of power in the region that is allowing literally the most horrific actors in modern times to have all the power and all the opportunity that they want to exhibit as much horror as they want,” Moore said.
Refusing to acknowledge the Islamic State’s motivation and its ultimate goal — a religious caliphate of global proportion — will only make that vacuum bigger.
In a Fox News Sunday interview Feb. 22, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told host John Roberts that acknowledging any tie between Islam and the Islamic State gives the group too much “dignity,” claiming they are “hijacking” a religion of “peace and brotherhood.”
While there are peaceful Muslims who denounce the actions of this more violent and extreme sect of the Islamic faith, the terror organization’s foundation is religious nonetheless.
“(The Islamic State has) once again committed horrific violence in establishing their religious beliefs,” Todd Daniels, International Christian Concern regional manager for the Middle East, told the Christian Post in response to the 21 executed Christians.
The best help and hope we can bring to all those persecuted because of the Islamic State is not jobs for terrorists, Harf. The best response is to acknowledge the group’s central theological motivation and move forward with clear and pointed action.
GOINS-PHILLIPS is the opinion editor.