Another mass murder in the name of the Islamic jihad, this time in Manchester.
The New York Times counted 13 deadly Islamic terrorist attacks in Europe alone over the past two years. The worst was in Paris on the night of November 13, 2015 in which 130 people were murdered in six coordinated attacks. The Manchester suicide bombing, in which “only” 22 were killed (but then, half of these were children) was the fourth deadliest. In the same time period there were several wholesale jihad-inspired murders in the US, and here in Israel literally hundreds of “retail” terrorist attacks in which 49 people have been killed and 737 injured.
Western responses to this onslaught have consistently missed the point. But before we can evaluate them, we need to ask why the jihadists are killing us. The reasons may not be what we think.
The objective of the jihad is to change our behavior and our society to move it toward an Islamic future. The ultimate goal is that all the nations of the world will live under Islamic rule, according to shari’a (Islamic law). Christians and Jews will be permitted to live as dhimmis (protected people), with limited rights and paying the special tax, the jizya. No other form of religious worship will be permitted, and “polytheists” or “idolaters” like Hindus may have no choice but to convert to Islam or die. Muslims will tell you that this is for our own good, because Islamic society is the best and most just of all possible arrangements, but those of us accustomed to Jewish, Christian or humanistic (Enlightenment) values might disagree.
Jihadists understand that Muslim armies are not capable of conquering the West by force of arms and imposing shari’a. So they are employing a more complicated strategy. Part of it is to increase Muslim populations in the West by migration and by daw’a (persuasion). The massive migrations into Europe, which are primarily of Muslims, may be in part a deliberate strategy and in part a side effect of conflicts and economic pressures in the Middle East and Africa, but they have become the engine of the jihad. Some elements in Europe even encouraged migration, seeing it as an answer to the low birthrates among native Europeans. No matter – the Muslims are there, and are keeping, even intensifying, their commitment to the struggle to propagate Islam.
Even a country like France, which may have as much as 10% of its population Muslims is far from having a Muslim majority which could impose shari’a by democratic means (although probably it would be a case of “one man, one vote, one time.”) So the jihad has to progress by persuading non-Muslims to accept Islam.
Some number of them can be persuaded by the attractions offered by Islam – beautiful mosques, fervent believers – fervent Christians are a rarity in post-Christian Europe – the mystique of an “eastern” faith, the desire to belong to something supra-national, and similar things. We can call this “positive persuasion,” persuasion by the positive properties of the faith.
There is another kind of persuasion, however, which we can call “negative persuasion.” It works by creating pain and fear in the subject, and then presenting the acceptance of Islam as a way to ameliorate the distress. It is similar to the way some military training regimens break the spirit of recruits with cruelty, fatigue and humiliation, and then present the surrender of self to the organization as a way to regain self-respect. Negative persuasion works by inducing Stockholm Syndrome in its subjects, who identify with someone who oppresses them in order to stop the oppression.
Islamic terrorism is a form of negative persuasion. In order to be effective, it must be cruel enough to shock the subjects, which is one reason that Muslim terrorists often choose targets where there are children, like the Manchester bombing or the many acts of Palestinian Arab terrorists in Israel against schools, school buses, kindergartens, discos, and so on. A terrorist act needs to be well-publicized, and is randomized in such a way that an average person will think “that could have been me, or my child.” It is intended to show the power and superiority of Islam, so victims are sometimes humiliated or even tortured. Sometimes, in order to illustrate the terrorist’s power of life or death, terrorists make a selection among their victims, and kill only Jews or non-Muslims, release women, and so on.
A successful major attack is usually followed by a wave of conversions to Islam, as those people who are susceptible to Stockholm Syndrome follow their irrational but emotionally powerful impulse to align themselves with the terrorists, whom they – perhaps subconsciously – feel will no longer hurt them.
In many, perhaps most, people, the syndrome is not strong enough to make them become Muslims. But it does make them more sensitive to Muslim demands and concerns; to accept limitations on speech and expression (as in the case of the Danish Cartoons) that would not otherwise be acceptable; or to take on strongly pro-Muslim political opinions. Much of the staff of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, for example, regularly expresses opinions that are so anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian that the paper is sometimes called “the Palestinian newspaper published in Hebrew.”
Terrorism as negative persuasion is a deliberate strategy used by the PLO. Recently, an acquaintance said that he always worried whenever there were negotiations between Israel and the PLO, because “that’s when the buses start blowing up.” At the same time that they are negotiating, the PLO ramps up terrorism in order to send the message that Israelis would be better off if they submit to its demands.
Given this analysis, how should we react to terrorism like the Manchester bombing? Well, here is a classic example of how not to, from an editorial in the inimitable NY Times (and similar sentiments appeared throughout the “responsible” media):
Meanwhile, as hard as it is amid the shock and the mourning, it is important to recognize this attack for what it is: an attempt to shake Britain — and, by extension, the rest of Europe and the West — to its core, and to provoke a thirst for vengeance and a desire for absolute safety so intense, it will sweep away the most cherished democratic values and the inclusiveness of diverse societies.
The Islamic State wants nothing more than to watch Western democracies embrace its mad version of a holy war pitting Muslims against Christians, the newly arrived against others. This has been the goal of other attacks in Europe. …
In Britain, as in the rest of Europe and in the United States, it is critical that immigrants, especially Muslims, are not stigmatized. As Richard Barrett, former director of global counterterrorism operations at MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, said, “engaging the [Muslim] community and letting the community inform us” is one way “to understand why people do this” and to prevent future attacks.
The editorial is wrong by 180 degrees about the reason for the attack. The last thing the terrorists want is to “provoke a thirst for vengeance.” The opposite: they want to paralyze us with fear so that we will not dare to act to reduce immigration of Muslims, or even to speak freely about Islam. What destroys our “cherished democratic values” is not fighting back, but submission.
The writer warns us not to criticize Islam, Muslims or immigrants; indeed, as Barrett says, let them define the significance of this event for us! And you can bet that they will define it – by explaining that Britain has treated Muslims badly in Iraq and Afghanistan and therefore had it coming, just as Osama Bin Laden blamed 9/11 on American support for Israel.
“The inclusiveness of diverse societies,” which the writer places on the level of “our most cherished democratic values,” is actually a measure of instability when what we are inclusive of are Muslims and Islam.
There is a great deal of concern about whether murderer Salman Abedi was working for Da’esh, which claimed credit for his act. The Times writes that “It is still unclear whether Mr. Abedi acted alone or as part of a network.” And then it continues, “No one yet knows what motivated him to commit such a horrific deed.”
Whether he acted alone is perhaps important to counterterrorism professionals, whose job it is to stop killers like Abedi, but it is irrelevant to the second question, whose answer is obvious.
What motivated him was Islam.