Monday, February 13, 2006

Cartoon Jihad: Who Won?

Who "won" the cartoon row? American Future points to an Olivier Guitta article in The Weekly Standard that suggests the West, even while standing firm on its values, is the loser.

By inflaming a controversy such as the current one, the Muslim Brotherhood attempts to widen the rift between the West and Islam. It specifically targets Muslim communities living in the West, aiming to radicalize their moderate elements by continually pointing out the supposed "Islamophobia" all around them. Right on cue, the Saudi daily Al Watan reports that the Council of Islamic Countries decided in December to create a worldwide Islamophobia watchdog organization that will lobby for the adoption of "anti-Islamophobia" laws, as well as promoting a common position against states or organizations it sees as attacking Islam.

[...] The cartoon jihad has been a godsend for Islamists throughout the world. For the past year, Muslim lobbies in Europe have been pushing for the adoption of blasphemy laws by the United Nations, the European Union, and the nations of Europe. Predictably, Qaradawi endorsed this cause in his sermon of February 3 : "The governments must be pressured to demand that the U.N. adopt a clear resolution or law that categorically prohibits affronts to prophets." Like the cartoon jihad, it is a ploy straight out of the Muslim Brotherhood playbook—and, most worryingly, a move likely to have strong appeal to Muslim moderates.

Sad, if true. It's undeniable that this furor, whether by design or accident, would force a great many hitherto silent Muslims in the West to come off the fence and take a side. But I think the overall behavior of the non-Muslim West was exemplary -- no riots, no mosque graffiti. I hope the ones who come down off the fence come down on the side of freedom.

But what about this notion of a "playbook"? Guitta cites "[a] new book ... by the Swiss investigative reporter Sylvain Besson," which "publicizes the discovery and contents of a Muslim Brotherhood strategy document entitled 'The Project,' hitherto little known outside the highest counterterrorism circles." The book is not yet available in English, so I can't judge of its contents.

Besson's book, La conquête de l'Occident: Le projet secret des Islamistes (The Conquest of the West: The Islamists' Secret Project), recounts how, in November 2001, Swiss authorities acting on a special request from the White House entered the villa of a man named Yusuf Nada in Campione, a small Italian enclave on the eastern shore of Lake Lugano in Switzerland. Nada was the treasurer of the Al Taqwa bank, which allegedly funneled money to al Qaeda. In the course of their search of Nada's house, investigators stumbled onto "The Project," an unsigned, 14-page document dated December 1, 1982.

One of the few Western officials to have studied the document before the publication of Besson's book is Juan Zarate, named White House counterterrorism czar in May 2005 and before that assistant secretary of the treasury for terrorist financing. Zarate calls "The Project" the Muslim Brotherhood's master plan for "spreading their political ideology," which in practice involves systematic support for radical Islam. Zarate told Besson, "The Muslim Brotherhood is a group that worries us not because it deals with philosophical or ideological ideas but because it defends the use of violence against civilians."

"The Project" is a roadmap for achieving the installation of Islamic regimes in the West via propaganda, preaching, and, if necessary, war. It's the same idea expressed by Sheikh Qaradawi in 1995 when he said, "We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America, not by the sword but by our Dawa [proselytizing]."

On the one hand, I'm highly skeptical of this. Doesn't it smack of an Islamic version of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion"? Even if the document itself turns out not to be forged, what does it mean? Is it one person's pipe dream, or the script of a mastermind's plot that is in full swing?

If there is such an Islamist strategy -- and there needn't be a coordinated effort to make these things happen; they can happen even without a guiding hand to force them along -- it makes me think even less of Al Gore's recent forray into Saudi Arabia and the things he said there.

Gore delivered his speech from a conference that banned Denmark in the midst of an ongoing Islamist propaganda offensive against the west over issues of free speech, freedom of religion, and universal rights.

Which also makes me wonder about the people who insist that the immediate reaction to 9/11 would have been the same in America if Gore, not Bush, had been in the White House. Care to think again?