Yesterday, yet another tragic attack left four Marines and a Navy sailor dead in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A 24 year-old Kuwaiti named Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez fired more than a dozen rounds at a Marine Corps recruiting center, wounding a Marine. Abdulazeez then drove seven miles to a Navy Operations Support Center, where he rammed his car through a gate and opened fire, killing four Marines and wounding two other people, one of whom later died. In the ensuing gunfight, Abdulazeez was fatally shot by law enforcement.
While details are still emerging in the wake of the chaos, one thing is clear: our officials still are too afraid to say that this attack—and others like it—are linked to Islam. It’s still unclear how a man whose father was investigated for possible donations to terrorist organizations managed to obtain several guns (this is a recurring issue in the United States), but very few of our politicians have actually had the courage to admit that we are in a war with radical Islam. President Obama still is too afraid to link ISIS to Islam, which is a strange thing to deny about a group that calls itself “The Islamic State”, announced a new caliphate, and openly wants to impose Sharia law on a global scale.
While terrorists obviously are not all Muslim, we can’t afford to keep pretending that we are not engaged in a war against radical Islam. How many atrocities do Muslim extremists have to perpetrate before we take the blinders off? Let’s examine the facts:
- During the 1972 Olympic Games, an Islamic terrorist group murdered eleven Israeli olympians after holding the athletes hostage.
- In 1983, a suicide bombing killed 63 and injured 120 at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
- In 1993, a series of bomb attacks killed at least 257 people in Mumbai.
- In 1998, two bombings (coordinated by al-Qaeda) at the U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya killed 224 people and left more than four thousand injured.
- In 2000, the American destroyer USS Cole was attacked while at port in Yemen, killing 17 American sailors and wounding 39.
- On 9/11, al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial airliners and deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The fourth airplane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. 2,977 people were killed (not including the nineteen hijackers) in a single day.
- In 2002, a group with ties to al-Qaeda detonated three bombs in Bali, killing 202 tourists.
- In 2004, a civilian ferry in the Phillippines was bombed by a radical Islamic group, resulting in the deaths of 116 people.
- During morning rush hour in Madrid on March 11, 2004 a series of suicide bombers with links to al-Qaeda left 191 dead and 1,800 injured.
- On 7/7, 2005 a coordinated series of suicide bombs during morning rush hour in London resulted in 53 deaths and more than 770 injuries.
- In 2006 several pressure cooker bombs were detonated on trains in Mumbai. As a result, 209 died and 700 were injured.
- In 2008 a militant Islamic group from Pakistan carried out a series of attacks over four days in Mumbai. Approximately 164 people died, while more than 600 were injured.
With only four exceptions, I limited that list to attacks that killed a hundred people or more. The sad reality is that, without being selective, the list of attacks by radical Muslims is far more comprehensive. Even though radical Islamic terrorists have been carrying out attacks around the world for centuries, we still find ourselves unable to recognize our actual enemy in this seemingly endless war.
Islam is a few hundred years younger than the other Abrahamic religions and as a result is largely in the same stage as Catholicism in the Middle Ages. The issue with that is that the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition took place in a time before global transportation and communication. If the Catholic Church had had the ability to impose its will on the entire world, it certainly would have (and almost succeeded anyway). In an age where actions can have worldwide repercussions, a religion that is unable and unwilling to change is dangerous—particularly when that religion openly advocates violence against apostates.
One of the central doctrines of Islam is that it is the last, and therefore final, word of God. In other words, the teachings cannot be altered in any way. That’s a problem when the Quran has verses that in no uncertain terms instruct followers to spread Islam however possible, including through violence:
Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not.
— Quran 2:21
That’s not an isolated verse either. The use of violence against non-Muslims is repeatedly said to be the duty of devout Muslims:
And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers.
— Quran 2:191
The book, worshiped by Muslims as the inerrant, unalterable word of the “Prophet” Muhammad (who, incidentally, married a nine year-old when he was 53) even is specific enough to say that it is the duty of Muslims to forcefully spread Islam until everyone is a Muslim:
And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers.
— Quran 2:193
Although the Quran isn’t necessarily any more violent or immoral than the Bible is, the Catholic Church has at least calmed down enough that people aren’t killed because they are not Catholic or because they refuse to submit to Catholic traditions. At least the Catholic Church can say that it doesn’t try to have authors killed because of works of fiction. Radical Catholics don’t murder people who make critical films. Only a Muslim country would be backwards enough for blogger Raif Badawi to be sentenced to a decade of imprisonment and a thousand public lashes, for the “crime” of apostasy.
Raif Badawi should be celebrated as a wonderful satirical and brilliant writer rather than reviled and sentenced to prison for his work. If Saudi Arabia wants to prove they have moved beyond the Middle Ages to join the ranks of the modern world they need to release him immediately, and also indicate their support for free thought and open discussion. Raif’s voice needs to continue to be heard, for the good of his own country.
— Lawrence Krauss
The fatwa on Salman Rushdie was actually a minor overreaction, when compared with some of the even more insane actions by radical Muslims—such as rioting, bombing an embassy, or committing massacres—and these attacks were in response to cartoons. In 2015, three atheist bloggers in Bangladesh have been savagely hacked to death in broad daylight by machete-wielding Islamists, with little to no attempt to punish the murderers.
In 2013, the Pew Research Center surveyed more than 38,000 Muslims worldwide. Most responded that it’s their religious duty to convert non-Muslims to Islam:
Even more disturbing is the percent of Muslims who said that it’s sometimes/often justified to target civilians with suicide bombs:
When compared to a 2011 Pew survey of American Muslims, we see that 28% of Muslims worldwide responded that suicide bombing in defense of Islam is sometimes justified, while “only” 19% of American Muslims think that it is sometimes acceptable.
While it’s true that the majority of Muslims don’t agree with the use of violence or think that it’s their duty to convert people to Islam, these minorities are not exactly trivial. In December 2012 the Pew Research Center estimated that there are 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. That means that, without even considering the probability that at least some of the survey respondents weren’t honest about their beliefs, 28% of Muslims think suicide bombing is sometimes justified. The fact that (if the Pew data is extrapolated) 448 million people think that suicide bombing is okay is terrifying. Even if much more conservative estimates are made—for example, that only one percent of Muslims agree that suicide bombing is justified—that still would equate to 16 million people. While most Muslims live nonviolent lives, it’s ludicrous to suggest that this is a religion of peace.
When groups like ISIS decapitate prisoners for being apostates, while saying “God is Great” in Arabic (and now use children as executioners), it is truly difficult to understand how the President of the United States can pretend that these dangerous terrorist organizations are anything but explicitly Islamic. If we continue to cower behind the false security of our political correctness, we’ll never even recognize that our real enemy is radical Islam.