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CAIR Backgrounder: Islam Has No Ties to Terrorism


[Parvez Ahmed is chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.]

Five years into President Bush's declaration of the "global war on terrorism," the latest State Department report shows a 25 percent increase in worldwide terrorist attacks over the previous year. Terrorism is an abominable tactics, not an ideology. Thus declaring "war" against it, while politically expeditious, is in reality temerarious, as it only attacks the symptom without addressing the cause.

Global patterns show that terrorism is not exclusive to any one group. Between 1980 and 2003, the world's leader in suicide terrorism has been the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a group that recruits from the predominantly Hindu Tamil population in Sri Lanka. According the Terrorism Knowledge Base (, between 1968 and 2007, the largest purveyors of terrorism have been groups affiliated with communist/socialist or nationalist/separatist ideology.

Despite this, Islam continues to be conflated with terrorism.

The intertwining of political rhetoric with religious imagery by groups like al Qaeda certainly precipitates the notion of some intrinsic link between Islam and terrorism.

This perception is greatly assisted by a veritable cottage industry of neo-experts pontificating with great certainty about the cause-effect relationship between Islam and terrorism. Such mischaracterization is at odds with the reality that Islam unequivocally condemns terrorism and advocates the preservation of life, honor and dignity of all human life as a supreme endeavor. Thus, terrorism even when carried out in the name or defense of Islam cannot be called jihad but is rather an unholy war. Robert Pape in his seminal work Dying to Win contends that military occupation, not religious ideology, is the primary enabler of terrorism.

Douglas Streusand and Harry Tunnell of the National Defense University in a recent paper argue that characterizing terrorism committed by Muslims as "Islamic" alienates billions of peace loving Muslims worldwide. Using terms like jihadist to describe terrorist misrepresent legitimate Islamic concepts of jihad, which to most Muslims mean striving for good. Calling terrorists jihadists also legitimizes an un-Islamic activity in the eyes of the disenfranchised Muslims, thus aiding recruitment. Developing an alternative vocabulary is a necessary but not sufficient step towards addressing the problem of terrorism.

The State Department report cites continued instability in Iraq as one of the major reasons for the increases in terrorist acts. Terrorism is indeed a consequence of wars of choice such as Iraq, but it also has historic links to other wars of necessity such as the Cold War.

During the Cold War, U.S. financing, recruitment and arming of foreign fighters to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan led not only to Soviet retreat but also its demise. However, the enabling of a culture of drugs to finance the war and the deliberate injection of religious rhetoric to motivate recruits had unintended consequences. Compounding the problem, unlike post World War II Europe, no Marshall Plan was enacted to rebuild Afghanistan where out of a population of roughly 15 million, a million Afghans had died, an additional 1 ½ million were maimed, and five million had become refugees. Amid this death and destruction, with a country littered in drugs and guns, violence became law enabling terrorists to carve out safe havens.

Failed states, like occupations, can also breed and incubate terrorism.

To contain terrorism, if not eliminate it, the way forward is to engage in common-sense methods of intelligence gathering without criminalizing entire groups of people, military strategies without resorting to indiscriminate bombings and enabling the emergence of democratic and civic societies by eliminating foreign occupations. Addressing grievances cannot automatically be dismissed as appeasement. Britain succeeded in disarming the IRA by engaging them, not ignoring its demands. In fact, the conversion of terrorist groups into peaceful political movements has often occurred when their rationale for violence ceased to exist.

In a recent Washington Post article, Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter, called upon moderates, including Muslims, to from a global alliance "to terminate the political conflicts that spawn terrorism." This alliance is only possible when American foreign policy changes course to reflect America's values of liberty and justice for all, with an unwavering commitment to dialogue and diplomacy.


CAIR-FL: Hate Crimes Are Stains on Community


Ignorant people with spray paint and matches cannot destroy a society built on the principle of equality.

And yet they try.

On July 6, the Sarasota County home of a Bosnian family of five was set afire. Painted in red on the floor of were the words "Kill All Arabs."

On July 16, vandals painted swastikas, the words "white power" and other hate-filled messages on the new home of a North Port family.

Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies must find and prosecute those who committed the crimes.

Emotional harm and property damage were inflicted on the two families.

Also, Sarasota County and North Port had their images marred by the hate crimes.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations offered a $10,000 reward Friday for information about the arson that destroyed the Avila Avenue home of Hasib Sejfovic, his wife and three children. The family moved from Bosnia in 2001.

"These people aren't even Arab," Ahmed Bedier, the organization's executive director told Latisha Gray, a Herald-Tribune reporter. "That shows how smart the people are who did this."

Gov. Charlie Crist on Friday wrote the council, "I am saddened by any incident of hate targeting Floridians of the Muslim faith. We will not tolerate such acts. We are an open society, and one that takes great pleasure in our diverse communities of faith."

In North Port, the racist messages were spray-painted on the home of John Rodriquez, Montique Boykin and their children.

City police also recently found racist graffiti on a bridge.

"Typically, it's just juveniles, more so than an organized hate group," Police Chief Terry Lewis told Herald-Tribune reporter John Davis. "When it's someone's home, we take it more personal."

As a community, we all should.


Breaking News: Feds Raid Muslim Charities in Michigan


Federal agents are raiding today the Dearborn offices of two charities suspected of having ties to terrorist groups in the Middle East.

A Dearborn police officer guarded the entrance to the office of the Goodwill Charitable Organization, a fund-raising office established by the Martyrs Foundation in Dearborn, on Warren Avenue, tucked between a grocery store and an import store. . .

Federal agents are also raiding the Al-Mabarrat Charitable Organization, which has a Dearborn office on Schaefer Road, north of Warren Avenue.

Agents with the FBI, IRS, and the U.S. Secret Service were seen hauling away files and placing them into a van outside the office. Al-Mabarrat, whose headquarters is based in Lebanon, has held fund-raisers in metro Detroit in recent years.

Also, the FBI is holding a meeting this afternoon with Muslim leaders at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights to discuss the raids, according to Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

The meeting will include Imam Mohammed Elahi, who heads the mosque, and Walid.


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