The denial of the reality of jihad is thicker than ever, even as jihadis advance around the world. And it endangers us all.
Former CIA officer John MaguireÂ revealed this weekÂ that the CIA was blindsided by the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which now controls so much of Syria and Iraq and has designs on a great deal more territory. Maguire attributed the CIA’s underestimating of ISIL’s threat to The Company’s reduced presence in Iraq:Â “This is a glaring example of the erosion of our street craft and our tradecraft and our capability to operate in a hard place. The U.S. taxpayer is not getting their money’s worth.”
But that isn’t the whole story. Another reason why the CIA was completely surprised by ISIL’s advance was because the Obama Administration has so thoroughly deemphasized the jihad threat, and loudly and repeatedly proclaimed that al Qaeda was the only jihad group — and was, for its part, “on the ropes.”Â ISIL, an offshoot of al Qaeda in a country where Obama was in a hurry to declare victory and get out was unlikely to be the focus of sustained or serious analysis.
The willful ignorance is all-pervasive. It is a fundamental dogma of our age that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Western countries are enthusiastic democratic pluralists who reject and abhor not only jihad terrorism, but the elements of Sharia that are at variance with otherwise universally held principles of human rights. This dogma keeps running up against the buzz-saw of reality, but that never seems to make a difference to authorities.
And so it was this week thatÂ the UK’s Daily Mail notedÂ that the Metropolitan Police’s Assistant Commissioner, Cressida Dick, said of Britain’s Muslim communities thatÂ “there were many cases where ‘warning signs’ about extremists were not brought to the attention of authorities.Â She also indicated some Muslims were too accepting of radical views, saying it was the police’s ‘greatest challenge’ to make them ‘wholly hostile to violent extremism.’”
How could this be? After all, a core assumption of British intelligence and law enforcement officials is that Muslim communities on the Sceptered IsleÂ unambiguouslyÂ oppose “violent extremism,” except, of course, for that pesky and ever-present tiny minority of extremists. So why were Muslims sometimes not bringing potential jihadis to the attention of authorities? Of course the obvious reason for this, and for why some Muslims in Britain are “too accepting of radical views,” is because they agree with those “radical views” and consider them to be authentic Islam. But that prospect is so horrifying in its implications that British officials do not dare face it.
Indeed, it is virtually universally accepted that Islam is inherently peaceful, and that only the extremists who misunderstand it (and vicious Islamophobes) think otherwise. So it was that at the University of Calgary, university officials ignored a professor’s warnings about potential jihadists on campus — after all, such a suggestion is “Islamophobic,” is it not?