David Aikman

Virtually every major thinker who has written on the subject of war—from Germany’s Clausewitz to ancient China’s Sun Tzu—has agreed on one main dictum: “Know your enemy.” Understood in that thought is the concept of correctly naming your enemy. Yet a strange thing has happened as the Obama administration has taken up the challenge of standing up to global terrorism that first fell upon President George W. Bush after the calamitous events of 9/11 in 2001.

Every American with a morsel of common sense has figured out that al-Qaeda and its global franchise of like-minded terrorists have been inspired by an Islam-based ideology that seeks -- in the name of a global Islamic caliphate -- to overthrow the U.S. and the West, democracy, and all the individual rights upon which America was founded.

Every new, turgid, and tedious propaganda blast by Osama bin Laden’s number two, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri...every boastful threat by foreign terrorist groups or by recently apprehended Islamic terrorists in the U.S., makes it clear that terrorist acts plotted against Americans have been inspired by the Muslim call for jihad (which actually means “struggle” but is often translated as “holy war”). The Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, who had received training with the Taliban in Pakistan, described himself simply as a “Muslim soldier.” The prime suspect in last year’s Fort Hood massacre of 13 Americans, Major Hasan, had ordered a business card that described him as SoA (“Soldier of Allah”). Hasan had been in email contact with American-born terrorist organizer Anwar al-Awlaki.

Now what were these fellows thinking of when they planned their dastardly deeds? Was it Zen Buddhism, or Hindu mysticism? I don’t think so. Like Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 hijackers, they were carefully acting out Islamic ideas found in the Koran and in recent Islamic writings with the hope of spending eternity in the Muslim paradise surrounded by dark-eyed virgins.

There seem to be only about three Americans who doubt this: President Obama, White House aide for counter-terrorism John Brennan, and Attorney General Eric Holder. When Holder was asked in May at a congressional hearing by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) whether Hasan, Shahzad, and Nigerian failed Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab might have been inspired by radical Islam, Holder repeatedly said that there had been “a variety” of factors. He flatly refused to say “radical Islam” or any form of Islam had possibly been the ideological inspiration behind the actions of these individuals.

David Aikman

David Aikman is an award-winning print and broadcast journalist, a best-selling author, and a foreign affairs commentator.