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  • The Shahzad Email and the Need to Understand Violent Islamism

    Times Square Bombing Suspect Faisal Shahzad

    An email purportedly written by Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad four years ago reveals that he was motivated to attack the U.S. partly by radical Islamist ideology.

    In the email, Shahzad questions democracy (which he refers to as “human made laws”) and favors an Islamic system of governance in which the state is ruled by Islamic law.

    He further criticizes U.S. policy for allowing Pakistan to be ruled by “dictatorship.” (Never mind that under former President Pervez Musharraf — who was leading Pakistan in 2006 — the Islamist political parties thrived more than ever). Shahzad then goes on to quote several verses of the Koran and seeks to motivate his readership to rise up against Western powers with violence.

    We do not yet know which organizations or individuals may have contributed to the development of Shahzad’s violent Islamist worldview, or whether he may have been largely self-radicalized through the internet. What is clear, though, is that we must understand and take more seriously the Islamist ideology and narrative that he spells out and that drives much of the terrorism directed at the U.S. and other nations.

    At the same time, we should not confuse Islamism (political Islam) with the religion of Islam itself. Many Muslims would not associate themselves with Islamist ideologies. In Pakistan, for example, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), an Islamist political party, has received less than 5 percent of the vote in most elections held in Pakistan over the last three decades. The JI was established in the 1940s by Maulana Maududi, an Islamic scholar who came of age as British colonial rule was ending in the Subcontinent and Hindu-Muslim communal tensions ran high. Maududi believed the only way Muslims could safeguard their political interests was to return to a pure and unadulterated Islam. He denounced nationalism and secular politics and held that the “Islamic state” was a panacea for all problems facing Muslims.

    By contrast, Pakistan’s founding father and leader of the Muslim Conference, Muhammed Ali Jinnah, supported the idea of Islam serving as a unifying force, but envisioned the country functioning largely as a secular and multiethnic democratic state.

    Before Shahzad’s attempt to bomb Times Square, most would have said the history of Pakistan’s birth and its struggle with Islamist narratives had little to do with U.S. national security. Shahzad’s email reveals, however, that even as other troubles may have been brewing in his life, the Islamist narrative helped motivate him to commit terror and thus will likely compel others to follow suit.

    Rather than brush under the carpet the fact that these ideologies exist and motivate terrorism, we need to understand them. The next step is to engage them with a different narrative that highlights the values of personal freedom and responsibility, civic engagement and peaceful protest, and religious pluralism and dialogue. This must be done both abroad by Muslim communities themselves and at home where Americans need to better understand the differences between political Islam and the religion of Islam.

    Only by raising awareness on these issues will we be able to combat the threat of terrorism and reduce the appeal of violent Islamist ideologies.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to The Shahzad Email and the Need to Understand Violent Islamism

    1. Billie says:

      How doesn't the politics of islam come from the religion of islam? How does the teachings of the Muslim religion reflect equal rights and respect to all God's creation?

    2. MLP, Bellingham says:

      Violent Islam is just Muslims being Muslims. Israel and Christians are the enemies to Islam, and Allah tells them to kill the infidels, (non-Muslims). Islam also utilizes "treaties" and times of "peace" to gain strength and then will break the agreements for Jihad when their numbers and weaponary give them the opportunity. Violant Islam yes, this is who all Muslims are directed to be and do.

    3. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      We can't say "radical Islamist". Don't we remember Eric Holder refused to agree

      with that term. Obama and his other lackeys refuse to use that term. The Foundry is not being "politicaly correct". Better watch out for Obama reactions.

    4. Historyscoper says:

      Where did Islam come from, and how did it get so supremacist, intolerant, violent, and scary? Why does it call itself a Deen or complete way of life, not just a religion? Find out by studying Islam's complete online free with the Historyscoper and see for yourself how deep the rabbit hole goes. To get started click http://go.to/islamhistory

    5. Norma from Nebraska says:

      So this guy obviously disliked the form of government in America BEFORE he was given citizenship? One has to ask why he would go to all the work to "become one of us" if not to try to destroy us from within!

      It's a no-brainer . . . . so what is holding Eric Holder up from declaring that he is indeed a terrorist who spews Islamic beliefs to support his position!

    6. Steve S. California says:

      "Before Shahzad’s attempt to bomb Times Square, most would have said the history of Pakistan’s birth and its struggle with Islamist narratives had little to do with U.S. national security"

      You're kidding me, right? With Pakistan as a key player in nuclear proliferation, the security concerns of an unstable government with nukes that could easily fall into the wrong hands, and the activities of the taliban and others in country, such a statement really misses the mark. And as for the theory that Islam and Islamism are two different creatures, this view ignores the very nature of Islam itself, a system which governs and has provisions for, all human activities. The understanding required is what does Islam teach, and what are people doing. If you don't read the Kuran, and see what is ocurring worldwide, such "understanding" is fruitless. We all know that there are good folks everywhere, but that doesn't lessen the threat or where it comes from. Education beyond what the average citizen reaches is essential if we are to survive. I could go on at length, but will only do so if someone really desires it.

    7. james , nev says:

      Whats new? When you love your donkey,camel more than your wife, kids, something is wrong! Aint me!

    8. Billie says:

      Back in 2002, my child brought home a school assignment: Write an essay noting differences between Jesus Christ and Mohammad. My child was given a page on each, basically summarizing them. I read it also. I, myself wrote down the differences. The following is my opinion regarding what I have read and learned previously that drew me to conclude the following:

      Mohammad became known as a prophet from childhood when he suffered a stomach condition and an angel appeared. Time had faded but Mohammad came back when an army of followers was convinced Mohammad was the prophet of Allah. Mohammad took leadership in a sort of cult of people who lived and preached in peace, harmony, loyalty, honesty, respect, good will to all only applied within this cult… On their travels through the mountains, those who opposed Mohammad were killed.

      One part I appreciated in high regard, spoke of his wife whom it had been written, was a beautiful, strong and wealthy woman. She insisted Mohammad allow only one wife per husband as she was solely his. She insisted respect, rights and freedoms for women and during her life, Mohammad made it so. Once his wife passed, so did all that she had done for women. A sincere follower of the true God, a perfect love story and a start to human decency, human civil rights, would've carried out his wife's insistences for women.

      Mohammad decided it was Allah who willed Mohammad to kill God's creation of those who would not follow Mohammad. His people were taught dedication and loyalty to each other but if necessary, deceive to achieve their goal to convert the world. Jesus taught honesty always. He spoke of deceit to be wrong and wrong to be. Jesus Christ taught love, tolerance. Patience. Human dignity, respect for God's creation of all mankind. To turn the other cheek over insignificant ignorance but always defend your life God has given. Keep strong to God's will and don't be provoked into government'sl. Jesus never preached a religion or forced or stole or killed or had anyone killed. Jesus is the Son of God. The way, the truth and the light.

      Mohammad taught ruling of mankind, Jesus taught God's gift to mankind of natural born freedom and God's will for mankind to rule themselves, individually under God's law, which became America's civil law, fitting for even the weakest of mankind… Doesn't this make it obvious who of the two wants world peace and freedom for all mankind? Who respects mankind?

      Which came first, American born non-believers or foreign born? Why anyone allowed foreign non-believers in this country was absolutely against God's will. It's somewhere in the bible.

      There is alot more to, of and about, Jesus Christ. As there may also be, Mohammad. There are direct contrasts and distortions in the two separate beliefs of the true and living God. Jesus is the way, the truth and the light.

      The bible contains violent events of what took place in the middle east, before the birth of Jesus Christ who's birth was foretold. Jesus is about love and peace amongst all mankind. It is up to the individual of mankind to be the same. ALL OF MANKIND HAS THE ABILITY! at the freedom of mankind's choice. The bible contains no instruction to violate human lives, it only writes of VIOLENT EVENTS that already took place. Jesus taught human strength from within. Mohammad couldn't let it be recognized or he wouldn't have been able to rule.

      The Koran contains reasons for violence, human death and justifies it. The goal is to convert the world. Which is obvious as they make their home in a land they have identified as hell and the people they identify as “white devil.” It was wrong to allow these infidels into this country. Even more wrong to make exception to them! WEAK!

    9. Billie says:


      I know my opinion is controversial, but it's the truth. America needs to open their eyes along with the rest of the world. Will you please post my comment? I don't have much to lose, my family is protected. Thank you either way. I understand you're (Heritage) need for protection also. If you can I would be very grateful.

    10. Christie S. Californ says:

      Steve in California, I take encouragement from your statement, because most of what I see is Americans so sensitive to past grievances against non-majority groups in our nation's history, that they have a knee-jerk reaction to any suggestion that we should critically investigate a religion. And I don't mean to find out whether it is worthy for one to believe (although that's not a bad idea). But rather, whether it is a threat to others. Never mind that there is ample evidence that a desire to overpower and wipe out all other religions seems to be part of the very fabric of Islam. From my readings on this topic, I don't see a difference between Islam and radical Islam. You couldn't base a statement to the contrary on the sum of their own holy writings, which as a whole, indicate the exact opposite. Usually a case is made on the basis of statements from adherents to the faith who assure outsiders that they only believe in a "peaceful Islam." This is not convincing for multiple reasons. First, there is Islamic scripture which although decrying untruths as a whole, completely permits deception or lying for purposes of furthering Allah's cause. So they can lie about being peaceful, Muslims, as long as it is to dupe and further infiltrate from within a country like the US. Which so far is working beautifully. Second, after reading at length about Islam from a variety of sources, when Muslims say they believe in a peaceful form of Islam, I think they must be in one of three ideological positions. Either they have a peaceful approach life and especially other religions even though their own holy writings and traditions is totally violent and oppressive (which means they are being peaceful in spite of Islam and not because of it….not persuasive as to Islamic peacefulness…). Or, they are not even familiar with their own Quran to know how violent it is (recent surveys have indicated that more than 9 out of 10 self-professing Muslims don't even know what's in their own Book)-again not a convincing fact in favor of viewing this belief system as a peaceful one. Or three, they are engaging in the practice that I mentioned above (and I forget what the Muslim word for it is…) of lying to further Islam. So whenever Muslims claim to be peaceful, I wonder which of those three categories they fall into. Islamic writings and an investigation of Sharia Law shows exactly why Muslims have to constantly keep repeating that Islam is a religion of peace-namely to try to explain all the evidence to the contrary. So, saying that Islam is peaceful is like saying that you are Skinny-Fat. Not logically possible. And it surely isn't because the media is wrongly portraying this rellgion. They bend over backwards to whitewash Islamic violence and it still comes across to people exactly as it is-a totally violent belief system. Forgive me for sounding repetitive here, but perhaps I do so out of reaction to the endless mantra of Islamic peacefulness from people who haven't bothered to even study it. My daughter's 8th grade social studies teacher is a perfect example. Never mind the fact that making a value statement on a public school study guide such as "Islam is a peaceful religion" is a violation of the oft-cited Separation of Church and State. I asked her one question, "Are you familiar with CAIR?" Even after I supplied the basis for the acronym, namely the Council on American Islamic Relations, and she still gave me a blank look, I knew she was just speaking from a desire for tolerance and a misguided sense of not wanting students to feel negatively toward any religion. But what if the conclusion is warranted. What is bad is not that we weigh this belief system and find it reprehensive, but the fact that it is so. No amount of claiming to the contrary will make it so. So here is the real rub, tolerance for a religion that is the antithesis of tolerance (for gay people, for women, for people with other faiths, for other Muslims who don't want Sharia law and a host of others…) is not possible at the very least, but moreover a danger to the very students she is teaching. So I have a whole binder that I have given her to read up on just how peaceful Islam really is…with exact quotes and scriptural references from the Quran, with quotes from former Muslims, and unbiased Americans who are scholars in the area of the Islamic faith, detailed information on CAIR and who they really are, and exactly what the Sharia law that Muslims want to inflict on the rest of us. Hopefully she will wake up and quit dangerously indoctrinating her kids. If not, I'm ready to go to the school board. I just wonder how much we Americans have to suffer at the hands of this religion which strongly advocates for the end of all that we hold dear, before America wakes up. Or if the infiltration has gone too far and it's already too late. One thing is sure, our liberal teacher schools and regular public schools are part of the problem.

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