Thursday, September 09, 2010

Islamism and Stratagem, Part III

Below is the third of six parts of an article by John J. Dziak about the Islamic counterintelligence state.

The article is reprinted here with permission of the author. It first appeared in Papers & Studies by the International Assessment and Strategy Center, Washington, D.C., on 6 April 2007. It was later republished in the Summer/Fall 2007 issue of Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies.

Previously: Part I, Part II.

Islamism and Stratagem
by John J. Dziak, Ph.D

III. Sources of Contemporary Islamism — Internal

EurabiaThe sources of contemporary Islamism are worth a brief examination before viewing the practice of stratagem in the Islamic tradition. What should come as no surprise is that militant Islam, or fundamentalism (itself a Western projection from its own religious experience), is not a recent product ushered in by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafists, or the Wahhabists of the Arabian Peninsula and al Qaeda. As already seen with regard to Jihad, Islamist militancy is inherent to Islam itself throughout its almost fourteen hundred year history. What the above movements, and states like Shiite Iran, are now advocating, is a return to the purity of the earliest periods of Islamic history to include Muhammad’s time, and other “good” eras such as the much touted Islamic golden age of the Middle Ages. Bursts of Islamic “puritanism” occurred throughout history including the long eras of its imperial success — as well as in its period of decline as exemplified by the later years of the Ottoman Empire. This may not be welcome news to Western secular elites whose universal frame of reference is Enlightenment rationalism. But it certainly should be part of the intellectual kit bag of intelligence and counterintelligence professionals.

Further, Islam, as a self-identified theocratic system, may be regarded as a political ideology rather than simply another confession common to the west in which separation of church and state is part of the creedal faith. It is an established system for the integrated governance and faith observance of all peoples according to the Koran. Ideally, the Koran must be learned by heart (which many believers do even if they cannot read or comprehend Arabic, the preferred tongue for doing so) and applied in a literal way. This is because according to Islam the Koran, directly revealed by Allah through the archangel Gabriel, contains all that is needed for this life, and therefore no interpretation à la Biblical exegesis is allowed or tolerated. If Islamic liberalizers or moderates are too vocal in an effort to “reform”, or “update”, or find a better application of Islam to the contemporary world they run very serious risks of being labeled apostates, thereby risking death. Moderates are doubly conflicted here: tinkering with the holy text is tantamount to questioning Allah’s given word thus risking charges of apostasy; to be an apostate invites retribution. Moderates throughout the Muslim world face not only the retributions of Islamists but from their governments as well. The majority of Muslims live in countries ruled by very oppressive regimes; even relatively moderate countries offer little protection from rigorous enforcement of Islamic law. Jordan, for instance, jailed editors for daring to reprint the Danish cartoons. Violence, therefore, is not only politically permissible but divinely decreed per the holy texts. A straightforward reading of the Koran and the Hadith (the traditions and sayings of the prophet) reveals that violence is condoned and advocated, and has been acted upon throughout Islam’s almost fourteen centuries of history. Today’s Jihadists certainly are no aberration from that tradition.
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Muslim streetAdditionally, Islam, like traditional Judaism, is an “orthoprax” (correct practice) faith placing “fundamental emphasis on law and regulation of community life.” Scholars in general view Christianity as an “orthodox” (correct opinion) faith wherein “greater emphasis on belief and its intellectual structuring of creeds, catechisms, and theologies”, is placed.[9] This is not an insignificant difference. In Islam religious debate tends to center on consistency of practice with fixed law, resulting in concentrated focus on Islamic law, Sharia. Legal interpretations are based on precedent that looks to the past and does not presume to probe the nature of Allah or his designs. Among Christians debate tends to focus on doctrine, hence the existence of clergy, hierarchies, and theologians to explore, discover, develop, debate, and explicate doctrine and liturgy — all in a presumptive urge to better grasp the nature of God through the operation of reason.[10] In Islam, the divine transmission of the religious text directly to God’s final prophet, Mohammed, fosters literalism, “the Scripture whereof there is no doubt.”[11] The Koran is the unmediated word of Allah; the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are “inspired” texts, mediated through human agency and subject to interpretative discovery. When Jihadists invoke the sacred texts to justify violence either against fellow Muslims or the infidel, they can claim to be in a legally superior position to a moderate Muslim who must strain to adduce a countervailing argument based on the same texts. The latter is at a clear disadvantage.

Next: IV Sources of Contemporary Islamism — External

© Copyright 2007, John J. Dziak

John J. DziakJohn J. Dziak is an adjunct professor at The Institute of World Politics, a graduate school of statecraft and national security affairs in Washington, D.C., where he teaches a course on comparative intelligence systems. Dr. Dziak is also Senior Fellow, Counterintelligence and Strategic Technology, at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, and the president of Dziak Group, Inc. He retired from a distinguished career in the U.S. intelligence community in 1996. Dr. Dziak has written extensively on Russian intelligence, and holds a Ph.D. from Georgetown University.


[9] Rodney Stark, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success. NY: Random House, 2005, p. 8. Although it isn’t intended as such, Stark’s work is an excellent starting point for contrasting the bases of Islam and Christianity.
[10] Ibid., p. 9.
[11] Ibid., quoting Pickthall’s translation of the Koran.


1389 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
1389 said...

This confirms what I have been saying: that a person need not be a particularly devout Muslim in order to be a very dangerous Muslim.

It's all about outward actions, and furthering the worldwide Muslim expansionist agenda is the most important action of all.

Zenster said...

The following comments involve Parts I & II.

Ever since the 9/11 attacks, however, major elements of the U.S. leadership, policy, media, and academic elites have danced around the issue of clearly identifying or naming the enemy.

Serge Trifkovic said it best:

The elite class has every intention of continuing to "fight" the war on terrorism without naming the enemy, without revealing his beliefs, without unmasking his intentions, without offending his accomplices, without expelling his fifth columnists, and without ever daring to win. Their crime can and must be stopped. The founders of the United States overthrew the colonial government for offenses far lighter than those of which the traitor class is guilty. [emphasis added]

Obama's abject cowardice about naming the enemy has brought this issue to crisis proportions.

That may be one of the many reasons why it is so difficult for so-called Muslim moderates to organize to soften or reform the scriptures of that faith.

What seems even more difficult to give up for “moderate” Muslims is their allegiance to an ideology which presents so many opportunities for the easy abuse of trusting or weaker individuals. Let there be no doubt that Islam’s appeal as a “strong horse” depends almost entirely upon the support it receives from these selfsame “moderate” Muslims.

It is a self-fulfilling prophecy or self-reinforcing mentality whose cycle of violence “moderate” Muslims must learn to break or accept ultimate responsibility for. Contrary to popular perception, there is no middle ground on this issue. It is both a strategic and central moral failing of the West that it does not charge these “moderate” Muslims with responsibility for drawing the fangs of Islam’s jihadist doctrine. Who else will do it? Certainly not the jihadists themselves.

Aside from theological proscriptions forbidding changes to the unmediated word of Allah as revealed to the Prophet, there is no central institutional authority within Islam to facilitate or foster such changes even if a broad desire were present.

That is because Islam’s current power structure benefits far too much from its decentralized configuration. There are too many pre-existing financial and political advantages for clerics of all stripes to concede any part of their power to some central authority.

As an independent entity, Islam also derives immense benefit from this same decentralization. There is no one person to blame, no indispensible leader to decapitate, no ability to reign in the constant, virulent mayhem wrought by Islam and so greedily encouraged by Muslim clerics and men; the main beneficiaries of jihad and shari’a law’s policy of abject gender apartheid respectively.

Counterintelligence was and is essential to the maintenance of autocratic, totalitarian and despotic elites whose singular claims to monopoly rule could be upheld only through secret police-type operations — hence “the counterintelligence state” in which a fixation with enemies and threats to the power of these elites was the reigning ethos.

This is a huge concept and vital to a functional understanding of Islam or any other totalitarian ideology. It forms the basis for Islam’s victim mentality and is a central source of the incipient paranoia that permeates all tyrannies. This is also the raison d’être for taqiyya and why such deceit is so fundamental to Islam’s entire existence.

Universal peace in an absolute sense as viewed in the West is a non sequitur; only submission to Islamic domination produces a true stable peace. Peace, as viewed from London, Washington, or Berlin falls for Islam into the realm of passing and temporary truces, invariably encrusted in stratagem and dissimulation.

The West’s success or failure − and even its very survival − is entirely dependent upon our ability to recognize this fundamental difference in how Islam defines the word, “peace”.