Brian Kotowski: The true motivations of Islamist aggression
September 14, 2017
Eric Morris’ letter to the editor, "Do we know our enemy?", attributes the events of 9/11 and subsequent Islamist attacks to Western involvement in the Middle East. I suggest that such an analysis is dangerously shallow and ignores more than a millennium of evidence regarding the true motivations of Islamist aggression.
America’s first encounter with what is now called "Islamic extremism" dates back to the 18th century when our maritime civilians were being murdered and enslaved in the Mediterranean. In 1787, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were ordered to London to learn why and secure a negotiated settlement.
Our two future presidents were received by the Envoy to Tripoli, Sidi Haji Abdrahaman. He explained very matter-of-factly (as reported by Jefferson to Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay) "… that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy’s ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once."
Daggers or box cutters; the terror and carnage then and now can’t be all that different. Except that in the 1780s, there was no American involvement in the Middle East to use as a convenient excuse for murder.
Mr. Morris cites the reasons offered by people like Osama bin Laden and the Manchester bomber’s sister. Accepting their justifications is likely naive, given the Koranic precept of "al-Taqiyya," which permits the faithful to willfully deceive non-believers; to conceal or disguise one's beliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions, and/or strategies. In plainer language, the jihadi is encouraged to lie through their teeth.
Some may be willing to accept the justifications provided by a mass-murderer’s sister. I’m more inclined to lean toward more than a thousand years of documented history.
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Mr. Morris closed his letter with a quote from Sun Tzu. I’ll conclude mine with George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."