Countering “The Narrative”

A recurring phenomenon in the spate of Islamic terror attacks has been that the perpetrators are often citizens who turn on their own countries. Mjr. Hasan’s attack on Ft. Hood in America being a prime example. A recent 60 minutes documentary purports to explain how peaceful Muslims can be turned into fanatical extremists willing to engage in suicide attacks on the very countries they live in.

Recruiters for these fundamentalist Islamic organisations rely on ‘the narrative’, a collection of stories, conspiracy theories, propaganda, and outright lies that claims the USA and the rest of Western civilisation is trying to eradicate Islam. This set of stories has been propagating wildly since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre and appeals not to the poor and needy, but to prosperous and educated citizens who make foreign countries their home. Consider Mohamed Atta, the leader of the WTC attacks and educated at universities in Cairo and Hamburg. Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the London metro attacks, educated at Leeds University and prior to the attack was holding down a steady job. Or the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad. He holds double degrees from American universities, had a good job, a wife, and a nice house in the suburbs. These are the faces of Islamic terrorism in the West.

Even though there are many instances of Western governments defending or supporting Muslims in Bosnia, Somalia, Kuwait, Pakistan and Indonesia (disaster relief), Iraq and Afghanistan (overthrowing tyrannies) belief in the narrative remains strong. This set of beliefs is also being successfully exported to Western countries, with tragic results. Hatred of those who kill Muslims is encouraged yet, despite the fact that deliberate suicide bombings by Al-Qaeda kill more Muslims than drone attacks by American forces, adherents to the narrative still direct their hatred towards the West and their support towards terrorist organisations. The narrative includes the idea that the US government actually encouraged Al-Qaeda to carry out the attack on the WTC as a justification to invade Afghanistan – these fundamentalist Muslims are apparently 9/11 truthers.

Funded by the oil revenues of the Arab states, political Islamism is attempting to spread itself across the globe by going to war with any opposition. Having seized control of many regimes in the Muslim world, Islamists are enlarging the area they control. Conflicts between Muslims and other local populations in Russia, Indonesia, India, North Africa, Europe, and the USA show they have been extremely successful in spreading their ideology and bringing the fight to us. According to Maajid Nawaz (a former Islamic radical) of the Quilliam Foundation, countering the narrative is the most important aspect to preventing the spread of Islamism. I would add that moving away from an oil-based economy and ending the cozy relationship with Saudi leaders would also help by cutting off the economic backing of this dangerous, and deadly, movement.

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