The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee brought forward a few of the nation’s premier experts on extremist ideologies this week for a hearing on “Ideology and Terror: Understanding the Tools, Tactics, and Techniques of Violent Extremism.”
America continues to wage an all-out effort to battle the forces of global jihadism, but has had little success in preventing the spread of radical Islam. So, what are we missing? Why has the West failed to stop global jihad?
The panel agreed that a new path forward — of combating political Islam (or, “Islamism”) and its state-sponsors — was needed.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a world-renowned expert on Islamic extremism, shared her thoughts on how to fight back against the Islamist epidemic.
Her testimony was based on her recently published monograph: “The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and Movement.” In it, the Somali-born Dutch-American Ali discusses the link between non-violent Islamist movements and active jihadi extremism. Ali stresses that the only way to defeat the radicalism is to wage ideological war against the countries, groups, and individuals that promote political Islam.
“Political Islam is not just a religion as most Western citizens recognize the term ‘religion’ — a faith. It is also a political ideology, a legal order, and in many ways also a military doctrine,” Ali said.
The next witness called upon to deliver his testimony was Dr. John Lenczowski, president of the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C.
Lenczowksi, who served on the Reagan administration’s National Security Council specializing in Soviet affairs, discussed how to defeat the jihadist enemy through ideological warfare. Most importantly, the U.S. needs to define what victory looks like, he stressed.
“The United States has spent trillions of dollars fighting radical Islamist terrorism. We have done so by treating jihadist aggression as principally a military and intelligence problem. Yet, it is a civilizational problem,” Lenczowski said.
“To solve this problem necessitates fighting a war of ideas. The problem is that we have virtually no ideological warriors in this war.”
The Senate panel’s third witness was Asra Q. Nomani, the founder of the Muslim Reform Movement and former Wall Street Journal reporter.
Similar to Ali, the India-born Nomani explained that our enemy threat doctrine starts and ends with political Islam. The tenets of Islamism are pursued not only by groups like al-Qaida and ISIS, but also by “state sponsors of extremism” such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Iran, Nomani said.
“If you doubt whether Islamism is an extremist ideology, please recognize its central tenet: It seeks to overthrow our democracies to supplant them with Islamic governance and sharia … which, importantly, violates United States law on multiple fronts,” Nomani said.
“Political Islam threatens life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the United States, and globally. It even considers young girls attending an Ariana Grande concert ‘dangerous’ because of the freedoms they are enjoying.”