Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Way Too Close for Comfort
The newly-released tape of the Iranian patrol boats pushing in on U.S warships shows just how close we are, routinely, to a major conflagration with unknowable consequences.

That the crew of the USS Hopper did not open fire on the speedboats and cause a serious international incident is a tribute to their discipline, particularly given the memory of the suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.

To be able to resist pulling the trigger when someone says "I am coming at you. You will explode in a few minutes" is nothing short of a miracle.

But it is exactly the type of attack that U.S. forces are most worried about-a large-scale attack by an enemy that embraces death rather than seeking to inflict damage but live to fight another day. This is what makes what may once have been routine harassment measures into what must now be viewed as serious, lethal threats.

In reading the literature of radical Islamists, both Sunni and Shia, the narrative told of embracing death for the sake of Allah leading eternal and immediate reward is pervasive.

This teaching is embraced and propounded not just by recognized _jihadist_ groups like al Qaeda, who embraced the tactic on 9/11 and since. That might be easier to isolate and discredit.

However, the narrative has gained widespread public currency with the most prominent of the supposedly "moderate" members of the Muslim Brotherhood such as Yousef al-Qaradawi and Azzam Tamimi.

The Brotherhood's endorsement and sponsorship of this tactic, and all that in entails in the loss of civilian life, serves as a powerful motivating factor for young people to embrace suicide bombing.

Given the Brotherhood's control of mosques, teaching materials and the public face of Islam, both in Europe and the United States, the group's active endorsement of this tactic has a broad reach, with catastrophic consequences

Such a step is only possible if one has been convinced of the ultimate benefit of the suicide. The Brotherhood leaders, among others, provide that justification.

It is interesting to note that those like Tamimi, who claims to be willing to be suicide bombers, or Qaradawi, who ask others to blow themselves up, live quite in comfort in London and Qatar.

I have often wondered how people like John Esposito, Bob Leiken and others who sit on boards with Tamimi and Qaradawi, cite them as moderates and seek to engage them, rationalize this issue away.

How do you join forces with people who happily send others to their death (both the bombers and their victims) while sitting in London giving fiery speeches? Not an easy intellectual or ethical journey, I would guess. Do they think it is a simple religious difference that can be overlooked? A cultural issue?

It is not possible to know if the speedboats charging the U.S. ships in international waters were acting under orders, going for a little fun, or seriously wishing to provoke an international incident.
But it is clear that such incidents, in today's world, are deadly serious, and must be treated as such.

The risk is simply too high to assume that Islamists acting on behalf of Allah will behave in a way we find rational or non-lethal.

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