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

Blood from Stones

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Salfism in the Washington Post
I seldom critique my former colleagues at the Washington Post, but want to point out several crucial things that were, either for lack of space or understanding, passed over in today Washington Post story. Particularly stiking is the lack of explicit statements about what Salafists and Wahhabis really teach, rather than the softened down version of that is often dished out for public consumption. This unwillingness to state what they state about themselves is always baffling to me.

Ms. Murphy is striking with her passing mention that after 9-11, Salafists in the United States found their "theology and practices were suddenly suspect." It is not noted that for decades, as the Saudis poured hundreds of millions into the spread of Salfism here and elsewhere, that the message was to kill all of us considered infidels. It was only "suddenly suspect" because we had not listened to them until they attacked us.

The theology of Salfism, in fact, is not suspect at all-it is a clear, straightforward statement of belief that calls on the faithful to carry out jihad. The hijackers of 9-11, faithful to that call, did so. To pretend that Salafism itself preaches something different is a disservice.

Salfism is not just, as one Muslim is quoted as saying, an "ideology that helped foster the mentality of those hijackers." Rather, Salafism is the gasoline that the Saudis have poured on wood piles around the world. They (and we) then claim to be shocked by the sudden outburst of forest fires that are raging. (I first heard this analogy from David Aufhauser, the former general counsel for the Treasury Department who led the war on terror finances in the early years of the Bush administration, and whose clear sense of the real world is now sorely missed.)

The observation that the sense of beleaguerment among Washington Muslim is especially strong is also quite striking. I would imagine the sense of beleaguerment among Nazis in the Washington area during World War II was also somewhat high. But when your nation or religion declares war and you are in enemy territory (alhtough our government often seems to forget that we are, in fact, engaged in a war with internal enemies), feeling beleaguered seems a small price to pay.

The article, in giving a nice summary of Salfism, notes that Salafists "also regard Jews, Christians and non-Wahhabi Muslims as 'unbelievers' who should be avoided."

In fact, they regard those groups as infidels against whom they can and should wage jihad. Avoided except when seeking to kill those who refuse to repent and embrace their interpretation of Islam. To soften that down to say we are all to "be avoided" is to miss the point entirely of why Mohammed waged his wars of conquest and converstion-the theology that Salafists explicity embrace.

This is unwillingness to define Salfism as Salfism defines itself is not a problem of the Washington Post or the main stream media. It is a problem in our State Department, which feeds this line. It is a problem within the highest levels of the administration, and it goes deeply to our long-term respect for freedom of religion and discomfort with seeming to be seen as anti-religious. But to fail to understand and define the enemy is always a disasterous mistake.
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