Thursday, February 19, 2015

SecState Kerry on Countering Violent Extremism, and A Violent Extremist's Rebuttal

Mohammad Sidique Khan, Teaching Assistant, Terrorist

My hero Marie Harf has not backed down an inch, I'm happy to say. She stands like a stone wall defending the Obama administration's indefensible position on the root causes of terrorism, even if it costs her a promotion to the Number 1 spokesperson slot. We should all have employees that loyal.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the White House summit conference on countering extremist violence, and also published remarks in an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal, Our Plan for Countering Violent Extremism.

Kerry, like President Obama and all the other conference speakers, persists in saying that terrorism and other forms of violent extremism are no more than common crime, just basically an irrational lashing out at life's unfairness. If that's true, the theory goes, then violent extremism might be countered by a strategy of denying the legitimacy of violence by non-state actors and promoting Good Government.

I've excerpted the best parts of Kerry's Op-Ed and juxtaposed them with bits from the martyrdom statement of Mohammad Sidique Khan, a suicide bomber whom I cited yesterday as an example of a highly rational and thoughtful Muslim terrorist who explicitly rejected the poverty-drives-terrorism explanation.

A whole bunch of folks at President Obama's summit conference could have learned more about violent extremism by reading Khan's statement than by listening to Kerry.

Kerry: "A safer and more prosperous future requires us to recognize that violent extremism can’t be justified by resorting to religion. No legitimate religious interpretation teaches adherents to commit unspeakable atrocities, such as razing villages or turning children into suicide bombers. These are the heinous acts of individuals who distort religion to serve their criminal and barbaric cause."

Khan: "Our religion is Islam - obedience to the one true God, Allah, and following the footsteps of the final prophet and messenger Muhammad ... This is how our ethical stances are dictated ... Your democratically elected governments continuously perpetuate atrocities against my people all over the world. And your support of them makes you directly responsible, just as I am directly responsible for protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters."

Khan justified his politically motivated violence as a defense of his coreligionists around the world who were under attack by Britain and the United States. That was enough, for him and his three fellow suicide bombers, to legitimize the murder of more than 50 persons and the wounding of more than 100 who were riding public transportation in London.

Kerry: "The most basic issue is good governance. It may not sound exciting, but it is vital. People who feel that their government will provide for their needs, not just its own, and give them a chance at a better life are far less likely to strap on an AK-47 or a suicide vest, or to aid those who do."

Khan: "I and thousands like me are forsaking everything for what we believe. Our driving motivation doesn't come from tangible commodities that this world has to offer."

Khan was born and raised in Great Britain, which has exemplary good governance. His parent's native Pakistan? Not so much. But then, as a Muslim, Khan might well have preferred Pakistan's kind of governance, and thought that it is non-Sharia law states which lack the good governance Kerry thinks is so basic to living a good life.

Kerry: "We must identify the zones of greatest vulnerability, the places that could descend into the chaos that breeds terrorism—or that could turn the corner and be the hotbed of growth or innovation. And then we must tailor our efforts and target our resources to meet the specific needs of those places. It may be training young people so they can get jobs and envision a future of dignity and self-reliance. It may be working to eliminate corruption and promote the rule of law, so that marginalized communities can enjoy security and justice. It’s very likely both, and of course much more."

Khan: "Until we feel security, you will be our targets. And until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people we will not stop this fight. We are at war and I am a soldier. Now you too will taste the reality of this situation."

Khan lived in a highly stable social environment. He had a job, an education, a family, and dignity. He was not marginalized. In his martyrdom video he does not complain of chaos, or public corruption, or a lack of law and order. To the contrary, he said he committed violence to create security and advance justice for the religiously defined community ("my people") with which he identified.

Why should we not take Khan at his word?


Anonymous said...
TSB: Off the subject, but my sentiments exactly.The US is asking for big trouble in Ukraine and will probably get it. gwb

Nomads By Nature said...

Can you hear the applause from our direction?! Best first paragraph ever, btw.

TSB said...


Thanks very much for your kind comment. I've developed a grudging respect for Marie H lately. Assuming she doesn't move up to the top job, we might see her go full YOLO for the rest of her tenure.