Arizona State University's Center for Strategic Communication has released a report that analyzes the most frequently cited Koranic verses by Islamists. The study surveyed "over 2,000 extremist texts" from 1998 to 2011 mostly from the Middle East and North Africa.
According to the report, the texts rarely reference the infamous "Verse of the Sword," which the authors claim is the "the most militant or violent passage of the Koran" purportedly used as a justification for global jihad. Instead, the report found, the texts focus on "themes of victimization, dishonor, and retribution."
From this, Jeffry Halverson, Bennett Furlow, and Steven Corman, draw some utterly oblivious conclusions: the West ought to "abandon claims that Islamist extremists seek world domination" and "focus on counteracting or addressing claims of victimage." Policy makers should therefore "emphasize alternative means of deliverance," and "work to undermine the 'champion' image sought by extremists."
While 2,000 texts may seem like a lot, perhaps the authors only needed but a few. In a February 1998 fatwa declaring jihad on the West, Osama bin Laden enjoins all Muslims, as "an individual duty...who can do it in any country" to "kill the Americans and their allies[.]" These aren't just my words, bin Laden writes as he paraphrases the Verse of the Sword, this is what God commands: "and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together[.]"
Now, had the study collected texts prior to 1998, it would have been remiss to ignore bin Laden's 1996 fatwa. Not only does bin Laden directly quote the Verse of the Sword, but saves his most articulate vitriol for the West, "man made civil law," and "international [nonbelievers]." What's more, bin Laden heartily supports those who "strongly believe that fighting [jihad] against the [nonbelievers] in every part of the world, is absolutely essential," calling it a "duty of every Muslim in this world."
This is not to say that bin Laden doesn't gripe specifically about American occupation of the Holy Lands, capitalist pillaging of Muslim economies, and global Zionist conspiracies. He does. Halverson, Furlow, and Corman likely elevated these excerpts and others like it in order to come to their conclusion that the texts predominately cover "victimization, dishonor, and retribution." In the end, jihadists have their excuses; they also have their theology.
As an al Qaeda training manual (declassified by the Department of Justice in 2001) succinctly explains, "Islam is not just performing rituals but a complete system: religion and government, worship and jihad, ethics and dealing with people, and the Koran and sword." Jihad -- or as the jihadists see it, holy war -- is their "contribution toward paving the road that leads to" -- their ultimate goal of a global Islamic state -- "a caliphate[.]"
In a July 9, 2005 letter (ironically seven years prior to the release of the Arizona State study) between al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Zawahiri pines for a global Islamic state and applauds al-Zarqawi's violent jihad: "If our intended goal in this age is the establishment of a caliphate...and if we expect to establish its state predominantly...then your efforts and sacrifices -- God permitting -- are a large step directly towards that goal." Zawahiri goes on to say that even if the Americans are expelled from Iraq and the Holy Places, al-Zarqawi's job is not done until the caliphate is restored.
Most Muslims wait and pray for the return of a caliphate or unified Islamic governance, but al-Zawahiri, al-Zarqawi, and jihadists alike seek to restore it by force. This global Islamic state cannot, as the al Qaeda training manual states, "be established except by the bomb and rifle." Wait! What about some "alternative means of deliverance" from your grievances, Halverson, Furlow, and Corman might ask.
Consult the manual: "The confrontation that Islam calls for with these godless and apostate regimes does not know Socratic debates, Platonic ideals nor Aristotelian diplomacy. But it knows the dialogue of bullets, the ideals of assassination, bombing, and destruction, and the diplomacy of the cannon and machine gun."
With lines like that, al Qaeda clearly doesn't need the Verse of the Sword to justify global jihad.
Halverson, Furlow, and Corman could have sat down with former Secretary of Defense William Perry. Perry would remember bin Laden's infamous 1996 warning: "These youths love death as you love life." Now, Halverson, Furlow, and Corman, what of deliverance? From ignorance, perahps.
It's not often you'll see Maya Angelou's name appear in a discussion like this, but one "Maya lesson" Oprah Winfrey peddles around seems unexpectedly apropos. The two women were pillow-talking about relationships and Angelou offered the following advice: "When people show you who they are, believe them, the first time. Not the 29th time!"
Unfortunately, the West has endured well over twenty-nine jihadist attacks -- and as this Arizona State University study shows, some still don't believe it.