Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist. Many are accused of this form of warfare, few are those who actually succeed from it. From Bruce Thorton in his bookGreek Ways:
Common sense tells us that Khomeini and the other modern jihadists know their own faith and its doctrines, and are speaking squarely in that tradition, as can be documented from the Koran, Hadiths, and subsequent Muslim theologians, jurists, and other commentators (see Andrew Bostom’s invaluable anthology, The Legacy of Jihad). All these sources tell us that jihad indeed is the imperative to follow the example of the prophet Mohammed, who said in his farewell address: “I was ordered to fight all men until they say, ‘There is no god but Allah.’”
Modern jihadists, then, aren’t “heretics” or “fanatics” who have “highjacked” the “religion of peace” in order to compensate for their neurotic “humiliation” at Muslim backwardness. Bin Laden and his lieutenant Aymin Al Zawahiri have issued many writings that define their terrorist war as a traditional jihad, backing up their argument with numerous references to Islamic theology and jurisprudence. In a few weeks The Al Qaeda Reader will be published, Library of Congress researcher Raymond Ibrahim’s translation of the most significant Al Qaeda treatises, many of which have not appeared before in English.
This promises to be one of the most important books since 9/11, a critical resource for accurately understanding the motives of Al Qaeda. These writings, especially those intended for Muslims, ground the war against the West squarely in the Islamic tradition of jihad: “Zawahiri’s writings,” Ibrahim notes, “especially are grounded in Islam’s roots of jurisprudence; in fact, of the many thousands of words translated here from his three treatises, well more than half are direct quotations from the Koran, the Sunna of Muhammad, and the consensus and conclusions of the Ulema [past and present commentators and interpreters of Islamic belief and practice].”
Even the killing of women and children is argued for on the basis of that same tradition, which provides traction for rationalizations based on Islamic military weakness, sophistic definitions of “innocence,” and the oft-repeated injunction to kill all infidels. This interpretation may be erroneous, but the mere fact that it can be argued for at all, and accepted by many Muslims, is itself significant. And such an interpretation is possible because there already exists the doctrine of jihad, which glorifies and justifies violence against non-believers. This helps to answer the obvious question why other ex-colonial peoples supposedly “humiliated” by their failure to keep up with the powerful West have not resorted to terrorist violence.Again, it beggars belief that a Zawahiri or a Khomeini is distorting his faith’s traditions and dogmas, particularly when millions of Muslims world-wide agree with those traditional interpretations. Are we to think those millions don’t know their own religion? That they are dupes of manipulators and distorters? Or is it rather the case that they know very well their faith and see Bin Laden et al. as traditionalists attempting to restore to Islam the doctrinal purity that fueled Islam’s remarkable conquests? Perhaps this agreement with the so-called “Islamists” explains the dearth of protests against these presumed “distortions” on the part of all those “moderate” Muslims we keep hearing about.
No, it is we who are the dupes of distorters, all those apologists, propagandists, and Western useful idiots who obscure the truth of Islam and its history. And they are successful: Washington Times columnist Diana West, writing on July 6 about Robert Spencer’s important web-site jihadwatch.org, reports that “very ominously, Mr. Spencer's Web site is being blocked by assorted organizations which, according to his readers, continue to provide access to assorted pro-jihad sites. Mr. Spencer reports he's ‘never received word of so many organizations banning this site all at once.’ These include the City of Chicago, Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, GE IT, JPMorgan Chase, Defense Finance and Accounting Services and now, a federal employee in Dallas informs him, the federal government.” Why? “Some Internet providers deem the factually based, meticulous analysis on display at jihadwatch.org to be ‘hate speech.’”
This is the pass that we have come to: facts about the motives of an enemy sworn to our destruction are censored as “hate speech.” This betrayal of the truth demonstrates perfectly the West’s self-loathing failure of nerve that confirms the enemy’s belief in his spiritual superiorityand his ultimate victory.