The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has attracted hundreds of blue-eyed men to its ranks and they now hold several positions of commanders, executioners or filmmakers producing Hollywood style movies.
There is nothing strange here as the ISIS members hailing from the West are no different, for example, from an Arab ISIS member. They have the same mentality, which accuses others of apostasy, kills and seeks reward for such crimes.
Communication among members of the terror outfit is not a problem as their project, in both theory and practice, is clear. Their goals are declared and the means to achieve them are well known. Any act of barbarism is accepted as long as their entity stays and expands.
Everything they announce, do and document has only one interpretation. The problem is not with them but with those who try to justify terrorism. These are dangerous justifications because they legitimize terrorism and extend its legitimacy.
The latest of these justifications was made by British actor Riz Ahmed, who said excluding young Muslim men from acting in a television series will push them to join ISIS. So a young man obsessed with acting and seeking to play a small role alongside Kevin Spacey, for instance, will immediately shift him to joining ISIS if he is not allowed to participate in a television series because he is not talented enough. In brief, he’s saying: Accept me as an actor or I will become a terrorist to punish you!
Ahmed’s point of view is not worthy of being taken seriously. However, this actor is not naïve like one might think. It seems, he is playing into the hands of those intimidating people from Muslims. Others have successfully adopted this approach to attain personal or ideological gains.
ISIS became established and more active during the era of a soft president like Barack Obama. Nothing has changed during the era of a frank president like Trump and nothing will change after his term endsMamdouh AlMuhaini
Some people exploit this to make money while others, like extremists, do it to spread terror. They propagated fear in a well-thought out way. They would start with something like this: “don’t write this book, Muslims will get angry”, and the writer would stop working on it or wouldn’t produce the movie.
On other occasions, it would be about paintings. So don’t paint this picture, or Muslims will take to the streets in anger, and the painter would dump his brush in fear. This approach has worked and the actor was swayed by it.
However, this is not a secret method. It has been exposed and responding to is not difficult. Anyone who chooses terrorism as a doctrine is an extremist and he will not wait until his feelings are harmed because a production company did not appreciate his artistic talent and shattered his hopes.
The other logic, which is less dangerous, is choosing deceitful stories to justify terrorism. For instance, one of these stories relates to the recent attack on Michael Flynn, US President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, who resigned from his post. It was alleged that he hated Muslims and his appointment would increase the number of ISIS recruits.
This justification is false, shameful and dangerous. It is false because Flynn addressed Sunni and Shiite extremists and not Muslims in general. I recently finished reading his book The Field of Fight and it did not include a single word that implies hate speech or blind intolerance. On the contrary, three quarters of the book is an attack against the mullahs’ regime and the other quarter is on terrorist organizations.
It is a common position that most of us agree with. Why is the justification also shameful? Because they intentionally exploit Muslim emotions - they are also well-aware that most people do not double check information - manipulate them by providing misleading information, mobilize them and direct them to achieve aims that have nothing to do with us. This is dangerous because this shadows the real reasons of extremism and terrorism, which have nothing to do with art or with Flynn.
Most recently, the Washington Post published a report suggesting that Trump’s top advisor, Steve Bannon, increased extremists’ anger and could speed up the recruitment process. Can a single man energize the terrorist machine? Of course not! But do terrorist organizations need anything to provoke them to incite people and attract supporters? No.
This is evident in the fact that ISIS became established and more active during the era of a soft president like Barack Obama. Nothing has changed during the era of a frank president like Trump and nothing will change after his term ends.
Isn’t the presence of “infidels” and “heretics” outside these organizations - according to their doctrine, that would be most of us - provocative enough to them? I doubt that many of them know who Bannon is or even care about him. They are terrorists with or without the presence of Bannon.
The Washington Post report said that Bannon once stirred anger when he described the wave of extremism as Islamic fascism. This is a correct interpretation used to describe extremists who resort to fascist means, from propaganda to executions, in order to empower their extremist doctrine.
The deliberate approach of not provoking terrorists is used to serve political, partisan, ideological or personal interests. However, we are the ones who are harmed first and the foremost. Most terrorists and victims are from among us. It is important to be clear and frank in order to put an end to this perpetual tragedy.
Have we forgotten about the twins who murdered their own mother in the kitchen using the same knife she had been using to prepare lunch and dinner for them!
This article is also available in Arabic.
Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms. He can be followed on Twitter @malmhuain.