October 20, 2006 | The Washington Times

In Defense of Liberty

Coauthored with Herbert London

 In 2004, Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, general manager of the Al-Arabiya news channel, courageously wrote, “It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.”

It is simply incontestable that the vast majority of terrorist acts are committed by Muslims who unabashedly claim Islamic scripture impels them. We are in the throes of an ideological war, and it would be grossly irresponsible to continue ignoring the patent nexus between radical Islam and terror.

 It is a sad reality that radicalism is actually mainstream in much of the Islamic world. This is due primarily to the refusal of many Muslims — not just Muslim terrorists but millions of Muslims — to accept the cardinal principles of enlightened liberty and democracy.

One need not merely infer this. Explicit proof is abundant in both Sunni and Shi'ite Islam. Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's highest Shi'ite authority — and recipient of high praise by administration officials — maintains that non-Muslims should be considered in the same category as “urine, feces, semen, dead bodies, blood, dogs, pigs, alcoholic liquors,” and “the sweat of an animal who persistently eats [unclean things].” Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University in Egypt, the highest Sunni authority, instructs that Jews are “enemies of Allah [and] descendants of apes and pigs,” views he expressly attributes to the Koran.

This dehumanizing hatred has been turned against our nation. Mustafa Zakri, a member of parliament in Egypt (the recipient of $2 billion a year in U.S. largess), has asserted that “America is the head of the serpent, and the greatest enemy, which we must confront.” In Yemen, a judge recently dismissed charges against 19 terrorists who joined with al Qaeda in fighting U.S. forces in Iraq, reasoning that Islamic law sanctions jihad against occupiers of Muslim lands.

In newly liberated Afghanistan, the government attempted to put a man to death for the “crime” of converting from Islam to another religion, a capital offense under Islamic law. In Iraq, homosexuals are executed in Shi'ite-controlled areas — consistent with a fatwa from the Ayatollah al-Sistani.

Meanwhile, Iran, nearing a confrontation with the West over its nuclear program, has developed a missile called “Zelzad 1.” Its namesake is a Koranic verse that tells of a conflagration which precipitates Judgment Day. The missile is emblazoned with the slogan: “We will trample America under our feet. Death to America.”

We believe that being in denial about Islamic militancy profoundly compromises U.S. national security. Our system's toleration of religious belief does not immunize religions from criticisms of the tenets or practices of those belief systems. This is particularly true when the criticized practices, though rhetorically labeled “religion,” are actually elements of an imperialistic social system antithetical to equality, liberty, separation of church and state, and other core Western values.

Activist efforts to limit America's free marketplace of ideas — such as the tactic of slandering commonsense criticism as “Islamophobia” — are contrary to the very foundation of democratic governance. The West cannot cure Islam's propensity to spawn radicalism; this is a matter only Muslims can address. But we must do whatever is necessary to protect our liberty and security.

Since the United States is in the midst of a long war for the survival of our way of life, the following steps should immediately be taken:

• Congress should enact legislation stating forthrightly that our enemy in the ongoing war is radical Islam.

 • Immigration from and aid to Muslim countries should be drastically reduced. Upward adjustments should be contingent on measurable reforms that promote liberty while reducing the role of religion in politics. (Provision should be made for asylum for reformers.)

• Any Muslim foreign national who will not concede under oath that American law must be followed in the U.S. when it conflicts with Islamic law should be subject to exclusion or deportation.

 • It should be made clear that a person's status as a Muslim (particularly if he is also a male under age 45 who is a citizen of a country with a substantial Islamic population) is palpably relevant to investigations of terrorist threats. To do otherwise wastes finite investigative resources and challenges the Fourth Amendment's reasonableness requirement by treating all Americans as if they were potential Islamic radicals.

• Mosques in the U.S. have been used by Islamic radicals to spread their ideology, as hubs for terror recruitment and paramilitary training, and even for storage and transfer of weapons. While the war ensues, it should be made clear that the FBI and other authorities do not require a criminal predicate to collect intelligence or conduct investigations. Mosques in which violence or unlawful activity is encouraged should be subject to forfeiture and loss of tax-exempt status.

• Rigorous examination should be required for certification of Islamic chaplains in the military and the federal and state prison systems.

 • Congress should create a National Security Court with jurisdiction over terrorism and other national security matters. Alleged alien-terrorists should be designated unlawful enemy combatants (apprehended either inside or outside the U.S.) and be accorded the minimal rights required by American due process standards. Removing their cases from the civilian and military courts will increase the quality of justice in those systems.

• With radical Islamic sentiment gaining traction in oil-rich nations, it is imperative that U.S. energy independence become a national priority. Congressional action must be taken to remove the onerous legal and regulatory barriers to the construction and expansion of refineries, production of oil and gas from offshore wells, construction of gas pipelines and other energy transportation infrastructure, and the building of power plants, including alternative generation sources such as solar stations, wind farms, tar sands, nuclear power plants, etc. 

 • Treaty obligations, alliances with other countries and membership in international organizations need to be consistent with national goals. Where they have become obsolete or harmful, they must be reshaped or eliminated.

The 20th century was filled with massive assaults on liberty by totalitarian aggressors who questioned the resolve of the defenders of liberty. This flawed assumption of weakness led to vast and unprecedented death and destruction. We make this statement in an attempt to diminish the chances of another such bloody miscalculation, and we pray that the rich benefits of the American model of government will gain a new appreciation around the world. 
Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Herbert London is president of the Hudson Institute.