June 7, 2010 | National Review Online

About Those Somali Terrorist Arrests in New Jersey

On Sunday, Dan noted this New York Times report by Will Rashbaum about two men arrested in New Jersey on terrorism charges. As is her wont, the Gray Lady also included a companion spin-the-news fable by Eric Schmitt, wanting you to understand that al Qaeda-connected al-Shabab's recruitment of Somali-based Americans is strictly about fighting a civil war – not anything so ambitious as a global jihad.

“File this Story Under 'Stupid,'' replies Pepperdine prof Greg McNeal in a post that suggests I send Mr. Schmitt a copy of The Grand Jihad. Greg explains that the Times is

fully on board with the Obama-Brennan nameless “extremist ideologies,” please don't call it a war, and definitely don't call it jihad garbage. Consider today's headline which reads “Islamic Extremist Group Recruits for Civil War, Not Jihad.” This comes on the heels of two Americans who were picked up at JFK after training for…wait for it…. jihad!

According to the complaint (h/t Bobby Chesney), one defendant stated “I leave this time, God Willing, I never come back. I'll never see this crap hole. Only way I would come back here is if I was in the land of jihad and the leader ordered me to come back here and do something here. Ah, I love that.” According to the Department of Justice, the defendants “preparations included saving thousands of dollars, physically conditioning themselves, engaging in paintball and other tactical training, acquiring military gear and apparel for use overseas, and purchasing airline tickets to Egypt with the intent to then travel to Somalia. The defendants also discussed their obligation to wage violent jihad and at times expressed a willingness to commit acts of violence in the United States.” I'm not a fancy journalist for the New York Times, but it sure sounds like these guys believed they were going to fight jihad, not some civil war, but why believe that our enemies mean what they say?

Sadly, the average reader of this article would never know what motivated these guys to fight (and it's not just the headline, note the HTML header “Al Shabab RecruitsAmericans for Somali Civil War”) as the piece goes on to characterize the fight in Somalia this way: “For several years, an intense civil war has raged in Somalia between a weak American-backed government and radical Islamist groups that are trying to overthrow it. The insurgents include fighters from Al Shabab, which has sent hundreds of young recruits to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and a rival group, Hizbul Islam.”

Ahhhh yes, a Civil War, between that evil American-backed government and radical Islamist groups, this must just be some dispute about self governance without the interference of evil colonialist Americans, or maybe it's about religious liberty, or minority representation in the legislature? Or maybe it's about, oh, I don't know, the establishment of an Islamic state, which I know I read somewhere (Tip: let's try Ayman al-Zawahiri's statement that Shabab gains in Somalia were “a step on the path of victory for Islam.”) Of course these types of fights are the point of jihad, it's not a holy war for the sake of war, it's a holy war to achieve an end, that end is the establishment of a global Islamist caliphate governed by sharia law. And it's on that point that the New York Times really struggles to get this story wrong. For example, they note that both al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam share a “hard line Islamist” ideology…which called for amputations and public stonings for violations of Islamic law” plus “harsh rules prohibiting music, television and even bras.”

As Greg further notes, in a chapter of the book about the disturbing inroads the Grand Jihad has made in Minnesota, I write about what he aptly calls the government's “verbal backflips to avoid” coming to grips with what is actually causing the Somalia-America pipeline, which has been shipping jihadists back and forth for a few years now. The passage Greg quotesobserves:

Despite the extensive history of Muslims flocking to any ‘field of jihad' where Islamists are in combat, the FBI was instinctively quick to rationalize that ‘the primary motivation' for their travel to Somalia was ‘to defend their place of birth [i.e., the place they couldn't get out of fast enough] from the Ethiopian invasion.' But the criminal charges filed by the Justice Department tell a different story: one of a call to jihad that sounded in mosques from Minneapolis to Mecca. Thus, even the FBI has had to concede, however grudgingly, that ‘an appeal was also made based on their shared Islamic identity.'

Prof. McNeal's conclusion: “Despite ample evidence to the contrary it looks like the Obama-Brennan nameless 'extremist ideologies' narrative is beginning to take hold. How this is a good thing for our national security is beyond me, but at least we've got that narrative thing down.” Cheer up, Greg. The narrative has taked hold at the Times, but I sense the public knows a jihad when it sees one.

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