This religious and ideological battle has gone on for centuries and will continue until the end of time. How we manage it and fight it, is up to us.
With so much discussion regarding Islamic Extremism and the ongoing threat of violence from such groups, and those they inspire, the nation has again been divided on the issue of how to define acts of terrorism. In the case of the events that occurred at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the administration described the event as lone wolf violence and continued to defend their stance to not highlight radical Islam as the issue. In fact, within hours after the attack, President Obama used his first address to the nation to highlight gun laws within the U.S., while again failing to understand that guns aren’t necessarily the issue, particularly in this instance. What concerns us more though is the fact that the administration and many others are claiming that this and other lone wolf attacks are not acts of terrorism because they were not directed by a specific group or command structure abroad.
First off, in the case of Orlando, this is categorically false. All those who actively and passively follow the Islamic State and their rhetoric are well aware that their overall leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi asked for followers around the world to incite violence during the month of Ramadan, which began on June 6th. The events at Pulse occurred during Ramadan’s month long celebration. In the case of several recent terrorist attacks, Baghdadi did not send individuals into targeted territories, he does not have to anymore, which leads to our next point. Second, and more importantly, this is the new modus operandi and modernization plan for extremist groups around the globe. ISIS, al-Qai’da and others have mastered the use of social media and online materials to radicalize individuals around the world without necessarily meeting them, sending them to training camps or using any of the old tactics that worked to increase their numbers and further their cause. Certainly all these methods still occur, but they have embraced the concept of selling their ideology to the masses in areas that have historically been more difficult for them to reach, including America. Said individuals then act on their behalf, which limits the funding and training that would otherwise be required to accomplish the same task.
We are progressively losing the more important battles against radical Islam by crumbling at the feet of political correctness.
While we abhor their tactics, their plan to radicalize individuals and leverage the existing climate in the West is working to their advantage. As America and our European partners buckle to political and social pressure to become more inclusive with regards to immigration, we weaken our ability to combat radical Islam. Within America, we are unwilling, in many cases, to even call individuals driven by their radical ideology Muslims in fear that we will offend the masses. Subsequently, extremist groups across the globe are capitalizing on this weakness and utilizing their aforementioned social media and recruiting apparatus to incite violence and strike fear into the West, knowing full well that little will be done in terms of retaliation.
In summary, we highlight this all to emphasize the fact that we are progressively losing the more important battles against radical Islam by crumbling at the feet of political correctness. Regardless of whether a specific order was provided to Omar Mateen in Orlando, or any individual that is susceptible to ISIS propaganda, this is very much a part of their plan and simply cannot be separated as a different category of event. Terrorism is terrorism, period. If we avoid discussing this in order to not offend certain groups, we will continue to allow ISIS to successfully infiltrate our society and accomplish their mission of not just attacking us, but also dividing us – and therefore weakening us.
Remember this war is not about Afghanistan or Iraq. It is not about Syria, Yemen, Libya or any other war torn location. It is about religion and spreading their message, as it has been for thousands of years. We have to stop trying to describe this any other way that that. This religious and ideological battle has gone on for centuries and will continue until the end of time. How we manage it and fight it, is up to us.
By a Senior OpsLens Contributor