Danger Room reports:
The FBI has publicly declared that its counterterrorism training seminars linking “mainstream” Muslims to terrorists was a “one time only” affair that began and ended in April 2011. But two months later, the Bureau employee who delivered those controversial briefings gave a similar lecture to a gathering of dozens of law enforcement officials at an FBI-sponsored public-private partnership in New York City.
And during that June presentation, the FBI’s William Gawthrop told his audience that the fight against al-Qaida is a “waste,” compared to the threat presented by the ideology of Islam itself.
“At the operational level, you have groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaida. Like teeth in a shark, it is irrelevant if you take one group out,” Gawthrop said during his lecture to the New York Metro Infragard at the World Financial Center in downtown Manhattan.
Since Danger Room published the contents of Gawthrop’s April lecture, top Senators and representatives from Arab- and Muslim-American groups have blasted the FBI for the training documents, which compare Mohammed to a “cult leader.”
This June 8 lecture is controversial in a different way. In Gawthrop’s worldview, the struggle against al-Qaida is really just an afterthought in a broader war. The group that knocked down the World Trade Center and rammed a jet into the Pentagon is a mere distraction. These are the professional assessments of a representative from the nation’s top domestic counterterrorism agency — a man considered so expert in understanding militant strategy that the FBI had him training agents on the subject.
“We waste a lot of analytic effort talking about the type of weapon, the timing, the tactics. All of that is irrelevant … if you have an Islamic motivation for actions,” Gawthrop said. Even taking down hostile states like Iran is futile, since “there are still internal forces that will seek to exert Islamic rule again.”
The best strategy for undermining militants, Gawthrop suggested, is to go after Islam itself. To undermine the validity of key Islamic scriptures and key Muslim leaders.
“If you remember Star Wars, that ventilation shaft that goes down to into the depths of the Death Star, they shot a torpedo down there. That’s a critical vulnerability,” Gawthrop told his audience. Then he waved a laser pointer at his projected PowerPoint slide, calling attention to the words “Holy Texts” and “Clerics.”
“We should be looking at, should be aiming at, these,” Gawthrop said.
Outside counterterrorists disagree — strongly — with Gawthrop’s take. “This is mind-numbingly stupid and dangerous,” says Aki Peritz, a former intelligence analyst at the National Counterterrorism Center, now with the Third Way think-tank in Washington. “If we were to follow his idea to a logical extension, that means we have individuals in every single government agency, at top levels, from CIA to the Defense Department to members of Congress, that are part of this cabal to destroy Western civilization. If you truly believe that, then this is McCarthyism on steroids.”
Gawthrop’s views are fully in line with other members of the Islamophobia network for whom one of the central tenets of their thesis is the idea that Islam is not a religion; it is an ideology.
This idea that the West is engaged in a deadly ideological struggle with Islam appears in many ways to not simply be a recreation of Cold War thinking in which communism has been substituted by Islam. It actually looks like the product of Cold War brains incapable of seeing the world in any other way than one in which the United States/The West is locked in combat with an enemy it must destroy.
To those who became entrenched in this mindset through the 1970s and 80s (and earlier), the end of the Cold War, with the Soviet Union quietly breaking apart rather than being incinerated, must have come as something of a disappointment.
How then will these Cold Warriors-turned Islamophobic ideologues conceive of “victory” in their war against Islam?
The ease with which the communist world fell apart had a great deal to do with the fact that communism’s ideological guardians had already passed away and the remaining ranks of its true believers were pretty thin. Islam, on the other hand, is clearly much more vibrant, so what for those who present Islam as the threat, do they think its “defeat” might look like?
A few years ago, the security analyst Michael Vlahos provided some clues:
I have had many “Defense World” conversations that have ended with: “the time may come when we will have to kill millions of Muslims,” or, “history shows that to win over a people you have to kill at least 10 percent of them, like the Romans” (for comparison, we killed or contributed to the death of about five percent of Japan from 1944-46, while Russia has killed at least eight percent of the Chechen people). Or consider the implications of “Freeper” talk-backs to an article of mine in The American Conservative: “History shows that wars only end with a totally defeated enemy otherwise they go on … Either Islam or us will quit in total destruction.”
Let’s be clear: they’re talking about another Holocaust.