The following speech was given by Col. Melvin (Buzz) Kriesel, US Army (ret) to the Twin Cities Investment Trust on May 19, 2004:
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is an honor to speak to you this
evening.I will take about 20 minutes to
frame my remarks.This will leave time
for you to ask questions and comment on my pessimistic assessment of our war
with Islamic extremism.
My remarks will address what the President and others
mistakenly call “The Global War on Terrorism”.
At the outset, I want to make it clear that the terminology used to
describe the war is confusing and inaccurate.
We cannot attack terrorism, because there is no state or
political entity by that name.In other
words, it is impossible to declare war on an enemy’s weapons, tactics or
strategy…they are formless concepts.
Terrorism is simply the strategy our enemy is using to defeat us
By putting aside political correctness, we can begin to
correctly define our enemy.The reality
is, we are at war with Islamic extremists who have declared a Jihad (Holy
War) against us. They are using terrorism as a psychological weapon to counter
the overwhelming military and economic might of the West.
The objective of the Jihad is to
generate a mass movement within Islam that supports the ultimate goal of
establishing shari’a or Islamic law in all Muslim nations and eventually
The warriors in this struggle go by many names—Mujahideen,
Shahids, Salafiyya, and other Koranic terms.
Other names include Islamists, Jihadists,
Wahhabists and recently, Islamo-fascists.
Whatever you choose to call them, they have global reach and their
numbers are increasing.
Confronting the Jihad is complicated by the
difficulty of estimating the number of Muslims who directly or indirectly
support the militants.In any case, we
are dealing with some very large numbers.
The population of Muslims across the globe is estimated at between 1.2
and 1.5 billion.If a global conflict
with Islam were to occur the numbers of warriors available for Jihad is
Our war with the Islamists was officially declared after
their stunning attack on September 11, 2001.
We now regard that horrific day as our modern Pearl Harbor.
At 8:46 am on that September morning, we lost
over 3000 men and women to the enemy.
This closely approximates our casualties at Pearl Harbor in 1941 at the
outset of our entry into WW II.
There are another parallels to WW II that may apply to our
present struggle with the Islamists.The
sustained terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in Iraq are being used to
force the withdrawal of our forces before stability is restored to the country.
A modern Dunkirk may occur in the Middle East if we pull out of Iraq and
abandon that country to the enemy.
Bloodied by that experience, we may conclude that the job of democratic
nation building within the bloody borders of Islam is just too hard and
completely withdraw from the Middle East.
It is very likely that this will result in another Holocaust as Jews in
Israel are slaughtered in a genocidal Muslim rage and Christians are cleansed from
Is this extremist language?
Perhaps.Yet these predictions
are already a fact in Egypt where Coptic Christians are under a genocidal
assault by the Muslim Brotherhood.In
other parts of the world, Muslim rage is killing thousands of Christians: in
the Indonesian Molluccas where
Muslim violence has claimed at
least 5,000 lives in the past decade, and an estimated 500,000 people have been
driven from their homes; in the Sudan and Pakistan where the murder of
Christians living under shari’a government is routine; in Nigeria, and
Kenya where Muslims are killing Christians who are resisting the establishment
of shari’a in those countries.
These are only a few of the nations experiencing violent assaults by
radical Muslim extremists.
Locating and destroying the widely dispersed, highly
decentralized forces of the Jihad is proving to be exceedingly
difficult.Mounting an effective defense
against their operations is equally challenging if not impossible.
This is because their attacks do not have
traditional military objectives.They
are instead, a part of one of the deadliest psychological warfare campaigns
The PSYWAR campaign is the central strategy in the Jihad
declared by Osama bin Laden and his global al-Qaeda “base”.
As I have indicated, the ultimate objective
of the Jihad is to generate a mass movement within Islam against the
West.Its near-term objective is to
destroy Israel and drive US forces from the Middle East.
Its ultimate objective is the establishment
of shari’a in target countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and
eventually, the world.
On February 23, 1998, the Jihadists gave the world a
clear warning of their intent to declare war on the West.
On that date, a fatwa signed by Osama bin
Laden and the principal leaders of the “base”, formally declared Jihad
against Jews and Crusaders…the Crusaders being Christians generally but
specifically, the United States as the leader of the West.
Few Americans have
read or even heard of this fatwa, which clearly explains their ultimate
The media and academia largely ignored the fatwa as just
another rant by Islamic extremists.Yet,
the fatwa foretold 9/11 and outlined the struggle we are facing
The terrorist bombing in Madrid, Spain on March 11 is a
perfect illustration of the effectiveness of psychological terror in this
struggle.The bombing of the train in
Madrid was an immense human tragedy, with more than 200 killed and over a
thousand wounded.It was also a disaster
for the Western world. This single incident led to the defeat of Prime Minister
Aznar by the Socialists in Spain as well as the subsequent pullout of Spanish
soldiers from Iraq.It is a classic case
of psychological defeat and a shameful act of appeasement. It also confirms Jihadists'
contempt for the weakness and the cowardice of the West and encourages further
attacks aimed at the very heart of Europe.
The Spanish electorate is not alone in failing to grasp the
simple fact that we are engaged in a death struggle with radical Islam.
That simple fact, denied by the media
broadly and by Western academia specifically, makes us supremely vulnerable to
our enemy’s use of terror weapons against us.
Unless we understand whom we are fighting and why he is attacking us, we
will be defeated.
Broadly speaking, this is war of ideas.
It is a struggle for the minds of men who are
willing to bear any sacrifice for their distorted faith—even suicidal
death. If we are unable to discern the
political and psychological centers of gravity in this conflict, we risk an
insurgent mass movement within Islam of epic proportions.
Noted scholar Samuel Huntington has described
this potential conflict as a “Clash of Civilizations”. Huntington’s book should be required reading
if for no other reason than that he predicted 9/11. He also forecasts a profound struggle within
Islam as moderate Muslims struggle to recapture their faith from the
extremists.Regrettably, and as
predicted by Huntington, the extremists seem to be winning.
There are those who disagree with Huntington and argue that
his thesis is exaggerated and too alarmist.
I don’t agree.I think that
Huntington is correct in his pessimistic assessment of the great difficulty we
will face in countering radical Islamic extremism. The cultural clash that pits Islam against
the West is now occurring.We may even
be in the early stages of an Islamic mass movement that is likely to increase
in religious fervor and violence. As
we are seeing in Iraq and Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East, the
virulent hatred and intolerance of militant Islam makes it an extremely tough,
This raises an important question. Is Islam a peaceful,
tolerant religion or is it a “religion of the sword”?
Moderate Muslims strenuously maintain that Islam is a
religion of peace and tolerance.
However, it is difficult to refute its militant history and the violence
that accompanied the early history of its spectacular expansion. I do not have time here to develop the
militant history of Islam and how it relates to modern manifestations of Jihad. However, I will describe how modern Islamic
fundamentalism relates to two militant trends that converged in Egypt and found
expression in Al Qaeda as the “base” for all modern Islamist movements.
The first of these militant trends is that which derives
from the teaching of an 18th Century fanatic by the name of Ibn
Abdul Wahhab, who preached in a remote region of what is now Saudi Arabia. Significantly, Wahhab was to marry the
daughter of a local chieftain by the name of Ibn Saud. Ibn Saud lent his name to what would become
the Kingdom Saudi Arabia.Thus was
formed a religious/political alliance that lasts down to the present day—one
shielding the other in an amazing but deadly marriage of religious and
Ibn Abdul Wahhab was fanatically puritanical in his
fundamentalist beliefs.He also
proclaimed Jihad to be the sixth pillar of Islam declaring “Jihad
is the ultimate manifestation of Islam…it is a furnace in which Muslims are
melted out and which allow the separation of the bad Muslim from the good
one.”He declared Jihad a
religious duty for all Muslims and condemned all enemies as polytheists who
have no right to live.This set the
stage for much of the cruelty and terror practiced by Wahhab’s present day
adherents who are known as Wahhabi
Today, militant Wahhabism is the official religion of Saudi
Arabia.Funded by Saudi oil revenue,
Wahhabism is expanding across the Muslim world.
There is a Wahhabi directed building boom resulting in thousands of new
mosques and madrassas (Islamic schools) under construction or recently
completed in countries that stretch from the northern edges of Africa to the
eastern islands of the Philippines.The
construction is primarily financed by Saudi Arabian money and built to Wahhabi
The Wahhabi movement is also strong in the West. In the mosques of London, Paris, Bonn,
Madrid, Rome, and in North America’s streets and prisons—militant Wahhabism is
the central Islamic doctrine used to find converts in the West.
My friends, with gasoline going at over 2 bucks a gallon,
you can bet that there will be additional billions poured into this Wahhabist
inspired, Saudi financed Islamic revival if we do not find a means of stopping
The Salafist movement is the other trend that melds
with and supports the Wahhabist inspired Islamic Jihad. Like the Wahhabi, the Salafists seek
to return Islam to its earliest roots or to the Islam practiced by the first
two generations of Muslims. The Salafists
join the Wahhabi in a shared conviction that they are the only true Muslims;
all other forms of Islam are shirk or unbelief. Unless you profess their brand of Islam you
are a polytheist and an apostate and must be converted or killed.
The Salafists also believe that shari’a and
the principles of religions law must replace secular law in all Muslim states
and societies.(The implementation of shari’a
is now the driving force behind Muslim violence in the Sudan, Kenya, and
Nigeria.It can be expected to manifest
itself throughout the Europe and North America as growing Muslim communities
demand their own jurisprudence and religious courts.).
The movement that is directing the Salafist Jihad
is the Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) that originated in
Egypt in 1928.A schoolteacher named
Hassan al Banna formed the Ikhwan.He
declared that violent Jihad is the means Muslims should use in
establishing shari’a-based societies.
Sayyid Qtub, a radical Islamist theologian, later refined al
Banna’s doctrine and focused it on direct appeals to violence. Qutb formally declared that there could
never be peace with the West.He also
taught that all existing Islamic states and their rulers were not true Muslims
but pagans who must be destroyed.He
called for Jihad against all rulers in the Middle East and against
society in general.He led several
unsuccessful attempts to assassinate Egyptian Leader Gamal Nasser. Nasser cracked down by arresting Qutb and
many of the Ikhwan ringleaders.
They were hanged in 1966.
Nasser’s crackdown made the Muslim Brotherhood go
underground.It survived by splitting
into a number of associated extremist groups.
One offshoot, the Gamma al-Islamiyya, produced Ayman al-Zawahiri,
the half-mad, but brilliant fanatic and associate of Osama bin Laden. Al-Zawahiri was closely associated with the Gamma
leader, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman.
Together they successfully plotted the assassination of Anwar Sadat and
directed the brutal massacre of 66 tourists at Luxor in 1997. They also began a genocidal attack on
Egyptian Coptic Christians that continues today.
Where are they now?
Al Zawahiri is hiding some place in Northeastern Afghanistan with a $25 Million Dollar price on his head. Sheikh Omar is sitting in a Federal
Penitentiary in Missouri after being convicted of masterminding the 1993
bombing of the World Trade Center.
It is important to remember that our Global War with the
Islamic Jihad is not a war with Muslims or Islam. It is a war with a radical faction within
Islam that seeks our complete overthrow.
Their numbers are growing despite our efforts to interdict their
operations and destroy their cells.Be
assured, they will not cease operations until they are either completely
destroyed or until moderate Muslims come forward to unequivocally, reject the Jihad
they have been called to support.
Military operations directed by timely intelligence is
crucial to winning the war.However,
there are other, equally important actions we can take to deny the Islamists
the shari’a-based world they are seeking to establish.
First, we have been largely ineffective in countering the Jihad
messages being sent by Islamic fundamentalist to Muslims around the world. This is because our Public Diplomacy apparatus
is in complete disarray.Margaret
headed the Office of Public Diplomacy recently resigned. Her departure will not impact our Public
Diplomacy program, as there is none worthy of the name. Yet there has never been a time in our history
when there has been a greater need for effective Information Operations. As a retired military officer, I can only
apologize for the damage done to our image here and abroad by the criminal
activities of some of our soldiers at Abu Ghraib Prison.
We urgently need to counter the anti-American messages
beamed at the Middle East and Arab world.
Unfortunately, the USIA formed to fight the Cold War was disestablished
by the Clinton Administration in 1999.
It should be reactivated to lead this campaign. Our Public Diplomacy offensive should also
connect directly with target audiences in the Muslim world. This can be done by building US sponsored
libraries and information centers throughout the Muslim world, by translating
more Western books into Arabic, by increasing scholarships and visiting
fellowships for Muslim academics, by upgrading the American Internet presence,
and by training more Arabists, Arab speakers and public relations
specialists.Until this is done, we are
at the mercy of al Jazeera and can only watch as support for America continues
Secondly, we have to protect and give a voice to moderate
Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere, who want to speak out against their
violent coreligionists. This includes
Muslims within our own borders.Moderate
Muslims in particular must be called upon to reject the hatred and violence
being directed against Jews, Christians and other religions. In other words Muslims must begin to
demonstrate that Islam is a tolerant religion as proven by deeds as well as
words.They can begin by demanding that
mosques and madrassas cease preaching the extremism of the Wahhabi sect before
it completely infects their faith.
Finally, the Commission created to investigate 9/11 must
face a truth that they (and our Congressional leaders) have been reluctant to
confront.The Commission should connect
the dots that lead to illicit Saudi Arabian monetary and logistics support for
the men who conducted the attacks of 9/11.
It is shameful that the involvement of the Saudi government in 9/11 is
not being investigated and their actions revealed to the American people and
We should also confront the Saudi government with regard to
their continued funding of Wahhabi directed violence and terrorism around the
world.This funding and support creates
deadly madrassas that are factories for the creation of suicide bombers and
religious cannon fodder for al-Qaeda and its associated Islamic groups.
To conclude, we are in a global war with Islamic extremism.
The Islamists are putting us to the test in
Iraq.They do not seek to turn Iraq into
another Vietnam.They are trying to turn
Iraq into another Afghanistan and do to us what they did to the Soviet
Union…force a humiliating withdrawal.We
simply must not let that happen and withdraw in the face of adversity as we did
in Beirut and Mogadishu.
If we end up losing in Iraq it won't be because the American
people were too soft or unwilling to stick with the President and when the
going got tough. The public understands something the pundit and political
classes are reluctant to recognize—the war in Iraq is directly linked to the
global war with militant Islam. They
also understand what former statesman Dean Acheson meant when he said, “No
People in history have ever survived who thought they could protect their
freedom by making themselves inoffensive to their enemies”
All Americans should
pray that the White House and the Democratic challenger fully understand that
the greater challenge we face is not who wins in November but who wins in our
struggle with Militant Islam.The fate
of Iraq and a democratic world is hanging in that political balance.