03/02/2015 03:29 pm ET Updated May 01, 2015

International Islamist Terrorism: It's More Than a Mere Question of Semantics

Since the Bible also contains verses calling for war and the destruction of the other, then what difference is there with the Koran?
None, if not for the attitude of the religious leaders themselves.
- If they consider, as is the case with the majority of Christians and Jews, that these verses are related to bygone historic times, they therefore cannot be inspired by them to justify violence and murder.
- On the other hand, if these verses are considered the "divine word" and bearers of the only truth, everything is to be feared.

-- François Garai (1945- )
Rabbi in Geneva, Switzerland, and head of the GIL (Liberal Jewish Group) and member of the World Union of Progressive Judaism.

"The mosques [in Western countries] will be our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets will be our swords, and the faithful will be our army." -- Recep Tayyip Erdogan (1954- )
President of Turkey, [in December 1997 when he was mayor of Istanbul, citing in his speech the nationalist poet Ziya Gökalp (1876-1924)].

"We could have just said no [to Saudi financing of a mosque in Norway], in principle the ministry doesn't approve such things. But when we were first asked, we used the opportunity to add that an approval would be paradoxical as long as it's a crime to establish a Christian community in Saudi Arabia."
Jonas Gahr Støre (1960- ), Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, (Oct. 2010).

"We must speak clearly: Yes, France is at war against terrorism, jihadism and radical Islamism."
-- Manuel Valls (1962-), French Prime Minister (speech to the National Assembly on 13 January 2015).

Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam. Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights...
The truth [is] that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles -- principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings...
I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear...
So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.

Barack Obama (1961- ), Speech at Cairo University: A New Beginning, June 4, 2009, in which the words "terror" or "terrorism" were not mentioned at all.

"Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL [ISIS] through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy."
Barack Obama (1961- ), Statement by the President on ISIL, September 10, 2014.

[The ISIS terrorist networks] "are not an existential threat to the United States or to the world order."
Barack Obama (1961- ), CNN interview of February 1, 2015.


Early last January, it was widely reported that President Barack Obama's staff had said that for him or his vice president not joining other heads of state in the largest rally in the history of Paris to protest the carnage done by Islamist terrorists in their attacks against journalists and against French Jews, had been a "mistake", made by an "unnamed senior White House staff."

I personally did not buy that line of thought for an instant, even though nearly all American media swallowed the story hook, line and sinker! Anybody who knows how a government functions also knows that such an explanation is absolutely impossible, because that kind of decision is widely discussed at the White House, but also at the State Department and elsewhere within the government. The final decision not to have the U.S. president or his vice president present at the anti-Islamist terror rally in Paris had to be made, in the last analysis, by President Obama himself. The likely motive: President Obama did not want to be personally associated, nor his administration, to a high profile rally against international Islamist terrorism.

In 2008, I wrote an article about then U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama, following the publication in the U.S. of my book The New American Empire, a few years before. I had arrived at the conclusion that even though Obama was probably "the least worst" candidate, he was also showing a dangerous propensity to double-talk. The last two quotes above could be an example of such a tendency.

This brings me to the observation that over the last few weeks and months, some politicians in Western countries have also adopted a somewhat distinctive and curious linguistic approach to describe the current phenomenon of international Islamist terrorism and its Islamist jihadist ideology. This is basically a form of escapism, denial, willful delusions and dodges.

U.S. President Barack Obama, for example, has gone out of his way in not using in his speeches the perfectly appropriate words of "Islamist terrorism", but has preferred to use instead the more general and the more vague and vacuous words of "violent extremism" to describe the repetitive killings of innocent people by Islamist terrorists in many countries. He has even gone so far as to imply that criticism of the failings of Islam, as a prerogative of free speech in any democracy, could be a major cause of the rise of violent jihadists, rather than the bombing of populations in the Middle East by Western powers.

Added to that is Mr. Obama's proclivity to make his own the twisted logic of the National Rifle Association (NRA) when the latter asserts that freely and widely available "guns do not kill people; only people kill people." Now Mr. Obama says, with perhaps even less justification, that "no religion is responsible for terrorism -- people are responsible for violence and terrorism," as if most Islamist terrorists were not motivated by a backward ideology that has its roots in the Dark Ages. This is not to deny that in many cases, it may be difficult to separate the political motives from the religious ones behind the bloody and gory crimes committed by delusional psychopaths.

Other Western politicians, in Europe and in Canada, (luckily they are a minority!) have also tried to downplay the true character of international Islamist terrorism by playing a trivial and potentially self-delusional game of semantics to gloss over and obscure reality. In their view, when well-financed and well-identified Islamist terrorists kill journalists or innocent Jewish bystanders by the dozens in Paris and in Copenhagen, or when the medieval butchers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria decapitate two dozen Egyptian Christian workers in Libya just because of their religious affiliation, or again when the same madmen are bent on establishing a caliphate and carry out mass-executions of ethnic or religious minorities in Iraq and in Syria, these should be considered, according to some politicians, to be some "random" criminal acts committed by some freelance extremists, not related whatsoever to the Islamist jihadist ideology! Egads!

With such a misappropriate and somewhat dishonest play with words to describe the criminal murders by international Islamist terrorists, it would seem that what these politicians wish to do is to confuse people's mind and conceal the anti-freedom of the press ideology, the anti-freedom of religion ideology and the anti-Jewish ideology of the killers. Their purpose, it would seem, is to separate international Islamist terrorism from its religious Islamic source, even when the killers themselves do their misdeeds while yelling "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is the great!) while shooting and beheading innocent people.

The intention of that type of cowardly politicians is to inculcate in the minds of people the idea that these cruel terrorist acts are the result of random ordinary violence by individuals unconnected to a particular religious ideology, and therefore, that they are not that important. Such a play with words and with the truth could also be an attempt to justify a politician's inaction and his concealed position of irenicism and of defeatism.

This is most disingenuous, because from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization and the 9/11 mass killers in the USA to the butchers of ISIS in Iraq, Syria and Libya, or to the Islamist terrorists in Chechnya or Yemen or in Nigeria, and not forgetting the Islamist killers of the Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris in January 2015, and those killed in Copenhagen and in Ottawa, it can be said unequivocally that even though it is true that "not all Muslims are terrorists", far from it, it should nevertheless be ascertained nowadays that "most high profile international terrorists are likely Muslims," no matter how hard some complacent characters do their best to hide this obvious fact.

Mr. Obama and some other politicians might think that this is not a "holy war" that Western civilization faces, but the jihadists do.

Therefore, can we ask if this semantic game to limit the freedom of thought is only a demonstration of misplaced political correctness as a form of George Orwell's Newspeak, or if it is a cowardly attempt by some politicians to willfully mislead the people regarding the real threat of Islamist terrorism, not only in the Middle East, but increasingly also in Western countries?

The reality is made of daily instances of horrors and of extreme brutality as thousands of people, in many countries, are being slaughtered, crucified, decapitated, stoned to death, raped, forced into marriage, burnt alive, tortured, enslaved, expatriated, etc., all in the name of the Islamist jihadist ideology. This is a much too serious and dark reality for the international community to feign to ignore or to camouflage through semantic tricks.

In such a chaotic situation, it would seem obvious that the United Nations must be more pro-active in implementing the principles of the U.N. Charter and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Above all, and at this important juncture of human history, the current Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr. Ban Ki-moon holds a special responsibility.

A lack of fortitude and of foresight on his part could bring catastrophic, even apocalyptic, consequences for the world order, for fundamental human rights and for the fate of hundreds of millions of innocent people, men, women and children. At the very least, the U.N. General Assembly should declare the murderous ISIS organization illegal, and to be rejected by the international community, with the proviso that any member country supporting it directly or indirectly could be severely blamed.

Indeed, this savagery of another age has to stop. Islamist terrorism is a political cancer that should not be allowed to metastasize.

Now is not the time to discuss the sex of angels but to lead and to fight this rising threat to our civilization and to basic humanitarian and civilized principles, ideologically, politically and militarily. There is no way out. This is the challenge of our times and the world must rise to the challenge. As one woman told me after a meeting: "Maybe the world would be better off with no religions at all!" Think about it.

However, to fully understand why and how the monstrosity that is ISIS came into existence, one has to understand its source in the ill-conceived policy pursued by some American administrations and by some European governments to willfully destabilize Middle Eastern countries. This was done according to a neocon plan designed long ago to systematically sponsor insurgencies and civil wars in that part of the world and to overthrow their secular governments.

To avoid more man-made disasters, such a destructive strategy should be denounced and stopped, possibly reversed, and be replaced with a more coherent policy to help the populations over there rather to draw them into a daily hell.

The semantic game referred to above and carried on by some politicians may be a way to conceal the overall catastrophe that has resulted from the U.S.-led policy of destabilization of the entire Middle East for more than a decade. The ISIS crisis has arisen as a consequence of these past failed policies. Many parts of the world are now in a mess, and some sitting politicians and previous ones have to share responsibility for the situation -- and they know it.

Nevertheless, if for any reason, some of these sitting failed politicians, especially in our democracies, do not have in their character or in their belly to change course and do what is right, they should have the decency to step aside and let men or women of the quality of Winston Churchill in the U.K., Charles De Gaulle in France and Franklin D. Roosevelt in the USA take command in each of our countries.