With five American Muslims in Pakistani custody after a failed attempt to join the jihad against American soldiers, Islamist organizations are promising new campaigns to combat radical ideology in their midst.
Given their stubborn refusal to acknowledge the problem as it developed, expectations for this effort may be best kept in check. Count Zuhdi Jasser, founder and chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) among the skeptics. In a new column, Jasser calls the pledge a promising sign, but notes it must be taken in context:
"As with alcoholics and drug addicts, admitting that there is a problem is the first step down the path of recovery and reformation. But the cynic and realist in me sees these announcements for what they are: recognition by these groups that their post 9/11 apologetic messaging is not resonating with the general public. To solve the problem, they adapted their messages to co-opt the rhetoric of curbing radicalization.
Just last month, both of these groups were out front in their efforts to decouple faith from the obvious Islamist radicalization of Maj. Nidal Hasan, the perpetrator of the Fort Hood massacre. In October they both were also quick to defame the FBI in the shooting death of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah of Detroit, who openly called for an establishment of an Islamic State and opened fire on agents who were coming to arrest him under criminal charges."
Jasser, a physician, offers his own prescription for the problem. It starts with a denunciation of political Islam and its manifestation through groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Muslim Public Affairs Council. Jasser is a devout Muslim whose zeal focuses on the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment and keeping his faith separate from the rules governing society.
This puts him at odds with those national Islamist organizations. He has shown a willingness to debate those who disagree with him but that rarely is reciprocated. And that's telling.
"Until Muslims can reform our ideas against the growing power of the Islamist movement," Jasser warns, "homegrown terror will only increase."