Note: To read our review of Asra Nomani's Woke Army, click here.
Spurred by the brutal murder of her friend and Wall Street Journal colleague Daniel Pearl by Islamic jihadists, Asra Nomani launched her campaign against Islamic extremism in 2002. One of her pioneering battles against radical Islam was the fight for equal rights for Muslim women to pray alongside men in the main hall of a West Virginia local mosque. The mosque where she grew up had a separate prayer section for women in the back.
Nomani also heard imams at the mosque preach hatred toward non-believers and the West. Her largely-futile struggle against the Islamist Mosque was showcased in the PBS documentary, "The Mosque in Morgantown" as the final installment of the network's series "America at a Crossroads."
In her new book, Woke Army: The Red-Green Alliance That is Destroying America's Freedom, Nomani exposes how Muslims radicals, led by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), have forged a new alliance with leftist activists to create a "Woke Army" seeking to subvert American freedoms and destroy Israel.
The IPT spoke to Nomani about the threat from the "Woke Army," the inspiration behind her book, and the challenges she faced in writing the book.
IPT: What was your inspiration for writing this book?
Nomani: My friend [Wall Street Journal reporter] Danny Pearl's murder and my love of America, children and family inspired me to write this book. The Woke Army is fomenting in the United States and the world the same type of sectarianism that Danny's killers used to justify slaughtering him. We cannot let ideologues replace the old hierarchy of human value with a new hierarchy of human value. And, when I saw the Woke Army put a target on our K-12 schools and children, I was inspired to write this book in defense of our nation's children and their future.
IPT: Your book exposes the "Woke Army" or the red-green alliance that is subverting American democracy and seeks Israel's destruction. How do you suggest one confront its use of intimidation, threats and bullying tactics to silence critics?
Nomani: We must oppose the Woke Army with moral courage. We must stay true to our values and build alliances with similarly minded people and organizations. Courage is truly contagious. I have seen this with the parents' movement, as parents challenge the Woke Army's attack on our most precious asset: our world's children.
IPT: You talk in detail about the LoonWatch.com disinformation website set up by CAIR leaders to discredit Muslim reformers and critics of radical Islam. How much of a role has deception and subterfuge played in the rising influence of groups like CAIR and the larger Islamist lobby? Also, has CAIR responded to your assertions in the book?
Nomani: CAIR and the Woke Army exploited the freedoms of the West to use deceit to run character assassinations against their enemies. Typical of its modus operandi, CAIR has not publicly responded to the findings in my book. My mother, who has witnessed their cowardly attacks for the past 20 years, says that is typical of people who are shameless. She calls them the Shameless Brigade. And I want to take this moment to recognize Steve Emerson and the Investigative Project on Terrorism for their resilience and clarity of purpose for all of these years the Woke Army has tried to cancel your important work.
IPT: What are some of the challenges faced by Muslim reformers like you, Zuhdi Jasser, and others in confronting the powerful American Islamist lobby that claims to be the legitimate face of Muslim Americans? How do you propose to meet those challenges?
Nomani: Starting with our first encounters with the character assassins of the Woke Army in 2002 and continuing with our battle cry today – Woman, Life, Freedom – our lived expertise as Muslim reformers fighting the Woke Army is a guide for you into its sick, depraved operations in the West over the past two decades. Our greatest challenge is the credibility that the Work Army tries to steal from us. And a guidepost for how we can defeat it with the courage and intellectual clarity we see on the streets of Iran today, among girls also declaring death to tyranny.
IPT: You write about the Muslim Brothers at 500 Grove Street in Herndon, Va. being the financial and political hub of the influential American Islamist network. What do you think are the reasons they have been so successful in infiltrating politics, academia, and influencing mainstream media?
Nomani: By the early 1990s, the new generation of Muslims in America had established their hub in Northern Virginia at 500 Grove Street. As I write, in 1991, Muslim leaders issued a document that outlined a "stable Islamic Movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood" and a "Civilization-Jihadist Process" with the US as a "settlement" for "the jamaat," or Islamic community. The paper's subtitle: "On the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America." This vision is what we now see manifest in investment houses, grant managers, PR and media machines and so much more realizing the penetration of the Muslim brothers, as I call them, in politics, academic and the media They have built beachheads from NPR to Georgetown University with an intentional strategy to undermine America for the cause of Islamism.
IPT: CAIR has ties to a former Hamas-support network in the U.S. It also has a long and well-documented history of attacking Jews and Israel. Why is it that elected officials who endorse the Islamist group or speak at its fundraisers choose to ignore this history? Similarly, why is it that the mainstream media portray CAIR as a legitimate Muslim advocacy organization and not question its radical origins and extremist rhetoric?
Nomani: CAIR uses race as a shield against its extremism, bigotry and hate. It poses as the Muslim version of the NAACP, claiming to be a civil rights group dedicated solely to protecting the rights of Muslim Americans. But my multiyear investigation into this network is a probe I undertook to get a better understanding of the group that was clearly helping to organize my critics, and the results of my probe suggest far more sinister goals. At its core, this network is anti-Semitic and has contempt for secular American values. It supports a dangerous worldview that Islam ought to be at the center of politics, setting laws, public policy, and regulatory rules. Substitute the word "Islam" with Christian, and a Christian theocracy that espoused these ideas would be just as disturbing (and five hundred years ago it was), and yet its members enjoy legitimacy in the wider network of the Woke Army. Why? Because they guilt and shame the Democrats and the far left into thinking they are not inclusive or progressive if they don't support CAIR. We must continue to expose CAIR for the illiberal group it is.
IPT: What is your advice to people who understand the threat from the "Woke Army" but are scared to speak out because of the current environment of "cancel culture" and "political correctness"?
Nomani: Courage is contagious. We must be even more courageous than our adversaries and overcome our fears with a clarity about our values and principles. This is an existential fight for the future of America and our world. Winning will be our legacy and each and every like-minded person must remember: courage is action even in the face of fear.
IPT: Can you describe some of the challenges you faced in writing this book? How did you overcome those challenges?
Nomani: My biggest challenge was, indeed, fear – if you can believe it. Fear of taking on the Woke Army, fear of being assailed by them again, because it is so ugly and cruel in trying to destroy its adversaries. I wanted to make sure that I had every slice of its disturbing behavior reported out, and guess what? I survived my book's release. The bad guys in my book are trying to ignore me. But this I know: my book speaks truth to power! I survived and so will you!
Abha Shankar is the IPT research director.
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