American Muslims' Role in the Global War On Terror
by Imaad Malik
On November 4, 1979 Iranian militants occupied the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking some seventy Americans as hostages. Almost a year before, the ruling Shah had fled into exile. A leading Shia Muslim cleric, Ayatollah Khomeini, had come out of exile and risen to a position of political dominance.
The Iranian revolution would produce America's first major experience with radicalized Islam. The events in Iran would herald a wave of violence emanating from the Muslim world, culminating in the emergence of al-Qaida.
Nearly three decades after the Iranian hostage crisis, and especially since September 11, 2001, Americans witness escalating and intensifying violence by Muslim extremists. As a nation, we have also undergone numerous bombings, attacks on military targets like the U.S.S. Cole, and, most recently, an assault on the U.S. Embassy in Syria.
Continuing kidnappings of Americans remind our people of the 1979 hostage crisis. Kidnappings have mainly led to murder – most notably, the brutal slaying of journalists Daniel Pearl in Pakistan and Steven Vincent in Iraq.
In his Address to the Nation marking the fifth anniversary of September 11, President Bush spoke about the impact of the global war on terror. Bush stated, "We are now in the early hours of this struggle between tyranny and freedom." Americans will have to make sacrifices to win this war.
President Bush acknowledged that the Central Intelligence Agency has questioned nearly 100 suspected terrorists, and "they provided valuable information that has helped stop attacks in America and across the world". Among them are senior Al-Qaeda aide Abu Zubaydah and the mastermind of September 11, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. The chief executive admitted that "tough" interrogation methods were used on 14 alleged terrorists, which elicited information on plans to attack Americans and, as John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence stated, "saved American lives".
Since the Iranian revolution, the Islamic world itself has been ravaged by bloodthirsty, militant Islamists. Radical Islamist ideology has penetrated every sphere of Muslim life. But the problem remains global. In the 21st century Western Europe has become a home to large Muslim communities. Countries such as England, France, Germany and Holland have seen an influx of Muslim immigrants that could soon overwhelm them.
In these countries, problems have emerged in assimilating Muslims into a culture based on universal human rights. Militant Islamic ideology has led to strident demonstrations by immigrants who have not made the transition into the West. Today, Islam has become synonymous, in the minds of many Westerners, with violence.
It is therefore the moment for American Muslims to infuse Islam with a moderate spirit that will make it an effective counterforce to radical Islam. American Muslims must utilize our intellect and talent to support America in the war on Islamic terrorism. In addition, we can use these same powers to help restore vitality to Islam worldwide, improving its response to the social, economic and political demands of a global society.
Since the Iranian revolution, radicalism had spread in Islam. But with the defeat of extremism, Islam may enhance human freedom and human dignity. This is the religious community we American Muslims must create for ourselves and for our children, and for the security of our neighbors, in the common combat against tyranny and for the expansion of freedom.