Breitbart News National Security Editor Dr. Sebastian Gorka, author of Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War, appeared on Breitbart News Sunday to answer host Stephen K. Bannon’s challenge that, contrary to the title, his book doesn’t make the war against jihad sound very “winnable” at all.
Gorka said he was motivated to write the book because he has seen “sixteen years of right-wing Administrations and left-wing Administrations punt the ball, or completely drop the ball, on this war.”
“But we can win it, if we have the leadership,” he contended, saying his book contains “the recipe to win this war rapidly.”
Gorka argued that the “history of modern jihad” began in 1979. “If you want to understand September 11th, if you want to understand the Boston bombing, the Ft. Hood massacre, the recent massacre in San Bernardino, the recent attack in Brussels, it all begins in 1979,” he said.
“It begins with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that triggers the first organization that predates al-Qaeda, which was the Arab Services Bureau, the mujahadeen. That’s where al-Qaeda begins in 1979. Then we have the Iranian revolution, hugely important because we have one nation-state that says Islam can be re-integrated into politics. It’s the Shia, yes, but this is a model for all Muslims: we can create theocracies, and be successful, and reject the Western model of politics,” Gorka continued.
He added a third highly significant event from that era, which most Americans haven’t heard of: “Three hundred jihadis, in 1979, armed with automatic weapons, sieged and captured the most important site in all of Islam, the Grand Mosque at Mecca. And it is the consequences of that siege, in which the Saudi regime signed a pact with the devil, if you will, with the extremist fundamentalist clerics in Saudi Arabia — that’s where it all begins.”
The understanding between the Saudi regime and jihadis had the effect of turning both violent terrorism and Islamist ideology outward, buying peace for the Saudis at the rest of the world’s expense. As Bannon noted, the siege was also a huge media event across the Muslim world, giving the radicals who captured the Grand Mosque a platform to express their beliefs and win converts.
Gorka proposed two reasons why the Western media has never assigned the proper historical significance to the siege of Mecca: it’s too complicated to explain for a mainstream press interested primarily in quick sound bites, and it reflects poorly on America’s nominal ally, Saudi Arabia.
“We made a strategic decision after World War II that Saudi Arabia would be our partner, would be our so-called ally, so we don’t want to talk about the fact that Saudi Arabia is, in part, responsible for the export of the most totalitarian ideology active today, which is global jihadism,” he said.
“During the siege, the King managed to identify the fact that these aren’t just a bunch of Koran-beating yahoos. These 300 jihadis had the blessing, had the support, of key members of the Saudi clerical class, the ulamaa, the wise theologians – who said, ‘yep, Islam’s lost its way, we’re surrounded by apostates, the King is a puppet of the West, and we need a holy war to cleanse Islam,’” Gorka explained. “When the King found that out, he invited these clerics to the palace for a little chat, and he said to them, ‘Gentlemen, I know who you are, and I know your connection to these jihadis. Let me offer you a deal. If you guarantee for me that my nation — my country, Saudi Arabia, and my family — will never, ever be threatened again by this kind of extremist violence, this jihadism, you will become the court ulamaa. You will become the clerics to the House of Saud. You, your sons, and your grandsons will have jobs for life.’”
Crucially, the Saudi monarchy also offered the help finance the export of jihad ideology around the world, “and for the last 25 years, we have been paying the price for that deal,” Gorka said, counting among those toxic imports Salafism, Wahabbi Islam, and the Deobandi sect, which is far more influential in European and American mosques than most outsiders realize.
Gorka said it was crucial for Western leaders to “jettison this fantasy that you hear all the time, after 9/11, that Islam needs a ‘Reformation.’” As he explained, the Christian Reformation was driven by the urge to “get back to basics,” such as studying the Bible and developing a fundamental understanding of the faith. That is precisely the message of the Islamic “extremists” and jihadis of today. In their eyes, they are the Reformation.
The “dirty little secret that nobody wants to tell you,” as Gorka put it, is that the Islamist ideology of al-Qaeda or ISIS “is not fundamentally un-Islamic because it is the Seventh Century interpretation of Islam that comes straight from the Koran.”
“The second half of the Koran is uber-violent. It’s about killing infidels,” he explained. “As a result, we don’t need more reformation to get back to basics because then we will empower the jihadis.”
In order to cut through political correctness and Washington static, Gorka had a provocative request for listeners: “Every American citizen who cares about the republic, after 9/11, you don’t have an excuse. Buy a Koran. Don’t listen to the conventional wisdoms that are being spewed out by the mainstream media. Go to the primary source, and make a judgment for yourself about this religion.”
He also stressed the importance of understanding that, unlike the Bible and most other religious texts, the Koran is meant to be the unchallengeable word of God, dictated to Mohammed by the archangel Gabriel, rather than a series of stories and prophetic revelations that might be subject to reinterpretation by later authorities. Gorka suggested it might be helpful to think of the entire Koran as if it were the Ten Commandments — except, of course, that the Koran is much more comprehensive, detailed, and particular than the rather terse Commandments.
In a similar vein, he challenged the common talking point that “jihad” refers to constructive, non-violent internal struggles against temptation by noting that on “twelve times as many occasions in the Koran, when the word ‘jihad’ is used, it’s not about peaceful inner striving,” but instead describes “martial war, kinetic war, defeating and suppressing the enemy until they convert to the One True Faith, or until you have successfully destroyed them.”
He noted that jihad is certainly understood that way by terrorists and Islamist leaders, such as ISIS, which waged an aggressive war of conquest to re-establish the Islamic “caliphate” abolished by Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk a century ago.
“The Islamic State now holds territory in multiple countries of the Middle East and Africa,” Gorka observed. “This is stunning. They hold territory in Iraq, in Libya, in Syria, and now Boko Haram has become part of the caliphate, which means anything that belongs to Boko Haram in Nigeria is part of the new caliphate. That means we have more than six million people living on the territory of the new Islamic empire.” He further noted that empire boasts some 76,000 fighters, many of them foreign recruits, and is making between $2 million and $4 million per day, with income streams ranging from banditry to legal taxation.
In Gorka’s estimation, the refusal of Western political leaders to understand the unique nature of Islam, and the significance of such historic events as the Grand Mosque siege, lies at the heart of the leadership vacuum that might cause us to lose the war against jihad, despite our enormous military, technological, and economic advantages.
For example, Western leaders have deliberately blinded themselves to the penetration of Western mosques by radical imams, refusing to ask critical questions about where immigrant clerics were educated. Gorka said the Obama Administration is also politically aligned against one of the few successful examples of de-radicalization in the Middle East, the “coup” conducted against the Muslim Brotherhood by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt.
“We have to support those regimes, whether it’s Egypt or whether it’s King Abdullah in Jordan, who have a different understanding of Islam and modernity,” Gorka urged. “We need more people like Ataturk — people who say, ‘Look, I’m the democratically elected head of this country, and I don’t care what the Koran says about killing infidels right now. We don’t do that because we like America, we like the West, and I’m going to tell you what Islam is.’ The State Department doesn’t like to hear that because they want to have freedom of religion, but if you’re dealing with Islam that has a Seventh Century original version that is violent, we cannot do that.”
The Department of Homeland Security doesn’t like to hear that, either. Gorka related an astonishing story of being approached by a DHS official, after he delivered an eight-hour presentation on jihad to law-enforcement officials, who told him the real threat facing America was not Islamist terror but “right-wing extremists” and offered the 21-year-old Oklahoma City bombing as evidence of this imminent threat.
“I doubt the average law-enforcement officer, or American taxpayer, would agree with the government line in Washington,” he observed.
Gorka compared that government line on Islamism to the authorities informing American troops to avoid potentially offensive terms like “Nazi” as they were preparing to storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, or the authorities in the Fifties telling law enforcement to avoid terms like “white supremacist” when dealing with the Ku Klux Klan because they were really just “misguided Democrats.”
“Today we can’t use the world ‘jihad.’ We can’t talk about religion. It is banned. And if you can’t talk about the enemy, you will not win,” he warned.
It’s no laughing matter that the enemy shares no such reticence when it comes to discussing us. Gorka discusses Islamist godfather Sayyid Qutb and his landmark book Milestones, which can be downloaded in its entirety from The Gorka Briefing. He remarked on how Qutb offered a savage critique of America as a land of decadence that had to be destroyed by the jihad –and he was writing in the 1950s, after visiting idyllic, wholesome small towns in the West. Qutb’s work is almost universally read by jihadis, who, he noted, tend to be far better educated and deliberate in their ideology than the U.S. State Department gives them credit for.
“It is a totalitarian ideology that defines itself against us,” Gorka said of jihad. “We are the antithesis. Everything America stands for — individual liberty, based on the dignity of the human being made in the image of God — that is what must be destroyed or enslaved. This is not random acts of violence. It has a plan. It has a strategy.”
In other words, and in summation, jihadis believe they are in a war, and they believe they have a workable strategy to win it. Those are the two elements most sorely missing from the West’s political leadership, which, Gorka noted, does not like to speak in terms of defeating a jihadist enemy and is often profoundly uncomfortable with using terms like “enemy,” “victory,” or “war.”
“Think about one thing. This is provocative, but I believe it. Why do we have 22 vets commit suicide every 24 hours in America?” Gorka asked. “Why do we have unprecedented levels of PTSD in this nation? Our grandfathers saw some bad stuff in World War II, especially in the Pacific, especially when they liberated the death camps. But when they came home in the 1950s, they didn’t eat the barrel of a 1911. Why? Because they knew they were on the side of the angels. Their President, their commander, told them, ‘This is a war against evil, and what you are going to see may be nasty, but it’s okay, guys, you’re on the side of Right.’ We don’t say that any more.”
“If we don’t have a sense of victory, if we don’t talk about the enemy as they are, we could lose this war,” Gorka warned before sadly concluding that Europe, from whence he hails, has already lost it. “America is ten years behind Europe, if you look at the threat internally, and not just from terrorism… We’ve got, tops, five years. If the next Administration doesn’t go to war — with our Muslim allies — against the jihadists, we could lose this, either kinetically, or from the inside through subversion. Five years, maximum.”