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Report Outlines the Islamic Threat to America

Shariah: The Threat to America
Center for Security Policy
Executive Summary

In 1976, the then-Director of Central Intelligence, George H. W. Bush, commissioned an “Experiment in Competitive Analysis.” Its purpose was to expose to critical scrutiny the assumptions and factual basis underpinning the official assessment of the totalitarian ideology that confronted America at the time: Soviet Communism. That official assessment was rooted in the belief that, through a policy of engagement known as détente, the United States and the USSR could not only avoid horrifically destructive conflicts, but could peacefully coexist permanently.

DCI Bush invited a group of known skeptics about détente to review the classified National Intelligence Estimates and other data concerning Soviet objectives, intentions and present and future military capabilities. The object was to provide an informed second opinion on the U.S. policy toward the Kremlin that was, ostensibly, warranted in light of such information. The conclusions of this experimental initiative — which came to be known popularly as the “Team B” study — differed sharply from those of “Team A”: the Ford Administration and the intelligence community.

Team B found that the Soviet Union was, pursuant to its ideology, determined to secure the defeat of the United States and its allies and the realization of the worldwide triumph of Soviet Communism. As a result Team B found that not only was détente unlikely to succeed the way the U.S. government had envisioned, but the U.S. national security posture and policies undertaken in its pursuit were exposing the nation to grave danger.

The effect of this authoritative alternative view was profound. Among others, former California Governor Ronald Reagan used the thrust of its findings to challenge détente and those in public office who supported this doctrine. Drawing on the thinking of Team B with regard to national security issues, Reagan nearly defeated President Gerald Ford’s bid for reelection in the 1976 primaries. Four years later, Reagan successfully opposed President Jimmy Carter, with their disagreement over the latter’s détentist foreign and defense policies towards Moscow featuring prominently in the former’s victory.

Most importantly, as President, Ronald Reagan drew on the work of Team B as an intellectual foundation for his strategy for destroying the Soviet Union and discrediting its ideology — a feat begun during his tenure and finally accomplished, thanks to his implementation of that strategy, several years after he left office.


Today, the United States faces what is, if anything, an even more insidious ideological threat: the totalitarian socio-political doctrine that Islam calls shariah. Translated as “the path,” shariah is a comprehensive legal and political framework. Though it certainly has spiritual elements, it would be a mistake to think of shariah as a “religious” code in the Western sense because it seeks to regulate all manner of behavior in the secular sphere — economic, social, military, legal and political.

Shariah is the crucial fault line of Islam’s internecine struggle. On one side of the divide are Muslim reformers and authentic moderates — figures like Abdurrahman Wahid, the late president of Indonesia and leader of the world’s largest libertarian Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama — whose members espouse the Enlightenment’s embrace of reason and, in particular, its separation of the spiritual and secular realms. On this side of the divide, shariah is a reference point for a Muslim’s personal conduct, not a corpus to be imposed on the life of a pluralistic society.

By contrast, the other side of the divide is dominated by Muslim supremacists, often called Islamists. Like erstwhile proponents of Communism and Nazism, these supremacists — some terrorists, others employing stealthier means — seek to impose a totalitarian regime: a global totalitarian system cloaked as an Islamic State and called a caliphate. On that side of the divide, which is the focus of the present study, shariah is an immutable, compulsory system that Muslims are obliged to install and the world required to adopt, the failure to do so being deemed a damnable offence against Allah. For these ideologues, shariah is not a private matter. Adherents see the West as an obstacle to be overcome, not a culture and civilization to be embraced, or at least tolerated. It is impossible, they maintain, for alternative legal systems and forms of governments peacefully to coexist with the end-state they seek.


It is not within the scope of this study to solve the widely divergent estimates of the strength of these respective camps. The imperative driving this study is America’s national security and, by extension, the security of its friends and allies.

Like their counterparts a generation ago, the members of Team B II collectively bring to this task decades of hands-on experience as security policy practitioners and analysts, much of it involving shariah’s proponents of both the violent jihadist and pre-violent dawa stripes. They have distinguished backgrounds in national defense policy-making, military, intelligence, homeland security and law enforcement communities, in academia and in the war of ideas. Thanks to their expertise and dedication, this new report represents an authoritative, valuable and timely critique of the U.S. government’s present policy towards shariah and its adherents, an assessment of the threat it entails and a call for a long-overdue course-correction. This report reflects consensus on the following significant points:

First, the shariah adherents who comprise the supremacist camp constitute a mainstream and dynamic movement in Islam. Importantly, that characterization does not speak to the question of whether this camp is or is not representative of the “true Islam.” There are over a billion Muslims in the world, and their understandings about their belief system, as well as their practices with respect to it, vary. In light of this, there may not be a single “true Islam.” If there is one, we do not presume to pronounce what it holds.

What cannot credibly be denied, however, is that:

  1. shariah is firmly rooted in Islam’s doctrinal texts, and it is favored by influential Islamic commentators, institutions, and academic centers (for example, the faculty at al-Azhar University in Cairo, for centuries the seat of Sunni learning and jurisprudence);
  2. shariah has been, for over a half-century, lavishly financed and propagated by Islamic regimes (particularly Saudi Arabia and Iran), through the offices of disciplined international organizations (particularly the Muslim Brotherhood and the Organization of the Islamic Conference); and
  3. due to the fact that Islam lacks a central, universally recognized hierarchical authority (in contrast to, say, the Roman Catholic papacy), authentic Islamic moderates and reformers have an incredibly difficult task in endeavoring to delegitimize shariah in the community where it matters most: the world’s Muslims.

Consequently, regardless of what percentage of the global Islamic population adheres or otherwise defers to shariah (and some persuasive polling indicates that percentage is high in many Islamic countries), that segment is punching well above its weight. For that reason, proponents of an expansionist shariah present a serious threat to the United States even if we assume, for argument’s sake, that hopeful pundits are correct in claiming that shariah adherent Islam is not the preponderant Muslim ideology.

A second point follows that it is vital to the national security of the United States, and to Western civilization at large, that we do what we can to empower Islam’s authentic moderates and reformers. That cannot be done by following the failed strategy of fictionalizing the state of Islam in the vain hope that reality will, at some point, catch up to the benign fable. Empowering the condign elements of Islam requires a candid assessment, which acknowledges the strength of shariah — just as defeat of Twentieth Century totalitarian ideologies required an acknowledgment of, and respect for, their malevolent capabilities.

To do this, we must no longer allow those who mean to destroy our society by sabotaging it from within to camouflage themselves as “moderates.” The definition of moderation needs to be reset, to bore in on the shariah fault-line. Only by identifying those Muslims who wish to impose shariah can we succeed in marginalizing them.

As this study manifests, the shariah system is totalitarian. It imposes itself on all aspects of civil society and human life, both public and private. Anyone obliged actually to defend the proposition that shariah should be adopted here will find few takers and be properly seen for what they are — marginal and extremist figures. That, and only that, will strengthen true proponents of a moderate or reformist Islam that embraces freedom and equality.

Third, we have an obligation to protect our nation and our way of life regardless of the ultimate resolution of Islam’s internal strife. We can do a far better job of empowering non-shariah adherent Muslims, who are our natural allies, but we cannot win for them. They have to do that for themselves. Irrespective of whether they succeed in the formidable task of delegitimizing shariah globally, we must face it down in the United States, throughout the West and wherever on earth it launches violent or ideological offensives against us.


If we are to face down shariah, we must understand what we are up against, not simply hope that dialogue and “engagement” will make the challenge go away. Those who today support shariah and the establishment of a global Islamic State (caliphate) are perforce supporting objectives that are incompatible with the U.S. Constitution, the civil rights the Constitution guarantees and the representative, accountable government it authorizes. In fact, shariah’s pursuit in the United States is tantamount to sedition.

Whether pursued through the violent form of jihad (holy war) or stealthier practices that shariah Islamists often refer to as “dawa” (the “call to Islam”), shariah rejects fundamental premises of American society and values:

  1. the bedrock proposition that the governed have a right to make law for themselves;
  2. the republican democracy governed by the Constitution;
  3. freedom of conscience; individual liberty (including in matters of personal privacy and sexual preference);
  4. freedom of expression (including the liberty to analyze and criticize shariah);
  5. economic liberty (including private property);
  6. equal treatment under the law (including that of men and women, and of Muslims and non-Muslims);
  7. freedom from cruel and unusual punishments; an unequivocal condemnation of terrorism (i.e., one that is based on a common sense meaning of the term and does not rationalize barbarity as legitimate “resistance”); and
  8. an abiding commitment to deflate and resolve political controversies by the ordinary mechanisms of federalism and democracy, not wanton violence.

The subversion campaign known as “civilization jihad” must not be confused with, or tolerated as, a constitutionally protected form of religious practice. Its ambitions transcend what American law recognizes as the sacrosanct realm of private conscience and belief. It seeks to supplant our Constitution with its own totalitarian framework. In fact, we get this concept of civilization jihad from, among other sources, a document that was entered into evidence in the 2008 United States v. Holy Land Foundation terrorist finance trial titled the An Explanatory Memorandum: On the General Strategic Goal for the Group.

The Explanatory Memorandum was written in 1991 by Mohamed Akram, a senior Hamas leader in the U.S. and a member of the Board of Directors for the Muslim Brotherhood in North America (MB, also known as the Ikhwan) [The Memorandum is reproduced in full as Appendix II of this report].

The document makes plain that the Islamic Movement is a MB effort, led by the Ikhwan in America. The Explanatory Memorandum goes on to explain that the “Movement” is a “settlement process” to establish itself inside the United States and, once established, to undertake a “grand jihad” characterized as a “civilization jihadist” mission that is likewise led by the Muslim Brotherhood. Specifically, the document describes the “settlement process” as a “grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated….”

To put it simply, according to the Muslim Brotherhood, the civilization jihad is the “Settlement Process” and the “Settlement Process” is the mission of the “Islamic Movement.” And that mission entails “eliminating and destroying” our way of life. Author Robert Spencer has popularized this concept with a term that captures both the character and deadly purpose of the Ikhwan’s efforts in America: “stealth jihad.”


There is a loose analogy to the distinctions we made in the Cold War. America and its allies enjoyed a general unanimity that we needed to deal effectively with any potential violent aggression by the chief communist power, the Soviet Union, and we readily maintained a sizeable military force and alliances to that end. But we had more difficulty as a nation deciding how to deal with non-violent domestic communists under foreign control, such as the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and the constellation of domestic and international front organizations under party control or Soviet ideological discipline. These tactically non-violent or pre-violent forces, like their violent comrades-in-arms, had as their objective the establishment of a world-wide dictatorship of the proletariat.

Congress, taking note of this objective even before the Cold War, at first tried to force agents of foreign powers to register as such with the Department of Justice, with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938. Later, in 1940, Congress attempted to make it illegal to be a communist in the U.S. by passing the Smith Act, which President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law. Congress enacted the McCarran-Walter Act (the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act), signed by President Harry S Truman, which authorized the exclusion and deportation of aliens on such ideological grounds as support for overthrowing the United States government. The government took a number of other steps with regard to domestic nonviolent supporters of the proposition that our Constitution should be replaced by a dictatorship, including: being required to register with the government and forgo government service. In addition, their organization, the Communist Party of the United States of America was penetrated by the FBI. As a nation we made some mistakes in this process, but in the end it worked reasonably well to protect American democracy against Nazi and Soviet ideological penetration.

Beginning in the 1960s, however, the Supreme Court drastically reinterpreted the First Amendment, gradually extending the original guarantee of American citizens’ right to engage in political speech, to include a constitutional protection to (a) subversive speech that could be construed as “advocacy,” rather than incitement to imminent lawlessness, and (b) the speech of non-Americans. Bowing to elite opinion, which scoffed at fears of communist penetration of our government and institutions, Congress (in such legislation as the 1965 Immigration Act, the 1978 McGovern Amendment, the 1989 Moynihan-Frank Amendment, and the 1990 Immigration Act) gutted the statutory basis for excluding and deporting individuals based on ideological beliefs, regardless of their subversive tendencies — at least in the absence of demonstrable ties to terrorism, espionage or sabotage.

Let us assume, again for argument’s sake, that there was some validity in the opinion elite’s critique that anti-communism went too far — and set aside the fact that such an assumption requires overlooking post-Soviet revelations that have confirmed communist infiltrations. The prior experience would not mean the security precautions that sufficed to protect our nation from communism are sufficient to shield us from a totalitarian ideology cloaked in religious garb.

Such precautions are wholly inadequate for navigating a threat environment in which secretive foreign-sponsored international networks undermine our nation from within. That is especially the case where such networks can exploit the atmosphere of intimidation created by the tactics of their terrorist counterparts (including individual assassinations and mass-murder attacks on our homeland, and the mere threat of violence) in a modern technological age of instantaneous cross-continental communications and the increasing availability of mass-destruction weapons that allow ever fewer people to project ever more power.


As this report will demonstrate, there is plenty of blame to go around. The fact is that, under both political parties, the U.S. government has comprehensively failed to grasp the true nature of this enemy — an adversary that fights to reinstate the totalitarian Islamic caliphate and impose shariah globally. Indeed, under successive Democratic and Republican administrations, America’s civilian and military leaders have too often focused single-mindedly on the kinetic terror tactics deployed by al Qaeda and its affiliates to the exclusion of the overarching supremacist ideology of shariah that animates them.

Our leadership generally has also failed to appreciate the complementary subversion campaigns posed by groups like the Muslim Brotherhood — groups that fully share the objectives of the violent jihadists but believe that, for the moment at least, more stealthy, “pre-violent” means of jihad are likely to prove more effective in achieving those goals. It must always be kept in mind, of course, that stealthy jihad tactics are just that: tactics to prepare the U.S. battlefield for the inevitable violence to come. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has issued several salutary warnings along these lines, including a major address at the American Enterprise Institute on July 26, 2010.

By neglecting their professional duty to understand the doctrinal and legal basis of jihad, policymakers commit national resources in blood and treasure to foreign battlefields without ever realizing that what we must fight for is not just security from Islamist suicide bombers. Rather, we must also preserve here at home the system of government, laws, and freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution. Our national leaders and military and intelligence officers took oaths to “support and defend” the Constitution that is now being targeted by those foreign and domestic enemies who seek our submission to shariah.


Absent such an understanding, and the policy and operational adjustments it necessitates, we risk winning on the battlefield but losing the war. While the U.S. launches intelligence assets and the finest military the world has ever seen with devastating tactical effect, our shariah-adherent foes deploy their forces strategically across the full battle space of 21st Century warfare, including here in North America.

Team B II believes that the role played in this regard by shariah’s most sophisticated jihadists, the Muslim Brotherhood, is of particular concern. Steeped in Islamic doctrine, and already embedded deep inside both the United States and our allies, the Brotherhood has become highly skilled in exploiting the civil liberties and multicultural proclivities of Western societies for the purpose of destroying the latter from within. As America’s top national security leadership continues to be guided by its post-modernist, scientific, and high-tech world-view, it neglects the reality that 7th Century impulses, enshrined in shariah, have reemerged as the most critical existential threat to constitutional governance and the freedom loving, reason-driven principles that undergird Western civilization. Worse yet, as this report documents powerfully, our leaders have failed to perceive — let alone respond effectively to — the real progress being made by the Muslim Brotherhood in insinuating shariah into the very heartland of America through stealthy means. Team B II believes that the defeat of the enemy’s stealth jihad requires that the American people and their leaders be aroused to the high stakes in this war, as well as to the very real possibility that we could lose, absent a determined and vigorous program to keep America shariah free. To that end, Team B II sets forth in plain language who this enemy is, what the ideology is that motivates and justifies their war against us, what are the various forms of warfare the enemy employs to achieve their ends and the United States’ vulnerability to them, and what we must do to emerge victorious.


Categories: Radical Islam
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