Zumwalt: Fifteen Years After 9/11, What Have We Learned?

AP Photo/Hani Mohammed
AP Photo/Hani Mohammed

Fifteen years after 9/11, Americans still struggle to understand what it is we are fighting.

While the mastermind of those attacks, Osama bin Laden, paid the ultimate price for murdering over 3,000 Americans, our “whack-a-mole” strategy in targeting the group he led, al-Qaeda, and its ilk leaves many Americans pondering a question raised by the Temptations’ 1969 anti-war song: “War, what is it good for?”

The Temptations answered their own question responding, “Absolutely nothing!” And, as we now fight our longest war, many Americans may agree. But they do so because our leaders irresponsibly refuse to explain what it is we are fighting.

What we experienced since 9/11 is not dissimilar to Japan’s recurring plight with an invasion of sea giants.

Fishing villages along Japan’s western coastline have been devastated for over a decade by a most unlikely invader. Seemingly lending itself more to the realm of science fiction, it is, however, a reality. It is the giant Nomura jellyfish.

Ever since 2005, ocean currents have transported swarms of Nomura—a single jellyfish spanning six feet and weighing up to 450- pounds—into the Sea of Japan. There, it presents a nightmare for fishermen, destroying their nets and even sinking one boat.

An approach taken to destroy the jellyfish was to drag steel nets through the swarms, ripping through the jellyfish and sending shredded pieces of Nomura to the ocean floor. That approach only created another problem—shreds of the jellyfish proved capable of rejuvenating!

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, this, in essence, is what we have experienced.

As America targeted al-Qaeda, the group later rejuvenated into a new lifeform, evidenced by disenchanted Islamists breaking from it to create ISIS.

But al-Qaeda was not the original 450-pound jellyfish; its roots lie in the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Founded in 1928 in Egypt, the Brotherhood sought to implement sharia there. But its founder, cleric Hassam al-Banna, had grander notions, stating, “It is in the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.”

Today, the Brotherhood is established in seventy countries around the world, including the U.S., seeking to fulfill this goal. Those believing it a benign threat to democracy should read its once-secret strategic plan.

Written in 1991 and inadvertently discovered in 2004, the Brotherhood’s strategy is to undermine our Constitution by using our laws against us. This includes consistently raising claims of political correctness and Islamophobia, fertilizing America’s soil with a sense of guilt over criticizing Islam, thus nurturing the seeds for Islamic influence and sharia to grow.

This strategy mandates, “The Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) must understand that their work in America is a kind of 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.”

The process by which this is accomplished is “civilization jihad.” It tills the soil for the violent jihad that is to follow.

Imagine we discovered plans for the attack on Pearl Harbor beforehand and did nothing to stop it. Sadly today, despite knowing the Brotherhood’s strategic war plans for America, we allow them to continue unabated. Failing to deter them, President Barack Obama instead encourages them, inviting Brotherhood leaders to the White House.

Could one even conceive of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt inviting Japan’s General Hideki Tojo to the White House knowing an attack on Pearl Harbor by Tokyo was planned?

Obama also chooses to ignore the Brotherhood’s 2010 declaration of war against us, issued by its Supreme Guide, Muhammad Badi. Badi effectively “endorsed anti-American Jihad and pretty much every element in the al-Qaeda ideology book.”

The last time we chose to ignore a war declaration was Osama bin Laden’s (both in 1996 and 1998)—for which we paid a heavy price.

Among adherents to the Brotherhood’s ideology promoted by Banna, becoming disenchanted by the slow pace it was moving to establish a global caliphate, was bin Laden. This eventually led him to establish al-Qaeda in 1988.

As al-Qaeda floundered, rejuvenation of the Muslim Brotherhood ideology occurred, manifesting itself this time in the life-form of ISIS. Breaking away from the remnants of al-Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS severed ties with bin Laden’s group in 2014 as it began capturing territory.

Additional Brotherhood “pieces” have come to manifest themselves as various splinter group life-forms claiming allegiance either to al-Qaeda or ISIS.

But the threat we face today still emanates from the ideology of the 450-pound Brotherhood monster jellyfish. Pieces breaking off remain firmly committed to taking Islam’s goal of a global caliphate to more violent levels to achieve success.

Yet fifteen years after 9/11, our leadership still refuses to identify the enemy. Obama continues to hide the truth, calling it “violent extremism.” But the enemy today is the same that reared its ugly head on 9/11. It is Islamic extremism.

Because we fail to label it as such, civilization jihad has established a beachhead throughout the Western world. One need only look to France to understand what is happening.

Today more than half that country’s military is deployed domestically due to the Islamist threat. We see Muslim policemen refusing to protect Jewish synagogues, targeted by supposed Muslim “moderates,” yet the false cry of Islamophobia hides the reality anti-Semitism exists there. No wonder Jews are now leaving France in droves.

Interestingly, even as Muslims on Arab TV broadcast programs raising the issue of their religion’s penchant for violence, political correctness inhibits any such discussion in the West. Given this free pass, clerics in Western mosques continue to preach Islam’s gospel of global sharia to their flocks. While teaching anti-West hatred, some clerics, like England’s recently-convicted (for promoting ISIS) Anjem Choudary, live off welfare, earning more than the British soldiers being sent to fight the Islamism they promote.

What have we learned from 9/11? In the words of the Temptations, “Absolutely nothing!”

Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of “Bare Feet, Iron Will–Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields,” “Living the Juche Lie: North Korea’s Kim Dynasty” and “Doomsday: Iran–The Clock is Ticking.” He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.


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