Accuracy in Media

Last week AIM’s Roger Aronoff, host of the weekly BlogTalkRadio show, Take AIM, conducted an in-depth interview with Andy McCARTHY, the man who led the terrorism prosecution against Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh,” responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing.  He wrote about that case in Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad, and is now out with a powerful new book, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America, which debuted last week on the New York Times bestseller list.

The primary focus of the interview is the new book, and it’s detailed analysis of what might seem like a strange alliance—that between the political Left, and the Islamists who seek to impose sharia law on many of today’s free and democratic nations. Andy explains the who, the why, the history and the evidence, as this skilled former prosecutor lays out his case.

In addition, the discussion touches on recent topics in the news—the end of Helen Thomas’s career, the Gaza flotilla, the stunning comments of President Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, and Andy McCARTHY’s take on the mysteries of Obama’s background. McCARTHY states that if Obama weren’t President, based on the political alliances and connections he had, “it would have been difficult for him to get a security clearance,” and weighs in on the “natural born citizen” issue.

You can listen to the entire interview here:

Or read the transcript below:

(Transcription by J. C. Hendershot)

Take AIM: 6/10/10


ROGER ARONOFF:  Good morning, and welcome to Take AIM, Accuracy in Media’s weekly talk show on BlogTalkRadio.  AIM is America’s original media watchdog, and every week we point out biased coverage and bring you the stories the mainstream media ignore.  We encourage you to visit our website at, and sign up to receive our daily E-mail so you can keep track of what the media are up to.  Our guest today on Take AIM is Andrew McCARTHY.  Andrew McCARTHY is a Senior Fellow at the National Review Institute, and a Contributing Editor at National Review. As an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, he led the terrorism prosecution against Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh,” responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing.  Following the 9/11 attacks, McCARTHY supervised the Justice Department’s command post near Ground Zero in New York, and in 2004 he worked as a special assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense.  His latest book, which we previously had him on to talk about, was Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad.  His new book, just out, is The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.  Andy has been on the front lines of the war with radical Islam.  Welcome, Andy—as the first guest to be on Take AIM for the third time!

ANDREW McCARTHY: Well, thank you so much, Roger.  I’m honored.

ARONOFF: Well, thank you.  We’ll get to your new book in just a bit, but I want to cover a couple of topics in the news right now.  First: Helen Thomas.  What is your reaction to her comments, namely that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine,” and go back to Germany, Poland, and the U.S.—and then how the media covered this, her resignation, and how the White House reacted to it?

McCARTHY: Well, I think Helen Thomas has been saying some pretty outrageous things for a number of years, and my sense is that she always got away with it—and she’s become more brazen over time, I suppose, precisely because she’s a leftist.  So while somebody from the conservative side of things, who makes blunt or outrageous, and outrageously wrong assertions, would have been run out of town in about five minutes, she’s managed to hang on for years and years as an institution, and when she says something nutty, people just say, “Oh, well, that’s our Helen, you know?”  This time, she obviously went too far.  I guess I’m torn, Roger, in two ways.  In one way I think that what she said is, in some ways, a blunt and unguarded reflection on what a lot of people in our opinion elites think.  I don’t think they think that Israelis should go back to Germany, or whatever it was she said, but I do think that they think that Israel’s the problem in the world to the extent that America’s not the problem in the world, and that if Israel would just go away, or no longer exist, that there would be peace and harmony among Americans and Muslims.  It’s just that wouldn’t—just whet their appetites to go on to the next jihad.


McCARTHY: So, you know, I think there’s that to be reflected on in what she said, but I guess the other thing that’s a silver lining in it all is that she couldn’t survive saying something this outrageous, even in a time when we’re governed by an administration that has been pretty hostile to Israel. The condemnation of what she said was swift, and obviously convinced her that it was, what they say, time to spend more time with her family.

ARONOFF: Right.  She’s certainly media-savvy enough to know, when there’s a camera in your face, to expect it to be up on YouTube, at the very least if not all over the TV, so I don’t think she has that to fall back on.  But what struck me also—and that sort of segues into the flotilla story, to Gaza—you know, the world seems somewhat emboldened to make these criticisms of Israel, and just, kind of, these open attacks on Israel, sort of, that the U.S., which has so long stood with Israel, is sort of not there to back them up like they’ve always been.

McCARTHY: Yeah.  You know, it’s almost as if—Helen Thomas’s remark almost seems to me like it’s the verbal version of Obama having Netanyahu to the White House and then not having dinner with him, not allowing the press to even see them meet with each other, or shake hands—just, essentially, having the head of state of our country, the chief executive, treat Israel, one of our oldest, and certainly our most important ally in that region, like a pariah, was, in my mind, a lot more important and a lot more outrageous than something goofy that Helen Thomas says.  I think we can take or leave Helen Thomas.  When Obama does what he’s done, I think that’s a lot more consequential, and, of course, what it’s led to, with this flotilla incident, is the United States, unbelievably, actually joining with nations that are hostile to not only Israel, but to the United States, in a condemnation of Israel for the great sin, it turns out, of defending itself.

ARONOFF: Absolutely, and we’re learning more and more that the Turkish government, which is a NATO member knew to expect this to become a violent issue, and working with this group, the IHH, and their ties to Hamas—you couldn’t have expected anything different.

McCARTHY: No, you couldn’t have, and I know you don’t want to—I don’t want to jump into the book yet, but I can’t resist . . .


McCARTHY: . . . saying, I think we’re missing, in the United States, the real, great, and frightening historical significance of what has happened in the last several days with respect to this flotilla incident.  The spearhead of the global Islamist project, for nearly a century, has been the Muslim Brotherhood, and I had to do this research into the book, but I think most people in America who haven’t familiarized themselves with the history don’t realize this, but the Muslim Brotherhood started almost directly as a reaction to Kemal—to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s purging of Islam from the public square in Turkey, and the way in which Atatürk went about, basically, repressing Islam, in Atatürk’s conviction that it was Islam that was causing the backward conditions of the Muslim world.  And it was Atatürk’s belief that in order for Turkey, once again, to reclaim the status it had during the Ottoman Empire, its status as a great nation, for Turkey to embrace the modern world, it had to extinguish Islam from secular life and from political life.  And it was this repression—among other things, but a lot of it had to do with Atatürk—that induced Hassan al-Banna, in the late 1920s, to say, “No, no, no.  The problem in the world, for us, is not too much Islam, it’s the lack of Islam, or at least,” as he had it, “the right kind of Islam”—which for him was the Salafist Islam, the Islam, as they saw it, of the rightly guided caliph of the first generations of Muslims.

So, to me, what’s very interesting about all this is, Atatürk and Banna began, at around the same time, and largely the reaction to one another, two of the most important movements that we saw in the 20th century, and that we are living with into the 21st century—and what ended up happening, lo these 80 years later, is, finally, the Islamists come out on top.  I think the fallout of the flotilla, the frightening fallout of the flotilla, is that, thanks to Erdo?an, who is really—the head of Turkey now—who really has implemented a very sophisticated Muslim Brotherhood-type approach to undermining Atatürk’s secular state in Turkey, Turkey is back in the Islamist fold.  And that may not mean a whole lot to the average American, but to the average Islamist, the symbolism of that, and the reality of that, is almost like knocking the World Trade Center down again, or defeating the Soviet Union.  You know, I’ve gotten a lot of people, when they react to my book—it’s so clear, from what they—from what the Muslim Brotherhood says about its determination to conquer America, to conquer the West—it’s so clear that that’s what they’re determined to do, that nobody wants to deny that.  So what people who are naysayers will basically say is, they’ll just be dismissive and say, “That’s too farfetched.  It’s too implausible.  They’re never going to be able to take over or exterminate the West.  They’re never going to have a global caliphate.”  And what I keep telling them is, you’ve got to look at it from their perspective.  From their point of view, they’ve defeated the Soviet Union.  They’ve toppled the World Trade Center—and now they’re about to put a mosque over it, just for good measure.  They demonstrated that they could attack even the Pentagon.  On 9/11 they killed more people than the Japanese managed to kill at Pearl Harbor.  And now, after an 80-year struggle—and it really was a struggle against a power that tried to repress Islam, sometimes brutally—they’ve come out on top.  They’ve basically defeated Atatürk and brought Turkey back into the fold.  And what I keep trying to stress to people is, it doesn’t matter what you think is implausible.  They’re convinced they’re going to win.  They’re convinced history is on their side.  And every time something big and important seems to happen, it reaffirms them in their conviction that they’re ultimately going to win.

ARONOFF:  Do you find it a bit ironic, too, that Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood started, has sort of been with Israel in enforcing this blockade?  I mean, they have their own reasons, and Israel offered the opportunity for the flotilla to be screened by the Egyptians before it went in if they weren’t satisfied with it being with the Israelis.  So there’s that angle to it.  I mean, yes, Turkey is now almost aligned with Syria and Iran, and these forces lining up—it’s just quite troublesome, huh?

McCARTHY: Yeah, it sure is.  They’ve a very patient strategy now, I think, with respect to Egypt.  Egypt—the interrelation between the secular Egyptian regime and the Muslim Brotherhood is something that’s very historically interesting.  I think part of—probably the real reason that we in the West are dealing now with such a virulent Islamist challenge, this Islamist ideology, this Islamist determination to destroy the West—people ask all the time, “How has Islam changed in the last half-century?”  It did seem much more moderate fifty years ago than what we’re encountering today.  And the combustion, I think, that happened is when the Muslim Brotherhood tried to kill Nasser in the ’50s, and Nasser responded by brutally repressing Islam.  The result of that was really to drive the Brotherhood into the arms of Saudi Arabia, as I describe in the book and what you got from the 1950s going forward was an Islamist-style ideology that has been backed by tens of millions, probably hundreds—I should say billions, not millions—of Saudi petrodollars, and that really is what has driven the international propagation of this ideology, which in my mind is responsible not only for terrorism, but for the broader threat to our way of life.

And, you know, the Brotherhood has taken a few shots at the Saudi regime—so have the other Islamist organizations that are less patient than the Brotherhood is—so they went after Nasser, they ultimately did kill Sadat, they’ve tried on a number of occasions to kill Mubarak.  But I think, from the Brotherhood’s perspective, again, they’re very patient, the way they go about things is very sophisticated, over time they’ve become much more of a sabotage organization than a terrorist organization, and I think they see—they look at the Mubarak regime, they see an aging Mubarak who they know is not going to live forever, they don’t, I think, think much of his son, who Mubarak would like to make the heir apparent, and they think they have laid the groundwork in Egypt, ultimately, for the Muslim Brotherhood to do what it has been trying to do for half a century, which is to achieve political power there, and turn it into an Islamist state.  So I think they’re not as worried about Egypt.  I think they think they win there, too.

ARONOFF: We’re getting into the book here. I want to just touch on a couple of other things, and then we’ll get right back to that, because one is something that you took note of this week in your National Review spot—the Corner, I guess it was—where you talked about these two who were arrested in New Jersey on terrorism charges, and they were being recruited to go to Somalia, but you talked about the way The New York Times framed the issue.  That’s certainly of interest to our listeners, so tell us how the Times looked at it.

McCARTHY: Yeah—the way the Times looked at it, and the way I found that the FBI has looked at the Somali conflict, and most other conflicts, is—where Islamism is at the forefront, and is obviously part of the global jihad—is essentially to pretend there is no global jihad, and regard everything that happens as a narrow political issue in that country.  So we’re supposed to put aside the fact that there might be any ideological or theological basis driving the behavior of the Islamists wherever they attack, and just say, “Oh, in Somalia we have a political dispute with two factions vying for power,” and, you open your eyes and you see—geez, the same thing is going on in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, you know?   [Unintelligible] run through the list, any place Islamists act, and try to seize power, we’re supposed to be looking at all of those as disconnected political disputes that have nothing to do with ideology.  They’re strictly about local issues.  And to me, it’s a reflection of the same mentality that means every single time there’s a terrorist attack, particularly in the United States, the first thing the press or the authorities want to say is that it’s a lone wolf, or, you know, a spontaneously appearing terrorist who happens to a Muslim—who must be, you know, home-grown, or—

ARONOFF: “Isolated extremist” is another term.

McCARTHY: Exactly!


McCARTHY: Exactly right!  So you have this situation where the ideology is staring us in the face, and it’s the only common denominator that links all of these events, and all of these conflicts, and yet it seems that our press, like our government, is desperate not to see it.

ARONOFF: Right.  You talk about John Brennan, and you use the term “bleaching out” the terminology of, basically, radical Islam, that this is coming from the administration on down, and so it becomes, sort of, easier for the media to follow suit on that.

McCARTHY: Right.  No, I think that’s exactly right: The media takes its cues from the political leadership, and it’s almost like they get the talking points and then dutifully go and write them down—

ARONOFF: What about Brennan’s comments?  Tell us a little more about that.

McCARTHY: Well, Brennan—you know, Brennan has engaged in the whitewash of the concept of jihad.  I mean, he’s made a number of outrageous comments—not least of which might be that a 20% recidivism rate for mass murderers isn’t so bad, you know, when you consider the recidivism rate for regular criminals—an astounding thing for the guy who’s running counter-terrorism—for the President’s top counter-terrorism advisor to say—and, next we heard, he was looking, he was in a search of the moderate elements of Hezbollah, which has only been at war, and trying to kill Americans, for thirty years.  And now, the latest remarks are to try to say that our enemy shouldn’t be called “jihadist,” and we shouldn’t give any Islamic allusion to our enemy, because jihad is a tenet of Islam, and therefore it simply must be good, and we must understand it to be an attempt, or the divine command, “to purify one’s self or one’s community.”  That was the way he put it.

And, you know, it’s just amazing for the United States to have been under jihadist attack for 17 years, and still not to get jihad right.  Jihad is always, and everywhere, the struggle—the word jihad in Arabic literally means “struggle”—it is the struggle to implement, spread, and vindicate sharia, which is the Islamic legal code and political system.  It can be done by violence, but it is often done in nonviolent ways—which can be fortunate—or can just be persuasion.  But it is always the attempt to implement and spread Islamic law. And when Brennan talks about this idea that it’s about purifying one’s self or one’s community, that may be accurate, but only in a very, very specific way that Brennan won’t come to grips with.  When Islamists talk about purifying one’s self, what they mean is the struggle to become not a better person, but a better Muslim, which means more faithful to the tenets and scriptures of the Qu’ran and Islamic doctrine.  When they talk about purifying one’s community, they’re not talking about driving drug dealers out of the neighborhood, or making sure everybody brushes three times a day.  They’re very specifically talking about driving out, erasing the non-Islamic influences in a community, and making it more faithful to the tenets of sharia.  That’s what they mean by “purification,” and that’s why the mission of jihad is often carried out violently, and why it’s absolutely appropriate to talk about our enemies as jihadists—because the influences that they’re trying to drive out of their communities are us, basically, the West.

And when we operate in a place like Iraq, or Afghanistan, even if we think, in our minds, that we’re doing humanitarian work, that we’re trying to make life better for Muslims, they take the efforts to plant Western ideas and Western institutions in Muslim countries to be a provocation, an act of war—which is why, for example, a prominent Islamic authority like Sheikh Yousef Qaradhawi, who’s probably the most influential Islamic cleric in the world, would issue a fatwa in 2004, directing attacks on American soldiers operating in Iraq.  And when he did that, and it caused such controversy, remember who came immediately, and in a very full-throated way, to back him up.  Well, it was the faculty at al-Azhar University, which is probably the most important Islamic academic institution in the world, and has been for centuries.  It’s the seat of Sunni learning.  And they said that Qaradhawi was absolutely right, because the Americans were Westerners who were trying to plant Western ideas and Western institutions in the Islamic world, which is, under sharia, unacceptable, even if we think we’re just, you know, a bunch of nice guys.

ARONOFF: So let’s go into your book here.  Again, our guest today is Andy McCARTHY.  His new book is called The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.  You’ve just given us definitions of sharia and jihad, and that’s very helpful.  So let’s go on a little bit more with the terminology.  You referred—again, the subtitle is How Islam and the Left Sabotage America, and by “the Left,” who are you referring to?  For instance, I think of how the media in this country refer to Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, as a “conservative.”

McCARTHY: Right!

ARONOFF: And that’s not “the Left,” but you make the link between radicals like him, and the Left in, you know, the political movement in this country.  Let’s start with this: Why did you write this at this time?  What is the warning you are sounding to the American public?

McCARTHY: Well, I guess my first book was about trying to deal with a national security challenge by using the procedures of the criminal justice system, which are very limited in trying to deal with something as profound as terrorism, that present existential challenge.  I thought, though, that that book really didn’t flesh out what the challenge was, and it really was focused on terrorism and the response to terrorism, where I think having, you know, now sat with this for almost 20 years, it’s clear to me that the challenge that we’re facing in the Left is about much more than terrorism.  It’s much more extensive.  It’s much more sophisticated.  And terrorism is just really a subset of it.  So I thought it would be worthwhile to try to flesh out what the overall challenge is, to talk about what the role of terrorism is in it, how it fits in, who is behind it, what causes the ideology, what the thought process is behind it, and who works with it in the United States to make it successful.

It seemed to me that this broader challenge, which sometimes is called a “non-terrorist challenge,” even though I think it works hand-in-hand with the terrorism more than being well-understood as an opposite of terrorism.  I think that broader challenge is really not well understood, especially in a country such as ours, where the political leadership keeps trying to miniaturize even the terrorist aspect of the challenge.  So, you know, we’re not supposed to refer to our enemies, as we just said, as jihadists, or having any connection to Islam at all.  They’re just “violent extremists.”  So even with respect to the small subset of the challenge, the terrorists, the government is always trying to minimize the number of them, and the reasons why they act, whereas, I think, if Americans were going to understand what we’re really up against, what we need to know is that the challenge of that is a lot more than terrorism, and it’s fueled by an ideology that is very mainstream in the Islamic world.  It’s not a handful of violent extremists, it’s actually an ideology that is subscribed to by hundreds of millions of people.  And there is great internal division within the Islamist world, but most of the debate among Islamists, especially when it comes to terrorism, is about tactics.  It’s not about the bottom line.

The vibrant debate among Islamists in America these days is whether an organization like al-Qaeda has outlived its usefulness in terms of terrorist attacks in the United States.  And what I mean by that is, they are making such progress marching through our institutions, without conducting terrorist attacks, that it’s sensible for them to say that when al-Qaeda conducts a terrorist attack here, or some Islamist offshoot conducts a terrorist attack here, that’s counterproductive as far as they’re concerned, because it raises people’s consciousness to what they’re trying to accomplish. You really can’t successfully do a sabotage strategy with the lights on.  So they’d rather keep the lights off.

ARONOFF: Yes.  So it’s like you point out, that terrorism is almost a distraction to the larger issue of this gradual implementation of sharia law, and you point to this document, a memorandum, that the FBI obtained, presented in Texas at the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial that took place in 2007.  What does that memo reveal?  What is its significance?  Is it like a Rosetta Stone of what is going on here?

McCARTHY: Yeah, I think that’s a fair way of putting it.  I like to point out to people that when I called the book The Grand Jihad, and when I invoke “sabotage” in the subtitle of the book, those aren’t my words.  This isn’t me inferring, from everything I’ve seen, what must be going on.  These are the actual words of the Muslim Brotherhood.  The 1991 memorandum that you’re referring to is an internal Brotherhood memorandum, authored by the Brotherhood top leader in the United States, and addressed to the organization’s top global leadership in Egypt.  And what it describes is the Brotherhood’s mission, as the Brotherhood understands it, in the United States, which Mohamed Akram, the author of the document, described as a “Grand Jihad,” basically, to sabotage the West—“sabotage” is also their word—from within.  And the idea is really nothing more than a repetition of what Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Brotherhood—and still required reading for people who are aspiring members of the Muslim Brotherhood—what he said decades ago, which was that the fight, the battle, the jihad, against the West, and against all the infidels, has to proceed on every conceivable front, not just the military front, but in propaganda wars, in the media, in the classroom, and throughout society.

So it is a full-scale, comprehensive approach, and it uses government, it uses political processes, it uses democracy when democracy is available to it, but always, and everywhere, the purpose of a jihad is, again, to implement sharia law, and that’s what the Brotherhood is always pushing for, with the ultimate end of destroying Western civilization—again, that’s their words, not mine—and establishing a global caliphate.

ARONOFF: You also refer to something called the “Global Islamist Project.”

McCARTHY: Right.

ARONOFF: Is that similar?  The same thing?  What is that?

McCARTHY: It’s exactly the same thing.  I call it the “Islamist Project” for a couple of reasons.  Number one: I have a chapter in the book where I try to confront the difficult issue of what we ought to call the challenge we’re facing, because a lot of people say—and there’s great force to their argument—that we should just flatly say the problem here is Islam.  It’s not “Islamism,” or “political Islam,” or “radical Islam,” or “extremist Islam,” or whatever modifier we want to put on it—it is Islam, and the idea behind that theory is that there’s an unavoidable, unmistakable—for anyone who’s willing to look at it—connection between the commands of Islamist doctrine, which are right there, in black and white, to be read in the Qu’ran; the violence committed by Muslims; and this broader challenge of supremacist Islam, the attempt to have global hegemony for Islam—and therefore, we should just stop kidding ourselves and come to grips with the fact that the problem that we’re facing is Islam.  I think there’s a lot of persuasive force to that argument.

I ultimately decided that it’s better to call the challenge “Islamist,” rather than “Islam,” in view of the fact that there are, in fact, hundreds of millions of Muslims who don’t subscribe to this theory.  Now, that’s not to say there aren’t—there are hundreds of millions of Muslims who do.  There are 1.4 billion Muslims in the world.  It’s a diverse population.  But its seems to me that there are millions of Muslims in the West who, contrary to being here to undermine the West, actually came here because they don’t want to live in sharia societies, and they do accept the premise of Western society, that there’s a separation between the spiritual and the secular realms, which is something Islamist ideology rejects.  And it just seems to me, as a non-Muslim, it’s not my place to tell them that their religion is irredeemable when they’re making great efforts to try to redeem it, and I think we ought to be supportive of them.  It doesn’t seem to me that it’s tactically helpful for us to take people who should be our allies and tell them they need to convert.  I don’t know that.

But I do think it’s incumbent on them to come up with a theological grounding for their authentically moderate version of Islam.  It’s not enough for them to say, “Look at me, I’m a Muslim, I’m moderate, I’m tolerant, I love America!  Therefore, Islam must be moderate, tolerant, and looking on America affectionately, rather than in a hostile stance!”  They have to do what the Islamists have done over the centuries, which is the academic scut work that shows there is a viable Islam that actually will separate the spiritual from the secular, that can tolerate the—not only tolerate, but endorse principles like freedom of conscience and the equality of all human beings. Particularly before the law.  I’m not sure that there is such an Islam, and I’m not sure that is something that can be developed, and if it can’t be, then all those people who were saying Islam is the problem are quite right.  But I think we need to be willing to give the authentic moderate people who are Muslims every opportunity to succeed in their struggle to reform their religion.  But we have to do it with our eyes open, we have to recognize the fact that they may not succeed, and we have a responsibility to protect America whether they succeed or not.

ARONOFF: You write about the link, again, between the Left and the radical Muslims, and you talk about—you say their “collective philosophy, transnational outlook, totalitarian demands, and revolutionary designs, Islamists are natural allies of the radical Left.  Their ties get quite cozy when there are common enemies to slay, enemies like American constitutional democracy, and its bedrock, individual liberty.”  So elaborate on that.  Is that where you see the Left and the radical Islam coming together?

McCARTHY: Yes, and I think—you know, I appreciate the—you’re asking me, also, to clarify what part of the Left I’m talking about.  I’m not talking about all progressive people.  I’m not talking about every person that you and I, Roger, would refer to as a “liberal,” or a—someone who was of the Left, or progressive.  What I’m talking about is the modern, hard, Left, the—what I think in this country is the Obama Left, which is bent on radical transformation of the United States, and particularly a thorough eradication of our capitalist economic system.  There’s no question that Islamists and leftists have a lot of significant issues that they disagree on.  Abortion rights.  Sexual liberty in general.  Equality.  Equality of women.  Freedom of conscience—-in Islam, for example, apostasy is a capital offense.  That would be something that leftists would be—would object to in a profound way, I would think.  So there are points of intense disagreement, and if it were only the two of them who were left to struggle with each other for power, they would certainly fight, and in fact we’ve seen that phenomenon again and again in history.

For example, in the 1970s, the Communists joined with Khomeini against the Shah, but once the Shah was out of the way, Khomeini set about brutally dealing with the Communists.  In Egypt, in the 1950s, the socialists under Nasser, who were in the Soviet orbit, worked together with the Muslim Brotherhood to oust the monarchy.  And then once the monarchy was gone, and it again was the two of them squared off with each other, this time it was the secular leftists, under Nasser, who repressed the Muslim Brotherhood, and actually drove it underground, and drove a lot of it out of Egypt.  So we do see this phenomenon again and again in history: The two sides, combining forces when they have a common enemy that is an important enough enemy that it seems to make their differences a little smaller than they would otherwise be, but when it’s only the two of them left, they go after each other in a pretty blistering way, and one side wins and one side loses.

What we see, I think, in this country is—what I’ve been surprised about is, some people have asked me, “Do you really think these two sides would work together?”  And I’ve pointed out that not only do we have these historical examples of them working together, it’s undeniable, if you open your eyes, that they’re working together in the here and now.  If you look at who’s been al-Qaeda’s lawyer since 9/11, the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is a radical Leftist organization begin by Bill Kunstler in the 1960s.  The ACLU and CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, worked together on a number of initiatives and some litigation to try to knock out the PATRIOT Act—parts of the PATRIOT Act, and the terrorist surveillance program.  They collaborated together.  If you look at the Muslim Brotherhood’s website,, you see a social and economic program which is redistributionist, virulently anti-capitalist, and would sit quite well with the Obama economic program.  Not surprisingly, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which is one of the most important Islamist organizations in the United States, and has close ties with this administration, was front and center in the debate over ObamaCare.

So you do see this collaboration.  To me, the interesting issue is not whether it happens; it obviously happens.  The question is, “Why does it happen?”  And I think the answer is that, despite their differences, both of these ideologies are authoritarian, in the sense that they want a big central government to be the controlling force of life, they’re both totalitarian, in the sense they want to control human life down to a very granular level—I mean, we talk about Islam as a religion, but Islam is really not a religion, it’s a full-purpose socioeconomic and political program that has spiritual elements, and sharia law would govern all the affairs of human life, not just those—it’s not just guidelines that we would recognize as spiritual.  And, again, the most important of the elements for why these two seemingly competing forces align with each other is the fact that when there are common enemies, they have historically joined together.  And in the United States, that common enemy, I think, is the freedom culture, it’s American constitutional republicanism, Western Enlightenment, and what, I think, is the foundation, the basis of all that, individual liberty.  If people are free to make their own choices, then neither the leftist program nor the Islamic program can work.

ARONOFF: So where does Obama fit in this continuum that you are describing?  In other words, the collaboration or intersection of these two ideologies?  And where do you think he is in this Grand Jihad?  What do you think his attitude is toward it?

McCARTHY: Well, I think Obama is the bridge figure between the Left and the Islamists.  He’s obviously the leading figure among leftists in this country.  He had to kind of reinvent himself a bit in order to get elected.  He presented himself during the campaign as a post-partisan centrist, and a pragmatist, but those of us who had familiarized ourselves with his record understood that he’s a radical leftist, and he has governed as a radical leftist since he’s gotten into power.  He also was kind of cagey with respect to his relations with the Muslim world.  When his campaign began, he thought that, for example, his Muslim roots—Obama is the son of a Kenyan Muslim who was also a Communist, and the stepson of an Indonesian Muslim; in fact the paper record, as your listeners, I think, will be familiar with, indicates that Obama was raised as a Muslim when he lived in Indonesia, up until the age of ten, for about four or five years—and the school records indicate that they certainly understood that he was a Muslim, and in fact, even a citizen of Indonesia.  I don’t claim that Obama is a Muslim.  I think it’s a mistake, for those of us who want to defend Western civilization, to go down that road.  Obama says he’s a Christian.  There’s no reason to think that he’s not.  That’s the faith that he affirms, and in Western civilization you get to make that adult choice yourself.  It’s only in Islamic civilization that they take the position, “Once a Muslim, always a Muslim,” and will actually kill you for apostasy.  Doesn’t seem to me it’s a very effective defense of Western civilization to take the Islamic position toward Obama when he has affirmed Christianity.


McCARTHY: But all that having been said, he obviously has deep roots and connections in the Islamic world.  He has brandished those connections, painting himself as a bridge figure between the West, as he would like to remake it, and the Islamic world.  And he has courted Islamist organizations—including the Muslim Brotherhood—assiduously since he came into power, including making sure that the Muslim Brotherhood was invited to his ballyhooed speech in Cairo last year even though the Brotherhood is a banned organization in Egypt.

ARONOFF: Now, you were bringing up about Obama’s living in Indonesia and all that.  One of the things, leaving aside the birth certificate issue, what about the passport issue?  The citizenship issue?  I mean, the lack of records on when he came back to the U.S. after that, and then we’re also seeing a lot about Social Security cards and numbers.  Have you looked into those things?

McCARTHY: I haven’t looked into the Social Security issue.


McCARTHY: The thing that I find to be most curious—I suppose there’s two chapters in Obama’s life that I find to be very curious, that the press has been amazingly uncurious about.  And I say that, acknowledging that there are many holes in his past that are—frankly, they’re shocking that we don’t have more information about them, given the vetting that most politicians who would choose his level of office get.  But to me, the two most curious episodes in Obama’s life are his trip to Pakistan in 1981, which, despite the fact that he wrote two autobiographies that are quite introspective—certainly the Dreams From My Father is quite introspective, and they go on for about 800 pages if you combine the two of them—and yet in neither one of them did he say a single word about what, from my estimation of them, having read them, must have been the most interesting experience of his young life, this trip to Pakistan where he stayed, for part of the time, with the Soomro family, which is a very prominent political family in Pakistan.  In fact, one of the Soomros was the interim president between General Musharraf and the current president, Zardari.  You would think that that would have been, you know, a fairly interesting thing to talk about.  He doesn’t mention it at all.

And part of what makes it so curious is, when he went there in 1981, it was really the height of the Islamization project of Zia, after Zia’s coup.  There had been attacks on Americans there, there was a Travel Advisory against Americans going to Pakistan, so it’s interesting to know why he would travel there at that time, how he got in—into Pakistan, given—there wasn’t a ban on Americans traveling there, but there was an Advisory against it.  And he never mentions it in his book.  He mentions it, I’m sure, by accident, and in passing, at a campaign event during 2008.  When he said it, people who had covered him were stunned to learn that—like a bomb that had dropped—that he had been in Pakistan, and had this mysterious trip, but the administration—or, it wasn’t an administration then his campaign spokesman basically acknowledged it, but said that the administration wasn’t going to answer any more questions about it, that Obama had already—the information he’d already given out, and, of course, the compliant press decided not to press the issue.  As I say in the book, they were probably resting up since Sarah Palin’s third grade teacher was about to become available for questioning.


McCARTHY: About, you know, Sarah at age seven.

ARONOFF: Oh, yeah, and then the second chapter you were going to say is what?

McCARTHY: Yes.  The second chapter is this whole interrelationship between Obama and Kenya.  Obama’s father, as I said before, was a Communist, a Kenyan Muslim, and there was a—I noted that, in passing, there was a story in the Boston Globe about him a few weeks before the election, where it was mentioned he had written an article—they put it very gingerly—that was critical of Kenya’s economic planning, or something like that.  When I pulled the article—the article actually is called “Problems Facing Our Socialism.” And when you read it, it’s clear that Obama, Senior is making a case for scientific socialism, or Communism, against the pro-American, pro-Western turn that the Kenyatta government made when it came to power, finally, in Kenya.  And it’s interesting that Obama, Senior aligned himself with the Communists who were led by his Luo tribe in Kenya by the Odinga family.  And the reason that’s so interesting is that when Obama was a sitting U.S. Senator, in 2006, while he didn’t do much to distinguish himself in the Senate, he did barnstorm for six days in Kenya, campaigning for Raila Odinga, the son of the man who the—I’m sorry, the Odinga that his father had known, back when.  Raila Odinga is, you know, a leftist.  I argue in the book that he’s a thug, given some of his—background.  Obama campaigned for him even though he was not only the leftist candidate, but the candidate that was really running against the pro-American incumbent administration, and it later emerged that Odinga had made a deal with the Islamists in Kenya, who are not a majority but are a violent faction—he had made a deal with the Islamists to impose sharia law throughout parts of Kenya.

ARONOFF: Mm-hmm.

McCARTHY: When Odinga lost the election, the Islamists rioted, and in the aftermath thousands of people were displaced, many of them were killed, and ultimately Odinga, in large measure, I think, because of the support he got from Obama, managed to get himself installed as Prime Minister of Kenya, which basically was a position they had to create for him.  No one since Kenyatta had been Prime Minister of Kenya.  So I just think the—the Kenya chapter and the Pakistan chapter are fascinating.  They’re a real window on who—on things we would want to know about Obama but—

ARONOFF: Right . . .

McCARTHY: —unfortunately it’s a window with the shades drawn.

ARONOFF: We’re starting to run out of time here.  Unfortunately, an hour wasn’t even enough, because then I wanted to get into—because you call Obama—you say his philosophy is “neo-Communism,” which relates to what you were just talking about.  There’s a great chapter in the book about his father, and all that.  But let’s take our remaining few minutes.  Give us, again, the overview.  What are we facing?  What can we do about it?  What do you—are you optimistic?  Pessimistic?  Are we going to be able to stop the Grand Jihad from taking over America?  What do you see coming?

McCARTHY: Well, we can’t stop it unless we first acknowledge that it’s happening, and right now, I don’t—what I—the reason I wrote the book is, I don’t see a great appetite for acknowledging that it’s happening.  So I tried to make my best case for the fact that it is happening, and it’s got a lot more to do—it’s got to do with a lot more than just terrorism.  I think, Roger, that it proceeds on two planes.  One of them is terrorism, and the “What’s to be done about terrorism?” answer is simple, even though it’s not easy.  And that is the road map that Bush laid out only days after 9/11, which is, you have to hunt down terrorists, and smash their havens, wherever on Earth they are.  You can’t just pretend that the war’s happening in Afghanistan and Iraq, and no place else.  And you have to regard rogue nations that aid and abet terrorists as if they themselves were terrorists—which doesn’t mean you have to attack every single country, but it does mean that we have to relate to them, and treat them unambiguously, as our enemies, and make it clear that the policy of the United States is regime change.  We don’t want to engage these rogue nations, we want those regimes to be gone, and we should squeeze them in every way we can in order to bring that about.

The broader challenge to our society is the non-terrorist challenge, or the challenge that slipstreams behind terrorism.  And I think that’s a harder one to deal with, but the first thing that has to happen is, we have to be aware that it’s happening.  We have to, you know, acknowledge that it’s going on.  Most people don’t want to come to grips with the fact that it’s going on.  So you have a situation like we have with this mosque in New York, where the political elites are behind allowing it to be built.  They think it’s just harmless, when it’s really part of the broader propaganda battle.  So I think we have to understand that it’s going on, and once we understand it, we have to fight it in every way that we can in our legal system, in our politics, and, most importantly, just generally in our society, and in the court of public opinion.  The only way that we can marginalize the Islamists, and empower the authentic moderate Muslims, is to flesh out what the Islamists are trying to accomplish, what sharia is, how it is antithetical, in many particulars, to American constitutional principles, and we have to find out which Muslims line up on the side of a strict interpretation of sharia, and which want to be living in the West under a Western society that separates mosque and state.

ARONOFF: So with your book, other than Rush and Sean and the conservative media, how are you being received by, say, the mainstream media—The New York Times, the 60 Minutes?  Are these people knocking down your door—

McCARTHY: [Laughs.]

ARONOFF: —to have you on? [Laughs.]

McCARTHY: Well, you know, no.  So far they’re ignoring me.  But, you know, I kind of expected to be ignored by them.  I was a little surprised, Roger, that the Times didn’t review Willful Blindness, my first book, because, I was—they covered the Blind Sheikh case as a news story, and because I was the first insider to write about it, and what it was like for the—to try to use the criminal justice system to attack the problem in the ’90s, even if they didn’t agree with my thesis I would have thought that they’d at least have covered it, because it was a news story that the Times paid a lot of attention to.  They didn’t, and when they didn’t cover that, I’m not holding my breath to wait for them to cover this.  But I think that I can’t really be worried about that sort of thing.  I’ve got a very good publisher, I’ve got very good publicists working on the book, but my job was to write the book the best way I can—well, could—to make the most compelling case I could make for the thesis I wanted to put out there, and, you know, sometimes it takes the popular culture a long time to catch up with the fact that, you know, there’s this serious problem that’s got to be dealt with.

ARONOFF: Well, we may not have a lot of time, as you point out, so that sort of doesn’t bode well for what we can hope for in the near future.  I want to go back and complete the thought, a bit, about Obama.  In your opinion, would he have been able to get a security—a Top Secret security clearance in this country, with all these, sort of, mysteries in his background?  And do you have an opinion on whether he is a natural-born citizen, to be qualified to hold the position of President?

McCARTHY: Well, you know, as President, of course, he doesn’t need a security clearance—



ARONOFF: But before he became President?

McCARTHY: I would be very surprised if he could have gotten a security clearance.  I don’t know everything there is to know about him—but given what I do know, particularly the alliances he had, the connections he had with people like Ayers, it would have been difficult for him to get a security clearance. As far as the controversy over his birth is concerned, I’ve been willing to take it as likely that he was, as he says, born—in Hawaii.  I’m not overwhelmed by the evidence that he was, and the fact that he didn’t want people to see the long-form birth certificate.


McCARTHY: Just that alone made me want to see it. So I don’t think—what’s been called the “Birther controversy,” to me, just is a controversy about Obama’s background, and why there are these parts of it out there that he doesn’t want us to see, but as far as the natural-born citizen is concerned, you know, I think that’s an untested concept of what that—what the law would construe that to mean today. But I think it’s highly unlikely that the Framers—that term as they used it, as they understood it—would have tolerated, or would have accepted, the notion that somebody who was—became a citizen of another country, could become President of the United States.  I don’t think that that was meant by that term.  That doesn’t mean I think there are five votes on the Supreme Court for the original view.


McCARTHY: I think that if it were tested in court today, the Court probably wouldn’t hear the case.  They’d say that there wasn’t standing to bring it, and that it was up to Congress to deal with that.  But no, I don’t think that was what natural-born citizen meant, and I think—you know, the fact that Obama was born a dual citizen of the United States and Kenya doesn’t trouble me so much.  After all, any country could pass a law that said that all the citizens of New York are now citizens of x country, and that would mean that everybody in New York, by the law of x country, was now a citizen of x country, through no affirmative act on the part of people in New York—which doesn’t seem to me to be a good reason to disqualify somebody from running for President.

ARONOFF: Mm-hmm.

McCARTHY: The Indonesia piece, however, involves affirmative actions on Obama’s part.  Now, you could say they were affirmative actions that were committed between the age of five and ten, and that doesn’t seem fair to hold that against him.  But that provision is not about fairness, you know?  I mean, there are a lot of people who are perfectly loyal, patriotic Americans who are simply disqualified from being President because they weren’t born here.  So the provision is not meant to be fair, it’s meant to be very exacting about what the qualifications for President are.  And if he was not—if he actually did become a citizen of Indonesia, which they have been very cagey about, they haven’t acknowledged it—they haven’t denied it, that I know of, but they haven’t acknowledged it, either—but if he became a citizen of Indonesia, and we had a more originalist interpretation of what “natural-born citizen,” I think there’d be a very serious question about whether he were Constitutionally qualified.

ARONOFF: Mm-hmm.

McCARTHY: But I just don’t think it’s something that has any legs because I doubt that the Supreme Court, today, would adopt an originalist interpretation of “natural-born citizen.”  I think they would say that people didn’t have standing to challenge it, and that if something’s to be done about Obama’s citizenship and qualifications for Presidency, that would be the job of Congress, in either some kind of an oversight capacity, which, if it developed evidence that he wasn’t a natural-born citizen, Congress would have the power to remove him from office, but that would be something the courts wouldn’t go near, and, of course, it’s something Congress wouldn’t go near, so it’s more like an interesting academic—question than reality.

ARONOFF: I’m afraid we’re going to have to leave it there.  Our guest has been Andy McCARTHY, the new book is called The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.  You can find it at Amazon, you can find Andy’s work at National Review Online on a regular basis, and it’s in many other publications all the time.  Andy, thank you so much for being with us today on Take AIM.

McCARTHY: Thanks, Roger.  It’s been my pleasure.

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