Skip to content

ISIS wants you to hate Muslims

I keep thinking this is obvious, but then something like the (latest) massacres in Paris happen and our reaction shows that we just don’t get it. The point is: Islamic radicals want us to hate Muslims. It is their best recruiting tool ever.

An article in The Washington Post spells it out:

This is precisely what ISIS was aiming for — to provoke communities to commit actions against Muslims. Then ISIS will be able to say, “I told you so. These are your enemies, and the enemies of Islam.”

And it isn’t like we haven’t fallen for this before. A dozen years ago, the Islamists even told us this was their strategy:

This strategy gained traction in the early 2000s after al-Qaeda was sent into hiding by Western military action. Abu Musab al-Suri, an influential jihadi thinker whom the Wall Street Journal called “the new mastermind of jihad,” argued for a distributed network of terrorist cells recruited from the Islamic diaspora, carrying out terrorist strikes in their own communities. These attacks, and the backlash they generated, would inspire others to radicalize.

The US is big and powerful, and we have meddled in the Middle East enough times to make plenty of enemies there. But they cannot attack us directly – nation to nation – that would be suicide. So instead, they got 20 people with box cutters to destroy the twin towers for them. And we played right into their hands. After 9/11, we attacked Iraq, and ended up creating the group variously known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh (the derogative Arabic term for the Islamic State, and now my preferred term).

And the west keeps falling for it. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, attacks against Muslims and vandalism of mosques more than quadrupled in France.

This time around, the reprisals are even more widespread. A mosque in Canada was deliberately set on fire. In liberal Portland Oregon, protestors held a rally outside a mosque wearing T-shirts saying things like “Proud to be an infidel, Islam is a LIE“. Other Islamic buildings received threatening phone calls, like one in Florida:

We are tired of your [expletive] and I [expletive] personally have a militia that is going to come down to your Islamic Society of Pinellas County and firebomb you and shoot whoever is there in the head.

Think about it for a second. Why would Islamic militants stage an operation that kills 129 people in Paris? Certainly they aren’t so stupid that they think it will make the west stop bombing them.

Just last month, they planted a bomb on a Russian airplane leaving Egypt, killing almost twice as many people than died in Paris. But somehow that didn’t work as well. They need to take the terrorism to where we live, whether it is Paris or New York. Even more important, they need to take it to cities where there are large Islamic populations, so they can radicalize even more future terrorists.

And they do need to create more future terrorists. The vast majority of Muslims are against terrorism. Just this week, the King of Jordan (a Muslim country that shares a large border with Syria) denounced Daesh, saying “The atrocious Paris attacks shows that scourge of terrorism can strike anywhere and any time.” He also announced a war against the Daesh terrorists (Jordan is already bombing Daesh in Syria, so this is no hollow threat).

Unfortunately, our reaction to Paris here in the US is even more idiotic than normal this time. Yes, our Republican presidential candidates are waving their sabers around, but that sadly is normal. No, the big news is that 30 governors have announced that they will refuse to let Syrian refugees settle in their states.

First of all, how in the world would a state government stop someone from settling in their state? Religious quizzes at the state border? Even more traffic stops of people who look middle eastern? It boggles the mind. But even if there was a physical way to stop them, what legal reason could they use to stop them? A law explicitly discriminating against Muslims? They would have to repeal the First Amendment before they could do that.

But that doesn’t matter. Do the governors realize just how idiotic this is? The Syrian refugees are people fleeing Daesh. They are trying to get away from Daesh. Indeed, absolutely none of the Paris terrorists were Syrian refugees. They were Muslims already living in Europe. It would make more sense for the governors to threaten to deport all Muslims living in their states (not that it makes any sense at all).

So not letting Syrian refugees find a new home means that they won’t be able to leave Syria and will be stuck there under Daesh. Is that what we want? If you are a Muslim living in the US, and your siblings or parents are unable to leave Syria, who are you going to blame? If your mosque is set on fire, or your friends are beat up by some skinhead, at whom are you going to get angry?

I’m not saying that two wrongs make a right. I’m just saying that through our actions, we managed to create Daesh and we continue to be their best recruiting tool. Just look at our results. They are playing us like idiots, and we keep falling for it.

Matt Bors
© Matt Bors

The last panel of this comic shows the terrorists popping open a bottle of champagne, even though the Muslim religion prohibits alcohol. Maybe this is a subtle reminder that the terrorists in Paris were not particularly religious.

UPDATE: Republican-controlled House has passed a bill to severely restrict the entry of Syrian refugees to the US. Obama is threatening to veto the bill, assuming it gets through the Senate.



  1. ebdoug wrote:

    And of course, back comes “Obama wasn’t born in this country and is a Muslim.” Oh, the ignorance of the 70% of this population. They believe what Fox News indoctrinates them with as people love to hate.

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 5:00 am | Permalink
  2. Hassan wrote:

    If you look at all the terrorists attack or attempts, most of the guys have very flimsy background. Rarely has been anyone who was very devout muslim regularly going to mosque.

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 6:49 am | Permalink
  3. PATIOTSGT wrote:

    I get what you are saying IK, and for the most part I agree. If we we’re just fighting an ideology I think everyone could get on board with the strategy. But we’re not just fighting an ideology, we are defending against actual physical attacks. Islam is the largest religion on the planet, and except for a few scattered voices around the globe, there is silence and worse.

    From certain points of view their position seems justified, but their points a re not so clear.

    In a broader sense I think you are right and we must show restraint. We must not forget our humanity, but we should also not completely dismiss the fears of our own countrymen with indignation and dismissiveness. Especially when it comes to the Syrians seeking refuge. Explain and reassure the people that there is a plan, tell them the process and who we will or will not allow in. Americans saw the videos from Europe of the streams of un-vetted refugees pouring over their borders. They do not want the same here.

    For myself, I have questions about our intentions and historic lack of caring about the suffering in other parts of the world. Who stepped up against the slaughter in Rwanda and countless other African nations. Who opposed the Khmer Rouge after Vietnam, who came to the rescue or is assisting Somalia? We rushed into Bosnia, why? We stood by when Assad was murdering his own Syrians, we didn’t care. When the Taliban subjugated and sent Afghans back into the stone age it was their issue to resolve.

    Why, because none of those other groups declared an unofficial war on us. We are lucky we don’t share an open border with enemies sworn to kill us. Americans just want to know and have confidence that their government has matters in control and a plan. The extremists are an enemy we should not ignore. They will not quit because we appeal to their intelligence and turn the other cheek.

    This discussion needs to be continued and more points of view need to brought to the table. Yes Christians went on their crusade in the name of God, but none of them are alive today and the Christian community has largely changed. What about the enslavement and killing of the Israelites by the Egyptians, should that justify Israel killing them? What about the countless other examples of man’s slaughter of neighbors, should each group be allowed to carry that grudge for countless generations? In my mind, people in the present need to let go of the past and stop using it as an excuse. We have many of those types of groups here, and all over the world. How do we change that?

    Keep talking, please!

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 6:54 am | Permalink
  4. Hassan wrote:

    PATIOTSGT, “there is silence and worse”, I did not read article yet, but not sure if you want 1.6 billions muslims to come to your home and condemn terrorism. Each country where is muslim majority, the leaders have condemned Paris attacks and any attacks before it. All respected religious scholars from west or east have condemned the attacks.

    The only thing (and big thing) lacking from muslim countries is actual fighting against DAESH. Few countries are doing it, but halfheartedly.

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 7:28 am | Permalink
  5. PATRIOTSGT wrote:

    Your right Hassan, I do not want 1.6 billion of any people coming to dinner at my house.
    I remember the million man march for black equality 20 years ago. A million Muslim march in a few of the more heavily Muslim nations denouncing the extremists might convince the western peoples that the majority is actually against those who defile Islam. It might also convince young impressionable people that there is another way. Our million man march was organized by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. His message didn’t exactly resonate because he used the term justice or else, implying a threat. Perhaps if there was a more focused leader who could convey that peace (the foundation of Islam) is the way, the only way, then non-muslim people around the world might support the movement.
    In our us vs them world we need unity not division. Our culture is even perplexed, we have separation of church and state and argue constantly about keeping the 2 ideas separate. In many Muslim countries they are intertwined and inseparable and that concept flies in the face of our left and creates a struggle for existence with our right.

    It’s complex and I don’t know if the current human species can evolve into beings who can overcome our own DNA. But it’s worth a try in my mind.

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 9:10 am | Permalink
  6. Hassan wrote:

    PATIOTSGT, also you said:

    “In my mind, people in the present need to let go of the past and stop using it as an excuse”

    Perhaps theoretically correct, but near past is still effecting middle east. The colonization of middle east by British, French and very recent wars in Iraq by US and its allies. So we are not talking about 5000 years back here.

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 9:17 am | Permalink
  7. Hassan wrote:

    PATRIOTSGT, matters are very complex unfortunately.

    In Saudi Arabia, people are not allowed to march at all. Also it is not cultural norm even there. To expect them to do something which they are not used to is not going to work. In Saudi Arabia, the government or scholars speak, and people just listen and repeat.

    In other countries like Pakistan, people protest all the time, but most of the time it is about what affects them directly. So they have had marches against terrorism, but mostly local terrorism that has killed many. Or it is either against corruption of government.

    In west, I think it is doable, some islamic organization should organize it.

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 9:28 am | Permalink
  8. Iron Knee wrote:

    Hassan, thanks for that link.

    PatriotSgt, I’m not totally disagreeing with you, but I do want to point out that your statement “Islam is the largest religion on the planet” is false. That honor belongs to Christians (31.5% of the world). 23% of the world are Muslims. See

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 9:37 am | Permalink
  9. Michael wrote:

    One observation I’ve made about the dialogue in the U.S. is that people really, really do not understand probability theory, specifically conditional probabilities. Consider the following two issues (I hope list tags work…):

    The probability that someone is a Muslim, given that they are a terrorist; denote this as P(Muslim | terrorist)
    The probability that someone is a terrorist, given that they are Muslim; denote this as P(terrorist | Muslim)

    It’s shocking how many people think these are the same or even close to being the same. Just to pick numbers (that are easy to work with) as illustration, let’s say that there are 1000 terrorists worldwide, 800 of whom are Muslim. (For the record, that percentage is WAY too high.) Then P(Muslim | terrorist) = 80%. However, P(terrorist | Muslim) = 800 / 1,600,000,000 = 0.00005%.

    The simple fact is that there are very few terrorists in the world, regardless of their background. Because this is such a small number, people fall for the base rate fallacy and focus on the P(Muslim | terrorist) number. Specifically, they see more of a difference between 80% and 40% than between 0.00005% and 0.0005%. However, shrinking from 80% to 40% could mean that there are 800 Muslims out of 2000 terrorists or 400 out of 1000 terrorists. It’s really a meaningless statistic, but it’s the one that people seem to argue about the most. On the other hand, increasing from 0.00005% to 0.0005% means there would now be 8000 Muslim terrorists.

    Making policy decisions based on the percentage of terrorists that come from a particular background is lunacy at best, and racist/bigoted at worst.

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 9:48 am | Permalink
  10. Iron Knee wrote:

    Michael, it is also interesting that Fox News says “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” So they claim P(Muslim | terrorist) = 100%. Even you say that 80% would be “way too high”. Would you believe that the percentage of terrorist acts in Europe over the past five years that were committed by Muslims is LESS THAN TWO percent. See

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink
  11. PATRIOTSGT wrote:

    Hassan, I understand the resentment of colonization. We we’re a colony also at one time. But look at some remarkable instances where people and nations have put aside horrible atrocities to become civil towards each other and yes even friends and allies. Look at Germany, they started 2 world wars and by estimates were responsible for 10s of millions of deaths. They are now leading the call to take in refugee’s. Even Israeli’s do not condemn the current governments or people of Germany. Look at Japan, they committed horrible atrocities in WWII against Americans and virtually every south and western pacific nation. They are now considered a staunch ally to America. There are plenty of examples in modern times of nations rising above the past.

    Michael – I agree and it is ridiculous for anyone to say all terrorists are Muslim. We have terrorists here in Baltimore, but we call them gangs. They are responsible for most of our murders and because they have an iron grip no one will testify against them. They even made a DVD titled “Don’t Snitch” and distributed it showing people what would happen if they cooperated with police. Indeed we’ve seen houses fire bombed, children executed and people beaten to death and it’s mostly gang enforcement. But, no one is allowed to call it terrorism or the PC police will attack.

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink
  12. Hassan wrote:

    PATRIOTSGT, sometimes it takes time to get out of mess. And invading/occupation (post colonization) does not help. Also support of dictators and sometimes overthrowing people (either elected Mosadegh or dictator Saddam/Qadafi) also has negative impact. So not sure how long it will take muslim countries, but may be leaving them totally alone for a generation or two help. When Allah commanded Moses and children of Israel to enter holy land by fighting the tyrant their, they refused due to years of slavery and its negative psychological impact. They were lost in desert for 40 years till new generation came and Joshua took them in. So perhaps leave middle east isolated/alone for 40 years may help.

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 1:12 pm | Permalink
  13. Iron Knee wrote:

    PSgt, the same thing happened when Hans Breivik killed 77 people in Norway (bombing and shooting). He advocated deporting all Muslims from Europe. When the media called him a “Christian extremist”, Fox News (specifically Bill O’Reilly) went ballistic, saying:

    Now, on Sunday, the “New York Times” headlined “As Horrors Emerged, Norway Charges Christian extremist”. A number of other news organizations like the “LA Times” and Reuters also played up the Christian angle. But Breivik is not a Christian. That’s impossible. No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder. The man might have called himself a Christian on the net, but he is certainly not of that faith.

    So O’Reilly claims “No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder”. Let’s disregard for a moment that this completely ignores the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Nazis, “the troubles” in Northern Ireland, ad nauseum.

    Ironically, O’Reilly was the person who started the whole mess on Fox News, saying “Muslims killed us on 9/11!”, which ended with Brian Kilmeade stating that “All terrorists are Muslim.” Obviously, if all terrorists are Muslims, then of course no Christian could be a terrorist. Innocence by definition!

    In addition, and unfortunately for O’Reilly’s logic, Muslims do believe in Jesus.

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink
  14. ebdoug wrote:

    I’m repeating this. What we are into now liberating Syria and Iraq from IS is Liberal Internationalism.

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 2:04 pm | Permalink
  15. Michael wrote:

    Yes, I would certainly believe that it was only 2%. The ONLY reason that I picked 80% was because 80 divides 1.6 billion very easily. I also wanted to pick a ridiculously high percentage to show just how bad and meaningless the math worked out to be. (I guess that’s a second reason…)

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Permalink
  16. PATRIOTSGT wrote:

    Hassan – I did not mean to imply that change would be easy. It most certainly is not. That said it is possible. I understand leaving the region to fend for itself is a solution, but it is hard to stand by and watch the slaughter of innocents and non-combatants. We have done it before as I posted about Rwanda and Cambodia, but I’m not proud of that. Perhaps we’re the ones who need the therapy to get us through that scenario.

    IK -I agree. Separate the church and state. But when the killings do take place in the name of religion we should call it what it is. Your also right about O’reilly making excuses for Breivik. But his situation and what DAESH does in the name of their religion and quasi-state. Perhaps we should come up with a new name for the abhorration that they’ve become . I have no problem if we can convince everyone to use DAESH or Inbred Throwbacks (ITs for short) for all I care.

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink
  17. redjon wrote:

    EBDOUG, your remark that, “What we are into now liberating Syria and Iraq from IS (Daesh) is Liberal Internationalism.” As if Liberal Internationalism is a bad thing.

    Reading through the whole WIKI article you referred to, different people might arrive at different conclusions… but thanks for the links.

    Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 2:39 pm | Permalink
  18. ebdoug wrote:

    Red John,being a flaming liberal and sorry for all oppressed people, I’m all for Liberal Internationalism. My president does not invade sovereign nations like Viet Nam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. My President protects the innocent. Those I don’t vote for are for taking over the whole world.

    I now see why JEB still feels invading Iraq was the right thing to do, he signed the New America Century Project.

    And re the terrorists: Jeb’s brother certainly qualifies by the number of deaths per day still in Iraq that would not have occurred had Jeb’s brother had a brain. Those New America Century guys had him well brainwashed.

    Friday, November 20, 2015 at 4:10 am | Permalink