(Note: This speech from Andrew Bostom was part of the panel discussion “U.S. Foreign Policy and the Influence of Shariah Doctrine” at The Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship, Hillsdale College, Washington, D.C., on November 13, 2012.)
A failure to recognize the motives of sharia supporters left the U.S. caught off-guard by a terror attack. Again.
J.B. Matthews, who renounced a career as a Communist front operative to become one of the world’s foremost anti-Communist authorities on such groups, observed in his 1938 Odyssey of a Fellow Traveler :
“It cannot be denied that Communists and their sympathizers object not only to a denunciation of Communism but also to a calm and critical examination of its principles and practices. Strange as it may seem, Communists denounce those who merely cite the things of which Communists themselves openly boast in their own public statements.”
Matthews’ observations from nearly 75 years ago are apposite to the discussion today because he captures the shared reactions by both advocates of, and apologists for, two totalitarian ideological systems which are eerily similar : modern Communism and still unreformed, pre-modern Islam. Indeed, a humorist contemporary of Matthews had cogently highlighted the striking similarities between Islam and Communism, referring to the Communist creed with this aphorism :
“There is no G-d, and Karl Marx is his prophet.”
Alas, in our present stultifying era, which increasingly demands only a hagiographic view of Islam, even such witty, illuminating aphorisms may become verboten. Witness President Obama’s stern warning during his Tuesday, September 25, 2012, speech to the UN General Assembly, when he proclaimed :
“The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
The travails in Libya — and among the broader Muslim Middle Eastern participants in the Orwellian-named “Arab Spring” — demonstrate graphically how enforcing bowdlerized views of Islam, which ignore  Islamic doctrine and history, engenders a policy debacle.
First I will summarize the salient features of Sharia , Islamic law, and its appeal as demonstrated by recent polling data  from Libya’s North African Muslim neighbors, Morocco and Egypt. Then I will trace briefly how what my colleague Diana West has aptly termed our “Making the World Safe for Sharia ” policymaking mindset operated, and continues to prevail, in Libya.
Derived from Islam’s most important canonical texts — the Koran and hadith — and their interpretation and codification by Islam’s greatest classical legists, Sharia , Islamic law, is not merely holistic in the general sense of all-encompassing, but totalitarian , regulating everything from the ritual aspects of religion to personal hygiene to the governance of a Muslim minority community, an Islamic state, bloc of states, or global Islamic order. Clearly, this latter political aspect is the most troubling, being an ancient antecedent of more familiar modern totalitarian systems. Specifically, Sharia’s liberty-crushing and dehumanizing political aspects feature : open-ended jihadism to subjugate the world to a totalitarian Islamic order; rejection of bedrock Western liberties — including freedom of conscience and speech — enforced by imprisonment, beating, or death; discriminatory relegation of non-Muslims to outcast, vulnerable pariahs, and even Muslim women to subservient chattel; and barbaric punishments which violate human dignity, such as amputation for theft, stoning for adultery, and lashing for alcohol consumption.
But is this ancient, brutally oppressive totalitarian system still popular amongst the Muslim masses, particularly within North Africa? In a word, “yes.”
Polling data were released April 24, 2007, from a rigorously conducted face-to-face University of Maryland/WorldPublicOpinion.org  interview survey  of Muslims conducted between December 9, 2006, and February 15, 2007. Seventy-one percent of the 1000 Moroccans, and 67% of the 1000 Egyptians surveyed, desired this outcome: “To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate.” The internal validity of these data about the present longing for a Caliphate was strongly suggested by a concordant result. Seventy-six percent of Moroccan Muslims and 74% of Egyptian Muslims approved of the proposition: “To require a strict [emphasis added] application of Sharia law in every Islamic country.”
Libyan “rebel” spokesperson Mustafa Abduljalil, born in 1952 in Al Baida, one of the first cities to rise against Qaddafi, studied law and Islamic jurisprudence in Benghazi before embarking on a legal career that culminated in his appointment in 2007 as Qaddafi’s “minister of justice.” A foreboding Wikileaks memo  from February 27, 2010, revealed:
“In the course of the discussion of the Criminal Code, Abduljalil abruptly changed the subject from freedom of speech to the ‘Libyan people’s concern about the U.S. government’s support for Israel.’ He averred that Libya cares deeply about Muslims everywhere, and about Muslim countries. In his view, the root cause of terrorism stems from the perception that Europe and the U.S. are against Muslims.”
By August of 2011, Abduljalil’s “vision” for Libya was apparent in his championing of Libya’s draft constitution  whose salient feature was Part 1, Article 1, which stated:
“Islam is the Religion of the State, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia).”
Following Qaddafi’s removal, a Sunday October 23, 2011 pronouncement  by Abduljalil, now the leader of Libya’s Transitional Council, reiterated the overarching general role of Sharia, and included this specific example :
“He [Abduljalil] also announced the annulment of an existing [secular] family law that limits the number of wives [a] Libyan [male] can take, contradicting the provision in the Muslim holy book, the Quran (i.e., Koran 4:3 ), that allows men up to four wives.”
Thus “liberated” Libya appeared bent on reinstituting Sharia-based polygamy, in pious conformity with Koran 4:3 .
Simultaneously, in late October 2011 reporter Sherif Elhelwa  confirmed that the al-Qaeda flag was aloft on the Benghazi courthouse. Several months later during a trip to Libya in early 2012, Elhelwa  noted the al-Qaeda flag was still flying atop Benghazi’s courthouse, but more importantly, he ventured to the jihadist flashpoint of Eastern Libya, Derna, to expose Libya’s Sharia enforcers. Unofficial Derna leader and local al-Qaeda head Abdel Hakim Al-Hasadi proclaimed:
“If you establish the Sharia, we’re with you. We’re your soldiers. We’re ready to die alongside you if you establish Sharia law.”
“Al-Qaeda in Libya: A PROFILE ” was an August 2012 report prepared by the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office , a Pentagon program office, within a month of the murderous 9/11/12 attacks which left 4 dead : U.S. Libyan ambassador Christopher Stevens, two heroic former U.S. Navy Seals (Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods), and a U.S. Air Force veteran (Sean Smith). The report emphasized how al-Qaeda senior leadership working via a large, powerful, and well-established jihadist infrastructure in Libya – including, prominently, Ansar al-Sharia, the group believed responsible for the Benghazi consulate attack – sought to capitalize on the U.S. and NATO-supported insurrection which toppled the Libyan despot Qaddafi and to fulfill its goal of making Libya part of an eventual transnational caliphate .
A sizable, ominous Ansar al-Sharia public rally during June 2012 was highlighted in the August 2012 Pentagon report , which also noted the unwillingness of Libya’s Sharia-supporting  central government to contend with these ostensibly “more radical” avatars of Sharia  supremacism. With resigned sobriety, the Pentagon report  emphasized how such jihadist/al-Qaeda discourse resonates among a significant swath of the Libyan population. Finally, the Pentagon report’s EXECUTIVE SUMMARY  raises serious questions about the callous inattention  to security for U.S. diplomatic and ancillary personnel in Benghazi, and more importantly, the abysmal “See No Sharia” failure of imagination regarding overall U.S. policy in Libya, which has abetted the most fanatical jihadist movement extant – al-Qaeda itself. The report concluded: