Why does Islamic State hate us?

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks one of the most often asked questions amongst Americans (and many others)  was: why?  Why were we attacked?  Why did so many innocent people have to die?  Why did we deserve such a catastrophe?  Why do they HATE us?

The answers to those questions were spread all over the spectrum.  Some said they (i.e. the terrorists) hate our freedoms.  Some said they hate our successes.  Some said they had manufactured grievances.  Some said that marginalised and disenfranchised people always act  out violently.  A brave few said that foreign policy might have some role to play.

Almost a decade and a half later we are still trying to grasp why.  And while the debate will likely continue for some time, we now have the definitive version of “why they hate us”, or at least the Islamic State’s version of how it sees the world.

In the latest issue of Dabiq, IS’s premiere e-zine of jihad, the terrorist group has included an article entitled “Why we hate you – and why we fight you”.  Aside from the usual flowery language and bizarre interpretations of history, IS helpfully lays out six reasons why we deserve their hatred.  In short:

  1. They hate us because we are disbelievers – i.e. we are not Muslim.  This is a little strange since in the Quran it states quite clearly the opposite (2:256 There is no compulsion in the acceptance of religion)
  2. They hate us because our liberal, secular societies permit things – like drugs, gay rights, “fornication” (i.e. sex outside of marriage), alcohol, etc. – that Allah has forbidden
  3. They hate us because some of us are atheists (whatever happened to “There is no compulsion in religion?)
  4. They hate us because we insult Islam and its prophets
  5. They hate us because we are killing Muslims with our airstrikes and drones
  6. Finally, they hate us for having invaded Muslim lands.

Now for the scary part.  IS claims that the “what we do” is secondary to “what we are”. In other words, if we were collectively to stop bombing states where Muslims live and stop invading/occupying Muslim lands that would not be enough to make them like us.  They hate us most because we refuse to embrace Islam.  Even if we agreed to live under Muslim domination and pay the jiyzah (head tax) they would still hate us, although they would stop attacking us (people who enter a covenant with Muslims historically were seen as “protected” people).

IS claims that what they are doing to us, through their terrorist attacks, is merely at attempt to “save” us from our sins and our trust in the false god of democracy.  They want to bring us out of the darkness of disbelief into the light of Islam.  Feel better now?

There you have it.  We now know that IS has a well-defined list of reasons to justify acts of terrorism against us.  We also know that there is no room for negotiation with these terrorists, outside of the non-starters: submit or convert.  There is but one solution to the problem of IS and its members.  We must eliminate them.  All of them.  IS is not the Germany of WWI or the Japan of WWII.  There is nothing to talk about and no possibility that one side will give concessions in order to end war and have peace.  This is a war to annihilation – of IS, not us.

I have said on many occasions that the complete defeat of IS or any other group does not signal an end to the misnamed “war on terrorism”.  Nevertheless, IS’ crystal clear message should be a wake-up call to anyone who sees these terrorists as potential partners around the negotiating table.  They are not and never will be.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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