By Brigid Curtis Ayer (For The Catholic Moment)
CARMEL — Al Kresta, president and CEO of Ave Maria Radio and host of “Kresta in the Afternoon,” delivered a talk about the rising tide of Islamic jihadism, Oct. 3, to a full church at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish.
Kresta offered a political and religious overview of Islam and the strategy of radical Islamists to conquer the world and annihilate anyone who does not agree with their radical ideology.
Weaving in quotes, news reports, video footage, and interviews from experts on Islamic jihad ideology, Kresta urged participants to familiarize themselves with the reality of radical Islam and the serious nature of their plan.
Muslims number 1.6 billion worldwide, according to the Pew Research Center. Approximately 90 percent are orthodox Sunni Muslims who believe in a more rigid adherence to sharia law. Shia Muslims — an estimated 10 percent worldwide — are moderate in their Islamic beliefs and practices.
Kresta stressed that he was not talking about all Muslims, or saying that all Muslims are violent or subscribe to jihadism, or holy war.
“Muslims are as varied as Christians are in their level of commitment to the faith,” he said. But his presentation focused specifically on global jihad and the Islamic State’s strategic implementation of the ideology.
“It’s been 14 years since 9-11, and 36 years since the Iran hostage situation and the Ayatollah Khomeini, yet we know very little to nothing more about global jihadism. Why?” he asked.
Kresta shared media clips illustrating a denial of facts, by U.S. presidents and news media, that either downplayed or misrepresented the threat and prevalence of the Islamic jihadists by saying that Islam and Muslims are not violent. Kresta asserted that history and current events paint a different picture.
He compared violent acts committed by a fanatical Christian and jihadist Muslims. When a Christian commits a violent act, it is condemned by Christian leaders, yet when a Muslim jihadist commits a violent act, the Muslim leaders celebrate, he said.
Another difference is that Christian fanatics are considered to be crazy and on the fringes, he said, yet Islamic jihadists’ violent actions represent a mainstream ideology of the Muslim countries in the Middle East under sharia law.
Sharia law, which is the religious code for Muslims dictating all aspects of life, is considered the infallible law of Allah, Kresta said.
“In Saudi Arabia and Iran, for example, it is also their civil law. If a person violates sharia law, it is a common practice to be lashed, have limbs amputated, be stoned or beheaded,” he said. “If you don’t believe me, Google ‘Saudi Arabia executions,’ and you will see what I’m talking about.
“The terrorist attacks that take place around the world are not a string of isolated events,” Kresta said. “The reality is the perpetrators share a common Islamic ideology of global jihadism with a strategic plan for world domination.”
The last great jihad was stopped on Sept. 11, 1683, by the king of Poland, leading to the Islamic cultural decline, he said.
“When the U.S. was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, it signaled that the Islamists are back and have reset the jihad for the culture,” Kresta said. “This date was significant in sending a message, a declaration of war on the West, yet the media and U.S. leaders did not make or report on the connection.”
Jihadists targeted the Pentagon, a symbol of the U.S. military; the Twin Towers, which symbolized capitalism; and they attempted to destroy the White House, a symbol of the U.S. democratic government.
What are the roots of Islamic jihad and why do the jihadists hate the United States?
Kresta said the answer can be found in Osama bin Ladin’s “Declaration of War on the U.S.” Bin Laden claimed America has occupied and sullied the holy land of Mecca and Medina; devastated Iraq and its people; humiliated and terrorized Muslims; and weakened the area around Israel so that Israel cannot be attacked.
Kresta explained that Muslims adhere to a world religious leader called a caliph, who is a direct descendant of Islam’s prophet, Mohammed. Only the caliphate, the religious state for Muslims, run by the caliph is considered legitimate.
The first caliph was appointed in 632 after the death of Mohammed. Kresta said that following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the leader of Turkey, in 1924 abolished the caliphate and the Muslim nations became secularized as a way to tamp down the more orthodox Muslims, who believed in sharia law.
This resulted in an Islamic reactionary undercurrent whereby the orthodox Muslims — the Sunnis — began fighting back against the secular leaders. Kresta said within Muslim countries around the world, there is an ongoing battle between secular leaders and radical Islamists who want to impose sharia law on all.
“The goal of the Islamic jihadist is to expel the secular leaders, and restore the caliphate, to drive out Christians and Jews, and implement sharia law in Muslim- dominated countries, retaliate against the infidels and the corrupt West,” Kresta said. The caliphate recognizes no man-made political boundaries, saying that all belongs to Allah.
Kresta said that Islam is sometimes characterized as a peaceful religion, but history and current events dispute that.
“It is not a peaceful religion in the way Westerners understand the concept of peace. Peace according to the Islamist comes when all are subjected to live under sharia law,” which comes through either converting to Islam, being killed or being enslaved to those who have allegiance to the caliph and caliphate, he said.
“Do not close your eyes to the rise of radical Islam,” Kresta said.
He called on Catholics to study their faith and find ways to participate in the New Evangelization.
“Don’t be afraid to evangelize Muslims,” he said. “Share your faith with them by asking sincere questions and present Jesus.”
He also urged people to pray the rosary.
“Our Lady is there to help us, and has averted wars and violence in the past through our prayers,” he said. “Commit to prepare your minds for action and fix your mind on Christ.”
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parishioner Lisa Claps said, “I went to the talk because I am very concerned about the rise of Islam in the world. I realize not all Muslims are terrorists. I wanted to hear that it is a peaceful religion and the terrorists are fanatics.
“What I heard was Islam is concerned about making the world for Allah and sharia law,” she said. “If they rule, they will expect others to submit. Their reaction in this country to Ben Carson’s statement that a Muslim should not be president reinforced my fear that they are not tolerant of free speech. I read about atrocities, slavery, the treatment of women in the Middle East and it shakes me to the core. Al Kresta did remind me that faith in God’s love is the only surety.”