The following is a thematic excerpt from Fighting the War of Ideas Like a Real War, the new book by Dr. J. Michael Waller, the Center’s VP for Information Operations. The book, published by the Institute of World Politics Press, details message strategies that can be used to fight Islamist extremism and other foreign ideological foes.
The key to victory over insurgencies and terror movements is the removal of their ideological legitimacy. In the Islamic world, that means talking about religion. For the U.S., the appropriate rhetoric is that of Islam itself, pronounced by faithful Muslims with sufficient moral standing. However, rather than issue opinions about the inconsistency of terrorist violence with good Muslim principles, the U.S. should merely provide a platform and amplifier for messages of moderate Muslims that comport with our strategic interests. [More]
The Spanish Muslim fatwa of March, 2005  provides an exceptional thematic model for culturally appropriate rhetoric that the United States should amplify and relentlessly repeat, and encourage those of sufficient standing to emulate. Here is a small example of the fatwa’s strongly-worded messages:
Terrorism and extremism are un-Islamic.
- “. . . it is necessary to point out that terrorism and extremism contradict human nature and the lessons of Islam.”
Muslims who commit terrorism are no longer Muslim.
- “The perpetration of terrorist acts supposes a rupture of such magnitude with Islamic teaching that it allows to affirm that the individuals or groups who have perpetrated them have stopped being Muslim and have put themselves outside the sphere of Islam.”
All Muslims have the duty to fight terrorism.
- “The duty of every Muslim is to fight actively against terrorism, in accordance with the Qur’anic mandate that establishes the obligation to prevent corruption from overtaking the Earth.”
God holds all Muslims responsible.
- “Do good unto others as God has done unto you; and do not wish to plant the seeds of corruption upon Earth, for God does not love those who sow corruption.” (28:77). “The term corruption’ includes here all forms of anarchy and terrorism that undermine or destroy peace and Muslim security. Muslims, therefore, are not only forbidden from committing crimes against innocent people, but are responsible before God to stop those people who have the intention to do so, since these people are planting the seeds of corruption on Earth.'” (Emphasis added.)
It is easy to see how the U.S. can fuel the debate and split support from the extremists without injecting the government itself into a theological debate. The only need, in the Spanish fatwa case, was to report on the existence and context of the document, and translate and disseminate its contents. This Muslim-led ideological offensive is precisely what is needed to strip away the false veil of religious sanction in which our enemies have draped themselves. It would show that the terrorists and extremists are on the wrong side of the fight and will suffer grievous consequences, both in this world and in the hereafter.
 Fatwa of the Islamic Commission of Spain, Cordova, 11 March 2005.