There’s a debate going on in Washington about how to characterize the ISIS terrorist group. President Obama wants to downplay the Islamic character of the organization, arguing as many mainline Muslim groups do that it is “un-Islamic.” Others say that calling it Islamic is crucial to grasping the true nature of the threat. Obama is right. If you simply look at the numbers, the “addressable market” for ISIS ideas is only about 5% of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims. There is nothing uniquely Muslim about the atrocities that ISIS commits — the fascists and communists were far worse. Besides, everybody in ISIS doesn’t believe the same thing — in fact, for many ISIS followers religion is just a pretext for pursuing base motives and behaviors. If you strip away the details, what you find in ISIS is the kind of behavior young men in groups have been perpetrating for thousands of years — since long before the Prophet arrived to found Islam. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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