We and Our Enemies – The Cost of Historical Amnesia
03 Oct, 2006
The quote is from Paul Fregosi’s book Jihad in the West from 1998. Mr. Fregosi found that his book about the history of Islamic Holy War in Europe from the 7th to the 20th centuries was difficult to get published in the mid-1990s, when publishers had the Salman Rushdie case in fresh memory.
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, then serving as American ambassadors to France and Britain, respectively, met in 1786 in London with the Tripolitan Ambassador to Britain, Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja. These future American presidents were attempting to negotiate a peace treaty which would spare the United States the ravages of Jihad piracy – murder and enslavement emanating from the so-called Barbary States of North Africa, corresponding to modern Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya.
Andrew Bostom notes that “an aggressive jihad was already being waged against the United States almost 200 years prior to America becoming a dominant international power in the Middle East.” Israel has thus nothing to do with it.
The Barbary Jihad piracy had been going on since the earliest Arab-Islamic expansion in the 7th and 8th centuries. Francisco Gabrieli states that:
“According to present-day concepts of international relations, such activities amounted to piracy, but they correspond perfectly to jihad, an Islamic religious duty. The conquest of Crete, in the east, and a good portion of the corsair warfare along the Provencal and Italian coasts, in the West, are among the most conspicuous instances of such ‘private initiative’ which contributed to Arab domination in the Mediterranean.”
A proto-typical Muslim naval razzia occurred in 846 when a fleet of Arab Jihadists arrived at the mouth of the Tiber, made their way to Rome, sacked the city, and carried away from the basilica of St. Peter all of the gold and silver it contained.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, as many Europeans were captured, sold, and enslaved by the Barbary corsairs as were West Africans made captive and shipped for plantation labor in the Americas by European slave traders. Robert Davis’ methodical enumeration indicates that between one, and one and one-quarter million white European Christians were enslaved by the Barbary Muslims from 1530 through 1780.
White Gold, Giles Milton’s remarkable account of Cornish cabin boy Thomas Pellow, captured by Barbary corsairs in 1716, documents how Jihad razzias had extended to England [p. 13, “By the end of the dreadful summer of 1625, the mayor of Plymouth reckoned that 1,000 skiffs had been destroyed, and a similar number of villagers carried off into slavery”], Wales, southern Ireland [p.16, “In 1631 […] 200 Islamic soldiers […] sailed to the village of Baltimore, storming ashore with swords drawn and catching the villagers totally by surprise. [They] carried off 237 men, women, and children and took them to Algiers […] The French padre Pierre Dan was in the city (Algiers) at the time […] He witnessed the sale of the captives in the slave auction. ‘It was a pitiful sight to see them exposed in the market […] Women were separated from their husbands and the children from their fathers […] on one side a husband was sold; on the other his wife; and her daughter was torn from her arms without the hope that they’d ever see each other again’.”], and even Reykjavik, Iceland!
Bostom notes that “By June/July 1815 the ably commanded U.S. naval forces had dealt their Barbary jihadist adversaries a quick series of crushing defeats. This success ignited the imagination of the Old World powers to rise up against the Barbary pirates.”
Yet some Arabs seem to miss the good, old days when they could extract Jizya payments from the West. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has stated that he thinks that European nations should pay 10 billion euros ($12.7 billion dollars) a year to Africa to help it stop migrants seeking a better life flooding northwards into Europe. He added without elaborating: “Earth belongs to everybody. Why they (young Africans) emigrated to Europe – this should be answered by Europeans.”
Apart from being a clear-cut example of how migration, or rather population dumping by Third World countries, has become a tool for blackmail in the 21st century, this is a throwback to the age when Tripoli could extract payments from Europe.
Sadly, Americans seem to have forgotten the lessons from this proud chapter in their history, when they refused to pay ransom to Muslims like the Europeans did and instead sent warships to the Mediterranean under the slogan “Millions for defense, not one penny for tribute!” Since WW2, we’ve had three major conflicts in the Balkans: In Cyprus, in Bosnia and in Kosovo. On all three occasions, the United States have interfered on behalf of Muslims. Yet despite this fact, two of the 9/11 hijackers said that their actions were inspired by an urge to avenge the suffering of Muslims in Bosnia.
As Efraim Karsh, author of the book Islamic Imperialism: A History points out, America is reviled in the Muslim world not because of its specific policies “but because, as the pre-eminent world power, it blocks the final realization of this same age-old dream of a universal Islamic empire (or umma).”
According to Hugh Fitzgerald, “One must keep in mind both the way in which some atrocities ascribed to Serbs were exaggerated, while the atrocities inflicted on them were minimized or ignored altogether. But what was most disturbing was that there was no context to anything: nothing about the centuries of Muslim rule.
Had such a history been discussed early on, Western governments might have understood and attempted to assuage the deep fears evoked by the Bosnian Muslim leader, Izetbegovic, when he wrote that he intended to create a Muslim state in Bosnia and impose the Sharia not merely there, but everywhere that Muslims had once ruled in the Balkans. Had the Western world shown the slightest intelligent sympathy or understanding of what that set off in the imagination of many Serbs (and elsewhere, among the Christians in the Balkans and in Greece), there might never have been such a violent Serbian reaction, and someone like [Slobodan] Milosevic might never have obtained power.”
In 1809, after the battle on Cegar Hill, by order of Turkish pasha Hurshid the skulls of the killed Serbian soldiers were built in a tower, Skull Tower, on the way to Constantinople. 3 meters high, Skull Tower was built out of 952 skulls as a warning to the Serbian people not to oppose their Muslim rulers. Some years later, a chapel was built over the skulls.
Similar Jihad massacres were committed not only against the Serbs, but against the Greeks, the Bulgarians and other non-Muslims who slowly rebelled against the Ottoman Empire throughout the 19th century. Professor Vahakn Dadrian and others have clearly identified Jihad as a critical factor in the Armenian genocide in the early 20th century. This genocide by the Turks allegedly inspired Adolf Hitler in his Holocaust against the Jews later: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
As Efraim Karsh notes, “The Ottomans embarked on an orgy of bloodletting in response to the nationalist aspirations of their European subjects. The Greek war of independence of the 1820s, the Danubian uprisings of 1848 and the attendant Crimean war, the Balkan explosion of the 1870s, the Greco-Ottoman war of 1897 – all were painful reminders of the costs of resisting Islamic imperial rule.”
“The hatred of the Christians toward the Bosniak Mussulmans is intense. During a period of nearly 300 years they were subjected to much oppression and cruelty. For them no other law but the caprice of their masters existed. [...] Oppression cannot now be carried on as openly as formerly, but it must not be supposed that, because the Government employés do not generally appear as the oppressors, the Christians are well treated and protected.”
Bosnia’s wartime president Alija Izetbegovic died in 2003, hailed worldwide as a moderate Muslim leader. Little was said in Western media about the fact that in his 1970 Islamic Declaration, which got him jailed by the Communists in Yugoslavia, he advocated “a struggle for creating a great Islamic federation from Morocco to Indonesia, from the tropical Africa to the Central Asia. The Islamic movement should and must start taking over the power as soon as it is morally and numerically strong enough to not only overthrow the existing non-Islamic, but also to build up a new Islamic authority.”
Alija Izetbegovic also received money from a Saudi businessman, Yassin al-Kadi, who has been designated by the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union as a financier of al-Qaeda terrorists. Evan F. Kohlmann, author of Al-Qaeda’s Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network, argues that the “key to understanding Al Qaida’s European cells lies in the Bosnian war of the 1990s.” In 1992, the Bosnian Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic issued a passport in the Vienna embassy to Osama bin Laden. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2001 that “for the past 10 years, the most senior leaders of al Qaeda have visited the Balkans, including bin Laden himself on three occasions between 1994 and 1996. The Egyptian surgeon turned terrorist leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has operated terrorist training camps, weapons of mass destruction factories and money-laundering and drug-trading networks throughout Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia.”
Samuel Huntington mentioned already in 1993 in his famous article “The Clash of Civilizations” in the journal Foreign Affairs that both the Shi’a Muslims of Iran and the Sunni Muslims of Saudi Arabia supplied substantial funding, weapons and men to the Bosnians. Thousands of foreign fighters or ‘Mujahadeen’ from Islamic countries came to Bosnia to fight on the side of local Muslims in the bloody 1992-1995 civil war. Many of these Mujahadeen remained in Bosnia after the war, and some have been operating terrorist training camps and indoctrinating local youths.
Terrorists have been working, not just in Bosnia but in Albania and all over the Balkans, to recruit non-Arab sympathizers – so-called “white Muslims” with Western features who theoretically could more easily blend into European cities and execute attacks.
Saudi Arabia is said to have invested more than $1 billion in the Sarajevo region alone, for projects that include the construction of 158 mosques. The Islamic world is thus using the Balkans as a launching pad for Jihad against the rest of Europe and the West. “There are religious centres in Bulgaria that belong to Islamic groups financed mostly by Saudi Arabian groups,” the head of Bulgarian military intelligence warned. According to him, the centres were in southern and southeastern Bulgaria, where the country’s Muslims, mainly of Turkish origin, are concentrated, and “had links with similar organisations in Kosovo, Bosnia and Macedonia. For them Bulgaria seems to be a transit point to Western Europe.” He said the steps were taken to prevent terrorist groups gaining a foothold in Bulgaria, which shares a border with Turkey. Bulgaria’s Turkish minority accounts for 10 percent of the country’s population.
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia passed a law allowing ethnic Albanians to display the Albanian national flag in areas where they form the majority. The decision came as a result of seven months of heavy fighting in 2001 involving Albanian separatists, and following pressure from the European Union, always ready to please Muslims.
Ethnic Albanians make up about 25 per cent of Macedonia’s population. If the demographic trends are anything like in Kosovo, where the predominantly Muslim Albanians have been out-breeding their non-Muslim neighbors, the Macedonians could be facing serious trouble in the near future. In Kosovo, dozens of churches and monasteries have been destroyed or seriously damaged following ethnic cleansing of Christian Serbs, all under the auspices of NATO soldiers.
In a commentary, “We bombed the wrong side?” former Canadian UNPROFOR Commander Lewis MacKenzie wrote, “The Kosovo-Albanians have played us like a Stradivarius. We have subsidized and indirectly supported their violent campaign for an ethnically pure and independent Kosovo. We have never blamed them for being the perpetrators of the violence in the early ’90s and we continue to portray them as the designated victim today in spite of evidence to the contrary. When they achieve independence with the help of our tax dollars combined with those of bin Laden and al-Qaeda, just consider the message of encouragement this sends to other terrorist-supported independence movements around the world.”
Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland and now Chief United Nations negotiator for Kosovo, caused anger in Serbia when he stated that “Serbs are guilty as people,” implying that they would have to pay for it, possibly by losing the province of Kosovo which is seeking independence.
I disagree with Mr. Ahtisaari. It is one thing to criticize the brutality of the Milosevic regime. It is quite another thing to claim that “Serbs are guilty as a people.” If anybody in the Balkans can be called guilty as a people, it is the Turks, not the Serbs. The Turks have left a trail of blood across much of Europe and the Mediterranean for centuries, culminating in the Armenian genocide in the 20th century, which Turkey still refuses to acknowledge, let alone apologize for.
Dimitar Angelov elucidates the impact of the Ottoman Jihad on the vanquished Balkan populations:
“[T]he conquest of the Balkan Peninsula accomplished by the Turks over the course of about two centuries caused the incalculable ruin of material goods, countless massacres, the enslavement and exile of a great part of the population – in a word, a general and protracted decline of productivity, as was the case with Asia Minor after it was occupied by the same invaders. This decline in productivity is all the more striking when one recalls that in the mid-fourteenth century, as the Ottomans were gaining a foothold on the peninsula, the States that existed there – Byzantium, Bulgaria and Serbia – had already reached a rather high level of economic and cultural development. [...] The campaigns of Mourad II (1421-1451) and especially those of his successor, Mahomet II (1451-1481) in Serbia, Bosnia, Albania and in the Byzantine princedom of the Peloponnesus, were of a particularly devastating character.”
This Ottoman Jihad tradition is still continued by “secular” Turkey to this day. Michael J. Totten visited Varosha, the Ghost City of Cyprus, in 2005. The city was deserted during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and is now fenced off and patrolled by the Turkish occupiers. The Turks carved up the island. Greek Cypriot citizens in Varosha expected to return to their homes within days. Instead, the Turks seized the empty city and wrapped it in fencing and wire.
In March 2006, Italian Luigi Geninazzi made a report from the same area. 180,000 persons live in the northern part of the island, 100,000 of whom are colonists originally from mainland Turkey.
According to Geninazzi, the Islamization of the north of Cyprus has been concretized in the destruction of all that was Christian. Yannis Eliades, director of the Byzantine Museum of Nicosia, calculates that 25,000 icons have disappeared from the churches in the zone occupied by the Turks. Stupendous Byzantine and Romanesque churches, imposing monasteries, mosaics and frescoes have been sacked, violated, and destroyed. Many have been turned into restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
Geninazzi confronted Huseyn Ozel, a government spokesman for the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, with this. Most of the mosques in Greek Cypriot territory have been restored. So why are churches still today being turned into mosques? The Turkish Cypriot functionary spreads his arms wide: “It is an Ottoman custom...”
A person from Finland, one of the northernmost countries in Europe which has had very little direct experience with Jihad, can perhaps be excused for understanding so little of it. But people from Russia, a country which was once under the Tartar Yoke, should know better. So why are the Russians helping the Islamic Republic of Iran with missile and nuclear technology that will eventually be used to intimidate the West? Are the Russians so naive that they believe this beast won’t eventually come back to bite them, too? Iran is secretly training Chechen rebels in sophisticated terror techniques to enable them to carry out more effective attacks against Russian forces, The Sunday Telegraph has revealed.
Islam was controlled in the Soviet Union but has had a renaissance since its downfall in 1991, helped by funds from the Middle East. This re-Islamization of Central Asia should really worry the Russians. They are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a border security project in the region, partly to avoid being demographically overwhelmed by Muslims. But the problem exists within Russia itself, too.
Russia’s non-Muslim population is declining, but numbers are rising in Muslim regions. Will the country called Russia still exist in the future? And if so, will it be the Russia of Pushkin or of Abdullah? It is understandable that the Russians have Great Power ambitions of their own. However, one would hope that they will wake up, remember their history and realize that there are worse threats out there than American power.
Paul Fregosi has pointed out that “Western colonization of nearby Muslim lands lasted 130 years, from the 1830s to the 1960s. Muslim colonization of nearby European lands lasted 1300 years, from the 600s to the mid-1960s. Yet, strangely, it is the Muslims, the Arabs and the Moors to be precise, who are the most bitter about colonialism and the humiliations to which they have been subjected; and it is the Europeans who harbor the shame and the guilt. It should be the other way around.”
Janos (John) Hunyadi, Hungarian warrior and captain-general, is today virtually unknown outside Hungary, but he probably did more than any other individual in stemming the Turkish invasion in the fifteenth century. His actions spanned all the countries of the Balkans, leading international armies, negotiating with kings and popes. Hunyadi died of plague after having destroyed an Ottoman fleet outside Belgrade in 1456. His work slowed the Muslim advance, and may thus have saved Western Europe from falling to Islam. By extension, he may have helped save Western civilization in North America and Australia, too. Yet hardly anybody in West knows who he is. Our children don’t learn his name, they are only taught about the evils of Western colonialism and the dangers of Islamophobia.
Western Europe today is a strange and very dangerous mix of arrogance and self-loathing. Muslims are creating havoc and attacking their non-Muslim neighbors from Thailand to India. It is extremely arrogant to believe that the result will be any different in the Netherlands, Britain or Italy, or for that matter in the United States or Canada, than it has been everywhere else. It won’t. If we had the humility to listen to the advice of the Hindus of India or even our Christian cousins in south-eastern Europe, we wouldn't be in as much trouble as we are now.
On the other hand, if we didn’t have such a culture of self-loathing, where our own cultural traditions are ridiculed in favor of a meaningless Multicultural cocktail, we probably wouldn't have allowed massive Muslim immigration, either. There doesn’t have to be a contradiction between being proud of your own cultural heritage and knowing that there may still be lessons you can learn from others. A wise man can do both. Westerners of or our age do neither. Sun Tzu, a contemporary of the great Chinese thinker Confucius, wrote The Art of War, the influential book on military strategy, 2500 years ago. It is a book that deserves to be read in full, but perhaps the most famous quotation from it is this one:
“So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”
The West has forgotten who our enemies are, but worse, we have also forgotten who we are. We are going to pay a heavy price for this historical amnesia.
Fjordman is based in Norway. He contributes in Brussels Journal, Gates of Vienna and Faith Freedom International amongst other Websites. His personal blog (currently inactive): www.fjordman.blogspot.com