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Since 9/11, the United States and its allies have been waging an endless War on Terror to counter violent extremism by “winning hearts and minds,” particularly in Afghanistan. However, violent extremism remains on the rise worldwide.

The effort and sacrifice of the War on Terror have been continually undermined by actions, narratives, and policies that many of the 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide perceive as Islamophobic. Incidents of Islamophobia on the part of Western governments, media, and civilians, whether intentional or unintentional, alienate the majority of Muslims who are law-abiding and would be key allies in the fight against violent extremism. In Afghanistan, for example, violent extremist groups portray U.S. and NATO forces as blasphemous, anti-Muslim invaders to frighten Afghan villagers into compliance. A similar perception weakens domestic countering violent extremism programs in the West that rely on cooperation with Muslim communities.

As the Great Powers Competition emerges among the U.S., Russia, and China, America and the West can ill afford any further impairment in their counterterrorism strategy. The dangers of Islamophobia must be recognized and eradicated immediately.

In Countering Violent Extremism by Winning Hearts and Minds, Adib Farhadi demonstrates how Islamophobia poses a threat to U.S. national security by utilizing historical context, statistical analysis, and in-depth case studies. Farhadi, who headed Afghanistan’s National Development Strategy, describes how Koran burnings, anti-Islamic rhetoric, and racial profiling harm relationships with the majority of Muslims who are not involved in violent extremism and thus perpetuate the War on Terror.

America has sacrificed thousands of lives and has spent more than $6 trillion on the War on Terror. It can ill afford to squander more valuable resources in a strategy undermined by Islamophobia or perception of Islamophobia. As Farhadi explains, only through a reconciliatory narrative, can we work toward a shared future where violent extremism is eradicated.

This book is essential reading for scholars, policymakers, practitioners, and executives who are invested in maintaining and rebuilding American credibility essential to global security and peace.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Introduction

Abstract
This chapter introduces and contextualizes the driving question of the book, namely, how to address the growing problem of Islamophobia and the threat it poses to U.S. national security. In order to effectively contest a small, radicalized element of Muslims, the U.S. must enlist the support of a potential key ally: the 1.8 billion mainstream Muslims worldwide and, in particular, 3.5 million Muslim Americans. This book builds upon arguments from leading scholars of Islamophobia and integrates current events and lessons learned from the Global War on Terrorism and domestic CVE programs in order to inform broader discourses on radicalization and security studies among policy-practitioners, researchers, students, military leaders, and those invested in national security. Overall, the book explicates the current problem of Islamophobia and the national security threats it poses, and it sets forth what shifts are necessary for a more inclusive narrative and cultural understanding that allows for a resolution of U.S.–Muslim animosity and the War on Terror itself. Through a combination of theory, case studies, and observational evidence, the book sheds light on the U.S.’s current implementation of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency measures in relation to the surge in Islamophobia, and it proposes promising new directions for future efforts.
Adib Farhadi

The Invisible Rise of AL Qaeda

Abstract
This chapter traces the pre-9/11 historical background of Islamic violent extremism and the rise of al Qaeda. Prior to 9/11, the threat of al Qaeda was largely disregarded in the U.S. and considered insignificant, even though attacks occurred against a U.S. embassy and a U.S. naval ship. This chapter highlights the contrast in U.S. perceptions of violent extremism then and now, clarifying the extent and extremity of Islamophobia in the present climate. This chapter’s close examination of the run-up to the 9/11 attacks and the launch of the War on Terror provides essential background on the U.S.’s invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, its shift in national security strategy toward countering violent extremism, and the surge in Islamophobia that followed 9/11. When 9/11-associated violent extremism became the focus of national security, Muslims across the globe, especially in the U.S., began to experience a heightened form of discrimination from racial profiling and invasive searches by state agencies. By describing various events and policies in the U.S. of the 1990s up to the attacks of September 11, 2001, this chapter sets the stage for better understanding the context of the 9/11 attacks, the unfolding of the War on Terror, and the Islamophobic climate it has fostered.
Adib Farhadi

A War of Narratives

Abstract
This chapter recounts how the U.S. effort to counter violent extremism in the War on Terror unfolded in the arena of the Afghan War and the rise of ISIS. The war is framed as a conflict between competing narratives, as the U.S. military sought to enlist local populations in the fight against extremism by “winning hearts and minds” away from the violent extremists’ narrative of the U.S. as a foreign oppressor. This chapter establishes narrative as the crux of the War on Terror, as the war’s resolution depends on the adoption of a reconciliatory narrative that integrates American and Muslim interests. If reconciliatory narrative is the key to resolving the war, then Islamophobic narratives directly exacerbate and perpetuate the war. The chapter concludes by describing the current peace process, which hinges on a resolution of the animosity fomented by Islamophobia.
Adib Farhadi

Compounding Violent Extremism

Abstract
This chapter describes strategies used by the U.S. and its allies to counter violent extremism, a process that has unintentionally created conditions that foment Islamophobia by singling out Islam as a cause of violent extremism. In fact, extremism has come from a broad array of racial, religious, ethnic, and socio-political groups, and very few violent extremists are Muslim. The vast majority of Muslims disapprove of violent extremism. This chapter describes the challenges, limitations, and unintended consequences of the U.S.’s Islam-focused CVE strategies, which in some ways have served to compound rather than counter violent extremism. When Islamic violent extremism is the primary focus of CVE strategies, everyday Muslims often become profiled as terrorists. Even those who have been citizens for generations are expected to prove their loyalty while other forms of violent extremism go unaddressed. This can leave Muslims feeling marginalized, impact how Islamic communities overseas perceive how they will be treated by the U.S. and undermine the U.S.’s key strategy of winning hearts and minds.
Adib Farhadi

The Faces of Islamophobia

Abstract
The cases in this chapter describe instances of Islamophobia, some unintentional, that have occurred worldwide since 9/11, focusing on the U.S., Iraq, and Afghanistan. Islamophobia has taken a variety of forms, including discriminatory actions against Muslims living in the U.S., cultural insensitivity by U.S. soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, and globally, anti-Muslim hate crimes ranging from interpersonal violence to mosque burnings. The mass media often makes matters worse through selective and biased reporting that further sways the American public against Muslims. The range of cases provides insight into what Islamophobia looks like in practice, how it occurs, and how the individual incidents add up to a larger cultural epidemic that threatens the U.S.’s ability to win the war of narratives against Islamic extremists. Given that the War on Terror is a war of narratives, widespread harassment and discrimination toward Muslims in the friendly and neutral majority can only hurt the U.S.’s position, enflaming further conflict between the Western and Muslim worlds. As a whole, the cases point to the potential of Islamophobia to drastically hinder U.S. counterterrorism efforts.
Adib Farhadi

Consequences of Islamophobia

Abstract
If Islamophobia has been surging worldwide to even higher rates than were seen in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, then what are the consequences for the U.S.’s war of narratives? This chapter seeks to illuminate this question. Most troublingly, extremists seize on instances of Islamophobia in the U.S. and elsewhere in order to support their own narrative that the U.S. is only out to advance its own interests and destroy the Islamic way of life. The extremist propaganda has found success on social media and other forms of digital communication, which provides a global audience of potential recruits to violent extremism. To illustrate the radicalizing effects of Islamophobic harassment, the chapter presents the case of Major Nidal Hasan, who after years of harassment in his role as a U.S. Army psychiatrist, committed a mass shooting at his workplace, Fort Hood, that killed 13 and injured 32. Hasan credited several radical Islamist teachers with motivating his attack, which he regarded as a justified defense of Islam. This chapter concludes the book by recommending the path forward in the War on Terror. Specifically, based on the preceding account of the real sources of violent extremism, the chapter lays out a vision for the U.S. to advance a more inclusive, reconciliatory narrative—the only way to resolve a war of narratives. Only cooperation and cultural understanding will allow for a resolution of U.S.–Muslim animosity and the War on Terror itself. The work of countering Islamophobia and winning hearts and minds go hand in hand. This chapter proposes practical strategies for the U.S. government, NGOs, the mass media, and educators to follow in reconciling Muslim and Western interests.
Adib Farhadi

Conclusion and Recommendations

Abstract
This chapter concludes the book by recommending the path forward in the War on Terror. Specifically, based on the preceding account of the real sources of violent extremism, the chapter lays out a vision for the U.S. and the West to advance a more inclusive, reconciliatory narrative—the only way to resolve a war of narratives. Only cooperation and cultural understanding will allow for a resolution of U.S.–Muslim animosity and the War on Terror itself. The work of countering Islamophobia and winning hearts and minds go hand in hand. This chapter proposes practical strategies for the U.S. government, NGOs, the mass media, and educators to follow in reconciling Muslim and Western interests.
Adib Farhadi
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