The Pentagon must study the Muslim prophet Muhammad and his military doctrine to beat the growing number of jihadists, a former senior Pentagon intelligence official warns.
The failure of Pentagon brass to implement a “systematic study” of Muhammad’s military doctrine is hurting the U.S. military’s effort to control and defeat insurgents and terrorists, complains William Gawthrop, who until recent months headed a key counterintelligence and counterterrorism program set up at the Pentagon after 9/11.
During this year’s Ramadan, just ended, U.S. troops suffered another spike in casualties. Ramadan is the Islamic holy month when Muslims believe Muhammad received the Quran, the Muslim scripture, in a divine revelation.
Almost 100 GIs have been killed in Iraq this month alone. Attacks on U.S.
and other coalition soldiers in Afghanistan also increased during Ramadan.
The U.S. still does not have an in-depth understanding of the war-fighting doctrine laid down by Muhammad, says Gawthrop, who recently stepped down as program manager for the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the Defense Department’s Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA.
“As late as early 2006, the senior service colleges of the Department of Defense had not incorporated into their curriculum a systematic study of Muhammad as a military or political leader,” Gawthrop said. “As a consequence, we still do not have an in-depth understanding of the war-fighting doctrine laid down by Muhammad, how it might be applied today by an increasing number of Islamic groups, or how it might be countered.”
Washington-based CIFA is a key Pentagon intelligence agency involved in homeland security. It staffs hundreds of investigators and analysts to help coordinate Pentagon security efforts at home and abroad. CIFA also supports Northern Command in Colorado, which was established after 9/11 to help military forces react to terrorist threats in the continental United States.
Gawthrop says jihadists in Iraq and Afghanistan are simply following the example of Muhammad, who some 1,400 years ago personally led 27 attacks and sent his armies out 47 additional times against non-Islamic communities averaging about seven operations a year.
He says the Muslim prophet’s military doctrine is contained in the Quran and its supplements, and the insurgents and terrorists are using them as their manual of warfare. They are Muhammad’s soldiers in the 21st century.
Homegrown and freelance terrorists are also following his example, he notes.
“There is evidence to support the contention that sources of terrorism in Islam may reside within the strategic themes of Islam,” Gawthrop said. They include “the example of Muhammad, the Quran, the hadiths, Islamic law, the pillars of faith and jihad.”
The Muslim sacred books cover all aspects of warfare, from methods and tactics of violence against kafirs to war booty to truces, he says. Even alms-giving is directed toward jihad, which is obligatory for Muslims, who are told by the Quran that “fighting is prescribed for you” (another translation says “warfare is ordained for you”).
Gawthrop says the Pentagon needs to develop a broad new strategy to deal with the threat from Islamic terrorists. But to do so, officials must first overcome the political taboo of linking Islamic violence to the religion of Islam, its sacred scripture and the personal example of its revered prophet.
“Muhammad’s mindset is a source for terrorism,” Gawthrop flatly says.
Dealing with the threat on a tactical and operational level through counterstrikes and capture has proven only marginally successful. Gawthrop and other military leaders want to combat it from a strategic standpoint, using informational warfare, among other things. A critical part of that strategy involves studying Islam, including the Quran and the hadiths, or traditions of Muhammad, and exploiting critical vulnerabilities and controversies within the faith itself.
“The ideological lever has largely been ignored,” he said, while the threat from Islamic terrorism and jihadism grows stronger and stronger – now now infecting Great Britain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, in addition to Thailand, Indonesia (and indirectly Australia), Somalia, Russia and India.
“Today the United States and an increasing number of other governments are beleaguered by an expanding array of states, groups and individuals whose goals, actions and norms are animated by Islamic values,” Gawthrop said.
“This places the defenders in the unenviable position of having to fight, at the strategic level, against an idea.”
How do you attack an idea? By hitting “soft spots” in the Islamic faith that, once exploited, “may induce a deteriorating cascade effect upon the target,” Gawthrop says.
“Critical vulnerabilities of the Quran, for example, are that it was uttered by a mortal,” Gawthrop said. “Similar vulnerabilities may be found in Muhammad’s character.”
As the jihad spreads, he says the government eventually will have to get involved in a such a controversial national education campaign, politically incorrect as it may be.
“If the United States, moderate Muslim governments and the non-Muslim world seek to engage ideological adversaries on their own ground,” he said, “they will have to develop, use and maintain the full range of capabilities in the ideological component of national power, and address Islam’s strategic themes directly.”
Gawthrop notes that the Defense Intelligence Agency has produced reports on jihad, but not any detailed reports on Muhammad and his political and military doctrine. The reports discussing jihad include: “Y: The Sources of Islamic Revolutionary Conduct” by Air Force Lt. Col. Stephen P. Lambert and
“Islam: The Peaceful Religion in Perpetual War” by the Joint Military Intelligence College.
Gawthrop’s analysis appears in the new fall 2006 edition of “The Vanguard,”
the professional journal of the Military Intelligence Corps Association published out of Fort Huachuca, Ariz., the Army’s intelligence headquarters.
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