The US/Britain 200 Years war against Islamic pirates – terrorists
For young Somalis, piracy offers power, prosperity
The Associated Press
There are several known pirate groups in Somalia. One is based in the southern port town of Kismayo, which is controlled by Islamic insurgents. …
Hot Air » Blog Archive » Somali pirates seize American ship, crew … by Ed Morrissey Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates …one cannot get around what Jefferson heard when he went with John Adams to wait upon Tripoli’s ambassador to London in March 1785. When they inquired by what right the Barbary states preyed upon American shipping … So here was an early instance of the “heads I win, tails you lose” dilemma, in which the United States is faced with corrupt regimes, on the one hand, and Islamic militants, on the other—or indeed a collusion between them. …
A look back at history
Britain’s 200-year jihad (and US facing them)
Britain’s 200-year jihad There are many similarities between the stateless jihad of the 1700’s and ….. The pirate ships set sail for Algeria later that day, with the captives on …
America’s Earliest Terrorists
Lessons from America’s first war against Islamic terror.
December 16, 2005, 9:55 a.m.
By Joshua E. London
At the dawn of a new century, a newly elected United States president was forced to confront a grave threat to the nation — an escalating series of unprovoked attacks on Americans by Muslim terrorists. Worse still, these Islamic partisans operated under the protection and sponsorship of rogue Arab states ruled by ruthless and cunning dictators.
Sluggish in recognizing the full nature of the threat, America entered the war well after the enemy’s call to arms. Poorly planned and feebly executed, the American effort proceeded badly and at great expense — resulting in a hastily negotiated peace and an equally hasty declaration of victory.
As timely and familiar as these events may seem, they occurred more than two centuries ago. The president was Thomas Jefferson, and the terrorists were the Barbary pirates. Unfortunately, many of the easy lessons to be plucked from this experience have yet to be fully learned.
The Barbary states, modern-day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, are collectively known to the Arab world as the Maghrib (“Land of Sunset”), denoting Islam’s territorial holdings west of Egypt. With the advance of Mohammed’s armies into the Christian Levant in the seventh century, the Mediterranean was slowly transformed into the backwater frontier of the battles between crescent and cross. Battles raged on both land and sea, and religious piracy flourished.
The Maghrib served as a staging ground for Muslim piracy throughout the Mediterranean, and even parts of the Atlantic. America’s struggle with the terror of Muslim piracy from the Barbary states began soon after the 13 colonies declared their independence from Britain in 1776, and continued for roughly four decades, finally ending in 1815.
Although there is much in the history of America’s wars with the Barbary pirates that is of direct relevance to the current “war on terror,” one aspect seems particularly instructive to informing our understanding of contemporary Islamic terrorists. Very simply put, the Barbary pirates were committed, militant Muslims who meant to do exactly what they said.
Take, for example, the 1786 meeting in London of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the Tripolitan ambassador to Britain. As American ambassadors to France and Britain respectively, Jefferson and Adams met with Ambassador Adja to negotiate a peace treaty and protect the United States from the threat of Barbary piracy.
These future United States presidents questioned the ambassador as to why his government was so hostile to the new American republic even though America had done nothing to provoke any such animosity. Ambassador Adja answered them, as they reported to the Continental Congress, “that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.”
The candor of that Tripolitan ambassador is admirable in its way, but it certainly foreshadows the equally forthright declarations of, say, the Shiite Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the 1980s and the Sunni Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, not to mention the many pronouncements of their various minions, admirers, and followers. Note that America’s Barbary experience took place well before colonialism entered the lands of Islam, before there were any oil interests dragging the U.S. into the fray, and long before the founding of the state of Israel.
America became entangled in the Islamic world and was dragged into a war with the Barbary states simply because of the religious obligation within Islam to bring belief to those who do not share it. This is not something limited to “radical” or “fundamentalist” Muslims.
Which is not to say that such obligations lead inevitably to physical conflict, at least not in principle. After all peaceful proselytizing among various religious groups continues apace throughout the world, but within the teachings of Islam, and the history of Muslims, this is a well-established militant thread.
The Islamic basis for piracy in the Mediterranean was an old doctrine relating to the physical or armed jihad, or struggle.
To Muslims in the heyday of Barbary piracy, there were, at least in principle, only two forces at play in the world: the Dar al-Islam, or House of Islam, and the Dar al-Harb, or House of War. The House of Islam meant Muslim governance and the unrivaled authority of the sharia, Islam’s complex system of holy law. The House of War was simply everything that fell outside of the House of Islam — that area of the globe not under Muslim authority, where the infidel ruled. For Muslims, these two houses were perpetually at war — at least until mankind should finally embrace Allah and his teachings as revealed through his prophet, Mohammed.
The point of jihad is not to convert by force, but to remove the obstacles to the infidels’ conversion so that they shall either convert or become a dhimmi (a non-Muslim who accepts Islamic dominion) and pay the jizya, or poll tax. The goal is to bring all of the Dar al-Harb into the peace of the Dar al-Islam, and to eradicate unbelief. The Koran also promises rewards to those who fight in the jihad, plunder and glory in this world and the delights of paradise in the next.
Although the piratical activities of Barbary genuinely degenerated over the centuries from pure considerations of the glory of jihad to less grandiose visions of booty and state revenues, it is important to remember that the religious foundations of the institution of piracy remained central.
Even after it became commonplace for the pirate captains or their crew to be renegade Europeans, it was essential that these former Christians “turn Turk” and convert to Islam before they could be accorded the honor of engagement in al-jihad fil-bahr, the holy war at sea.
In fact, the peoples of Barbary continued to consider the pirates as holy warriors even after the Barbary rulers began to allow non-religious commitments to command their strategic use of piracy. The changes that the religious institution of piracy underwent were natural, if pathological. Just as the concept of jihad is invoked by Muslim terrorists today to legitimize suicide bombings of noncombatants for political gain, so too al-jihad fil-bahr, the holy war at sea, served as the cornerstone of the Barbary states’ interaction with Christendom.
In times of conflict, America tends to focus on personalities over ideas or movements, trying to play the man, not the board — as if capturing or killing Osama bin Laden, for example, would instantly end the present conflict. But such thinking loses sight of the fact that ideas have consequences. If one believes that God commands something, this belief is not likely to dissipate just because the person who elucidated it has been silenced. Islam, as a faith, is as essential a feature of the terrorist threat today as it was of the Barbary piracy over two centuries ago.
The Barbary pirates were not a “radical” or “fundamentalist” sect that had twisted religious doctrine for power and politics, or that came to recast aspects of their faith out of some form of insanity. They were simply a North African warrior caste involved in an armed jihad — a mainstream Muslim doctrine. This is how the Muslims understood Barbary piracy and armed jihad at the time, and, indeed, how the physical jihad has been understood since Mohammed revealed it as the prophecy of Allah.
Obviously, and thankfully, not every Muslim is obligated, or even really inclined, to take up this jihad. Indeed, many Muslims are loath to personally embrace this physical struggle. But that does not mean they are all opposed to such a struggle any more than the choice of many Westerners not to join the police force or the armed services means they do not support those institutions.
Whether “insurgents” are fighting in Iraq or “rebels” and “militants” are skirmishing in Chechnya or Hamas “activists” are detonating themselves in Israel, Westerners seem unwilling to bring attention to the most salient feature of all these groups: They claim to be acting in the name of Islam.
It is very easy to chalk it all up to regional squabbles, economic depression, racism, or post-colonial nationalistic self-determinism. Such explanations undoubtedly enter into part of the equation — they are already part of the propaganda that clouds contemporary analysis. But as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams came to learn back in 1786, the situation becomes a lot clearer when you listen to the stated intentions and motivations of the terrorists and take them at face value.
— Joshua E. London is the author of Victory in Tripoli: How America’s War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation (John Wiley & Sons, September 2005); for more about the book visit http://www.victoryintripoli.com.
Jihad in the Days of Jefferson
When the Founding Fathers Faced Islamists May 27, 2008 … birth of US Naval power and the campaign against the Barbary pirates: …. that United States did not start the war with the Jihadists. …
Sally Rovers incident, at the height of North African Arab Muslim pirates’ crimes against Christians, mainly British
Britain’s 200-year jihad
On my travels for the past few days, I have been reading a book which tells the story of a quite astonishing part of British history of which I was previously unaware. In ‘White Gold’, Giles Milton records the appalling details — gleaned,it appears, from a wealth of historical documents including diaries and letters — of a seaborne Islamic jihad against Britain which lasted for no less than two centuries.
From the early seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, thousands of British men women and children were kidnapped by Arab corsairs and sold into slavery in Morocco where they were kept in conditions of unspeakable barbarism. The astounding thing is that these British victims were not merely seized at sea where they ran the gauntlet of such pirates in places such as the Straits of Gibraltar. They were actually abducted from Britain itself.
Corsairs from a place in Morocco called Sale — who became known in Britain as the ‘Sally Rovers’ — sailed up the Cornish coast in July 1625, for example, came ashore dressed in djellabas and wielding damascene scimitars, burst into the parish church at Mount’s Bay and dragged out 60 men women and children whom they shipped off to Morocco. Thousands more Britons were seized from their villages or their ships and dispatched to the hell-holes of the Moroccan slave pens, from where they were forced to work all hours in appalling conditions building the vast palace of the monstrous and psychopathic Sultan, Moulay Ismail, who tortured and butchered them at whim. Most of them perished, but the book records the survival of a tenacious Cornish boy Thomas Pellow, who survived 23 years of this ordeal and whose descendant, Lord Exmouth, finally ended the white slave trade when he destroyed Algiers in 1816.
The book makes clear that this assault upon the British people (and upon Europeans and Americans who were similarly seized) was a jihad. The Sally Rovers, writes Milton, were called ‘al-ghuzat’– the term once used for the soldiers who fought with the Prophet — and were hailed as religious warriors engaged in a holy war against the infidel Christians who were pressurised to convert to Islam under threat of hideous punishment. What is even more striking was the response of the British crown. For almost two centuries, it made only the most ineffectual attempts to rescue its enslaved subjects. Those who had succumbed to the torture and inhumanity of the Sultan and converted to Islam were deemed to be no longer British and therefore outside the scope of any rescue. The pleas of Pellow’s parents were simply brushed aside. Popular outrage forced successive Kings to dispatch a series of feeble emissaries to try to get the Sultan to end this vile traffic and release the slaves, all to no avail.
But this went on for virtually two centuries. For almost 200 years the British state either sat on its hands or wrung them impotently while the Islamic jihad seized, enslaved and butchered its people. And then it appears, this staggering onslaught was all but airbrushed out of our history.
Food for disquieting thought.
‘Pirates of Penzance’ redo? James Zumwalt
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Soon after winning independence from England, the United States faced another war. Muslim pirates operating off North Africa’s Barbary Coast were seizing U.S., as well as European, ships sailing in international waters, holding them for tribute payment or plunder.
In 1786, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, meeting in London with Tripoli’s Muslim ambassador to Britain, inquired as to the reason for such Arab hostility. Acknowledging their attacks were unprovoked, the Tripoli ambassador explained it was their right and duty under the Koran as faithful Muslim followers to plunder and enslave the unfaithful – with those Muslims dying in the process going to paradise. To stop the attacks, the United States initially agreed to pay the Barbary pirates tribute, equal to about 20 percent of government revenues. Only later did an indignant United States launch two wars against them, ending in victory in 1815 and no further payments. European nations, acting individually and collectively, suppressed pirate activity as well, with the French conquest of Algiers in 1830 providing the last nail in the Barbary Pirates’ coffin.
Today, Muslim pirates again sail the seas off Africa’s coast. Mostly Somalis, these pirates have already attacked more than 60 ships this year in the vicinity of the Gulf of Aden – almost 5 times more than occurred all last year. Pirates gain confidence as owners prove willing to pay ransoms for the safe return of ships and crews, much like the United States first did with the Barbary Pirates.