Monday, August 27, 2018

Raymond Ibrahim, PM Media: "Barbary: Islamic Terrorism and America’s First Military Victory"

https://raymondibrahim.com/2018/06/10/barbary-islamic-terrorism-americas-first-military-victory/

Barbary: Islamic Terrorism and America’s First Military Victory


Editor’s note:  The following account is partially excerpted from the author’s new book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West (with a foreword by Victor Davis Hanson). 
Many Americans erroneously trace the roots of Islamic terrorism against their nation to September 11, 2001.  In reality, the United States’ very first conflict with Muslim terrorists was also its very first war as nation—and it won that war 213 years ago today, on June 10, 1805.
Centuries before that, the Barbary States of Muslim North Africa—specifically Tripoli, Algiers, Tunis—had been thriving on the slave trade of Europeans abducted from virtually every corner of coastal Europe—including Britain, Ireland, Denmark, and Iceland.  These raids were so successful that, “between 1530 and 1780 there were almost certainly a million and quite possibly as many as a million and a quarter white, European Christians enslaved by the Muslims of the Barbary Coast,” to quote American historian, Robert Davis.
The treatment of these European slaves was exacerbated by the fact that they were “infidels” and their owners Muslims.  As Robert Playfair (b.1828), who served for years as a consul in Barbary, explained, “In almost every case they [European slaves] were hated on account of their religion.”  Three centuries earlier, John Foxe (b.1516) had written in his Book of Martyrs that, “In no part of the globe are Christians so hated, or treated with such severity, as at Algiers.”
If the generic treatment of European slaves was marked by contempt and cruelty, the punishments they received for real or imagined offenses beggared description (though should be familiar to anyone following the Muslim persecution of Christians in the modern era): “If they speak against Mahomet [blasphemy], they must become Mahometans, or be impaled alive. If they profess Christianity again, after having changed to the Mahometan persuasion, they are roasted alive [as apostates], or thrown from the city walls, and caught upon large sharp hooks, on which they hang till they expire.”
After Barbary’s ability to abduct coastal Europeans had waned in the mid-eighteenth century, its energy was spent on raiding infidel merchant vessels. Instead of responding by collectively confronting and neutralizing Barbary, European powers, always busy quarrelling among themselves, opted to buy peace through tribute (or, according to Muslim rational, jizya).
Fresh meat appeared on the horizon once the newly born United States broke free of Great Britain (and was therefore no longer protected by the latter’s jizya payments). In 1785 Muslim pirates captured two American ships, the Maria and Dauphin, and enslaved their crews. Considering the aforementioned treatment of white slaves, when Captain O’Brien of the Dauphin later wrote to Thomas Jefferson that “our sufferings are beyond our expression or your conception,” he was not exaggerating.
In an effort to ransom the enslaved Americans and establish peaceful relations, Jefferson and John Adams—then ambassadors to France and England respectively—met with Tripoli’s ambassador to Britain, Abdul Rahman Adja.  Following this diplomatic exchange, they laid out the source of the Barbary States’ hitherto inexplicable animosity in a letter to Congress:
We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the grounds of their [Barbary’s] pretentions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation. The ambassador answered us 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.
One need not conjecture what the American ambassadors—who years earlier had asserted that all men were “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights”—thought of their Muslim counterpart’s answer.  Suffice to say, because the ransom demanded was over fifteen times greater than what Congress had approved, little came of the meeting.
Back in Congress, some agreed with Jefferson that “it will be more easy to raise ships and men to fight these pirates into reason, than money to bribe them”—including General George Washington: “In such an enlightened, in such a liberal age, how is it possible that the great maritime powers of Europe should submit to pay an annual tribute to the little piratical States of Barbary?” he wrote to a friend. “Would to Heaven we had a navy able to reform those enemies to mankind, or crush them into nonexistence.”   But the majority of Congress agreed with John Adams: “We ought not to fight them at all unless we determine to fight them forever.” Considering the perpetual, existential nature of Islamic hostility, Adams was probably more right than he knew.
Congress settled on emulating the Europeans and paying off the terrorists, though it would take years to raise the demanded ransom.
When Muslim pirates from Algiers captured eleven more American merchant vessels in 1794, the Naval Act was passed and a permanent U.S. naval force established. But because the first war vessels would not be ready until 1800, American jizya payments—which took up 16 percent of the federal budget—began to be made to Algeria in 1795. In return, over 100 American sailors were released—how many died or disappeared is unclear—and the Islamic sea raids formally ceased. American payments and “gifts” over the following years caused the increasingly emboldened pirates to respond with increasingly capricious demands.
One of the more ignoble instances occurred in 1800, when Captain William Bainbridge of the George Washington sailed to the pirate-leader of Algiers, with what the latter deemed insufficient tribute. Referring to the Americans as “my slaves,” Dey Mustapha ordered them to transport hundreds of black slaves to Istanbul (Constantinople).  Adding insult to insult, he commanded the American crew to take down the U.S. flag and hoist the Islamic flag—one not unlike ISIS’ notorious black flag—in its place.  And, no matter how rough the seas might be during the long voyage, Bainbridge was required to make sure the George Washington faced Mecca five times a day to accommodate the prayers of Muslims onboard.
That Bainbridge condescended to becoming Barbary’s delivery boy seems only to have further whetted the terrorists’ appetite.  In 1801, Tripoli demanded an instant payment of $225,000, followed by annual payments of $25,000—respectively equivalent to $3.5 million and $425,000 today.  Concluding that “nothing will stop the eternal increase of demand from these pirates but the presence of an armed force,” America’s third president, Jefferson, refused the ultimatum. (He may have recalled Captain O’Brien’s observation concerning his Barbary masters: “Money is their God and Mahomet their prophet.”)
Denied jizya from the infidels, Tripoli proclaimed jihad on the United States on May 10, 1801. But by now, America had six war vessels, which Jefferson deployed to the Barbary Coast.  For the next five years, the U.S. Navy warred with the Muslim pirates, making little headway and suffering some setbacks—the most humiliating being when the Philadelphia and its crew were captured in 1803.
Desperate measures were needed: enter William Eaton. As U.S. consul to Tunis (1797–1803), he had lived among and understood the region’s Muslims well. He knew that “the more you give the more the Turks will ask for,” and despised that old sense of Islamic superiority: “It grates me mortally,” he wrote, “when I see a lazy Turk [generic for Muslim] reclining at his ease upon an embroidered sofa, with one Christian slave to hold his pipe, another to hold his coffee, and a third to fan away the flies.” Seeing that the newborn American navy was making little headway against the seasoned pirates, he devised a daring plan: to sponsor the claim of Mustafa’s brother, exiled in Alexandria; and then to march the latter’s supporters and mercenaries through five hundred miles of desert, from Alexandria onto Tripoli.
The trek was arduous—not least because of the Muslim mercenaries themselves. Eaton had repeatedly tried to win them over: “I touched upon the affinity of principle between the Islam and Americans [sic] religion.”  But despite these all too familiar ecumenical overtures, “We find it almost impossible to inspire these wild bigots with confidence in us,” he lamented in his diary, “or to persuade them that, being Christians, we can be otherwise than enemies to Mussulmen. We have a difficult undertaking!” (For all his experience with Muslims, Eaton was apparently unaware of the finer points of their (Sharia) law, namely, al-wala’ wa’l bara’, or “loyalty and enmity.”)
Eaton eventually managed to reach and conquer Tripoli’s coastal town of Derne on April 27, 1805.  Less than two months later, on June 10, a peace treaty was signed between the U.S. and Tripoli, formally ending hostilities.
Thus and despite the (rather ignorant) question that became popular after the terror strikes of 9/11—“Why do they hate us?”—the United States’ first war and victory as a nation was against Islam; and the latter had initiated hostilities on the same rationale it had used to initiate hostilities against non-Muslims for the preceding 1,200 years (as documented in my new book,  Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West).
Of course, because the prophet of Islam had said “Whenever you [Muslims] take an oath to do something and later you find that something else is better than the first, then do the better one”—and because subjugating and plundering infidels was/is always “better” than an “oath” of peace with them—when war broke out again between the U.S and Britain in 1812, Barbary saw its chance, reneged on the treaty, and again began to raid American ships and enslave their crews, leading to the Second Barbary War.
But that is another story for another time.




About


RAYMOND IBRAHIM is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam specialist.  His books include Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West (Da Capo, 2018), Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery, 2013), and The Al Qaeda Reader (Doubleday, 2007).
Ibrahim’s writings, translations, and observations have appeared in a variety of publications, including the New York Times Syndicate, CNN, LA Times, Fox News, Financial Times, Jerusalem Post, United Press International, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, and Weekly Standard; scholarly journals, including the Almanac of Islamism, Chronicle of Higher Education, Hoover Institution’s Strategika, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, and Middle East Review of International Affairs; and popular websites, including American Thinker, Bloomberg, Breitbart, Christian Post, Daily Caller, NewsMax, National Review Online, PJ Media, and World Magazine. He has contributed chapters to several anthologies and been translated into dozens of languages.
Ibrahim guest lectures at universities, including the National Defense Intelligence College, has briefed governmental agencies, such as U.S. Strategic Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and has testified before Congress regarding the conceptual failures that dominate American discourse concerning Islam and the worsening plight of Egypt’s Christian Copts.
Among other media, he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, and NPR; he has done hundreds of radio interviews and two courses for Prager University, each of which has been viewed over a million times on YouTube.
Ibrahim’s dual-background—born and raised in the U.S. by Coptic Egyptian parents born and raised in the Middle East—has provided him with unique advantages, from equal fluency in English and Arabic, to an equal understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets, positioning him to explain the latter to the former. His interest in Islamic civilization was first piqued when he began visiting the Middle East as a child in the 1970s. Interacting and conversing with the locals throughout the decades has provided him with an intimate appreciation for that part of the world, complementing his academic training.
After a brief athletic career—including winning the 1993 NPC Los Angeles Bodybuilding Championship as a teenager—Raymond went on to receive his B.A. and M.A. (both in History, focusing on the ancient and medieval Near East, with dual-minors in Philosophy and Literature) from California State University, Fresno. There he studied closely with noted military-historian Victor Davis Hanson. He also took graduate courses at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies—including classes on the history, politics, and economics of the Arab world—and studied Medieval Islam and Semitic languages at Catholic University of America. His M.A. thesis examined an early military encounter between Islam and Byzantium based on arcane Arabic and Greek texts.
Ibrahim’s resume includes serving as an Arabic language and regional specialist at the Near East Section of the Library of Congress, where he was often contacted by and provided information to defense and intelligence personnel involved in the fields of counterterrorism and area studies, as well as the Congressional Research Service; and serving as associate director of the Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia think tank.
He also often functions as a journalist and has been a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a CBN News analyst.  His knowledge of Arabic and familiarity with Middle Eastern sources have enabled him to offer breaking news.  Days before the Obama administration blamed an anti-Islamic movie for Muslim uprisings against a U.S. consul and an embassy in Libya and Egypt respectively, Ibrahim showed that the demonstrations were pre-planned and unrelated to the movie.  Similarly, he was first to expose an Arabic-language Saudi fatwa that called for the destruction of any Christian church found on the Arabian Peninsula.
Raymond Ibrahim is currently the Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum.