"I CONSIDER ISLAMISM TO BE FASCISM"
Mohamed Sifaoui Interviewed by Sophie Fernandez Debellemanière
Sophie Fernandez Debellemanière, a former intern at Le Figaro and The Weekly Standard, interviewed Sifaoui in Paris on September 12, 2007, after meeting him at a 9-11 ceremony on the Champ de Mars.
Mohamed Sifaoui: No. Throughout the 1990s, I was determined to stay. I only left in 1999, when I was sentenced to one year in jail for insulting the Head of State. I had criticized President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's reconciliation policy because I considered it unfair to grant amnesty to a terrorist without even judging him. The Algerian government talked about peace without ever recognizing there was a war. The terrorists suddenly got themselves released with the same rights as the victims' families. Bouteflika's behavior towards his people was criminal. They wanted to send me to jail at the same time they were releasing criminals.
MEQ: You stayed longer than most. Were people right to leave Algeria?
Sifaoui: The intellectuals and journalists who left Algeria when the murders started in 1992 were right to do so because the risk was real. Survival instinct is natural and legitimate. It would be indecent to judge them because fear is a legitimate human feeling. In this sense, I was the one being unreasonable by risking my life to stay.
MEQ: Why did you stay in Algeria?
Sifaoui: I didn't want to leave the country under pressure, because of the possibility of another terrorist attack. Nor do I believe that I was especially brave to stay. It is not a question of being brave or weak. The only thing that matters is the message and the values that you want to transmit. As a journalist, I felt that I had to stay. We never obtained press freedom in Algeria, but I wanted to struggle to get a small part of it. We made some progress, but then, Islamism took us backward. By staying, I wanted to show that I would not accept submission to Islamist censorship and its diktat.
MEQ: Are you still worried? After all, two bodyguards are supervising this interview.
Sifaoui: No, I am not worried. I have built sort of a shell around me. I keep calm, and I do not panic. Honestly, I prefer not to think about it; otherwise, I would worry too much.
MEQ: Are you proud today to have risked your life for your ideas?
Sifaoui: Yes, because I am lucky enough to be alive. It is a shame that those who died did not leave for safety. I stayed because I felt that I was able to accomplish this act of resistance. Each person resists in his or her own way; each does what he or she feels able to. Among the members of the World War II resistance, some hid other resisters; some hid Jewish families or helped them escape to Switzerland, and some failed only to denounce them. For me, at this time, my resistance to fundamentalism is based on a determination not to concede any ground to the Islamists but to keep on writing and to defy danger everyday.
MEQ: What was your reaction to Al-Qa'ida Deputy Leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's appeal on September 20, 2007, "to wipe sons of France and Spain" out of the Maghreb? 
Sifaoui: I've been expressing the same warnings about Islamist terrorism for years. Zawahiri's statement doesn't surprise me. Since the GSPC [Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat] pledged its allegiance to Al-Qa'ida in September, 2006, Algerian terrorists and Al-Qa'ida leaders expressed their objective very clearly: Intensify terrorist attacks against the Algerian regime and its institutions, as well as against lay and democratic people, targeting Western and, especially, French citizens.
MEQ: Do you believe that Zawahiri was referring to the descendants of former colonists in Algeria by using the expression "sons of?" Or was this the result of too literal a translation of the Arabic?
Sifaoui: No! This has nothing to do with any literal translation! Zawahiri is referring to all French and Spanish citizens by saying "sons of." Al-Qa'ida's targets are all the French and Spanish citizens in the Maghreb.
MEQ: Less than twenty-four hours after the release of Zawahiri's message, a terrorist attack in Lakhdaria in northern Algeria, fifty miles southeast of Algiers, wounded two French citizens, one Italian, and six Algerians.  Is this attack a sign that the European presence in the Maghreb is in jeopardy?
Sifaoui: I would not be so pessimistic, but such a quick reaction indicates how organized and coordinated Al-Qa'ida and the GSPC are. It also shows the Algerian regime's incapacity to deal with terrorism.
Sifaoui: I certainly am one of the first Muslims to consider Islamism to be Fascism. This is not a subjective decision but rather a serious, academic argument. Fascism and Islamism are comparable in many aspects: Fascism, without evoking all its particularities, bears similarities to trends also present in Islamism. I am, of course, making a reference to their will to exterminate the Jews. On this point, the Islamists may go even further in their doctrine than the Nazis did, considering that the end of the world could only occur when there are no Jews left on earth. In the three monotheist religions, apocalypse, end of the world, and doomsday exist and are liturgical events invested with a high degree of spirituality. Hence, the Islamists interpret the end of the world in a very special way. Whereas it is written nowhere in the Qur'an, exegetes describe the end of the world as the day when even the trees and rocks will be able to talk and tell the Muslims: "Come here, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him." And this would go on, until there would not be any Jew left on earth. This ideology is pure Fascism.
MEQ: Are there other similarities?
Sifaoui: The will to exterminate or do harm to homosexuals is another similarity between Nazism and Islamism. The Islamists, also, say that they are the best community in the world, a superior race, thanks to their beliefs. They use political means to arrive at this erroneous exegesis. I do not fear to call it Fascism. And there are many more similarities between Fascism and Islamism.
Sifaoui: Absolutely, I would say that one must criticize Islamism. When I am criticizing Nazism, I am not being anti-German.
MEQ: When did you feel for the first time that you had to criticize Islamism?
Sifaoui: I have always felt that it was a moral duty.
MEQ: Do you believe that moderate Islam exists?
Sifaoui: Of course, it does. If the majority of Muslims were not moderate, Islamists would have destroyed the Western world a long time ago. Despite its technological lead, its nuclear power and all its armies, the Western world would never be able to face an Islamist world entirely convinced by the terrorist cause. One billion people supporting Al-Qa'ida would reduce the rest of the world to ashes. Islam contains violent texts that need not be applicable today. Islam is a religion of moderation. I know because I studied theology for four years.
Perhaps 20 percent of Muslims on the planet must be totally reeducated. We have to fight them politically, ideologically, and also militarily. Western societies do not fight them well; whenever they try to do so, they end up strengthening them.
One proof that moderate Islam exists is the huge number of sympathy messages that I received from Muslim people when my investigative story on Al-Qa'ida-Salafist networks, J'ai infiltré une cellule islamiste, was broadcast on French television M6.
Sifaoui: Too many Western analysts look at any adversary through a Western lens. Western analysts believe that Al-Qa'ida is as rational as the Basque separatist group ETA [Euskadi Ta Askatasuna] or the Irish Republican Army. My personal history, culture, and investigative journalism work allow me to understand what Westerners cannot see: Iran will attack Israel as soon as it can.
MEQ: Doesn't Iran take into account the eventuality of its own destruction?
Sifaoui: No, it does not. Martyrdom is exalted in Iran. Iranians view annihilation positively. The Islamists' main purpose is to create the conditions for the West to believe that chaos is possible. The argument that says that Iran will not attack Israel because of immediate and massive retaliation from Israel and the United States of America is absolutely wrong. The Islamists would welcome such retaliation in order to cement coalitions among Muslim peoples and to encourage riots in the Arab street. U.S. military action, or even its prospect, coincides with Islamists' interests. That is the reason why I was against the war in Iraq.
MEQ: Can you explain?
Sifaoui: Between October, 2002, and January, 2003, I spent four months infiltrating an Al-Qa'ida terrorist cell in France. Two months before the launching of the Iraq war, when I was in the midst of the group, one of the Islamists said, "Now we are going to pray for George Bush to attack Iraq." I was surprised and acted as if I were stupid:
The most clever and elevated in Al-Qa'ida's hierarchy, Amara Saïfi [the GSPC's Emir in London] whispered to me:
MEQ: That's incredible.
Sifaoui: Another of the group added:
Unfortunately, you can see their theory is valid. They predicted exactly what is happening.
 Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Special Dispatch Series, no. 1721, Sept. 21, 2007; "Warden Message," Embassy of the United States of America, Algiers, Algeria, Sept. 24, 2007; Andrew Black, "Recasting Jihad in the Maghreb," Terrorism Monitor, Oct. 25, 2007.
 "Warden Message," Sept. 24, 2007.
Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
& Their Middle Eastern Neighbors
North Africa -- The Arab States of Islamic North Africa
The Middle East & the Problem of Iran
American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East
International Politics & World Disorder:
War & Peace in the Real World
Page Two Page One
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
Counterterrorism & U.S. National Security
U.S. National Security Strategy
The foregoing interview was originally published in the Middle East Quarterly and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (Article URL: http://www.meforum.org/article/1870)
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
LINKS TO PARTICULAR ISSUES & SUBJECT MATTER CATEGORIES
TREATED IN THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, U.S.A.:
American Government 2 * American Government 3 * American Government 4
American Government 5 * American Politics * Anglosphere * Arabs
Arms Control & WMD * Aztlan Separatists * Big Government
Black Africa * Bureaucracy * Canada * China * Civil Liberties * Communism
Congress, U.S. * Conservative Groups * Conservative vs. Liberal
Constitutional Law * Counterterrorism * Criminal Justice * Disloyalty * Economy
Education * Elections, U.S. * Eminent Domain * Energy & Environment
English-Speaking World * Ethnicity & Race * Europe * Europe: Jews
Family Values * Far East * Fiscal Policy, U.S. * Foreign Aid, U.S. * Foreign Policy, U.S.
France * Hispanic Separatism * Hispanic Treason * Human Health * Immigration
Infrastructure, U.S. * Intelligence, U.S. * Iran * Iraq * Islamic North Africa
Islamic Threat * Islamism * Israeli vs. Arabs * Jews & Anti-Semitism
Jihad & Jihadism * Jihad Manifesto I * Jihad Manifesto II * Judges, U.S. Federal
Judicial Appointments * Judiciary, American * Latin America * Latino Separatism
Latino Treason * Lebanon * Leftists/Liberals * Legal Issues
Local Government, U.S. * Marriage & Family * Media Political Bias
Middle East: Arabs * Middle East: Iran * Middle East: Iraq * Middle East: Israel
Middle East: Lebanon * Middle East: Syria * Middle East: Tunisia
Middle East: Turkey * Militant Islam * Military Defense * Military Justice
Military Weaponry * Modern Welfare State * Morality & Decency
National Identity * National Security * Natural Resources * News Media Bias
North Africa * Patriot Act, USA * Patriotism * Political Culture * Political Ideologies
Political Parties * Political Philosophy * Politics, American * Presidency, U.S.
Private Property * Property Rights * Public Assistance * Radical Islam
Religion & America * Rogue States & WMD * Russia * Science & Ethics
Sedition & Treason * Senate, U.S. * Social Welfare Policy * South Africa
State Government, U.S. * Subsaharan Africa * Subversion * Syria * Terrorism 1
Terrorism 2 * Treason & Sedition * Tunisia * Turkey * Ukraine
UnAmerican Activity * UN & Its Agencies * USA Patriot Act * U.S. Foreign Aid
U.S. Infrastructure * U.S. Intelligence * U.S. Senate * War & Peace
Welfare Policy * WMD & Arms Control
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
POLITICAL EDUCATION, CONSERVATIVE ANALYSIS
POLITICS, SOCIETY, & THE SOVEREIGN STATE
Website of Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
An Online Journal of Political Commentary & Analysis
Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor