The truth is, of course, that there is no society anywhere that is solely composed of fanatics. The truth is also that there are fanatics present in any society.
The Third Reich is an example of the death and destruction that can ensue when fanatics are running the show. What many people don't know about are the religious tones behind the Nazis. Elements were borrowed from the Old Religion--what we remember today as Norse mythology--and synthesized into a rationale that supported the party and its goals. Today's European and American Neo-nazis use the same symbols.
In the last quarter of the 20th Century we saw the rise of Pol Pot. In four short years between 750,000 and 1.7 million were dead due to his rule. His particular vision of communism may also be viewed through a lens of religiosity. He advocated the complete destruction of society and a forced rebirth at Year Zero. He attended a Catholic school in Phnom Penh where he surely learned of the Biblical Flood.
After over fourteen years in exile Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran. He and the mullahs instigated the revolution creating the Islamic Republic, killing thousands along the way.
Backing up a little to the 1960s, the KGB and Soviets find willing partners with those who would become known as Palestinians to counter the only friend of the US in the region, Israel. (At the same time, America enjoyed a positive relationship with Iran so the Soviets threw in with Iraq.) After the 1972 Munich Olympics almost everyone knew of Black September, the terror group responsible for murdering Israeli athletes.
The Muslim Brotherhood, organized in Egypt after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, began to spread to other Muslim countries. From its inception in 1928, the credo of the MB is
Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.A prominent member by the name of Sayyid Qutb traveled the US between 1948 and 1950. He was overwhelmed by what he saw as the godlessness of post-war American society and he published his 'take' on the US and the West to millions of readers. He has been described as "the man whose ideas would shape al Qaeda".
His ideas shaped many religious Sunnis in The Saudi Kingdom. On 20 November 1979 (early days of the revolution and hostage crisis in Iran) 200 armed men seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca claiming that the rulers of the Kingdom did not possess the purity of faith (read compliance to Sharia) to continue to rule. This event prompted the House of Saud to divest itself of the Islamists and fund Madrassas elsewhere (primarily Pakistan).
A little over a month after the siege of the Grand Mosque, on Christmas Eve, 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan with a 100,000 man army. Earlier that same year Jimmy Carter began funding the Mujahideen through the Pakistani version of our CIA--the ISI. (The ISI is riddled with Islamists and may be behind assassinations and attempts at assassination.) Foreign fighters (just as in modern Iraq) showed up to fight the Soviets--kill the infidels--and bin Laden was among them. Ayman Zawahiri met Usama bin Laden in Peshawar, Pakistan while UBL was running a base for mujahideen fighting in Afghanistan.
Al Qaeda was formed in the early 1990s and the Taliban came to power in 1996 controlling 95% of Afghanistan with an iron fisted application of Sharia.
Islam means submission and Sharia means somewhat more than what we understand as law--it is to live in strict accordance to law that is inextricable to Islam. One cannot be an observant Muslim and not adhere to Sharia.
Most Muslims are not fanatics but there is something inherent in Islam that seems to generate more fanaticism than one can find amongst any other group. And although only a small percentage find the will to carry out a mission, it is telling that Muslims worldwide took to celebrating in the streets after the September 11 attacks. The celebratory funeral parades for suicide bombers indicate the one fact you must understand to come to grips with this religious war:
No kuffir (infidel) life has value unless it can somehow be used to extend the dar al Islam (the world if Islam). That which is not in the world of Islam is in the dar al Harb (the world of war).
Most Muslims are content to wait, supporting 'charities' that fund the Jihad in other places with the belief that eventually the world will be of one faith--the one true faith. The charitable giving (Zakah) is the third of the Five Pillars of Islam.
This is not unique to Islam. From the late 1960s to the early 1990s millions of dollars were funneled to the IRA from Irish-Americans.So there it is. It truly is a religious war waged against all that do not wish to submit.
There are fourteen centuries of history. Do you believe (as I do) that history remains the best predictor of the future?
We have the statements of their leaders. Do you not believe they mean what they say?
Like it our not; it does no good to deny the kind of war in which we find ourselves.
Accept it. Understand it. Do your best to help others come to grips with it. Our civilization depends on it.