It is the conclusion of this thesis that Islamic law forms the doctrinal basis for the jihadi threat that can only be understood through an unconstrained review of the Islamic law of jihad. Answering the three research questions, it turns out that:• When the Chairman said that we have yet to read what our enemy’s have said, he confirmed that we have failed to do a doctrine-based threat assessment of the enemy;• Had the IC done so, it would have quickly found that the doctrinal basis of the jihadi threat is the law of jihad in Islamic law in just way the enemy claims; and• The only way to understand this doctrine is to return to a threat-based analysis of the enemy that starts with an undelegated and unconstrained assessment of those motivating doctrines the enemy self-identifies as being the basis for his cause of action.Discussion From the earliest Islamic legal authorities to modern American 7th grade school texts on Islam, it turns out that all agree that Islam is a complete way of life governed by Islamic law. There was nothing to indicate that there are recognized forms of Islam that are not governed by Islamic law. The national constitutions of most Muslim countries, and all Arab countries surveyed, formally reflect this subordination. All the Islamic authorities identified jihad as a duty incumbent on all Muslims at the communal and individual levels. When the authorities spoke to Islamic law of jihad, its meaning was limited to that of warfare against non-Muslims to establish the religion. Because this finding is in line with Quranic verses from surahs from the later periods of revelation, it reflects abrogation’s doctrinal influence on Islamic law. Because jihad’s legal status reflects scholarly consensus, it means that the rules of jihad as stated in Islamic law are absolute and hence cannot be contravened or annulled.

Hence, if Islamic law is to serve as the measure, and there is no doctrinal basis to argue that it should not, there may not be an Islam that is not under obligation of jihad that remains in force until the world has been claimed for Islam. As Qur’an Verse 2: 216 suggests,438 the requirements of jihad are objective and do not appear to be sensitive to the personal preferences of believers. As al-Shafi’i stated in his Risala, a duty of jihad arises when one learns that it is a requirement.439 Hence, education on jihad seems to be pegged to the capabilities of Islam to carry the requirements forward. This conforms to concepts of progressive revelation that “extremists” like Sayyid Qutb emulate when templating their “extremist” ideology.

Under the Current Approach, this entire line of inquiry has been effectively shut down by objections that do not extend beyond surface assertions that “Islam does not stand for this” or “there are a thousand different interpretations of Islamic law” (so what’s the point in looking?). The consequences of uncritically heeding this advice have been the ongoing failure to understand the nature of the enemy. “Extremists” state that they fight jihad in furtherance of Islamic causes. This fact remains true regardless of whether the enemy is ultimately correct in its understanding of Islam. Hence, there are Islamic drivers to the WOT that simply must be taken into account when developing the doctrinal template of the enemy. Failure to account for Islamic law will result in a failure to recognize the laws of jihad that the enemy consciously emulates. When a doctrinal template fails to account for legal doctrines of jihad that the enemy self-identifies as the basis of his doctrine, the resulting enemy COAs will be fatally flawed as will be the ensuing friendly COAs.

Recalling that the disclosure of any information about Islam or Muslims that would cause a non-Muslim to question Islam violates strict Islamic laws on slander, it may help to explain why those beholden to such a standard could earnestly insist that “Islam has nothing to do with it” in the face of evidence that would normally argue otherwise in other circumstances. Because a slander concerning Islam can easily qualify as an insult to Islam, the consequences, as noted earlier, can be severe. This would be true even if the slander was factually accurate. This may help explain why the writing of a thesis such as this could lead to strong accusations that it is either an insult or slander to Islam even when every point asserted is verified and validated. Either way, choosing to ignore the information that lies beneath the surface of such claims is to submit the information that drives decisionmaking and analysis to the disclosure requirements of Islamic law. This is submission.

 Enforcing such a prior constraint on information flows is fundamentally inconsistent with IPB processes that demand unconstrained access to all relevant data, including that data that some would rather remain beneath the surface. The Current Approach constrains because it was designed to do so. IPB runs on unconstrained flows of information. Hence, the two processes are mutually exclusive. Given both our inability to develop a descriptively accurate understanding of the nature of the enemy and our broad frustration with the current state of affairs in the WOT, it may be time to ponder deeply what was meant when Majid Khadduri said that “the universality of Islam, in all its embracing creed, is imposed on all believers as a continuous process of warfare, psychological and political if not strictly military”440 that Pakistani Brigadier S. K. Malik said was the point where Quranic concepts of war are won — at the war of will phase. To break from the slow submission cycle that leads to the destruction of our confidence, a recommitment to a process driven by facts along with an associated commitment to ruthlessly go wherever those facts may take us is recommended. With IPB, we already have a methodology capable of taking us down that path.


It is not the objective of this paper to get readers to believe the positions asserted but rather to convince them to submit those assertions to an intense threat analysis in furtherance of generating facts able to service a functional threat model of the enemy in the WOT. If, in furtherance of creating a working threat model, points in this thesis are successfully challenged, this thesis will still have served its purpose. Having said that, it is the position of this thesis that it will not fail if decisionmakers and analysts return to an IPB methodology that begins with an unconstrained, undelegated, systematic, factual analysis of the threat doctrine that the enemy self-identifies as being driven by Islamic law. Following such a process has the benefit of meeting professional standards for competent analysis. This thesis cannot succeed, however, if the response is to outsource it to subject matter experts willing to volunteer their information under the sole condition that it be accepted both uncritically and unconditionally. This is not only true because such an approach fails to meet the professional standard, but also because it fails the standard for the same reason that it will lead to defeat in the WOT.

Stephen Collins Coughlin

Islamic law forms the doctrinal basis for the jihadi threat

we have failed to do a doctrine-based threat assessment of the enemy. During the Cold War, constant study of Soviet military doctrine was a continuous duty of all professional soldiers. Knowing vehicle types and numbers in a doctrinal Advance Guard of a Motorized Rifle Regiment was critically important for American Armor officers. The enemy’s military doctrine is the basis for his strategy, operational art, and tactics and must be understood by those who would defeat him.

Our leaders have deprived our defenders of this understanding of the IslamoFascist/hirabist/jihadi, prolonging the war at the cost of American lives.

choosing to ignore the information that lies beneath the surface of such claims is to submit the information that drives decisionmaking and analysis to the disclosure requirements of Islamic law. This is submission.



Filed under Idea War


  1. Pingback: Right Truth

  2. And he is on the outs.
    Bad decision.
    Mr. Coughlin was fired as a Joint Staff contractor after his confrontation with Hasham Islam. Need to get him back.




  3. Pingback: Islam and Terroism, submission « This and That

  4. QuickIO

    We have been involved in a rapid catchup to study our advesary, but I believe that there are numerous schools of study that are doing what is required. The changing of the guard (ie Gen. Patraeus) was just another step in the right direction, along with the counter insurgency doctrine and the drastic change in the militaries view of Information Operations. It may have taken the senior leadership some time to catch up but the troops on the ground always have know how to research and understand the enemy.

  5. So the troops on the ground aren’t constrained by the Political Correctness that afflicts the rear?

    Much study of Soviet doctrine took place in the training base. Are we forced to study jihadi doctrine in theater because we can’t study it in our service schools? Are we sending people to war and not teaching them threat doctrine until they are already facing the threat?

    I would love to be able to confidently assert that Coughlin didn’t get shafted, that Hasham Islam is a good guy, and that England is not a duped victim of taqqiya, but that is not how my perception has been managed so far.

    Who is supposed to be strategically communicating to persuade me to feeeel warmer and fuzzier about all this?