This Thing - what do you suppose it is? What is this most virtuously vicious, hateful, hideous thing that has entwined itself in the bowels, and now presumes to arrogate to itself the very soul, of modern Sunni Islam?
Well, if to know what a thing is, first and foremost, is to know where it came from, then I'd be lying if I told you I knew. What I will tell you, however, is something of which I'm all but certain. This Thing, whatever it is, did not get to where it is today all by itself. And while I can claim no expertise in the field of Islam's ancient and medieval varieties, I'm aware of nothing in the religion's history that offers any exact parallels to this latest modern craze, this if-necessary-all-must-die-so-that-God-may-live obsession. The closest I can get to it - maybe - is that particular mindset, not unknown during the Cold War, which underlay the phrase "Better dead than Red."
Nor do I know the whole story of how Saudi Arabia became the febrile spawning-ground for such an apocalyptic hatred, not only of all things Communist, but of most things Western, human, kindly, decent, etc. But I do know of a country which for at least three decades now has enjoyed, through its Saudi allies, a warm and many-faceted relationship with Wahhabi Islam. Of course one can't be sure the US was exactly present at the conception of this other, later, and to all appearances thoroughly modern monster known as Islamofascism. But I have no doubt America was both present and participant in the baby's delivery.
As I recall, the immediate pretext for the 1980s radicalization of Afghan Islam was the de-stabilization of the Soviet bloc; the long-term goal was the destruction of Russian Communism. The Soviets were godless, so presumably the Saudis and Pakis who hated them were proportionately godly. In any case, by now it must be clear religion isn't everything. On the contrary, we Yanks are of all fools the most miserable if we presume that Totalitarianism is clumsier today at wielding the sword of religion than it was 50 years ago brandishing the knife of atheism. There is nothing inherently anti-religious about the Totalitarian Beast. Think about it: If you truly believe it is not History or Progress or Freedom, but God Himself who is commanding you to kill or control somebody, does that make your coercive act thereby harder to execute, or easier? And will you do it with a worse conscience, or a better one?
But we Americans are twice-shamed fools if we suppose this Thing that crawled out of the AfPak border madrassas has no chance of landing on other religions' doorsteps - let alone slithering all the way inside. Remember, like any edition of Monopoly, Holy War in the Name of Global Dictatorship is a game not just for two, but three, four, maybe even five or six players. Sooner or later every major religion may want to get in on the stakes. And where will it all end, given the present direction and speed of our advance? Well, my own best hunch is that, by the time the smoke clears, the holy warriors will have got the Global Dictatorship part of it right. Whether it will be the result they all intended is another matter; though by then I doubt if it will matter what any of us intended. By then, I more than suspect, religious freedom as we presently know it will be a quaint piece of history. Mind you, I don't believe humankind will be by any means finished with religion per se; I only suggest that in the interests of global peace it may be deemed necessary to confine tolerance to just one form and object of worship, and one only. As to which lucky religion will draw the winning number I don't so much as care to speculate, because frankly (cf. Daniel 11: 37-38) I don't even think it exists yet.