In the last week of May, the Qatar-based Arabic news network Al-Jazeera polled its Arabic-language audience on the question: "Do you support the victories of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in your region?"
The results were shocking. Of the 56,881 Arabic-speaking respondents, a whopping 81% voted yes. The results of this online survey may not be scientific. But they do provide anecdotal evidence of what many see as a rise in the support of Islamism in the Arab Middle East, among Muslims in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, and in the diaspora in Britain and France.
On Monday, a 17-year-old Briton became that country's youngest suicide bomber after he blew up a brand new SUV packed with explosives in the northern Iraqi town of Baiji. Talha Asmal had Arabized his name to Abu Yusuf al-Britani and is the latest young person used by jihadi Islamists as cannon fodder in their quest to establish an Islamic caliphate. This is laid out in sharia law, as a precursor to the Islamic Armageddon enshrined in Hadith literature, based on Prophet Mohammed's prophesy.
For many Muslims, Islam is intrinsically interwoven with the doctrine of armed jihad and supremacy over non-Muslims.
In the wake of news reports about the British teen's act of terror, another story emerged about three UK-based sisters taking their nine children and linking up with their brother inside Syria to join the ISIS jihad.
Here in Canada, the RCMP came up with its own startling revelation. They have arrested Somalian Ali Omar Ader, an alleged extremist and hostage taker they say was involved in the kidnapping of Canadian freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout in Somalia in 2008. He was visiting in Ottawa.
South of the border, two Pakistani-American brothers were convicted on terrorism charges earlier this month. Raees Alam Qazi and Sheheryar Alam Qazi confessed to planning a terrorist attack on New York City landmarks and were sentenced to 35 and 20 years in prison, respectively.
While these and other incidents of Islamist terrorism keep occurring at regular intervals, the explanation for what is happening remains the same. That is, that these individuals are not acting in the name of Islam. That Islam has been "hijacked" by the terrorists.
This is what the family of Britain's youngest suicide bomber told the media: "As a family, we would like to take this opportunity to unequivocally state that ISIS are not Islam. They do not represent — in any way, shape or form — Islam and Muslims and we are no longer prepared to allow a barbaric group like ISIS to hijack our faith."
But increasingly, similar words by present and former U.S. presidents that "Islam is a religion of peace" ring hollow today. The reality is quite different.
It is true that for many Muslims, Islam is a moral compass that guides them in their daily, law-abiding lives. But for many others, Islam is intrinsically interwoven with the doctrine of armed jihad and the goal of ultimate Muslim supremacy over non-Muslims.
I would have hoped to hear more Muslims saying in the wake of these latest incidents that despite the fact that sharia law dictates the doctrine of armed jihad, we as Muslims reject it as inapplicable in the modern era of nation states, the United Nations and international law.
Contrary to the often-repeated mantra that there is nothing in common between Islam and the Islamic State, for many Muslims, there is a link. And we Muslims should acknowledge that reality.
Tarek Fatah is a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a columnist at the Toronto Sun, and a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of two award-winning books: Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism.