Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum and prize-winning columnist for the New York Post, argued that radical Muslims have been attacking America for more than 24 years during a speech Monday evening.
While many Americans believe that the war against terror began directly after Sept. 11, 2001, Pipes told about 200 people gathered at the School of Law that "Islamists" killed 800 Americans in the years leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks. He emphasized that America is still at war with such terrorists.
"Deeming terrorism the enemy is very superficial," Pipes said. "We are at war with militant Islam. Radical Islamists are America's strategic enemy."
Pipes is the founder of Campuswatch.org, a Web site that monitors and critiques Middle Eastern studies in schools across North America.
While some opponents have attacked the site for singling out individual professors it labels as anti-Israel, Pipes said that the site's aim is to improve the quality of college learning.
"Academics are not infallible," Pipes said during the question and answer section of his speech. "And it is the public's job to make sure the Middle East is portrayed accurately."
Pipes defined Islamists as strict practitioners of Islamic ideology who transformed Islamic philosophy to further their own purpose.
Equating the movement to fascism, Pipes said Islamists seek power and will resort with brutality against anyone who disagrees with them. He added that the faction comprises about 10 to 15 percent of the entire Muslim population and dominates America's Muslim movement.
"Militant Islam offers approximately one out of every eight Muslims a solution to the dark sense of things having gone deeply wrong," Pipes said.
Militant Islamists, Pipes said, believe that the Middle East has not prospered during the past 200 years because traditional Islamic practices have been lost.
He said that the commonality that binds these Islamists together is their shared sense of enmity toward the United States.
Because the Middle East was the most flourishing region of the world during medieval times, radical Islamists feel that the region can only regain its status and power by adhering to old Islamic traditions, he said.
But Pipes argued that his views about radical Islamists were separate from his perception of the Muslim religion.
Although many of Pipes' critics charge that he wholly opposes the Islamic movement, Pipes said he believes that militant Islam needs to be defeated so that a non-totalitarian Islam can take root in its place.
Kenneth Stein, the Shatten professor of contemporary Middle Eastern history and Israeli studies, said Pipes gave students an objective and realistic perspective on the situation in the Middle East.
Stein added that he supported Pipes' Web site.
"People tend to use the academic podium to foster politics when they should be fostering learning," he said. "We in the academic world have a contract with our students to teach them diligently how to think, not what to think. Many don't understand that this is exactly what Daniel is trying to accomplish."