Avoid radicals like the plague

In the new book “I Am Malala” you know the end before you start.

The Taliban shoot Malala Yousafzai in the head for the crime of being a girl who dared to go to school.

She lives to tell her story and comes to the attention of the world as a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Although the Peace Prize went another way, Malala now travels the media circuit in the United States and raises much-needed awareness of the absolute brutality of Islamic extremists.

Her story is a politically incorrect nightmare for extremists and, if we’re lucky, a word of warning to the naive inside the Obama administration who seem to think it’s acceptable to sometimes hold hands with Muslims of the Taliban stripe.

If there is one thing the Malala Yousafzai story ought to tell us, it is that when it comes to groups like the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida jihadists, there is no acceptable level of cooperation for the United States.

Syria perfectly illustrates the danger du jour. We oppose the existing government of Bashar al-Assad for good reason: It used chemical weapons on his own people.

But to bring about a regime change, we inject ourselves into a civil war infected with Muslim extremists, the very kind who will shoot girls like Malala in the head for daring to go to school.

A new report from IHS Janes, a defense consultancy, estimates 100,000 rebels in Syria fragmented into 1,000 bands.

About 10,000 of the rebels are jihadists linked to al-Qaida. Human Rights Watch has already linked many atrocities in Syria to these rebels.

In a subdued exchange on National Public Radio, host Steve Inskeep asked New York Times reporter Anne Barnard about the bloody massacre of women and children by U.S.-backed rebels in Syria:

Inskeep: “How awkward is it for the U.S. to have rebel groups portrayed in this way, committing atrocities?”

Barnard: “Well, it’s very awkward.”

Awkward? It’s more than awkward, and it’s about time we start shouting it from the rooftops.

It’s another of the bone-headed disasters the Obama State Department can’t seem to stop making in the region. Jumping from the frying pan into the fire must be chapter one in President Obama’s foreign policy manual.

Let us not forget the debacle in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood. Or the deaths of our men in Benghazi in a still-not-fully-explained encounter with our “Muslim friends.”

Admittedly, good options are in short supply in the Middle East. But some courses are better than others, and our traditional allies in the area — such as Israel and Saudi Arabia — have repeatedly tried to warn the Obama administration of its bad choices.

Most, if not all, of the extremist opposition in Syria is very scary from an American perspective.

Former Obama adviser Ari Ratner says the United States must be “reticent to support the more hard-line rebels.” But is there really a difference between moderate rebels and hard-liners in Syria?

Consider Maawiya Hassan Agha, a Syrian rebel activist, who says: “We all want an Islamic state and we want Shariah to be applied. In France, people don’t like face veils so they passed laws against them. It’s the same thing here. It’s our right to push for the laws we want.”

Of course, what Maawiya Hassan Agha doesn’t get is that, in France, if a woman breaks a minor dress law, a random French religious freak empowered by the government does not execute her in the street.

Under Taliban/al-Qaida/Muslim Brotherhood thinking, however, it’s open season 24-7 on little girls like Malala. So, until a better idea comes along, I say the Obama administration ought to stop making nice with terrorists and start treating all Muslim extremists like they carry the plague.

Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, writes a column for Stephens Media. Read his blog at www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/sherman-frederick.