CBNNews.com - GAZA STRIP - For Hamas and other jihadist groups, the Islamic faith is the driving force behind their movement.
How does Islam shape the thinking of Palestinians in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip?
Author and Middle East expert Walid Phares joined the 700 Club Thursday to take a closer look at the threat from jihad.
According to Hamas political leader Khalil Abu Laila, the Western concept of free speech, exemplified by the political cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, offended all Muslims, sparking violent reactions and drawing them together in a common cause.
"By provoking the religious feelings of Muslims, you are uniting them under the flag of Islam," Laila told CBN News.
"Americans must know, when the religious feelings of Muslims and Arabs are provoked, this will motivate Muslims to move closer to the people who are raising the flag of Islam," he said.
Laila dreams of the day when Islam will control not only the Middle East, but every continent on earth -- especially Europe and North America.
"When Islam will rule, we will not have anything but good relations with the Europeans and Americans, and it will be based upon equality," Laila said.
"But what is unfortunate today is that the governments of Europe and the United States are dealing with the Muslims and Arabs like a "master and his slaves," and the Americans are bossing us around," he said.
Muslim clerics often refer to Jews and Christians as the "sons of monkeys and pigs," but for Hamas officials, such as Younes al-Astel, Jews and Christians are also bigots.
"It is in their nature," al-Astel asserts. "They believe they are the sons, the beloved people of God, and whoever is their enemy will be animals in the image of human beings made to serve them as slaves," he said.
"People who have this sick way of thinking about non-Jews, in their own mind they believe that we Arabs and Muslims don't deserve to live," al-Astel said.
"Some people may look at the Hamas struggle as one for territory in Gaza and the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], but these leaders have a much larger global goal built on centuries of resentment," he concluded.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas has begun the largest military buildup in its history, recently stepping up its cross-border attacks against Israeli soldiers and citizens.
With their constant efforts to provoke Israel, Hamas leaders hope to put themselves at the vanguard of jihad -- "holy" war -- not just against Israel, but against the West as well.
Throughout much of the Muslim world -- from Iran to the Gaza Strip -- comes the cry "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!"