Virtually every major Western leader has over the past several years expressed the view that Islam is a peaceful religion and those who commit violence in its name are fanatics who misinterpret its tenets. This claim, while widely circulated, rarely attracts public scrutiny. Through an examination of the Koran, other Islamic texts and the example of the prophet Muhammed, this documentary argues that violence against non-Muslims is an integral aspect of Islam. "Jihad", while best translated as "struggle," when represented in the life of Muhammad, meant organized warfare against non-believers. Relying on Islam's early texts, ISLAM: WHAT THE WEST NEEDS TO KNOW considers the ideology within Islam that seeks the destruction or subjugation of other faiths, cultures and systems of government.