How the Palestinian Authority Encourages Terrorism

dalalThe Palestinian Authority (PA) is the interim “self-governing authority” that represents the Palestinian residents of the West Bank.1 In March 2017, the PA honored Dalal Mughrabi by naming a youth camp in Jericho the “Brothers of Dalal.”2 This is shocking because Mughrabi was a terrorist. By celebrating her as a national hero, the PA is encouraging acts of terrorism.

Dalal Mughrabi took part in the worst terrorist attack in Israeli history. As reported by the Times of Israel, “On March 11, 1978, Mughrabi and several other Fatah terrorists landed on a beach near Tel Aviv, hijacked a bus on Israel’s Coastal Road and killed 38 civilians, 13 of them children, and wounded over 70.”3 Mughrabi was killed by Israeli forces, and following her death, many buildings and streets in the West Bank have been named after her.4

Naming a youth camp after a dead terrorist is an example of moral inversion: declaring evil to be good. A Palestinian Authority official, Ramallah Laila Ghannam, praised the initiative for “remembering the pure-hearted Martyrs.”5 The PA should be condemned by the International Community for honoring Mughrabi. She was a criminal, not a martyr.

Unfortunately, honoring dead terrorists is common practice by the PA. A 2010 report by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) included “100 examples of places and events named after 46 different terrorists.”6 Instead of condemning Palestinian terrorists for killing Israeli citizens, the PA celebrates them as heroes, even though they killed innocent people.

Honoring and celebrating terrorists sends a message to Palestinians that if you carry out acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens, the PA may one day honor and celebrate you. Naming a youth camp after Mughrabi is a tacit endorsement of terrorism by the PA. They are encouraging Palestinians to follow her example, and do what she did. Further, by calling a dead terrorist a “martyr”, the current leadership of the Palestinian Authority stands for radical Islam. And the goal of radical Islam is to destroy the state of Israel.

Notes

  1. “Palestinian Authority,” The Reut Institute, accessed March 12, 2017, http://reut-institute.org/Publication.aspx?PublicationId=563
  2. Brooke Singman, “PLO names youth camp after terrorist who murdered 37,” Fox News, March 7, 2017, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/07/plo-names-youth-camp-after-terrorist-who-murdered-37.html
  3. “Palestinian Authority holds youth camp in terrorist’s honor,” Times of Israel, March 6, 2017, http://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinian-authority-holds-youth-camp-in-terrorists-honor/
  4. “Israel Balks as Palestine Honors Militants,” CBS News, March 24, 2010, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/israel-balks-as-palestine-honors-militants/
  5. Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “PLO names youth camp after terrorist who led murder of 37,” Palestinian Media Watch, March 5, 2017, http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=20557
  6. Itamar Marcus, “From Terrorists to Role Models: The Palestinian Authority’s Institutionalization of Incitement,” Palestinian Media Watch, May 2010, http://palwatch.org/STORAGE/special%20reports/PA%20honors%20terrorists%20Final%20Eng.pdf

Two Reasons Why ISIS Practices Beheading

isis-daily-mailIf there is a top 10 list of the most shocking crimes of the 21st century, the beheading of people by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) should be on that list. There are two primary reasons why ISIS practices such barbaric cruelty: as a means of psychological warfare, and because they believe it is the will of Allah.

The first reason ISIS beheads people is to instill fear and terror in the Iraqi army. According to Shashank Joshi, “the Islamic State’s fighters have used their reputation for terror to dissuade Iraqi forces from ever seeking battle. Which poorly paid soldier wishes to risk decapitation, impalement, or amputation for the sake of a distant, crumbling government? Fear is a uniquely effective weapon.”1 Every soldier who goes to war knows that he may die in battle, but the thought of having your head chopped off is much more terrifying than to die from a bullet to the head or heart.

The second reason ISIS beheads people is because they believe it is the will of Allah. There are two verses in the Qur’an that command Muslims to chop off the heads of “those who disbelieve”:

  • Qur’an 8:12 – When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.2
  • Qur’an 47:4 – So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates.3

To argue that the Qur’an does not command beheading is disingenuous. There is nothing figurative or symbolic about smiting someone on the neck. As Timothy R. Furnish makes clear, “Mahmud b. Umar az-Zamakhshari (d. 1143 C.E.), in a major commentary studied for centuries by Sunni religious scholars, suggested that any prescription to ‘strike at the necks’ commands to avoid striking elsewhere so as to confirm death and not simply wound.”4 During the 7th century, Muhammad and his followers waged war with the sword. If you “smite” a person’s neck with a sword, the obvious will happen: Their head will come off.

The historical record shows that Muhammad approved of, directly ordered, and possibly participated in numerous beheadings.5 The most horrific example is the Raid on the Banu Qurayza in 627 A.D. Ibn Ishaq, the 8th century Muslim historian, records that after the Jewish tribe “surrendered to the apostle’s judgement”6, Muhammad appointed Sa’d b. Mu’adh “umpire in the matter”7 who ruled that “the men should be killed.”8 Muhammad declared it was “the judgement of Allah”, and “then he sent for them and struck off their heads.”9 The total number of men beheaded was “600 or 700 in all.”10 If the historical record is accurate, then Muhammad has at least one thing in common with ISIS: He had no objections to beheading his enemies.

It must be emphasized that the beheading of people by ISIS does not reflect the views of the vast majority of Muslims today. Moderate Muslims have strongly condemned the actions of ISIS.11 However, to argue that beheading people is un-Islamic is false. This is because there is no such thing as one “true” form of Islam, or any other religion. All religions have doctrines that are based on human argument and interpretation of their sacred texts. Determining the “true” interpretation of Islam will always be a matter of debate.

The leader and founder of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has a doctorate in Islamic studies12, believes that his version of Islam is the correct interpretation. Further, as the self-proclaimed caliph, he believes he is on a divine mission from Allah, declaring in a 2015 speech, “O Muslims, indeed we fight in obedience to Allah and as a means of coming closer to Him.”13 Baghdadi’s leadership in directing his followers to behead people is not un-Islamic. It is simply the belief and practice of radical Islam.

Notes

  1. Shashank Joshi, “Where does the Islamic State’s fetish with beheading people come from?,” The Telegraph, September 14, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/11071276/Where-does-the-Islamic-States-fetish-with-beheading-people-come-from.html
  2. Qur’an 8:12 (Shakir). http://quran.com/8
  3. Qur’an 8:12 (Shakir). http://quran.com/47
  4. Timothy R. Furnish, “Beheading in the Name of Islam,” Middle East Quarterly 12, no.2 (Spring 2005), 51-57, http://www.meforum.org/713/beheading-in-the-name-of-islam
  5. “List of Killings Ordered or Supported by Muhammad,” accessed October 9, 2016, https://wikiislam.net/wiki/List_of_Killings_Ordered_or_Supported_by_Muhammad
  6. Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, trans. Alfred Guillaume (Pakistan: Oxford University Press, 1955), 463, https://archive.org/details/TheLifeOfMohammedGuillaume
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, 464.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Matt Payton, “More than 30,000 Muslims from across the world meet in the UK to reject Isis and Islamic extremism,” Independent, August 15, 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/more-than-30000-ahmadiyya-muslims-from-across-the-world-meet-in-the-uk-to-reject-isis-and-islamic-a7191306.html
  12. William McCants, “Who Exactly is Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the Leader of ISIS?”, Newsweek, September 16, 2015, http://www.newsweek.com/who-exactly-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-leader-isis-368907
  13. S.J. Prince, “READ: Full English Translation of ISIS ‘Caliph’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s New Speech,” Heavy, December 28, 2015, http://heavy.com/news/2015/12/new-isis-islamic-state-news-pictures-videos-so-wait-indeed-we-along-with-you-are-waiting-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-speech-english-translation/

The Rules of War: Lone Survivor (2013)

lone-survivor-dvd-cover-86Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor (2013) is based on the true story of Operation Red Wings: a team of U.S. Navy Seals who were sent in 2005 to kill or capture Ahmad Shaw, a Taliban Commander. When the Taliban fighters capture Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), they prepare to behead him, a violation of internationally-recognized rules of war. The reason they want to execute the injured Navy Seal is because they are radical Muslims who believe the Qur’an commands them to kill unbelievers.

Unlike the Taliban, the Navy Seals follow the Law of Armed Conflict. During a briefing on the mission, the Seals review the Rules of Engagement. These rules state that “only combatants and other military objectives may be attacked.” According to International Humanitarian Law, the first rule of war is that “Attacks must not be directed against civilians.”1 The Seals’ willingness to follow this rule is put to the test when they are discovered by goat herders. The Seals are faced with three choices: If they kill the herders, they can continue their mission, but intentionally killing civilians is first-degree murder. If the Seals tie up the herders and leave them behind, they might die. The final alternative is to let the herders go, which will result in the Taliban fighters discovering where they are. After much debate and argument, the Seals release the herders. They do not violate the first rule of war.

In contrast to the Navy Seals, the Taliban fighters do not follow the rules of war. They follow what they believe are Allah’s “rules of war” which includes beheading unbelievers. The Qur’an 8:12 states, “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.”2 Similarly, the Qur’an 47:4 says, “So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them.”3 When the Taliban fighters capture Luttrell, they plan to behead him because they believe it is the will of Allah. However, beheading Luttrell —unarmed and injured—is a violation of the 47th rule of war: “Attacking persons who are recognized as hors de combat is prohibited.”4 A person hors de combat is someone who is defenseless because of wounds or sickness.5 Luttrell has suffered serious injuries and is and no longer a threat, but the Taliban fighters want to kill him because they believe the Qur’an commands them to.

The Taliban’s stated goal is “to set up the world’s most pure Islamic state.”6 The reason Shaw and the Taliban fighters are engaged in a war in Afghanistan is because they believe the Qur’an commands them to fight non-Muslims and moderate Muslims who do not obey the teachings of Allah. The Qur’an 9:29 says, “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth.”7 In one scene, Shaw has an Afghan man beheaded for supposedly helping the Americans, an accusation the man denies. When the man is beheaded, Shaw yells, “Allahu Akbar” which means “Allah is great.”8 Shaw has the civilian executed because he views him as an enemy of Allah.

Lone Survivor shows us the bravery of four Navy Seals in fighting a brutal and barbaric enemy. What the film fails to do is to give us insight into the mind and motivations of the enemy. The Taliban fighters kill unbelievers because they believe the Qur’an commands them to do so; however, moderate Muslims interpret these verses differently. For the vast majority of Muslims, Islam is a religion of peace, but radical Muslims believe they are called to violent jihad.

Notes

  1. J. M. Henckaerts, “Study on customary international humanitarian law,” International Committee of the Red Cross, https://www.icrc.org/eng/assets/files/other/customary-law-rules.pdf
  2. Qur’an 8:12 (Shakir). http://quran.com/8
  3. Qur’an 47:4 (Sahih International). http://quran.com/47
  4. J. M. Henckaerts, “Study on customary international humanitarian law,” https://www.icrc.org/eng/assets/files/other/customary-law-rules.pdf
  5. Ibid.
  6. “Analysis: Who are the Taleban?” 20 December, 2000, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/144382.stm
  7. Qur’an 9:29 (Sahih International). http://quran.com/9
  8. WikiIslam, s.v. “Allahu Akbar,” accessed September 9, 2015, http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Allahu_Akbar