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The Snipers: Crazy or Jihadis?

The Snipers: Crazy or Jihadis?

The jihad element cannot be so readily dismissed.


"Why now? Why? Why? Why? Why? That's the question I think everyone is asking." So agonized the half-brother of Lee Malvo, the alleged 17-year-old sniper, baffled by the causes behind the Washington, D.C.-area shooting spree that left 10 people dead.

One answer came from a friend who quoted John Muhammad, the senior alleged sniper, saying that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks "should have happened a long time ago."

This implies that Muhammad might have seen himself as a foot soldier in the jihad (holy war) against the United States, and that he took up arms to terrorize Americans.

Media across the country as one, however, shut their eyes to this explanation. A Los Angeles Times article proffered six motives for Muhammad (his "stormy relationship" with his family, his "stark realization" of loss and regret, his perceived sense of abuse as an American Muslim post-9/11, his desire to "exert control" over others, his relationship with Malvo, and his trying to make a quick buck) but did not mention jihad.

Likewise, a Boston Globe article found "there must have been something in his social interaction - in his marriage or his military career -- that pulled the trigger."

Unwilling to specify the possibility of jihad as even part of his motive, media analyses dismissed it by implication. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution merely reported that local Muslims rue the snipers having "once again tarred the image of a peaceful religion." All those interviewed by the Commercial Appeal in Memphis "agreed that it did not matter that one of the suspected snipers had converted to Islam."

By adopting this see-nothing approach, journalists effectively accept the strictures of American-based militant Islamic groups. The alleged snipers "weren't motivated by any religious or political agenda" but appeared to be "deranged individuals" who acted for reasons of their own, says Ibrahim Hooper, the Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman. Hooper's colleague, Nihad Awad, dismissed the alleged snipers "troubled and deranged individuals."

That Islam is engaged in a titanic battle with the United States, the outcome of which will determine the world's future, is a central idea among Islamists.

By emphasizing Muhammad's "deranged" condition, the gentlemen from CAIR conveniently pre-empt a discussion of the jihad element. But it cannot be so readily dismissed. That Islam is engaged in a titanic battle with the United States, the outcome of which will determine the world's future, is a central idea among Islamists. Significantly, this idea has no parallel among Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists or adherents of any other religion; its closest parallel would be the views of fascists and communists in decades past.

The expectation of a cosmic Islamic-American confrontation is a leading theme of all the strains of militant Islam, including bin Ladenism, Wahhabism and Khomeinism. It is present no less in America than in the wilds of Afghanistan or the shopping malls of Saudi Arabia, as three recent arrests of American Muslims suggest:

* Seattle, Wash.: The indictment of James Ujaama accuses him of setting up a training camp for al Qaeda.

* Portland, Ore.: According to Attorney General John Ashcroft, one of the six Muslims arrested joined the U.S. Army Reserves with the intention of gaining skills that later to use fighting Americans.

* Lackawanna, N.Y.: A U.S. government affidavit revealed that two of the six Muslims arrested possessed audiotapes calling for jihad and martyrdom, one of which appealed for "fighting the West and invading Europe and America with Islam."

American Muslims also find themselves repeatedly encouraged from abroad to resort to violence. These enemies of the United States anticipate great results:

An Iranian government-sponsored radio station gleefully predicts that its brand of militant Islam within the United States will "provoke a dangerous and crucial confrontation" with the American authorities.

Islamists in Pakistan, reports Arnaud de Borchgrave, expect that "in the next 10 years, Americans will wake up to the existence of an Islamic army in their midst - an army of jihadis who will force America to abandon imperialism and listen to the voice of Allah."

None of this is to say that American Muslims cannot be patriotic citizens, and plenty of them are. It is to say that when Muslims engage in terrorism against Americans, the guiding presumption must be that they see themselves as warriors in a jihad against the "Great Satan."

Not to see this real and present danger renders the United States vulnerable to more violence by the forces of militant Islam.

November 2, 2002

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Visitor Comments: 10

(10) Joye, November 13, 2002 12:00 AM

Some muslims are peaceful but........

Some muslims may be peaceful but...what happens when the radical muslims enter this country and demand that they become radical,too?

(9) Harold, November 11, 2002 12:00 AM

this article scares me

In this article, I hear only the echoes of accusations claiming a "Jewish communist conspiracy" and inflamatory fear-mongering targeting the "Other". Mr Pipes offers no evidence at all of a Jihad motivation by the snipers other than the presence of Muslim persons in various parts of the country who are engaged in Jihad-type activities. His conclusion is nothing more than "they are also Muslim, so this must be Jihad". This is bigotry, and a shame on him and on Aish for printing it. There's too much fear and paranoia as it is right now, without seeing Islamic terrorists under every rock. How are we ever to make peace with this kind of incitement to hatred? Please; there's enough horror out there right now without making up more where no evidence of it exists. The sniper thing was/is a terrible tragedy at every level; we don't need to turn it into something more than there is evidence it is. Lets focus on the terrorists we know we're dealing with, and leave the apocalyptic ravings where they belong. Thank you.

(8) Anonymous, November 9, 2002 12:00 AM

Yes, I agree wholeheartedly-albeit, sadly

No matter what happens, in the natural, G-d Almighty is STILL in control!! His plans and His purposes will prevail no matter what humans take upon themselves to do!

(7) Esther G. Senft, November 8, 2002 12:00 AM

Slightly skeptical

Would an ardent Moslem acting on his beliefs leave a note saying something to the effect of "I am G-d"? Seems doubtful to me.

(6) Brother Mirsad Todorovac, November 6, 2002 12:00 AM

Can't be "God" and Muslim at the same time ...

Sadly, US public has already hanged

the suspects in a media lynch before

the trial has even begun. This is

the sunset of democracy, which

seems frail before this new threat.

But remember always "presumed innocent".

Still having not seen undeniable proofs,

and suspects are already sentenced

to death by public, trial seems


If there were only 0.001% chances that

they're innocent, I'd still fight

to the last breath for their right

for fair trial.

But where will you now find a jury who

hasn't already hanged them reading media,

having in mind the horror and wounds

of Sep/11?

I'm not condemning, remember, just


Thank you very much for everything

I've learned from brave Americans

who fought for human rights.

Mirsad Todorovac

Vida Dosena 26/3

10090 Zagreb



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