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War Is Deceit By: Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, June 14, 2006

“War is deceit,” said the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and some of his contemporary followers have been putting his words into practice with increasing industry lately: 

  • While international opprobrium focuses again on Israel for a supposedly errant rocket attack last Friday that killed eight Palestinians on a Gaza beach, it has become increasingly apparent that the victims were actually killed by Hamas explosives.

Palestinian Media Watch reports that “Palestinian Authority TV has been repeatedly broadcasting a falsified video clip of the events surrounding the deaths of seven family members on the Gaza beach on Friday. In an attempt to blame Israel's navy for the deaths, PA TV took unrelated video of an Israeli missile boat firing at Gaza earlier in the day and edited them into the scenes, creating the impression [of] Israeli responsibility….The video of the Israeli navy was unrelated to the deaths, having been filmed earlier in the day and had already released to the media and to the internet by the Israeli army at 4:00 PM, an hour prior to the deaths….[I]t should be noted that not only is the video falsified, but the beach scene clearly backs the Israeli contention that the deaths were not caused by an Israeli shell. Any Israeli shell would have left a giant crater and spread sand over the entire area, as well as on the victims. There is no crater and the beach scene is not disturbed in a way that indicates an Israeli shell could have landed nearby.”


All this recalls Muhammad Al-Dura, the twelve-year-old Palestinian boy who became an international symbol of alleged Israeli oppression when footage of his being shot by Israeli soldiers circulated around the world in 2000. However, it has become increasingly clear that the event was not what most of the world thought it was, and may have been staged outright by Palestinian propagandists – who do their work very well.


  • In Canada, some of the jihad terror plot suspects arrested last week have claimed that they are being tortured in jail. David Kolinsky, attorney for one of them, Zakaria Amara, claims: “He is being held in a concrete room, approximately 11 feet by 6 feet. A concrete door. There is no window in the room. There is a small slit that is opened when meals are placed in his room. The light is on 24 hours a day and actually as early as 30 years ago, the federal court trial division of Canada had noted and had accepted expert testimony that this type of treatment is known to cause depression and suicide and has held that this type of treatment is, in fact, cruel and unusual punishment, contrary to the Bill of Rights.”

Even worse, “My client when he was being searched by a guard, was pinned into the ground. He had the guard’s finger drilled into his cheek and the guard flicked him quite hard in the eye. He told me on Friday, his thumbs are still numb from plastic restraints placed on his wrists at the time and he has not received proper medical attention in that respect...My client advised that as he was being searched, he was touched on the ribs and he is ticklish, and he giggled a bit and the guard held him on the ground and drilled his fingers in the cheek and said, ‘is this funny?’”


The farfetched quality of claims that Canadian officials are torturing anyone is compounded by these passages from an Al-Qaeda manual captured a few years ago: “1. At the beginning of the trial, once more the brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by State Security [investigators] before the judge. 2. Complain [to the court] of mistreatment while in prison….4. The brother has to do his best to know the names of the state security officers, who participated in his torture and mention their names to the judge. [These names may be obtained from brothers who had to deal with those officers in previous cases.]...6. During the trial, the court has to be notified of any mistreatment of the brothers inside the prison.”


Are the Canadian suspects following the Al-Qaeda playbook? It should not be dismissed out of hand as a possibility – certainly they were following Al-Qaeda’s ideology and methodology when they planned their attacks.


  • Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali, who a few years ago lived in Phoenix with Hani Hanjour, the jihadist who piloted American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, went to New Zealand – where he was, until late May, taking flight training. He has now been expelled from the country and is back in Saudi Arabia, where he will, of course, find abundant opportunities to continue his jihad adventures.

According to the New Zealand Herald, “the Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali who wandered into the Manawatu Aero Club in March gave no suggestion of fundamentalism. The short, clean-cut Muslim told the club’s chief flying officer, Captain Ravindra Singh, he had obtained his private pilot’s licence in the US and spent several years there before returning to Saudi Arabia to work in his father’s textile business. He wanted to pass the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam so he could return home to train for his commercial pilot’s licence. He wore a baseball cap, smart shirts and baggy trousers and favoured burgers over halal food.”


This sort of thing really does fool Westerners who are ignorant of how jihadists interact with Western society: journalist Cathy Young asserts in the June issue of Reason magazine that the French Muslim rioters of last November were “by all indications…driven by resentment about unemployment, discrimination, and the generally marginalized status of ethnic minorities in France. In one news report, an 18-year-old rioter named Ahmed was quoted as saying, ‘You wear these clothes, with this color skin, and you’re automatically a target for police.’ He and his friends were not wearing traditional Muslim garb but polo shirts, sneakers, and T-shirts.” In fact, however, the rioters were shouting “Allahu akbar.” They attacked churches and synagogues. They attacked no mosques. But apparently Young would have us ignore all this because they were wearing polo shirts.


However, secular clothing is actually in accord with instructions in the captured Al-Qaeda manual to appear to be a secular, assimilated Muslim with no interest in religion. Speaking of ID documents, it says: “The photograph of the brother in these documents should be without a beard. It is preferable that the brother’s public photograph [on these documents] be also without a beard. If he already has one [document] showing a photograph with a beard, he should replace it.” And in renting an apartment, “It is preferable to rent these apartments using false names, appropriate cover, and non-Moslem appearance.” And in general: “Have a general appearance that does not indicate Islamic orientation (beard, toothpick, book, [long] shirt, small Koran)....Be careful not to mention the brothers’ common expressions or show their behaviors (special praying appearance, ‘may Allah reward you’, ‘peace be on you’ while arriving and departing, etc.)...Avoid visiting famous Islamic places (mosques, libraries, Islamic fairs, etc.).”


It sounds as if Ali may simply have been following the playbook. Does this mean that every Muslim in secular clothing is a secret jihadist? Of course not. But it does mean that no one should have taken Ali’s baseball cap and baggy trousers as any indication of his assimilation into Western society or acceptance of Western values.


The possibility that someone may be lying all too seldom seems to enter into the calculations of government and military officials – at least in their public statements. When Colleen Graffy, the deputy assistant U.S. secretary of state for public diplomacy, opined that the recent prisoner suicides in the Guantanamo detention center were “good P.R. move to draw attention” and “a tactic to further the jihadi cause,” the Bush Administration immediately distanced itself from her remarks. Army General Bantz Craddock, however, noted that the suicides appeared to have been timed to influence the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Hamdan case, in which they will consider whether Gitmo detainees may enter challenges in federal courts. “This may be an attempt to influence the judicial proceedings in that perspective,” said Craddock. And Rear Admiral Harry Harris, Guantanamo’s camp commander, observed that the jihadist detainees “have no regard for human life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare against us.”


But doesn’t Islam forbid suicide? Suicide as an act of despair, yes. But the Qur’an exhorts Muslims: “Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward” (4:74). Thus it is entirely possible that the Guantanamo suicides were not acts of despair brought on by American tortures, but acts of war chosen freely by pious Muslim mujahedin who were selling the life of this world for the other, in order to further the jihad.


Would they really resort to a deception that cost them their very lives? 

Given their values and priorities, what would have prevented them from doing so?

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Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of eight books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, is available now from Regnery Publishing.

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