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Posted in: Jihad & Terrorism

Published on Oct 23, 2009 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

Home Grown Terrorism in America: Connecting the Dots


The New York Times does not tell us whether Tareq Mehanna, the 27 year old Massachusetts pharmacist who was just arrested on federal terrorism charges is, or even might be a Muslim. In their pages, telling this particular truth is still verboten, politically incorrect, rude, racist, a cheap shot, even "Islamophobic."

Look: Mehanna might have traveled to Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen (which he did) because, as a relatively young man, he just wanted to sow his wild oats. No matter that Mehanna and his "associates," including one Ahmad Abousamra who subsequently fled to Syria, had traveled together "seeking training from terrorist groups to fight against American soldiers." No matter that Mehanna had tried to buy a gun from one Daniel Maldonado who is "currently serving a 10 year prison sentence for training with Al Qaeda in Somalia. "

Why should the Times suggest that Mehanna's motivation might be related to Islamic jihad? That hypothesis would tarnish an entire religion, an entire people, it can't be true—but even if it is true, it's too troubling and unpleasant a truth. Why connect the dots when you can continue to confuse people?

Well, as the Danish Mohammed Cartoon controversy has so ably demonstrated, not all religions are equal. If someone flies planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon—better not blame it on the Saudis or on Islamic jihadists, especially if they are guilty. People who are capable of such acts won't like such accusations. They might sue you or kill you or blow up your kids. Anyway, it's better not to think this way, better not to descend to the level of people who believe that Islamic terrorists have declared war against all non-Muslims, (against other Muslims too), especially against those who live in America and Israel.

That's a really unfashionable philosophy of life.

Ironically, David Rohde, the Times reporter who was captured by the Taliban and kept for seven months could have used a clearer understanding about both Al Qaeda and the Taliban; Daniel Pearl might have benefited from a more unfashionable philosophy too.

I have been reading David Rohde's front page Times series about his captivity in Afhganistan. Rohde kept hoping that "his" captors were the good Taliban, not the bad Taliban. Like Ann Frank, Rohde desperately desired to believe that people are really good, or at least that some people, even kidnappers, even religious fanatics, even highway brigands, are also really good; c'mon, aren't some of them, at least some of the time?

Rhode is instead forced to learn quite a different lesson. Over the course of his seven month captivity, Rohde experiences sadism; cruelty; a child-like ignorance (among his captors, not just his own); lies, nothing but lies; threats (that he will be killed, even be-headed on video etc.); a matter-of-fact desire on the part of his captors to impose Islam on an unwilling world (they explain that for them not to try to do so would be a betrayal of Islam); a belief that all non-Muslims are dirty, unclean, (the kidnappers would not allow Rohde to wash their dishes for this reason). Rohde was surprised that his religious Muslim captors were joyful when they heard that other Muslims had been murdered in a mosque in a suicide bombing.

Mr. Rohde: Please meet Ghengis Khan, the barbarian.

Finally, Rohde came to understand that these war-hardened, life-hardened men harbored an enormous hatred for both America and Israel that sometimes bordered on the delusional.

But Rohde also remains confused. Sometimes his kidnappers sing songs with him. Sometimes they do not kill him.

Before Rohde was kidnapped he met tolerant, hospitable, likeable Afghans who were, seemingly, not terrorists, criminals, or religious fanatics.

Once, long ago, I also met very hospitable and charming Afghans—but I still nearly died at their hands and in their land. And that was back in the Good Old Days long before the Taliban, when Kabul was about to become a little piece of heaven, at least for a short while.

Sometimes I wonder whether the New York Times is on Al-Qaeda's payroll–and if not, what kind of dreadfully dangerous game they are playing.


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