Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Mujahideen Blood Rituals

Yesterday's news (here and here ) that the terrorist conspiracy in Canada included a plan to raid parliament, capture hostages, and either to behead or threaten to behead the Prime Minister if demands - gettting Canada out of Afghanistan - were not met, has naturally encountered a lot of incredulity in Canada. The fact that the news of the allegation was reported to the media by the lawyer for the accused would-be beheader, suggests that the lawyer wishes to highlight the fantastic nature of the alleged crime and thus raise doubts whether the conspirators really intended to carry out a dreamy plan that was surely likely to fail if attempted. (UPDATE: indeed the lawyer was playing games with the media as the police document he was commenting on only mentions that they had the idea to behead parliamentarians but abandoned it for more realistic targets.)

However, what may not be known to most Canadians is that beheading is a common form of ritual killing in the Islamic world - for example, in state executions - and it is one that appeals to many of today's youth, as the making and distribution on the internet and by al-Jazeera tv of execution videos by Jihadists demonsrates. For a committed Jihadist, beheading a western Prime Minister would perhaps be the symbolic equivalent of an ordinary Canadian youth's dream of winning the Stanley Cup by scoring the winning goal in triple overtime in game seven.

To help us better understand what we are facing today, I would like to quote from an excellent article that discusses Mujahideen Blood Rituals in detail. (It provides, among many other things, the best description I have seen of the murders of the Armanious family, the Coptic Christians killed by Jihadists in New Jersey, an incident that the authorities have consistently denied was Jihad-related.)

The author, Dawn Perlmutter, is an American scholar and investigator who has worked with police forces to solve crimes in which sacrificial blood rituals play a part, such as with Satanic cults. Because this is a relatively long academic article, I hope it will serve our readers if I quote several passages as a synopsis:
Beheadings, suicide bombings, and ritual mutilation are not just strategies of war but time-honored warrior traditions that are theologically sanctioned. To relegate these acts to mere terrorist tactics is not only strategically unwise but diminishes the true nature of the threat. Similarly, to designate enemies as religious fanatics, Islamic extremists, insurgents, or radical militants who have corrupted the peaceful religion of Islam is a politically correct fallacy that is undermining every aspect of the war on terrorism and resulting in the death of American soldiers... ritual beheadings have been prevalent throughout Islamic history and are theologically prescribed and communally sanctioned.... continuing to analyze the violence from a Western perspective, sugarcoating by the media of violent aspects of the Islamic religion, and failing to recognize that we are in the midst of a century-old Holy war will only serve to perpetuate a never-ending cycle of reciprocal violence.
the concept of mujahideen is a unifying ideal, a lifelong fraternity of soldiers, who when called upon by a charismatic religious leader such as Usama bin Laden or Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi will not only fight to the death but commit suicide for their ideals. In almost every statement made by various terrorist groups, they proudly identify themselves as mujahideen. They are viewed as more than just ideal soldiers; their actions are not only respected by family, community, and country but more significantly, deemed sacred.
Because it is difficult to fully comprehend suicide bombings, beheadings, and ritual mutilations from a Western perspective, they are generally reduced to acts of barbarism and psychological warfare. In any type of ritualistic crime every aspect of the act has symbolic meaning to the perpetrator, particularly when the violence is perpetrated in the cause of a religious ideology. Ritualizing violence is what makes it sacred, hence justifiable. With the exception of suicide bombings, the most obvious and prevalent examples of religiously sanctioned Islamist murders are beheadings. The symbolism of contemporary beheading is both political and religious; the political aspects are to instill fear, the religious aspects morally sanction murder.
Mujahideen fighting the coalition forces in Iraq have revived a long tradition of blood rituals, particularly Quranic verses that beckon holy warriors to smite the necks of unbelievers. The modern version of this mujahideen blood ritual is choreographed and videotaped. These videotaped beheadings are not just a form of psychological warfare but a method of validating the ideal that they are in the same war that the prophet and the first Muslims were fighting.
Beheadings in the Al Qaeda network videos meet all the criteria to be designated ritualistic crimes... Some reporters have claimed that the beheadings are a form of human sacrifice, hence the terrorists committing these crimes are not true Muslims but have returned to pagan pre-Islamic practices that are prohibited in the Quran (editorial in USA Today, "Nothing Islamic about human sacrifice,"). The practice of human sacrifice is a form of idolatry that is prohibited in all the monotheistic religions, specifically in reference to the worship of other gods; however, referring to these beheadings as human sacrifice is inaccurate. There are subtle and important distinctions between ritual murder and sacrifice. In its simplest terms, human sacrifice is ritually murdering someone as an offering to a god; ritual murder is ritually killing someone for other reasons. The mujahideen are not beheading victims as offerings to Allah; they are ritually murdering the enemies and apostates of Allah to preserve Islam as theologically proscribed in the Quran. The Mujahideen are not creating a cult of human sacrifice; they are returning to a pure form of Islam, as they consistently claim.
Interestingly, al-Zarqawi formally merged with Usama Bin Ladin’s al-Qaeda in October 2004, soon after several highly publicized beheadings. On the day that Al-Zarqawi announced his alliance, an Islamist website posted a message in which al-Zarqawi took credit for decapitating 11 Iraqi Police and National Guardsmen. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was successfully initiated and earned his status in the Al-Qaeda network with the heads of hostages and a high body count from suicide bombings.
The very fact that these executions are ritualized and that the executioners praise Allah throughout is what distinguishes them from common acts of barbarism. There would be no honor in simply cutting off someone’s head for the sake of terrorizing your enemies; the ritual characteristics have to be present to be theologically and communally sanctioned. To situate this in the realm of the sacred as opposed to a mob killing it is ritually required that each person participate in the religious ritual, hence, the communal chanting of Allah Akbar while the victim is being beheaded. Finally, all of the participants in the beheading ritual have to be authentic true believers, who will kill and die for their religion; this is the very reason they identify themselves as soldiers of God. These beheadings are nothing less than the sacred blood rituals of the Mujahideen.
The argument against the existence of ritual murder is based on a behavioral science theoretical perspective which claims that perpetrators of these crimes are suffering from some form of psychopathology. The argument that attempts to prove that ritual murder occurs is based on a religious cultural perspective that claims that the perpetrators are making rational choices to engage in a violent ritual that is religiously required of that group. I am the leading proponent of the latter argument, and throughout my career have witnessed a pervasive denial of the existence of premeditated group sanctioned ritual murder. That denial was also prevalent when the first beheading video became public... We do not want to acknowledge that in the civilized 21st century people are ritually murdered in the name of God or Satan.
Jihadists consistently claim that they are traditionalists who restrict themselves to literal and traditional interpretations of their sacred texts. The media have perpetuated an erroneous idea that Islamic terrorists have corrupted the peaceful religion of Islam, when in fact it is moderate Muslims who have altered the religion and actually practice a Westernized, watered-down version of Islam. Acknowledging the documented history of the Islamic religion should not be viewed as an insult to Modern Muslims or deemed slanderous of contemporary Islam. Every major religion has evolved and adapted to new technologies and cultural changes. The danger occurs when revisionist history promotes a fallacy that denies the violent origins of the Islamic faith and undermines the public’s perception of the seriousness of the threat.
These holy warriors are willingly blowing themselves up because they have faith. As a consequence of our Western view of the world and standard behavioral science analysis of crime, we fail to see the nature of these true believers. Al-Qaeda has already won the most important strategic battle; they know their enemy, but we are in denial of their religious imperative to annihilate us. Our worst opponent is not the Mujahideen, it is our refusal to acknowledge that we are fighting soldiers of God in a centuries-old holy war.

1 comment:

dag said...

The Pythagoreans had a love of math. that transcended the mundane. For them, as I understand it, numbers were a religion. The whole thing baffles me. But, being baffled, I look for some way straight and narrow and sure anyway.

An anthropogenic god means nothing to me and most in the West. However, we needn't fall back on something we don't beleive in just to have something we can believe in for the sake of something over nothing. Faith in Bad Faith is rubbish, out we might find Pythagorian ways out of the baffles.

Robespierre took a wrong turn toward what I think he might have hoped to be a Pythagorean out.

I get chills when I read your copy, Peers. I have to sit and ponder this all day now. And given that I think very slowly I'll probably be pondering this for a long time to come.