War as Deceit

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

  • 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.”

  • In Canada, some of the jihad terror plot suspects arrested last week have claimed that they are being tortured in jail. The farfetched quality of claims that Canadian officials are torturing anyone is compounded by these passages from an al Qaeda manual captured several years ago: “The brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by State Security [investigators] before the judge….Complain [to the court] of mistreatment while in 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.

    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….He wore a baseball cap, smart shirts and baggy trousers…”

    Secular clothing accords with instructions in the al Qaeda manual to appear to be a secular, assimilated Muslim with no interest in religion: “Have a general appearance that does not indicate Islamic orientation (beard, toothpick, book, [long] shirt, small Koran).”

    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 “a tactic to further the jihadi cause,” the Bush Administration distanced itself from her remarks. Army Gen. 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 Adm. 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.”

Doesn’t Islam forbid suicide? Suicide as an act of despair, yes. But the Koran exhorts Muslims: “Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other” (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?