Merry Christmas, Infidel

Last Friday Belgian police arrested fourteen Islamic jihadists, and the U.S. Embassy warned of “a heightened risk of terrorist attack in Brussels,” while the Belgian Interior Ministry, according to Associated Press, “called on citizens to be vigilant through Christmas.”

Also last week, police in the Philippines arrested an Egyptian Muslim, Mohamad Sayed, who was allegedly planning to explode a bomb in a southern Philippine city on Christmas Day.

And Abu Dujana, who identifies himself as the “military commander” of the jihadist group responsible for the 2002 bombings in Bali, warned last week that “there are other cadres out there” and that “it is their obligation” to attack non-Muslims.

Infidels the world over would do well to be especially vigilant this week — although there is no necessary or direct correlation between jihad terror attacks and certain dates. Jihadists have an eye for the grand symbol, and this could conceivably take the form of a strike on a notable date such as Christmas. The arrests in Belgium and the Philippines indicate that jihadists could wish to mount a Christmas Day attack as they have previously frame attacks against a military landmark (the Pentagon) and an economic one (the World Trade Center). There are precedents: in 2000, 49 bombs were planted outside Indonesian churches just before Christmas – 18 exploded, killing 15 people and wounding almost 100 others. And on Christmas 2002, attackers threw hand-grenades into a Pakistani church, killing three and wounding 14. Also, in previous years, jihadists have chosen the Christmas season to ratchet up their threats.

Jihadists might desire to sow this terror during one of the holiest seasons of the Christian year to emphasize that their conflict with the non-Muslim West is, as they see it, a holy struggle. Also notable in this connection may be the warnings we see from Islamic clerics every year: do not participate in the infidels’ festivities, do not wish them holiday greetings, do not endorse in any way what Muslim hardliners see as celebrations of infidelity and the rejection of God. An article posted recently on the website of the Khalid Bin Al-Walid Mosque in Toronto asks pointedly: “How can we bring ourselves to congratulate or wish people well for their disobedience to Allah? Thus expressions such as: Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Birthday, Happy New Year, etc, are completely out.”

Not unimportant in Christmas threats also is the fact that Osama bin Laden and other jihad terrorists not only see the War On Terror as a war against Islam; they also see it as a war being waged on behalf of Christianity. Jihadists routinely refer to the American armies in Iraq and Afghanistan as “Crusaders.” Al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who most frequently issues the organization’s communiqués, uses this term frequently; in an October 2006 message he issued a rather typical exhortation: “I urge you, in [the name of] the duty of jihad, which is incumbent upon every Muslim, to hurry and pursue martyrdom in order to kill the Crusaders and the Zionists.” Adam Gadahn, aka “Azzam the American,” the first American indicted for treason since World War II and a prominent Al-Qaeda operative, in a September 2006 videotape introduced by Al-Zawahiri himself, spent a considerable amount of time criticizing Christian theology.

All this puts the heirs of Judeo-Christian civilization in a peculiar position. Western leaders have been anxious to avoid the appearance that this is a religious conflict, while the other side seems avid above all to portray it as such. Westerners have been in the process of discarding Christianity, only to find it identified by Islamic jihadists as the most objectionable aspect of their way of life. For non-Christians as well as Christians in the West, this highlights the fact that the war on terror is a struggle over values — and it is Judeo-Christian values such as the freedom of conscience and the equality of dignity of all people that are most objectionable to the jihadists.

In order to win, we cannot simply fight against the jihadists. We must be contending for something, and in the Judeo-Christian tradition there is a great deal to be proud of and defend. This Christmas, as the threats continue, that’s something to ponder.