I’m looking at a photograph of a beautiful young Christian girl who has just been beheaded by a gang of six rampaging, machete-wielding Muslim radicals.
Her bloody body is lying on an autopsy table. A few inches to the left of her torso lies her severed head, nestled in a bunched-up black plastic trash bag. Delicate features, lovely dark hair matted with blood, eyes closed, her face appears sad and almost serene, prompting one to reflect on the incomprehensible brutality and terror she must have experienced.
Two other teenage girls, both Christian, were also decapitated during the same Oct. 29 massacre on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The Muslim men, all dressed in black, savagely attacked the 16- to 19-year-old girls with machetes as they walked across a cocoa plantation on their way to the private Christian school they attended. Their heads were found some distance from the bodies, the head of one girl discarded mockingly in front of a Christian church.
Islamic attacks on Christians, including May’s bombing in the nearby, predominantly Christian town of Tentena that killed 22 and injured over 30, are common in this area – with over 40 local attacks in the last two-and-a-half years. Analysts say Muslim militants are targeting central Sulawesi because they see it as a likely foundation for an Islamic state.
This scene, with all its attendant horror, is being duplicated all over the world, from Israel to India, from Russia to the Philippines, from Sudan to the Balkans, and right on into the heart of Europe with massive Muslim rioting in France and the terrorist train bombing in Spain, plus the subway bombings in London – and of course the 9-11 attacks in America that killed 3,000. Violent Islamic jihad, dormant for centuries, is once again on the move worldwide.
Islam has attempted global domination before. In past centuries it conquered not only Arabia, Persia, Syria and Egypt, but major parts of Africa, Asia and Europe, until it was ultimately defeated and lost its will to conquer – for a time, anyway.
And it’s not just during Muhammad’s era, or later medieval times, that militant Islam has savagely attacked neighboring cultures, either butchering “infidels” (non-Muslims) outright or converting them at the point of the sword. Jihad has always been a part of Islam.
For Americans, largely ignorant of world history, Islamic radicalism mysteriously appeared on their television screens for the first time on Sept. 11, 2001, and has dominated our national security concerns ever since. But for those more familiar with the major forces shaping world events, the violent spread of Islam is recognized as one of the most important geopolitical forces in the last 14 centuries, one that has touched billions of lives.
For instance, I personally lost dozens of family members – perhaps over 100 – in the genocide of the Christian Armenians by the Muslim Turks. I’ll mention just one of those family members – my great grandfather, Steelianos Leondiades. A Protestant minister, in 1908 he was attending a conference of Armenian and Greek ministers in the major Turkish city of Adana. Here’s how his daughter, my maternal grandmother Anna Paulson, recalled the terrible events that unfolded: “Some of the Turkish officers came to the conference room and told all these ministers – there were 70 of them, ministers and laymen and a few wives: ‘If you embrace the Islamic religion you will all be saved. If you don’t, you will all be killed.’”
Steelianos, my great grandfather, acting as a spokesman for the ministers group asked the Turks for 15 minutes so they could make their decision. During that time the ministers and their companions talked, read the Bible to each other and prayed. In the end, none of them would renounce their Christian faith and convert to Islam.
“And then,” Anna recalled, “they were all killed.
“They were not even buried. They were all thrown down the ravine.”
The only way we know any details of this massacre – one of many during that hellish period when 1.5 million Armenians were exterminated – is because one victim survived the ordeal. “One man woke up, he wasn’t dead,” my grandmother said. “He woke up and got up and said, ‘Brethren, brethren, is there anybody alive here? I’m alive, come on, let’s go out together.’” Had it not been for that survivor’s account, no one would have known the circumstances of this modern-day martyrdom.
(By the way, details of the appalling decapitations of the three Christian girls in Indonesia also emerged thanks to a lone survivor – a fourth student who was also attacked and severely injured, but who survived to tell authorities about the attack.)
My great grandfather was a martyr, a real one. But today, we most often hear the word “martyr” being used to describe hypnotized Islamic jihadis who commit unspeakable mass atrocities against innocent people while dementedly chanting “Allahu Akhbar, Allahu Akhbar, Allahu Akhbar” to drown out what’s left of their conscience.
That’s not martyrdom. It’s terrorism – and it’s about time we realized what terrorism is all about.
How terrorism works
On one level, terrorism works by simply causing us so much pain, suffering and dread of future terror that we eventually weaken and give in to the terrorists’ demands. But the ultimate goal of terrorism is to capture our hearts and minds – to convert us.
What? How can terrorizing us transform our attitudes in favor of the terrorists’ viewpoint? Wouldn’t we recoil in horror and, if anything, move farther away from sympathy toward the perpetrators? Not necessarily.
Remember, militant Muslims “convert” individuals to Islam by threat of death. Why shouldn’t they try the same tactic on entire societies?
Stop and consider what happens when we’re intimidated and frightened by terrorism, or even the threat of it. Wonder of wonders, some of us start to sympathize with our enemy.
There’s a funny thing about appeasement. It’s hard to give in to evil without first agreeing with that evil, at least a little. We have to allow our minds to be bent, our previous values and perceptions altered, even slightly; we somehow have to see the terrorists as not quite totally evil. “Yes, they may be angry and even murderous, but after all, don’t they have legitimate grievances against us? Maybe we brought on this attack by our past actions. Maybe we’re at fault. Maybe their cause is just. Maybe we’re the real terrorists.”
Does that sound like an exaggeration? Do you remember Cindy Sheehan, so lionized by America’s “mainstream press” as the courageous public face of the antiwar movement? She referred to Islamic terrorists flocking to Iraq to kill American soldiers as “freedom fighters.” Meanwhile she calls the president of the United States a “lying bastard,” a “jerk,” an “evil maniac,” a “gangster,” a “war criminal,” a “murderous thug” and – of course – a “terrorist.”
To become an appeaser, you have to sympathize with the enemy, either overtly like Sheehan, or secretly. How else can you look at yourself in the mirror and justify giving in to evil?
The question is, how do we come to side with those who are intent on destroying us?
Sympathy for the devil
On Aug. 23, 1973, a submachine-gun-toting escaped convict named Jan-Erik Olsson attempted to rob a bank in Stockholm, Sweden, and in the process took four hostages.
Incredibly, over the course of their five-and-a-half day captivity, the hostages developed a strong bond with Olsson and another ex-con who joined him – so much so that they came to sympathize with and support the criminals holding them captive at gunpoint, while fearing and disparaging the police who sought to free them. Some of the captives later testified on behalf of, or raised money for, the legal defense of their captors.
This phenomenon of captives developing an emotional bond with their captors, dubbed the “Stockholm Syndrome” after the bank hostage case, has been observed in many hostage situations over the years, and has also shed light on other seemingly inexplicable behaviors, such as battered wives who identify with and defend horribly abusive husbands.
Characteristics of the Stockholm Syndrome include:
1. The captives start to identify with their captors, at first as a means of survival, calculating that the captor won’t hurt them if they are cooperative and supportive.
2. The captives realize a rescue attempt is dangerous and could result in their being hurt or even killed, and so they come to fear and oppose efforts to rescue them.
3. Longer-term captivity fosters an emotional attachment to the captor, as the victims learn of the captor’s problems and grievances, as well as his hopes and aspirations. In some cases, the captives come to identify with and believe in the justness of the captor’s “cause.”
Is it possible that the Stockholm Syndrome – where victims are so intimidated and fearful that they end up sympathizing with and defending those threatening their lives, and disparaging those brave souls trying to save them – might help explain some of what has happened worldwide in response to the murderous outrages of radical Islam?
Could it be that many people are so intimidated by radical Islam, so fearful of being victims themselves, that their fear is transformed unconsciously into a strange sympathy and support for the terrorists, in an attempt to placate them?
Could this be a factor in the absurd political correctness we see in America and Europe with regard to Islam?
- Why is it that since 9-11, increasing numbers of students on American college campuses are extolling the “Palestinian cause” and condemning Israel as a terrorist state, with some schools even hosting thinly disguised jihad recruitment rallies by radical Islamic groups?
- Why is it that Muslims can riot day after day in and around Paris, burn over a thousand cars, ransack businesses and schools, rampage through 300 towns shooting at police and firemen – and the international press barely mentions that the rioters are Muslims?
- Why is it that every time a terror incident occurs in the U.S. – such as the Beltway snipers that terrorized the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area for weeks – the government and press bend over backwards to downplay any possible Islamic jihad connection? (The key Beltway sniper had converted to Islam, changed his name to “Muhammad” and had known sympathies for Islamic terrorists.)
- Why do the government and news media treat the Council for American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, as a legitimate civil rights organization when it has been identified by two former FBI counterterrorism chiefs as a “front group” for Hamas, and several of its leaders have been convicted on federal terrorism charges since 9-11?
If you consider Americans’ understandable fear of radical Muslims, and add to that fear our culture’s knee-jerk multicultural dread of being perceived as “racist,” you can start to understand today’s bizarre deference to Islam in the West.
‘Psychology of defeat’
Somehow, the West has lost its courage and has been intimidated by radical Islam into trying to appease it. It’s easy for this to happen – even in a battle-hardened nation like Israel.
Once the Jewish state set the standard for the entire world in how to deal with terrorism. But in recent years Israel’s leadership, along with a considerable segment of public opinion, have been seduced into pursuing appeasement as the road to peace.
Understandably, Israelis are tired and worn down after more than 50 years of fighting and dying just to defend their right to exist. But the problem is, the more Israel tries to display good will and make concessions for peace with the surrounding Arab states, the more terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians increase. Shouldn’t the opposite occur? Wouldn’t you think the more land giveaways and other concessions the Israelis make, the closer they would get to peace? No, the result is more terror and more pressure for more concessions.
Look at this simple and familiar syndrome on a personal level: If you cower before a bully in an attempt to placate him, all you accomplish is to make him more confident, more demanding, more contemptuous of you – in other words, your weakness literally transforms him into an even bigger and more dangerous bully.
Israel has made a string of major concessions – the most recent being the unprecedented, unilateral gift of Gaza to the Palestinians. Are the Palestinians happy as a result? Are they grateful to Israel? No, Gaza is becoming a Mecca for terrorists, a prime Middle East staging area for ever more terror attacks. Hamas and other terror groups believe they are seeing the fruits of their murderous attacks on Israelis – and are encouraged now to engage in more terrorism until they have “liberated” all of Israel, which they call “Palestine.”
Appeasement always encourages violence. If more violence is not immediately forthcoming in response to appeasement, it’s only a strategic delay. Israel should have learned this lesson from hard experience, such as when it made its disastrous, unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon, which resulted in widespread death among Lebanese Christians and the emboldening of the Hezbollah terror army.
The simple fact is, just as with Communists and Nazis, Islamo-fascists regard goodwill gestures and concessions as nothing more than contemptible weakness and an irresistible invitation to take advantage. Hitler, shortly after the appeasing Chamberlain arrived home proudly displaying his worthless peace treaty, turned around and attacked Britain. In the same way, Islamic militants consider it just good strategy to lie and break treaties.
It seems somewhere along the line Ariel Sharon forgot what he wrote in his autobiography, “Warrior.” Reflecting on his years as a daring soldier fighting for his nation’s survival, Sharon wrote that, in dealing with Israel’s Arab attackers, he “came to view the objective not simply as retaliation, or even deterrence in the usual sense. It was to create in the Arabs a psychology of defeat, to beat them every time and to beat them so decisively that they would develop the conviction they could never win.”
Now we’re getting somewhere.
Terrorism is intimidation. The terrorists’ end-game is to so frighten us that we not only cower in fear, but are converted – that is, our fear actually causes a change in our attitudes and beliefs regarding the terrorists and their cause.
The antidote to this intimidation factor is self-evident: Terrorists (intimidators) must be super-intimidated into submission. Sorry, but it’s the only language they speak. Anything else besides overwhelming, paralyzing, courage-destroying strength is perceived by them as weakness.
For example: In 1986, after America had suffered many casualties from a long string of terror activities fomented by Libyan leader Muammar al-Gadhafi, President Reagan bombed Libya. Called Operation El Dorado Canyon, the U.S. raids targeted specific sites, including Gadhafi’s house, and killed 60 people, including Gadhafi’s adopted four-year-old daughter.
As a result, most historians agree, Libya basically abandoned terrorism, with the notable exception of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, for which Libya formally accepted responsibility in 2003, paying each victim’s family $8 million.
OK, you might well say, we can agree you have to crush terrorism so badly it can’t get up. But what about efforts to influence the hearts and minds of the larger Muslim world – to nudge them toward moderation and away from radicalism and violence? Of course, such efforts are essential to prevailing long-term in the current clash of civilizations, a war that rages not just between Islam and the West, but between radical Islam and that religion’s more moderate, modern elements. The great majority of Muslims worldwide, even those somewhat sympathetic to militant Islam, might well be susceptible to moving toward a more moderate worldview.
But whatever educational outreach the West might employ to the Muslim world to champion the joys of freedom and self-determination, of tolerance and women’s rights and so on – and for that matter, whatever outreach moderate Muslims make to their Islamic brothers and sisters – they’re all useless without the accompanying demoralization and destruction of the violent jihad movement.
Let’s learn a lesson from America’s “Greatest Generation.”
One of the most controversial actions in U.S. military history was dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to break the will of the maniacal Japanese war effort. Now, I know there are persuasive arguments both for and against America having used the atomic bomb in this way. But whether or not you agree, in retrospect, with the bombings of those two Japanese cities, what is undeniable is that doing so accomplished more than end the war with Japan. It broke Japan. It confronted the “evil spirit” that had possessed that nation – with its crazed kamikaze suicide pilots and its emperor who was regarded as a god – and it violently exorcized it. Having neutralized the evil that had captivated Japan, America became that nation’s friend and helped massively reconstruct it, ultimately turning Japan into the civilized, successful, First World economic power it is today.
For that matter, after the Allies annihilated Hitler’s war machine and along with it the German will and capacity to attack its neighbors, the U.S. also helped a newly sober Germany to become a great Western power. Our enemies, Japan and Germany, became our friends.
Once again, I am not saying “Nuke Mecca” or anything of the sort. I am saying what Arial Sharon said years ago: We must create in the enemy “a psychology of defeat, to beat them every time and to beat them so decisively that they would develop the conviction they could never win.”
Hearts and minds
Of course, I am not preaching this sermon to America’s military, which knows the truth of what I am saying here far better than I do. But, to America’s citizens and political leadership, I’m saying the biggest danger to this nation in the global war against radical Islam is the specter of appeasement – in all its forms.
Remember, winning any war is not just about who has the greater number of soldiers and more advanced weapons. If it were, how could we explain America losing a war to North Vietnam? Although we won virtually every battle, we lost that war – at home.
Recently we’ve seen a burgeoning antiwar movement, reminiscent of that during the 1960s Vietnam era. Back then, widespread opposition to the Vietnam War was fueled by overtly leftist and even communist groups, whose efforts were multiplied by the news media, which opposed the war. The same phenomenon is happening today, including the far left and communist groups at the forefront. And the same terrible outcome is possible, if America loses its courage in this war. Only this time it would be much worse: No one was worrying about the North Vietnamese slipping across America’s borders to detonate nuclear bombs or launch a biological weapons terror attack. But with our current enemy, that is this nation’s No.1 concern.
Make no mistake, the leaders and organizers of current antiwar demonstrations, like the giant one in Washington, D.C., in September, are groups openly aligned with terrorist and communist regimes – groups like ANSWER, which the Washington Post described as “one of the main antiwar groups coordinating” the rally in the nation’s capital. The Post didn’t see fit to mention that ANSWER (“Act Now to Stop War and End Racism”) is just a front group for the ultra-leftist Workers World Party, which enthusiastically supports North Korea and other dangerous, wacko regimes, and even worse – supports the “Iraqi resistance” which is killing American troops in Iraq.
Like Vietnam, the Iraq War is controversial. There are valid, honest and compelling arguments both for and against this war – that is, over whether we should have taken the terror war to that location in the first place.
However, there are few or no compelling arguments for abandoning the fight now that we are there. Virtually everyone, except the most radical appeaser, recognizes it would be disastrous to “cut and run,” which would widely be perceived as a monumental victory for terrorism. It would undoubtedly fuel a new and much larger round of radical jihad recruiting and the violence that inevitably follows.
Fifteen years from now, the Iraq War may be considered to have been a mistake. Or it may be regarded by historians to have been strategically brilliant and visionary to have planted and nurtured a relatively free, democratic country right in the heart of the Arab-Muslim Middle East, in between “axis of evil” countries Iran and Syria. Time will tell.
But what is indisputable is that Islamic radicalism is very, very real, and is intent on 1) dominating the entire Middle East, 2) wiping Israel off the map, and later, 3) fulfilling what it sees as its mission of bringing the entire world into a state of submission to the religion of Muhammad. It’s already happening in Europe.
This global jihad can succeed only if we lose the battle for hearts and minds – our own. Consider well the words attributed to Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s chief lieutenant, in his recent July 9 letter (captured by U.S. troops) to al-Qaida’s top leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Despite claims by al-Qaida that it’s a forgery, the U.S. government says it “has the highest confidence in the letter’s authenticity.”
“… I say to you that we are in a battle,” Bin Laden’s No. 2 man says to his Iraqi commander, “and that more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. And that we are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of our Umma ["Umma" means all Muslims worldwide]. And that however far our capabilities reach, they will never be equal to one-thousandth of the capabilities of the kingdom of Satan that is waging war on us.”
In other words, although their military capabilities “will never be equal to one-thousandth of the capabilities” of America, they can still win. How?
During the 1960s, the antiwar movement, driven by profoundly anti-American groups – whose efforts were legitimized and multiplied by the news media – ultimately caused America to lose its courage and lose the war. What do you think? Is the same thing happening now? And isn’t that exactly what our Islamo-fascist enemies would love most?