Michael Yon, appearing on CNN
Although the recent WND report of al-Qaida terrorists allegedly baking a young boy and serving him as a meal to his relatives was too horrific for some to believe, a major Christian ministry is citing another example – and also claims such a practice has its roots in the historical stories of Islam.
The issue has come into focus following a report from
Michael Yon, a Special Forces soldier now in Iraq to report on the successes there. He told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt he was inspired by a “news cycle that seems to pander toward the terrorists.”
Yon, who has earned widespread respect as an independent journalist, reported that Iraqi officials told him about al-Qaida terrorists baking children and serving them to their families.
He confirmed independently to WND that an Iraqi official had recounted for him instances in which the terrorists would bake a young boy, then invite his family to have lunch, with the baked child as the main course.
Officials with the Barnabas Fund, an international Christian group working to help persecuted Christians, particularly those in Muslim-majority contexts, then confirmed Yon’s report aligns with one of their own reports about such an atrocity.
And a researcher for the Barnabas Fund cites what he says is the foundation for such barbarism.
The researcher said the story is common to history books that include the story of Mohammed ibn Abu Bekre, a contemporary of Muhammad. The connections are these: Mohammad ibn Abu Bekre was the son of Abu Bekre, the first adult male to believe in Muhammad. Mohammad ibn Abu Bekre also is the brother of Aisha, Muhammad’s 9-year-old wife.
The history stories recount, according to the Barnabas Fund researcher: “When Abu Bekre divorced the mother of his son Mohammed, Ali (the fourth Caliph) took her as a wife. Later Ali as Caliph appointed his stepson and the son of Abu Bekre, the brother of Aisha, the beloved wife of the prophet, as the governor of Egypt.”
However, after five months, a rival Caliph army invaded Egypt to take it back from Ali, and they killed Mohammed ibn Abu Bekre, the history books say.
“Then they put his body (corpse) in a dead donkey, then they roasted the donkey and sent it as a gift to Aisha,” the history books say. “From that day on Aisha never ate roasted food.”
The researcher said this specific information comes from Ibn Kathir’s history book, “al Bidayah wa-Nihaya,” but the story is common to Islamic history books if they include a reference to Mohammed ibn Abu Bekre.
A Christian website, Muslim Hope, also documents the story with minor variations. In this version, Mohammed ibn Abu Bekre was executed, and the body then was put “in the carcass of a donkey, and then burned.”
Robert Spencer of JihadWatch told WND the account is from Islamic tradition.
“He was put in the skin of a dead donkey and burned,” he said. “It is absolutely true [that the events are part of Islamic history].”
The Barnabas Fund said its sources inside Iraq confirmed “a toddler was kidnapped in Baghdad in October 2006. The mother could not afford to pay the ransom, and so the kidnappers killed the child. They returned the body to the mother. The little child had been beheaded, roasted and was served on a mound of rice.”
“We received a number of inquiries about its veracity,” the organization told WND about its December 2006 report. “More questions followed when a reporter at the [London] Telegraph blogged about it on their website on March 31 of this year.”
“A few sites on the web not only openly doubted it, but also published statements saying that we surely invented it for purposes of fundraising and/or because of Islamophobia,” the group continued.
However, the organization stood by its sources, and, “After seeing Michael Yon’s report, we hope such horrific incidents will indeed be reported upon and recognized as the dark works of jihadists, not ours and others’ imagination.”
A spokesman for the organization, Marshall Sana, told WND the Barnabas Fund works directly with local Christian leaders wherever it can reach them throughout Iraq, and its report came from two different parties.
“We heard this story from two separate sources, both of them senior Christian leaders in the region, one of them with direct pastoral responsibility for the family involved,” he said. “We were offered a photo, but the UK office [of Barnabas Fund] said we did not want to see it. The family has some relatives living in the UK.”
The report from Yon came while he was covering the war – and al-Qaida’s involvement – in Baqubah, and he was listening to statements from an Iraqi official who asked that his name not be reported.
“Speaking through an American interpreter, Lt. David Wallach, who is a native Arabic speaker, the Iraqi official related how al-Qaida united these gangs who then became absorbed into ‘al-Qaida.’ They recruited boys born during the years 1991, 92 and 93 who were each given weapons, including pistols, a bicycle and a phone (with phone cards paid) and a salary of $100 per month, all courtesy of al-Qaida. These boys were used for kidnapping, torturing and murdering people,” said Yon’s dispatch, “Bless the Beasts and Children.”
“At first, he said, they would only target Shia, but over time the new al-Qaida directed attacks against Sunni, and then anyone who thought differently. The official reported that on a couple of occasions in Baqubah, al-Qaida invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking. In each instance, the family had a boy, he said, who was about 11 years old,” Yon continued.
“As Lt. David Wallach interpreted the man’s words, I saw Wallach go blank and silent. He stopped interpreting for a moment. I asked Wallach, ‘What did he say?’ Wallach said that at these luncheons, the families were sat down to eat. And then their boy was brought in with his mouth stuffed. The boy had been baked. Al-Qaida served the boy to his family.”
One of the groups that has far more knowledge about torture and atrocities than it would prefer is International Christian Concern.
Policy Analyst Jeremy Sewall calls such reports “pretty extreme.” But he also said with the documentation of various other tortures that have come out, “Your report wouldn’t surprise me.”
“I’m just thinking of a report about two Muslims who approached a Christian boy at a work at a mechanic’s shop. They said, ‘Are you a Christian.’ He said, “Yes.’ And they beheaded him on the spot,” he said.
He also cited the recently confirmed report from Turkey, where Muslims martyred three Christians in an attack that was most accurately described as “gruesome.”
In that case, “various body parts were chopped off,” he confirmed. “It was terrible.”
As WND reported, Tilman Geske, a German citizen, and two Turkish Christians were martyred – allegedly by five Muslims who met the three victims at a Christian publishing company for a Bible study, according to Voice of the Martyrs.
According to the reports, Geske, 46, Pastor Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel were killed with hundreds of stab wounds, “they were disemboweled and their intestines sliced up in front of their eyes.”
Yon told WND he reported what he was told – no more or less. “Perhaps it’s urban legend. I have no idea. But my reporting was spot on. … I quoted someone and offered zero opinion,” he said.
But he, also, said he’d witnessed the results of atrocities, such as the unearthing of the heads of decapitated children, that convinced him al-Qaida certainly was capable of such a heinous crime.
“Al-Qaida: the organization that gleefully bragged about murdering roughly 3,000 people by smashing jets full of civilians into buildings and earth. Al-Qaida in Iraq: who proudly broadcast their penchant for sawing off the heads of living breathing people, and in such a manner as to ensure lots of spurting blood and gurgles of final pain, in some cases with the added flourish of the executioner raising up the severed head and squealing excitedly,” he said.
“People at home might find it incredible, improbable, even impossible. Yet here in combat with al-Qaida, the idea is no more improbable-sounding than someone saying ‘The chicken crossed the road.’ Maybe the chicken crossed the road. Maybe not. The veterans I’ve been talking with here have no difficulty imagining the chicken crossing the road, or al-Qaida roasting kids. Sickening, yes. Improbable, no,” he said.
The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that the concept of “passing children through fire” dates back to the Old Testament, when the god Moloch appeared.
“The chief feature of Moloch’s worship among the Jews seems to have been the sacrifice of children, and the usual expression for describing that sacrifice was ‘to pass through the fire’, a rite carried out after the victims had been put to death,” the reference says.
“The prophets expressly treat the cult of Moloch as foreign and as an apostasy from the worship of the true God,” it continues. “The offerings by fire … have suggested to many that Moloch was a fire- or sun-god.”
The Old Testament, in Leviticus, also specifies the death penalty for someone who gives children to Moloch: “He shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.”
Jeremiah called the practice an “abomination.”
The Barnabas Fund was set up in 1993 to provide practical help to Christians in Muslim environments. It works to channel money from Christians to Christians, and it partners with local leaders in the persecuted church.
“We seek to tackle persecution at its root by making known the aspects of the Islamic faith which result in injustice and oppression of non-Muslims,” the group’s website states. “We believe we are called to address the Islamic faith – an ideology which denies human rights and religious liberty to Christian minorities – while continuing to show God’s love to Muslim people.”