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Opposing Muslim interests are sending hundreds, maybe thousands of Islamic jihadists to Syria to fight for, or against, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. There are estimates that 140,000 people already have been killed, some under incredibly gruesome circumstances in what was described as a slaughterhouse for Christians, in the three-year-old war.

Observers say there seems to be something beyond a political fight in the nation that dates backs thousands of years into history.

And maybe there is.

“The story is simply this,” said Middle East expert and theologian Joel Richardson. “While many Christians today are wondering if we’re in the end times, or approaching the end times, there are many, many Muslims throughout the earth today that believe the end times are here.”

The result, he said, is that the Syrian conflict is not a civil war, but is it being “perceived by both sides as being a sign of the soon coming of the final apocalyptic wars.”

Richardson is not unfamiliar with the ideas, having produced “Islam and the End Times” DVDs and having written “The Islamic Antichrist,” which argues simply that the biblical prophecy about the end of the world will be triggered by an Antichrist from the Islamic world.

He explains that some Muslims believe just before Mahdi, Islam’s end times imam, arrives on earth, there will be the Sufyani, a predicted Muslim tyrant who will spread corruption, mischief and terror, killing children and women.

The belief is that the Sufyani is one of characters the Madhi will have to defeat.

Richardson said members of both sides fighting in Syria now apparently believe the other side includes the Sufyani, and they are intent on killing him to usher in the Madhi.

“They believe they are part of that final Muslim army,” Richardson said. That means, within Islam, “There’s a heightened motivation to die in the battle.”

Richardson, an internationally recognized speaker on the topics of biblical prophecy and the Middle East, and a featured guest on “The Glenn Beck Show,” “The Mike Huckabee Show” and others, is not alone in his observation that there’s something about the Middle East.

A Reuters report recently said the fight in Syria resonates with both Sunni and Shiite fighters.

See the library of works by Joel Richardson, including the “Islam and the End Times” DVDs, his “Islamic Antichrist” documentation and his “The Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist.”

“From the first outbreak of the crisis in the southern city of Deraa to apocalyptic forecasts of a Middle East soaked in blood, many combatants on both sides of the conflict say its path was set 1,400 years ago in the sayings of the Prophet Mohammad and his followers,” the report said.

It cited the sayings, or hadiths, that are included in Islam, that refer to a fight between two huge Islamic armies in Syria.

“If you think all these mujahideen came from across the world to fight Assad, you’re mistaken,” a Sunni Muslim jihadi who calls himself Abu Omar told Reuters. “They are all here as promised by the prophet. This is the war he promised – it is the grand battle.”

The report said ardent Islamists trace the signs back to the 1979 Iranian revolution, which created an Islamic nation that could provide jihadists for the Madhi’s army.

“This Islamic Revolution, based on the narratives that we have received from the prophet and imams, is the prelude to the appearance of the Mahdi,” Reuters reported Iranian cleric and parliamentarian Ruhollah Hosseinian said last year.

The report said “mujahideen” are in Syria from America, Russia, the Philippines, China, Belgium Germany, Sudan, India and Yemen, at least.

Both sides are bent on setting up an Islamic power that would rule the world, driven by their “apocalyptic” vision, Richardson said.

“The governments and analysts need to understand how this is being perceived,” he said.

He said “normal parameters for living” simply don’t apply under such circumstances.

WND has reported that the uncertainty about end times events has been attracting headlines now for some time.

Rabbi Jonathan Cahn’s “The Harbinger” for two years has warned of God’s impending judgment.

And pastor Mark Biltz, the author of “Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs,” has a message that the signs in the heavens are aligning again as they have in the past when there have been significant events for Israel.

Also, a writer for Haaretz, the Israeli news report, recently explained observers are watching closely developments in the Ukraine based on the idea that it could generate the conflict with Gog and Magog, one of the Bible’s heralds of the end times and the return of the Messiah.

Chemi Shaley writes that Josephus Flavius, “the turncoat Jewish historian who chronicled the Masada saga,” theorized the Scythians, who lived in the central Eurasian region until the 4th century, lived in the land of Magog, “as in Gog and Magog, as in the war of Gog and Magog, as in the biblical prelude to the End of Days.”

Reported Shaley, “Which is one of the many reasons why recent events in the Ukraine have created a buzz among legions of apocalypse-anticipating true believers. This could be the real thing, they tell themselves, the big time, the major leagues, not the end of the beginning, to quote Winston Churchill in reverse, but the beginning of the end. And it is Vladimir Putin, aka Gog, aka King of the North, who has set things in motion.

“You only have to read Ezekiel chapters 38-39, the widely accepted handbook and screenplay for the upcoming decimation. According to traditional translations of verse 2 of Chapter 38, Gog is the ‘chief prince of Meshech and Tuval,’ ancient kingdoms also near the Black Sea. But the term used for ‘chief prince’ in Hebrew is ‘nesi rosh’ (as in נשיא ראש משך ותבל): Nesi could also mean ‘ruler’ or ‘president,’ and some scholars believe that ‘rosh’ is not an adjective, at all, but a noun denoting the name of yet another nation that will enter the fray. So Gog is the prince of Rosh, or the president of Rosh, or, with a little bit of help, the president of Russia.”

WND Founder and CEO Joseph Farah wrote a year ago that something clearly is going on.

“Our country is facing serious crises everywhere you look – economic, cultural, educational, in health care and in a rapid moral breakdown the likes of which America has never seen before, and I say that having lived through the 1960s. Let’s face it. These problems are not going to be fixed by government. Government is broken. And, as Ronald Reagan said, ‘Government is not the solution. Government is the problem,’” he wrote.

“These problems are not going to be fixed through politics. Politics in America is broken, too. They are not going to be fixed by the cultural institutions – like the media, Hollywood, academia, science, foundations. They, too, are broken. In fact, all of these institutions have become judgments on a country that has lost its moral bearings, its sense of right and wrong, its concern for truth and real justice. I’ve come to the conclusion there is only one thing that can save America from disaster – and that is a return by believers to the Creator God of the universe.”

See the library of works by Joel Richardson, including the “Islam and the End Times” DVDs, his “Islamic Antichrist” documentation and his “The Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist.”

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