“We, the human race, living on this earth, are under the perception that we belong here and this is our residence and home. We don’t know – or we don’t want to know – the fact that we are on a train, and the train is going through stations to another final destination, and that this world is only one of these stops, in one of the stations. But we do not belong here. We have a ticket that has three slips: We live in the womb for nine months, and then, when we come out, one slip is torn out from the ticket. And then we live in [this temporal world] for a while in this station, and when we are dying, the second slip from the ticket is torn out. And then we have one slip left that will be torn out either in hellfire or in [paradise]. And that is the final destination.”
– Anwar al-Awlaki, top terror recruiter for al-Qaida before he was escorted to the next world by a U.S. drone in 2011
As the popular Christian saying goes, human beings are born with a “God-shaped hole” in their hearts – an emptiness that can be filled only by God.
When a society’s culture is moral, decent and reverent, and doesn’t undermine its people’s most important mission in life – to discover God, who will fill the “hole” in their inner being – all is well. The America of previous generations was strongly Judeo-Christian, and since its culture was basically in sync with the ultimate duty of human beings to reverence their Creator, obey His laws, live a moral and upright life, repent of their sins, be charitable and forgiving, practice the “Golden Rule” and so on, America was the greatest nation in history. Indeed, this unique nation, however imperfect, was filled to overflowing with a spirit of liberty, reverence for the Almighty, adventure, limitless opportunity and, above all, hope.
Alas, today, thanks to several generations of infiltration, subversion and corruption of every single American institution by what we cryptically call “the left” – code for a quasi-religious worldview rooted in rebellion against God and His laws, so as to become one’s own god and lawgiver – American culture has become a spiritual vacuum. And whooshing into that vacuum have been every type of ideology, religion and delusion imaginable, all but eliminating the former Christian character of this nation’s culture.
Thus it is that one of the most controversial forces being drawn into America’s post-Christian spiritual emptiness is Islam, offering to fill the “God-shaped hole” in people’s hearts. In fact, the Muslim demographic explosion in the West, especially in Europe and Britain, is due not only to wildly uncontrolled immigration, but also to the fact that many native Westerners are converting to Islam. In the U.K., approximately 5,200 Brits convert per year, about 14 per day, while in America, the most oft-quoted number of annual Muslim conversions is 20,000, or 55 per day.
Of course, in a nation like ours steeped in powerful, near-sacred First Amendment freedoms – including religion, speech and assembly – most Americans care not what religion (or lack thereof) their neighbor embraces, so long as he or she respects our rights and obeys our nation’s laws.
Unfortunately, a disturbing number of Muslims in America, while not necessarily supportive of terrorism, are nevertheless in agreement with the end result desired by Islamic terrorists. And that is, the ultimate supremacy of Islam over the entire world and the imposition of Shariah law everywhere. Indeed, more than half of Muslims living in America today say they would rather live under Shariah law than the U.S. Constitution, according to a 2015 study by the Center for Security Policy.
For this reason, Muslim immigration constitutes a genuine dilemma for the American republic because of the professed loyalty to a foreign law over the U.S. Constitution. As Donald Trump said during his recent immigration speech regarding Hillary Clinton’s plan to bring in 620,000 new refugees from Syria, “What the hell are we doing?” Why are we recklessly importing unassimilable people into our country by the tens of thousands, many of whom admit they’re profoundly at odds with our nation’s core values, principles and laws?
Nevertheless, our most immediate and urgent threat is terrorism. And that is being fueled, thanks largely to the Internet and social media, by the increasing spread of the apocalyptic jihadist belief that wantonly murdering as many innocent men, women and children as possible – and taking your own life in the process – is somehow a righteous and holy act, making you the beloved of the Creator, the apple of his eye, and fit for paradise in the hereafter.
Why would such an obviously evil, delusional and criminally insane belief system appeal to so many people, even those born and raised in the Western world?
‘He’s selling jihad’
“Brothers and sisters, this religion is not religion of talk, it’s not religion of showing off how much knowledge you have, this religion is about your willingness to sacrifice for Allah.”
– Anwar al-Awlaki
A charismatic, American-born imam who later joined al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Anwar al-Awlaki helped radicalize a “who’s who” of jihadists in the West through his popular lectures and sermons. Awlaki is known to have counseled or influenced three of the 9/11 hijackers, the London Tube and bus bombers in 2005, Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan in 2009, and “Underwear Bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (whose 2009 Christmas Day attempted take-down of a U.S. airliner Awlaki allegedly helped plan). Likewise, Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, convicted of the 2010 car-bombing attempt in Midtown Manhattan, was a fan of Awlaki’s sermons, as were the Tsarnaev brothers, who in 2013 carried out the Boston Marathon bombings. Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, who in July 2015 opened fire at two Chattanooga, Tennessee, military installations and killed four Marines and a sailor, had been watching Awlaki videos shortly before the shootings, according to the FBI. Even San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook and Orlando mass-shooter Omar Mateen were known devotees of Awlaki’s sermons.
Awlaki is also credited with creating al-Qaida’s Inspire magazine, which has focused on promoting so-called “open source jihad” – basically, murderous attacks “where you are” using a wide variety of weapons. Inspire’s summer 2010 issue included an article, headlined “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom,” teaching wannabe jihadists how to assemble a pressure-cooker bomb like that used in the Boston Marathon bombings. Another issue advised jihadists to use their automobile to “mow down” as many people as possible (“The ultimate mowing machine”), no doubt inspiring the abominable massacre in Nice, France, on July 14, that claimed 85 lives. Yet another issue of Inspire focused on blowing up buildings, while a 2012 issue headlined “Unleash Hell” described in detail how to start forest fires across the U.S., including instructions on how to make “ember bombs.”
Awlaki spoke perfect English and was a hypnotically compelling orator. “He’s intelligent, sophisticated, Internet-savvy and very charismatic,” one counterterrorism expert told the Wall Street Journal. “He can sell anything to anyone, and right now he’s selling jihad.”
However, Awlaki, a married family man, also had a dark, secret life filled with prostitutes. As far back is 1996 and 1997, he was arrested in San Diego and charged with soliciting prostitutes, to which he pleaded guilty and was fined, ordered to perform community service and received three years’ probation. Fast-forward to the period right after the 9/11 terror attacks, and the FBI started surveilling Awlaki around the clock – not because the feds were interested in his frequenting of prostitutes, but because they suspected he might have terror ties. As a result, the FBI observed Awlaki visiting multiple prostitutes in the following months.
When Awlaki eventually learned that the FBI had a huge file on him documenting his grossly irresponsible, immoral and hypocritical secret life – cheating on his wife, squandering their savings on prostitutes, violating every Islamic moral precept he publicly championed and exhorted others to follow – he panicked. The only avenue of escape from certain disgrace, he concluded, was to run. So he fled America for Yemen, where he metamorphosed – perhaps to redeem his sinful behavior by embracing jihad – into al-Qaida’s top recruiter. The whole sordid tale is laid out by New York Times national security reporter Scott Shane in his soon-to-be-released book, “Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone.”
‘I will be rebirthed’
OK, so Awlaki is a world-class jihad salesman. (I say “is” rather than “was” because, though he is dead, Awlaki’s online sermons continue to recruit, reinforce and encourage terrorism against the West to this day.)
The question now is: What is the appeal of such a demonic death-cult and the monstrous actions it demands of the “faithful”? How are we to understand – and thereby discover how to neutralize – its persuasive power?
Understand, the seduction of young people into utopian systems is not unique to Islam. Indeed, it is rampant in today’s post-Christian America. One need look no farther than Ivy League university campuses to see people by the thousands recruited not only into the quasi-religion of socialism/Marxism, but also into embracing even more exotic totalitarian beliefs and behaviors (for example, the celebration of dozens of brand-new genders, each with its own legally mandatory pronoun), ideas that would have caused every previous generation of young Americans to burst out loud laughing. But now, it’s their deadly serious reality.
However, let me cite an even simpler and infinitely more innocuous example of “utopian conversion” to illustrate just how absurdly easily it can happen.
When the blockbuster movie “Avatar” was released in 2009, news reports told of thousands of mostly young viewers who became so totally entranced by the 3D story about the utopian world of “Pandora” that they didn’t want to “come back to reality,” many becoming “depressed and suicidal.”
CNN’s reporting on the bizarre fan phenomenon included cases like “Mike,” who “wrote on the fan Web site ‘Naviblue’ that he contemplated suicide after seeing the movie”:
“Ever since I went to see ‘Avatar’ I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na’vi made me want to be one of them. I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it,” Mike posted. “I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it, I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and that everything is the same as in ‘Avatar.'”
Other fans have expressed feelings of disgust with the human race and disengagement with reality.
Likewise, the Daily Mail reported on another depressed/suicidal viewer who said, “I … don’t really see any reason to keep doing things at all. I live in a dying world.”
What are we witnessing here? Distraught and disillusioned young people ripe for transition to a radically different reality.
And this is just in response to a movie … about 10-foot tall blue people!
How much more deeply appealing is the apocalyptic, end-times, utopian Islamic fantasy world revolving around the final war between good and evil, believer and infidel – not to mention universal joy and brotherhood – oh yeah, and lots of sex in this world and the next – being sold to our disaffected young people by ISIS recruiters?
After all, consider that the young “Avatar” viewer quoted is not wrong in observing that we “live in a dying world.” The once-vibrant, hope-filled Christian culture that fueled the spectacular growth of America, the U.K. and Europe has all but disintegrated, leaving behind millions of demoralized souls, anxious, depressed, aimless, hopeless – their lives without apparent meaning or purpose.
Enter radical Islam. Like the young “Avatar” fan Mike seeking a quick reincarnation, newly radicalized Muslims want to believe that if they commit suicide in jihad, they “will be rebirthed” in the utopian world described by hypnotist story-tellers like Awlaki.
So when ISIS encourages “self-radicalized” warriors for Allah to “commit jihad where you are” – resulting in increasingly frequent terror attacks across America – the experience for the entranced suicide bomber is somewhat akin to playing a really super-cool new video game. After he dies during the game’s glorious finale, he expects to be rebooted – “rebirthed” – brought back to life in a brand new world, his adventure continuing, only much better.
Award-winning journalist William Finnegan, writing in the New Yorker, describes the mesmerizing appeal of the jihad adventure to aimless, rudderless Westerners this way:
Killing Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki – even defeating the Islamic State militarily, essential as that may be – will not stop the ideology, or reverse its growth. Terror is jihadism’s most frightening weapon but not its core. Its ideas, which can be summed up as Muslim supremacism, are its greatest strength. These ideas are righteous, utopian, salvific. They promise to relieve an enormous experience of impotence and humiliation. Even to certain young Westerners, living in comfort and freedom, with no credible personal grievances, they seem to offer an exciting counterculture. The world is ending, and it is ending in blood. Choose Paradise.
Joining the ultimate gang
Today, in the age of ISIS – with its self-declared caliphate and devastating terror attacks worldwide, and contrasted with the pathetically feeble and perverse leadership of Barack Obama – there’s one more element present that was lacking when Awlaki was alive, and that’s success. Or at least the perception of success – and in the marketing world, perception equals reality. Success, which breeds hope, is also a prime inducement for women to join ISIS, whose recruitment efforts have been surprisingly resonant with females, the most insecure and lonely of which are targeted with promises of “faith, sisterhood and love.”
In an ISIS recruiting video released in November, here is what the jihadist announcer, his voice dripping with arrogance and contempt, proclaims to Americans:
This is our Khilafah (caliphate) in all its glory – remaining and expanding. … Its territory is already greater than Britain, eight times the size of Belgium, and 30 times the size of Qatar. It’s a state built on the prophetic methodology, striving to follow the Quran … not a secular state built on man-made laws, whose soldiers fight for the interests of legislators, liars, fornicators (on screen: Bill Clinton), corporations, and for the freedoms of sodomists. …
This is the glory of faith that unites us. Justice is served with the establishment of the Islamic courts. And there are thousands of schools for our cubs (children) and pearls (women), where they prepare themselves to share in the great rewards of expanding this Khilafah.
America: You claim to have the greatest army history has known. You may have the numbers and weapons, but your soldiers lack will and resolve. Still scarred from their defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq, they return dead or suicidal, with over 6,500 of them killing themselves each year. So while you go around cooking the facts on the results of your military air strikes, we continue to haunt the minds of your soldiers and sow fear into their hearts, with 18 of your soldiers committing suicide each day, before you even advance. …
So bring it on! All of you. … Bring it on. We’ll echo the mighty call of our prophets. Gather your allies. Plot against us. And show us no respite. Our ally is the greatest. He is Allah (with cool echo effect added), and all glory goes to him!
View the ISIS recruitment video:
Clearly, today’s recruitment message is not merely about being a devout Muslim jihadist, serving Allah, being part of a family of believers and taking the martyrdom-express train ride to paradise. It’s also now about being a member of the biggest, baddest gang in the world, which is expanding its crime territory, kicking America’s butt, kidnapping lots of hot women to be sex slaves – I mean, “wives” – and sowing fear and trembling throughout the infidel Western world. That’s the sales pitch.
Fighting the ‘coalition of devils’
“The world has come together in a global coalition to eradicate Jihad. The media around the globe is painting Jihad in the worst possible colors. Day and night the masses are hearing an orchestra of smear against the mujahideen. In such an inhospitable environment, Jihad is still flourishing, like a blessed tree sprouting through an earth of waste and pollution. The Jihad movement has not only survived, but is expanding.”
– Anwar al-Awlaki
The object of the ISIS recruiter is not to make the new member want to become a monster, but to seduce him into believing he is surrounded by monsters. ISIS calls America, Britain and other allies a “coalition of devils,” so the ISIS member sees himself as a righteous warrior defending himself and his brothers and sisters against the marauding legions of the damned.
Think of it this way: You and I, had we been part of 1944’s Operation Valkyrie, one of at least 16 plots to assassinate Adolf Hitler, would have been lying and preparing bombs and assassination plans all day long. After all, we were at war and behind enemy lines, so of course we’d be plotting mayhem and deceiving everyone around us! War is deception, said Sun Tzu, and we were engaged in a dangerous but righteous effort to slay a monster, stop a genocide and end a terrible war. Our cause was righteous in the extreme. (The great Christian pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was one of many courageous people executed for their part in the unsuccessful operation to kill Hitler.)
That’s how jihadists feel about attacking us – except they’re insane and totally in the grip of evil.
The process of brainwashing new converts into becoming genocidal monsters is disconcertingly easy. Here’s how Israeli counterterrorism expert Itamar Marcus explains what he calls “The Genocide Mechanism,” illustrating his points with the Rwandan Genocide, in which the Hutu majority slaughtered around 900,000 Tutsis in a 100-day period in 1994:
Common to the framing of all genocide is a very specific kind of demonization. In Rwanda, the Hutus taught that the Tutsis were cockroaches and snakes. Tutsi women were portrayed as cunning seductresses who used beauty and sexual power to conquer the Hutus. … Radio Rwanda repeatedly broadcast a warning that Hutus were about to be attacked by Tutsis, to convince the Hutus that they needed to attack first to protect themselves.
This demonization included two specific components. First, the victims had to be perceived as a clear and present threat, so that the killers were convinced they were acting in self-defense. Second, the victims were dehumanized, so that the killers convinced themselves that they were not destroying real human beings.
Cockroaches! If cockroaches are in your kitchen (one, they’re a threat, and two, they’re not human), you have a right and duty to kill them.
During his murder orgy in Orlando, Omar Mateen told a 9-1-1 operator he shot more than 100 people – half of them fatally – because he wanted “America to stop bombing Afghanistan.” In other words, Americans are, one, a threat, and two, not human. (Well, they’re infidels and oppressors, which is close enough.) ISIS warriors actually know they’re destroying “real human beings” – they just consider them damned and destined for hell anyway, so why not speed up the train ride?
With this type of ISIS-inspired freelance terror attack being committed ever more frequently in the U.S., is there any way to discourage people like Omar Mateen from boarding the jihad train? Although there are many vital aspects to defeating jihad that must be pursued simultaneously, one of the most important is the most obvious: ISIS needs to be crushed so badly militarily (which in itself will serve to greatly discredit its ideology) that it becomes widely shunned by observers worldwide. Very simply, if ISIS is widely seen as the losing team (join, and very quickly you die, end of story – no sex, no glory), a lot fewer players will want to join that team.
Ariel Sharon, the Israeli general and later prime minister, wrote a book called “Warrior.” In it, he reflected on his years as a daring soldier fighting for his nation’s survival. Sharon wrote that, in dealing with Israel’s Arab-Muslim 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.”
“When a believer is leaving this world and entering the next, angels with faces shining brightly like the sun descend from the heavens carrying a shroud and embalming fragrance from Paradise …”
– Anwar al-Awlaki
Ultimately, the appeal of Islamic jihad is that, to the many people seduced into it, it mimics genuine righteousness and selfless dedication to God. There is a profound reason for this, as I touch on briefly in “How Evil Works”:
Jihadist wannabes can buy into such murderous insanity precisely because their insanity happens to closely parallel the truth! After all, self-sacrifice, martyrdom – giving up one’s life for God – is great and noble and honorable. “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs,” an encyclopedic compilation of true stories of Christian martyrdom, was one of the most popular books in the Protestant world from the 16th through the 19th centuries. Genuine martyrdom is an exceedingly high calling, as is standing up and courageously opposing evil oppressors – exactly what jihadists are told they are doing when they’re slaughtering innocent men, women, and children. What they’re being taught has the resonance of truth, although they end up embracing a hideous perversion of truth.
Ultimately, the God-shaped hole in the jihadist has not been filled by God, but by an extremely dark, deceitful and demonic imposter. And when the last slip of the train ticket is finally collected, the passenger discovers, to his great surprise, that he has been lied to by the Great Deceiver himself – and that his final destination is not at all what he had been promised.
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