Sold out for Israel: Martyrs or Murderers? There is a difference

Partners in crime will be dubbed martyrs by their own kind. But in the civilized world, call them what they are: murderers.

Elwood McQuaid 224-88 (photo credit: )
Elwood McQuaid 224-88
(photo credit: )
When the self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11, 2001, horror, Kalid Sheik Mohammad, appeared before a military court in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, recently, he said he wanted the death sentence so he could die a martyr. "Yes," he said, "this is what I wish. I have [been] looking to be a martyr from long time. I will, God willing, have this, by you. I understand very well." One of Mohammad's fellow conspirators, Ramzi Binalshibh, echoed the desire. "I have been seeking martyrdom for five years. I tried for 9/11 to get a visa, and I could not. If this martyrdom happens today, I welcome it. God is great, God is great, God is great." Mr. Mohammad has it wrong, as do all rabid Islamists who aspire to kill themselves and as many innocent victims they can, thinking they will reap the glories of dying as shahids (martyrs). Actually, Kalid Mohammad and his ilk are not martyrs but murderers. A martyr is a victim; a murderer is a perpetrator. And there can be no uncertainty about Kalid Mohammad's classification. Perhaps it would do well for us to refresh our memories concerning that day of infamy that sent more than 3,000 people-Americans, foreigners, and Muslims-to their deaths. We must never forget those who left their families and headed off to a day's work never to return. Some people, of course, will plead for leniency for the men who conspired to bring down the World Trade Center and Pentagon and strike a major blow against America and the West. And doubtless there will be streets and institutions named for them, ceremonies honoring them, and inscriptions in Arabic textbooks extolling them as heroes in the radical reaches of Islamist circles. And, yes, Kalid Sheik Mohammad and his companions in crime will be dubbed martyrs by their own kind. But in the civilized world, call them what they are: murderers. A Collision of Cultures It has been well documented that there is an identifiable clash of civilizations between the democracies and militant forces in Islam. The radical Islamist obsession is to create a global caliphate (Islamic empire) that will subjugate the Western democracies while obliterating the Jewish state. Columnist Charles Krauthammer clarified the issue: Today there is no doubting the intentions of Arab-Islamic radicalism. . . . The intention, endlessly repeated, is the establishment of a primitive, messianic caliphate-redeeming Islam and dominating the world. Dr. Ariel Cohen, in an article on the Heritage Foundation Web site, described the goals of global jihadists, particularly that of Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Party of Liberation), a secretive, radical organization now in 40 countries: Its proclaimed goal is jihad against America and the overthrow of existing political regimes and their replacement with a Caliphate, . . . a theocratic dictatorship based on the Shari'a (religious Islamic law). The model . . . is the 'righteous' Caliphate, a militaristic Islamic state that existed in the 7th and 8th centuries under Mohammad and his first four successors, known as 'righteous Caliphs.' Although the goals of international Islamist imperialism are not difficult to define, the Western media and political establishment, as well as the general populations, do not grasp them because they do not appear to present an existential threat to our existence. To many, the clash of civilizations is a benign social phenomenon, more about cultural and religious customs imported by immigrants than anything affecting real-life situations or national security. However, there is a chillingly disturbing quality about this combative front that we can only ignore or wish away at our own peril. And the declarations of Kalid Sheik Mohammad and other 9/11 terrorists who seek "martyrdom," especially when cast against the backdrop of the disintegrating plunge of the World Trade Center, make it personal and imperative. The words of the late humorist and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Art Buchwald still ring in my ears. The man who found humor in everything found nothing to laugh about on the streets of New York that September morning. "For the first time in my life," he remembered, "I realized that these people were out to kill me." Death at a distance can be impersonal; but in your face, it becomes personal indeed. A Culture of Death Where does one draw the line when it comes to separating Western democracies, constructed on Judeo-Christian concepts, and the world of militant, imperialistic Islam? The basic demarcation is a love of life as opposed to a love of death. There are Muslim clerics who teach, "As much as you love life, we love death." The culture-of-death syndrome is not simply a matter for intellectual investigation, to be read and shelved as an exercise for academicians; it is a manifested fact of life that can no longer be ignored. The list of examples is virtually endless. From the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, to the streets of Israel; Iraq; Afghanistan; Pakistan; India; Spain; Britain; Chechnya; and regions beyond, the obsession to inflict death at the expense of one's own life is endemic in radical Islam. Consequently, we find ourselves in a struggle not of our own making-but a struggle nonetheless. It is a monumental conflict of cultures: a culture of life and its sanctity versus a culture of death to achieve supremacy. Unfortunately, it is a conflict we cannot talk our way out of. Murder must be defined as what it is-in whatever guise it presents itself. And the need to understand the ramifications of the struggle between the entrepreneurs of death and the lovers of both life and the God who blessed us with it is profound; and it will determine the future. Elwood McQuaid is Executive Editor for The Friends of Israel. His most recent book, For the Love of Zion, is now available online and in bookstores. Previous entries: America the Beautiful God Bless America