A book: journey into the mind of an Islamic terrorist, by an Egyptian ex-terrorist who is now born again has exposed the world of terrorism; giving insight into how Islamic terrorists think, why they hate Christians and how to reach them with the gospel.
The author of the book however used a pseudo-name (Mark Gabriel) for fear that his family back in Egypt might be attacked for daring to expose Islamic radicals.
Gabriel who had written other books including, Islam and terrorism, Islam and the Jews, Jesus and Mohammed is well placed to write on the phenomenon because of his background and the fact that he holds a PhD in Islamic history and culture.
In the book which runs through 219 pages, Gabriel gives a graphic account of the various Islamic terrorist groups in the world, what informed their formation and how they operate. He also gives an insight into how the average terrorist thinks and why they do what they do.
In the preface of the book, the author however points out that only a tiny percentage of Muslims are radical warning that “having a knowledge about Islam does not give anybody permission to insult Muslims,” He explains: “The purpose of my writing is not to make you hate Muslims but to arm you with information about Islam so that you can support the best course of action to protect your society”
He writes further, “I do not want to dehumanize the Islamic radicals in your eyes. On the contrary I hope you can see them as unique human beings whose defining characteristics is a desire to be true to the teaching of Islam.
“They are dangerous now, but they were not born evil. Perhaps this is easy for me to remember because I grew up a Muslim in Egypt during the 1960s and 1970s. Everyone of my age knew of a friend or relative who joined a radical group and as a result ruined his life’
While acknowledging that radical groups all over the world have political, economic, social or psychological motives he points out that the religious motive is the most powerful and the most dangerous factor influencing them.
According to him, most of the underlying motive of the radical is being packaged in Arabic and in a form that makes it difficult for the public to use. He goes further to relate his personal experience as a terrorist before he met Christ and how he had to escape from Egypt for fear of being attacked.
Terrorism in his estimation starts in the mind of the terrorist while he is still young. He writes, “My religious education had a terrible effect on my attitude towards Christians. My teachers told me, “Christians hate you. They want to wipe off Islam from the face of the earth. The Quaran tells us exactly that they will never be our friends unless we convert to Christianity. O you who believe take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are not friends and protectors to each other (Surah 5v51, ALI translation)
Gabriel recalls that his growing up years was filled with hatred for Christians. He and a group of young Muslim boys were in the habit of throwing stones at Christians and shattering houses of Christians with stones and pebbles. He recalled that the Christians of Egypt where he lived were always in fear and submission to Muslims. Not one family called the police or even complained to my family about what we did…we did war on the Christians many times” he confessed.
He however did not go deep in terrorism as an experience while trying to play a prank on a Christian monk changed his heart. “I played a prank on a Christian monk that nearly killed him. While the monk was ridding past our house on his donkey I slipped a small homemade bomb in the saddlebag. When it exploded, the donkey reared up and the monk fell off and hit his head on the ground. He was in the hospital for months. When he got out he came to meet with me in my parent’s house. All he said was that I forgive you. After that day I could not hold unto my hatred for Christians”
A close friend of his did not agree with his change of heart as he later joined one of the radical Islamic groups and became a front line radical involved in terrorism. Gabriel who was always leading prayers in the mosque began preaching against the radicals and warning them against destroying lives. He was criticized and labeled as an infidel. He was however in a quandary. As one who had memorized the whole of the Quaran at the age of twelve, he was quite aware that the argument of the terrorists was in line with what they had read in the Quaran.
The inner conflict led him to begin to question the veracity of the Quaran. Gabriel who was a lecturer at Al-Ahzar University, a leading Islamic university and also an Imam could not hold to his faith like before again. He began struggling with some inner conflict and he did not hide it. At a point as lecturer he had engaged some of his colleagues in hot debate on the teachings of Mohammed. He was called before the university committee for policy enforcement and he had reason to tell them, “We say the Quran is directly from Allah, but I doubt it. I see in it the thoughts of a man, not of one true God.” That landed him in trouble as he was arrested at gun point and put in prison where he was tortured.
His experience in prison made him to begin to reconsider his faith. “I wanted nothing to do with Islam again. What I wanted was the true God of heaven.” About a year after that experience he began reading the New Testament and found the words of Mathew 5 v38-39, “You have heard that it was said and eye for an eye and tooth for tooth. But I tell you the truth do not resist and evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek turn to him the other also”
That was the scripture that broke him down and made him surrender his life to Christ. He surrendered his life to Christ but had to pay dearly for it. He was arrested, tortured and later had to be forced out of Egypt. He however got some mentoring from some Christian monks before he left Egypt.
Zeroing on terrorism, Gabriel notes that Islamic fundamentalism was revived in 1920s. The founders of the radical groups include: Hasan Al-Banna, Abe names u ala Mawdudi and Sayyid Quth. This graduated to the evangelists who carried on with the teachings of the founders of the radical groups and then the prisoners who were committed to churning volumes of literature in defense of the Quaran and Jihad while they were in various prisoners.
In the late eighties however two leaders became prominent in radical Islam. They were men of privilege and means. After successfully pushing the Soviet Union out of Afhganistan they turned their attention towards a new target and masterminded the attacks of 9/11. The names to know are Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. The former is late.
The interesting thing about all the leaders of these fundamentalist groups is that apart from Mawdudi who was born in India others were born in Egypt. Osama Bin Laden who is the founder of the infamous Al-Qaeda and his deputy had the potential to live comfortably and build their communities but they left wealth and ease to become experts in suicide bombing.
Bin Ladin according to Gabriel had written a letter to the US in 2002 which he published calling on the US to convert to Islam among other demands. This according to Gabriel only goes to show that they are making impossible demands.
And that appears that that is what the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria which is being reported to have links with Al-Qaeda are asking for. The book revealed that the AlQaeda group is the most dangerous group of all the radical groups in the history of Islam because it introduced suicide bombing to a higher and dangerous dimension.
A book with the title, healing the breast of the believers, according to Gabriel is the book that has turned to be the bible of the radical group. In it, the author, Ayman Al-Zawahiri draws from two stories from the Quran to justify suicide bombing and does making it appeal to potential suicide bombers. The stories promise paradise to those who embark on a death mission for the purpose of fighting Islamic cause.
The author also explains that there are five pillars guiding the radicals. They include: No law but Islamic law, there are infidels all around, Islam must rule, Jihad is the only way to win and Faith is the reason. One defining principle that causes the exhibition of anti-human attitude by radical Islamist is what Gabriel describes in his book as the principles of progressive interpretation of the Quran.
The verse that is commonly used is that which permits them to kill non-believers known as the verse of the sword in Surah 9v5 which reads “So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush” This verse is according to progressive interpretation nullifies earlier verses in the Quran which encourages tolerance.
Gideon devotes a whole chapter to the solution and how to reach the radicals for Christ. He points out that the Christian has a responsibility to love the Muslims and extend hand of fellowship to them. He observes that there is a global appeal to the radicals to cease fire.
He also counsels that, “Christians can challenge and change the Muslims beliefs about Christianity by speaking respectfully about Muslims and Muslim beliefs, providing humanitarian aid to Muslims and apologizing for offenses Muslim feel have been committed against them by the Church and the western world.
He also notes that “When Christians are ‘humanized’ and are not the monsters of popular Muslim beliefs, it is harder for Muslim public to support indiscriminate killings of infidels as carried out by Al-Qaeda and others.” He also charges that the government should give protection and support to the silent Muslim majority that is not in support of radicalism and suicide bombing. This he notes will reduce the influence of the radical group. A case in point was the deliverance of the people of Iraqi from Saddam Hussein and the freedom and protection they enjoy from the west.
Several other instances have played out in recent time including the insurgence in North Africa countries and some other parts of the middle east.