You want to know what drives jihad? Just ask ISIS

In an interview last week with the Wall Street Journal, Salman Abedi’s sister, Jomana, gave a chilling explanation for why her brother massacred 22 people in the Manchester arena. Instead of thundering against this act of mass murder, she put it into a grievance based context. ‘I think he saw children – Muslim children – dying everywhere, and wanted revenge’ she said. ‘He saw the explosives America drops on children in Syria, and he wanted revenge’.

Those sentiments encapsulate the victim narrative you constantly hear from Islamists. Terrorism is the inevitable response from Muslims anguished by the ‘crimes’ of western governments.  The West is really to blame for the suffering of its own civilians because it stokes up Muslim anger by misguided interventions and warmongering. This feeds into a wider narrative of oppression and Islamophobia whereby ‘alienated’ and impressionable Muslims are driven to commit unspeakable acts of violence.

Of course, it is not just Islamists who offer this explanation. They have an army of fellow travellers in left-liberal circles who fall over themselves to offer up excuses for Islamist barbarity.

Islamic State, they tell us, may do unconscionable things but they are merely reacting to the wrongs they witness on a daily basis. The chief apologist is Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, a man who has stood in friendship with terror groups for several decades.

In a major speech last week, in which he condemned Abedi, Corbyn argued that the military approach to terror was flawed and that ‘talking to people you profoundly disagree with’ would bear more fruit. Naturally, this suggests that there are grievances to be discussed and resolved, a process which will diminish the number of attacks we face. So what are these grievances?

Fortunately, the leaders of ISIS have been very helpful in this regard. In the fifteenth edition of their glossy magazine Dabiq, they explain why they hate us so much and what we must do to make us all safer.

The most important reason they give for attacking western countries is that their populations are full of blaspheming ‘disbelievers’ who ‘reject the oneness of Allah’ and ‘indulge in all manner of devilish practices’. They go on: ‘Your disbelief is the primary reason we fight you’.

The second reason is ISIL’s hatred of democratic, liberal societies which grant ‘supreme authority’ to people’s ‘whims and desires’ via the ‘legislators’ that are voted into power. These whims include a tolerance for ‘gay rights,’ ‘alcohol’, ‘drugs’ and  ‘fornication’. Such is their visceral fear and loathing of female sexuality that their supporters called the Manchester arena a ‘shameless concert arena’.

The third reason is that western countries are full of atheists who deny ‘the existence of your Lord and creator’. The fourth reason is the West’s shameless ‘crimes against Islam’ which include mocking the prophets and vilifying the laws of the Shariah.

It is only after this litany of complaints that they fulminate against Western foreign policy though it is made clear that there will be no respite even if we change approach. ‘The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam’.

To escape their clutches of tyranny, Western sinners have but two options: embrace Islam or pay taxes and live in humiliating submission to Islamic rule. Somewhat reassuringly, they tell us that if we chose option 2, ‘We would stop fighting you…but we would not stop hating you.’

Thanks to Dabiq, we have all the proof we need that the essential driver of violent jihad is pure religious fanaticism, not revenge for western misdeeds. This also explains why Sunni fanatics target Shia Muslims and why they enjoy persecuting ‘heretic’ Muslims who reject fanaticism.

So there is a lesson here for Jeremy Corbyn, and the army of apologists who love giving terrorists a free pass. When a determined enemy explains why they want us dead, when they spell it out with crystal clarity, it’s time to take them seriously. After all, these people are not fooling around.

About the Author
Jeremy is an author and the Director of B'nai Brith UK's Bureau of International Affairs
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