Av Laurent Maurawiec

Contemporary jihad is not a matter of politics at all (of ‘occupation, of ‘grievances,’ of colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism and Zionism), but a matter of Gnostic faith. Consequently, attempts at dealing with the problem politically will not even touch it. Aspirin is good, and so is penicillin, but they are of little avail to counter maladies of the mind. I am emphatically not saying here that the jihadis are «crazy.» I am saying that they are possessed of a disease of the mind, and the disease is the political religion of modern Gnosticism in its Islamic version.

Let us flash back in time, if you will, to Sept. 28, 1971, in Cairo. The prime minister of Jordan Wasfi al-Tell, who had been threatened by the Palestinian movement in retaliation for the so-called Black September of 1970, walks into the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel. «Five shots, fired at point-blank range, hit [him]. He staggered. he fell dying among the shards of glass on the marble floor. As he lay dying, one of his killers bent over and lapped the blood that poured from his wounds.» The multiplicity of similar incidents tells us that they are neither some ‘collateral damage’ nor incidental occurrences. They do not belong in the sphere of traditional politics, they are instead located in an ‘elsewhere’ of geopolitics.

Soldiers kill. Terrorists kill. Modern Jihadis lap the blood. Inseparable from contemporary Arab-Muslim jihad are the idealization of blood, the veneration of savagery, the cult of killing, the worship of death. Gruesome murder, gory and gleeful infliction of pain, are lionized and proffered as models and exemplary actions pleasing to Allah.

These are not merely reflections of a pre-modern attitude toward death. I have collected, as can anybody, dozens of examples of human sacrifice inflicted by the Islamic jihadi of all stripes. This pornography of crime is endless, from the gratuitous killing of a Leon Klinghoffer to Mohammad Atta’s instructions, «You must make your knife sharp and you must not discomfort your animal during the slaughter,» and the Behesht Zahra, the ‘Paradise of Flowers’ graveyard near Tehran with its Fountain of Blood, or this report on the killing of an Algerian intellectual: «Dr. Hammed Boukhobza who was killed by a group of Islamist terrorists in the city of Telemly. (…) He was not just killed in his apartment, but his wife and children who wanted to escape were forced to watch how he was literally cut to pieces, his entrails slowly drawn out while he was just barely alive. The terrorists obviously liked to watch the suffering, and they wanted the family to share their enjoyment.»

The accumulation of such deeds shows that they are not an epiphenomenon but are central to the purpose of the jihadi. They are aired 24/7 on TV channels such as al Jazeera and many others. They are avidly watched and celebrated, private and family screenings are arranged. Think of images and videofilms of assassinations, Daniel Pearl, Paul Johnson, ‘live’ killing for the viewing public. Perhaps the worst symbol of it all was the picture taken on Oct. 12, 2000 in Ramallah: a young man shows his red hands dipped in the blood of two murdered Israeli soldiers to an exultant Palestinian crowd. There is a public demand to meet the supply: snuff movies are served as identity markers. They bespeak the triumph of a theology of death, a ‘manufacture of death’ as the Baathist ideologues used to say (the purported division between supposedly ‘secular’ Arab or pan-Arab nationalists and religious types is meaningless when the matter is life and death, as it is), and an ‘industry of death,’ as leading Saudi ulama proudly say. Listen to the hypnotic threnody of the Muslim Brotherhood’s chanted motto: Allah ghayatuna/Al Rasul zaimuna/Al Quran dusturuna/Al Jihad sabiluna/Al mawt fi sabil Allah asma amanina/Allah akbar. These are words to be taken seriously, even literally, as events have shown. Hassan al-Banna repeatedly praised to heaven his Brotherhood’s «art of death» (fann al-mawt). This is thanatolatry, martyropathology or nihilism: when an entire society orients itself in this direction, that society is becoming suicidal. A society that gears especially its young toward killing and actively seeking death, it is making choices that bring about its extinction. «We love death more than you love life.»

If you depreciate and deprecate life and conversely focus all your desires upon death, the devoutly-wished passage into the glorious afterlife by means of shahada, ‘trading’ (as Quran says) one’s own earthly life for one’s afterlife is much easier, and taking the life of others is a mandate, it is an obligation, an offering. Suicide-killing as practiced so much against Israel, India and more recently the United States, is caused by this collective pathology of the mind, the Gnostic religious ideology. There are secondary, contributing causes, but they are just that, auxiliaries to the ideology.

The believers — here, the jihadis — are the Elect: they, and only they, know God’s plan for the world; they have been chosen by Him to fight and win the final, cosmic battle between God and Satan, and bring about perfection on earth, in this case, the extension of God’s writ and dominion, the dar al-Islam, to mankind as a whole. Everybody else is wrong and evil, jahili, and an enemy who can and should be killed at will. Reality, Creation, that is, is irretrievably perverted. The Perfect are «an elite of amoral supermen» (Norman Cohn), who know what reality ‘really’ ought to be. They are engaged in transforming the world so that it conforms to the ‘second reality’ that they alone know, thank to their special knowledge, gnôsis. In order to get from A to B, from the evil today to the perfect tomorrow, torrents of blood have to be shed in exterminatory struggle, the blood of all those whose actions or whose very being hinder the accomplishment of the Mahdi’s mission. Owing to their extraordinary status, the Perfects are above all laws and norms. Everything they do is willed and sanctioned by God. Their intent (niyyah) vouches for their acts. They alone are able to determine life and death. The power this ideology confers upon its believers is intoxicating. They love death more than we love life.