This Washington Post story (via Myrtle Beach Online) underscores the disingenuousness of those who remind us incessantly that jihad is a spiritual struggle: this Yemeni went to Iraq to save his soul, but his conception of how to save his soul involved waging war against unbelievers. Of course, they conceive of the fighting in Iraq as defensive; but there is also offensive jihad.
FALLUJAH, Iraq – He first tried to get to Iraq in April 2003, when U.S. troops established control over the country and jihad became a place on a map.
“I wanted to come and fight for Islam,” said Abu Thar, who started the journey from the capital city of his native country, Yemen, across the Arabian Peninsula.
He arrived at the airport in San’a, the Yemen capital, with group of other Yemeni students, a flock of would-be jihadis forming a line at the immigration counter. “When the police asked me why I was going to Damascus, I said, ‘To work.’ They asked me what kind of work. I said, ‘To work for the salvation of my soul.’ And they sent me back.”…
A year passed and photographs emerged of U.S. military police abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Seeing the photos, his wife urged him to go to Iraq to fight jihad. She was pregnant with their sixth child.
“She told me if they are doing this to the men, imagine what is happening to the women now,” Abu Thar said. “Imagine your sisters and I being raped by the infidel American pigs.”
He said he spent the night crying. In the morning he started making the rounds of friends, borrowing money to travel. From the Jordanian man, he got airline tickets to Syria. He got the name of a man in Allepo, a city in northern Syria, who would arrange for him to be smuggled into Iraq.
By the time he reached Damascus, the word from jihadi networks was that the Syrians had tightened security on the border with Iraq. For weeks, he waited, moving from safe house to safe house.
Eventually, he reached Aleppo, near the border.
There, he said, he met a young cleric who promised to help. He spent two weeks waiting in a small house filled with other jihadis.
One night seven weeks ago, he was taken to a village on the Syrian side of the border. The border police were paid to look the other way, he said.
“We spent two nights on the border in a village, then we were taken to another village to be given military training. Most of the brothers with me have never used a weapon in their life. I knew how to use an AK-47.”
In Fallujah, Abu Thar was assigned to a group called Monotheism and Jihad. The group is headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian who has taken credit for many terrorist strikes in Iraq, and who last month formally allied the group with al-Qaida.
He was assigned to a platoon with 11 other men, only three of them Iraqis.
Two days before a battle, Abu Thar read aloud from a small Quran in a half-lit room with walls bare but for one picture of Mecca.
“When I was in Syria, I bought seven copies of this,” he said, pulling a pocket-size copy of the Quran from his jacket. “I wrote the name of my wife and my five children on each and left the seventh empty.”
He said he did not want to impose a name on the child his wife was carrying when he left. But before he crossed the border from Syria, she called and told him she had given the child a name: Shahid. It means martyr.