The details are still sketchy, but this is what is apparently confirmed as of this writing (8PM EST Sunday night): as many as 50 people have been taken hostage in the Lindt Chocolat Café in Sydney, Australia’s central pedestrian mall, Martin Place. Some of the hostages have been forced at gunpoint to hold up the black flag of Islamic jihad against a window of the café.
The flag says in Arabic, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet” – the Islamic confession of faith. It will thus be hard to claim this one was workplace violence, but the mainstream media and Western leaders are no doubt already strategizing on ways to do so. Falling quickly into politically correct lockstep and ignoring the jihad flag in the window, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott insisted that “we don’t know the motivation” of the gunmen.
Meanwhile, police have evacuated the area, as well as the Sydney Opera House, where apparently a suspicious package has been found. Abbott issued a statement declaring that while “this is obviously a deeply concerning incident but all Australians should be reassured that our law enforcement and security agencies are well trained and equipped and are responding in a thorough and professional manner.”
That is no doubt true, but this is an unprecedented event in the West. There have been jihad attacks, and hostage situations, but this is the first jihadist hostage event in a Western country since the Islamic State issued this threat in a September video: “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah, the Exalted. This is His promise to us; He is glorified and He does not fail in His promise. If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.”
In that video, Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani told Muslims:
If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be.
Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict. Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military, for they have the same ruling. Both of them are disbelievers. Both of them are considered to be waging war [the civilian by belonging to a state waging war against the Muslims]. Both of their blood and wealth is legal for you to destroy, for blood does not become illegal or legal to spill by the clothes being worn.
Al-Adnani also made this specific threat: “You will pay the price as you walk on your streets, turning right and left, fearing the Muslims. You will not feel secure even in your bedrooms. You will pay the price when this crusade of yours collapses, and thereafter we will strike you in your homeland, and you will never be able to harm anyone afterwards. You will pay the price, and we have prepared for you what will pain you.”
The chocolate shop siege in Sydney could well be a fulfillment of that threat, and a harbinger of things to come not only in Australia, but in Western Europe, Britain, Canada and the U.S. And for the first time at least in recent memory, we see Islamic jihadists taking hostages in the West, as they have for so long in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
If the fate of these hostages is determined according to Islamic law, and there is every indication that it will be since the hostage-taker appears to be a devout and observant Muslim, they could be freed outright, ransomed, enslaved or killed: “As for the captives, the amir [ruler] has the choice of taking the most beneficial action of four possibilities: the first to put them to death by cutting their necks; the second, to enslave them and apply the laws of slavery regarding their sale and manumission; the third, to ransom them in exchange for goods or prisoners; and fourth, to show favor to them and pardon them. Allah, may he be exalted, says, ‘When you encounter those [infidels] who deny [the Truth=Islam] then strike [their] necks’ (Qur’an sura 47, verse 4)” — Al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah (The Laws of Islamic Governance).
Over the last few months, the world has recoiled in horror as the Islamic State released several videos of the execution of their decision to kill numerous hostages. But that was far away, in lands most people have only ever seen on television. Now we may be forced to witness the same scenes unfold on the streets of our own cities and towns – just as the Islamic State has threatened.
Epitomizing the West’s absolute lack of preparedness for this, despite Abbott’s reassuring words, was this from a reporter for the UK’s Guardian: “I am seeing a lot of people tweeting/asking about the supposed police raids taking place in Lakemba at the same time as the siege. Ray Hadley, a conservative presenter with 2GB, said raids of homes in Lakemba, which has a large Muslim population, were taking place now.
Sources have told my colleague Michael Safi there are no raids underway in that suburb. About 20 police are touring the Lakemba mosque as part of a police induction day, which may have been the source of those reports.”
So police were at the mosque for outreach as a jihad hostage situation began to unfold in downtown Sydney. The black flag of jihad that the hostages were forced to hold against the window showed up the bitter irony in this. Instead of challenging Muslim leaders to fight against this Islamic State ideology that they ostensibly reject, police were busy reassuring Muslims that they were not “Islamophobic,” just as jihad came to their very doorstep.
As Australians, and in due course Americans and Britons and Canadians, grow accustomed to the new possibility that a stop for a cup of coffee could result in one’s head being separated from one’s body, the time for this politically correct unreality about the jihad threat is over. Realism about the nature and magnitude of the threat is long overdue. The patrons inside the Lindt Chocolat Café, now hostages, deserve nothing less, as do the rest of the citizens of the embattled and besieged West.