How can a jihadi repent for his jihad? My latest in FrontPage:
“Tsarnaev apologizes for Boston Marathon bombing,” trumpeted the Boston Globe Wednesday, and certainly the young jihad murderer talked a good game: “I would like to apologize to the victims and the survivors,” he said. “I am sorry for the lives I have taken, for the suffering I have caused, and for the terrible damage I have done.” The only problem with these tardy words was that they were almost certainly insincere.
Tsarnaev gave a hint of the likelihood that his tears of repentance were of the reptilian variety when he added: “I am Muslim. My religion is Islam. I pray to Allah to bestow his mercy on those affected in the bombing and their families. I pray for your healing.”
Healing from what? The physical and emotional wounds he inflicted upon them in the name of Allah, and in his service. As prosecutors argued in April that he deserved the death penalty, they released a video of Tsarnaev three months after his attack, looking into the security camera in his cell, primping his hair in the reflection, and then flashing the V sign and then giving his middle finger to his jailers.
And why not? He believed he had done a righteous deed. The motivations of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev became clear very quickly after Dzhokhar was apprehended. CNN reported a week after the bombings that “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, wounded and held in a Boston hospital, has said his brother—who was killed early Friday—wanted to defend Islam from attack.”
And just before he was captured, when he was hiding out inside a pleasure boat, Dzhokhar wrote a long self-justification on the inside of the boat, including the line: “When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims.”
It came to light soon after the bombings that on a Russian-language social media page Dzhokhar had featured a drawing of a bomb under the heading “send a gift,” and just above links to sites about Islam. Tamerlan’s YouTube page contained two videos by Sheikh Feiz Mohammed. According to a report published in The Australian in January 2007, in a video that came to the attention of authorities at the time, Feiz Mohammed “urges Muslims to kill the enemies of Islam and praises martyrs with a violent interpretation of jihad.”
Tamerlan also said, “I’m very religious.” His friend Donald Larking affirmed this. “Tamerlan Tsarnaev was my friend and we talked about everything from politics to religion,” according to Larking. “He was very, very religious. He believed that the Qur’an was the one true word and he loved it.” Tamerlan did not drink alcohol because Allah forbade it—“God said no alcohol”—and his Italian girlfriend had converted to Islam, as his American wife did later.
The Boston Marathon bombs were similar to IEDs that jihadis used in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Faisal Shahzad, who tried to set off a jihad car bomb in Times Square in the summer of 2010, also used a similar bomb. The instructions for making such a bomb had even been published in al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine.
Not only were the motivations of the Tsarnaev brothers abundantly clear; it is likely that they were actually tied in somehow to the international jihad network—as was indicated by how they fought off Boston police early on the Friday after the Marathon bombings with military-grade explosives. The question of where they got those explosives has never been answered. Nor has it ever been explained where the brothers got the military training that they reportedly displayed during the fight against police before Tamerlan was killed and Dzhokhar was captured.
And now Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is repentant? Why would he be? The only possibility for that would be if he is losing the faith that led him to think mass murder at the Boston Marathon would bring him heavenly reward, and he ruled that out at his sentencing Wednesday when he said, “I am Muslim. My religion is Islam.”
Why, then, did he express remorse for the bombing? Maybe he wanted to stave off the death penalty – or maybe he wanted to aid in that primary work of Muslim spokesmen in the West: polishing the ever-tarnished image of Islam, tarnished in this case by his jihad murders. Whatever Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may have calculated when, during the long hours in his cell, he decided to express remorse, a sincere rejection of his act is the least likely possibility. Much more likely was the possibility that he was suddenly been overcome with a decidedly un-jihadi fear of death.
“I ask Allah to have mercy on me, my brother, and my family,” Tsarnaev said Wednesday. For his jihad, or for his repentance? The latter is more likely.