Andrew MacLeod is a “visiting Professor at Kings College London and a former UN and Red Cross official who served in countries like Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and others.” What sloppy writing. What countries are like Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan? “He has negotiated with warlords and terrorists.” He explains here that a Muslim who screams “Allahu akbar” and kills people may not be a terrorist, but just a lonely publicity-seeker committing the Muslim equivalent of “suicide by cop.”
His evidence? The Australia jihadi who murdered Mia Ayliffe-Chung and Tom Jackson, as well as “the Orlando murderer, the Sydney siege murderer,” and “the Nice murderer,” all “did not appear to be part of organised groups. We know none of the Nice, Sydney and Orlando killers had a deep religious history. All three rarely prayed in mosques. They drank, had sex out of marriage, failed to fast in Ramadan. None was a ‘devout Muslim’, according to anecdotal evidence from people who claimed to have known them.”
What MacLeod fails to take into account in this analysis is that they may have been trying to make up for all that sinful activity by doing a great good deed. A hadith has a Muslim asking Muhammad: “Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).” Muhammad replied, “I do not find such a deed.” (Bukhari 4.52.44) The Qur’an teaches that Allah will place a Muslim’s good deeds on one scale and bad deeds on the other, and send them to Paradise or hell depending on which scale weighs more. A Muslim who is worried about his eternal destiny can decisively tip the scales in his favor by waging jihad, the deed that is greater than all others. He can seize the Qur’an’s promise of Paradise for those who “kill and are killed” for Allah (9:111).
In light of that, it is wrong to assume that Muslims who were not devout and then kill while screaming “Allahu akbar” have no jihadi motive. Also, the Islamic State and al-Qaeda have repeatedly called upon Muslim individuals in the West to engage in random attacks. That means that a Muslim who has no ties to any jihad groups could still be heeding their call.
What really needs investigating in light of the murders of Mia Ayliffe-Chung and Tom Jackson is the psychic landscape that Islam provides for a Muslim such as their killer, Smail Ayad. Ayad may indeed have been non-devout and not interested in jihad or Islam in general. But at a moment of distress, at a time of upset and upheaval in his life, he was only able to provide a context for his anger and hatred in Islam and its call for warfare against unbelievers — hence even if his motive was being rejected by Mia Ayliffe-Chung, he screamed “Allahu akbar” and didn’t kill Mia only, but Jackson as well, and attacked police also: his rage at her became a generalized jihad against the Infidels all around him.
That is a scenario worth studying, as it could happen again, anytime, anywhere. But the willfully ignorant and politically correct such as MacLeod and the Independent will never venture into such territory.
The Independent says that MacLeod “can be followed on Twitter @Why_slow_down,” but he seems to have deleted that account. I wonder why.
“Who killed Mia Ayliffe-Chung and Tom Jackson? Not necessarily a terrorist – even if he did yell ‘Allahu akbar,’” by Andrew MacLeod, Independent, August 30, 2016:
…I respect and agree with Rosie Ayliffe when she writes the killer “is not an Islamic fundamentalist, he has never set foot in a mosque.” But this won’t stop those who seek to link this tragic death with another cause. This tendency to jump to terrorism as a foregone conclusion plays right into the hands of Isis.
Isis understands well the propaganda machine that is social media. It has used the medium effectively to inspire people to join its cause. Calling people terrorists who may not be, latching on to reports that a killer shouted, “Allahu akhbar!” before stabbing two young tourists, or banning the Australian-invented burkini from French beaches are all gifts that Isis is more than happy to receive.
While there is no doubt that some recent killings, such as the coordinated attacks in Paris last November, were conducted by organised fanatics who follow a twisted and flawed interpretation of Islam, other isolated loners have been given an elevated status they do not warrant.
Not all those who claim that they kill in the name of God are terrorists; some are mentally unstable, or taking advantage of a media landscape in order to gain themselves notoriety. Crying “terrorist” before even Isis has the chance to is a grave error.
By rapidly naming certain loners as Islamic terrorists and incorrectly giving them status, the media ends up doing Isis’ propaganda work for them.
For example, were the Orlando murderer, the Sydney siege murderer, or the Nice murderer terrorists? Like Mia and Tom’s killer, these three did not appear to be part of organised groups. We know none of the Nice, Sydney and Orlando killers had a deep religious history. All three rarely prayed in mosques. They drank, had sex out of marriage, failed to fast in Ramadan. None was a “devout Muslim”, according to anecdotal evidence from people who claimed to have known them.
But what did they have in common? All three men had broken relationships with their wives and partners. They were all estranged loners who didn’t “belong”. They all had a history of family violence. In the case of the Orlando killer, he had a long history of steroid use, which has been linked to aggression. Although claims were made during the attacks, no formal links with Isis have been found.
But if they weren’t terrorists, what were they?
In the Nineties in the US we saw a sudden spike in what became known as “suicide by cop”. A group of deranged people decided to end their lives in a burst of publicity and misery, killing others in their wake and then forcing others to kill them.
In death, sick loners like these look for a sense of belonging. They look to die in publicity, being labelled a hero of a group. These people don’t kill because they are Muslim; they kill because they want to be on the front page. And they know if they yell “Allahu akhbar”, they will get the publicity they crave.
Why give these people what they are looking for in death? Why give them what we want, and risk encouraging more fools like them to follow?
These men were killers, but they weren’t terrorists and do not deserve to be given the right to terrorise us. We should follow the French lead and no longer publish these murderer’s names. We shouldn’t falsely attribute to them a cause, as if they had a proper reason to do what they did.
Rosie Ayliffe wrote today about preparing for her 21-year-old daughter’s funeral: “After talking about the misrepresentation of Mia’s death in the media as an act of terrorism on the part of an Islamic fundamentalist, the minister delivering the service suggested we include a Koranic reading, and he will find something suitable with a friend who is an Islamic scholar.” If this brave woman can stand against prejudice and Islamophobia even now, then we can all manage to resist the easy narrative and pay attention to the more nuanced one….