Jihadis twist themes of Ramadan to exploit belief in holy rewards
(Today Online) – As the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approached, jihadi propagandists told their followers that it was a good time to kill people.
The spokesman for the Islamic State said in late May that jihadis should “make it, with God’s permission, a month of pain for infidels everywhere”. Another extremist distributed a manual for using poisons, adding, in poor English: “Dont forget Ramadan is close, the month of victories.”
A bloody month it has been, with terrorist attacks killing and wounding hundreds of people in Orlando, Florida; Istanbul; Dhaka, Bangladesh; and now Baghdad, where a bomb killed more than 140 people early Sunday (July 3) in a shopping area full of families who had just broken their Ramadan fasts.
For the vast majority of the world’s Muslims, violence is completely dissonant with the holy month, which, in addition to fasting, is a time for spiritual renewal, prayer and visits with friends and family.
It is widely believed that the rewards earned for noble acts are greater during Ramadan, which culminates in the Eid holiday this week. Jihadis have perverted this belief to serve their own ends, analysts said.
In short: If one believes it is good to kill those who are considered infidels, all the better to do so during Ramadan.
“There is no doubt in my mind that al-Qaida, its various affiliates, and now ISIS use Ramadan as a watershed, as a marker to inspire and motivate their followers and supporters worldwide,” said Mr Fawaz A Gerges, a professor at the London School of Economics who has written books on jihad.
While not all of them may have been carried out with Ramadan in mind, the month has seen a stunning array of attacks.
* A gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49.
* A suicide attack on an army post in Jordan killed seven soldiers.
* Suicide bombers killed dozens of civilians in Mukalla, Yemen, and in a Christian village in Lebanon, on the same day.
* The next day, attackers struck Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, killing at least 41.
* In the occupied West Bank, Palestinian assailants killed two Israeli civilians over two days: stabbing a 13-year-old girl while she was asleep in her home in a Jewish settlement and gunning down a man on the road.
* On Friday, gunmen stormed a restaurant in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter, letting some Muslims escape but killing at least 22, most of them foreigners.
* And on Sunday, a bombing took at least 143 lives in Baghdad.
The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has claimed responsibility for many of the attacks and is the prime suspect in others. A large share of the victims have been Muslims, belying the Islamic State’s claim to be the defender of their faith.