CNN reported Tuesday that “dramatic video has emerged of Iraqi police stripping an explosive belt from a child suspected in a suicide bombing attempt for ISIS.” This followed the bombing in Turkey on Saturday, when a Muslim boy between twelve and fourteen years old murdered 51 people with a jihad suicide bomb at a wedding party. These were just the latest examples of the longstanding jihadi practice of using children in jihad attacks – a practice that the jihadis themselves regard as just the opposite of child abuse, and indeed, the greatest activity in which a child or anyone else can engage.
Najmaldin Karim, the governor of Kirkuk Governorate in Iraq, asserted that the Islamic State (ISIS) had “trained and brainwashed” the child suicide bomber. “They tell them if they do this, they will go to heaven and have a good time and get everything that they ever wanted.”
Is ISIS eccentric in this idea, or twisting and hijacking the peaceful religion of Islam? The Qur’an says: “Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties, for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah, so they kill and are killed” (9:111).
This is essentially a guarantee of Paradise to those who “kill and are killed” for Allah. This verse has become in the modern age the rationale for suicide bombing. The mainstream and revered Qur’an commentator Ibn Kathir explains: “Allah states that He has compensated His believing servants for their lives and wealth — if they give them up in His cause — with Paradise.”
Another Qur’an commentator, Ibn Juzayy, adds: “It is said that it was sent down about the Homage of Aqaba [an early pledge of Muslims’ willingness to wage war for Islam], but its judgment is general to every believer doing jihad in the way of Allah until the Day of Rising.”
So it has been understood. Abu Abdel Aziz, a modern-day jihadist who fought in Afghanistan and Bosnia, said in a 1994 interview: “I have found that the best sacrifice we can offer for the sake of Allah, is our souls, then our possession[s].” Then he quoted Qur’an 9:111.
So the Qur’an guarantees Paradise to those who “kill and are killed,” and what do they get in Paradise? The famous virgins: “Indeed, We have produced the women of Paradise in a creation and made them virgins” (56:35-36), “fair women with large eyes” (56:22), “full-breasted” (78:33). And along with these girls come “rivers of wine delicious to those who drink, and rivers of purified honey” (47:15).
And so Hussam Abdo, a 16-year-old Palestinian who was stopped by Israeli troops before he could detonate his suicide vest, explained why he wanted to kill infidels and himself: “A river of honey, a river of wine and 72 virgins. Since I have been studying Quran I know about the sweet life that waits there.”
Likewise Rabeen Ali, a 14-year-old Iraqi, was exhorted to become a jihadi by an imam. Ali recounted: “He told me about paradise, about virgins, about Islam.” And a would-be Pakistani suicide bomber explained that he had no interest in getting married on earth: “72 virgins are waiting for me in heaven – so why I should prefer only one here?”
As bizarre as it sounds, this is not some lusty adolescent’s misunderstanding of Islam. It is the real thing. A hadith depicts Muhammad saying: “Everyone that Allah admits into paradise will be married to 72 wives; two of them are houris and seventy of his inheritance of the [female] dwellers of hell. All of them will have libidinous sex organs and he will have an ever-erect penis’” (Sunan Ibn Majah 39).
This is not Playboy Magazine, it’s Islamic doctrine, straight from Muhammad himself. And it is just the sort of thing that would appeal most to frustrated teenage boys denied any kind of normal interaction with girls his age. If he just blows himself up in a crowd of infidels, he will have girls galore, wine, honey, and cool breezes – as Najmaldin Karim put it, suicide bombers are promised that they will “go to heaven and have a good time and get everything that they ever wanted.”
Suicide bombing recruiters believe all this is the perfect word of Allah and the teachings of Muhammad, the supreme example of conduct (cf. Qur’an 33:21). Thus when they try to get young boys to become suicide bombers, they don’t believe they are engaging in child abuse – far from it. They believe they are performing a meritorious act that Allah will reward.
All this manifests yet again the myopia and willful ignorance of mainstream counter-terror analysts. They believe they can dissuade young Muslims from becoming suicide bombers by offering them jobs and talking about mothers crying for their lost sons. The idea of heavenly blessing and reward they do not address at all, because they don’t take it seriously and don’t believe that the would-be suicide bombers do, either.
As long as this willful ignorance continues, all Western attempts to stop this practice are foredoomed to failure. As is our entire counterterror approach, based as it is on politically correct fantasies – fantasies that are far less compelling than the ones that move young Muslim men to strap on suicide vests.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.