D.L. Stewart: In search of some understanding

An open letter to ISIS and Al Qaeda:

Once again an act of terror has snuffed out innocent lives. And, once again, I don’t understand.

What is it that groups like yours want? What are your goals? And what do they have to do with blowing up adolescent girls at a concert in England?

I’ve done some research in an attempt to understand. For instance, I came across a report about an issue of Dabiq, ISIS’s on-line magazine. It said the organization sets forth two principal goals, which it labels “options.” The first is to spread a totalitarian caliphate throughout the region and, ultimately, the world. The second is goading the West into launching an all-out ground attack, thereby setting the scene for the final battle between Muslims and the crusaders prophesied to be held at Dabiq in Syria.

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So you want every one in the Middle East — and eventually the entire world — to believe the way you do, I get that. The history of humankind pretty much boils down to some people trying to make other people believe the way they do. But how does killing 84 people by mowing them down with a 19-ton truck on a promenade in France help achieve that?

Another source explained that you want countries in the West to stop supporting countries in the Middle East that you consider “corrupt.” There are people in this country who agree with you about that. But do you really believe leaving backpacks to blow up people running a marathon through the streets of Boston will change America’s foreign policy?

According to yet another analysis I read, doing stuff like blowing up people, burning them alive or cutting off their heads helps recruit other “soldiers” to come and bravely fight for your cause. I can’t even begin to understand that, because executing unarmed civilians and helpless captives doesn’t sound all that brave to me. And planting a bomb then running away before it blows up sounds a little, you know, chicken.

Somehow you’ve convinced some of your “soldiers” that strapping on explosives and blowing themselves up in a crowded marketplace will ensure them an eternal reward. But wouldn’t picking up a gun and possibly dying on a battlefield fighting “infidels” earn them the same reward?

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Admittedly, my ability to understand all these things is limited, due to the fact I’ve spent my entire life in a country where people are allowed to believe — or not believe — what they want without the threat of being blown up, burned alive or having their heads cut off. But maybe one of your soldiers could drop me an email explaining it all.

I promise I’ll try to understand.

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