We drove through the main highway in the Kurdish town of Mukhmur. Suddenly our guide noticed a few cars that pulled off the side of the road. Several drivers had already gotten out.
They saw something. Someone.
We pulled over and followed them down to the center of attention. It … he was a dead ISIS fighter. Several Peshmerga (Kurdish soldiers) gathered around the corpse. Then two camera crews joined the group. Some took pictures and videos on their iPhones. The fighter looked like a young man, maybe early twenties.
His singed body, with bullet holes in his hand, lay in the unforgiving Iraqi sun. It had begun to stiffen. He died one day earlier when the Peshmerga drove ISIS from this battleground town.
Suddenly ISIS -- this terror group I’d seen mainly in propaganda videos -- became more real … and more vulnerable.
Death rides on the ISIS highway but usually they’re in the killing driver’s seat -- beheading journalists like James Foley or murdering Christians, Yazidis, and the rest of Iraq’s religious mosaic.
Now one ISIS fighter lay fallen in this latest Middle East battlefield.
I wondered, “What possesses a young man to live and die for ISIS’s barbaric goals?” Those goals demand conversion to Islam or death … those goals exile multitudes from ancient homelands … and those goals declare a utopian Islamic caliphate where the infidel is persona non grata or dead.
ISIS divides the world into two classes: the true believer and the infidel (many times other Muslims) where they live as second class citizens or not at all.
From where does such venom arise?
Dr. Sarah Ahmad, from the Foundation for Reconciliation and Relief in the Middle East, has been privy to many horrific ISIS stories.
As an example, she told us that abducted women are used as sex slaves and scheduled at different times of the day with various ISIS men.
"It's just so hard to hear all these stories and imagine a human being doing this. It's so hard. It's the work of the devil," she concluded.
Paul reminds us in Ephesians, "We fight not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities, rulers of this world darkness and wicked spirits in heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
It is the devil.
A mad, diabolical, demonic idea drives the men of ISIS and along with a growing military machine this idea is sweeping across much of the Levant.
The world is witnessing the emergence of a malevolence not yet seen in our time.
Well-armed, well-financed and well-motivated, they’re doing what no one thought they could. They’ve declared a caliphate, a region ruled by Islam’s Sharia law. They’ve announced they’re coming after the United States. Their ultimate goal remains a world under the heel of Islam.
God forbid they acquire a weapon of mass destruction.
Their murderous rampages seem like death itself, with its sickle stalking the killing fields of what used to be Syria and Iraq.
Will the world rise up to this challenge of our age? We will see.
Later on we drove by where our young ISIS terrorist lay. A pile of dirt covered his body … an ignominious end to a wasted life.
Tragically it’s a fate too many lives in this chaotic Middle East have met. Whether it’s a dead ISIS fighter on the side of the road or the tragic end of journalist James Foley, death rides on the ISIS highway.
Lest we lose hope, thankfully, Paul also reminds us in Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
Gordon writes and writes well. He should. He makes a living as a Hollywood screenwriter. It's his day job. Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, he's traded in his working scripts to chronicle the unfolding saga of Israel's war against Hamas. His knowledge of Israel (he spent some of his childhood growing up here); his love for the Jewish people (he's one of them) and his zeal for the truth to be told permeate these first hand reports. Here's another of his on the scene dispatches.
It gives those far from the battlefield and depending on the lens of the mainstream media, a clear eyed picture of what's really going on and the stakes in this war. Like the World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle, Dan writes about and to the common man. Here's one of his latest filings. It contains some typos and misspellings as he explains in his caveat but it's another robust picture of life in Israel at war.
Leading their people to death
Please forgive the many typos and misspellings in thus article . Just as I was beginning to proof read the location where I am right now came under rocket attack. I always send a safety copy to myself which I had done in this instance . But where I am right now one has less than 15 seconds to take shelter or face death or mutilation. Yesterday a teenager not more than a hundred meters away from me ( shrapnel can travel 1000 meters) was seriously wounded by shrapnel from a mortar round that landed somewhere between where he and I were standing . Mortars unlike rockets give no warning.
Any way in rushing to take cover rather like the IRS I accidentally deleted my working copy and was left only with the safety copy I'd emailed myself and I an too technologically challenged to know how to edit it. So apologies but you'll get the gist.
Capt. IDF ( Res)
Ernest Hemingway had great advice for writers. “ Write one true declarative sentence” he said, “ Then Write another.
By that standard Papa Hemingway would be proud , indeed, of Sami Abu Zuhri’s literary prowess.
Sami Abu Zuhri is a Hamas spokesman. He summed up the current situation in Gaza perfectly. And he did it in two true declarative sentences.
“ We ( Hamas) aren’t leading our people to destruction. We are leading them to death”.
That wasn’t wasn’t Israel’s Prime Minister who said that. That was an official Hamas spokesman, and he said it without apologies. Two true sentences.
Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed.
Each and every one of those deaths, since Hamas rejected the Egyptian cease fire proposal, which the Arab league endorsed was completely predictable, tragic beyond word, and absolutely, one hundred percent preventable.
Because Israel accepted that same cease fire proposal, immediately and unconditionally.
All the killing could and would have been stopped immediately, right then and there.
But as Sami said, that’s not where Hamas is leading the Gazan , Palestinian people. And that sentences by the way is neither “ Posturing , spin, amelioration and explanation”.
I use that last phrase because a reader of my last posted article, “ To The Last Drop of Others’ Blood” wrote in response, “ The truth is hame, horror, death. The rest is posturing, spin, amelioration and explanation”
As a writer by trade, I can, to a degree, appreciate the rhythm of that sentence. As they used to say on the American Badstand programs of my misspent youth, “ It has a good beat and you can dance to it.”. But with the greatest respect , it is not “ the truth” of this conflict.
An event occurred yesterday, which may, in the parlance of our time, provide a teachable moment. Israeli. Israeli forces, operating in Gaza, yesterday were approached by what they suspected was a female suicide bomber. They ordered her to stop. She did not and they, in retrospect, chose the correct course of action.
They shot her.
And she exploded. Or rather the suicide bomber vest that would have killed them all exploded.
This was not the first suicide bomber Israeli forces encountered since entering Gaza.
The first one was a donkey.
It appeared loaded down with an unusual load on it’s back and was beaten by it’s “ handler" in order to urge it forward ,toward the Israeli troops . The “ Handler” was .a Hamas operative, who, having dispatched the donkey, promptly disappeared, quite literally, according to what I heard, down a rat hole.
In retrospect, those Israeli troops also chose the correct course of action. They shot the donkey.
It too exploded , or rather the donkey sized suicide vest with enough explosives to murder dozens of people it exploded.
I bring these two incidents up because , while I have no first hand knowledge of Hamas’s evolving policy of using beasts of burden as unwilling suicide bombers, I have , at least second hand knowledge, of Hamas’s past and evolving policy regarding using women as female suicide bombers. I know the world’s leading expert on female suicide bombers.
Dr, Anat Berko has a PHD in criminology and advanced degrees in psychology. She speaks fluent Arabic and her parents were Jewish refugees from Iraq, where they had lived for several thousand years and from which they were expelled in the wake of the Israel / Arab conflict which made some 800,000 other Middle Eastern Jews, refugees as well. ( Ironically that is almost the exact number of Palestinians who became refugees in 1948 as a result of the same conflict.).
Dr Berko carried out the most comprehensive study of female suicide bombers and their handlers ever undertaken. She interviewed almost every female suicide bomber in Israeli custody. These were women whose suicide belts failed to detonate or who were caught before they could carry out their attacks. Her two books, “ The Path to Paradise: The Inner World of Suicide Bombers and their Dispatchers” and “ The Smarter Bomb: Women and Children as Suicide Bombers” have become classics on the subject.
What Dr. Berko found was that the majority of female suicide bombers were motivated by other than ideological or religious reasons. Nor were most of them motivated by the desire for revenge or even hatred of Israel.
The majority of female suicide bombers were unwitting, unwilling, or chose the path of so called “ Martyrdom” as the lesser of two evils with which they were presented. There is a saying on the Palestinian street in regard to female suicide bombers. I hope I would not be accused of spin, posturing or amelioration,” by saying that this particular expression betrays a somewhat sexist attitude amongst those who use it. With regard to female suicide bombers the Palestinian street saying is, “ Shahida o Sharmuta?” Freely translated it means “ ( was she) a martyr or a whore?”
The reason Palestinians might say that about one who had ostensibly committed the highly praised ( when it comes to men) act of “ Martyrdom” is because they know that in many of not the majority of instances, the female suicide bomber was approached by operatives of one terrorist organization or another and told that she had been seen with men other than male relatives and had thus “ dishonored” her family. In such an instance she would either be the victim of an “ honor killing” to be carried out by her, father , brother or another male relative, or she could choose to become a suicid bomber, strap on an explosive vest, blow herself up with as many Jews as possible, and thus die not a whore, but a martyr who would be admitted to Paradise where she would sit at the right hand of the prophet, and where, by the way, she could choose her own husband, as opposed to being forced into a heavenly marriage with someone not of her choosing.
Another category which provided fertile ground for female suicide bombers were victims of rape and incest from within their own families.. One girl was raped repeatedly by her cousins, another by her brother. Both saw the “ suicide” part of suicide bomber, as preferable to the liberal hell on earth which they were living.
To be sure there were women so enchanted with the religious notion of Paradise and it’s advantages over earthly life (such as not having to take care of children, never having a period and marrying the mate of one’s own choice) that they became suicide bombers from religious reasons. Others had seen relatives killed by Israeli soldiers and wanted revenge and others, while not religious were motivated by nationalistic reasons. But as noted these were far less in numb than the women who were unwilling martyrs or those choosing martyrdom instead of honor killing or as a means of escaping an intolerable life.
But what I remembered was that Hamas , had , at least at one time, a firm policy AGAINST using female suicide bombers. Indeed Dr Berko had once interviewed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, one of the founders of, and the spiritual leader of, Hamas until his death in 2004, at the hands of the IDF..
Dr. Berko interviewed the Spiritual Leader in 1996. “ at that time” Dr. Berko told me this morning, “ Yassin said ‘ I’m against sending women ( as suicide bombers) because they have a special role. It is to give birth to children. There is not equality in Islam. Suicide bombing, that’s not a job for women. And then, too we have enough men to be suicide bombers. So we are against it. We don’t use them.”
“ What happened to make Hamas change it’s mind ?” I asked.
“ In 2002, there was the first female suicide bomber. “ Dr . Berko told me. “ She was not from Hamas. But it got a lot of good publicity for the organization that sent her. It got good media attention, and Hamas felt they had to compete with the other terrorist organizations who were getting all the attention because of the female suicide bombers. So Hamas didn’t want to be left behind.”
“ And that’s why Hamas changed it’s mind. Because it was effective media?!”
“ Yes” she said, “ Hamas had to compete with the other terrorist organizations.”
We will probably never know what motivated the female suicide bomber who exploded prematurely thanks to an Israeli marksman. But we absolutely know the motivation of the terrorist army of Hamas and it’s political wing as well, which dispatched her and the donkey and which has turned their own people into human shields, and which celebrate their deaths because of the great media attention it brings them.
That is the truth, the shame , the horror. It is not my, or Israel’s or anyone else’s posturing,or , Heaven forbid, amelioration.
We know it because Sami Abu Zuhri, the Hamas official spokesman told us so, in two declative, Hemingwayesque sentences.
“ We are not leading our people to destruction. We are leading them to death"