Islam When It Inspired Murder
by Robert Spencer
Abu Sulayman al-Irlandi is a pious man, and he wants to pray. Al-Irlandi, better known as John Walker Lindh or “the American Taliban,” is currently serving a twenty-year prison sentence in Terre Haute, Indiana, for fighting alongside the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan against American troops. He has just petitioned a federal judge for the right to meet regularly with other Muslim inmates for group prayer. And the ACLU is helping him with this.
The Los Angeles Times, predictably enough, was sympathetic in an unsigned editorial, saying that “even if Lindh's sentence weren't excessive — and it was — he has the right to practice his religion under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That law provides that the government shall not ‘substantially burden’ a person's exercise of religion unless it demonstrates that doing so furthers a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.”
In its sympathy for enemies of the United States and of
freedom in general, this is typical mainstream media analysis, but as such
things go, this is even more egregious than usual. Al-Irlandi’s twenty-year
sentence was “excessive”? The Times notes fastidiously that al-Irlandi “was
sentenced to 20 years in prison for violating a Clinton-era presidential order
that prohibits providing ‘services’ to the Taliban.” While strictly speaking
that is true, it is about as relevant to al-Irlandi’s actual crimes as was Al
Capone’s conviction for tax evasion.
The Los Angeles Times doesn’t see fit to help its readers recall that Abu Sulayman al-Irlandi wasn't just "providing ‘services’ to the Taliban"; he was captured while engaging in hot warfare against American troops. He should have been tried for treason and executed. Having been saved by politically correct pusillanimity, now he wants special accommodation in prison so that he can practice Islam. Treason has now become "civil rights."
It is also useful to remember that if it were not for his conversion to Islam, Abu Suleyman al-Irlandi wouldn’t be in prison at all. When he became a Muslim, he determined that the United States of America (even though he was an American himself) was his enemy, for it was the foremost obstacle in the way of the establishment of the global Islamic state mandated by Islamic law and so ardently wished for by the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other Islamic supremacists. No doubt by means of assiduous prayer, both singly and in groups, al-Irlandi decided that he had a duty before Allah to slay the infidels wherever he found them, and that the best place to do that after 9/11 was Afghanistan, where infidel troops could be found in abundance.
Does the U.S. really not have a “compelling governmental interest” in “substantially burdening” Abu Suleyman al-Irlandi’s “exercise of religion” when it would actually reinforce the violent and anti-American ideology that made him into a felon, if not a traitor, in the first place?
Such a question, of course, cannot and must not be asked in today’s politically correct environment. We are forced to believe simultaneously that Abu Suleyman al-Irlandi believes in a twisted and hijacked version of the peaceful religion of Islam, and that his prayer meetings with other violent Muslim felons will somehow have a positive or even pacifying effect on him, or at very least that those meetings constitute a good thing and a right that government cannot restrict.
The politically correct Washington establishment could even say, without sacrificing any of its cherished fictions about jihad and Islam, that al-Irlandi believes in a version of Islam that is as violent as it is false to that great world religion’s true, peaceful teachings, and that therefore it has a compelling security interest in not allowing him the freedom to meet with other Muslims for prayer.
Abu Suleyman al-Irlandi deserves no further accommodations from the U.S. government. He received accommodation for a lifetime when he wasn’t tried for treason. To change prison rules so that he can be further reinforced in his violent, hateful, anti-American beliefs would be as foolish as allowing Nazis in American prisons to meet to study Hitler’s speeches in 1943. And that is the strongest indication that Abu Suleyman al-Irlandi will probably get everything he wants.
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, Did Muhammad Exist?, is now available.