26th U.S. Secretary of Defense USMC General James Norman “Mad Dog” Mattis asserts that we can get along with the Islamicist countries at least on some security cooperation by way of the inspiration of the greatness of America, noting that this is a better way to go because, as has been pointed out with the way things stand now (because of the past number of years), Islamists would rather put up with an imperfect government of their own free will than be forced to like America at the end of a USMC bayonet. I agree with all that only because I think the General has enough sense to see that security cooperation as that which needs double and triple checking, something we can actually do. It’s like giving fighter jets to such a country, knowing that Israel and the USA can take out those out-of-date planes in a nano-second. So, nobody is hoodwinking anyone.
If anyone should think that Mattis is crazy for hearing out his engineer-terrorist friend, let me offer my own similar anecdote on my encounter with one of the most deadly terrorists in the history of Israel…
“Hey!” said I to myself in early mid-January 1991, “why not jump on a bus and go deliver some anti-terror gas-masks to the Missionaries of Charity sisters up in Nablus in the West Bank before Saddam Hussein starts lobbing scud missiles on our heads?” So, off I went with the Jerusalem campus of the Pontifical Biblical Institute crowd shouting after me that I was really, really unwise. I knew that anyway, so, O.K.. I think they said something about a possible curfew as well, but, what does “possible” mean except possibly not?
I jumped off the bus on Al-Quds Street pretty far south of the city of Nablus and walked in, trying to get a feel for things, imagining biblical scenes playing out before me. On my way to the sisters, I wanted to stop and have a drink at Jacob’s well, which I did. But, before I got there, a young man I’m guessing twelve years old came up to me and asked me where I was from. As I think back on this, this was pretty brave, as the streets were completely empty. In Israel/Palestine, just because people stay inside, lock their doors and shutter their windows doesn’t mean a curfew, just that they are being careful. The monastery at Jacob’s Well had also been locked up, but the monk-in-charge let me in.
Anyway, when I said America, he got all excited and started telling me in broken English about how much he would like to go to the USA as he had some relatives there. “Great!” said I, and I asked him when he was coming over. His expression went all dark, with eyes glazing over. “I’m not going,” he said to no one in particular, as if he were asserting the fact to a vacuous universe. “But you have relatives there,” said I, encouraging him; “Why don’t you go?” “I would love to go,” he said; “America is a wonderful country. There is freedom.” “Come!” I exclaimed. “There are things I need to do here,” came the answer. He had a look that I would only come to recognize later as “The Look”, the look of terrorist who has been marked for a suicide mission at some point in the future. His mention of “things” he needs to do bothered me enough that I had mentioned it to others back at the Institute.
I asked him to direct me to Jacob’s Well. Actually, we were within sight of it and he pointed it out with some anger for how stupid I was for asking him that. Calming down, he said that he had been there himself, outside the door, but had never gone in. The conversation switched to politics, his own poverty, and religion. I was pretty straightforward about my being Catholic. What I noticed in all this was that there was a kind of steel fist gripping his soul, suffocating him, that wouldn’t let him think about the topics he so very much wanted to think about. While “seeing” that fist crushing the life out of him, I saw clearly that he was looking for something from me, from anyone, different from what he had been getting from anyone around him. I hope I gave him something, but, was it enough? Evidently not. Some years ago, when I saw this picture of the young man, I froze, having the strong sensation that this was the fellow with whom I had been speaking in Nablus. If anything, it was a spitting image. I could be wrong, but, wow: it’s him.
This is Saeed Hotari, although the idiot military wing of Hamas, Izzedine al Qassam, who sent him to his death, called him by his father’s name, Hassan Hotari of Qalqiya, which is just a half a day’s walk from Nablus. It seems they had moved to Zarqa on the far side of Amman. He was there at the beginning of the time when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was there, but then he made his way back into the West Bank. I’m only guessing here, but the bomb Saeed would go on to use was so complex and so powerful that he would have had to have help by the likes of someone like al-Zarqawi. There’s simply no other way.
Saeed was the suicide bomber who had taken so very many lives ten years later, in 2001, in Israel, West of Nablus. Dozens dead, scores and scores injured: the Dolphinarium attack against mostly newly arrived Russian Jewish girls. Again, it’s absolutely a spitting image of him. Ten years had passed since our conversation. He held off for ten years. But in that time, of course, much can happen and much pressure can be applied. He was vulnerable to being misled again by the likes of someone like al-Zarqawi. People do have free will. Hearing what his family had to say, you would think that it was the greatest honor that their son had killed himself and so many innocent people. His own father is perhaps the most guilty.
This is another reason why, I repeat, that I’ve made Islamism a bit of a project in my life. I’m guessing I’m a bit sharper with things now. It’s not a talent you want to have to use, or want to have come by the hard way. But, as the FBI puts it in their training materials, one needs to prepare for “The Coming Storm” (see: Active Shooter: The Coming Storm (FBI: Train now!)). I wish the CIA would put out something similar. We’ll surely be seeing more of this, more of “The Look.”
After drinking water from Jacob’s Well, I found the Missionaries of Charity and had a good time with them. But then I needed to get back to a bus going to Jerusalem. So, off I went, but I was still far from everything on the Northern side of Mount Gerizim when I found myself in the middle of an ambush, with the Israeli Defense Forces shooting in every which direction. The megaphones they used on top of their SUVs commanding this and that echoed from every which way, making it impossible to know which direction it was coming from. It’s seems there was a daytime curfew after all. That’s surely why Saeed ran out to meet me. He figured that anyone disobeying a curfew while carrying a package had to be a fellow terrorist. Anyway, they wanted anyone on the street to make their way down to a certain intersection, but a Palestinian man called me into his house so I could escape the bullets, and then, when all was calm once again, he politely asked me to be on my way. I thanked him for saving my life, risking his own to do it – with me looking much more Jewish than anything like a Muslim – but he just insisted that I now be on my way. Good people are to be found everywhere.
Islam has nothing to offer its adherents except the self-congratulations their submission to Allah brings to themselves, except the misery of oppression that submission to Allah brings. America always looks better, also because – I would say this – because of the circumstances which are brought about by and large by people of faith. That’s very attractive to the dark side. We should encourage that whatever way we can. I agree with Mad Dog Mattis. Yes, I do.