A 2005 lecture delivered in Australia by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of the effort to build a mosque near Ground Zero, explains suicide bombing as an act of psychological or political desperation. Rauf's failure to label suicide bombing as premeditated murder, and in the case of child suicide bombers, as child abuse, should be troubling to anyone who is deciding whether to support the leadership of the proposed mosque near Ground Zero.
The taped speech, brought to light this week, contains a good deal of equivocation on the subject of suicide terror, with Rauf saying, "How do you tell people whose homes have been destroyed, whose lives have been destroyed, that this does not justify your actions of terrorism? It's hard." While he does go on to say that nothing justifies targeting innocent civilians, regarding suicide bombing Rauf then concludes, "[H]ow else do people get attention?"
Brooke Goldstein, filmmaker and founder of the Children's Rights Institute, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about the recruitment of children as suicide bombers and child soldiers, objects to Rauf's failure to unequivocally condemn suicide bombing.
"How do you tell people whose homes have been destroyed that this does not justify suicide terrorism? Actually, it is not hard," says Goldstein. "You explain that, 'There is no justification whatsoever, religious, political, moral or otherwise, for killing innocent men, women and children, especially when they are your own children."
In the speech Rauf also says, "But what makes people, in my opinion, commit suicide for political reasons have their origins in politics and political objectives and worldly objectives rather than other-worldly objectives ...[W]e may be jilted, had a bad relationship, you know, didn't get tenure at the university, failed an important course, there's a host of reason why people feel so depressed with themselves that they are willing to contemplate ending their own lives."
With this statement Rauf tries to analogize the murderous crime of suicide bombing with the tragedy of suicide for reasons of personal desperation. Goldstein emphasizes that, by conjuring associations with ordinary suicide, Rauf downplays the main, immediate cause of suicide terrorism: indoctrination.
"Indoctrination and hate education play a major part in recruiting a new generation of suicide bombers," she says. "He ignores the reality that suicide bombers are being bred en masse by Islamic states, by state sponsored schools and media, and by terrorist groups at large."
In 2004, Goldstein co-produced a film, The Making of a Martyr, for which she conducted face-to-face interviews with terrorists, a 15-year-old child who had been bribed to become a suicide bomber, family members of child suicide bombers, and children educated in Islamist schools throughout the West Bank. She says that in the case of child suicide bombers, the motivation is never political.
"He keeps referring to political motivations," she says. "Children I spoke with in the West Bank didn't tell me they wanted to become suicide bombers for political reasons. Instead, they were being taught martyrdom is 'cool' and promised things like candy, money, and trips to amusement parks in the afterlife. Children who were no older than 5 or 6 were enchanted with the idea of martyrdom because they were taught to be."
Such indoctrination is coming from many institutions in the Muslim world, including governments, media, schools - and mosques. Does downtown Manhattan, scene of the worst suicide terrorist attack in U.S. history, really need a mosque whose leader is unwilling to unequivocally condemn the deliberate murder of innocents via suicide terror?