Summary: Islamic Fundamentalism is a religion of fear; Christians have a better way, the way of love,
I invite you to turn in your Bibles to I John chapter 3, and follow along as I read v14:
14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death.
Amen. The word of God. Thanks be to God.
It has been 4 years. Tuesday, September 11, 2001—we all watched in shock and horror as terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. At 9:05 a.m., hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower. The north tower was already burning from a previous crash of American Airlines Flight 11. At 9:59 a.m., the South Tower collapsed. At 10:28 a.m., the North Tower came crashing down. Meanwhile hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. 3030 people were killed that day.
Now I have often wondered what was in the minds of the hijackers. What would cause a person to fly an airplane loaded with jet fuel and passengers into a building? I can understand soldiers killing each other in war, even though I do not like that. I can even understand Japanese Kamikazi pilots deliberately crashing their planes into American ships. That was an act of war by Japanese military pilots against American military forces. Again, I do not like that, but I understand it, but I do not understand why you would crash a planeload of innocent people, into a building full of innocent people.
The 19 hijackers of 9/11 were mostly Saudi Arabians, though the leader, Mohammed Atta, was an Egyptian. They were in this country legally. They were all fairly well-educated and well-equipped to become good citizens and good folks. The four young men who carried out the suicide bombings in London on July 7 of this year were all native born Britons, raised in England, went to English schools. They were described as pretty much normal young people. So, we are not dealing with ignorant illiterate third world peasants; We are dealing with “normal” people who decide that it is OK to murder innocent people.
You might say that they were evil. I agree, but that is not an explanation for their behavior. Why did they do it?
Since 9/11/01, the United States Government has paid for all kinds of studies of terrorism. Most have concluded that the September 11th attacks were part of a campaign against the United States by Al-Qaeda. This campaign previously included attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and on the USS Cole in Yemen. In 1998, Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda issued a statement that details their motivations for their attacks on America. They contend that the United States supports Israel and is therefore anti-Moslem and anti-Arab. They contend that the stationing of American troops on the Arabian Peninsula violates the sanctity of the Moslem heartland. They contend that we are plundering the resources of the Arabian Peninsula—specifically oil. They contend that we support dictatorial regimes and monarchies in the Middle East, thereby oppressing their people.
In 2004, Osama Bin Laden acknowledged Al-Qaeda’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. He said that Al-Qaeda was out to punish the aggressor and to create economic damage to America. He declared that a continuing aim of his jihad (holy war) was to bleed America into bankruptcy. Considering the current cost of the war in Iraq, he probably thinks he is winning.
In fighting terrorism, we are fighting a new kind of war. Most analysts say that it is not a war at all. The terrorists have no nation or state that can be targeted. I know that we have waged war against two nations—Iraq and Afghanistan—in response to the 9/11 attacks, but the fact remains that Al-Qaeda is not necessarily connected to those countries, or to any country. Most analysts say that terrorism is more like crime than war. To fight terrorism you need police and spies not soldiers. The terrorists have no capital city and no center. Al-Qaeda has no real leader. Even Osama Bin Ladin is more spokesman and propagandist than leader. So sending soldiers into third world countries might not be the most effective way to fight terrorism.
But lets get back to our original question. What motivates suicide bombers. Religion, specifically Islamic Fundamentalism. The terrorists maintain that they are killing as many people as they can, including themselves, for Islam. So, to understand their mindset, we must understand Fundamentalism.
Fundamentalism is a modern movement that is essentially a reaction against Modernity. Modernity is the name scholars give to modern secular civilization. The word “Fundamentalist” originated in the United States. That is understandable because the United States has been in the forefront of the development of modernity. The first Fundamentalists were Christians. We should note that all religions today have a fundamentalist movement. There are Christian fundamentalists, Islamic fundamentalist, Jewish fundamentalists, Hindu fundamentalists, Buddhist fundamentalists—the list goes on and on. In every case, fundamentalism is a reaction against modern civilization.