BAGHDAD (BP)–Ahmed Abdullah al-Shaya, an 18-year-old Saudi, left his homeland last year just after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan with a fire in his heart to eradicate Americans from Arab lands. But his plan for martyrdom backfired, leaving his face and hands horrifically seared and his heart turned toward peace for the Iraqis.
According to a news story posted on USA Today’s website, al-Shaya said his goal was “to kill the Americans, policemen, national guards and the American collaborators.”
Inside Iraq, he spent several weeks with likeminded Iraqi militants and others from Syria, Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, Yemen and Macedonia.
But prior to his designated car bomb mission, al-Shaya’s insurgent collaborators unexpectedly detonated a bomb-rigged butane gas truck he was driving on Dec. 24, stirring him to a change of heart in a videotaped interrogation by Iraqi Interior Ministry officials, according to USA TODAY reporter Steven Komarow.
“I want the Iraqi people to live in peace,” he said. And he no longer supports Osama bin Laden because “he is killing Muslims.”
As for those who deceived and disfigured him, al-Shaya said, “I want revenge for what they have done to me.”
The Dec. 24 blast killed nine people, including a family whose house fell in and crushed them. Shaya was ejected from the truck by the explosion, but not before severely burning him.
Evangelist and author Anis Shorrosh, in comments to Baptist Press, said that understanding the mind of a would-be martyr such as al-Shaya comes from understanding the Koran. Nearly 100 verses urge Muslims to “promote and protect Islam” by such means, he said. One such verse in the Koran states: “Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We [Allah] shall bestow a vast reward.”
Shorrosh, of Fairhope, Ala., said not all Muslims embrace this teaching, with many of them citing such teachings as, “There is no compulsion in religion,” from the Koran.
“To them this is a tolerant view of other religions and of Muslim’s attitude toward one’s choice of his own religion,” Shorrosh said.
Despite such moderation among some Muslims, jihadism marches on, Shorrosh said, recounting the words of Sheikh Omar Abdul Rohman — the blind cleric who reportedly was behind the first attempt at bombing the World Trade Center in New York in 1993: “Jihad and killing is the head of Islam. If you take it out, you cut off the head of Islam.”
The Muslim cleric “taught this view at Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt,” Shorrosh noted.
Muslim extremists see the United States as the “Great Satan.” But the expeditious aid from Americans to help the recent tsunami victims “underscores our compassion for Muslims and desire to express Christian love to people in need.” Shorrosh said. “Thus, we are not fighting Islam, but terrorism. But because most of the terrorists are Muslims, it is understandable why some Muslims do not quite comprehend our objectives.”
Yet, Shorrosh noted, “The entire world has become galvanized against the unnecessary bloodshed by Muslim fanatics and militants throughout the globe. The tide is turning against such horrible activities because the march toward democracy is unstoppable and people are crying out, ‘We are for peace, not war, for forgiveness, not vengeance.’”