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Mistaking Jihad for Mental Illness


This lengthy story in Germany’s Spiegel Online about the Islamic jihadist who recently went on a stabbing spree in a supermarket in Hamburg attempts to show how his “transformation highlights a growing problem among refugees in the country: mental illness.” Here are some of the indications, as far as Spiegel is concerned, that “Ahmed A.” is descending into insanity:

“According to the reports, A. would sometimes withdraw for days, and he had stopped drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. During these periods, he spent more time at the mosque than usual and berated his Muslim friends for not obeying the rules of Islam. But then he seemed perfectly normal again. The friends were perplexed. Was A. merely ’emotionally drained’ or had he been radicalized?”

“The man’s account resembled that of Ahmed A.’s friends. He said that a man he knew at the Kiwittsmoor refugee hostel in the Langenhorn neighborhood had stopped drinking and smoking, and was talking a lot about religion. The police officer filed a report. It would later emerge that the man in question was Ahmed A.”

“A. was also exhibiting strange behavior at the Kiwittsmoor refugee hostel. He was knocking on the doors of other residents at night, shouting, ‘Allahu akbar,’ or God is great. Crazy, out of it, strange — these were the words counselors and fellow residents were now using to describe the young asylum-seeker.”

So Ahmed A. stopped drinking and smoking marijuana, and started berating his Muslim friends for not following Islam. He started knocking on doors at the refugee hostel at night while screaming “Allahu akbar.” That showed that he was “crazy, out of it, strange.”

In reality, of course, it showed that he was becoming “radicalized,” in the current parlance, and even as Spiegel searches for clues of his “radicalization,” its army of authors doesn’t see them when they’re in plain sight. Spiegel’s author squadron (Laura Backes, Jürgen Dahlkamp, Hubert Gude, Martin Knobbe, Roman Lehberger, Andrew Moussa and Wolf Wiedmann-Schmidt) seems to think that if only counselors had been able to get through to poor Ahmed A., he would have stopped knocking on doors and screaming “Allahu akbar,” and would never have stabbed anyone.

Spiegel doesn’t take into account the power of Islam for a man like Ahmed A.: the idea that he is serving Allah by menacing and trying to kill Infidels, and outweighing all his sins on the great scales of judgment by doing so, is something that never enters their considerations, because they don’t believe it exists. They even end their account by noting that Ahmed had cannabis in his blood when he went on his stabbing spree, implying that he was not a pious Muslim and was simply acting out on his mental illness. But they don’t know, or don’t want their readers to know, that the Qur’an teaches (21:47) that Muslims gain Paradise if their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds, and a hadith has Muhammad saying that there was no deed greater than jihad. So Ahmed knew that he could get high and then, because he stabbed some Infidels, Allah would overlook the weed.

Non-Muslim authorities routinely ascribe jihad activity to mental illness. A Muslim was arrested in June 2016 for a jihad plot to attack tourists and police. He was found with a knife and a machete. According to the Telegraph: “[T]he suspect has a history of psychiatric problems and has been diagnosed as schizophrenic, but is considered nonetheless ‘truly radicalized’ with a ‘serious profile.’”

Authorities did not always grant that these supposedly mentally ill jihadis were “truly radicalized.” Last March, a Muslim in Germany attacked a 59-year-old man riding his bicycle, bashing his skull with a hammer. Police announced: “The suspect may have a mental illness.” They stressed that this was not a jihad attack, the attacker was simply “mentally ill.”

Another Muslim in Germany who wounded nine people with an axe in a train station was also not a jihadi; he had “mental health problems.” In August 2016, a Muslim stabbed six people in London, murdering one of them. The BBC reported that “the Met Police’s assistant commissioner for specialist operations, Mark Rowley, said the investigation was increasingly pointing to the attack being “triggered by mental health issues.”

That same month, a Muslim entered a police station in Toulouse, France and attacked a police officer, stabbing her in the throat — in strict accord with the Qur’an’s command: “When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks” (47:4). He, too, had a “psychiatric disorder.”

Likewise, a Muslim in Paris who stabbed a Jewish woman to death while screaming “Allahu akbar” may not face trial in light of claims that he was not in his right mind when he committed the murder.

Authorities should start asking themselves why so many mentally ill people embrace Islamic jihad violence. This sort of thing happens so often that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders should consider adding “Islamic jihad” to its next edition.

Here Spiegel is taking willful ignorance to a new level. This constant consigning of jihad to mental illness should be itself classified as a mental illness.

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 is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Free Speech (and Its Enemies). Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

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