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How to deradicalize religiously motivated terrorists

Unearthing the Truth
I realize that this blog will be controversial, but it is time that someone publicly spoke the truth.

If I were a Muslim I would probably be a terrorist.

Muslims are taught from childhood that Allah recited the holy Qu'ran to his last and greatest prophet, Muhammad. And the Qu'ran, in five of its many chapters, tells Muslims to kill those who refuse to accept the Muslim religion, and to kill anyone who kills a fellow Muslim, e.g. in fighting as a soldier against Isis or the Taliban. Furthermore the Qu'ran in several places promises a rich reward in the life to come for any Muslim who dies in obedience to such commands. I would risk arrest if I quoted such passages in a public blog, but there are plenty of English translations of the Qu'ran available on the Internet if you care to read them for yourself.

Five times every day Muslims are called to prayer with the words, “There is no God but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah." Sudesh Amman, believing the teachings of Muhammad, said that the goal of his life was to die as a martyr and thereby enter Paradise. He achieved the first part of his goal on January 4th 2020, when police shot him dead on a street in Streatham as he tried to stab to death several passers-by. If I believed in the truth of the Qu'ran as Sudesh did and I therefore believed that the only way to be certain of living in Paradise is to die as a martyr I think I might want to do that myself.

Sudesh Amman was a brave man. Knowing that his actions might lead to his being shot he was willing to lay down his life in obedience to what he understood to be the commands of Allah. I find it easy to understand how he believed that this would earn him a place in Paradise. But as I understand the Qu'ran, Allah does not tell his followers to kill unbelievers indiscriminately - only those who have killed Muslims or who wilfully reject Islamic beliefs and practice. And no one can reject Islam wilfully unless someone else has first sought to convert him or her to it. And that is something Sudesh did not do so far as his victims were concerned.

I am angry that Sudesh believed God would want him to murder innocent bystanders. I am angry that he tried to do this. I am angry that influential Muslim spokesmen did not publicly denounce him for disgracing the religion of Islam - or if they did so, that the news media did not report this so far as I am aware. But I am even angrier that Sudesh himself had been so wickedly deceived - deceived into believing that the entire Qu'ran is truly the word of God, and that his death as an attempted murderer would earn him a place in Paradise. It probably ensured the very opposite, for Jesus said that anyone who has murder in his heart is a murderer, and the Bible says that murderers will be excluded from the heavenly city, at least if they do not repent of their actions before they die.

Much of the Qu'ran is fine. It teaches that there is only one God, the God who created the world, and that God is both merciful and just. But at its heart there is a terrible lie, the lie that God wants anyone who will not worship him in accordance with the Islamic religion to be eliminated.

So how are followers of the Qu'ran or similar religions to be 'deradicalized'? In British prisons where sufficient staff are available an attempt is made through counselling sessions that try to change the way terrorists think. The scheme is known as Healthy Identities Invervention (HII). According to a BBC correspondent prisoners are asked whether their support of violence defines their identity. No one knows how effective the scheme is. And I should have thought that in the case of Muslim extremists it is very ineffective, since they would define their identity as Muslim, and their beliefs and actions would follow from that. In some cases Imams have become involved, seeking to change their followers' understanding of the Qu'ran, but the problem that such Imams face is that the Qu'ran tells Allah's followers not to attend any mosque where anything contrary to the Qur'an is taught, and presumably this means that they should not listen to any Imam who in their eyes contradicts it either. (Qu'ran, chapter 9: 'Repentance')  

So what is the answer? In Matthew 11:21 Jesus said, "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace; but when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armour in which he trusted, and divides his spoil." Only Jesus Christ is strong enough to overcome the devil and his lies. Terrorists seek an identity that they can be proud of; they want a meaningful purpose for their life and they want to make a difference in the world; and religious terrorists rightly long for a better and happier life to come. So the only sure way to free such people from a radical but false terrorist mindset is to introduce them to a better way to achieve their goals: to offer them a better identity as a child of God, a greater purpose in preparing for Christ's return as king, and a surer promise of everlasting bliss in the new earth to come - in short to provide them with something even more radical than faith in Muhammad, namely faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus was the most radical of all men, yet he was also much more than a man. Confirmed in his claim to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead, he is the only one who has authority to grant everlasting life in Paradise, and he promises this to all who commit their lives to his service, whether Muslims or not.

Here is the difference:
  • The New Testament teaches that murderers will not inherit eternal life: the Qu'ran teaches that murdering people who refuse to worship Allah guarantees eternal life.
  • The New Testament teaches us to leave vengeance to God: the Qur'an tells us to do it for him by killing unbelievers who have killed Muslims.
  • The New Testament tells us that God promises Paradise as a free gift to anyone who truly commits his or her life to Jesus as Saviour and Lord: the Qu'ran teaches that Paradise can be earned only by those who faithfully obey the teachings of Islam or who die as martyrs in the cause of Allah.
  • The New Testament declares: 'I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.' (1 John 5.13) The Qu'ran offers no certainty of salvation except to martyrs, so Muhammad himself admitted that he could not be certain of Paradise.
  • Jesus died as a martyr for his faith in God: Muhammad died merely by being poisoned.
  • Jesus conquered death, returned to life again, and is going to come back as king: Muhammad is dead.

Sometimes terrorists have been freed, on parole or otherwise, in the belief that their ideology has been 'corrected', when in fact they have deceived the authorities by only pretending to change their views. Usman Khan, who killed two people on London Bridge in November 2019, participated in the HII scheme and convinced the authorities that he was a reformed man. However, I find it hard to believe that anyone who renounces Islam by committing himself to Jesus Christ as Lord in public baptism can secretly continue to believe in the whole of the Qu'ran and continue to plot murder after his release from prison.

Therefore I believe that the one reliable way to deradicalize terrorist extremists in prison is to introduce them to something better, to someone stronger than the devil behind their doctrine: to Jesus Christ as Lord. Such deradicalization has already been achieved where truly Christian chaplains have had access to the inmates, and in prisons where permission has been given to hold 'Alpha' courses that introduce people in a respectful and interactive way to Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life. Therefore I commend the promotion of Bible-based teaching to all those who are responsible for the oversight and deradicalization of every kind of terrorist in British jails. The strong man can be overcome only by someone even stronger.

1 comment
Average Vote: 115.0/5
Tony Corris
2020-02-06 11:13:34
Well put and argued Arnold. Hope it reaches a very large readership !!
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