Date: 11/20/2003


Deceptive Iraqi Tactics Of War Are Based On Islamic Principles

................By Abdullah Al Araby

As the war in Iraq rages on, detailed news of Operation Iraqi Freedom keep coming out. One piece of news particularly caught my attention. The headline read, "Suicide attack kills 5 including 3 Coalition Troops.” Details of the incident revealed that a pregnant woman exited a vehicle screaming in hysterical fear as she approached a Coalition checkpoint. It was a ploy to draw in the sympathetic soldiers from Christian nations. As they rushed forward to aid her, the civilian vehicle exploded, killing the pregnant woman, another woman inside the car and three coalition force members. Two other soldiers were wounded.

Like most American citizens, it is painful for me to read that a pregnant woman would be compelled to sacrifice herself and her child to inflict harm on those perceived to be an enemy. Unlike most Americans, I understand that the motivations for her deceptive homicidal actions were not spawned purely by politics and national allegiance. The actions of this piteous woman and her fellow deceivers are rooted in and incited by the teachings of Islam.

Those who follow the conduct of the Iraqis in the war are learning that these acts are not isolated incidences. Rather, they are part of an ever-increasing pattern of unconventional deceptive tactics employed by a disparate army on the verge of collapse. The Iraqis claimed that they had no unconventional weapons. Yet, it is a fact that they are using unconventional methods in what was supposed to be a conventional war. The following are just a few of the deceptive methods that are being utilized:

Bullets, missiles, and grenades are fired by Iraqi troops from the minaret prayer towers of mosques Schools and hospitals are used as military command posts and bunkers. Soldiers, laying in wait, pose as patients in ambulances and clinics that fly the flag of the Red Crescent (The Red Cross of the Middle East) Civilians, including women and children, are coerced into use as human shields. Troops disguise themselves as civilians by dressing in Bedouin robes and women’s dresses. Soldiers pretend to surrender and then open fire. Others dressed as civilians approach in friendship and then do the same. Civilian vehicles and persons are employed in suicide bombings. POWs are treated with barbarous cruelty Unfair forms of deception are prohibited by International laws. There are rules of war just as there are rules in competitive sports. Regulations are established to insure fair play and to protect those not participating in the competition from coming into harm’s way. In war it is accepted that troops will use most any method to defeat the enemy, including misleading ruses. However, there are internationally accepted codes of ethics and regulations to which all nations are obligated to comply. These are called the rules of the Geneva Convention. It governs the way captured troops are to be treated and prohibits methods of deception that would endanger non-combative parties. One of the specific rules that Iraq is defying prohibits, “feigning surrender in order to lure the enemy into a trap”. This is forbidden because it conditions soldiers to suspect all surrendering combatants of being guilty of the ruse. The results are horrifying. As planned, the media get a hold of it and interpret to the world that the guiltless Coalition forces are murderers.

In addition, this is the manner in which the deceptive tactics of the Iraqis are breaking the following rules of the Geneva Convention:

Rule 4: Prisoners of war must be humanely treated and protected from violence. Prisoners cannot be beaten or used for propaganda purposes (to try to change the way people think about something). - They parade them before the press and torture them.

Rule 7: Killing anyone who has surrendered is prohibited. Rule 13: Attacks on civilians and undefended towns are prohibited. – Dressing in civilian clothes and feigning surrender predisposes opponents to fire in self-defense on civilians and those that are legitimately surrendering.

Rule 8: Zones must be set up in fighting areas to which the sick and injured can be taken for treatment. Rule 9: Special protection from attack is granted to civilian hospitals marked with the Red Cross symbol. Rule 10: The free passage of medical supplies is allowed – Hiding troops in hospitals, carrying troops and munitions in Red Cross marked vehicles breaks all three of these.

Apparently there is something in the religious understanding of the Iraqi troops that leads them to believe they are exempt from compliance to these laws and standards. U.S. Marines spokesman, Capt. Joseph Penzler, commented, “This just highlight the depth to which the Iraqis will sink.” An analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency offered the following observation about the Iraqi deception program. He called it, “a deliberate, methodical, extensive and well-organized national-level, strategic effort, which aims at deceiving not just the United States, not just the United Nations or even the public media, but, in fact, the entire world.”

The Islamic basis for deception

Islam is more than a religion; it is a comprehensive way of life. It demands adherence in social, political, military and economical matters, as well as in things pertaining to religion. To understand how Muslims react in any situation in life, one must look into the religious influences that govern their behavior for that particular situation. Lying and deception are the issues at hand. It is important to know that Islam sanctions both.

Like most religions, Islam in general, forbids lying. The Quran says, “Truly, Allah does not guide one who transgresses and lies.” Surah 40:28. In another authoritative book, called the Hadith, Mohammed was also quoted as saying the following: “Be honest because honesty leads to goodness, and goodness leads to Paradise. Beware of falsehood because it leads to immorality, and immorality leads to Hell.”

However, unlike most religions, within Islam there are certain provisions under which lying and deceiving is not simply tolerated, but actually encouraged. In his book “The spirit of Islam,” Afif A. Tabbarah writes in page 247, “Lying is not always bad, to be sure; there are times when telling a lie is more profitable and better for the general welfare, and for the settlement of conciliation among people, than telling the truth. “

This point is proven by numerous incidences in the life of Mohammed. He often lied and instructed his followers to do the same. He rationalized that the prospect of success in missions to extend Islam’s influence overrode Allah’s initial prohibitions against lying. A good example of sanctioned lying is the account of the assassinations of Kaab Ibn al-Ashrf, and Shaaban Ibn Khalid al-Hazly. Mohammed reportedly allowed his assassins lie to them in order to lure them into a place where they could easily butcher them.

The Quran alleges that Allah sanctions lies and deception: “Allah will not call you to account for what is futile in your oaths, but He will call you to account for your deliberate oaths: for expiation, feed ten indigent persons, on a scale of the average for the food of your families; or clothe them; or give a slave his freedom. If that is beyond your means, fast for three days. That is the expiation for the oaths ye have sworn. But keep to your oaths. Thus doth Allah make clear to you His signs, that ye may be grateful.” Surah 5:89

“Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief, except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith - but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty.” Surah 16: 106

The noted Islamic commentator, Al-Tabary, explained Surah 16:106 as a verse that had been revealed to Mohammed after he learned that Ammar Ibn Yasser was forced to deny his faith in Mohammed when kidnapped by the Banu Moghera tribe. Mohammed consoled Ammar by telling him, “If they turned, you turn.” (Meaning: if they again capture you, you are allowed to deny me again.)

In the Hadith, Mohammed, emphasizes the same concept. According to Imam Al- Ghazali “One of Mohammed’s daughters, Umm Kalthoum, testified that she had never heard the Apostle of Allah condone lying, except in these three situations: 1- For reconciliation among people. 2- In war. 3-Amongst spouses, to keep peace in the family”

The principle of Al-Takeyya

The Arabic word, “Takeyya”, means, “to guard against.” The principle of Al Takeyya conveys the understanding that Muslims are permitted to lie as a preventive measure against anticipated harm to one’s self or fellow Muslims. They can even deny the faith, if they do not mean it in their hearts. Al-Takeyya is based on the following Quranic verse:

“Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (To remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah.” Surah 3: 28

According to this verse it is acceptable for Muslims to use deceptive tactics. In violation to the teachings of Islam, they can pretend to befriend infidels. In situations where real or imagined harm is perceived they are permitted to display adherence with the ideals of those considered as infidels.

It is important to understand that Muslims take great liberty in expanding the perimeters of circumstances under which they are permitted to lie and to use deceptive tactics. When dealing with Muslim leaders it is essential to keep in mind that they can say or do anything that will get them out of trouble. All the while, they are apt to have just the opposite agenda in their hearts. With this in mind, in matters pertaining to war and international politics, there is a question that we need to ask ourselves. Can Muslim countries be trusted to play it fair and keep their end of the agreements that they sign with non-Muslim nations?

It is imperative that our leaders not be naïve. They must understand that Muslims can use this loophole in their religion to absolve them from any accountability when they revert to deceptive tactics. They can unashamedly do so, as they adhere to Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, who was quoted as saying “War is a deception.” The Allah of Islam is described in the Quran as “the best of deceivers.” Surah 8:30.