Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from "Build Soil"
Robert Frost

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Fanaticism in the Desert

Today was the transfer of authority from the unit we replaced here. Our Task Force is now completely responsible for our own little slice of western Iraq. It's not quite as violent here as Baghdad right now, but it's still no joke. The violence seems to have increased during Ramadan, and even more so over the last few days. Part of the Muslim religious practice is to seek Laylat al-Qadr , "The Night of Power (or Destiny)" which falls somewhere in the last ten days of Ramadan. To a Muslim, Laylat al-Qadr is the holiest night of their faith- the night on which Mohammad recieved the Qur'an. There is disagreement between various sects and areas over which night is the right one, and true believers are expected to seek it out by virtue. Any deeds of the faithful performed on Laylat al-Qadr will be rewarded a thousandfold in paradise, and should a Muslim die that night, he will instantly be transported to paradise.

For most Muslims across the world, this means a day or period of days of intense devotion, fasting, and praying. Unfortunately, there are enough radical Muslims who see jihad and matyrdom as the ultimate expression of devotion to make the last few days of Ramadan intersting, to say the least. What exactly are you expected to do to control a fanatic who believes that it is his destiny to die, and that one particular night of the year gives him the best reward for his sacrifice?


  1. How indeed...

    Appealing to a source of wisdom that is greater than I...

    "Lock the door..."
    "And pray they don't have blasters."

    I keep hearing on the news about the increased violence, and both the radio and TV like to fling phrases around like "Most bloody month since..."

    Each time I pause and reassure myself that you're damn good at what you do, and more than that, you're too damn pretty to die.

    Get your computer?


  2. There's nothing you can do to stop a fanatic from killing himself, just make sure you don't go with him. I have to say hunkering down until Ramadan is over sounds like the best bet.

    Keep your head down and stay safe. You're incredibly intrepid serving your country in this way. The people know you are on the frontlines, keeping wolves at bay. Godspeed.

  3. "What exactly are you expected to do to control a fanatic who believes that it is his destiny to die, and that one particular night of the year gives him the best reward for his sacrifice?"

    Given that no matter how many times you say "Thank You" and "Please" the fanatic simply won't yield.

    And considering the countless lives and prosperity at stake, there is something that could be done to stop the dark forces you face flat in their tracks, especially during such holy events as Ramadan.

    It's very controversial to suggest, and is the reason why I'm trying to choose my words carefully, but given the fact that the Western forces are already considered infidelic in nature, have you considered using this to your advantage and threatening the eternal souls of these would be martyrs by issuing the decree that the remains of all positively identified insurgents, both foreign and domestic, be he suicide bomber or sniper, will have their remains buried alongside a pig to ensure that his attempts at salvation have been for naught. And that this would be an effective way to exact a true justice unto those that have harmed so many by their actions.

    Obviously being a Muslim force, this is not an appealing concept, due to the potential exposure to swine. Let those members of the Coalition who are from the West, who have no objections to pork handle the task.

    It's a radical tactic, in what is a radically changing asymmetrical war.

    To the feeling that this is simply too far to go for peace, freedom, and final prosperity, what other alternative is there? And what other true justice could you enact upon those who have plunged the Cradle of Civilization into such chaos?

    Isn't the damnation of one suicide bomber, worth stopping ten more, and in effect, protecting the lives of one hundred fold?

    This being said, whatever your course of action, I wish you protection, success, and the fruition of your efforts.