Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Daniel Pipes on the Iraq Hostage Crisis

Why did the abductors threaten their friends in this way? What is their possible logic? The statement that accompanied the video that charged the men with "working undercover as Christian peace activists" provides some clues. First, for Islamists and other Iraqis, an organization with "Christian" in the title must be missionary in purpose and presumably targeting Muslims for conversion, something they find unacceptable. Second, the notion that Westerners, and Americans especially, are really on the Islamists' side versus the U.S. government just does not register. Iraqis more readily see such people as spies than as self-loathing Americans, the latter phenomenon remaining deeply foreign to them. Put another way, how could the "Swords of Righteousness Brigade" understand the "Christian Peacemaker Teams"? Their names alone point to a nearly unbridgeable divide.