In a recent article titled "Sodomy 'For the sake of Islam'," Raymond Ibrahim, an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum, reported that Abdullah Hassan al-Asiri, who plotted to assassinate Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Nayef in 2009 with a bomb hidden in his rectum, had apparently relied on a fatwa by an obscure cleric permitting sodomy to "widen" his anus to accommodate the explosives.
Benjamin Doherty of The Electronic Intifada website denounced the Ibrahim article, claiming that he fell for a vulgar hoax.
The Middle East Forum has looked both into this criticism and Mr. Ibrahim's rebuttal. We find no evidence to substantiate the charges and, accordingly, the Forum stands by Mr Ibrahim.
In "Sodomy for the Sake of Islam," I wrote about Abdullah al-Asiri, the 2009 suicide-bomber who inserted explosives in his rectum, and how news emerged later that he likely relied on a fatwa permitting sodomy to "widen" his anus to accommodate the explosives. (Click here for a graphic picture of the aftermath of this approach.)
It wasn't long before the infamous "hoax!" charge appeared—this time over at the anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian website, Electronic Intifada (henceforth EI). Writing that "The Advocate, an important US-based national gay and lesbian news magazine, has published a homophobic, racist, sectarian and Islamophobic hoax as if it is actual news," one Benjamin Doherty unequivocally denounces my article, the Advocate's source, as "pure nonsense," a "vile Islamophobic hoax," and a "defamatory joke targeting Muslims."
Amazingly, despite all this sure language, the fact is, EI does not offer a shred of evidence to counter my article.
The first couple paragraphs are, as mentioned, devoted to portraying my article as a "homophobic, racist, sectarian and Islamophobic hoax," with sporadic attacks on the David Horowitz Freedom Center, where I am a fellow.
So far, no evidence, just the usual smear campaign and ad hominem attacks to set the stage and influence the gullible and naïve.
Next EI spends time bemoaning how the Advocate mistakenly thought that the man who appears in the video I linked to was the actual cleric issuing the anus-fatwa, when in fact he is the man reporting on it, Abdullah al-Khallaf.
I had written, "A 2010 Arabic news video that aired on Fadak TV gives the details. Apparently a cleric, one Abu al-Dema al-Qasab, informed al-Asiri and other jihadis of an innovative and unprecedented way to execute martyrdom operations…" By linking to that video, I was indicating my source of information—not saying "the man who appears talking is Abu al-Dema."
Either way, this misreading by Advocate is neither here nor there, and has absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand: does such a fatwa exist or not? It's just filler dressed as "evidence."
Then, as if more unnecessary fluff was needed, EI offers a long retranslation of the sodomy fatwa, with no discernible difference between the substance of their translation and mine.
Mind you, we are more than halfway through this rambling diatribe that began by repeatedly screaming "hoax," and still no evidence, though language implying the "proof" has already been given begins to appear. For example, EI casually goes on to declare that "Al-Khallaf reads the item [the fatwa] from the website as if it is real." Well, why shouldn't he? EI has yet to give evidence that it is not real.
Finally, we come to the "proof"—the only section that is bolded in the EI article, to emphasize its "importance." EI claims that al-Khallaf
also characterizes the alleged protagonists as "Wahhabis." It appears his intention is to incite his audience's disgust at the supposed thinking and behavior of Wahhabi Sunni Muslims who, he suggests, will justify anything in pursuit of their goals.
And there it is—EI's "ironclad proof" that the sodomy fatwa is a hoax: Al-Khallaf must be an anti-Wahabbi Shiite, and "it appears his intention" is less than honest.
Sorry, EI: "appearances" and "intentions" do not constitute proof. After all, I can easily argue that it "appears" EI's "intention" in writing this article is simply to save face, since, as a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli website, it does not wish to see the recruitment of suicide bombers diminished by this scandal.
But that wouldn't be "proof," would it?
Needless to say, the rest of EI's arguments consist of (second-rate) sophistry, lies and contradictions.
EI asserts that the fatwa's
text appears to be at best an extremely vulgar joke and at worst sectarian defamation. It is written in a style commonly used for stories in which both the teller and listener know it is a joke or fiction…
Once again, EI continues treating "appearances" as proof. Whether it appears to be a "vulgar joke" or "sectarian defamation" is hardly evidence that the fatwa is a hoax. After all, fatwas almost always look like jokes to Western people, which is what EI is counting on.
Next, EI contradicts itself. First, Al-Khallaf is portrayed as reading the fatwa on the air to "incite his audience's disgust." Yet now, EI claims that the fatwa "is written in a style commonly used for stories in which both the teller and listener know it is a joke or fiction."
Question: How can al-Khallaf "incite his audience's disgust," if the fatwa, which he read in its entirety, "is written in a style commonly used for stories in which both the teller and listener [i.e., his audience] know it is a joke or fiction"?
EI continues grasping at straws:
Several features identify this story as a tasteless joke, especially the name "Sheikh Abu al-Dema al-Qasab." It translates to Sheikh Bloody Butcher. This is not a real person. The post is peppered with phrases like "it is said" and "only God knows" which indicate storytelling.
"Sheikh Bloody Butcher" is a typical pseudonym to preserve the identity of the cleric who came up with this anus-idea over at the frontlines of the jihad, where an extra level of anonymity is always expected and respected among Muslims; moreover, amongst jihadis, "Bloody Butcher" is a compliment—something of a "heroic" name. Even so, odd names for prominent sheikhs are not uncommon. Consider popular Sheikh Huwaini—whose name means "animal" no less than his behavior, including his desire to plunder non-Muslims of their money and buy infidel sex-slaves.
As for the claim that the fatwa is "peppered with phrases like 'it is said' and 'only God knows' which indicate storytelling," this is another barefaced lie by EI—not because those phrases do not appear in the fatwa, but because those phrases are standard and always appear in fatwas. I have yet to read an Arabic fatwa—past or present—that is not "peppered" with "it was said" and "Allah only knows." Yet, EI twists these authentic points to cast doubt on the fatwa among unsuspecting non-Muslims.
In short, for all its triumphant howling, EI fails to deliver, abysmally. The facts remain: such a fatwa does exist; it is written exactly like a fatwa (despite EI's intentional distortions); and a well-known Arabic program quoted it as fact—which is precisely what I originally reported in the first place.
Despite all this, weak knees quickly buckled before EI's hoax accusations. After demanding that Advocate retract their article, including through the usual "how could you of all people spread such hate" line, Advocate revised their article, including by changing the title from "Sodomy for Suicide Bombers" to "Researcher's Claim [that would be me] About Suicide Bombers Called False."
More comically, another website, Gay Star News, prompted by EI's lies, ran with an article titled "Anus gay terror video a hoax" (apparently now the actual video of talk show host al-Khallaf—who may be interested to learn he no longer exists—is also a "hoax").
Ironically, the editors of these websites seem to be unaware that EI is angry—not because of the well-documented facts that al-Asiri inserted explosives in his anus in order to murder someone he deceived into meeting by feigning goodwill, all in the name of Islam—but because the portrayal of this "noble jihadi" as a sodomite "incites … disgust" among Muslims, as EI clearly stated above in bold, thus demoralizing the jihad.
Get it? Suicidal jihadist killing apostates and infidels—no problem. But a homosexual?—never!
Update: Gatestone Institute, where my sodomy article first appeared, just forwarded me an email from EI's Doherty, where, in his attempt to get Gatestone to retract the article, he offers more "proof," writing "The Advocate, Gay Star News and The Electronic Intifada have all published evidence that the fatwa does not exist." This is yet another distortion: only Electronic Intifada—that is, Doherty himself—published "evidence," which we just saw, though his disingenuous wording suggests that Advocate and Gay Star News, who simply followed his lead, had independently verified the hoax charge, which they did not.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Related Topics: Raymond Ibrahim
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free mef mailing list
This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.