To anyone familiar with Muslim doctrine, Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo's actions — from refusing to deploy to Afghanistan lest he kill fellow Muslims to plotting a terror attack to kill fellow Americans — make perfect sense and accord well with Islam's dichotomous doctrine of wala wa bara, often translated as "loyalty and enmity."
Built atop numerous Koran verses and backed by Sharia, wala requires Muslims to be loyal to fellow Muslims, and explains why Abdo refused to deploy to Muslim nations.
While loyalty may appear admirable, it has a flipside, bara, which requires Muslims to disassociate themselves from non-Muslims — to be disloyal to them (see al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's 60 page treatise titled "Loyalty and Enmity" in The Al Qaeda Reader for details).
For example, Koran 5:51 literally warns Muslims against "taking the Jews and Christians as friends and allies … whoever among you takes them for friends and allies, he is surely one of them," i.e., he becomes an infidel; 58:22 states that true Muslims do not befriend non-Muslims — "even if they be their fathers, sons, brothers, or kin."
Now consider the progress of Abdo and how his actions reveal great doctrinal consistency:
First, he objected to participating in any war in any Muslim country, claiming "conscientious objector" status:
I don't believe I can involve myself in an army that wages war against Muslims. I don't believe I could sleep at night if I take part, in any way, in the killing of a Muslim. … I can't deploy with my unit to Afghanistan and participate in the war — I can't both deploy and be a Muslim.
He would not be the first to object to combating fellow Muslims: Major Nidal Hasan, who went on a shooting spree in Fort Hood in 2009, killing thirteen —and who Abdo heroizes — considered himself to be "a Muslim first and an American second"; the idea of deploying to a Muslim nation, his "worst nightmare," threw him "over the edge." Then there was Sergeant Hasan Akbar, who killed two American soldiers and wounded fourteen in Kuwait "because he was concerned U.S. troops would kill fellow Muslims in Iraq."
Next, though Abdo had no problem openly evincing loyalty to Muslims, trusting that tolerant or sentimental Americans would indulge him, he hid his enmity and disloyalty for those same Americans, in accordance to taqiyya — a doctrine that permits Muslims to deceive infidels. In fact, the Koran's primary justification for deception is in the context of "loyalty and enmity":
Let believers not take for friends and allies infidels [non-Muslims] instead of believers. Whoever does this shall have no relationship left with Allah — unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions (3:28).
Mainstream Muslim reference Tabari interprets this verse thusly:
Only when you are in their [non-Muslims'] power, fearing for yourselves, are you to demonstrate friendship for them with your tongues, while harboring hostility toward them. But do not join them in the particulars of their infidelities, and do not aid them through any action against a Muslim.
Accordingly, while Abdo did not aid Americans against Muslims, he certainly made use of his tongue: to support his "conscientious objector" status, he pointed to "the peace that Islam preaches"; he claimed that he wanted to fight "Islamophobia" and "put a good positive spin out there that Islam is a good, peaceful religion"; and though he tried to murder Americans by emulating the Fort Hood massacre, Abdo originally condemned it, calling it "an act of aggression by a man and not by Islam," insisting that it ran against his beliefs as a Muslim.
Even so, anyone reading between the lines should have noticed his enmity: like Hasan before him, who made no secret of his hatred for infidels in statements in front of classmates, Abdo also made anti-American remarks in class.
Unfortunately, few Americans are aware of doctrines like wala wa bara and taqiyya; worse, they often project their own beliefs and values — from Christianity to secular humanism—onto Islam and Muslims.
For instance, Western people associate piety and religious observance with peace and goodwill: as with Hasan before him — who was described as an "observant Muslim who prayed daily" and "very serious about his religion" — acquaintances shocked at Abdo's terror plot argue that he was "very devoutly religious."
Yet, the fact is there is no inconsistency between piety and prayer on the one hand, and jihad and deceit on the other: all are equally codified in Sharia. Moreover, upholding one doctrine often leads to upholding another: thus loyalty to fellow Muslims is a sure sign of disloyalty to non-Muslims.
Raymond Ibrahim, a widely published author on Islam, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. To receive all his writings, sign up to his free mailing list.