If the media remains true to form, it will drop the Boulder story within a very short time.

In the wake of the March 23rd killing of ten people at the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, two Catholic bishops quickly responded with words of solace. They prayed for the victims and their families, called for a conversion of hearts, and reminded us that God would bring good out of evil.

But were Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila and Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley aware when they issued their statements that the killer was apparently a committed Muslim? Were they possibly accepting that, until proven otherwise, mass killers can safely be assumed to be white and probably Christian? Were they also adopting the widespread narrative that we are all somehow responsible for violence in America because of “implicit bias” and “systemic racism”? How else to understand the call on the part of both bishops for a “conversion of heart”?

Here, for example, is an excerpt from Archbishop Coakley’s statement:

We must always remember that each of us is a brother or sister in Christ, created in the image and likeness of a loving God…let us continue to reflect on God’s love and mercy for each one of us and renew the call for conversion of heart.

This seems slightly off-key in light of what is now known about the killer’s identity. Muslims do not consider themselves “brothers or sisters in Christ”—certainly not in the sense that Christians use the term. Moreover, Muslims do not believe that humans are created in “the image and likeness” of God. In the Islamic world that is a blasphemous thought. Finally, does Bishop Coakley think that Muslims are in need of “a conversion of heart”? And, if so, to what? To Christianity? To a more moderate form of Islam?

Yet Ahmad Al Aliwi Al Issa’s belief that non-believers can be legitimately killed in the name of Allah is widely shared in the Muslim world. So is his apparent anti-Semitism. The King Soopers store advertises itself as a provider of Kosher foods, and it was likely crowded with Jewish customers in the week leading up to Passover. Had Ahmad Al-Issa been killed in his encounter with police, he would probably now be hailed as a hero and a martyr in the West Bank—an area that regularly honors martyrs for the good deed of killing Jews.

Questionable narratives

In the hours immediately following the shooting, a narrative had begun to develop which characterized the shooter as a typical gun-loving white supremacist. But when it was revealed that he was a devout Muslim of Middle-Eastern descent, the media quickly shifted narratives. According to the new narrative, Al Issa had mental health issues, he was bullied by his school mates for being Muslim, and he was a lone wolf who had no connection to Islamic groups. However, the guns-are-to-blame message was retained. All of this, of course, directed attention away from the shooter’s probable motive.

What might that be? Well, simply that jihad against unbelievers is an obligation for Muslims. Muhammad, the founder of Islam, was a warlord, and he made it clear that the highest activity a Muslim can engage in is jihad (by which he meant fighting infidels, not struggling with one’s conscience). Moreover, the highest rewards in paradise are reserved for jihad fighters. For some young Muslims, that is motive enough.

Those who comment on jihad attacks often describe them as “senseless.” Archbishop Aquila, for example, referred to the Boulder massacre as a “senseless act of violence.” But to those who subscribe to the fullness of the Islamic faith, killing infidels makes a lot of sense. An act of jihad for the sake of Allah guarantees entrance to paradise. Moreover, it brings honor to oneself and one’s family; and in some places, such as the West Bank, it brings money in the form of a handsome stipend to the martyr’s relatives.

The mainstream media, for the most part, admits to none of this. Instead, they cover for Islam. And they do so by claiming that the bad things that are done in the name of Islam have nothing to do with Islam. Islamic violence, they say, is caused by mental health issues, by bullying, or by misunderstanding Islam. But violence, they insist, has nothing to do with Islam itself.

However, if that’s so, why is jihad violence so common in Islamic societies? The kind of thing Al Issa did in Boulder is repeated on an almost daily basis in nations with sizable Muslim populations. Two weeks ago, at least 30 Nigerien civilians were killed in a series of jihad attacks on villages in Northwestern Niger. A week before that at least 58 civilians were killed in another attack in another area of Niger. The number of deadly attacks on Christians in Nigeria has risen sharply in the past year. These kinds of attacks are rarely reported by the American media, yet they occur with alarming frequency. Perhaps the reason we hear so little about them is that they undercut the mantra that violence has nothing to do with Islam. For the same reason we hear very little about the frequent knife, car, bullet, and bomb attacks committed by Muslims in Europe. Our betters have decided that it’s better that we don’t know about such things.

And here we come to the main method of keeping alive the narrative that jihad has nothing to do with Islam. The media has discovered that the best way to keep you from finding out too much about a story and making connections you’re not supposed to make is to kill the story—after a decent interval, of course.

But the decent interval is often surprisingly short. Stories about jihad violence disappear down the memory hole rather abruptly. The Boulder massacre is a big story and the media will be forced to pay attention to it for a few more days. But you can expect that the story will soon drop almost completely out of sight. The story of a Muslim attacking suburban whites, many of them Jews, doesn’t fit the narrative, and it can’t be allowed to hang around for too long.

On the other hand, stories that do fit the favored narrative are kept alive well past their sell-by date. Take the attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019 which left 50 Muslims dead. It fit the media narrative to a “T”—white nationalist kills Muslim victims at prayer. Still, it was clearly a tragic and important story—one which merited international coverage. But, because it reinforced the liberal narrative, it remained a top story for many months after.

2019 was also a bad year for Christians in Nigeria. They were being slaughtered by Muslim jihadists on an almost daily basis and Christian churches were frequently targeted. But unless you followed the Christian press you were unlikely to know about any of those occurrences. Then, on Easter Sunday, 2019, about a month after the New Zealand massacre, Islamic terrorists attacked three Christian churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka, leaving two hundred sixty-nine dead. That story was hard to ignore, and it did receive extensive coverage—for about ten days. But there was very little discussion about the ideology of the terrorists or the fact that Islam is a supremacist religion. Meanwhile, a contingent of Islamic ambassadors managed to convince the Archbishop of Colombo that the bombings had “no connection to Islam.” Needless to say, the coverage of the New Zealand mosque massacre continued unabated for week after week, and the coverage left the distinct impression that there is a connection between Western civilization and white racism.

Mental health, paranoia, and Islamophobia

Interestingly, the Christchurch massacre enters into the Boulder story. And the way it enters in gives us a chance to look more carefully at the suggestion that Al Issa suffered from mental health problems—specifically paranoia. After the Christchurch shooting, Al Issa seems to have picked up on the media spin that the killings were the result of white supremacy and Islamophobia. In 2019, he wrote that the dead were “victims of the entire Islamophobia industry that vilified them.” In the same year, he wrote that his phone was being hacked by “racist Islamophobic people.” Mental illness is not incompatible with adhering to a radical ideology; and it could be that Al Issa was suffering from paranoia or from paranoia exacerbated by Islamist ideology. In any event–whether true or not—he saw himself as a victim of Islamophobia.

But what is the source of this paranoia? If, as is strongly being suggested in the media, Al Issa really does suffer from paranoia, and is thus less responsible for his crime, doesn’t the media become a party to the murder of those ten people in Boulder? After all, the media has been obsessed for years with the narrative that most of the world’s problems are caused by racist white supremacists and Islamophobes. As Andrew McCarthy observes in National Review, “He [Al Issa] appears to have imbibed… the Muslim-as-victim-of-white-supremacist-America story line served up incessantly by the media-Democrat complex and American universities.” But this raises a question: does the media itself suffer from paranoia? After all, it sees racism everywhere—most recently in the deadly attacks on Atlanta massage parlors. Despite the denial of the Atlanta killer, these have been pegged as “anti-Asian” hate crimes. And if a few paranoid Asians start striking back in violent ways—well, who can blame them?

Perhaps the biggest paranoids of all, however, are left-leaning politicians in Washington. Prior to President Biden’s inauguration, they surrounded the Capitol complex with razor wire fences, and brought in twenty-five thousand troops to guard the proceedings. What were they afraid of? An imaginary army of white supremacist domestic terrorists. It may well be that this dramatic display of government paranoia fed into Mr. Al Issa’s own paranoia, and provided further justification for his belief that the ubiquitous white racists were targeting him as well.

But the possibility of mental health issues does not exclude Islamic ideology as a motive for Al Issa’s actions. There is a good deal of evidence that Islamic doctrine was much on his mind. On his Facebook page (which has now been deleted) he posted a graphic with a quotation: “O people, listen to me in earnest. Worship Allah, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to” (from the Last Sermon of Prophet Muhammad). On another post, he wrote, “Muslims might not be perfect, but Islam is.” On another, he claimed that Jesus and Mary were Muslims.

This in itself doesn’t prove a jihadist mindset, but who knows what else might have been deleted by Facebook? Were there, for instance, anti-Semitic rants? According to an ADL survey, the area of the world from whence Al Issa’s family comes has one of the highest levels of anti-Semitic attitudes in the worlds. It seems no coincidence that he targeted a market which featured an array of kosher food, and was frequented by local Jews. Moreover, his identity was previously known to the FBI because of his link to another individual under investigation. Under investigation for what? The reports don’t say, but it likely was not a trivial matter.

All this circumstantial evidence tends to undercut the mental health narrative. So does the enormous volume of terrorist activity by Muslims throughout the world. In the past few years more than 3,000 Christians have been killed by Muslim terrorists in Nigeria alone. Supposing that many dozens of Muslims must have been involved in the massacres, does that mean that they were all mentally ill? Maybe they were. Or maybe they only seem so from a Western perspective. As I remarked previously, Westerners consider jihadist killings to be “senseless.” But “senseless” is in the eye of the beholder. If what looks like paranoid behavior from a Western perspective happens to coincide with Islamic beliefs, it will not be perceived of as a mental health issue in a traditional Islamic society.

In the West Bank, for instance, killers of innocent Jewish children are not considered to be conscienceless psychopaths, they are considered to be heroes. Another instance? When news of Zaher Mahmoud’s attempt to kill two Parisians with a meat cleaver reached Pakistan, his family reacted by expressing great pride and joy in their son. According to one Pakistani newspaper report, Zaher Mahmoud was “considered a hero across all of Pakistan.”

According to an AP report, Al Issa’s lawyers “could ask the court to order an examination by a psychiatrist or psychologist to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.” A finding of mental illness would allow the defendant to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. And in Colorado, the legal definition of insanity hinges on whether or not the defendant knew right from wrong at the time of the crime.

Right from wrong? But jihad is right from a strict Islamic perspective. Indeed, it’s the most meritorious act a Muslim can perform. So, a Colorado jury will have to decide if Al Issa was a paranoid madman, or if he was merely an obedient Muslim who, like Muhammad, thought it just to protect Islam from the enemies of Allah—by violent means, if necessary. Most likely, the jury will decide he was insane. Otherwise, they might have to deal with the thorny question of whether jihad has anything to do with Islam.

Noah Green and the Nation of Islam

Meanwhile, an even more recent attack may throw some light on the Boulder case. On April 2, Noah Green launched a car and knife attack on officers at the North Gate of the U.S. Capitol, resulting in the death of one of the officers. Green’s Facebook page identifies him as a follower of the Nation of Islam, the religion currently led by Minister Louis Farrakhan. Although the leadership claims that the Nation of Islam is a Muslim group, Sunni and Shia Muslims reject the claim. So, the attack cannot be easily chalked up as just another Islamic attack. However, the attack does bring up, once again, the question of the relationship between religious beliefs and mental illness. According to a Washington Post article, Green’s family said that he suffered from depression and ‘potential mental illness.’

This, it could be argued, would take the heat off the Nation of Islam. However, the truth is that there are paranoid elements in the Nation of Islam ideology. It is an anti-white religion which considers whites (who were supposedly created by a mad scientist) to be inferior to blacks, and it involves a final apocalyptic destruction of white supremacists carried out by a giant space vessel. In short, it would be difficult to claim that Green’s attack on the Capitol of a supposedly white supremacist nation, has nothing to do with the doctrines of the Nation of Islam.

Orthodox Islam has no doctrine of racial supremacy, but it does have a well-developed doctrine of religious supremacy. Moreover, sharia law books explicitly state that the lives of Muslims are more valuable than the lives of Jews, Christians, and pagans. It will be interesting to see how the case of Ahmad Al Issa turns out. But don’t expect his case to be resolved for a long time, and don’t expect the media to keep you informed of its progress. If the media remains true to form, it will drop the Boulder story within a very short time. If too much attention is paid to Al Issa and his faith, people may begin to wonder if there is not, after all, a connection between Islam and violent jihad.

This article originally appeared in the April 10, 2021 edition of Catholic World Report under the title: “Ahmad Al Aliwi Al Issa, Jihad, and Questionable Narratives.”

Photo credit: TravelBoulder.com