Westgate Mall attack: Moonshadow

Can we merely acknowledge once and for all that sprinkling ayat and Islamic battle cries into hate manifestos do not count for divine decree?

From Andalusia to Medievalism. From algebraic equations to anarchy. From science to slaughter. These are the thoughts that floated through my mind as the nation of Kenya endured an assault on the dignity of their civilisation. What transpired at Westgate Mall in Nairobi was not amorphous in the truest sense of the word. It had the shadow of the gestalt of Islam. And what a shadow is being cast as an al Qaeda, Al-Shabaab and the other notable ‘Al’ are thrown in the pot. Murder and mayhem in the name of god. This must be stopped.


On September 27, The Daily Mail reported on this latest jihad attack against civilised man.

Moonshadow is a song from the album ‘Teaser and the Firecat’, released by Cat Stevens in 1971. The lyrics seem haunting, when reflecting on what happened in Nairobi last week.

Read the lyrics, as we recount the story of a band of Muslim renegades putting the hurt on non-Muslims: “And if I ever lose my hands...”

Al-Shabaab terrorists removed men’s fingers with pliers. A doctor who entered the mall after the attack reported, “They get your hand and sharpen it like a pencil then they tell you to write your name with the blood...”

“And if I ever lose my eyes....”

Kenyan soldiers recounted that they encountered hostages who had their eyes gouged out and had been hung from hooks in the ceiling.

“And if I ever lose my plough...”

Men were castrated.

“And if I ever lose my mouth, all my teeth north and south...”

Al-Shabaab members took pliers to the nostrils of their victims and ripped the nares off. They disfigured faces and left their victims unidentifiable for those who mourn.

“Oh, I’m being followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow. Leapin’ and hoppin’ on a moonshadow...”

My apology for deconstructing a perfectly lovely song. It is meant to convey the patient endurance that can accompany suffering. But for more than a decade now, the continued rise of brigands of mercenary Muslims leapin’ and hoppin’ on a moonshadow has brought much harm.

The doctrine of jihad is comprehensible and contained when in the hands of scholars. When this same doctrine is wielded to justify criminal intent, it becomes ideologically lethal.

Perhaps it is time we reflect that the same man who wrote about the nature of patient endurance also wrote the words to Peace Train.

“Now come and join the living, it’s not so far from you. And it’s getting nearer, soon it will all be true. Now I’ve been crying lately, thinking about the world as it is. Why must we go on hating, why can’t we live in bliss? Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train. Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again.”

Most of us ride the peace train during the course of our lives. Harakat Al-Shabaab rides the Train to Hell. They have created the Somali hell, which now stretches across their borders into other nations. Their members must be quickly dispatched to their rightful destination and their train rails must be dismantled. Not a rail must be left in the ground. Economic rails must come up. Ideological rails must be dismantled. Military hardware rails must be tracked and removed. Too long, the rails have been left in place. And now, we have the latest horror show that has unfolded in Nairobi.

Sheikh Ali Dhere, whose real name is Sheikh “I-am-a-criminal” sent out a Twitter Manifesto whilst the attack was still in progress. Naturally, I steeled myself for his latest attempt to put an eloquent spin on why it is fine and dandy to impale children with knives and stuff them in cold storage spaces.

The operation was “a salvo of blood and arrows of gold.” It was mounted against Kenya. But of course, the attack at Westgate Mall was also against Jews. The attack was against ‘cross worshippers’. That would be me. Can we merely acknowledge once and for all that sprinkling ayat and Islamic battle cries into hate manifestos do not count for divine decree? They do account for underworld madness.

The body of literature within Islam is extensive regarding the doctrine of jihad. The history of the birth, establishment and growth of Islam includes all aspects of what it took for Islam to start with alpha, become a triad, and travel through history establishing benchmarks along the way. Defence parameters, red lines, codes, military strategy, triumph and tragedy all play out within the history of Islam as state. Within the gestalt of Islamic literature we can a read about the early battles of the Muslims. Literature that describes the battles and strategies of the early Muslims are titled ‘Maghazi’. The first historian to pen battlefield literature was Mohammad bin Ishaque (d: 150 AH) The more comprehensive compendium of Maghazi literature is found in the work of Al-Waqdi (d: 207 AH), written in three volumes. But these works, and all other battlefield tales retain their primary value as historic backdrops, not present day command and control.

When thinking of my own nation, were the Germans and the Japanese our eternal enemies, I would stand to lose a good friend or two. Enmity is not forever. Reconciliation is the natural order within healthy societies.

For al Qaeda and Hakarat Al-Shabaab, enmity is forever. Forgiveness is not an option. Gene pools are targeted. A tweet sent as the battle raged said that the infidels would pay with the blood of their children. Not my children. Not if I can help it.

I will ride the train into hell if that is the cost for a ticket on the Peace Train. I cannot pull up the rails in operational manner. But as a journalist I can yank up the ideological rails with consistent news reporting. Google can continue a blackout of images. Media can embargo the news. As for me? I will ride that train. With every single story.


The writer is a freelance journalist and author of the novel Arsenal. She can be reached at tammyswofford@yahoo.com