My prior column, ‘Communication bridge’ (Daily Times, October 17, 2014), reviewed cases of Muslims targeting non-Muslims in the name of a creed. The regional phenomena took place in the state of Oklahoma. The column concluded with the news of a young man in the Netherlands who envisioned beheading Jews. We are on the cusp of increasing cases of regional phenomena with reportable occurrences.
Immanuel Kant brought the term ‘phenomenon’ into usage within a vibrant philosophical flowering of modern thought. Kant theorised that the human mind restricted to a logical world will interpret the world via observation of physical appearances. What is experienced becomes the basis of individual reality. I love trees but do not observe the leaves. I look toward the geometry of the branches. There is nothing more beautiful than a bare tree with gnarly hands lifted toward the sky. You might see the leaves. I ponder the majesty of the branches. According to Columbia Encyclopedia, “Modern philosophers have used ‘phenomenon’ to designate what is apprehended before judgment is applied.”
Phenomenon has a flip side that is very subtle. In contrast to phenomenon, a noumenon is not directly accessible to observation. Herein lies the problem with the hardcore propaganda that is being used to target the Muslim demographic. Those who imbibe the poison believe that their minds are logical and that they are experiencing a logical order of things. Propaganda creed can ensnare in seconds and not minutes. Let me repeat this in a stronger manner because it is necessary. When an individual chooses to copulate within a jihadist community, the individual can become impregnated with malignant thought within seconds. Read this paragraph again. How much time did it take to read it? This is enough time for the conception of a bastardised seed of thought.
Take the recent case of an eighteen-year-old teen from Melbourne, Australia. Numan Haider was a danger to society. He apprehended a false reality and did not apply judgment to his observations. What was going on in his mind (noumenon) was not directly accessible as observation for his family and friends. A shocked friend described him as “gentle”. But emotions are not a linear experience. Those who observed a calm demeanour had no real idea as to the raging emotions charging through Mr Haider’s body. While smiling at the world, his emotional state was devolving with the development of a dangerous and aggressive alter ego. As he observed the society of which he was a part, he allowed his hatred to build against his own region. Mr Haider made observations, did not apply judgment and let malignant thought impregnate his mind. Hellfire was reaching out for him. He just did not know it yet. The police had some worrying pieces of information. They retained a level of concern that caused them to place a hold on Mr Haider’s passport. They also visited his family home and talked with his parents.
What began as a false emotional attachment to a false reality exacted a price. Who did Mr Haider listen to and what did he read? The maturation of his hatred entrapped Numan Haider’s thought processes and he began to fantasise about what he now considered a logical course. Numan Haider wanted to join a growing throng of jihad tourists willing to function as the dismounted cavalry of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Mr Haider is dead now. He engaged in a slashing attack against two police officers who responded with deadly force. According to the Daily Mail, “The attack was the culmination of what appears to be an extraordinary transformation from an average young Muslim man to a bloodthirsty extremist.”
Phenomenon and noumenon are the basic tools of jihad propagandists. Last month the terror jinn made another appearance with a poisonous release by a scorpion who calls himself al Shaykh al Mujahid Abu Muhammad al Adnani Ash-Shami. The audio release is 41 minutes and 46 seconds of the usual hatemongering. Let me take a moment, mute the sound and just read the text. It is better for my own well being to digitally remove the man’s vocal cords before placing just a few short poisonous snippets on the page.
“None of us is killed but to leave behind him a story that awakens the Muslims from their slumber by its recount. He who has no experience fighting and thinks he cannot contribute anything practical on the ground, having no goal except to be killed, so that he can illuminate the path with his blood, and thereby enliven the hearts with his story, generation after generation. He makes his body and remains a bridge for those who awaken after him to pass over. Then know that our knife is hard and sharp. It cuts off the hands and strikes the necks.”
I will not bore you with the threats issued against the US, the French, the Jews and the Crusaders. You get the point. However, essentially, the audio release is a call to arms to young Muslims everywhere. Yes, they need to senselessly spill their blood for global issues that they scarcely grasp. Those of us who work diligently to thwart jihadi thought have the best interests of the general public at heart. This reminds me of an old joke. Two Russian men stood looking down into the casket of a woman. One commented to the other, “How did your mother-in-law die?” The man replied, “She died from poisoning.” The man responded, “Then why does she have bruises all over her body?” The son-in-law replied, “She did not want to take the poison.”
I choose to firmly resist taking the poison as I monitor propaganda’s flow into Muslim society. However, I am still affected by the fight. The viciousness of the words is a bruise to my own psyche. As I peer deeply into the abyss of jihadist propaganda, I continue to support greater padlocking of propaganda sites so that minimal damage is done to real freedom of expression.
Numan Haider is dead. There is no grand story to recount to his family.
The writer is a freelance journalist and author of the novel Arsenal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org