Islamist Assassinations in the West
Horrific as the first two forms of terrorism are, assassinations are the most terrifying and effective. Whereas the first two can happen to anyone and have the effect of creating a vague dread, the third focuses on a small pool of targets and sends a specific signal to others not to follow in their footsteps. Assassinations intimidate the most and have the gravest consequences.
Terrorism broadly takes two forms: against random individuals who happen to be at a market place or on a bus at the wrong time; or against specific individuals because of who they are. The latter in turn divides into two: against broad categories of people (the military, Jews, people who were eyeglasses) and against specific public figures, either individuals or institutions. In effect, these last are assassinations (defined by Merriam-Webster as "to murder (a usually prominent person) by sudden or secret attack often for political reasons").
Horrific as the first two genres are, assassinations are the most terrifying and effective. Whereas the first two can happen to anyone and have the effect of creating a universal but vague dread, the third focuses on a small pool of targets and sends a specific signal to others not to follow in their footsteps. In general, therefore, assassinations inspire the most consequential fear, intimidate the most, and have the greatest consequences.
Specific Western victims of actual Islamist violence, actual or foiled, have included:
- 1980: Ali Akbar Tabataba'i, Iranian dissident, in the United States*
- 1980: Faisal Zagallai, Libyan dissident, in the United States
- 1990: Rashad Khalifa, Egyptian religious innovator, in the United States*
- 1990: Meir Kahane, Israel politician of American origins, in the United States*
- 1991: Hitoshi Igarashi, Japanese translator of The Satanic Verses*
- 1991: Ettore Capriolo, Italian translator of The Satanic Verses
- 1993: William Nygaard, Norwegian publisher of The Satanic Verses
- 1995: Pope John Paul II (in the Bojinka plot)
- 2003: George W. Bush, U.S. president (by Ahmed Omar Abu Ali)
- 2004: Theo van Gogh, Dutch artist*
- 2008: Martin Rynja, British publisher of The Jewel of Medina
- 2009: Lars Viks, Swedish artist (by Jihad Jane)
- 2010: Kurt Westergaard, Danish cartoonist
- 2010: Lars Vilks, Swedish artist
- 2010: Jyllands-Posten, Danish newspaper
- 2012: Charlie Hebdo, French satiric magazine
- 2013: Lars Hedegaard, Danish historian and political analyst
Notes: (1) * indicates a fatality. (2) Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi, head of the Libyan government, was an Islamist in 1980. (3) I do not list here victims of Muslim but non-Islamist assassinations, such as Malcolm X in 1965. For the record, a Palestinian Christian killed Robert Kennedy in 1968.
(1) Listed by their identity, the victims include 9 connected to culture and the arts, 4 political figures, 2 religious ones, and 1 analyst. Of the 9 cultural attacks, 4 involved cartoons and 3 Salman Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses.
(2) Vilks is the only person to have been twice the target of Islamist assassination. (Pope John Paul II's Muslim would-be assassin of 1981, Mehmet Ali Ağca, was not an Islamist.)
(3) Geographically, 10 incidents took place in Europe, 5 in the United States, and 2 in Asia. Of the European cases, 6 took place in Scandinavia and 3 in tiny Denmark. Germany is conspicuously missing from the list.
(4) State involvement can be discerned only in the first 3 cases (Iranian, Libyan, and Saudi, respectively).
(5) In terms of deadliness, 5 attacks led to a fatality, 12 did not.
And a personal note by way of conclusion: the Feb. 5 attack on Hedegaard – a friend and colleague at the Middle East Forum – inspired me to compile this listing in the hopes that aggregating these loathsome crimes will help wake more Westerners to the danger within.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2013 All rights reserved by Daniel Pipes.
Reader comments on this item
|Adding to the list [38 words]||Jesper K.||Mar 19, 2013 08:45|
|The ideal weapon [99 words]||Ciccio||Feb 27, 2013 08:04|
|Islamism in Western countries [134 words]||Balakrishnan||Feb 26, 2013 23:41|
Comment on this item
by Burak Bekdil
Where Turkey stands today is a perfect example of how, when Islamists -- mild or otherwise -- rule a county, even the most basic liberties are systematically suppressed.
"A climate of fear has emerged in Turkey." — Hasam Kilic, President, Turkey's Constitutional Court.
The prosecutor demanded a heavier penalty for the victim than for her torturers.
The European Commission identified government interference in the judiciary and bans imposed on social media as the major sources of concern regarding Turkey's candidacy for full membership.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
To understand what drives a young Palestinian to carry out such a deadly attack, one needs to look at the statements of Palestinian Authority leaders during the past few weeks.
The anti-Israel campaign of incitement reached its peak with Abbas's speech at the UN a few weeks ago, when he accused Israel of waging a "war of genocide" in the Gaza Strip. Abbas made no reference to Hamas's crimes against both Israelis and Palestinians.
Whatever his motives, it is clear that the man who carried out the most recent attack, was influenced by the messages that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership have been sending their people.
by Richard Kemp
Would General Allen -- or any other general today -- recommend contracting out his country's defenses if it were his country at stake? Of course not.
The Iranian regime remains dedicated to undermining and ultimately destroying the State of Israel. The Islamic State also has Israel in its sights and would certainly use the West Bank as a point from which to attack, if it were open to them.
There can be no two-state solution and no sovereign Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan, however desirable those things might be. The stark military reality is that Israel cannot withdraw its forces from the West Bank.
Fatah leaders ally themselves with the terrorists of Hamas, and, like Hamas, they continue to reject the every existence of the State of Israel.
If Western leaders actually want to help, they should use all diplomatic and economic means to make it clear to the Palestinians that they will never achieve an independent and sovereign state while they remain set on the destruction of the State of Israel.
by Louis René Beres
The Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO], forerunner of today's Palestinian Authority, was founded in 1964, three years before Israel came into the unintended control of the West Bank and Gaza. What therefore was the PLO planning to "liberate"?
Why does no one expect the Palestinians to cease all deliberate and random violence against Israeli civilians before being considered for admission to statehood?
On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States endorsed a "Mandate for Palestine," confirming the right of Jews to settle anywhere they chose between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the core American legacy of support for a Jewish State that President Obama now somehow fails to recall.
A sovereign state of Palestine, as identified by the Arabs -- a Muslim land occupied by "Palestinian" Arabs -- has never existed; not before 1948, and not before 1967. From the start, it was, and continues to be, the Arab states -- not Israel -- that became the core impediment to Palestinian sovereignty.
by Timon Dias
It looks as if this new law is meant to serve as a severe roadblock to parties that would like to dismantle the EU in a democratic and peaceful way from within.
A rather dull semantic trick pro-EU figures usually apply, is calling their opponents "anti-Europe."