In a striking confession in London's Mirror by a young British Muslim about attempts to recruit him for jihad at a troubled moment in his life, he explains how his would-be recruiters made precisely this point to him:
They asked me if I'd ever contemplated suicide and if I wanted to end the pain and turmoil in my life. I was a teenager, with all the fears and insecurities of my age, with the added anguish of having just lost my dad. I was vulnerable and easily manipulated. They said: "If you commit suicide for your own reasons you'll bring shame on your family and go straight to hell, Jahanam. But if you end your life fighting for the cause of Islam, you'll be rewarded for all eternity. And you'll see your [recently deceased] dad again really soon."
In other words, as long as you're going to throw away your life, do it in for Islam and get the benefits. And what benefits!
They promised that if I died that way I would get 70 virgins in heaven and even talked about how I would be given a place to have sex, covered in diamonds and pearls. ... "You'll go instantly to heaven," they repeated. "All the problems and pain in your life will go away. You'll be rewarded for all eternity."
Comments: (1) The audacity of this pitch is excelled only by its immorality. (2) The virgins (or houris) pitch is hardly new. From innumerable examples: As a former member of the Iranian Pasdaran who fought the Iraqi forces in the 1980s explained, "I burned to die for Khomeini and for my country. They promised us a better life. They promised us God's grace after death." (July 14, 2005)
May 17, 2009 update: Another teenage British Muslim, this one living in London, and using the pseudonym "Adam," recounts to Kevin Dowling of the Sunday Times how he was groomed for jihad three years ago, when he was fifteen, by being approached at a mosque, then indoctrinated.
They showed us a jihadist video with the martyrdom flags behind the guy speaking, and the message I got was that I should prepare myself for martyrdom. I know a few of the others accepted that they would go [for training in Pakistan]. Some of the young people said, "I'm going to go." That was the ultimate purpose of what these men were doing: what they were doing was training people up to carry out operations in the UK. ...
"A lot of people think that terrorists are recruited in special recruiting grounds, but the truth is that it actually goes on in mosques a lot of the time. You'll go to pray and there'll be small groups of people just away from the main group in the mosque having their own discussion, talking about jihad and all these types of things. They started talking to me about what's going on in Iraq and about how all the people are dying and then they started inviting me to religious talks."
Dowling explains: "A month after Adam was approached at the mosque, he was invited to the first of many meetings at a rundown squat in south London. It was here — and in similar buildings — that the real process of indoctrination went on, with exposure to violent videos, including footage of beheadings." Adam goes on:
They would show us videos of people bragging about 7/7 and 9/11 and they made it clear that they approved of it. They weren't as blunt as to say, 'Yes, we did this' or 'We did that'. They were more aware than anyone that there's a chance that someone in that room could be recording them."
Adam quit the group after a year. "It was quite shocking to me. I started to think, 'Well, hold on a second, I don't want to kill anybody. Yeah, I've got anger inside me, but this isn't the right way to deal with this'." He pondered his near fate as a suicide bomber and said: "I feel very grateful that I didn't go down that road. Now I want an office job."
Dec. 9, 2013 update: Michael Adebolajo admitted in his trial proceeding to killing Drummer Lee Rigby on May 22, telling the court: "My religion is everything. When I came to Islam I realised that ... real success is not just what you can acquire, but really is if you make it to paradise, because then you can relax."
July 28, 2015 update: Palestinian children hear the same pitch at Al-Aqsa Mosque, told that martyrs get 70 virgins and jihadis who do not die in battle get only two.