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Americans need to understand "Kital"

Reader comment on item: Denying [Islamist] Terrorism

Submitted by Chris Chrisman (United States), Feb 10, 2005 at 12:38

I am a regular reader of your articles, and I commend you for the service you are providing by illuminating the public about the dangers threatening our society.

The signature attacks of people like the Hossam Armanious family, hostages in Iraq, and Theo Van Gogh should be self-evident that Islamic terrorism is involved. Perhaps you should educate your readers about the concept of "Kital" -- fighting with a weapon in your hand. This term is invoked 12 times in the Koran. For example, Surah 2:216 says, "Fighting with a weapon in your hand has been prescribed upon you even if it is repusive to you. Allah knows better." I'm sure you have people on your staff who are better students of Arabic than I am, so the context of the word "kital" can be examined in the original Arabic.

One of the things we learned in the O.J. Simpson trial was that police generally view knife attacks as something more serious than murders by guns. Police say that the murder has to have a deep personal hatred for the person to slay him or her with a knife. I believe this applies particularly to Islamic terrorism.

I recently read Marjorie Housepain Dobkin's book "Smyrna 1922 - The Destruction of a City." What was remarkable to me was that many of the killings of Greeks and Armenians were by knife. After General Noureddin had the Greek Metropolitan Chrysostomos condemned to death he turned him over to a mob, saying, "Treat him as he deserves!" The mob tore out the Prelate's beard, gouged out his eyes with knives, cut off his ears, his nose, and his hands. This kind of brutal torture continued until he was dead. Dobkin wrote, "The Reverend Charles Dobson observed a group of two hundred kneeling on the road beside his home. At dusk Monday all two hundred were butchered, 'by steel,' wrote the chaplain, 'to avoid rifle fire'. By official orders, swords and daggers had replaced the noisier weapons on Monday evening. " (p. 135) Others, tied together, were doused with gasoline and set on fire. While the Germans killed many more Jews in the Holocaust, their procedures were almost sanitary and mechanical by comparison.

Americans, and particularly police investigators, need to be better informed about "Kital" as a way of identifying crimes committed by Islamic terrorists. No, not every knife-attack is by an Islamist, but this should certainly be noted if different religions are involved.

Chris Chrisman, Los Angeles
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