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Amongst learned infidels, jihad is the most recognized and notorious of all Muslim doctrines.
Literally meaning to “struggle” or “strive,” jihad can take on any form, though its most native and praiseworthy expression revolves around fighting, and killing, the infidel enemy — even if it costs the Muslim fighter (the mujahid) his life:
“Let those who would exchange the life of this world for the Hereafter fight in the path of Allah; whoever fights in the path of Allah — whether he dies or triumphs — we shall richly reward him” (Koran 4:74). And “Allah has purchased from the faithful their lives and possessions, and in return has promised them the Garden. They will fight in the path of Allah, killing and being killed” (Koran 9:111).
The hadith also has its fair share of anecdotes advocating the “one-man jihad.” Zawahiri’s treatise, “Jihad, Martyrdom, and the Killing of Innocents,” (AQR p. 137-171), spends much time justifying the desperate solo jihad — otherwise known as the “martyrdom operation” — including by offering the following hadith: “A Muslim asked Muhammad, O Messenger of Allah! If I plunge myself into the ranks of the idolaters and fight till I am killed — what then, to heaven? He [Muhammad] said yes. So the man plunged himself into the ranks of the idolaters, fighting till he was slain” (AQR, p. 153).
The learned ulema agree. According to al-Qurtubi (d. 1273), “There is no wrong for a man to singlehandedly attack a mighty army — if he seeks martyrdom — provided he has the fortitude.” Others indicate that one of the reasons making the one-man jihad permissible is that it serves to “terrify the foe” (AQR, p. 155).
And there it is: When all else failed, when Hasan’s forthcoming deployment into Muslim land forced him to expose where his true loyalty (wala’) lies, pretense (taqiyya) gave way to full-blown struggle (jihad).
Hasan, who sacrificed many years to become a psychiatrist and a U.S. Army major, in the clear words of the Koran “exchange[d] the life of this world for the Hereafter.”
Evidence also indicates that he believed “martyrdom operations” were not only valid but laudable acts of courage, writing “YOUR INTENTION IS THE MAIN ISSUE” (capitals in original).
Zawahiri puts it more articulately: “The deciding factor is … the intention.”
Is the mujahid killing himself “to service Islam [laudable martyrdom], or is it out of depression and despair [forbidden suicide]?” (AQR, p. 157).
(Unfortunately and, no doubt, much to Hasan’s chagrin, infidel medics ensured his failure to achieve martyrdom.)
The greatest proof that, at least in his own mind, Hasan was waging a jihad is the fact that he utilized that immemorial jihadi war cry — Allahu Akbar! — which has served to terrify the infidel denizens of the world for centuries.
Here’s an example from Muslim history (circa the early 8th century): “The [non-Muslim] inhabitants of eastern Anatolia were filled with terror the likes of which they had never experienced before.
All they saw were Muslims in their midst screaming ‘Allahu Akbar!’ Allah planted terror in their hearts. … The [non-Muslim] men were crucified over the course of 24 km” (from Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk).