Must listen: Ex-jihadi Hassan Butt talks terror and Islam with NPR

posted at 11:40 am on July 6, 2007 by Allahpundit

You’re looking for the extended interview. Things get interesting starting at about 8 minutes in when he explains the importance of Islamic theology in jihadi recruitment and then again at 11:30 when he talks about his alienation from the ideology. But the can’t-miss segment is at 13:40 with the exchange about updating Islam for modern times and countering the denialist current that leads to nonsense about the “tiny minority of extremists.” Stay with it until the end, noting what he says about curiosity-seekers looking to fanatics for answers when moderates tell them to stop asking questions. Assuming, that is, they’re able to communicate with them at all.

Then read Yon and see where it leads:

Speaking through an American interpreter, Lieutenant David Wallach who is a native Arabic speaker, the Iraqi official related how al Qaeda united these gangs who then became absorbed into “al Qaeda.” They recruited boys born during the years 1991, 92 and 93 who were each given weapons, including pistols, a bicycle and a phone (with phone cards paid) and a salary of $100 per month, all courtesy of al Qaeda. These boys were used for kidnapping, torturing and murdering people.

At first, he said, they would only target Shia, but over time the new al Qaeda directed attacks against Sunni, and then anyone who thought differently. The official reported that on a couple of occasions in Baqubah, al Qaeda invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking. In each instance, the family had a boy, he said, who was about 11-years-old. As LT David Wallach interpreted the man’s words, I saw Wallach go blank and silent. He stopped interpreting for a moment. I asked Wallach, “What did he say?” Wallach said that at these luncheons, the families were sat down to eat. And then their boy was brought in with his mouth stuffed. The boy had been baked. Al Qaeda served the boy to his family.

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God that Yon story is disturbing.

Bad Candy on July 6, 2007 at 11:49 AM

Okay, it’s mildly off-topic, but I found this from the linked article on “non-PC human nature” to be pretty fascinating – and I think pretty accurate:

Suicide missions are not always religiously motivated, but according to Oxford University sociologist Diego Gambetta, editor of Making Sense of Suicide Missions, when religion is involved, the attackers are always Muslim. Why? The surprising answer is that Muslim suicide bombing has nothing to do with Islam or the Quran (except for two lines). It has a lot to do with sex, or, in this case, the absence of sex.

Professor Blather on July 6, 2007 at 11:59 AM

The West is matching Islam in denial.

Lazarus on July 6, 2007 at 12:02 PM

We should just try to understand them, is all. After all, they are just stuck in poverty, and are only doing this because George W. Bush stole Florida, don’t ya know!

Sorry if any sarcasm dripped on you.

JamesLee on July 6, 2007 at 12:08 PM

Wait, Al Qaeda has been in Iraq since the early 90’s? But, that goes against everything I have been told by the MSM. In fact, I thought Saddam and Al Qaeda were enemies.

Oh, and I guess Al Qaeda and the Nazis DO have more in common than I realized.

BohicaTwentyTwo on July 6, 2007 at 12:23 PM

Al Qaeda served the boy to his family.

I know horrible things have happened over there and continue to happen to this day, but I’m stunned. How incredibly barbaric and horrible.

Esthier on July 6, 2007 at 12:23 PM

I know Libs who are starting to go crazy about Darfur. Know, I agree, I don’t like what I see going on over there, but what do these Libs think will happened if we send troops over there to stop the genocide? Do they believe that AQ will not get involved?

I suggest to one of my lib friends that they should join up with one of John Edward’s peace keeping task force and go over there to help put a stop to it. After all, there really isn’t a war on terror, its just a bumper sticker remember? My lib friend knows that terrorism isn’t about poverty and all the other nonsense that Edward’s would like to believe its about. He knows that if he were to go over there without the protection of an ever vigil military force his head would be lopped off.

Lib’s, they talk a good game, and thats about it.

OrthodoxRobert on July 6, 2007 at 12:27 PM

Thanks AP. That’s an exceptional interview. I really appreciate how she verbally got out of the way and let him expound on the mental process and his development.

Blather: that is some of my mind as well, though I don’t think it has to do with the lack of. I read somewhere the question about why sexual laws in Islam on earth, when it is promised as a reward; the answer in short, was refrain in this life to receive in next.

To wit, the ultimate ‘sacrifice’ is martyrdom and akin to a way to purge oneself of imbibing in this world what is reserved for the next. Hence a hating of western civ b/c they perceive it causes them to ‘sin’ and so they combine penitence and violence to please allah.

Not to take away from the theological aspect of course, but I think what you brought up factors in with some considerable force.

Spirit of 1776 on July 6, 2007 at 12:31 PM

OK, I just realized that the article says that Al Qaeda recruited children BORN in the early 90s,not that they were recruiting in the 90s. But it seems like for a secular country, they were quick to embrace militant Islam.

BohicaTwentyTwo on July 6, 2007 at 12:51 PM

And the Dems say we need to reach out, to try to understand our enemies, so we can coexist in a peaceful way. The way I see it, the more I understand them, the more I want to see them wiped off the face of the earth.

revolutionismyname on July 6, 2007 at 12:57 PM

okay, THAT is MESSED UP! I’m seriously crying right now…. wth!?

Please put some kind of content warning for something that awful next time AP.

j_ehman on July 6, 2007 at 1:31 PM

That is a great interview.

BillINDC on July 6, 2007 at 1:45 PM

Terrific interview. Hard to believe it was on NPR.

doufree on July 6, 2007 at 2:14 PM

Just how do you bake a 11 year old boy? Seems a bit far fetched to me…but hey, it’s Yon. The man’s got a great track record.
And i wouldn’t put anything past these savages.

madne0 on July 6, 2007 at 2:43 PM

al Qaeda invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking.

Al Qaeda served the boy to his family.

I do not see how this would convert the family. If anything, it should make them rabidly anti-Al Qaeda, like to the point of picking up the largest knife at the lunch and putting it to good business use.

I’d think that any such family would not blink an eye at exterminating any Al Qaeda from that point on. I wouldn’t.

Sickos. Yon – doing the (real) documentary Moore won’t do is incapable of doing.

IrishEyes on July 6, 2007 at 3:02 PM

Fantastic interview. Sooo much better that the one edited for broadcast. Mr. Butt is thoughtful and forthright. I hope he writes a book. I hope he’s not killed.

I love how the nice liberal interviewer was speechless at time, totally take aback by Hassan’s honesty and the depth of his knowledge. None of that religion of peace nonsense. Probably the single best audio on jihad I’ve ever heard.

Thomas the Wraith on July 6, 2007 at 3:42 PM

Probably the single best audio on jihad I’ve ever heard.

For me too.

Spirit of 1776 on July 6, 2007 at 4:07 PM

Butt… Twice in the interview he mentioned the twin towers “falling”. ???
Yes, it was an informative interview, butt rather self-serving.
Maybe he’s being squeezed, but I wouldn’t trust him.

williars on July 6, 2007 at 5:02 PM

Re his remarks on denial and shame for Islam’s transgressions against decent, law-abiding bipedal life forms: all fine and well. However, he addresses (rightfully) the burden of shame that Muslims carry. Theirs is a shame-based culture, unlike Judeo-Christian societies, which are guilt-based.

The difference, in a nutshell: In a guilt-based society, if I know that what I am doing is morally questionable, I must answer to my God or conscience about my actions or beliefs. I cannot escape what knowledge I possess within myself. However, in a shame-based society, I am accountable not to my God/conscience, but to the opinions of those around me, and if they can be fooled or placated, then I am morally at peace. The Arabs have a saying, “A sin concealed is 90% forgiven.”

So, it may be a charming idea to tell Muslims, “You shouldn’t be ashamed that you espouse an idiotic, 3rd world, stone-age mentality that threatens the lives of innocent human beings that have done you no harm at all,” but this equates to little more than telling a pedophile “Don’t feel bad about sodomizing that five-year old…you’re a sick man and you just need help.”

I applaud this guy’s change of heart, but I am nowhere near convinced that his strategies for rectifying the Muslim problem are practical.

PS: Forget any notion of an Islamic Renaissance. The Koran is the immutable word of Allah, and claims that it does not apply to contemporary society are, according to its very dictum, apostacy.

Islam must be either destroyed or at least relegated back to the desert from which it came. You are not going to revise into a benign ideology.

Lecture concluded.

thejackal on July 6, 2007 at 7:27 PM

OT . . . am I the only one who sees an uncanny resemblance between Hassan Butt look a lot like this character, Faisal from Sands of Passion?

heroyalwhyness on July 6, 2007 at 8:09 PM

the jackal-

The Koran is the immutable word of Allah…

Until the manuscript fragments found in a mosque wall in Yemen -of pre-Koranic Koran writings- become better known to Muslims.

If a chink in the dogmatic believe in the “perfect” Koran, delivered directly to Mohammad through Gibreel from Allah can be widened ….enough to make Muslims skeptical of the origins and creation of the current Koran, there may be room for a Reformation.

Muslims will have to understand that their imams have been deceiving them -for raw power- over them for centuries by promoting this mythical genesis of the Koran.

An early caliph destroyed all “earlier” Korans (why?) and left the present version as the “official” one (according to who?).

Doubt is essential for reform.

Islam needs to become wary of its internal masters.

And the cruel trick that was played on them.

If they can admit that the Koran is a humanly-transmitted document, and thus inherently flawed (as all men are flawed), the violent suras (dogmas) could be expurgated.

We can hope.

And Muslims will be grateful for finally gaining the freedom fro theocratic tyrants.

profitsbeard on July 6, 2007 at 8:20 PM


I assume you are referring to the Atlantic article of (approx.) 1997/8, which described the excavation of the building in Yemen and the German archeologist’s discovery of thousands of “nontraditional” Korans.

Very valid point. Alas, how do you educate such societies that the Korans they have memorized from youth are figments of their “internal masters?”

Frankly, I am most suspicious of the fact that there is no evidence, not even in the Muzzie world, that the very word Koran existed within 200 years of the death of Mohammed.

Very, very oral tradition we are dealing with.

Indeed, we can hope.

thejackal on July 6, 2007 at 9:53 PM

I’m beginning to think we’d have a better chance of winning this thing if we kidnapped their children and deprogrammed them.

Connie on July 8, 2007 at 2:14 AM