In spring 2013, a then 22-year-old man named Farea al-Muslimi testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about an American drone strike on his small village in Yemen. Muslimi, the beneficiary of a U.S. State Department scholarship that allowed him to learn English and study abroad in California, considers himself one of America’s greatest champions in the region.
Yet the attack “terrified thousands of simple, poor farmers” and, as Muslimi put it, “tore at my heart.” He said the attack made his “passion and mission in support of America almost impossible” and did more to empower anti-American terrorists than weaken them.
Many Americans who think their own hatred of radical Islamists is a logical consequence of the violence that Islamists commit fail to grasp that Islamists may hate the United States for the violent acts of our nation. This is a failure of reciprocal compassion — not that we should have compassion for terrorist leaders, but for those ordinary villagers Muslimi describes.