September 14, 2016 Special Dispatch No. 6610

'Last Will' Of Brussels Attacker Triggers War Of Words Over Motivations Of Suicide Bombers Targeting West

September 14, 2016
Special Dispatch No. 6610

The March 22, 2016 triple suicide bombing targeting Brussels Airport and the Maalbeek metro station, which killed 32 and wounded over 300, was later claimed by ISIS. On July 17, ISIS published what it claimed was the will of one of the suicide bombers, Khalid El Bakraoui (also known by his nickname Walid Al-Beljiki), though there are indications that El Bakraoui may not have authored the text himself, or that it may have been heavily edited by ISIS media so that it would be appropriate for propaganda purposes. (See MEMRI JTTM report ISIS Releases Will Of Brussels Suicide Bomber Khalid El Bakraoui,  July 16, 2016)  In the will, El Bakraoui calls upon Muslim in the West to join ISIS and to carry out operations in its name. He accuses the "Crusader West" of massacring Muslims, for example in Palestine and Iraq, and states that terror attacks, including the killing of civilians, women and children, are justified in light of the asymmetric nature of the war between the Crusaders and Muslims. He goes on to denounce the West, its values, beliefs and habits, such as the theory of evolution, pornography, prostitution, and same-sex marriage.

The aftermath of the Maalbeek metro attack, with portrait of El Bakraoui (Image: official ISIS media outlet Al-Furat)

The will sparked a debate between two Arab columnists. Egyptian writer and journalist Suleiman Al-Jawda wrote that El Bakraoui's will was important because of its explanation of why terrorists carry out suicide bombings, and said that decision-makers in the West should seriously address the reasons it gives, so as to prevent the recurrence of similar attacks. Al-Jawda's article was harshly criticized by Dr. 'Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, a Qatari writer and intellectual and former dean of the Shari'a and Islamic Studies faculty at the University of Qatar. Rejecting Al-Jawda's explanations, Al-Ansari wrote that "the discourse justifying terrorist attacks and tying them to the issue of Palestine and to Western atrocities is a false discourse." He added that politicizing terror activity is aimed at attracting more young people, ensuring the continuity of terror and making it harder to deal with,  and that a person does not blow himself up to fight injustice, but out of religious zealotry.

Banner advertising ISIS release of El Bakraoui's will (Image: official ISIS media outlet Al-Furat)

The following are excerpts from both articles:

Egyptian Writer: The Will Explains Why A Suicide Bomber Blows Himself Up, Provides Opportunity To Prevent Future Attacks

Egyptian writer and journalist Suleiman Al-Jawda wrote in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on August 16, 2016:

"If this will has been missed by the decision-makers in the Western capitals, as is everything else, then there is no chance that the danger of terrorism afflicting the Western world around us, country by country, will pass anytime soon. The author of this will is Khalid El Bakraoui, who blew himself up in the terrorist attacks that struck Belgium in March 2016. He is clearly a member of the terrorist organization ISIS; otherwise ISIS would not have published his will via a [media] outlet described as affiliated with it.

"The most important thing about this will is that it answers the question that we continuously ask ourselves after every terror attack whose perpetrators die at the scene - whether by blowing themselves up or in a hail of police bullets. After every such incident we ask ourselves... why those who perpetrated this or that attack decided to kill innocents who just happened to be at the site [of the attack], and why they eventually killed themselves as well.

Suleiman Al-Jawda (Image: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London)

"Why?! During every such incident, we yearn for the police to catch one of the perpetrators alive and ask: Why?! When a terrorist dies by blowing himself up or from police gunfire, our hope shifts to the possibility that he left behind a document revealing what motivated him to carry out the attack. I do not remember ever having found something definite on this issue, in any previous incident, that reassured us or slaked our thirst [to understand]! But El Bakraoui's will may do so...

"The importance of El Bakraoui's will lies in that it does not discuss property he left behind, for instance, or what each of his heirs receives... If that were the case, we would not deal with it or care about it at all... Its importance lies in its revelation of what pushed him to blow himself up in the capital city of Brussels... and his call to all those who champion his misguided ideas to repeat his actions against innocent people!

" El Bakraoui says in his will that the massacres carried out by the West in Palestine and Iraq gave him the idea to attack those he killed in Belgium, as it is part of the West... We stand, therefore, before a criminal who explicitly states what led him to perpetrate his crime. But at the same time, we should ask ourselves whether this young man would have carried out the same crime against innocent people if he saw that the residents of Iraq or Palestine were suffering less than they are now!

"Decision-makers in Western capitals... are invited to ask themselves if someone like El Bakraoui would have decided to blow himself up in Brussels had he and his ideological ilk been certain that the West was not the reason for the Iraqis' suffering and the Palestinians' agony, and that the West, as such, had devoted efforts to ease the suffering they currently experience!

"The decision-makers have the grave responsibility of considering the reasons for terrorism by examining this will before considering the symptoms [of terrorism] and dealing with its outward manifestations. They are seriously invited to request [a copy of] the text of this will, to read it carefully, and to analyze its elements; [if they do so,] they may ultimately arrive at a cure that would prevent others from following in El Bakraoui's footsteps. As [decision-makers], they also have the massive responsibility of informing the relevant elements in their capital cities that there is a people in Palestine with a just cause, and that the men of conscience in those capitals should help it so that it will have a state on its land - and of [informing them that] Iraq is in the situation it is in at present only because Bush Jr. chose to invade its territory with no justification. The best proof of this is the recent Chilcot report that condemned [British prime minister] Tony Blair for following Bush Jr.!

Therefore, the West, which is represented by Bush Jr., who unleashed the sectarian demon in Iraq, should at the very least devote the efforts needed to exorcise this same demon!

"If the decision-makers act according to this logic, then they will, first and foremost, fulfill their duty; second, they will leave no pretext or justification for violence by El Bakraoui and his ilk; third, they will create the possibility that the danger of terrorism worldwide, and particularly in the West, will pass." [1]

Qatari Intellectual: A Suicide Bomber Blows Himself Up For Religious Beliefs, Not To Fight Injustice

On the liberal website on August 22, 2016, Qatari writer Dr. 'Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari harshly criticized Suleiman Al-Jawda and rejected his arguments regarding the importance of El Bakraoui's will and the West's need to address it seriously. According to Al-Ansari, no one blows himself up to fight injustice, but rather "for the sake of a religious belief that lionizes his crime under the guise of jihad and a martyr's death for the sake of Islam." He wrote:

"The essence of the will of Khalid El Bakraoui, who blew himself up in the Brussels Metro station in March 2016, is that he carried out his attack as revenge against the Crusader West that joined forces to collectively exterminate Muslims in Palestine, Iraq, and China, and as an expression of his hatred of the moral values of the infidel West, which [he said] exploits women in prostitution, pornographic films, and commercial advertisements. He threatened merciless vengeance against the West and called on all Muslims [to join] the armed struggle.

Dr. 'Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari (Image"

"The will was reported on by various media outlets, and a prominent media figure like Suleiman Al-Jawda was misled by it and penned an article [about it] titled 'A Will That Is Not Fleeting,' [in which he argued that] this was the first time that a suicide bomber left a will revealing the cause for his actions, and answers the question we have long asked ourselves after every terrorist attack - why do they blow themselves up? [He added that] El Bakraoui's will answers our question and maybe even quenches our thirst [for this knowledge]!

"Does the distinguished writer really believe this nonsense? Does he truly believe these phony excuses, and that El Bakraoui carried out his criminal act to defend Muslims and as a response to Western aggression against them?!

"If he does, then he is deluding himself on many accounts:

"1. Discourse justifying terrorist attacks and tying them to the issue of Palestine and to Western atrocities is a false discourse as old as the terrorist groups in Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, and Morocco in the 1970s, who killed Muslims while claiming to defend their honor! Thus, the Houthis chant curses against the Jews and 'death to America and Israel,' while killing innocent Yemenis every day! And Hizbullah kills Syrians daily while claiming to resist Israel and America!

"2. All the declared plans of all of the terrorist organizations in the region include demands related to Palestine - but in 50 years, none of these organizations has carried out a single terrorist attack against Israel!

"3. El Bakraoui's will is not the first of its kind. It was preceded by other terrorist wills, notably that of Anas Al-Kandari, who carried out the attack in Faylaka, Kuwait in 2003,[2] which was titled 'To Our Leader Osama Bin Laden, We Will Not Resign Or Break Our Oath.' This will contained the same nonsense as El Bakraoui's will, and stated: 'Your country, oh America, has gone too far with [its] tyranny and arrogance. It killed 13,000 in Somalia, one million children in Iraq, and thousands of Muslims in Sudan and Indonesia, and occupies the land of the two holy shrines [Saudi Arabia]. It is the Christians who are supplying the weapons to the Jews who kill the Palestinians!' What a false will! If [Al-Kandari] or El Bakraoui were truthful, then they would have blown themselves up in Israel, and not among innocent peaceful people who are unconnected to the international political struggles in the region.

"4. Oh how they lie! They blow up worshipers who kneel and bow during the holy month [of Ramadan]; Boko Haram kills thousands and abducts hundreds of young girls; ISIS kills Muslims and enslaves Yazidi women; the Taliban kills Afghans and wipes out a generation of lawyers in Quetta [Pakistan], along with their parents and relatives.[3] Then they shamelessly call for jihad to combat Western injustices against Muslims!

"5. The international battles of interests and the injustices that stem from them are not exclusive to the Muslims. There are many conflicts and injustices around the world, and many peoples in Africa, Asia, and South America suffer the injustice of global powers fighting each other - yet they do not produce terrorists who kill innocent people at train stations or restaurants or marketplaces or public ceremonies and then pretend [to have done so in order] to avenge the usurped honor of their nation!

"6. Terrorist activity existed before all the domestic or foreign injustice [that terrorists claim motivate their actions]. It is rooted in the ancient Kharijites[4] and [earlier] terrorist groups in the modern era - except that in the past, the effects of terrorism were limited, while today it has spread and become more vicious under the influence of the media.

"7. The writer [Suleiman Al-Jawda] who saw terrorism as a response to political injustice was mistaken. His is a serious methodical error in diagnosing [the situation]. Terrorism is an ideology with its own philosophical structure, independent terminology, and viewpoint, and it is based on deep hatred for the other, to the point of [willingness] to die for the faith, and with no connection to or backing from political and social elements.

"8. Politicizing terrorist activity by defining it as a reaction to Western injustice gives it an aura of praiseworthy heroism that attracts more and more young people, ensures its continuity, and makes it harder to deal with.

"And finally, nobody blows himself up to combat injustice, but rather for the sake of a religious belief that lionizes his crime under the guise of jihad and a martyr's death for the sake of Islam." [5]




[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 16, 2016.

[2] Referring to an attack on October 8, 2002 on American soldiers carrying out joint military maneuvers with the Kuwaiti army on Faylaka Island. The attackers (Al-Kandari and his cousin, Jassem Al-Hajiri) killed one U.S. marine and injured one other before being shot and killed by U.S. forces.

[3] Referring to an August 8, 2016 suicide attack on a hospital in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan in Southwestern Pakistan, that took place as dozens were mourning a prominent lawyer who was shot and killed earlier that day. The attack killed at least 70 and wounded dozens more. Jama'at Ul-Ahrar, which broke away from the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack, as did ISIS several hours later.

[4] The Kharijites (Khawarij) were a dissident group that split from Ali's camp at the Battle of Siffin in 657; it is considered the first Muslim opposition group in Islamic history.

[5], August 22, 2016.




Share this Report: