al-Awlaki has a Phineas moment

Here’s a meme worth noting when it crops up in the advocacy of religious violence:

You don’t need permission from a religious authority…


This particular idea came up in the video of Anwar al-Awlaki that was released yesterday, Nov. 8th.

Flashpoint Partners translated the comment in question, “do not consult anyone in killing the Americans. Fighting Satan does not require a jurisprudence. It does not require consulting. It does not need a prayer for the cause. They are the party of Satan … It is the battle between truth and falsehood.”

The AFP translation of the key phrase here reads, “Killing the devil does not need any fatwa (legal ruling).”


My interest was piqued because of the correspondence between this comment from al-Awlaki, and the case of Phineas in the biblical Book of Numbers, chapter 25.

Phineas is “the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest” – but when he recognizes that the Lord would be infuriated by the interracial and interreligious copulation of Zimri, “a prince of a chief house” in Israel, with Cozbi, the daughter of the “head over a people, and of a chief house in Midian”, he does not go to the priest his grandfather seeking permission to kill them – he knows it is his Lord’s wish that they should die, and so he takes the responsibility for his action entirely upon himself, and kills them.


As I shall recount in greater detail in two future posts on the topic of Phineas, it is the fact that Phineas acts without first requesting permission that pleases his Lord so much that He grants to Phineas and his seed “the covenant of an everlasting priesthood”.

It is precisely this acting without requesting permission that is emphasized in modern Christian Identity writings on the topic of “Phineas Priests”:

So a Phinehas priest is a MAN who acts on personal initiative to execute Yah’s judgment on violations of Yah’s laws which are adversely affecting His people.

And according to Ehud Sprinzak, the eminent scholar of modern Jewish terrorism, it was reading the “Balak portion” of the book of Numbers, in which the story of Phineas is recounted, that convinced Yigal Amir that he could legitimately assassinate Yitzhak Rabin without first obtaining rabbinic approval (which would have put the rabbi who granted him permission at risk).


So. We have one more piece of the puzzle by which a mind with its own interpretation of God’s will can come to the conclusion that some specific act or acts of violence – accurately termed “terrorism” by others – are not only divinely sanctioned, and indeed mandatory, but can be undertaken without the requirement of prior verification from an appropriate religious authority.

And in this case — the religious authority, such as it is, of Sheikh al-Awlaki proposes this.


Aaron Zelin‘s post on the Qur’anic text invoked by al-Awlaki’s title and the commentaries on that verse by ibn Kathir and others, is well worth your time, if you have not already seen it.

A bin Laden October surprise ?

The 2004 Madrid train bombings occurred the week of a national election and cost Prime Minister Aznar his job. This was widely seen as punishment for Spain’s participation in Iraq and the new Socialist government quickly turned tail and fled.

Last week, a UPS cargo flight crashed in Dubai because of a fire in the cargo hold, thought to be caused by lithium batteries. Now, we see several more instances of UPS planes with potential bombs hidden in altered ink cartridges.

Is this bin Laden telling us that he can still do damage from his palatial home in Pakistan ? I think this is just the beginning of this story.

The left’s romance with terrorists.

It is a bit peculiar how the left seems to be fond of terrorists. Bill Ayres and his wife, of course, are prime examples but not the only ones. Some of them have adoring books written about them. Naturally, Sarah Jane Olsen had become a “community activist” in her new identity.

Now we have a new example disclosed today by Andrew Breitbart. Bradblog is a left wing blog that has become very successful while attacking such people as James O’Keefe of the ACORN tapes, and it has spun numerous conspiracy theories about the right and election fraud, etc. It turns out that one half of the blog, which has received over $1.3 million in donations from such sources as Teresa Heinz’s Tides Foundation, is a convicted murderer and terrorist. His name is Brett Kimberlin although he was once known as the “Speedway bomber” as he terrorized a town in Indiana. He was also a drug smuggler and dealer and he eventually ended up with a 50 year prison sentence. He was paroled after only 13 years but, when he refused to make any payments to the widow of one of his victims who had won a civil suit against him, he went back to prison for four more years.

Today he is a prominent figure on the left and his story of how he went to prison, a total fabrication, has made him even more of a hero. It’s pretty interesting reading.

The Flight of the Intellectuals

Michael Totten, whose blog I read and support has a marvelous interview with Paul Berman, author of Flight of the Intellectuals. The interview is lengthy and wide ranging but worth the time to read it. Unfortunately, for some reason, Michael doesn’t have a permalink on the article so you have to scroll down to May 11. [Jonathan adds: Link to Totten’s post] One sample. They are talking about Bush Derangement Syndrome:

Paul Berman: I had an experience like that in relation to Ronald Reagan. I had a huge learning experience in Nicaragua in the 1980s when I was reporting for the Village Voice on the Sandinista revolution — a Marxist semi-communist revolution in those days.

Reagan was against the Sandinistas, and he did all kinds of things that, at the time, I thought were terrible. And I still think he did terrible things. Still, I was always astounded when I was among very poor people in Nicaragua to learn how many people liked Ronald Reagan. I would question them, and I could comprehend their answers, pretty much.

MJT: What did they say?

Paul Berman: Extremely poor market women, for instance, in an extremely poor town, would tell me, “the workers and peasants are suffering.”

I would ask, “Who is defending the workers and the peasants?”

And they would say, “Ronald Reagan.”

I said, “Ronald Reagan is defending the workers and peasants?”


MJT: [Laughs.]

Paul Berman: And they would say, “Yes!”

All they knew—and they got this from the Sandinista news radio—was that if the Sandinista regime had a bitter enemy anywhere in the world, it was Ronald Reagan. And therefore they felt he was defending the workers and peasants. Their way of speaking about the workers and peasants reflected the Marxist rhetoric, but they hated the Marxists.

MJT: [Laughs.]

It is terrific, as are most of his posts.

If Major Hasan had been Gay, would he still be in the US Army?

Had Major Hasan made as much public about having gay lovers as he did about being an Islamist, would he have been discharged from the US Army before the recent FT Hood shooting?

If the US Army has a “watch list for gays,” then why doesn’t it have one for potential uniformed Islamists, to prevent terrorist attacks or “Sudden Jihadi Syndrome?”

This particular question has been all over conservative web sites and talk radio (The Glenn Beck show for one) this morning.

After all, TIME magazine reports 2/3 of Muslims enlisting in the US Military are resident aliens. A “Uniformed Islamist Watch List” would seem a basic counter-intelligence security precaution.

If the speculation stemming from British newspapers is true, the US Army seems to have known enough to move Major Hasan from Walter Reed hospital to FT Hood to keep him from stalking the Israeli Ambassador.

I would lay in a supply of microwave popcorn to see Senator Joe Lieberman ask Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey Jr. the questions of “What did the Army know, and when did they know it?” and “How does removing possible Islamists in the ranks differ from ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ procedures to remove suspected Gay soldiers?,” in front of the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee, under oath.