Monday, June 19, 2006

Jihad in the days of Jefferson

Just goes to show that jihad has been around awhile:

Victory in Tripoli: How America's War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation
By Joshua E. London
John Wiley & Sons

A fledgling republic without a navy, the United States seemed ripe for the picking. In 1783, Muslim pirates - the sea-faring terrorists of their day - began attacking American merchant vessels in the Mediterranean, and the following year, the Moroccans captured a brig called Betsey and enslaved its crew. Soon afterwards, the ruler of Algiers declared war on the US, a declaration backed up by marauding corsairs.

The situation worsened with each coming year, but for the life of them, the Americans could not figure out what they did to make themselves so hated. In May 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, then both diplomats in Europe, met with Tripoli's ambassador to London. Why did the North Africans attack ships of a country that had done nothing to provoke such hostility, the two asked him.

The response was unnerving. As Adams and Jefferson later reported to the Continental Congress, the ambassador said the raids were a jihad against infidels. Muslim privateers felt "it was their duty to make war upon them [non-Muslims] wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could as Prisoners, and that every Mussleman [Muslim] who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise."

The Americans now had two choices: pay tribute or fight the pirates. Read More.

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