February 13, 2015 | Peshawar mosque attack

On this day in 2015, terrorists besieged a mosque in Peshawar (Pakistan) with firearms and bombs, killing 22 and wounding at least 60.

It is not so odd that terrorists who say they are the ‘true’ Muslims end up attacking mosques a lot of the time.

TODAY IN TERRORISM — In all the years I worked as a strategic analyst in the Canadian intelligence community focusing on terrorism – Islamist terrorism more specifically – there was one thing that always struck me about these men (and women): their sense of their own religiosity.

A lot of people have tried to point out that many jihadis, especially those in the ‘West’, were not very ‘religious’. Scholar after scholar, and others, have stressed that these terrorists were very ignorant of Islam. I even recall one article where the author laughed at the fact that a foreign fighter (i.e. someone who went to join a terrorist group abroad) had a copy of Islam for Dummies with him. Hardy-har-har!

From this the analysis concluded that most terrorists were not actually Muslim and Islamist extremism has ‘nothing to do’ with Islam. This same argument has been made by countless imams and ordinary Muslims. Whatever it is that these violent extremists are up to it is NOT Islam.

And that argument is SO wrong.

2015 Peshawar mosque attack

What is missing in much of this is that simple fact that these terrorists not only see themselves as Muslim, they see themselves as the ONLY ‘true’ ones. In their world view, everyone else is wrong and must bow to their vision of the faith. If they don’t, they die.

This warped sense of reality may explain why we see Muslim terrorists regularly attack Muslim places of worship. Sometimes the mosques or prayer rooms targeted belong to a specific sect of Islam, such as the Shia (Islamist terrorists REALLY hate the Shia). They hate and kill those they see as wrong: the terms they regularly use are kuffar (infidels), murtaddin (apostates) among others.

For instance, on this day in 2015 terrorists besieged a mosque in Peshawar (Pakistan) with firearms and bombs, killing 22 and wounding at least 60. The Pakistani Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attack. According to a witness the worshipers had just finished prayers when five to six men wearing military uniforms broke into the mosque and started shooting.

“We had no idea what was going on. One of the attackers then blew himself up and then there was huge smoke and dust all around.”

It is hard to determine what kind of mosque was hit but if the name of the witness is any indication (he is called Shahid Husain) it is likely Shia. In response to the incident the Pakistani government pledged to crack down on all terrorist groups, and reintroduced the death penalty.

So the next time someone tries to tell you that these Islamist terrorists are not ‘Muslim’ respond that faith is in the eye – or the gun – of the beholder.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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