First Amendment for Jihad?

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Two months ago, Tareq Mehanna, an American-born citizen from Massachusetts, was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda, providing material support to terrorists (and conspiracy to do so), conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, conspiracy to make false statements to the FBI, and two counts of making false statements. He traveled to Yemen to get training in order to fight against American troops in Afghanistan, but failed. His use of the Internet to propagate Jihad, however, was defended by civil libertarians as “free speech,” protected by the First Amendment.

But Jihad is not philosophy. It is a call to action, not meditation or self-examination. A central tenet of Islam, it can mean helping others and self-improvement. But for most Muslims it means a divinely mandated war against “infidels” – non-Moslems. It can take many forms: piloting planes into buildings, blowing up planes with hidden bombs, murdering people who are accused of insulting Mohammed and the Koran, and urging others to engage in violence – that is, incitement.

It is also incumbent on Muslims anywhere, anytime, and for any reason they personally feel applicable. Since Islam does not have a hierarchy of authority, although some leaders are more acceptable than others, one can pick and choose. There are basically no rules or restrictions. One can follow a local sheikh collecting charity, or a preacher exhorting homicidal attacks.

Had Mehanna succeeded in being trained to kill, and if he and his friends who accompanied him had survived and returned to America, they might have opened a 7-11, or they might have plotted another 9-11.

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  • PhillipGaley

    I'm going to have to go with the civil libertarians and Justice Jackson in the war crimes trials on this one—as, “free speech,” protected by the First Amendment; and in doing so, I see several advantages for the larger Society—Justice Jackson had said that, those who had been at bar had been tried, not for their repulsive philosophy, but for what they actually did.

    While, as "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.", still and all, and turning to the other direction, to that other party in conflict, because it is only in terms of language that, we are able to think, allowing Mehanna's freedom of expression, might provide attentive listeners with a pretty fair indication of what he thinks and of his possible courses of direct—or even, indirect—action.

    But not only this, to us as easily, his freedom is collateral to ours, . . . in freeing our own minds from caution for what we might say, . . .

    And so again, the greater the degree of freedoms, the more inclusive the Society, the safer and in all ways, the greater that Society, . . .

  • anonymous


    Did you open a can of vegetable soup and find it contained a surplus of commas, prompting you to inflict the excess on the rest of us? Did the other punctuation marks gang up on you and terrorize you when you were a small child, making you too frIghtened to ever face them again?

    Randomly slinging commas throughout your post doesn’t make your gibberish any more understandable or make you appear any smarter!

    William F. Buckley Jr. must be spinning in his grave! I hope he gets up and haunts you for that post of yours!

  • Schlomotion

    This article reduces to the question: "The question is not whether Mehanna has the right to preach and publish what he believes – under the First Amendment he does – but whether Jihad is part of a legitimate accepted dialogue."

    That question reduces to: is there a legitimate accepted dialogue?

    If so, who legitimates it and who gives it the stamp of acceptance?

  • ahmadnb

    Violent Jihad/warfare can only be declared by a head of state…this is the earliest precedence that was set by Muhammad himself. Acts of terrorism are not acts of Jihad, but crimes against humanity. This joker mentioned in the story is a criminal, pure and simple and should be put down once and for all.

    • Roger

      Oh come now, you know better than that.
      Al Qaida has no head of state and they declared violent jihad.

      Every crackpot group that wants press declares jihad and blows up a hotel or market place.

      • ahmadnb

        And for your information, al Qaida's “jihad” is illegitimate. I say this as a Muslim. And it is the duty of Muslims around the world to not only shun Al Qaida but to hunt down its members like animals and kill them until every one of them is dead. Now you can declare a “Crusade” against Islam and get nowhere. Or you can join up with the Armed Forces of your country if it is engaged in operations against Al Qaida. Unless, of course, they deemed you as “unfit to serve due to mental incompetence” which is what I strongly suspect in your case.

        • Roger

          No, it's good information.
          You want to pretend that you decide what the militants can and can't do?

          The only way is if you get their attention at the end of a gun.
          Until then, any crackpot muslim can and does declare jihad and then starts shooting folks. Nigeria is facing a lot of church bombs with that scenario.

          You may think you know islam, but you don't if you are serious about the things you say here.

  • Ghostwriter

    Until Muslims understand that Americans don't want Islam forced on us simply because they want to,the struggle against Jihadists and Jihadism is going to be a long one.

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