"He told me I had to change my religion to Islam and said 'Do you forgive us? Do you forgive us?',
A four-year-old British boy caught up in the Kenya mall terrorist attack confronted a gunman who later asked for forgiveness, after his mother was shot in the leg, it has been reported.
Four-year-old Elliot Prior, from Windsor in Berkshire, came out of hiding and told one of the militants that he was a "very bad man" as he protected his mother, Amber, who had been shot in the leg, and six-year-old sister Amelie.
Amber, a film producer, had been queuing to buy milk in Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall when the militants attacked, and took refuge under a counter in the Nakumatt supermarket. She shielded her children for an hour and a half before being found and shot in the thigh.
The attacker is said to have taken pity on the family and given the children Mars bars. He then reportedly said: "Please forgive me, we are not monsters."
After discovering the advertising producer was of French origin, the men began to plead with her and claimed that the Muslim faith 'was not a bad one'.
"He told me I had to change my religion to Islam and said 'Do you forgive us? Do you forgive us?', said the mother. "Naturally, I was going to say whatever they wanted and they let us go."
Did the gunmen ask themselves why if Islam is such a good religion did they find themselves threatening a mother and her children and then asking her forgiveness?
Some of them may have been converts to Islam. It's happened before. And their conversion would have brought them to kill people who could have been their countrymen, their friends and relatives.
That is what makes any totalitarian ideology, whether it's Nazism, Islam or Communism so toxic. It trains people to let go of their human impulses and become monsters. And even recognizing that what they were doing is wrong, the terrorists could think of nothing to say except to urge their victims to join their cult.