On Sunday night, a Muslim named Faisal Hussain strolled calmly down Danforth Avenue in Toronto’s Greektown, a popular area known for its restaurants and cafes. Hussain pulled out a weapon and started firing into some of those restaurants, murdering two people and injuring another 13.
The most obvious explanation for this is that Hussain was answering the call of the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaeda for individual Muslims to murder civilians in Western countries. The Islamic State issued this call in September 2014:
So O muwahhid, do not let this battle pass you by wherever you may be. You must strike the soldiers, patrons, and troops of the tawaghit. Strike their police, security, and intelligence members, as well as their treacherous agents. Destroy their beds. Embitter their lives for them and busy them with themselves. If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be….If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him….
Hussain’s family, on the other hand, was ready with a different explanation. His parents issued a statement saying: “Our son had severe mental health challenges, struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life….While we did our best to seek help for him throughout his life of struggle and pain, we could never imagine that this would be his devastating and destructive end.”
This might be more convincing had we not heard it so many, many times before. Just a few of many available examples:
Last week in Paris, a Muslim hit a 69-year-old Jewish man, knocking him to the ground, and then dragged him by the hair, all the while screaming “Allahu akbar, long live Hitler, death to the Jews.” The attacker was sent for a psychiatric evaluation; French authorities are apparently not even considering the possibility that he is a jihad terrorist with Islam’s special hatred for Jews.
Likewise in June 2017, a Muslim who stalked through a Jewish area of London screaming “Allah, Allah” and “I’m going to kill you all” was not a jihadi. A police spokesman explained: “He was detained by officers under the Mental Heath Act. No one was injured. This is not being treated as terror-related.”
Also in June 2017, a Muslim in a Metro station in Lausanne, Switzerland began screaming “Allahu akbar,” causing commuters to run away in terror. But there was nothing to be concerned about: the prosecutor explained that “this is a person who was afraid his life was in danger. At the height of his crisis, he began to face paranoia. Then he called to God for help. This is what he did last Friday in the subway shouting Allahu akbar.”
In March 2017, a Muslim in Germany attacked a 59-year-old man riding his bicycle, bashing his skull with a hammer. Police announced: “The suspect may have a mental illness” and stressed that this was not a jihad attack, as the attacker was simply “mentally ill.” Another Muslim in Germany who wounded nine people with an axe in a train station was also not a jihadi; he had “mental health problems.”
In May 2016, a Muslim screaming “Allahu akbar” and “Infidel, you must die” stabbed four people, killing one, at a train station near Munich. Nonetheless, Bavarian security officials immediately denied that he “had an Islamic extremist motive.” Then what caused the attack? Bavaria’s state interior minister Joachim Herrmann said that the attacker had “mental disorders.”
A Muslim was arrested in June 2016 for a jihad plot to attack tourists and police. He was found with a knife and a machete. According to the Telegraph, “the suspect has a history of psychiatric problems and has been diagnosed as schizophrenic, but is considered nonetheless ‘truly radicalised’ with a ‘serious profile.’”
In August 2016, a Muslim stabbed six people in London, murdering one of them. The BBC reported that “the Met Police’s assistant commissioner for specialist operations, Mark Rowley, said the investigation was increasingly pointing to the attack being ‘triggered by mental health issues.’”
That was also the verdict in the case of Gyulchehra Bobokulova, the Muslim woman who in May 2016 beheaded a four-year-old girl and then paraded her severed head through the streets of Moscow. She screamed “Allahu akbar” while brandishing the girl’s head and said that Allah had ordered her to behead the girl. She seems to have had an Islamic State boyfriend. She had become religious not long before the beheading, and started wearing hijab. She says the beheading was revenge for Russian airstrikes on Muslims in Syria. She told her son to pray five times a day and live in accord with Sharia. Despite all that, however, she was declared insane and not brought to trial.
In Uruguay, a Muslim screaming “Allahu akbar” stabbed a Jewish man to death, and later explained that in committing this murder, he had “followed Allah’s order.” But a judge ruled that he was “suffering from chronic psychosis of schizophrenic type” and “was not able to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions.”
In the same way, a Muslim who was shouting “Allahu akbar” outside a Brooklyn synagogue in July 2016 and had two knives in his car was, according to the New York Daily News, nothing to be concerned about: “investigations by the NYPD and FBI showed Joudeh, 32, was emotionally disturbed and not a terrorist threat.”
Mental illness is also the cause of anti-Americanism among Muslims. Military Times reported that in November 2015, “a Jordanian police captain opened fire in an international police training facility, killing two Americans and three others. The government subsequently portrayed the police captain as troubled.”
Of course. What else could he be?
What those who dismiss jihad activity as mental illness never consider is that it could be both. If Faisal Hussain really struggled with mental health issues throughout his life, as his family claims, he may have considered himself to be under a curse from Allah, and decided to do something great in order to get into the deity’s good graces. And Islam teaches that there is no deed greater than jihad: a hadith has a man asking Muhammad, “Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).” Muhammad replied, “I do not find such a deed.” (Bukhari 56.4.2785)
If Faisal Hussain was tormented by the idea that he had sinned, he also might have been trying to make sure the scale holding his good deeds outweighed the scale holding his evil deeds (cf. Qur’an 21:47) by performing what is, in Muhammad’s view, the greatest deed of all.
There is, in sum, no reason why an act of jihad terror cannot be performed by someone who is on the psychically marginal edge, and plenty of reasons why someone who is psychically marginal might opt for jihad.
But we are certain to hear even more the same old excuses in the coming days, along with admonitions that only by rejecting “Islamophobia” can we prevent future Faisal Hussains. The mental health of would-be Islamic jihadis will be, like everything else, made the responsibility of non-Muslims, just as it is the responsibility of non-Muslims to bend over backward to accommodate Muslim demand so as to prevent “radicalization.”
The jihad imperative in the Qur’an and Sunnah, however, is open-ended. Jihad is to be waged against all infidels, not just to those who are “Islamophobic” and not appeasement-minded. And so all the claims after this latest jihad attack that Muslims are the real victims of jihad and require special accommodation may well result in that accommodation in Justin Trudeau’s Canada, ostensibly to prevent more Faisal Hussains from going round the bend, but it will do nothing to blunt the force of the advancing jihad.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.