25 March 2011

Fragments of broken young bodies

"Following in the tradition of the Assassins – the followers of Hassan Sabah who terrorized the Seljuk authorities in the eleventh and twelfth centuries of our era – Khomeini issued a new call to martyrdom. Hassan Sabah had recruited an army of fedayeen (Arabic: fida'i, fida'iyoun, one who sacrifices himself, from fada, to redeem), whose mission was to kill God's enemies and to die in the process. Khomeini's similar call to sacrifice was enthusiastically received by many young people, and even by their parents. An army of martyrs had soon been assembled, consisting largely of teenagers, who were to surrender their lives for the sake of paradise – often running across minefields to prepare the advance of professional troops. A contemporary report in the Tehran daily Ettelaat (30 January 1982) records one such event:
 “They were all volunteers. They were all aged fourteen, fifteen and sixteen to twenty. They were there to turn the minefield into a rose garden. They were blossoms in half bloom. They would rise before dawn, which is the time for roses to open their petals. They would then run over the mines, creating a duststrom which roared like thunder. Eyes would then see nothing. Ears would then see nothing.
 “And then the duststorm would settle and a blessed silence would cover the field. We could then see fragments of broken young bodies covering the plain: scraps of flesh and bones, some stuck to thorn bushes or pebbles. It was as if the sky had rained flesh and blood and pieces of broken bone on that field ..." (The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat, Roger Scruton, 2002; page  122 as quoted in Taheri, Holy Terror, pages 239-40). 

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