When Muslims Betray Non-Muslim Friends and Neighbors
Let believers not take for friends and allies infidels rather than believers: and whoever does this shall have no relationship left with Allah—unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions – Koran 3:28
Days ago, after the Islamic State [IS] entered the Syrian city of Hassakè, prompting a mass exodus of Christians, a familiar, though often overlooked scene, took place: many otherwise “normal” Muslims joined ranks with IS, instantly turning on their longtime Christian neighbors.
This is the third category of Muslims that lurks between “moderates” and “radicals”: “sleepers,” Muslims who appear “moderate” but who are merely waiting for circumstances to turn to Islam’s advantage before they join the jihad; Muslims who are waiting for the rewards of jihad to become greater than the risks.
There is no lack of examples of these types of Muslims. The following are testimonials from non-Muslims, mostly Christian refuges from those regions of Iraq and Syria now under Islamic State (or other jihadi) control. Consider what they say about their longtime Sunni neighbors who appeared “moderate”—or at least nonviolent—but who, once the jihad came to town, exposed their true colors:
Georgios, a man from the ancient Christian town of Ma‘loula—one of the few areas in the world where the language of Christ was still spoken—told of how Muslim neighbors he knew all his life turned on the Christians after al-Nusra, another jihadi outfit, invaded in 2013:
We knew our Muslim neighbours all our lives. Yes, we knew the Diab family were quite radical, but we thought they would never betray us. We ate with them. We are one people.
A few of the Diab family had left months ago and we guessed they were with the Nusra [al-Qaeda front]. But their wives and children were still here. We looked after them. Then, two days before the Nusra attacked, the families suddenly left the town. We didn’t know why. And then our neighbours led our enemies in among us.