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Chechens: Islam justifies killing prisoners

Website presents case as gunmen slay hostages in Moscow
Posted: October 25, 2002 © 2002 WorldNetDaily.com

Islamic teaching allows the killing of prisoners if it benefits Muslims, according to articles on a pro-Chechen Islamist website that cites Muslim sources, including the Quran. Chechen gunmen holding about 600 hostages in a Moscow theater have set a dawn deadline to begin killing the rest of their captives if Russia does not agree to pull its army out of Chechnya.

The anti-Russian website probably is run by Chechens, said the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, which translated the articles. An article titled "A Guide to the Perplexed about the Permissibility of Killing Prisoners" says Islamic scholars present five approaches drawn from various interpretations of the Quran:

  1. A polytheist prisoner must be killed. No amnesty may be granted to him, nor can he be ransomed.

  2. All infidel polytheists and the People of the Book (i.e., Jews and Christians) are to be killed. They may not be granted amnesty, nor can they be ransomed.

  3. Amnesty and ransom are the only two ways to deal with (surviving) prisoners.

  4. Amnesty and ransom are possible only after the killing of a large number of prisoners.

  5. The Imam, or someone acting on his behalf, can choose between killing, amnesty, ransom or enslaving the prisoner.

The author indicates the last option as his preference, explaining that Islam's prophet, Muhammad, had dealt with prisoners in different ways to maximize the benefits to Muslims. He gives examples of methods with which Muhammad had chosen to kill, grant amnesty and ransom prisoners.

The article was a reaction, the author said, to criticism by Muslims that had "torn his heart," concerning the execution of nine Russian prisoners after the government had refused to surrender "one of Russia's biggest criminals and crooks."

According to the author, the Chechens have executed prisoners not because of their heart's desire, but because they have seen a benefit for the Muslims in such an act.

Some critics have argued, the author notes, that no one should be punished for the sins of others. He insists, however, that Allah permits the killing of a prisoner because he is a prisoner and all the more so if one's killing for the sins of others serves an important Islamic interest, as well as a deterrent to the enemy.

An article titled "Are Hostages Prisoners?" explains the concept of hostages in its modern application to local kidnapped individuals and foreigners who are held as a means of pressure to achieve specific goals.

According to the author, he who was kidnapped in accordance with Islamic law should be considered a hostage, and hence a prisoner, who should be treated in the manner that would bring benefits to Muslims.

Another article, "Prisoners in Islam," indicates there are five methods that Islam proposes for dealing with prisoners: release without ransom, ransom, killing, enslavement or subjugation to the authority of the Islamic state.

The method changes according to circumstances, but it has to be one that brings the greatest benefits to Muslims, the article says. For example, if among the prisoners there is someone who is strong and is likely to tantalize the Muslims and his staying alive might cause harm, his killing will be the preferred method.

If there is someone who is weak but wealthy, ransoming him is the best method, according to the article. If there is someone who holds a favorable view of Muslims and could help them and their prisoners, amnesty is the best method. If there are those who could render a service, such as women and children, enslavement is considered best.

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