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Exploring the Roots of Terrorism.....The Templars and the Assassins. The Militia of Heaven
aubrey ^ | From Summer 2002 | James Wasserman

Posted on 09/08/2002 2:02:49 PM PDT by dennisw

 

 

 

Exploring the Roots of Terrorism
(From Summer 2002)

An Interview with James Wasserman

by Griselda Steiner

Exploring the Roots of Terrorism As our sense of invulnerability went up in flames on 9/11, Americans have been trying to fathom the history and current circumstances that led to these unimaginable events. While the 20th century witnessed many reversals of national rivalry after World War II, the 21st is laying bare a culture clash that is over a thousand years old.

James Wasserman's most recent book, The Templars and the Assassins—The Militia of Heaven, a fascinating study of two medieval Islamic sects, has already been translated into four languages and promises to become a modern classic on the subject of the holy warrior. Written and published before the recent attacks, the book illuminates our current dilemma because of the similarities between the modern terrorists and the medieval Islamic warriors Wasserman studied. The result of more than seven years of research, the book displays a profound grasp of both societies and their great conflict.

The Templars and the Assassins chronicles the Christian brotherhood, the Knights Templar, prominent during the 200 years of the Crusades (1095–1292), and the Assassins, an esoteric faction of Islam vying for power in the Middle East and Persia at the same time.

The first section deals with the history of Islam, giving us the necessary background. In the beginning, after the death of the Prophet, two branches emerged, each believing in different rights of succession. The Sunnis alleged that Muhammad had chosen as his successor, or Caliph (prince of the faithful), his father-in-law, Abu Bakr. The Shiites believed the Sunnis were abandoning the true teachings in their efforts to build an Islamic empire, and that leadership should be derived through bloodline. They chose Ali, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, as their leader.

In 765, Shiism gave birth to another faction—the Ismailis, whose imams (priests or spiritual masters) developed a following in relative secrecy and created a body of intellectual theological teachings. They organized a teaching network, the dawa, in which the imam's representative, or da (summoner), passed along the sect's wisdom. A further schism in 1094 led to the emergence of the Nizari Ismailis, popularly known as the Assassins. The mystic and political visionary Hasan-i-Sabah was leader of the Nizaris until his death in 1124. His rise to power was marked by an ironic mixture of astute spiritual leadership and trickery, betrayal and assassination.

We are grateful that Mr. Wasserman has agreed to share the fruits of his continuing research with Organica readers.

Griselda Steiner: What motivated you to write the book?

For most of my adult life, I have been a member of a society that claims access to the teachings shared by the Templars and the Assassins, and I have long been captivated by their history. I am also interested in secret societies in general, both those of a spiritual nature and those whose goals are political. Other books I have published on mystical themes are Art and Symbols of the Occult (Inner Traditions) and The Egyptian Book of the Dead (Chronicle Books).

The first edition of The Templars and the Assassins came off press on May 15, 2001. During the summer, I began work on its sequel, entitled The Divine Warrior. However, the horrific events of September 11th created a great deal of psychic tension in me because the methods and organizational structure employed by the terrorists against America were reminiscent of those I discussed in my book.

GS: Can you be more specific? What militant techniques did the Assassins use that were similar to those of modern terrorists?

Like the Assassins, the 9/11 hijackers wormed their way into the society they would attack. They blended into American culture, speaking English, using credit cards and remaining clean-shaven. The semi-autonomous structure of the terrorist cells was also reminiscent of the Assassins. The objective of their missions and operational plans of cells were known only to the leaders, who could not identify other cells. This design safeguarded their larger strategic objectives in the event of betrayal or discovery.

GS: What differences do you see between the medieval Assassins and the modern terrorists?

The political activities of the medieval Assassins were directed against individual policy makers. Those who follow the spiritual path share a basic respect for human life common to initiates of all traditions. I propose that Hasan-i-Sabah and his successors were living examples of this. In fact, I praise them in my book as pursuing a more humane approach to political ascendancy by targeting and assassinating opposing leaders. When the Mongols invaded Islam in the mid-13th century, they demonstrated indiscriminate ferocity, slaughtering tens of thousands. Hasan-i-Sabah, on the other hand, appears to have murdered some 50 opponents in his 35-year career. Hasan, like the early Greek scientist Archimedes ("Give me a lever and I shall move the world"), understood the physics of carefully applied force achieving maximum results.

Modern Muslim terrorists lack the discipline and dignity demonstrated by the Assassins of yore. Osama bin Laden and his network, which hopefully will be dismantled, have no respect for human life or concern for spiritual consequences of random murder.

There has been a romantic identification by many with bin Laden as a modern-day Robin Hood, a rebel with a cause hunted by the power structure of the New World Order. Bin Laden expressed his admiration for the Taliban state as approaching his ideal Muslim political structure. Although the apparent humility of a government that refers to itself as "students" (the literal meaning of taliban) may seem worthy, we are not speaking of intellectuals pursuing knowledge. They were taught to accept the world as flat because it was pronounced by one of their mullahs as recently as the 1960s.

GS: You state in your book that in gaining political power, "The intention of assassination was to create maximum intimidation and a psychological pattern of chronic fear and anticipation among Nizari enemies." The goal of today's terrorist appears the same.

Look at the response to the 9/11 bombings. A terrified American public is willingly accepting the shackles of the police state—warrantless searches, video surveillance, armed troops performing police functions and the promotion of national identity cards. These are precisely the demoralizing restrictions bin Laden and his cohorts hoped to impose on America.

GS: What do you believe motivates today's terrorist's hatred against the West?

Today's conflict has been going on for well over 5000 years. The continuous stream of hatred of the West expressed by extremists includes constant references to the Crusades. Bin Laden's umbrella organization, founded in 1998, is known as the World Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders. In addition to gazing back to the time of the Prophet, the extremist Muslims have not advanced further than their worldview in the 12th century. To maintain this kind of hostility through the centuries is pathological.

While uncounted trillions of dollars have flown into the coffers of the oil-producing lands, the extremists scream colonial oppression. Yet, their greatest grievance is against fellow Muslims. Some Middle Eastern Islamic states are ruled by corrupt oligarchies. The rulers of many Muslim countries that became independent of Western colonial rulership after World War II embraced failed political systems such as socialism in their attempt to modernize. This created central economic planning and bloated bureaucracies that maintained poverty and reliance on the Soviet empire. More recently, the disparity between the ruling classes and masses has motivated governments like the Saudi to encourage the spread of extremism. The purpose of their support is twofold. One is as a form of hush money to mitigate against anti-government rhetoric. The second is a practical program to export domestic troublemakers. Muslim governments are often hard-pressed to crack down on violence, afraid to be perceived as enemies of Islam. Finally, the use of the terrorist groups by states seeking to avoid international consequences is an effective ruse by which they pursue agendas. Thus states like Iran, Libya, Syria and Iraq gladly employ the type of plausible deniability provided by someone like bin Laden.

GS: How would you define militant Islam today?

Militant Islam is equal parts a revolutionary political movement and fundamentalist religious revivalism. It transcends the boundaries of state. Language barriers and national identities recede before the unity of religious belief and sense of the destined mission of Islam. The movement burst into world attention on September 5, 1972, when Black September murdered Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics. However, this action, taken under Arafat's Marxist PLO banner, was secular and atheistic at its core. It was a political protest against the Israeli state.

The Iranian revolution in 1979 heralded the emergence of the fundamentalist Muslim state and the proclamation of religious Jihad against the unbeliever and infidel.

Ayatollah Khomeini, the Shiite leader of Iran (Persia), must be seen in some measure as a successor to Hasan-i-Sabah. He was able to organize a band of powerless, stateless, religious rebels into a group capable of overtaking one of the most powerful military machines of the Middle East that had the "full support" of the West. Khomeini also accomplished something that Hasan did not—the union of fundamentalist Shiites with fundamentalist Sunnis. When the modern Islamic Terrorist Network was born, in large part directed from Tehran, a thousand-year-old dream was realized.

GS: In Islam, the lines between religion, politics and militancy are finely or never drawn. What inherent concepts led to this?

In the history of Islam as related in my book, particularly tracing the Sunni/Shiite split, we see that the Muslim faith is susceptible to schism and political tension. The reason is nearly equal doses of politics and religion that are its essential teaching.



Ideally, Islamic society is a theocracy. The mullah, sheikh or imam is considered by the faithful as the most competent person to interpret Muslim religious doctrine, offer spiritual counseling and provide political leadership. While Islam's monotheistic predecessors, Judaism and Christianity, both had theocratic yearnings, Western culture's respect for individuality mitigated against the establishment of a state run by clergy. On the other hand, Islam has an Oriental collectivism at its core that encourages the idea that religious purity is an aspect of state responsibility.

The most convenient excuse for Islamic violence is generally U.S. support for Israel. However, the roots of fundamentalist Sunni hatred extend considerably further back in time. The Salafiyya (community of True Believers) look back to the first three generations of Muslims for their inspiration. They believe they are the chosen of Islam, the one true community who will not be cast into Hell. They further believe that as Islam is the religion of Allah, it is the proper religion for every human being. Among those accepted as representatives of the Salafiiyyah is Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahab (1703–1792), who preached a return to the ways of the Prophet. His source of inspiration was theologian Ibn Taymiyah (1263–1328) of the 9th century Hanbali School of Islamic law. Wahab's message of fundamentalist reform was embraced by Muhammad ibn Saud, who conquered Mecca in 1806. His descendants established and now rule modern Saudi Arabia. Fundamentalist Wahabism remains the state religion of Saudi Arabia and its radical mullahs are being exported to mosques throughout the United States and Europe.

GS: Do you believe the West has a chance to eradicate dangerous Muslim extremism?

The goal of Muslim extremists is world domination through the establishment of a world government in which Islamic principles are the law of every land. This presents an intriguing contrast to the proposed tyranny of the secular, internationalist movement that seeks to bind the "world community" into a global government that I believe is equally pernicious. If Americans seek to remain a free people, we will refuse both sets of chains.

The tools we need to defeat the Islamists involve a return to our roots as a nation and as human beings. We are dealing with an enemy who is primitive, not one with whom we can negotiate. We cannot be polite; that is interpreted by this enemy as weakness. I believe the terrorists' greatest mistake was to assume that President Bush's policies would be a continuation of his predecessor's. We need to embrace the virtues of patriotism, militarism and decisiveness, as well as the common sense requirements of self-defense and national self-interest.

On the other hand, I think an outreach to Muslim people is in order. I happen to agree that the Iranian government should be considered part of an "axis of evil." However, there are many Iranian people who seek freedoms offered by the West. We made a terrible mistake in Afghanistan by successfully using their men as proxy fighters against the Soviets at the end of the Cold War and then abandoning them.

I firmly believe that our uniquely Western concepts such as "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" offer a far better political model that will triumph in the world of ideas—if we are brave enough to continue to live by them.

Griselda Steiner is a freelance writer and dramatist living in Manhattan. Her major work is dedicated to supporting feminine spirituality.

Photo Caption: James Wasserman's
The Templars and the Assassins—The Militia of Heaven (Inner Traditions, 2001) chronicles Islam's thousand-year-old culture clash. Similarities between medieval and modern terrorists have made the book, published months before the 9/11 attacks, more timely.
Photo: Illia Tulloch







TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Free Republic; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: assassins; templars; terrorism

1 posted on 09/08/2002 2:02:50 PM PDT by dennisw
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To: monkeyshine; ipaq2000; Lent; veronica; Sabramerican; beowolf; Nachum; BenF; angelo; ...
If you want on or off me Israel/MidEast/Islamic Jihad ping list please let me know.  Via Freepmail is best way.............

alt

2 posted on 09/08/2002 2:03:42 PM PDT by dennisw
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To: dennisw
Good read. Thanks for the post.
3 posted on 09/08/2002 2:15:14 PM PDT by FryingPan101
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To: dennisw
Where is a good Templar when you need one (or a thousand)?
4 posted on 09/08/2002 2:16:20 PM PDT by SpinyNorman
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To: dennisw
The Islamic religous nuts are making all religious nuts look bad. Why?

The Church of England -- in opposition to Tony Blair -- has joined the British public outcry against G.W. Bush's proposals to take out Saddam.

Even Michael Kinsley provides a hint as to the religious-ethic problem inherent in today's world. Kinsley, in his 9 Sept 2002 Time Magazine essay "How to live a rational life" esaay, he writes: ".... it's hard to be rational about the irrational. Who can guess what Osama bin Laden might want to try next? How can you discourage a suicide bomber who is looking forward to being dead ater killing you?"

Religious terrorists are today making all religious nuts look bad because our world needs a rational ethics, but all religions -- being irrational -- must join toether to fight that thought with vigor.

5 posted on 09/08/2002 2:24:56 PM PDT by thinktwice
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To: thinktwice
Ideally, Islamic society is a theocracy. [from the article]

Well, if that's the best it can hope for,
it's not worth the West defending, is it?
I mean, liberty and all that.

6 posted on 09/08/2002 2:47:13 PM PDT by gcruse
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To: thinktwice
It is commonly thought that Westerners, or Christians at least, won't fight to the death. In my own family, at least, that isn't the case. One of my grand-uncles had his head lopped off by the Japanese Army, after he tried stopping them from raping a women, just months after being released from a concentration camp after the Bataan Death March.

An old anti-Japanese guerilla told me a story that rivalled Robert Shaw's monologue in Jaws. He led a guerilla band operating in Bulacan, some miles out of Manila. The Japanese rounded up all the military age males in the vicinity and lined them up on Calumpit bridge. The Japanese officer wanted to know who the guerilla leader was, and stopped to interrogate the man next to him in line because he was a known rank and filer. "If you tell me your officer's name, I will let you go", the Japanese officer said.

I won't go into the details, but the man refused, and the Japanese officer cut him to pieces a bit at a time, an ear here, a nose there, a finger there, hoping he would break. All that time, the man the Japanese sought was standing right next to the dying man, who never uttered a word. But it was the fact that he tried to maintain a posture of attention until his last breath that the guerilla leader best remembered.

The Assasins haven't got a chance. Just ask Todd Beamer's relatives.
7 posted on 09/08/2002 2:47:59 PM PDT by wretchard
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To: SpinyNorman; dennisw
<< Where is a good Templar when you need one? [Or a thousand] >>

All around you.

Ask one.

8 posted on 09/08/2002 2:49:09 PM PDT by Brian Allen
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To: wretchard
Assassination has a long and honored history in the Islamic world. Regimes and kings have been changed due to it. It's war by stealth/deception which is just the way they like it. 

Saddam Hussein gained recognition when young when he assassinated an Iraqi leader

"How is Saddam Hussein, a man who can be easily compared to Hitler or Mussilini, been the leader of Iraq? This man was one in a group of people who assassinated Abdul Karim Kassem in 1959. This is a man who put people in prison because they spoke out agaist him ( they are usually tortured in prison. Examples of the torture include branding, electric shocks, administered to the genitals and other areas, beatings, burnings with hot irons, suspension from ceiling fans. They are usually killed after being tortured.) He is a man who loves the taste of power."

9 posted on 09/08/2002 3:00:35 PM PDT by dennisw
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To: dennisw
They were taught to accept the world as flat because it was pronounced by one of their mullahs as recently as the 1960s.

This just about says it all. They are basing this "religion" on mumbo-jumbo from more than a thousand years ago, weaving it together from fragments and bits and pieces of an idea that didn't REALLY survive in the first place. There is no way to take this "religion" seriously.

Good Find!

10 posted on 09/08/2002 3:00:56 PM PDT by EggsAckley
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To: dennisw
Interesting article. Did I miss what strange sect Mr. Wasserman belonged to? Is he a Sufi, perhaps?

In any case, I think he summed up a lot of important points:Finally, the use of the terrorist groups by states seeking to avoid international consequences is an effective ruse by which they pursue agendas. Thus states like Iran, Libya, Syria and Iraq gladly employ the type of plausible deniability provided by someone like bin Laden.

Bin Laden had the brilliant realization that we (America) only fight states. Not being or allying himself with a state was probably his smartest move.

We have to remember that many wars were won by changes in strategy. The Romans on many occasions revamped their strategy to fight the barbarians on their own terms. The Continental Army fought with a strategy that left the lined-up advancing squadrons of the Brits dead upon the ground.

I think, actually, that that's what we're doing now. We'll have a conventional war at some point. But who knows when?

11 posted on 09/08/2002 3:01:55 PM PDT by livius
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To: livius
Interesting article. Did I miss what strange sect Mr. Wasserman belonged to? Is he a Sufi, perhaps?
_____________

I don't know what he is but he has a website.

http://www.studio31.com


http://216.239.51.100/search?q=cache:VGXlMx7OM_8C:www.studio31.com/heaven.htm+%22James+Wasserman%22++sufi&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
12 posted on 09/08/2002 3:49:51 PM PDT by dennisw
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To: wretchard
Japanese religious ethics aren't any better than the rest of them. They are all irrational.

Mankind needs common sense rational ethics, but religions consider themselves citadels for all things ethical.

13 posted on 09/08/2002 4:04:19 PM PDT by thinktwice
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To: EggsAckley
There is no way to take this "religion" seriously.

There is no way to take any of them seriously.

14 posted on 09/08/2002 4:06:46 PM PDT by thinktwice
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To: xzins; dennisw
Thought you should read this X. Thanks for the ping dennisw
15 posted on 09/08/2002 4:12:15 PM PDT by TrueBeliever9
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To: dennisw
thanks for the ping
16 posted on 09/08/2002 6:35:23 PM PDT by dalebert
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To: dalebert
I agree, self-defense and self-interest should be the buzzwords of the day.
17 posted on 09/08/2002 7:51:15 PM PDT by Ciexyz
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Psalms 14:1-2
1. The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
2. The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
18 posted on 09/08/2002 8:43:41 PM PDT by Elsie
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To: dennisw
The goal of Muslim extremists is world domination through the establishment of a world government in which Islamic principles are the law of every land. This presents an intriguing contrast to the proposed tyranny of the secular, internationalist movement that seeks to bind the "world community" into a global government that I believe is equally pernicious. If Americans seek to remain a free people, we will refuse both sets of chains.

The tools we need to defeat the Islamists involve a return to our roots as a nation and as human beings. We are dealing with an enemy who is primitive, not one with whom we can negotiate. We cannot be polite; that is interpreted by this enemy as weakness. I believe the terrorists' greatest mistake was to assume that President Bush's policies would be a continuation of his predecessor's. We need to embrace the virtues of patriotism, militarism and decisiveness, as well as the common sense requirements of self-defense and national self-interest.

I agree.

19 posted on 09/08/2002 9:20:14 PM PDT by Victoria Delsoul
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To: dennisw
In addition to gazing back to the time of the Prophet, the extremist Muslims have not advanced further than their worldview in the 12th century.


Very true as I (among many others have been saying). They really are at war with modernity

20 posted on 09/09/2002 5:04:16 AM PDT by Valin
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To: dennisw
The Assassins

http://www.outremer.co.uk/assassins.html

21 posted on 09/09/2002 5:49:40 AM PDT by Jeremiah Jr
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To: dennisw
Looks like a good book!
22 posted on 09/09/2002 7:19:29 AM PDT by Lent
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To: dennisw; FryingPan101; SpinyNorman; thinktwice; gcruse; wretchard; Brian Allen; EggsAckley; ...
Under the Mongol warrior, Hulagu, the castles of the Assassins became prime targets in his campaign to conquer Iran and Iraq. The Mongols were masters in the art of siege warfare and in 1256 they took Alamut from the Sect. The last Grand Master was dispatched ignominiously, being kicked to death by the Mongol troops.
23 posted on 09/09/2002 3:59:45 PM PDT by Destro
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To: Destro
I read the link. Thanks!
24 posted on 09/09/2002 4:55:08 PM PDT by dennisw
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To: dennisw
He could be a Freemason, or a member of the Priory of Sion. On his Website it says he has authored books on Aleister Crowly, and the Egyptian book of the dead.

At any rate, he seems to be fairly heavy into the Occult, whether as an Adept or a dabbler, I don't know. Doesn't seem to be a lightweight, though.

FWIW
25 posted on 09/09/2002 8:52:21 PM PDT by moonhawk
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To: moonhawk
"Holy Blood, Holy Grail" is a very good read, that gives some useful background on the links between the Templars, the Pirates who appeared shortly after the Templars were eradicated, and the Freemasons.
26 posted on 09/09/2002 8:56:07 PM PDT by moonhawk
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To: dennisw
Bump

For later reading.

27 posted on 09/09/2002 8:59:25 PM PDT by DreamWeaver
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To: SpinyNorman
I'll decline. Being burned at the stake by my own folks isn't my idea of a fun time. And I refuse to kiss any grungy old monk on the navel. Of course, chasing dashing Muslims across the Holy Land sounds exciting, but with my luck I'd be stuck in some monastery gazing at black cats suspended from the ceiling.
28 posted on 09/09/2002 9:01:52 PM PDT by Cleburne
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To: dennisw
Interesting material, Dennis, tho I did not have the time to read it all. I can give an answer to your question somewhat. It is that Medieval Assassins were paragons of virtue compared to present day terrorists. The Medieval Assassins targeted individuals only who were blacklisted. The modern terrorist targets women and children and doesn't even care. Yes, the Medieval Assassins were slime, but they were slime near the top of the pond, whereas the modern ones are at the bottom.

If the Modern Terrorists lived up to the standard of Medieval Assassins, they would publicly, face to face, kill prominent leaders of the enemy, dying while doing it, not killing a bunch of children.
29 posted on 09/10/2002 1:10:46 AM PDT by Cato Uticensis
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To: dennisw
Its a odd thing, but sites connected with the Templars always seem to get a reputation for being haunted. This is true of the ruins of their fortified castles in Syria and Lebanon, and also of the churches and towers which they once owned in the south of France. Their reputation for secret dealings and sorcery went everywhere with them. Also, in one of their churches in the Pyrenees (I will look up the reference & find the place name) they have symbols on the walls, which scholars say are from the Kabbalah. Presumably, they brought this back with them from the Holy Land.
30 posted on 10/27/2002 10:25:17 PM PST by BlackVeil
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To: dennisw
D.W.,

Interesting stuff.

Do you think that the followers of Islam who believe in a loving Allah, can withstand the totalitarianism which fascist Islam is about? The pivotal point has seemed to be individual liberty, from my experience. Those more determined to have individual liberty, are not fans of Islamic theocracy.

31 posted on 03/25/2003 3:08:58 PM PST by First_Salute
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To: snopercod; brityank; joanie-f; mommadooo3
Bump.
32 posted on 03/25/2003 3:14:26 PM PST by First_Salute
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To: thinktwice
Where does one sign up for your religion of anti-religion? You seem to possess all the truth that needs knowing.
33 posted on 03/25/2003 3:25:44 PM PST by No Left Turn
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To: No Left Turn
Try looking at this thread..
34 posted on 03/27/2003 12:30:25 PM PST by thinktwice
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To: thinktwice
Is that post supposed to support a claim that all religion is non-sense? You put too much faith in geometry.
35 posted on 03/27/2003 4:50:20 PM PST by No Left Turn
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To: No Left Turn
Take a look at post 361 on that thread, the discussion leading up to it, and the reactions following it.
36 posted on 03/27/2003 9:13:40 PM PST by thinktwice
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To: dennisw
"His descendants established and now rule modern Saudi Arabia. Fundamentalist Wahabism remains the state religion of Saudi Arabia and its radical mullahs are being exported to mosques throughout the United States and Europe."

Looks like Saudi Arabia second biggest export is terrorism.

37 posted on 03/27/2003 9:39:18 PM PST by Captain Beyond (The Hammer of the gods! (Just a cool line from a Led Zep song))
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To: Captain Beyond
yup!!
38 posted on 03/28/2003 3:39:34 AM PST by dennisw
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To: nunya bidness

It's all starting to makes sense now.


39 posted on 11/01/2004 5:19:14 PM PST by Askel5 ( Cooperatio voluntaria ad suicidium est legi morali contraria. )
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