Theo Padnos’ account of his time as a hostage is honestly told. This is a man who studied in a “religious academy”, who could quote verses from the Koran, who fell into a nightmare in which he discovered what Islam really was.
I began my studies in a neighborhood mosque, then enrolled in a religious school popular among those who dream of a “back to the days of the prophet” version of Islam. Later, I moved to Syria to study at a religious academy in Damascus
Somehow none of that alerted him to the difference between what Muslims believe and what liberals think they believe.
Padnos believed that the Free Syrian Army was some kind of resistance group, instead of another name for a bunch of Islamist militias with ties to Al Qaeda. He learned his mistake in the worst way possible.
One afternoon in Antakya, I met three young Syrians. They seemed a bit shifty, but not, as far as I could tell, more militantly Islamic than anyone else. “Our job is to bring stuff from here to the Free Syrian Army,” they told me. They offered to take me with them. Thinking I’d be back in a few days, I told no one, not even my Tunisian roommate, where I was going.
…When we were done, the cameraman smiled, walked across the room and kicked me in the face. His friends held me down. Abu Osama stomped on my chest, then called out for handcuffs. Someone else bound my feet. The cameraman aimed a pistol at my head.
“We’re from Al Tanzeem Al Qaeda,” Abu Osama said, grinning. “You didn’t know?” He told me I would be killed within the week if my family didn’t provide the cash equivalent of a quarter kilogram of gold — which the kidnappers thought was about $400,000 but was actually closer to $10,000 — the sum to which he was entitled, he said, by the laws of Islam.
… Note the “Laws of Islam” part of it.
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