The phrase “Trust but verify” comes to mind in response to the recent murders on Oregon’s Umpqua Community College campus, as well as the thought that “Oregon isn’t Kenya” — until now.
Former President Ronald Reagan made famous the phrase, “Trust but verify” in December 1987 after signing the INF Treaty with former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev quipped to Reagan, who often quoted the phrase in Russian (“doveryai no proveryai”), “You repeat that at every meeting.” To which Reagan replied, “I like it.”
The phrase suggests that trust is lacking and conditional depending on whether or not what is to be trusted is proven to be trustworthy. In the context of singling out Christians to be killed, Islamists often first identify non-Muslims by their clothing. But also ask first if they are Christians or not before shooting them.
Earlier this year over the Easter holiday in Garissa Kenya, Al-Shabab gunmen targeted Christians, screaming “We have come to be kill and be killed.” They were citing a verse from the Qur’an from a chapter known to jihadists:
“Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah, so they kill and are killed.” (9:111)
Islamists are instructed in the Qur’an to “announce painful punishment for those who disbelieve” and to “slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.” (9:3, 5).
The AFP described the Garissa Kenya College campus carnage in its April 3, 2015 article, “Laughing Somali gunmen taunted victims in university massacre.” It states:
“Piles of bodies and pools of blood running down the corridors: survivors of the Kenya university massacre described how laughing gunmen taunted their victims amid scenes of total carnage. Salias Omosa, an 20-year-old education student, said the victims were woken up at gunpoint in Thursday’s pre-dawn attack, and Muslims and non-Muslims picked out by ‘how they were dressed.’
“‘We don’t fear death, this will be a good Easter holiday for us,’ the attackers were shouting in Swahili, then shooting their guns,” Omosa recounted, still trembling with terror and sitting in the refuge of a military camp.
“Then they told the women to ‘swim in the blood’”, as though they were making fun of them, playing games and apparently enjoying the killing, he said, before moving on after apparently forgetting to shoot them too….”
Yesterday, in Oregon, 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, followed the same pattern. Instead of the 147 dead in Kenya, nine were killed in Oregon.
Yet, like Kenya, before shooting, Mercer asked the students “one by one what their religion was. ‘Are you a Christian?’ he would ask them, and if you’re a Christian, stand up. And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you are going to see God in just about one second.’ And then he shot and killed them,” the mother of a wounded student, Stacy Boylen, told CNN.
One of Mercer’s only two MySpace connections, Mahmoud Ali Ehsani, is linked to pictures, which Mercer captions, “Muslim friend with some pretty violent photos!”
Whether or not Mercer explicitly stated he was a Muslim remains to be confirmed. However, he like the killers in Kenya and Oregon were following the Qur’an’s clear instruction: trust but verify before killing the nonbeliever. In each instance the Christian student who answered truthfully and affirm not denied their faith, paid for their answer with their lives.