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Hellfires and Hell Fire in the War Against Terrorism


Gregory J. Rummo

Imagine driving through the desert in the Middle East. It’s a warm day and the windows are rolled down. A breeze caresses your face as the car bounces and slides along the sandy road. You’re in the middle of an energetic conversation with five of your fellow terrorists, plotting your next attack against Americans.

Suddenly your eye catches something in the distance. You’re not quite sure what it is but it seems to be getting larger. And now in the last nano-seconds of your life here on earth the awful realization descends over you but it’s too late.

You’re… face-to-face… with… a… missile — BLAM! — It’s all over.

I have no idea if this is the way the scenario unfolded in Yemen last week when a Hellfire missile launched from a CIA drone blew six al Qaeda members to smithereens as they were riding together in their automobile. It might be they never knew what hit them. Only smoldering debris and a few body parts were left after the explosion so there were no possibilities for interviews.

In a slightly different vein, I wonder what went through the minds of the 9/11 terrorists during the last seconds of their lives as they flew jumbo jets into towers of glass and steel, the Pentagon or the field in rural Pennsylvania. They had plenty of time to ponder what was coming.

What force motivates an obsession for martyrdom coupled with a desire to murder innocent men, women and children? Radical Muslim fundamentalists would answer the will of Allah.

In the Christian religion, martyrdom is a well-known concept. Many saints have gone on to their eternal reward, dying for their beliefs at the hands of those who rejected their message and sought to silence the messenger.

Living in America, where we are protected by the First Amendment, we have a distorted view of martyrdom. It’s easy to picture it in terms of first-century Christians being thrown to the lions in the Roman Coliseum. But the martyrdom of Christians didn’t end with Rome’s demise.

In the 20th century alone, more Christians died for their faith world-wide than in the previous 19 centuries combined.

These Christian fundamentalists — extremists of a different sort — were driven by their convictions. They too were obsessed, willing to pay the ultimate price with their lives for what they believed.

So what’s the difference between Islamic fundamentalists and Christian fundamentalists? It might be hard to discern if your only sources for information are the newspapers. Earlier this year The New York Times referred to Islamic radicals as “the religious right.”

The motivation for a Christian’s willingness to give up his own life is the cause of Christ. But the means for the furtherance of the Gospel has never been through violence or by force. Jesus said “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.”

Since the war on terror began, there has been no sharper contrast between the radical elements of Islam and the radical elements of Christianity than that demonstrated by the heroes of United flight 93 and the monsters who hijacked the aircraft after they killed the crew by dragging box cutters across their throats. Each group believed that the situation called for the ultimate sacrifice. Yet one group was motivated by hatred and the other by love.

While each claimed they were serving God, it is impossible that both were correct.

Which brings us back to the desert in Yemen and our six terrorists. When that Hellfire missile exploded, sending them into kingdom come, it wasn’t really over.

They went out into eternity but, barring any last second repentance, suddenly found themselves surrounded by a different kind of hell fire.

And that will ultimately prove to be the final and most effective weapon in the war against terrorism.

Gregory J. Rummo is a syndicated columnist and author of “The View from the Grass Roots,” published in July, 2002 by American-Book. You may order an autographed copy directly from the author below or from You may e-mail the author at

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