Yesterday the government announced new counter-terrorism measures: a mandatory 14 year jail term for convicted terrorists, more imams to de-programme the radicalised and a polygraph test for those eligible for parole.
While none of the above will work, because none of it gets to the root of the problem, it’s the last one that is the most crazy bananas. Why, suddenly, is a cheap-trick, gotcha-useless bit of tech, ditched even by Jeremy Kyle, suddenly considered useful by Her Majesty’s Government in catching dangerous criminals?
Lie detectors measure physiological changes in a person in response to questions. If your heart rate increases, your respiratory rate increases, if you touch your nose, fidget etc etc, poly says: you’re lying. Or are you? Did you just have a cup of coffee? Are you distracted by last night’s Love Island? Are you angered by being hooked up to a polygraph machine to prove your innocence? They are notorious for false positives. And false negatives too – we’re all very skilled liars when we want to be, and can mitigate our physiological responses if we want to get off the hook that badly. Mind over matter. But surely it’s better than nothing, says the government, in its throw-the-kitchen-sink-at -it approach to dealing with the terrorist threat.
Except there is something available that is far cheaper, far more obvious and has a decent chance of being effective if anyone would just have the cojones to try it. Introducing the very simple, two-step DCCI de-radicalisation programme! Step one: identify the issue. Ask what the motivation is behind an Islamic terrorist’s desire to lie through their teeth? Step two: destroy the thing that motivates them.
Step one. What motivates an Islamic terrorist to lie? Answer: the objects of their worship and adoration above all other things, even life itself, Allah and Muhammad. According to the Qu’ran, Allah is a deceiver:
“and they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed against them: and Allah is the best of schemers” (Sure 3:54)
The tafsir of Khashf Al Asrar translates it as “and they deceived, and God deceived, and God is the best of deceivers,” ‘deceive’ being closer to the Arabic, makr. The context of this verse is the crucifixion of Jesus. In other words, Allah made the crucifixion look like it happened when it didn’t really, deceiving Jesus’ own mother and generations of Christians. (Wow. Big lie.)
Muhammad also sanctioned lying. On one occasion he allowed his followers to lie in order to assassinate an old ally. Sahih Bukhari 5:59:369 states:
Muhammad bin Maslama said, “Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab).” The Prophet said, “You may say it.” […] When Muhammad got a strong hold of him, he said (to his companions), “Get at him!” So they killed him and went to the Prophet and informed him.
He did so again in revenge for someone who had written a mocking poem about him:
“Then he composed amatory verses of an insulting nature about the Muslim women. The apostle said-according to what ‘Abdullah b. a1-Mughith b. Abu Burda told me-‘Who will rid me of Ibnu’I-Ashraf?’ Muhammad b. Maslama, brother of the B. ‘Abdu’l-Ashhal, said, ‘I will deal with him for you, O apostle of God, I will kill him.’ He said, ‘Do so if you can:(…) He said, ‘O apostle of God, we shall have to tell lies.’ He answered, ‘Say what you like, for you are free in the matter.” (Life of Muhammad, Guillaume, p367)
Are Muslims supposed to lie too? Yes they are. For example, the Qur’an commands them not to take disbelievers as friends (Sura 3:28). This being impractical sometimes, Ibn Kathir elaborates:
“believers are allowed to show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly. For instance, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Ad-Darda’ said, “We smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse them.” Al-Bukhari said that Al-Hasan said, “The Tuqyah (lie) is allowed until the Day of Resurrection .”
Tirmidhi 4:1:1939 writes that there are three conditions under which it is permissible for a Muslim to lie, one of which is “during war.” And in Islam, there are only two states to inhabit: the dar al-Islam (the house of Islam) or the dar al-Harb (the house of war.) Which one do you think the likes of Usman Khan considers Britain to be?
Stage One complete. Stage Two: ask Muslims the question, if their god deceives, and their prophet deceived, how do they know they are not being deceived too? Even Caliphs like Abu Bakr feared the deception of Allah, even if they had one foot in paradise. Can they live with such dreadful uncertainty? Or is there an alternative God, and an alternative Prophet, Priest, King and Saviour?
The Bible teaches consistently that lying is sinful. The 9th commandment says to ‘not commit false testimony against your neighbour’. The Bible says it is “impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18) and calls Satan ‘the father of lies’ (John 8:44.) Christians are exhorted not to lie to each other, because have ‘taken off’ our old self (Colossians 3:19.) Jesus makes it even simpler in Matthew 5:36:
“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
But Jesus goes further than just telling his followers to tell the truth. He embodies the truth, He is the truth:
“I am the the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 3:16)
And, that true freedom comes from believing in him and following him:
“Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
Imagine freedom as new birth, total cleansing from sin, full forgiveness made possible by Christ on the Cross. A liberation for the heart irrespective of the presence of physical walls. Imagine if a message like that was received by all the wannabe Usman Khans in prison. Until they hear it, they’ll be dreaming of their liberation the Islamic way, with 72 virgins and thinking how they can convince a machine that they really, really have changed. (Promise.)