Ahmad Al Aliwi Al Issa, jihad, and questionable narratives

If the media remains true to form, it will drop the Boulder story within a very short time.

Law enforcement officers in Boulder, Colo., sweep the parking lot at the site of a shooting at a King Soopers grocery store March 22, 2021. (CNS photo/Kevin Mohatt, Reuters)

In the wake of the March 23rd killing of ten people at the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, two Catholic bishops quickly responded with words of solace. They prayed for the victims and their families, called for a conversion of hearts, and reminded us that God would bring good out of evil.

But were Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila and Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley aware when they issued their statements that the killer was apparently a committed Muslim? Were they possibly accepting that, until proven otherwise, mass killers can safely be assumed to be white and probably Christian? Were they also adopting the widespread narrative that we are all somehow responsible for violence in America because of “implicit bias” and “systemic racism”? How else to understand the call on the part of both bishops for a “conversion of heart”?

Here, for example, is an excerpt from Archbishop Coakley’s statement:

We must always remember that each of us is a brother or sister in Christ, created in the image and likeness of a loving God…let us continue to reflect on God’s love and mercy for each one of us and renew the call for conversion of heart.

This seems slightly off-key in light of what is now known about the killer’s identity. Muslims do not consider themselves “brothers or sisters in Christ”—certainly not in the sense that Christians use the term. Moreover, Muslims do not believe that humans are created in “the image and likeness” of God. In the Islamic world that is a blasphemous thought. Finally, does Bishop Coakley think that Muslims are in need of “a conversion of heart”? And, if so, to what? To Christianity? To a more moderate form of Islam?

Yet Ahmad Al Aliwi Al Issa’s belief that non-believers can be legitimately killed in the name of Allah is widely shared in the Muslim world. So is his apparent anti-Semitism. The King Soopers store advertises itself as a provider of Kosher foods, and it was likely crowded with Jewish customers in the week leading up to Passover. Had Ahmad Al-Issa been killed in his encounter with police, he would probably now be hailed as a hero and a martyr in the West Bank—an area that regularly honors martyrs for the good deed of killing Jews.

Questionable narratives

In the hours immediately following the shooting, a narrative had begun to develop which characterized the shooter as a typical gun-loving white supremacist. But when it was revealed that he was a devout Muslim of Middle-Eastern descent, the media quickly shifted narratives. According to the new narrative, Al Issa had mental health issues, he was bullied by his school mates for being Muslim, and he was a lone wolf who had no connection to Islamic groups. However, the guns-are-to-blame message was retained. All of this, of course, directed attention away from the shooter’s probable motive.

What might that be? Well, simply that jihad against unbelievers is an obligation for Muslims. Muhammad, the founder of Islam, was a warlord, and he made it clear that the highest activity a Muslim can engage in is jihad (by which he meant fighting infidels, not struggling with one’s conscience). Moreover, the highest rewards in paradise are reserved for jihad fighters. For some young Muslims, that is motive enough.

Those who comment on jihad attacks often describe them as “senseless.” Archbishop Aquila, for example, referred to the Boulder massacre as a “senseless act of violence.” But to those who subscribe to the fullness of the Islamic faith, killing infidels makes a lot of sense. An act of jihad for the sake of Allah guarantees entrance to paradise. Moreover, it brings honor to oneself and one’s family; and in some places, such as the West Bank, it brings money in the form of a handsome stipend to the martyr’s relatives.

The mainstream media, for the most part, admits to none of this. Instead, they cover for Islam. And they do so by claiming that the bad things that are done in the name of Islam have nothing to do with Islam. Islamic violence, they say, is caused by mental health issues, by bullying, or by misunderstanding Islam. But violence, they insist, has nothing to do with Islam itself.

However, if that’s so, why is jihad violence so common in Islamic societies? The kind of thing Al Issa did in Boulder is repeated on an almost daily basis in nations with sizable Muslim populations. Two weeks ago, at least 30 Nigerien civilians were killed in a series of jihad attacks on villages in Northwestern Niger. A week before that at least 58 civilians were killed in another attack in another area of Niger. The number of deadly attacks on Christians in Nigeria has risen sharply in the past year. These kinds of attacks are rarely reported by the American media, yet they occur with alarming frequency. Perhaps the reason we hear so little about them is that they undercut the mantra that violence has nothing to do with Islam. For the same reason we hear very little about the frequent knife, car, bullet, and bomb attacks committed by Muslims in Europe. Our betters have decided that it’s better that we don’t know about such things.

And here we come to the main method of keeping alive the narrative that jihad has nothing to do with Islam. The media has discovered that the best way to keep you from finding out too much about a story and making connections you’re not supposed to make is to kill the story—after a decent interval, of course.

But the decent interval is often surprisingly short. Stories about jihad violence disappear down the memory hole rather abruptly. The Boulder massacre is a big story and the media will be forced to pay attention to it for a few more days. But you can expect that the story will soon drop almost completely out of sight. The story of a Muslim attacking suburban whites, many of them Jews, doesn’t fit the narrative, and it can’t be allowed to hang around for too long.

On the other hand, stories that do fit the favored narrative are kept alive well past their sell-by date. Take the attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019 which left 50 Muslims dead. It fit the media narrative to a “T”—white nationalist kills Muslim victims at prayer. Still, it was clearly a tragic and important story—one which merited international coverage. But, because it reinforced the liberal narrative, it remained a top story for many months after.

2019 was also a bad year for Christians in Nigeria. They were being slaughtered by Muslim jihadists on an almost daily basis and Christian churches were frequently targeted. But unless you followed the Christian press you were unlikely to know about any of those occurrences. Then, on Easter Sunday, 2019, about a month after the New Zealand massacre, Islamic terrorists attacked three Christian churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka, leaving two hundred sixty-nine dead. That story was hard to ignore, and it did receive extensive coverage—for about ten days. But there was very little discussion about the ideology of the terrorists or the fact that Islam is a supremacist religion. Meanwhile, a contingent of Islamic ambassadors managed to convince the Archbishop of Colombo that the bombings had “no connection to Islam.” Needless to say, the coverage of the New Zealand mosque massacre continued unabated for week after week, and the coverage left the distinct impression that there is a connection between Western civilization and white racism.

Mental health, paranoia, and Islamophobia

Interestingly, the Christchurch massacre enters into the Boulder story. And the way it enters in gives us a chance to look more carefully at the suggestion that Al Issa suffered from mental health problems—specifically paranoia. After the Christchurch shooting, Al Issa seems to have picked up on the media spin that the killings were the result of white supremacy and Islamophobia. In 2019, he wrote that the dead were “victims of the entire Islamophobia industry that vilified them.” In the same year, he wrote that his phone was being hacked by “racist Islamophobic people.” Mental illness is not incompatible with adhering to a radical ideology; and it could be that Al Issa was suffering from paranoia or from paranoia exacerbated by Islamist ideology. In any event–whether true or not—he saw himself as a victim of Islamophobia.

But what is the source of this paranoia? If, as is strongly being suggested in the media, Al Issa really does suffer from paranoia, and is thus less responsible for his crime, doesn’t the media become a party to the murder of those ten people in Boulder? After all, the media has been obsessed for years with the narrative that most of the world’s problems are caused by racist white supremacists and Islamophobes. As Andrew McCarthy observes in National Review, “He [Al Issa] appears to have imbibed… the Muslim-as-victim-of-white-supremacist-America story line served up incessantly by the media-Democrat complex and American universities.” But this raises a question: does the media itself suffer from paranoia? After all, it sees racism everywhere—most recently in the deadly attacks on Atlanta massage parlors. Despite the denial of the Atlanta killer, these have been pegged as “anti-Asian” hate crimes. And if a few paranoid Asians start striking back in violent ways—well, who can blame them?

Perhaps the biggest paranoids of all, however, are left-leaning politicians in Washington. Prior to President Biden’s inauguration, they surrounded the Capitol complex with razor wire fences, and brought in twenty-five thousand troops to guard the proceedings. What were they afraid of? An imaginary army of white supremacist domestic terrorists. It may well be that this dramatic display of government paranoia fed into Mr. Al Issa’s own paranoia, and provided further justification for his belief that the ubiquitous white racists were targeting him as well.

But the possibility of mental health issues does not exclude Islamic ideology as a motive for Al Issa’s actions. There is a good deal of evidence that Islamic doctrine was much on his mind. On his Facebook page (which has now been deleted) he posted a graphic with a quotation: “O people, listen to me in earnest. Worship Allah, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to” (from the Last Sermon of Prophet Muhammad). On another post, he wrote, “Muslims might not be perfect, but Islam is.” On another, he claimed that Jesus and Mary were Muslims.

This in itself doesn’t prove a jihadist mindset, but who knows what else might have been deleted by Facebook? Were there, for instance, anti-Semitic rants? According to an ADL survey, the area of the world from whence Al Issa’s family comes has one of the highest levels of anti-Semitic attitudes in the worlds. It seems no coincidence that he targeted a market which featured an array of kosher food, and was frequented by local Jews. Moreover, his identity was previously known to the FBI because of his link to another individual under investigation. Under investigation for what? The reports don’t say, but it likely was not a trivial matter.

All this circumstantial evidence tends to undercut the mental health narrative. So does the enormous volume of terrorist activity by Muslims throughout the world. In the past few years more than 3,000 Christians have been killed by Muslim terrorists in Nigeria alone. Supposing that many dozens of Muslims must have been involved in the massacres, does that mean that they were all mentally ill? Maybe they were. Or maybe they only seem so from a Western perspective. As I remarked previously, Westerners consider jihadist killings to be “senseless.” But “senseless” is in the eye of the beholder. If what looks like paranoid behavior from a Western perspective happens to coincide with Islamic beliefs, it will not be perceived of as a mental health issue in a traditional Islamic society.

In the West Bank, for instance, killers of innocent Jewish children are not considered to be conscienceless psychopaths, they are considered to be heroes. Another instance? When news of Zaher Mahmoud’s attempt to kill two Parisians with a meat cleaver reached Pakistan, his family reacted by expressing great pride and joy in their son. According to one Pakistani newspaper report, Zaher Mahmoud was “considered a hero across all of Pakistan.”

According to an AP report, Al Issa’s lawyers “could ask the court to order an examination by a psychiatrist or psychologist to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.” A finding of mental illness would allow the defendant to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. And in Colorado, the legal definition of insanity hinges on whether or not the defendant knew right from wrong at the time of the crime.

Right from wrong? But jihad is right from a strict Islamic perspective. Indeed, it’s the most meritorious act a Muslim can perform. So, a Colorado jury will have to decide if Al Issa was a paranoid madman, or if he was merely an obedient Muslim who, like Muhammad, thought it just to protect Islam from the enemies of Allah—by violent means, if necessary. Most likely, the jury will decide he was insane. Otherwise, they might have to deal with the thorny question of whether jihad has anything to do with Islam.

Noah Green and the Nation of Islam

Meanwhile, an even more recent attack may throw some light on the Boulder case. On April 2, Noah Green launched a car and knife attack on officers at the North Gate of the U.S. Capitol, resulting in the death of one of the officers. Green’s Facebook page identifies him as a follower of the Nation of Islam, the religion currently led by Minister Louis Farrakhan. Although the leadership claims that the Nation of Islam is a Muslim group, Sunni and Shia Muslims reject the claim. So, the attack cannot be easily chalked up as just another Islamic attack. However, the attack does bring up, once again, the question of the relationship between religious beliefs and mental illness. According to a Washington Post article, Green’s family said that he suffered from depression and ‘potential mental illness.’

This, it could be argued, would take the heat off the Nation of Islam. However, the truth is that there are paranoid elements in the Nation of Islam ideology. It is an anti-white religion which considers whites (who were supposedly created by a mad scientist) to be inferior to blacks, and it involves a final apocalyptic destruction of white supremacists carried out by a giant space vessel. In short, it would be difficult to claim that Green’s attack on the Capitol of a supposedly white supremacist nation, has nothing to do with the doctrines of the Nation of Islam.

Orthodox Islam has no doctrine of racial supremacy, but it does have a well-developed doctrine of religious supremacy. Moreover, sharia law books explicitly state that the lives of Muslims are more valuable than the lives of Jews, Christians, and pagans. It will be interesting to see how the case of Ahmad Al Issa turns out. But don’t expect his case to be resolved for a long time, and don’t expect the media to keep you informed of its progress. If the media remains true to form, it will drop the Boulder story within a very short time. If too much attention is paid to Al Issa and his faith, people may begin to wonder if there is not, after all, a connection between Islam and violent jihad.

If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

About William Kilpatrick 77 Articles
William Kilpatrick is the author of several books on religion and culture including Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West (Ignatius Press). His new book, What Catholics Need to Know About Islam, is available from Sophia Institute Press. His work is supported in part by the Shillman Foundation


  1. When will Christians begin to acknowledge that there are many Children of Satan who are in dire need of knowing Christ?

  2. It seems that in the Church in the United States, to be an “Archbishop,” such men must always be ready to declare that reality is not happening, and to insist that “the faithful” must pretend along with them.

    Why would any parent want their children to listen to or follow such men?

  3. We read that “[t]he media has discovered that the best way to keep you from finding out too much about a story and making connections you’re not supposed to make is to kill the story…” And, that Almad Al Aliwi said that “Jesus and Mary were Muslims.”

    On the FIRST point, Islam thinks in terms of at least centuries, and outside of history altogether, while the media “thinks” in terms of the 24-hour news cycle, reader boards, and market share. Something like goldfish that have an attention span of eight seconds.

    On the SECOND point, Islam is a natural religion and a “belief” system submissive to an ever-distant Allah—categorically different from Christian revelation and “faith” in a self-disclosing God who is also self-donating, and even invites our graced participation in the inner life of the Triune Oneness. Islam, therefore, holds that Mary and Jesus are Muslims because it regards itself as the original religion, as before Judaism then went off the rails with the golden calf and before Christianity became idolatrous with a deified Christ.

    Islam sees itself largely as a restoration into pre-history, with all other religions as branches of the same tree–and with the Islam, or course, is the taproot. Islam: a collage of appropriated biblical trappings (mostly from the Pentateuch) combined with scavenger-hunt ingredients largely of anthropological interest, including a cult leader and jihad (and, yes, with genuine piety in the hearts of many, but not all). Included in Islam is the mongrel notion that the Christian Trinity is a pagan-like triad of the Father, the Son—and Mary (!). Christ’s references to the Holy Spirit are morphed into a sincere prediction for the later coming of, guess who, Mohammad!

    With no exceptions, Secularism is clueless as to the truly historic threats posed against the West and the human person in our 21st century. And with only very few exceptions, bishops are clueless about the chasm that exists between Islamic “belief” and Christian “faith” in the person of Christ. On this THIRD point, and unlike any mongrel notions of religious “pluralism,” Pope St. John Paul II and emeritus pope Benedict XVI got it exactly right:

    “Equality, which is a presupposition of interreligious dialogue, REFERS TO the equal personal dignity of the parties in dialogue, NOT to doctrinal content, NOR even less to the position of Jesus Christ—who is God himself made man—in relation to the founders of the other religions” (Dominus Iesus, 2000, n. 22, caps added).

  4. Labels. That’s why we’re in the mess we’re in today. Label something or someone, and you don’t have to deal with them anymore — your explanation is in the label. There are bad actors in every group, but the group is not to blame. The problem we are having is one of a lack of personal responsibility. Each one of us is responsible for what we do, say and/or believe. The bishops are correct, each one of us, whether we believe it or not, is made in the image of God. What we do after that, however, is our personal responsibility. We need to stop making any excuses for our actions, because the excuses don’t bear the responsibility of our behavior.

  5. Any worldview other than a Judeo/Christian one will be protected, and even exonerated. THE GOAL is the complete obliteration of our worldview. Those of us who embrace it by necessity MUST BE SILENCED. WE ARE the target of all this disinformation, “senseless” information, “senseless” activity, and INSANE policy. Leaders in the church who “answer these fools according to their folly” are just like them. Prov 26:4-5 They are addressing their interpretation of ideas and events rather than the underlying worldview they use to arrive at that interpretation.

  6. Any worldview other than a Judeo/Christian one will be protected, and even exonerated. THE GOAL is the complete obliteration of our worldview. Those of us who embrace it by necessity MUST BE SILENCED. WE ARE the target of all this disinformation, “senseless” information, “senseless” activity, and INSANE policy. Leaders in the church who “answer these fools according to their folly” are just like them. Prov 26:4-5 They are addressing their interpretation of ideas and events rather than the underlying worldview they use to arrive at that interpretation. WE MUST ATTACK their worldview or we die…and so will they.

  7. It is great to see a new piece from Mr. Kilpatrick here. He nails all the pertinent points from the recent events. The coverage provided by the media was utterly predictable. First, there was the premature and inaccurate assumption that the Colorado shooter was a white supremacist, who, oddly, would have killed only whites. Then, when the murderer was identified as Syrian Muslim immigrant, the commentary immediately shifted to how the real issues really were gun control and mental health. Also, the poor guy had been bullied because he was a Muslim (we know this is true because he said so). Maybe he is the real victim. Finally, the story will be memory holed as much as possible until the trial, when all the lies will brought out of the closet again, with perhaps some new twists. Likewise, the murderous attack on the Capitol by a black devotee of the Nation of Islam is portrayed as an incident for which we cannot possibly discover a political or racial motive. As the perpetrator himself was killed, that story simply will be buried, while the January 6 riot, during which Trump supporters were the only people who died, will remain in the news until at least next year’s mid-term elections.

  8. As Mr. Kilpatrick notes, the bishops’ responses to the atrocities of March were at least as dishonest as the press reports. They insinuated, without evidence, that the Atlanta murders were racially motivated. Then, they completely ignored the obvious religious and racial angles to the crimes in Colorado and Washington. Indeed, as Mr. Kilpatrick notes, it is almost as if they prepared their statements prior to the identification of the Colorado shooter, assuming that a white Christian carried out the attacks. Then, when the facts were made known, they issued their misleading pronouncements anyway. One must never let the truth interfere with your agenda.

  9. Islam is fundamentally evil. There might be Muslims who are “good people” — I’ve met many. They find jihad reprehensible. But, Islam is fundamentally evil as are all religions that serve any god other than the one true God revealed in Jesus Christ.

    Mental illness is not an excuse for sin or committing evil acts. These days everyone who kills or commits violence is excused because of mental illness. I have suffered from mental illness for most of my adult life. I am still responsible for all my choices. I do not kill or act violently. We must stop excusing people because they are bipolar or schizophrenic or depressed. Actions have consequences. If you choose the action you also necessarily choose the consequences. But with rampant relativism, political correctness, and the corrupted view of the human person, and the “wokeism” embraced and touted by the media it seems we can all do whatever we want to do except conform to the truth that is Christ.

  10. A complicated, enormous issue here in America, moreso Europe. Kilpatrick, a crusader to raise awareness, address misconceptions. On Archbishop Coakley, “Muslims do not consider themselves brothers or sisters in Christ—certainly not in the sense that Christians use the term”. Nor that Man is created in God’s image consequently lives are readily expendable. Archbishop Coakley’s belief reflects today’s diluted sense of Christianity as a form of de facto brotherhood, more a Fratelli Tutti-like delusion rather than the definitive conversion and repentance required to be a Christian. The doctrinal moral collapse of Christianity is the major contributing fact for the advance of strident Islamism. From this writer’s perspective it has all the appearance of a divinely permitted chastisement for the sensual lewdness of the West typified in Switzerland’s grand opening of the Gotthard Tunnel. America having acquired the dishonorable acclaim as the world’s hands down creator purveyor of pornography no longer lags. So what is a poor boy Jihadist to do when promise of eternal carnal enjoyment is the prospect of jihadist murder and martyrdom [the Saudis who flew the aircraft into the Twin Towers spent the eve at German strip bars]. It’s difficult to determine which side of the dilemma is more hypocritical. Until we recover our Christianity there doesn’t appear promise of resolution. Pope Francis recently lamented at the loss of Christian culture in Europe despite his constant preaching for Europe to open its borders to Muslim migrants. What is a poor Christian boy to do except call a spade a spade and dedicate himself to a life of penance, charity. Not the Modernist kind of soupy brotherhood rather the real kind taught by Christ. Princess Fatima Catholic convert and the apparitions may presage the seeming impossible. Then we have the remarkable following, “It was very exciting to come to Dubai and meet the people who treated me like family, and hosted us in their homes. We really felt like part of a high and sublime process that is beyond our comprehension. We sat and ate together around a table with 20 traditionally dressed sheikhs, when they made sure to bring us kosher food so that we could feel comfortable, when I was a woman sitting among all these men” (Vered Saadon with husband Erez Ben Saadon representing Yaffo Winery The First Wine from Samaria to Dubai in Kosher Wine Insider March-April 2021).

  11. Did the shooter attack this particular King Soopers because it carries Kosher products? There are seven King Soopers in Arvada, the city of the shooter’s home. There are at least twenty, perhaps thirty, of the Kroger Company’s outlets closer to his home than this one in Boulder, all of which have Kosher offerings.
    (My pet hypothesis, which could be wrong, too: it was more about Boulder and wrestling. It’s easily disproved; I assume the investigators are looking at the meet schedules for those years.)
    Let’s let the investigation play-out. “Don’t pre-judge” applies to everyone.

  12. The media would rather report on and demonize police for killing non white criminals, and many of the Bishops would rather tow the party line of blaming White Christians for all the worlds ills for the past 2000 years….

  13. What a strangely defensive article for no apparent reason. The reality of the fact is that the Boulder shooting will be dropped by the media quickly is because we will all be moving on to the next mass shooting (in fact, we already have, several times in the last couple of weeks).

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. A Jihad e as complexidades da imigração – Mulheres Brasileiras Contra a Lei Sharia/ Islamização.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.