September 6, 2004

"Of course I pitied the children."

From a surviving Beslan terrorist:
"Of course I pitied the children, I swear to Allah. I have children myself. I didn't shoot. I swear to Allah," he said. "I don't want to die. I swear to Allah, I want to live."
I was going to call this post "Abject cowardice," but I just heard on a Fox News broadcast that some of the Beslan terrorists did not know that children were going to be the hostages and had the humanity to refuse to participate when they saw what they had gotten themselves involved in. According to the news report, these persons were killed. Conceivably, the quoted terrorist was another who was willing to participate initially and actually did withdraw his support when he saw the children. It is impossible for me to imagine people so evil that they would do the things that took place at Beslan, and a relief to think that at least some of those who willingly participate in the lowest evil still have something beyond what they will do.

If this man really refused to kill children, why was he not killed like the others? Conceivably, he hid his noncompliance with the others and avoided the fate of those who openly objected. Whether he pulled the trigger or not, he is still a murderer, because he went too far into the conspiracy to back out and avoid responsibility for their acts. My first thought with respect to this terrorist who survived was: he'll say anything now, begging for his own life. So I'm not inclined to believe him, yet even though I think he's loathsome to try to avoid his guilt, I take some shred of solace in his plea "I want to live." The inhumanity of persons who reject their own lives has been one of the most appalling aspects of terrorism. Loathsome as it is to try to beg for your life when you were willing to kill others, it is at least a very human form of loathsomeness. There is some small hope in that.

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