A Modern Jihad Genocide
By Andrew G. Bostom

Danish translation: Et moderne jihad-folkemord
Source: FrontPageMagazine.com
Published on myIslam.dk: December 19, 2011

The Greater Boston Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee, issued a press release, April 7, 2003, noting that April 24, 2003 marked the 88th "anniversary" of the Armenian genocide. On April 24, 1915, the Turkish Interior Ministry issued an order authorizing the arrest of all Armenian political and community leaders suspected of anti-Ittihad (“Young Turk” government), or Armenian nationalist sentiments. In Istanbul alone, 2345 such leaders were seized and incarcerated, and most of them were subsequently executed. The majority were neither nationalists, nor were they involved in politics. None were charged with sabotage, espionage, or any other crime, and appropriately tried. [1] As the Turkish author Taner Akcam recently acknowledged,

“…Under the pretext of searching for arms, of collecting war levies, or tracking down deserters, there had already been established a practice of systematically carried-out plunders, raids, and murders [against the Armenians] which had become daily occurrences…” [2]

Within a month, the final, definitive stage of the process which reduced the Armenian population to utter helplessness, i.e., mass deportation, would begin. [3]

A True Genocide

Was the horrific fate of the Ottoman Empire's Armenian minority, at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, in particular, during World War I, due to "civil war", or genocide ? A seminal analysis by Professor Vahakn Dadrian published last year validates the conclusion that the Ottoman Turks committed a centrally organized mass murder, i.e., a genocide, against their Armenian population. [4] Relying upon a vast array of quintessential, primary source documents from the World War I allies of the Ottoman Empire, Germany and Austria- Hungary, Dadrian obviated the intractable disputes surrounding the reliability and authenticity of both Ottoman Turkish, and Armenian documents. He elucidated the truly unique nature of this documentary German and Austro-Hungarian evidence:

"…During the war, Germany and Austria-Hungary disposed over a vast network of ambassadorial, consular, military, and commercial representatives throughout the Ottoman Empire. Not only did they have access to high-ranking Ottoman officials and power-wielding decision-makers who were in a position to report to their superiors as locus in quo observers on many aspects of the wartime treatment of Ottoman Armenians. They supplemented their reports with as much detail as they could garner from trusted informers and paid agents, many of whom were Muslims, both civilians and military…" [5]

Moreover, the documents analyzed possessed another critical attribute: they included confidential correspondence prepared and sent to Berlin and Vienna, which were meant for wartime use only. [6] This confidentiality, Dadrian notes, enabled German or Austro-Hungarian officials to openly question the contentions of their wartime Ottoman allies, when ascertaining and conveying facts truthfully to their superiors in Europe. Dadrian cites the compelling example of the November 16, 1915 report to the German chancellor, by Aleppo Consul Rossler. Rossler states,

"…I do not intend to frame my reports in such a way that I may be favoring one or the other party. Rather, I consider it my duty to present to you the description of things which have occurred in my district and which I consider to be the truth…" [7]

Rossler was reacting specifically to the official Ottoman allegation that the Armenians had begun to massacre the Turkish population in the Turkish sections of Urfa, a city within his district, after reportedly capturing them. He dismissed the charge, unequivocally, with a single word: "invented". [8]

Amassed painstakingly by Dadrian, the primary source evidence from these German and Austro-Hungarian officials - reluctant witnesses - leads to this inescapable conclusion: the anti-Armenian measures, despite a multitude of attempts at cover-up and outright denial, were meticulously planned by the Ottoman authorities, and were designed to destroy wholesale, the victim population. Dadrian further validates this assessment with remarkable testimony before the Mazhar Inquiry Commission, which conducted a preliminary investigation in the post-war period to determine the criminal liability of the wartime Ottoman authorities regarding the Armenian deportations and massacres. The December 15, 1918 deposition by General Mehmed Vehip, commander-in-chief of the Ottoman Third Army, and ardent CUP (Committee of Union and Progress, i.e., the "Ittihadists", or "Young Turks") member, included this summary statement:

"…The murder and annihilation of the Armenians and the plunder and expropriation of their possessions were the result of the decisions made by the CUP…These atrocities occurred under a program that was determined upon and involved a definite case of wilfulness. They occurred because they were ordered, approved, and pursued first by the CUP's [provincial] delegates and central boards, and second by governmental chiefs who had…pushed aside their conscience, and had become the tools of the wishes and desires of the Ittihadist society…" [9]

Dadrian's own compelling assessment of this primary source evidence is summarized as follows:

"…Through the episodic interventions of the European Powers, the historically evolving and intensifying Turko-Armenian conflict had become a source of anger and frustration for the Ottoman rulers and elites driven by a xenophobic nationalism. A monolithic political party that had managed to eliminate all opposition and had gained control of the Ottoman state apparatus efficiently took advantage of the opportunities provided by World War I. It purged by violent and lethal means the bulk of the Armenian population from the territories of the empire. By any standard definition, this was an act of genocide…" [10]

Jihad: A Major Determinant of the Armenian genocide

The wartime reports from German and Austro-Hungarian officials also confirm independent evidence that the origins and evolution of the genocide had little to do with World War I "Armenian provocations". Emphasis is placed, instead, on the larger pre-war context dating from the failure of the mid-19th century Ottoman Tanzimat reform efforts. [11] These reforms, initiated by the declining Ottoman Empire (i.e., in 1839 and 1856) under intense pressure from the European powers, were designed to abrogate the repressive laws of dhimmitude, to which non-Muslim (primarily Christian) minorities, including the Armenians, had been subjected for centuries, following the Turkish jihad conquests of their indigenous homelands. [12]

Led by their patriarch, the Armenians felt encouraged by the Tanzimat reform scheme, and began to deluge the Porte (Ottoman seat of government) with pleas and requests, primarily seeking governmental protection against a host of mistreatments, particularly in the remote provinces. Between 1850 and 1870, alone, 537 notes were sent to the Porte by the Armenian patriarch characterizing numerous occurrences of theft, abduction, murder, confiscatory taxes, and fraud by government officials. [13] These entreaties were largely ignored, and ominously, were even considered as signs of rebelliousness. For example, British Consul (to Erzurum) Clifford Lloyd reported in 1890,

"Discontent, or any description of protest is regarded by the local Turkish Local Government as seditious" [14]

He went on to note that this Turkish reaction occurred irrespective of the fact that "..the idea of revolution.." was not being entertained by the Armenian peasants involved in these protests. [15]

The renowned Ottomanist, Roderick Davison, has observed that under the Shari'a (Islamic Holy Law) the "..infidel gavours ["dhimmis", "rayas"]" were permanently relegated to a status of "inferiority" and subjected to a "contemptuous half-toleration". Davison further maintained that this contempt emanated from "an innate attitude of superiority", and was driven by an "innate Muslim feeling", prone to paroxysms of "open fanaticism". [16] Sustained, vehement reactions to the 1839 and 1856 Tanzimat reform acts by large segments of the Muslim population, led by Muslim spiritual leaders and the military, illustrate Davison's point. [17] Perhaps the most candid and telling assessment of the doomed Tanzimat reforms, in particular the 1856 Act, was provided by Mustafa Resid, Ottoman Grand Vizier at six different times between 1846-58. In his denunciation of the reforms, Resid argued the proposed "complete emancipation" of the non-Muslim subjects, appropriately destined to be subjugated and ruled, was "entirely contradictory" to "the 600 year traditions of the Ottoman Empire". He openly proclaimed the "complete emancipation" segment of the initiative as disingenuous, enacted deliberately to mislead the Europeans, who had insisted upon this provision. Sadly prescient, Resid then made the ominous prediction of a "great massacre" if equality was in fact granted to non-Muslims. [18]

Despite their "revolutionary" advent, and accompanying comparisons to the ideals of the French Revolution, the CUP's "Young Turk" regime eventually adopted a discriminatory, anti-reform attitude toward non-Muslims within the Ottoman Empire. During an August 6, 1910 speech in Saloniki, Mehmed Talat, pre-eminent leader of the Young Turks disdainfully rejected the notion of equality with "gavours" , arguing that it "…is an unrecognizable ideal since it is inimical with Sheriat [Shari'a] and the sentiments of hundreds of thousands of Muslims…". [19] Roderick Davison notes that in fact "..no genuine equality was ever attained..", re-enacting the failure of the prior Tanzimat reform period. As a consequence, he observes, the CUP leadership "…soon turned from equality…to Turkification…" [20]

During the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid, the Ottoman Turks massacred over 200,000 Armenians between 1894-96. This was followed, under the Young Turk regime, by the Adana massacres of 25,000 Armenians in 1909, and the first formal genocide of the 20th century, when in 1915 alone, an additional 600,000 to 800,000 Armenians were slaughtered. [21] The massacres of the 1890s had an "organic" connection to the Adana massacres of 1909, and more importantly, the events of 1915. As Vahakn Dadrian argues, they facilitated the genocidal acts of 1915 by providing the Young Turks with "a predictable impunity." The absence of adverse consequences for the Abdul Hamid massacres in the 1890s allowed the Young Turks to move forward without constraint. [22]

Contemporary accounts from European diplomats make clear that these brutal massacres were perpetrated in the context of a formal jihad against the Armenians who had attempted to throw off the yoke of dhimmitude by seeking equal rights and autonomy. For example, the Chief Dragoman (Turkish-speaking interpreter) of the British embassy reported regarding the 1894-96 massacres:

“…[The perpetrators] are guided in their general action by the prescriptions of the Sheri [Sharia] Law. That law prescribes that if the "rayah" [dhimmi] Christian attempts, by having recourse to foreign powers, to overstep the limits of privileges allowed them by their Mussulman [Muslim] masters, and free themselves from their bondage, their lives and property are to be forfeited, and are at the mercy of the Mussulmans. To the Turkish mind the Armenians had tried to overstep those limits by appealing to foreign powers, especially England. They therefore considered it their religious duty and a righteous thing to destroy and seize the lives and properties of the Armenians…" [23]

The scholar Bat Ye'or confirms this reasoning, noting that the Armenian quest for reforms invalidated their "legal status," which involved a "contract" (i.e., with their Muslim Turkish rulers). This

“… breach…restored to the umma [the Muslim community] its initial right to kill the subjugated minority [the dhimmis], [and] seize their property …” [24]

An intrepid Protestant historian and missionary Johannes Lepsius, who earlier had undertaken a two-month trip to examine the sites of the Abul Hamid era massacres, travelled again to Turkey during World War I. Regarding the period between 1914-1918, he wrote :

"… Are we then simply forbidden to speak of the Armenians as persecuted on account of their religious belief? If so, there have never been any religious persecutions in the world…We have lists before us of 559 villages whose surviving inhabitants were converted to Islam with fire and sword; of 568 churches thoroughly pillaged, destroyed and razed to the ground; of 282 Christian churches transformed into mosques; of 21 Protestant preachers and 170 Gregorian (Armenian) priests who were, after enduring unspeakable tortures, murdered on their refusal to accept Islam. We repeat, however, that those figures express only the extent of our information, and do not by a long way reach to the extent of the reality. Is this a religious persecution or is it not?..." [25]

Finally, Bat Ye'or places the continuum of massacres from the 1890s through World War I in an overall theological and juridical context, as follows:

"…The genocide of the Armenians was the natural outcome of a policy inherent in the politico-religious structure of dhimmitude. This process of physically eliminating a rebel nation had already been used against the rebel Slav and Greek Christians, rescued from collective extermination by European intervention, although sometimes reluctantly.
The genocide of the Armenians was a jihad. No rayas took part in it. Despite the disapproval of many Muslim Turks and Arabs, and their refusal to collaborate in the crime, these massacres were perpetrated solely by Muslims and they alone profited from the booty: the victims' property, houses, and lands granted to the muhajirun, and the allocation to them of women and child slaves. The elimination of male children over the age of twelve was in accordance with the commandments of the jihad and conformed to the age fixed for the payment of the jizya. The four stages of the liquidation - deportation, enslavement, forced conversion, and massacre- reproduced the historic conditions of the jihad carried out in the dar-al-Harb from the seventh century on. Chronicles from a variety of sources, by Muslim authors in particular, give detailed descriptions of the organized massacres or deportation of captives, whose sufferings in forced marches behind the armies paralleled the Armenian experience in the twentieth century…" [26]


The Ottoman Turkish destruction of the Armenian people, beginning in the late 19th and intensifying in the early 20th century, was a genocide, and jihad ideology contributed significantly to this decades long human liquidation process. These facts are now beyond dispute. Milan Kundera, the Czech author, has written that man’s struggle against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. [27] In his thoughtful analysis of the Armenian genocide, “The Banality of Indifference”, Professor Yair Auron reminds us of the importance of this struggle:

“…Recognition of the Armenian genocide on the part of the entire international community, including Turkey (or perhaps first and foremost Turkey), is therefore a demand of the first order. Understanding and remembering the tragic past is an essential condition, even if not sufficient in and of itself, to preventing the repetition of such acts in the future….” [28]


[1] Uras E., The Armenians and the Armenian Question in History, 2nd ed., (Istanbul, 1976), p.612

[2] Akcam T., Turkish National Identity and the Armenian Question, (Istanbul, 1992), p. 109.

[3] Hovanissian R., Armenia on the Road to Independence, (Berkeley, CA, 1967), p. 51.

[4] Dadrian V., “The Armenian Question and the Wartime Fate of the Armenians as Documented by the Officials of the Ottoman Empire’s World War I Allies: Germany and Austria-Hungary”, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, (2002), Vol. 32, Pp. 59-85.

[5] Dadrian V., “The Armenian Question and the Wartime Fate of the Armenians”, p.60.

[6] Dadrian V., “The Armenian Question and the Wartime Fate of the Armenians”, p.76

[7] Dadrian V., “The Armenian Question and the Wartime Fate of the Armenians”, p.76, with specific primary source documentation, p.84 n.109.

[8] Dadrian V., “The Armenian Question and the Wartime Fate of the Armenians”, p.76, with specific primary source documentation, p.84 n.109.

[9] Dadrian V., “The Armenian Question and the Wartime Fate of the Armenians”, p.77, with specific primary source documentation, pp. 84-85 n.111.

[10] Dadrian V., “The Armenian Question and the Wartime Fate of the Armenians”, p.77.

[11] Davison R., "Turkish Attitudes Concerning Christian-Muslim Equality in the Nineteenth Century", The American Historical Review (1954), Vol. 54, pp. 844-864.

[12] Bat Ye'or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, (Cranbury, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996) 522 pp.

[13] Dadrian V., Warrant for Genocide: Key Elements of Turko-Armenian Conflict, (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1999), p. 39.

[14] Dadrian V., “The Armenian Question and the Wartime Fate of the Armenians”, p.61, with specific primary source documentation p.79, n.11

[15] Dadrian V., “The Armenian Question and the Wartime Fate of the Armenians”, p.61, with specific primary source documentation p.79, n.11

[16] Davison R., "Turkish Attitudes Concerning Christian-Muslim Equality in the Nineteenth Century", p.855.

[17] Bat Ye'or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, Reports by British Diplomats [1850-1876], Pp. 395-433.

[18] Dadrian V., “The Armenian Question and the Wartime Fate of the Armenians”, Pp. 61-62, with specific primary source documentation, p.79 n.14.

[19] Dadrian V., “The Armenian Question and the Wartime Fate of the Armenians”, Pp. 61-62, with specific primary source documentation, p.79 n.15.

[20] Davison R, "The Armenian Crisis, 1912-1914", The American Historical Review, (1948) Vol. 53, Pp. 482-483.

[21] Dadrian V., The History of the Armenian Genocide, (Providence, RI: Bergahn Books, 1997), Pp. 155, 182, 225, 233 n.44; Auron Y., The Banality of Indifference, (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2000), p. 44.

[22] Dadrian V., The History of the Armenian Genocide, Pp. 113-184.

[23] Dadrian V., The History of the Armenian Genocide, p. 147, with primary source documentation p. 168 n.199.

[24] Bat Ye'or, The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam, (Cranbury, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1985) Pp. 48,67, 101.

[25] Gabrielan M. C., Armenia: A Martyr Nation, (New York, Chicago: Fleming H. Revell, Co., 1918), p. 269.

[26] Bat Ye'or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, p. 197.

[27] Kundera M., The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, (New York, NY: Harper Collins, 1999)

[28] Auron Y., The Banality of Indifference, p. 56.

Andrew G. Bostom, MD, MS, is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Brown University Medical School.
He is the author of:
The Legacy of Jihad, Prometheus Books (2005),
The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, Prometheus Books (2008),
Sharia Versus Freedom. The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism, Prometheus Books (2012),
The Mufti's Islamic Jew Hatred. What the Nazis Learned From the 'Muslim Pope', Bravura Books (2013), and
Iran's Final Solution for Israel. The Legacy of Jihad and Shi'ite Islamic Jew-Hatred in Iran, Bravura Books (2014).