An apologist is one who presents a ‘reasoned defense’ of something, whether that be a faith, an ideology, an argument, a belief, etc. David Wood of the anti-immigrant, right-wing blog Answering Muslims, is a self-professed ISIS apologist (he defends ISIS’ beliefs), supporter (supports their theological beliefs as the ‘true Islam’) and recruiter (condemns Muslims who do not ‘truly follow their Islam’).
For many years, David has repeatedly sought to defend and promote ISIS’ violent beliefs. He’s shared many of their common beliefs about the Qur’an and Islam. In a video published last year, David Wood sought to legitimize ISIS’ medieval and violent interpretation of the Qur’an by arguing that the terrorist group’s approach to the Qur’an was not only valid, but the most appropriate and most valid means of understanding the Islamic scripture. He further argued in the video, that ISIS’ version and brand of violent Islam, was the ‘truest form of Islam’, that ‘correctly represented the teachings of the Islamic Prophet’.
As can be seen in the above video, David, who is a career apologist in the interfaith community, attempted to justify and qualify ISIS’ actions and beliefs by appealing to the Islamic scripture. The video which has garnered over 250, 000 views is one of the very few ISIS videos used to defend and legitimize the terrorist group’s brand of Islam. ISIS supporters have traditionally attempted to legitimize their violent actions by re-interpreting the Qur’an and Prophetic Sunnah to suit their violent message. David’s video sought to legitimize ISIS’ actions by presenting a select few passages of the Qur’an and by providing his own interpretation of those passages within a violent context.
This ISIS recruitment video, which has been shared on YouTube, seeks to encourage Western Muslims to believe that ISIS’ faith is the correct faith to follow. David argues that Muslims who do not follow these violent interpretations of the Qur’an are actually failing to practise Islam properly. As an ISIS supporter, David rejects the notion of a true Islam, outside of ISIS’ teachings (in a debate with anti-ISIS Muslim Osama Abdallah, David argues that ISIS is the true Islam that Muslims must follow). Similarly, as an ISIS recruiter, David is against Muslim migration to Europe and the Americas. He shares the terrorist group’s belief that Muslims must stay in the newly created ‘Khilafa’, and that they must be rejected from entering Western nations, adhering to the belief that Western nations are Dar al Harb.
In an attempt to further legitimize and promote ISIS’ ideology, David justified the Paris attack by ISIS as a ‘true Jihad’. This however, should have been expected, as David had previously released a video teaching the ‘three stages of Jihad’, at one point in his video lesson he proclaims that the third and final stage is to practise terrorism against non-Muslims. These two videos are part of ISIS’ attempt to recruit Muslims who are following other forms of Islam, the traditional forms of Sunni Islam. David’s videos are ISIS tutorials on their approach to, and understanding of the Islamic scriptures and beliefs. As an ISIS apologist, legitimizer, and recruiter, David has perhaps the largest audience of them all. In a Twitter post dated December 4th 2015, David Wood posted another tweet endorsing and teaching the belief that Muslims must, ‘fight those who do not believe in Allah’.
It remains whether to be seen why David, despite his popularity as an ISIS recruiter, who openly teaches and shares video lessons about their doctrine, is being allowed to remain actively spreading ISIS’ message on social media. His video lessons about following the true teachings of ISIS’ brand of Islam are also being funded through donations. As recently as a few months ago, David openly called for donations to fund equipment for his recruitment videos. In one post he claims to have received over $1999 (USD), to purchase cameras to use in his debates, one of which he argued that ‘Muslims should be violent because the Qur’an teaches them to be so’ (see his debate, is the Qur’an a book of peace?).
As a Muslim who opposes the message, teachings and actions of ISIS, I am appalled at David Wood’s public legitimizing and defending of ISIS’ beliefs. I reject ISIS’ beliefs and consider them to be heretical, whereas David Wood considers their beliefs to be authentic and the ‘true Islam’.
and God knows best.