A new report from the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center shows how terrorists' use of mosques as a storing house for weapons and other activity is on the rise.
The 38-page report includes photographic evidence of weapons being stored under pulpits and elsewhere in mosques during December and January's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. It notes that Israeli troops fighting Hizballah in Lebanon, U.S. troops fighting terrorists in Iraq and even Palestinian Authority officials in the West Bank have encountered similar practices.
"The cynical and deliberate use of religious institutions for military purposes is a violation of the laws of armed conflict and may turn them into legitimate targets for military attack. In certain instances putting the mosques to such use is considered the war crime of using civilians as human shields."
Since taking over Gaza in 2007, Hamas has used mosques to recruit terrorists, as meeting places and even as rocket and mortar launching sites, all with the imprimatur of influential Muslim thinkers:
"Senior Islamic clerics, both Sunni and Shi'ite (particularly the Sunni sheikh Yussuf Qardawi and the Shi'ite Ayatollah Khamenei), repeatedly claim that making such use of the mosques for jihad objectives is legitimate according to Islamic point of view. They also encourage their use for spreading jihad ideology and terrorism (muqawamah, i.e., "resistance") against the enemies of Islam. Their religious views are based on the Islamic oral traditions (hadiths) which say that the prophet Muhammad himself used a mosque for military and political purposes, beyond the classic use of the mosque as house of worship." [Emphasis original]
The report is useful in demonstrating how mosques are being used by terrorists and extremists to foment more violence and extremism, and in showing how opposing military leaders must confront the challenges presented by holy places being used to store weapons caches.