THE arrest of seven doctors in the attempted British terror bombings has shocked many people. Sadly, it shouldn’t.

All seven are Muslims working at government-financed hospitals, their salaries paid by the British taxpayer. Dr. Muhammad Hanif practiced at Halton Hospital in Runcorn, Cheshire; Dr. Muhammad Asha, at the North Staffordshire NHS Trust’s University Hospital.

So can doctors be terrorists? Can people who are financially well-off be terrorists? Absolutely.

It is ideology, after all, that turns people into terrorists – not suffering.

Indeed, the No. 2 leader of al Qaeda is Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri – who was previously a stalwart of the Muslim Brotherhood in his native Egypt.

Zawahiri made the connections that led to his role in al Qaeda when he went to Afghanistan in 1980 to provide medical care for jihadists fighting the Soviets. Later, he was a key architect of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed hundreds of innocents, and of the 9/11 attacks.

Other Islamist MDs include two recent leaders of the Palestinian terror group Hamas. Abdel Aziz Rantisi graduated first in his class from an Egyptian university in pediatrics; he succeeded slain cleric Ahmad Yassin as Hamas’ chief in March 2004 – only to perish himself a month later. After him came Mahmoud al-Zahar (who had helped found Hamas in 1987), an Egyptian-trained surgeon who today is the most powerful man in the Gaza Strip.

Even before the rise of Islamism, there were secular doctor-terrorists. Dr. George Habash, a founder and for three decades leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), is now still active though enjoying his semi-retirement in Syria.

The PFLP was one of the most bloodthirsty terrorist groups in history, with exploits such as a 1978 attack at Orly Airport in Paris and the 2002 shooting of five (including a mother and three children) in Itamar on the West Bank.

Dr. Waddi Haddad was Habash’s sometime partner before forming an organization specializing in terrorist operations, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-External Operations. Among its more spectacular actions was a 1977 hijacking of a Lufthansa flight en route from Mallorca to Frankfurt.

Consider, too, the kind of people who become doctors – relatively intelligent, well-organized, hard-working. These are valuable skills both in leading terrorist groups and in carrying out operations.

Yes, we in the West expect the study of medicine to produce humanists – men and women who view all life as sacred, dedicated to broad service for humanity.

But it is also an intellectual endeavor – exposing one to other intellectual currents in the surrounding world. And in much of the Muslim world, the strongest currents have been the various extremisms that promote terrorism.

And the doctrines of radical Arab nationalism and Islamism (like the one that motivated those totalitarians working in concentration camps six decades ago) view their enemies as sub-human. Toward them, those trained in healing are quite willing to become doctors of death.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center. His latest book is “The Truth About Syria.”


  1. I will not forward this article because of the dangerous myths that are put forth as incontrovertible facts. The article asserts that Israel is the cause of: martyrs tombs, refuge camps, Palestinian diaspora, occupied territories, wars with Lebanon and Gaza, and the settlement projects.

    However, the truth is that the Arabs who train and brainwash children to become
    suicide bombers are responsible for the killers "martyrdom." The Arabs are the ones who deliberately refused to absorb the "palestinians" in order to use them as political fodder. In fact, these leaders created the first "refugees" when they told the native Arabs to leave their homes while the Jews were being destroyed in 1948. The "refugees" (aka "palestinians") are not living in a "diaspora"; that is a deliberate usurpation of the term for the Jewish exiles from Israel to enforce the lie that Israel is really "Palestine," a fake country. There are no "occupied territories"! Judea, Samaria, and ALL of Jerusalem are all part of Israel; the only time they weren’t was when they were OCCUPIED by Jordan. All of the wars with the Arabs were instigated by the Arabs! Even the use of the word "settlements" is a misnomer used to make the towns and cities in the disputed areas seem both temporary and invasive. Unfortunately, this term, as well as "palestinians," has been adopted by most of Israel’s friends and Israelis themselves. Every time they are used and accepted as true, all of the lies against Israel are strengthened!


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