Saturday, January 13, 2007
America's First Terrorist Enemy: Muslim Barbary Pirates of the Mediterranean and What Thomas Jefferson Finally Did About Them
This story is true and dedicated to Mr. Keith Ellison, newly elected U.S. Rep. from Minnesota.
ONCE UPON A TIME, there was a country called America. After Declaring Her Independence in 1776, her people fought for years for their freedom from the mother country of England. When they finally succeeded, they drew up a Constitution and formed a government separate from all others. And then they began operating as an independent nation on the world stage in 1789.
One downside of breaking up with the British Empire was that the American Navy was no longer under the protection of the powerful British Navy. And so her ships started being attacked and her crews imprisoned, and often enslaved, by Muslim pirates in the Meditarrean, operating out of what is now called Algeria.
These pirates worked under a Muslim warlord, in north Africa and were called Barbary pirates. They were Islamic seafaring raiders who engaged in disrupting British and American commerce by capturing booty for profit, kidnapping and enslaving Christians, and taking and holding hostages for rich ransom.
But wait there's more.
In 1785, the Barbary pirates precipatated a crisis with the fledgling America when they seized two of her ships and took 21 hostages off the coast of Portugal.
A year later Thomas Jefferson, who was then living in Paris as ambassador to France and John Adams, ambassador to England, met in London with the Algerian ambassador to attempt to negotiate a treaty to end the piracy. At this meeting, Jefferson and Adams reported that they asked the Muslim ambassador the reason for these attacks and received this reply:
"Islam," he said in 1786, "was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, and it was written in their Quran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners and that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found."
The Algerian ambassador added that every Muslim slain in these battles was sure to go to "Paradise."
At this point, is it any small wonder that an incredulous Jefferson ran for a Quran to try to make sense of what he had just heard?
For some years, the American government agreed to pay money, called "tribute" to appease the Barbary pirate states. Wikipedia reports:
"The American government was too riven with domestic discord to make a strong show of force overseas. The U.S. paid Algiers the ransom, and continued to pay up to $1 million per year over the next 15 years for the safe passage of American ships or the return of American hostages. Payments in ransom and tribute to the privateering states amounted to 20 percent of United States government annual revenues in 1800."
It wasn't until after Jefferson had become president in 1801 that he refused to continue appeasing the pirate states and finally sent U.S. warships and Marines to engage in another kind of "diplomacy," or all out war on the Barbary states. In 1805, Marines marched from Egypt to the Barbary state of Tripolitania and forced its surrender and the freeing of all American captives and slaves.
With this military maneuver accomplished, the Barbary States agreed to cease their pirating, plundering ways.
It was Jefferson who made famous the statement: "millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute." He apparently learned all he needed to from his copy of the Quran and got results when he stopped appeasing the enemy.
If only our politically correct politicians would take a lesson from a page of American history entitled, "Jefferson's toughlove with the first Muslim terrorists in the Mediterrean."
And now you know most of the rest of the story. For more links to this fascinating time in our history, go here, and here, and here.
And the beat goes on, and on and on and on and on and on and onwith Islam.