The Assyrians and ISIS: Part II

A most timely comparison of the ancient Assyrians with today's Islamists, similar to ISIS only when it comes to savagery and carnage.

Joe David

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Joe David

Part II: The Rise of Islam (for Part I, click here)

(610 AD – Present)

In 570 AD Muhammad was born in Mecca. Orphaned at an early age, he lived first with his grandfather, then later with an uncle who ran a successful caravan business. While under his uncle’s support, he met a wealthy businesswoman, a distant relative, who entrusted him with handling a business transaction. Impressed with the results of his transaction and his business skills in general, she proposed marriage to him.[1]

After being comfortably married to her for about 15 years, he reportedly had visions in which God through the Archangel Gabriel spoke to him during religious trances. While in these trances, it is believed Gabriel delivered to Muhammad revelations, which Muhammad put to memory and his scribes later recorded in the Koran.[2]

Muslims believe that Muhammad is the last prophet chosen by God, that he is a prophet of goodly qualities and exalted character. To duplicate his fine qualities and attain his noble character, as recorded for them in the Koran, many devout Muslims study the Holy Book and memorize passages from it.[3]

Inspired by his teachings, and with the same religious fervor occurring today in many parts of the world, his followers swept through the Middle East in the early 7th Century, ruthlessly slaughtering non-believers, leaving behind their religious imprint of broken bodies. Like the Ancient Assyrians, they showed no mercy toward anyone who refused to adapt to their rule. At its height, the Muslim Empire through aggressive wars took control of Syria, Palestine, Persia, and Egypt and even maintained a strong foothold across North Africa and into Spain and Portugal as well as parts of Eastern Europe.[4]

Determined to dominate the world with their political-religious views, they have continued their major war against Christians to this day. Here is just a skeletal look at their past:

  • The Crusades: In 1095, Pope Urban II became concerned about all the Christians who were being slaughtered by the Muslims during their pilgrimages to the Holy Lands. Determined to protect the Christian pilgrims and the Christians in the Eastern Roman Empire (or Byzantine Empire, as it was sometimes called), the pope turned to European Christians for support. What followed was a series of defensive Crusades against the Muslims that lasted for nearly 200 years. In 1291, the Muslims finally defeated the Crusaders. Weakened by war, the Eastern Roman Empire eventually collapsed. In 1453, the Ottoman Turks took control of the Eastern Roman Empire’s capital, Constantinople, and turned it into an Islamic capital, the seat of its caliphate.[5]

  • Tamerlane: “Timur the Lane” was a Turco-Mongolian conqueror and a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. In the 15th Century, this Muslim warrior swept through the Middle East, and delivered irreparable blows to the Christians. He left behind him a trail of butchered human bodies. After conquering Baghdad, for example, he built a minaret for a mosque with the 90 thousand heads of Christians. As a result of his Islamic victories, the Christian population in the Middle East was significantly reduced and scattered throughout the Mesopotamia area and beyond. Those Christians who remained in the area until the 20th Century remained there historically invisible for the most part and very much subservient to the Muslim rule.[6]

  • The Barbary Coast Pirates: From about the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, the Ottoman Empire maintained control of the Mediterranean Sea primarily through the capitals of three of its provinces –Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. These three cities, including Salé, Morocco, were a part of the Barbary Coast States. From their foothold on the Mediterranean Sea on the African side, the Barbary Coast Pirates not only raided Christian communities on the European side, but they also attacked ships traveling on the open sea. During their attacks, they would claim all valuable cargo and would ransom or enslave the captured enemy. (This eventually led to the Barbary Coast War in 1801, after President Thomas Jefferson, refused to pay ransom for the safety of U.S. crew and cargo, hijacked by the pirates. In 1815 treaties were signed with the United States that finally ended all tribute payments to the pirates.)[7]

  • The Hamidian Massacres: In 1894-96, Abdul Hamid II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, turned his anger savagely against the Armenian Christians and murdered about 200,000 Armenians and Assyrians, accusing them of treason, because they rebelled against enslavement by the Turks.[8] The Sultan’s actions, which received international attention, earned for him the title, the Red Sultan. His many acts of savagery toward the Christians during his reign became an omen of what was to follow after a group of reformers called the Young Turks took power in Turkey before World War I.[9]

  • World War I: By 1914, the Ottoman Turks could no longer hold their empire together. Their military control of Christians in the Balkan countries that they once ruled with might was broken after two wars. Their abusive treatment of non-Muslims had resulted in a strong uprising that resulted in military defeat and bankruptcy for the Turkey. The Young Turks who took control of the government before the war by usurping the power of the sultan turned to the Central Powers (i.e., Germany and Austria-Hungary) to help them regain their empire. Their plan was to declare a jihad against their enemies. When this failed to occur, they turned the Muslims against their two primary enemies -- the Russians in the North and the Christians in Turkey. What followed in the Middle East was the brutal massacre of several million Christians (i.e., Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontic Greeks).

Call this enemy of Christianity whatever you like – radicals, fundamentalists, Islamic terrorists, or jihadists. If you connect the dots from their past to their present activities, you will uncover a disturbing pattern: a fanatical commitment to eliminating infidels.[10] (For a contemporary and brief look at some of their atrocities, read my article in Israel National News, “Connecting the Dots.”)

Any non-Muslim in their path to mayhem, refusing to submit to their authority, was enslaved or was savagely killed. As a result of this harsh treatment, many people submitted to the Islamic faith out of fear for their safety and remained Muslims for the same reason. This raises an important question: How devoted can anyone be if they are forced to accept religious loyalty out of fear for their lives? During World War I, the Turks discovered the answer first hand, when the Muslims around the world ignored the Turks call for jihad.


Besides forcing upon large segments of the world their primitive political-religious beliefs, the Muslims will always be remembered for two positive contributions to history. In the book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), Robert Spencer identified them.

  • They exported Greek culture to Europe. This was done by providing Spaniards with the Assyrian translations of Greek thinkers, which enabled the Spaniards to translate the writings from Arabic to Latin. After the Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453, the Greek residents were obligated to migrate to Europe. Within no time, Europe swelled with followers of Plato and Aristotle who introduced Europe to classical philosophy and literature. This led to the Renaissance movement, which changed the face of Europe (and the world) by bringing about a rebirth of interest in Greek culture.[11]

  • They contributed to the discovery of the new world. After the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire, Europeans had to find a new route to the East for their spices and other exotics goods. The spice route was blocked in the Middle East by the Ottoman Turks. Christopher Columbus believed he could avoid this Muslim blockade by sailing west to reach the East. He was convinced the world was round, not flat as many Europeans believed. His theory, which originated with the Greeks, led to his westward journey to prove his point. In 1492, to Columbus’ surprise, he discovered not a new route to the East, but instead a new world, America![12]

Of course, the Muslims made other contributions. But many of them were stolen from the labor of those whom they had conquered and enslaved. It is too early in time to determine what their “contributions” will be for what is unfolding today around the world. What we are seeing now in the Middle East (and spreading rapidly throughout Africa and Europe) is a continuation their unfinished war against the Christians.

The same radical obsession for the global political-religious domination through savage murder that began in the 7th Century with the birth of Islam is continuing today. Unlike the ancient Assyrians who learned from their past and embraced a religion that promised hope and peace for the world, the Muslims have clung tenaciously to their commitment to warfare.

Today while ISIS and other radical forces are moving rapidly through the Middle East, reducing Assyrian Christians and others, as well as their religious symbols to ashes, the civilized world for the most part remains silent. What will follow world-wide is conjecture. But if world conditions continue to deteriorate at such a rapid rate it could turn into a major tragedy – another World War, led by radicals with nuclear capability.



[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Spencer, Robert, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), Regnery Publishing, Washington, DC, 2005, pp 96-97.

[6] Ibid, page 168.


[8] Theriault, Hencry C., “Rethinking Dehumanization in Genocide”, The Armenian Genocide, Edited by Richard Hovannisian, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick and London, 2008, pages 35-36.


[10] For a brief highlight of some of the crimes against the Christians in the 20th Century, read the article, “Connecting the Dots” by Joe David, Israel National News.

33 Spencer, Robert, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), pages 96-97.

[12] Ibid.

Joe David is the author of six books and numerous articles for magazines, newspapers, and journals. His latest book, The Infidels, focuses on the genocide of Assyrian Christians during World War I in Persia.