My Hannity Appearance: Ottoman Caliphate Atrocities, 1915-19, An Order of Magnitude Greater Than Those of IS/IL

Last night, my brief sound bite during a Sean Hannity panel alluded to the timeless Koranic injunction to wage jihad war against Jews and Christians, specifically, Koran 9:29, for the purpose of forcibly imposing a Sharia-based Islamic order upon them. This reference was followed by a graphic, modern historical manifestation of this eternal Islamic “imperative”: the 1915-19 jihad genocide of the Armenian, Assyro-Chaldean, and Syrian Orthodox Christian communities of Anatolia, and northern “Mesopotamia,” i.e., modern Iraq, by the last Caliphate—the Ottoman Caliphate.

Notwithstanding the recent horrific spate of atrocities committed against the Christian communities of northern Iraq by the Islamic State (IS/IL) jihadists, the Ottoman jihad ravages were equally barbaric, depraved, and far more extensive. Occurring, primarily between 1915-16 (although continuing through at least 1918), some one million Armenian, and 250,000 Assyro-Chaldean and Syrian Orthodox Christians were brutally slaughtered, or starved to death during forced deportations through desert wastelands. The identical gruesome means used by IS/IL to humiliate and massacre its hapless Christian victims, were employed on a scale that was an order of magnitude greater by the Ottoman Muslim Turks, often abetted by local Muslim collaborators (the latter being another phenomenon which also happened during the IS/IL jihad campaign against Iraq’s Christians).

Tragically 2/3 of Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia—hardly a “fringe minority of extremists”—support the eternal Islamic “ideal” to re-create a Caliphate. Regardless, the wrenching illustrations included below  should make plain to all decent, sober-minded persons why any “Caliphate movement” must be confronted, and crushed.

Reverend K. Balakian’s eyewitness narrative Hai Koghota (The Armenian Golgotha)— recounted the harrowing details of a particular slaughter, at Yozgat, its Islamic religious motifs unexpurgated. Balakian quotes a Turkish gendarme who confirmed the Ottoman government’s sanction of this explicit act of mass-murderous jihad:

During the time we were searching the women, the government officials of Yozgat sent police officers to all the surrounding Turkish villages and in the name of holy jihad invited the Muslim population to participate in this sacred religious obligation…Thus, when we arrived at the designated site, the mass of people was waiting. The government order was clear: all were to be massacred, and nobody was to be spared. Therefore, in order to prevent any escape attempt, and to thwart any secret attempts of sympathizers intent on freeing them, I had the eighty police soldiers encircle this hill, and I stationed guards at every probable site of escape or hiding. Then I had the [Muslim] police soldiers announce to the people [Muslim men] that whoever wished to select a virgin girl or young bride could do so immediately, on the condition of taking them as wives and not with the intention of rescuing them. Making a selection during the massacre was forbidden. Thus about 250 girls and young brides were selected by the people and the police soldiers.

Balakian himself interjects:

Then the captain did something striking. Before continuing to tell his story of the actual massacre, he closed his eyes; in the special manner of performing ablutions, he raised his hands to his face and ran them down his white beard as if washing up. And muttering a few prayers, he turned to and said to me, “May Allah not show such death as this to anybody”…“Did you shoot them dead or bayonet them to death?” I [Balakian] asked. “It’s wartime, and bullets are expensive. So people grabbed whatever they could from their villages—axes, hatchets, scythesw, sickles, clubs, hoes, pickaxes, shovels,—and they did the killing accordingly.

Regarding this particular massacre, Balakian laments:

It is impossible for me to convey what happened to those 6,400 defenseless women, virgins, and brides as well as suckling infants. Their heartrending cries and doleful pleas brought down the deaf canopies of heaven. The police soldiers in Yozgat (and Boghazliyan) who accompanied us would even boast to some of us about how they had committed tortures and decapitations, cut off and chopped up body parts with axes, and how they had dismembered suckling infants and children by pulling apart their legs, or dashing them on rocks

Balakian’s overarching eyewitness assessment of the jihad genocide of the Armenians, includes these summary observations:

The interior minister and chief executioner, Talaat [one of the Ottoman Turk “triumvirate” of rulers during the genocide], had given orders by telegram throughout the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, even as far as the most remote villages, to take the Armenians outside of the cities and towns, into the mountains and valleys, and mercilessly massacre them. He had also ordered that the remaining old women and children be marched along routes deliberately made longer, then annihilated by being left in the deserts of Der Zor without bread, water, or even a final resting place.

More than one million Armenian city dwellers and peasants were savagely slaughtered and made to choke quietly on their own blood. Tens of thousands of Armenian males, lashed together with string or rope, were mercilessly butchered along all the roads of Asia Minor, or massacred with axes, like tree branches being pruned. The executioners were deaf to the crying and weeping of these wretched victims, even to their pleas to shoot them so that they might escape the torment: the order had come from on high and the jihad against the Armenians truly had been proclaimed. Yes, it was necessary to mercilessly slaughter them until not a single Armenian was left within the confines of the Ottoman Empire.

Riveting upon the Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syrian Orthodox Christian populations of northern Iraq (then Mesopotamia), and eastern Anatolia, historian David Gaunt’s pioneering 2006 study described their horrific plight under the Ottomans in 1915. Gaunt noted that “an intense extermination of the Christians was completed in a short period between June and September 1915.” Most of the 250,000 eventually slaughtered during the years between 1914 and 1919 were killed in this compressed 4-month time frame. After describing the “concrete details” of what he characterized as the “Ottoman ethnic and religious wars and the full scale of religiously-inspired massacres,” Gaunt concluded with this summary assessment which conveyed the sheer horror and depravity of these jihad ravages:

The degree of extermination and the brutality of the massacres indicate extreme pent-up hatred on the popular level. Christians, the so-called gawur [also giaour or ghiaour] infidels, were killed in almost all sorts of situations. They were collected at the local town hall, walking in the streets, fleeing on the roads, at harvest, in the villages, in the caves and tunnels, in the caravanserais [an inn with a central courtyard], in the prisons, under torture, on the river rafts, on road repair gangs, on the way to be put on trial. There was no specific and technological way of carrying out the murders like the Nazis’ extermination camps. A common feature was those killed were unarmed, tied up, or otherwise defenseless. All possible methods of killing were used: shooting, stabbing, stoning, crushing, throat cutting, throwing off of roofs, drowning, decapitation. Witnesses talk of seeing collections of ears and noses and of brigands boasting of their collections of female body parts. The perpetrators not only killed but humiliated the victims…In several instances, decapitated heads of well-known Christians, such as Hanne Safar of Midyat and Ibrahim the Syriac priest of Sa’irt were used as footballs…In Derike, the Syriac Catholic priest Ibrahim Qrom had his beard torn off and was then forced to crawl on all fours with a tormentor on his back, while others kicked him, stabbed him, and finally cut him to pieces.

Virtually every deportation caravan and village massacre was accompanied by serial mass rape of the women. Young girls were abducted as sex slaves and children as household servants. Even when they were not killed outright, the women were often stripped of their clothes. The homes of Christians were broken into, plundered, furniture smashed, windows, and doors removed, set on fire. Sometimes a survivor had little to return home to. The number of perpetrators of the local massacres was staggering. Apparently the local officials….or the local politicians…had no difficulty in motivating the populace for extermination. The officials established death squads from middle-aged Muslim men. National Assembly deputies…agitated among the Kurdish tribes and even managed to get notorious outlaws…to cooperate in return for loot, adventure, and a promise of amnesty. On a few occasions, Muslim women were present, for instance…at the public humiliation of Christian dignitaries, but mostly the perpetrators were males. There were literally thousands of perpetrators, most of them locals.


Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at

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