Bernardino and Islam

Unlike Osama bin Laden, who chose to launch his attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, as a symbolic reversal of the Ottoman defeat at the Battle of Vienna on that date in 1683, Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, prosecuted their jihad in San Bernardino because that is where they lived and he worked.  Yet in doing so, they unwittingly awoke memories of the last major struggle with Islam—a struggle which lasted centuries and lives on in the ideology of ISIS today.

The 15th-century Franciscan Bernardine of Siena, for whom San Bernardino is named, was an outstanding preacher in an order of great preachers, which is why Pope Eugene IV issued a bull commissioning Bernardine to preach the Crusade against the Turks.  The Franciscan order had, from the beginning (even to this day), acted on its founder’s desire to bring the Gospel to the Muslims and to minister to and protect Christians in areas ruled by Islam.  In 1456, 12 years after Bernardine’s death, his close friend and collaborator Saint John of Capistrano would lead the Christian troops to victory at the Siege of Belgrade, which stemmed the Ottoman tide for 70 years.

Farook was probably just as ignorant of this history as the average American, but he was bringing his side of it to life again in his own way.  The day after the attack, Farook’s father told American reporters that his son was not an “extremist”;...

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