Sunday, June 29, 2014

Praying for terrorists: Ayman al-Zawahiri

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:44 NASB)

The topic of terrorists goes hand in hand with the topic of persecution of the church, simply on the basis of their close proximity. It's hard to have persecution without persecutors. 

Tonight, we are praying for one of the most prominent and most feared terrorists in the world. His name is Ayman al-Zawahiri, and he is an Egyptian surgeon who is now the head of Al-Qaeda. According to Wikipedia, he grew up in a prosperous and prominent family, and was a good student who loved poetry and hated violent sports. It wasn't long, however, before he began to get involved in the Muslim Brotherhood, and soon moved into increasingly radical organizations. 

One of his wives and two of his children died as a result of US bombs in Afghanistan. He may carry anger toward the US because of this, and almost certainly does, but he was a terrorist long before their deaths. 

al-Zawahiri is believed by the FBI to have been involved in terrorists operations on at least four continents, including North America, and is considered to have been involved in the 1988 US Embassy bombings as well as the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole and the 9/11 attack. He is on the FBI most-wanted terrorist list. 

In 1998, he merged his Egyptian jihadist organization with Al-Qaeda and steadily gained power in that combined organization.  After the death of Osama Ben Laden, he became the head of Al-Qaeda. 

In his early 60's, he continues to spread terror and destruction. Most recently, he has called for the kidnapping of Westerners in order to exchange them for imprisoned Al-Qaeda operatives. There are some who believe the recent prisoner exchange may serve as fuel for the fire and trigger increased kidnappings. 

In April of this year, during a taped interview, a call for an increase in kidnappings was issued. (The taped voice was believed to be al-Zawahiri, but was not confirmed). Regardless, he poses a tremendous threat to the safety of people around the world, not only to the US. 

As we pray for him tonight, let us begin by praying that his reign of terror would come to an end, that the destruction he causes would be limited, and that his followers would seek a more peaceful leader. Pray especially for his wives and children to be protected from the evil he propagates and that his sons would not follow him into greater terror. Do not fail to pray that al-Zawahiri would have an encounter with the Most High God and would be transformed by that same grace by which we have also been saved. 

As you go about this next week, pray for Ayman al-Zawahiri on a daily basis, as well as for those who have been victims of his tactics of terror. It is hard to believe that this violent terrorist who is responsible for untold numbers of deaths was once a quiet and studious boy who loved science and poetry. Pray that he would grow weary of fighting, rediscover the remnants of that young boy still in his heart, and be drawn to peace. 

You are invited to share this post and encourage friends and family to join in the effort to fight the terrorists on our knees. They may be strong, but we serve One before whom every knee will one day bow, and He is able to conquer and deliver.