Israel intel-linked MEMRI perpetuates “sodomy for jihad” hoax

The Israel-linked Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) perpetuates the debunked “sodomy for jihad” hoax.

MEMRI, an outfit that disseminates highly selective and often distorted translations from Arabic-language media, today published a video titled “Shiite Report: Wahhabi Fatwa Allows Sodomy for Jihad Purposes.” The video published by MEMRI is an edited and shortened version of the one used by Raymond Ibrahim last week.

In an accompanying article, Ibrahim — a fellow of the far-right, Islamophobic David Horowitz Freedom Center — claimed based on the video, that a “fatwa” by a Muslim cleric allowed “jihadis” to engage in anal sex for the purpose of preparing themselves to insert explosives in their rectums.

But the “fatwa” was in fact nothing more than a dirty joke found on an Internet forum, and the “cleric” who issued it does not exist.

As previously revealed by The Electronic Intifada, the video comes from a Shia Muslim TV station called Fadak TV, where the presenter is using this supposed “fatwa” as a way to denigrate Sunni Muslims.


MEMRI’s co-founders include Yigal Carmon, former colonel in the Israeli military intelligence service.

As far back as 2002, The Guardian’s Brian Whitaker wrote about MEMRI:

… several things make me uneasy whenever I’m asked to look at a story circulated by Memri. First of all, it’s a rather mysterious organisation. Its website does not give the names of any people to contact, not even an office address.

The reason for this secrecy, according to a former employee, is that “they don’t want suicide bombers walking through the door on Monday morning” (Washington Times, June 20).

This strikes me as a somewhat over-the-top precaution for an institute that simply wants to break down east-west language barriers.

The second thing that makes me uneasy is that the stories selected by Memri for translation follow a familiar pattern: either they reflect badly on the character of Arabs or they in some way further the political agenda of Israel. I am not alone in this unease.

Hoaxers focus exclusively on sectarian video and neglect primary source

Raymond Ibrahim’s original post on The Gatestone Institute is where this hoax originates. After exposing the hoax last week, I wrote to the Gatestone Institute’s editors by email and received a response from Nina Rosenwald. As Max Blumenthal recently revealed in an expose in The Nation, Rosenwald is the financier of some of the most extreme Islamophobic organizations.

On 14 July just before 10 a.m. local time, I wrote:

The article by Raymond Ibrahim posted here is a hoax. The author misunderstands and misrepresents the video. He does not seek out the original material that the person in the video is reading. He does not realize that “Abu al-Dema al-Qasab” is not a real name but rather a transliteration of the Arabic words for “Bloody Butcher.”

The Advocate, Gay Star News and The Electronic Intifada have all published evidence that the fatwa does not exist. It was originally a joke, and Raymond Ibrahim doesn’t understand that. The alleged “fatwa” is actually an internet forum post from 2009. It’s Sunni Muslims trolling other Sunni Muslims. The man in the video is TV host Abdallah al-Khallaf on Shia satellite channel. He reads the post as if it’s real, and he uses it to incite sectarian disgust at Wahhabis.

In effect, this is just a disgusting attempt to smear Muslims, and it is a homophobic lie. It should be completely retracted. The Gatestone Institute should apologize for publishing it. There is no basis to anything Raymond Ibrahim claims in the post.

She responded:

Have forwarded your note to Mr. Ibrahim, who is, of course fluent in Arabic. . If. What you are saying is true, our very deepest apologies and of course we shall pull the article. Our intention is not to be unfair to any group, but only to make known what is true and verafiable . If his information is not, have asked him please to be MUCH more careful in the future. Many thanks for bring this to our attention!

Less than an hour after my original message, I replied to Rosenwald:

The Advocate already confronted Mr. Ibrahim with the evidence, and he stands by it. See the link I shared in my original message.

However, he has not actually responded to the specific claims:

  • Abu al-Dema al-Qasab is not a real person and not a real name.
  • The representation of the video he makes is false.
  • The original internet forum post is followed by several replies where Arabic speakers say essentially “LOL” which indicate that they found the “fatwa” to be a hilarious joke.
  • The fatwa does not exist.

You should instead ask some other person who is literate in Arabic to evaluate whether Mr. Ibrahim’s report is true. He is not in a position since he continues to defend the hoax as real.

The next day, she sent me a copy of Raymond Ibrahim’s latest post on Robert Spencer’s JihadWatch where he says:

EI’s “intention” in writing this article is simply to save face, since, as a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli website, it does not wish to see the recruitment of suicide bombers diminished by this scandal.

Ibrahim does not deal with the primary source material at all, and never explains why he misrepresented the video in the first place. He simply re-asserts that the “fatwa” is real.

Sunnis trolling sunnis, or Arabs tell dirty jokes

The original source for this hoax is a joke from the Lions of the Sunnah forums and is an inside joke among Sunni members of this Sunni internet forum.

The “Sheikh Bloody Butcher” joke appears on other Arabic-language internet forums, including on where the thread was locked and prefixed with a moderators note.

تم إغلاق الموضوع
نرجو عدم الاعتماد على الإشاعات والنقل غير الموثق…

Topic is locked
Please do not rely on rumors and spread that which is unconfirmed.

“Sheikh Bloody Butcher” (الشيخ أبو الدماء القصاب) is mentioned on the internet only in connection with this joke. Apparently, every Muslim writing in Arabic on the internet is a cleric or mufti, and every dirty joke is a fatwa.