News & Politics

The Jihad Attacks on Churches in Illinois That You Heard Nothing About

Osama E. El Hannouny mugshot (Zion, Illinois police)

Osama E. El Hannouny, a 25-year-old man who lives in the Chicago suburb of Palos Hills, Illinois, has made his prejudices very clear, saying that he doesn’t like Christians. More than once he has acted on that dislike at churches in his area. But as his attacks don’t fit the mainstream media narrative, this article is likely to be the only place where you’ll hear about them.

Last Tuesday, when he should have been staying at home and making TikTok videos like other people his age, El Hannouny ventured out into the coronavirus-ridden wilds, heading for Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Palos Hills. Once he got there, he looked into the church through the doors, and saw that there were people inside (doesn’t anyone honor the coronavirus quarantine in Cook County?). Seeing his chance for jihad, El Hannouny immediately began piling leaves around the church’s gas main and air conditioning unit, making numerous trips back and forth to do so. Once he was satisfied that he had sufficient kindling, El Hannouny, according to the charges against him, set fire to the leaves.

As it happened, no one was hurt: firefighters quickly arrived on the scene and put out the fire before it did any significant damage. El Hannouny, however, continued his jihad, this time against the police who arrested him. According to Patch, “while El Hannouny was being processed, police said he started spitting at officers, reports said. El Hannouny also wrote a religious slur on the wall of his cell, according to the report. El Hannouny allegedly scratched, bit and spit at police when they tried to stop him.”

The officers who arrested him may have recognized El-Hannouny. It was only six months ago, November 17, 2019, that he showed up at two other churches in Palos Hills. With a laudable eye for ecumenical sensitivities, that time he chose the city’s First Baptist Church and the Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church. At both, he confined his activities to the parking lot, slashing the tires of a total of nineteen cars.

When he was arrested and asked why he had done such a thing, El Hannouny replied with unusual directness: “I don’t like Christians.” According to WBBM, he admitted to the 19 tire-slashings and was “charged with 14 counts of criminal damage to property.” El Hannouny was then “released on a personal recognize [sic] bond and electronic monitoring.” In January, authorities added on hate crime charges.

The hate crime charges didn’t deter El Hannouny from hating. For the new incident over at Sacred Heart Church, according to Patch, El Hannouny “appeared Wednesday before a Cook County judge on charges of arson, hate crimes, criminal damage to property, battery to a police officer and violation of bail bond.”

That’s all very well, and it looks as if a good case can be made against El Hannouny on all these charges, but there still remains a larger question: Why, exactly, does El Hannouny dislike Christians? Does it have anything to do with the Qur’an’s teaching that “they have certainly disbelieved who say that Allah is Christ, the son of Mary” (5:17, 5:72), an assertion that directly contradicts the core Christian belief in the divinity of Christ? Could El Hannouny’s dislike for Christians be linked in any way to the Qur’an’s statement that those who say “Christ is the Son of Allah” are under Allah’s curse (9:30)? Might his tire-slashing and attempted arson have something to do with the Qur’an’s command to Muslims to wage war against and subjugate Christians as inferiors under the hegemony of Islamic law (9:29)?

In today’s political climate, such questions cannot be asked. And yet their pertinence goes far beyond the case of Osama E. El Hannouny. If his self-professed hatred of Christians is indeed based on Islamic teachings, did he learn that hatred at his local mosque? If that mosque is indeed teaching that Muslims should hold the people whom the Qur’an terms “the most vile of created beings” (98:6) in utter contempt, and wage jihad against them, isn’t it possibly that more Muslims besides just young Osama could be influenced to act upon these teachings? And if so, wouldn’t it be prudent for local law enforcement officials to be aware of and prepared for that possibility?

It is much more likely, however, that the local police have never been to El Hannouny’s mosque except for “outreach,” in order to assure the Muslim community of their good will. The possibility that the assurances could ever or should ever flow in the other direction is never considered, even for a moment.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.