Omar Hussein has been quite busy since he left his native Britain at age 27. As the BBC noted, the former supermarket security guard defended beheadings after the murder of hostage James Foley and appeared in a propaganda video inciting British Muslims to “rise up” and “cause terror in the hearts of infidel communities.”
But though Hussein may seem devoted to fighting infidels, lending a hand in the Islamic State’s attempt to establish a caliphate in Syria and Iraq evidently has a downside: fellow fighters borrowing cellphone chargers without permission. This was among many complaints Hussein, one of at least 700 Brits who have joined the extremist group, had about his service with the men in black — specifically, the “Arabs” among them.
Hussein’s lengthy complaint, titled “Culture Clash: Understanding The Syrian Race,” was posted on his blog under his nom de guerre Abu Saeed al Britani, as the BBC first reported. In more than 6,000 words, the bizarre rant took aim at “Arabs” and “Syrians” for, among other charges, their alleged shoe-stealing, lack of respect for personal space, bad dining habits and “childish behaviour.”
Then there was the cellphone problem. Sure, disputes about chargers sometimes arise in workplaces and dorm rooms. But they also turn up on the front lines of international jihad.
“They see no issue in unplugging your mobile phone to charge their own phone,” Hussein wrote. “Even if it’s your own charger, they would casually take your phone off charge to charge their own phone, even if there is no real need for them to charge their phone at that current time.”
Hussein’s Miss Manners-style essay started out magnanimously. “All praise is due to Allāh who gathered the Arab and the non-Arab here,” he wrote. “… The Arabs and the non-Arabs are united in one line, under one banner, defending each other’s life with their own blood.”
But then Hussein turned into a bit of a Felix Unger — more specifically, a Felix Unger who is annoyed by Arabs.
“Arabs as a whole have a unique culture, which differs dramatically from the western lifestyle,” Hussein wrote. “If one is unaware of these cultural differences, then it could be quite peculiar, annoying, and at times somewhat stressful to interact and associate with them.”
In an attempt to further foreign fighters’ understanding of what they can expect from the Islamic State, Hussein proceeded to “list a few of their habits which Arabs are known for.” Some highlights:
“A lack of privacy for other’s space”
Arabs go through other people’s property without their permission, Hussein noted.
“Arabs in general do not know where the red line is in giving another brother his space, and this is in their culture, maybe because they see this as a form of strong brotherhood,” he wrote. “Whatever the reason it’s annoying so patience is required.”
In the Levant, it seems, funny business is welcome — but not too much.
“Sometimes it may get quite hard to hold a civilised conversation with a Syrian man, one minute he’s listening to you speak and the next he’s playing around with the other Syrian brother standing next to him,” Hussein wrote. “There is a time for being serious and a time for being childish and joking around. However the line between the two is somewhat hard for our Syrian brothers to judge.”
Some in the Islamic State seem to have a sort of bowling-alley mentality when it comes to footwear.
“In the west, it is common knowledge to walk out of a room wearing the same pair of shoes that you wore while entering the room,” Hussein wrote. “Nay, it is common sense. However … our Syrian brothers have a very peculiar philosophy whereby they believe that everyone can share each other’s footwear, irrespective of foot size. Someone who is a size 40 will casually walk out the room wearing your footwear even though you are a size 44, and strangely he may not even realise.” (These are European shoe sizes, in which a 40 is about a 9 in the United States.)
Hussein added: “Weird? Of course it is.”
“A Syrian will eat all your food without permission making you go hungry for the rest of the day without apologising nor even informing you of what he done,” Hussein wrote. “Maybe it’s just me, but it seems they seriously lack in common sense in this field.”
Hussein lasered in on Arabs’ alleged failures as administrators, describing a Kafkaesque bureaucracy in which Islamic State fighters are shuttled from place to place when they need something. He also noted Arabs’ disrespect for lines.
“Arabs always throw you around to another office if they do not know what to do,” he wrote. “Instead of saying they do not know whether this task falls under their responsibility or not (even though it seems very obvious it does), they would direct you elsewhere in an attempt to get another workload off their shoulders.”
This sounded a bit like the DMV. Prayer was required — and a little bit of shouting.
“So what is the solution to dealing with Arabs in administration?” Hussein wrote. “The solution is twofold. Number one; to pray to Allāh that He replaces the Arabs with others who know what they are doing. Number two; and a more practical solution, is to shout at them while asking for what you need.”
Sleeping too soundly and talking too loud
Arabs, Hussein claimed, go to extremes. They sleep so deeply that they often cannot be awakened — and, because they sleep so deeply, they talk loudly when others are trying to. Hussein cited an example: He was trying to rest in a basement in Raqqa when his slumber was interrupted by “Arab brothers” who “started speaking loudly for about an hour.”
“During this time I tried to sleep but found it very difficult to do so,” he wrote. “It would seem quite obvious to the average Tom, Dick or Harry to speak in a very low tone when others are sleeping yet our Arab brothers tend to consider otherwise.”
Too much eye contact
“In the west, if you are staring at someone (for whatever valid reason you may have) it is courteous to smile before lowering your gaze, or at least to look away if the person looks at you,” Hussein wrote. “… The Syrians keep on staring at you, even after you look at them. Sometimes it becomes quite awkward, especially if you notice someone staring at you for a few minutes even after you look back at him and smile or ask him how he is.”
Staring contests among Islamic State fighters, however, can be easily won.
“If you get a random Syrian staring at you for a long time, do not get paranoid, it’s in the culture to stare at people for long durations of time,” Hussein wrote. “And if you feel uncomfortable, just ask him a random question to awaken him from his daydream.”
Sure, Hussein has advocated beheadings. But driving on roads in the Arab world? That’s terrifying.
“Coming from the west, we have certain rules and regulations which we abide by while on the road,” he wrote. “These are for our own benefit to prevent accidents and henceforth, complications. In the Arab world however, there are not that many rules for the highway, and one can easily obtain a driving license without any test.”
He added: “Yes I know, very scary indeed!
Hussein’s parting advice to European Muslims: Come join the Islamic State, but try to fight alongside other Europeans.
“The above mentioned traits should not deter a person from coming to Jihād, for not all Arabs are like this,” he wrote. “We have many European battalions which one can join if he finds it problematic, in fact I would strongly advise my Western brothers to join a non-Arab battalion if the above mentioned traits are something one cannot live with.”