Jehovah's Terrorist?

by TerryWalstrom 13 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • TerryWalstrom
    (A personal memoir)

    John F. Kennedy's brother, Robert (Bobby) was assassinated in 1968 shortly after he won the California Democratic presidential primary. Kennedy died the next day.

    Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, a Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship was convicted for the assassination.

    Bishara Sirhan, the father of RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan, was a Jehovah’s Witness. At least, the Elders and notables in his neighborhood had given this information to newspaper reporters at the time of Robert Kennedy’s murder. Bishara was living 20 miles northeast of Jerusalem in Israeli-occupied Jordan at the time. Bishara spoke fluent English. He had a reputation for being excitable, even volatile at times.
    Sirhan Sirhan’s father told reporters:

    “I am very, very sorry! I brought up my children as best as I could and to fear God. I am sorry for what happened.”

    Bishara had moved his family to the U.S. in the 1950’s, remaining 11 years before he split with his wife and returned to Jordan where he built his home and inscribed on his wall in Arabic:

    “Jehovah the High, you gave me happiness in the world. Give me eternal life. You are the only God and nobody shall be worshiped before you.”

    When interviewed, his neighbors said they looked down on Jehovah’s Witnesses because they were too” pro-Jewish.”

    (We will see later, this NOT the case. . .)

    This was reported June 6, 1968, when the newspaper in Sarasota published the article.

    In less than 24 hours, I heard about it.
    At the time, I was a Jehovah’s Witness serving a sentence of possibly 6 years in the Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution. This was during the Vietnam War and JW’s were conscientious objectors.
    The impact on the 40 or so Jehovah’s Witnesses in prison was mild panic. At least, that’s how I would characterize it. Brother Sam Salemi, a fellow JW inmate, explained the implications to me in no uncertain terms.

    “This could be the beginning of the Great Tribulation,” he began. “The persecution could begin and we’re sitting ducks if the other prisoners decide to take revenge.”

    I listened quizzically. I had a dim grasp of politics having grown up in a Blue Dog Democrat household. (They’d vote for any Democrat over any Republican, even if that Democrat were a Blue Dog. Don’t ask me--it’s a crazy Southern expression.)

    “Hang fire a minute, Sam--let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Why would anybody attack conscientious objectors who refuse to take up arms to kill and blame them?”

    Sam gave me a look of wonderment that I could be so naive.

    “We JW’s are despised already because we act like we’re more righteous than everybody else. All people need is one little excuse--like the son of a Jehovah’s Witness murdering President Kennedy’s brother!”

    I thought about what he was saying, but I didn’t feel anything inside amounting to panic or even worry. It just sounded too far-fetched.

    “Well--I don’t know why I should be upset. You’re the only one who’s said anything so far. Besides, isn’t Jehovah supposed to be protecting us?”

    Sam blinked and made a thoughtful face for a moment.

    “In theory, yes. But here we are in prison and there are such things as martyrs, you know!”
    I had to laugh. Soon Sam laughed as well.

    “We’ll wait and see. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

    Sunday, June 9, 1968, Washington Post article:

    A reporter from the prestigious Washington Post was welcomed into Bashar Sirhan’s home overlooking the Dead Sea as cold beer was delivered. The reporter asked the assassin’s father about his connection with the Jehovah’s Witness ‘sect’ (presumably from the eleven years spent in California). This was only a few days after the first news article mentioning the JW’s. This time, Bishara refused to talk about it directly and complained about his gossiping neighbors. Finally, he shrugged away prying questions ‘with some irritation’ by saying, "These are confidential matters."
    (PDF copy of Washington Post article)


    These two publicized mentions of Jehovah’s Witnesses had created an effect.

    Watchtower Society was in panic mode--or--if that’s too exaggerated an expression, let’s prudently amend it to: they were in ‘crisis prevention’ mode.
    Subscribers to the Watchtower magazine had immediately begun canceling subscriptions!
    Subscriptions were obtained by sending JW’s door to door, a laborious process at best. Each canceled subscription represented hundreds of man-hours of grunt work (called ministry.)

    A secret letter was sent to each city by the Watchtower headquarters with instructions not to show the contents of said letter to any outsiders. The message was to be copied and passed from congregation to congregation. Headquarters didn’t seem to know any details of any JW connection with the Sirhan family. A vigorous denial was suggested unless anybody at the local level had contrary personal information.
    The letter is dated a month after the news article appeared.

    Photocopy of confidential letter:
    Why all the fuss?
    Two reasons I can offer at this late date 48 years later on.

    JFK’s assassination was the most sensational, world-stopping event in my 69 year lifetime. I was 16 years old on November 22, 1963, and one day later became officially a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses at an assembly in Cleburne, Texas.
    (Oddly during that religious assembly, not one word was said concerning the sensational murder the day before! It was all happy-happy New World Society talk and religious jabber.)

    Among Jehovah’s Witnesses, every single world event is proof positive of End Times signs and wonders! This is how newspapers and newscasts are filtered through their consciousness. Everything “proves” we were right! Any minute now--the Great Tribulation and Armageddon will come and sweep everything and everybody but--US! We were “the only true religion.”

    Jehovah’s Witnesses are self-centered on purpose, you see. They expect to be the bullseye of Satan’s target when the End comes. This is (cough cough) predicted in advance in scripture. Having the words “Jehovah’s Witness” linked in a newspaper with a world-shaking assassination naturally alerted every one of us--”This is it!”

    Half a century later, nothing has changed.

    At recent District conventions with huge audiences in attendance, the Watchtower showed slick video dramatizations about---guess what? The bunker mentality they are still promoting!
    Any day now the Great Tribulation and Armageddon will come. Will they be ready?

    Back to Sirhan Sirhan

    On June 7 in Los Angeles, a News Dispatch:

    In this more detailed news story, the Elders in Bishara’s community (whom he called ‘gossips’) provided news reporters with these tidbits of enlightenment:

    “The Elders said the family became connected with Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘many years’ ago. And it was that religious group which paid the way for the Sirhan family to go to the United States in 1957. These notables said they believed Bishara still received money from the Jehovah’s Witnesses in addition to money sent by his other son.
    When asked, Sirhan claimed he lived off a ‘small pension’ and a bit of farming. The article explained that Jehovah’s Witnesses had been banned in Jordan in 1959, but had continued to operate secretly, particularly in the old Arab sector of Jerusalem.
    Los Angeles authorities reported that Sirhan had been admitted into the U.S. as a permanent resident who could remain indefinitely without applying for citizenship.”

    The Palestinian-born Sirhan is serving a life sentence for gunning down Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, shortly after he won the California Democratic presidential primary. Kennedy died the next day.
    Sirhan was sentenced to death in 1969. His sentence was commuted to life in prison after California banned the death penalty.
    He has said that he had no recollection of the killing.

    Why did Sirhan Sirhan kill RFK?

    At the time of his arrest, Sirhan spoke of being “. . .opposed to Kennedy’s support of Israel.”

    What are Jehovah’s Witness views on Zionism and Israel?
    In 1946, during the time the horrors of the holocaust were emerging, the Watchtower made the following comments about Jews.

    "Nothing in the modern return of Jews to Palestine and the setting up of the Israeli republic corresponds with the Bible prophecies concerning the restoration of Jehovah's name- people to his favor and organization … The remnant of spiritual Israelites, as Jehovah's Witnesses have proclaimed worldwide the establishment of God's kingdom in 1914" Let God Be True (1946) Second ed. pp.217-218

    "There is no evidence in the Scriptures that the Jews as a people are meek. On the contrary, Jehovah's Witnesses only find it stated in the Bible that the Jews are "stiff-necked and hard-hearted", but when they call at their homes with the message of God's kingdom they witness the same characteristics. They seem to think that because they are Jews, and were once God's chosen people, they must ever remain that way." Consolation 1946 Jan 2 pp. 14,15

    Historical note: Jehovah’s Witnesses had spent the previous 60 years as Pro-Zionists. Suddenly, a 180 degree shift appeared contrary to that stance.

    [Watchtower 1955 May 15 p.296, and the "back to Palestine" movement that the Watchtower had promoted became labeled as a teaching of Satan:

    "By the publication of Volume 2 of the book Vindication that year, Jehovah's witnesses came to see that such a "back to Palestine" movement was by the spirit of Jehovah's archfoe, Satan, who has deceived the entire inhabited earth."]

    The Question now arises, could Sirhan Sirhan in any way have been influenced by the writings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in some disturbing way, seeing in print the Zionists were backed by Satan?

    48 years after the fatal shooting, Sirhan Sirhan is denied parole for the 15th time.

    We may never know, but it is a question I’ve heard asked. The Watchtower’s reaction to the mention of Jehovah’s Witness connection to the RFK killing may have brought to mind this anti-Zionist propaganda they were responsible for spreading. Did the collective leadership feel a sense of responsibility? Did their eagerness in trying to distance themselves indicate awareness of culpability, guilty conscience, or simply a desire to prevent the loss of subscribers?
    Like I said, we may never know.
    Conspiracy theories spring up easily like mushrooms after a spring rain and they are as difficult to snuff out as a forest fire.

    This is my personal memory of those dark days in prison, it was a decade of upheaval
    when I was in the thrall of a cult myself, willing to sacrifice freedom for Belief. If Jehovah said, "Frog", I was told it was my duty to respond by saying, "How high?"
    But, enough idle speculations and reminisciences.
    "These are confidential matters." :)
  • Londo111

    That made a fascinating read.

    It looks like Sirhan Sirhan explored many different religions and denominations.

  • TerryWalstrom

    I can't imagine what it must be like being a young man in Palestine in a "Christian" community (heterogenous), then moving to California and being exposed to THAT lifestyle (laid back Christianity) and having an erratic father with a short fuse . . .

    Would it be racist to make the following blanket statement?

    In the Middle East, polarized, binary religious / political views are not casual, philosophical pastimes--they are life and death, black and white absolutist mindsets.

    To be living in California and yet so passionate about a Democrat from Boston being "pro-Jewish" to the extent you'll murder him---well--what can I say?

    Cool your jets, young man. Live a little.

    The JW mindset is very "middle east".

  • slimboyfat

    Very interesting. Can't someone ask him?

    The 1946 Consolation magazine quote is very damning, While the world was in shock over reports about Auschwitz this is what JWs were saying about Jews.

  • TerryWalstrom
    slimboyfat21 hours ago

    Very interesting. Can't someone ask him?

    The 1946 Consolation magazine quote is very damning, While the world was in shock over reports about Auschwitz this is what JWs were saying about Jews.


    I don't know which is more disturbing, owning such an opinion about holocaust suffering people or publishing it in order to create like-mindedness among loyal cultists!

    A person whose mind is disturbed, irrational, predisposed to fanaticism really doesn't need to be pushed into a "God-approved" intervention into political affairs with a pistol.

  • RichardHaley
  • TerryWalstrom
  • TheWonderofYou

    New Headers: There was another shooter.

    Schrade an other victim of Sirhan said during the 15th parole hearing that it was his fault that Sirhan is not free yet.


    Sirhan Sirhan was of course radicalized His father threatened America with bloody revenge. In the little Israel-occupied jordanian town Taibeh he prophecied: "Americans will yet more often cry, once, twice, threetimes, fourtimes".

    [Der Spiegel 18/1969]

    Sirhan himself said:

    A motive cited for his actions is the Middle East conflict.[16] After his arrest, Sirhan said, "I can explain it. I did it for my country."[16]Sirhan believed that he was deliberately betrayed by Kennedy's support for Israel in the June 1967 Six-Day War,[25] which had begun exactly one year to the day before the assassination. During a search of Sirhan's apartment after his arrest, a spiral-bound notebook was found containing a diary entry which demonstrated that his anger had gradually fixated on Robert Kennedy, who had promised to send 50 fighter jets to Israel if he were elected president. Sirhan's journal entry of May 18, 1968, read: "My determination to eliminate R.F.K. is becoming the more and more of an unshakable obsession...Kennedy must die before June 5th".[12][16] They found other notebooks and diary entries which contained his growing rage at Zionists, particularly at Kennedy; his journals also contained many nonsensical scribbles, which were thought to be his version of "free writing".

    Later in prison, Sirhan claimed that he was drunk. An interview with Sirhan in 1980 revealed new claims that a combination of liquor and anger over the anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war triggered his actions the night when he assassinated RFK. "You must remember the circumstances of that night, June 5. That was when I was provoked," Sirhan says, recorded in a transcript of one of his interviews with Mehdi, later president of the New York-based American-Arab Relations Committee. "That is when I initially went to observe the Jewish Zionist parade in celebration of the June 5, 1967, victory over the Arabs. That was the catalyst that triggered me on that night." Then Sirhan said, "In addition, there was the consumption of the liquor, and I want the public to understand that..."

    Then we have yet the story with the woman with whom he was in the hotel and who had hynotized him.

    Maybe sirhan was but though exploited by someone else who hated the Kennedy's, if witnesses say that there was another shooter and Sirhans frontal bullets did not kill Kennedy.

  • TerryWalstrom

    Kennedy is facing in a direction at an angle to Sirhan. The first bullet misses.
    RFK turns his head the opposite direction and takes a bullet from behind.
    The kitchen's acoustics was confusing to the ear.

    The same sort of thing accounts for the various reports of JFK's shooter. Depending on where the onlooker was standing, more than three shots were heard.

    Acoustic analysis, decades later, correlated the echoes with the shots (3).

  • Vidiot

    Pro-zionist or antisemitic stances notwithstanding, any individual with mental health problems who is continually exposed to WT rhetoric cannot help but eventually behave increasingly unhinged.

    We've all seen it.

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