The Magazine

Assassins' Trilogy

Life and death in the Islamic Republic of America.

May 26, 2008, Vol. 13, No. 35 • By JOEL SCHWARTZ
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Sins of the Assassin

A Novel

by Robert Ferrigno

Scribner's, 400 pp., $24.95

With the publication of Sins of the Assassin, Robert Ferrigno is now two-thirds of the way toward completing a series of thrillers--with plenty of graphic violence, and some graphic sex--that also comprise a serious work of dystopian fiction.

The books take place in the 2040s, when most of what is now the United States has become an Islamic republic. (Most of the deeply Christian South--the Bible Belt--resists Islamic rule and secedes.) Ferrigno began his projected trilogy of popular fictional works on this theme with Prayers for the Assassin, which appeared in 2006; the concluding work is due out next year. To describe Ferrigno's brilliantly realized fictional universe, I'll draw on Prayers as well as the newly published Sins.

What led most of Ferrigno's America to Islamize? The immediate cause was the devastation wrought by suitcase nuclear bombs that destroyed New York and Washington (and, for good measure, Mecca) in 2015. These attacks were blamed on the Mossad. But the "Zionist Betrayal," as it came to be called, was not enough by itself to promote massive conversion to Islam. In the words of a historian quoted in Sins:

Western churches, rather than offering moral guidance, were weak and vacillating, unwilling to condemn even the most immoral behavior. Islam offered a bright light and a clear answer, and the faithful could not build mosques fast enough to satisfy the need. While no force of arms could defeat the armies of the West, it was their moral and spiritual void that ultimately vanquished them.

Furthermore, one of Ferrigno's characters adds the following analysis of what, for us, are current events:

The U.S. military won every battle [in Iraq], but they had no voice, no message that could be heard. [Those who monitored TV stations] never saw a hero, only the dead. A war without heroes, without victories. Only petty atrocities inflated for all the world to see, clucked over by millionaire news anchors and fatuous movie stars. [The] president himself apologized. We must show that we are more humane than the terrorists, he said. .  .  . Good fortune beyond the .  .  . wildest dreams [of America's opponents], an enemy who wanted to be loved. Be ashamed of the war and soon you will be ashamed of the warriors--the warriors got that message soon enough. .  .  . The Iraq debacle broke the nation's spirit, hobbled its ability to defend itself. The former regime never recovered.

This critique of moral relativism and national self-doubt is one of many aspects of the Assassin novels that testify to their--and Ferrigno's--conservatism. (To premise the novels on an Israeli attack on the United States would not, of course, be one of those aspects. But since the dust jacket for Prayers alludes to "shocking evidence that the nuclear attacks might not have been planned by Israel," I don't think I'm giving away the store by intimating that the Israelis may have been framed.)

Ferrigno has also made his conservatism clear outside of his books. He has spoken out on his web site to defend Mark Steyn against the human rights complaint launched by the Canadian Islamic Congress. In fact, Ferrigno says that he is "proud to be a footnote" to the Steyn controversy: The complaint blames Steyn, in part, for asserting that "America will be an Islamic Republic by the year 2040." This is not, however, a claim that Steyn himself has made; instead it is an accurate summation of the plot of Prayers, to be found in Steyn's review of it (and in America Alone, which includes two excerpts from Prayers).

Both Prayers and Sins tell the story of a battle between a Muslim hero and a Muslim villain. It was clever of Ferrigno to make his hero a Muslim: How can his books be deemed "Islamophobic" if they celebrate a Muslim hero? (Needless to say, some readers nevertheless find the books Islamophobic, but their complaint would surely be greater if the books pitted a Christian or Jewish hero against a Muslim villain.) The hero in question is Rakkim Epps, formerly a member of the Fedayeen, "a small, elite force of genetically enhanced holy warriors." In particular, he was a member of the still-more-elite shadow warriors (troops trained to infiltrate the Bible Belt). Shadow warriors are typically discovered and killed within two-and-a-half years of their first mission; yet so great is Rakkim's prowess that he survived six years before leaving his post.