The Ex-terrorist Who Now Loves the Jewish People
The true story of Zachariah Anani
“Thank God, I spent most of my short militant life fighting against my own kind. Fate never put me against the Israeli army.” Zachariah Anani. Gone are Anani’s hatred and emptiness. It is replaced with love for all people, including Jews.
Excerpt from Arutz Sheva: “I was brought up to hate Jews and Israel. That was my first raising, my first attitude.” Zachariah Anani told Israel National Radio’s Tovia Singer. “Thank God, I spent most of my short militant life fighting against my own kind. Fate never put me against the Israeli army.” Anani added. www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/93666 (25/11/05)
How it all happened…
Zachariah Anani was born into a family of Muslim clergy in Beirut, Lebanon. He was expected to follow in the footsteps of his Great grandfather, and Grandfather, who were Imams (religious authorities), and so was sent at age three to Islamic school. At age 13 he joined one of the many militia groups that existed in the 70’s funded by the Palestine Liberation Organization. His family was delighted because according to Islamic tradition those who die on the battlefield against the infidel have a right to enter heaven and their family is to be respected. He was trained to hate Jews, Christians, and Americans and was taught how to fight and kill, both with weapons and with his bare hands.
In his organization, if a killing was witnessed by two or more militia members a point was placed on his chart. Soon after enlisting he made his first kill, and by the time he was 17 there were 223 points on his chart. Anani described two types of effects this environment had on young Muslims. Either they became insanely fanatical about Islam or they became cold and dead on the inside. The latter was Anani’s reaction. By the time he was 16 he had seen so much killing and violence that life literally meant nothing to him and even his comrades feared him. Anani himself fully expected to be dead before he turned 20.
Alone and bored, one day he came across a missionary preaching on a street corner. Realizing he was a Christian, Anani quickly turned to walk away only to be stopped in his tracks by the missionary’s statement: “Jesus the Messiah will give you new life, hope, and salvation.” Waiting until the missionary was finished, Anani approached him. “Do you really believe what you said?” he asked. After a brief discussion, the missionary pushed his card into Anani’s hand and said, “Call whenever you want.” Unable to sleep that night, he kept replaying the missionary’s words in his mind: “Jesus Christ will give you new life, hope, and salvation.” The next day he called the missionary and met with him. He wept when he heard that Jesus Christ had died on the cross paying for his (Anani’s) sins. He opened a Bible for the first time in his life and read Jesus’ words: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest“ (Matthew 11:28). That afternoon Anani gave his life to Jesus Christ. Anani says, “That started a change in my life.”
Anani’s first reaction was to share the joy of his new life in Jesus the Messiah with his family. “I went and told my parents and everybody the next day. I didn’t hide my faith.” His family immediately responded. His father tore apart Anani’s Bible and slapped him. His mother warned all the neighbors to keep their children away from him. As the word of his conversion spread, Muslim leaders in Beirut ordered him on trial for apostasy. He was interrogated by an Imam who asked him intelligent questions. Anani felt the inadequacy of his answers, but he knew that God had given him a new spirit, a new heart, and Jesus had become his Lord and Saviour. After he was beaten unconscious and excommunicated, he was given three days to recant and come back to the mosque as a Muslim or anybody had the right to kill him. Three days later Anani still had not abandoned his faith in Jesus, so his own father hired three Kurdish assassins to kill him. In the ensuing years, there have been 18 attempts on his life.
Gone are Anani’s hatred and emptiness. It is replaced with love for all people, including Jews. Since he left Lebanon in 1996, not only does Anani boldly share the love of Jesus the Messiah to everyone, but he also speaks publicly exposing the lies of Islam concerning Israel and Jews. The former Beirut militia fighter continues to marvel at the changes God brought forth in his life.
What actually produced the dramatic change in his life? To born-again believers in Jesus the Messiah, Anani’s transformation, while dramatic, is not at all unusual. There are literally millions around the world today who have experienced this transformation that Jesus called being “born again”. Our congregations are replete with similar stories going all the way back to the time that Jesus the Messiah was on earth.
To really understand what happened to Zachariah Anani we need to go back to the prophets who promised the coming of the Messiah. God said He would raise up a special Prophet like Moses. Jesus performed miracles and established a covenant with God’s people as Moses did (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). Isaiah said He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). Micah told us that He would come from Bethlehem, would be eternal, and become the ruler (Micah 5:2). Isaiah said He would heal the sick, the lame, the deaf, and the dumb. Isaiah also said that in spite of these miracles He would be rejected of His people and killed, but it would be in His death that He would accomplish His mission to mankind. He being innocent would die in the place of us sinners. He would literally bear the punishment appointed unto us so we could be forgiven and allowed into Heaven freely. Isaiah spoke of Messiah’s death saying, “He is despised and rejected of men…But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities…and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:3-6).
Why do we need someone to pay for our sins? Animal blood sacrifice was a principle that was initiated after the fall in the Garden of Eden and was later instituted as a ritual for atonement of sin in the Law of Moses. “For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD” (Leviticus 16:30). In the Law of Moses it states, “…For it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). Since the beginning of time, the Patriarchs made blood sacrifices. The observance of blood sacrifice during Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) was absolutely necessary for the people to receive atonement for sin. “…Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). All of this was a picture of God’s future plan to bring complete forgiveness of sin through the blood and sacrificial death of Jesus the Messiah.
However, David foretold that Messiah would not stay dead (Psalm 16:10). After his death, He was resurrected with over 500 witnesses attesting to this and ascended to the right hand of God. Isaiah prophesied concerning this God-child, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7). Daniel told us that all this would happen shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple (Daniel 9:26). All these promises and many more were fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah.
There are other promises in the Bible that speak about the nature of salvation this Savior would offer to all mankind, and these describe exactly what happened to Zachariah Anani. “I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh. That they may walk in my statutes, and keep my ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19, 20). His salvation would be complete. He would not only forgive the sins of those who trusted in His Holy One, but He would take out their cold, hard hearts that hated Him or were disinterested in Him and replace them with hearts that loved Him and followed Him. God promised that He would put a new spirit in those who trusted in the Messiah, whether they be Jew or Gentile (Isaiah 42:6; Romans 10:11-13; Ezekiel 11:19). It is a point of fact that this describes exactly what has happened to millions of people around the world for two thousand years who have trusted Jesus the Messiah as their Savior from sin. Think about it.
Anti-Semitism is in fact, rebellion against the God of Israel, Whom is the God of the whole earth. The solution to anti-Semitism across the world will soon be realized when Messiah Jesus returns and reigns over the entire world from Jerusalem. “In that day shall the LORD defend…And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem…And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced…” (Zechariah 12:8-10, 14:16). When did we pierce the LORD?
The ex-Muslim terrorist, Zachariah Anani, and millions of others, have found the solution to anti-Semitism and personal salvation by following God’s command, which is, “Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Have you experienced the forgiveness of sins and newness of life that Zachariah Anani and millions of others have? Have you repented of sin and been born again? Jesus said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5) and “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). God loves you and sacrificed His Son’s life in order to pay for all of your sin, give you a clean heart, and offer you eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
For those who reject His only solution for forgiveness of sin and eternal life, He warns; “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9, 13).
Why don’t you ask God now to forgive you of all your sin and for the salvation and eternal life He offers you through Jesus Christ?
“… I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:” (Ezekiel 11:19)