“Evil Is A Make-Believe Concept”: American Couple Is Murdered By ISIS While Cycling Through Tajikistan

Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan quit their jobs in Washington, D.C. to experience the world in their late 20s.  Austin wrote on the trip how he had found great decency everywhere they had gone. He wrote: “Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own… By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind.” That inspiring world adventure came to the end in Tajikistan when they and two other cyclists were hit by a car filled with ISIS fighters who jumped and stabbed them to death as “nonbelievers.”

Austin worked at the Department of Housing and Urban Development while Geoghegan worked at Georgetown’s Admissions office.  They both felt that life was passing them by — a point Austin wrote about on his blog:

“I’ve grown tired of meetings, of teleconferences, of timesheets and password changes and Monday morning elevator commiseration. I’ve grown tired of spending the best hours of my day in front of a glowing rectangle, of coloring the best years of my life in swaths of grey and beige. I’ve missed too many sunsets while my back was turned. Too many thunderstorms went unwatched, too many gentle breezes unnoticed. There’s magic out there, in this great big beautiful world, and I’ve long since scooped up the last of the scraps to be found in my cubicle.

I know there’s another way to live. I’ve dabbled in it. But now it’s time to commit. To go all-in. I’m thankful for this privilege. The privilege to commit. The privilege to walk away from a well-paying life of comfort. To charge headlong into indulgence, rough but ultimately temporary.”

Much has been made about Austin’s writing the following:

“You watch the news and you read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil. People are axe murderers and monsters and worse.

I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own — it’s easier to dismiss an opinion as abhorrent than strive to understand it. Badness exists, sure, but even that’s quite rare. By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind. No greater revelation has come from our journey than this.”

However, this passage was written in the context of the couple staying as guests with a family in Morocco.  Moreover, there was not a travel advisory on this country until after this heinous crime.  According to Snopes, when they set out, the U.S. State Department listed the country as a relatively low-risk destination for American travelers, giving it a Level 1 “travel advisory” o “exercise normal precautions.”  On terrorism, people were  advised:

While terrorist organizations are known to have a presence in the region, terrorist attacks have been infrequent in recent years and focused on local government targets, such as law enforcement and security services.

After the attack, it was upgraded to Level 2 for travellers to “exercise increased caution.”

Whatever their view of evil, they found it along that road when they were savagely murdered with two other cyclists, one from Switzerland and the other from the Netherlands. ISIS celebrated the murders as the killing of “disbelievers.”  Of course, the cyclists were the believers. They believed in humanity and decency, but found men who believe that God loves those who torture and murder others.

171 thoughts on ““Evil Is A Make-Believe Concept”: American Couple Is Murdered By ISIS While Cycling Through Tajikistan”

  1. “Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own.”

    Now there’s a seriously ironic epitaph.

    These poor fools need not have trekked all the way to Tajikistan to correct their myopic view of their fellow primates.

    As I’ve mentioned in previous years, spending a 24-hour ride-along shift with a team of inner city Paramedics, would have exposed them to all the evil they’d ever need.

    And at the end of their educational shift, they could have gone home.


  2. what’s evil is that our voting systems are hackable (unreliable) – why don’t we have paper ballots with receipts??

  3. This is evil – aiding and abetting our cruel allies as they kill innocents — the vast majority of Americans do not support this!

    US Provided “Intelligence” And Bomb Used In Massacre Of Yemeni Schoolchildren

    The involvement of U.S. military intelligence in “fine-tuning” the targets of coalition airstrikes is likely the main factor explaining why the U.S. government has refused to condemn the strike and has refused to support an independent investigation into the atrocity.

    SANA’A, YEMEN — Last Thursday’s horrific bombing of a bus full of school children in northern Yemen was carried out using a weapon sold to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition by the United States, photo evidence of the bomb site has revealed.

    The photos taken at the scene by Ahmed AbdulKareem for MintPress News and by other local journalists indicate that a Mark 82 (MK-82) bomb, jointly manufactured by U.S. weapons companies Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, had been used in the attack.

    The attack killed at least 50 and wounded over 60 others, the vast majority of whom were young children. Despite the fact that those targeted were civilians and mostly children, the Saudi-led coalition defended the strike, calling it a “legitimate military operation.”

    MK-82 bombs, along with other “general purpose” MK series bombs, have been sold to the Saudi-led coalition by the U.S. through a series of contracts made in 2016 and 2017. In addition to last Thursday’s atrocity, the Saudi-led coalition has used the MK-82 bombs to target Yemeni civilians in the past, such as the coalition’s bombing of a funeral in 2016 that left over 140 dead and 525 wounded.”


    1. I can’t get too worked up about it:


      Flag and slogan
      Main article: Flag of Houthis

      The group’s flag reads as following: “The God Is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam”.[85] This motto is partially modelled on the motto of revolutionary Iran, which reads “Death to U.S. and death to Israel”.[86]

      Some Houthi supporters stress that their ire for the U.S. and Israel is directed toward the governments of America and Israel. Ali al-Bukhayti, the spokesperson and official media face of the Houthis, tried to reject the literal interpretation of the slogan by stating that in one of his interview “We do not really want death to anyone. The slogan is simply against the interference of those governments [i.e. U.S. and Israel]”.[36] However, in the Arabic Houthi-affiliated TV and radio stations they use religious connotations associated with jihad against Israel and the US.[35] They also call Saudi Arabia a U.S. puppet state.[87]

      From wiki.


      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

      1. Well, SA is a US puppet state so they got that right. Quit supplying weapons – let the Middle East work it out. We have enough to do here – crumbling infrastructure anyone? Why are we feeding the MIC?

          1. he sure didnt mean the RSA. i took that to mean SA.

            It is not a puppet state, even if it does receive gobs of military and intelligence support from the USA.

            I think in our lifetimes we will see the Saudi regime collapse. I would hate to be president wen that happens! there will be a pickle.

        1. i am a big critic of the MIC but you have to always ask “what is the alternative”

          in many cases de-escalating conflicts is possible

          in some cases it is not.

          can we de-escalate from the troublemaking strategy of Shiite versus sunni? or is that just a geopolitical reflection of the proximity of Iran to Russia? or is that an oversimplification of how the US has been operating in the post 911 middle east? remember we took down the religiously tolerant regime of Saddam Hussein and installed a more religionist democratic majority Shiite government in Iraq. they got closer to Iran but they are not whole hog with them to the extent that Syria may be. Or so it seems. I am not well informed but it seems they maintain a certain distance. So it’s not entirely clear what is happening at any given place and time.

          And in some cases things will be a mess no matter what and the biggest financial and military empire in history will not advance its own strategic interests without having at least backing somebody.

          and they are good at throwing people overboard when they are done using them, that’s a government speciality. Keep an eye on Afghanistan, we may throw the Kabul regime under the bus in a peace deal with Taliban, before long.

          so don’t worry too much at least not over the weekend. LOLZ

    2. You’re not going to make warfare free of unintended casualties.

  4. Here are some more people, out hiking where common sense should have kept them from being, and who were probably too naive:

    “Neta Sorek (Hebrew: נטע שורק‎), aged 53, grew up in Israel at Kibbutz Afikim. She later moved to Sweden and then to the United States, but after two decades abroad, she returned to Israel, married and had a daughter. She had worked as an English teacher in Zikhron Ya’akov for 13 years and was member of the feminist group Women for Peace, participating in joint Arab-Jewish projects. Her family said she believed in co-existence; she studied Arabic and met with Arab women from villages in northern Israel. In love with nature, she regularly walked outdoors.[3][4]

    On the day of the attack Sorek was on a vacation in small guest house located near the Beit Jimal Monastery. Shortly after she reached the site she headed out for a walk around the monastery, where she was murdered.


    Luken, aged 46, was an American citizen and a member of the Church’s Ministry among Jewish people (CMJ), a Christian group based in the United States and the UK. She was born in Texas and lived for many years in Virginia while working for the US Department of Education before leaving to work for CMJ. She had recently moved to Nottingham, England, where she worked as a ministry staffer. She had first visited in Israel in 2007 as part of a Christian pilgrimage to holy sites and she described the tour as furthering her religious understanding and deepening her relationship with God. Luken met Kay Wilson, a British-born Israeli citizen, in August 2010 on a trip to Poland where Kay was guiding. They visited death camps and Jewish community centers. They became friends and Luken, a keen hiker, and Wilson, a professional Israeli tour guide, decided to go hiking together in Israel during the Christmas holiday.[6][7][8][9][10]

    On Saturday afternoon, 18 December 2010, Luken and Wilson were hiking in the Mata forest, near the town of Beit Shemesh, west of Jerusalem. They noticed two Arab men, Aiad Fatfata and Kifah Ghanimat, approaching them and were suspicious of their intentions. The men attacked them armed with a long serrated knife. The women attempted to fight back, Wilson managing to stab an attacker with a pocketknife, before they were subdued. The men stole their money and removed Wilson’s necklace. Wilson recalled: “I didn’t understand whether they wanted to rape us or mug us. (Long story short, the Muslims killed Luken)”


    IIRC, two other hikers were killed in the last few years around Israel somewhere. This is where some Situational Awareness might have saved these people. And some awareness that evil is not make-believe.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Yup, situational awareness might have made a difference for those folks.

      Unfortunately, the people on the USS Liberty, who were attacked by the Israelis illegally in international waters, never had a chance despite being “situationally aware” because their communications were jammed and they were sucker bombed. 34 dead, 171 wounded only by luck able to save the ship and the survivors.

      Zionism is evil and it kills – even its “allies”

      1. “Zionism is evil ”

        Sounds similar to antisemitism especially since about 75% of those that use the word Zionism in this fashion are antisemites. , Spiked. Maybe you are a rebirth of an earlier one on the blog. That would make you choose one version of the Liberty story and say what you did. Suffice it to say the incident occurred during the middle of a major war where Israel could have been totally destroyed and ceased to exist. That probably would have satisfied all your wants. What is a mystery is why the ship was in the spot it was, its nature, communication problems, speeds etc. all of which make it impossible to understand what really happened.

        The ten US commission studies all concluded no maliciousness with different reports adding mistaken identity and US communications difficulties. Friendly fire deaths occur in wartime and the Liberty entered an area of war. Both nations settled the dispute between them.

  5. i had a buddy who spent a year or so bumming around Kathmandu in Nepal smoking pot. Or so he claimed.

    At first blush that would seem to be a less healthy choice than taking a bike ride in the mountains but life confounds many expectations. That keeps it interesting, at least.

  6. i am so ignorant that I thought Dushanbe was in Africa somewhere, I would have guessed Zaire. In fact, it’s in Tajikistan.

    It’s the kind of place that the odious “Borat” was making fun of with that character. Probably an overall decent place to live for Tajiks based on what i read.

    The fact these idealistic liberals sought adventure there and found it, to their demise, is probably more proof of the existence of irony, than evil.

    “As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods,
    They kill us for their sport.”

    King Lear Act 4, scene 1, 32–37

  7. Somewhere in that area Perhaps one small country over to the east is a lake that is crystal clear. Floating on it gives the impression one is float in mid air. Like the anchorage at Bequia but ten fold. Near as I can find that is the one vista reason to visit the area. Perhaps in Kyrgistan.

    1. So to find that lake fly in to one of the adjoining countries, get as 4WD and a guide provided by the current equivalent of Intouist…Might be Iskandkul but I am not sure. Named for Alexander and kul is turkic for lake. It now has tourist lodging. And a little baksheesh goes a long ways.

  8. Very sad fate for these people. They might have done some research though before venturing into a “Stan” – probably would have been fine in an urban setting.

    Overall I say kudos to them for unshackling themselves from jobs they found dreary and following their dream of seeing the world while still young.

    1. The people not doing minimal research are on this comment board. Again, it’s not a peculiarly unsafe place.

    2. Dagestan has more champion wrestlers in one village than entire nations.

      I don’t know about a lot of other stans but that’s one stan that stands tall, high up in the Caucausus

    3. Overall, kudos? They’re dead. Overall, it was a fatal error. The story here is very clear: insanely naive lefties take a leisurely bike ride through jihadi land and get slaughtered in short order by jihadis.

      1. The story is clear, just not the story you are peddling. You all persist in imposing a false narrative. It’s a country with a low murder rate. It isn’t a country where ISIS has been active. They weren’t anywhere near any portion of the country where politico-military trouble has been a problem in the last decade.

        1. Taking a bike ride through a country that is 95% muslim and next door to Afghanistan while carrying a flag saying “we’re defenseless Westerners” is to run a very real risk. These bikers laughed off those risks and the irony was deadly.

          1. we have a warped view of what is “islam” for most of the world due to the deceptive, lying mass media and the general lack of education.

            islam in this former Soviet republic was and is of the tepid, non-fanatical variety.

            you guys may not like wiki but it’s a decent starting place as any for information on this venue

            1. The religion of piece: “They leave a piece of you here, a piece of you there.” Mohammed was a warlord,paedophile, rapist, and murderer. It’s you who needs to learn history.

          2. No, they don’t. Some Muslim countries suffer political violence, some do not. This one does not.

        2. How do you know this??? Are you an expert on Statistical Reports from “stan” countries??? Maybe there is a dearth of murders of Westerners, because not many Westerners go there. Or, the ones who go there, stay in the downtown touristy areas. Or, maybe the authorities do not accurately report the crime rate so that tourists will go there.

          I find you place way too much emphasis on statistics, and not enough on common sense sometimes. To me, I just ain’t going to a Muslim country and then toodle thru the mountains on a bicycle because it seems like asking for trouble.

          I wouldn’t even do that in the United States, without carrying at least one sidearm, and a couple of knives. And then I still wouldn’t. Unless I was with a crowd of like minded, well-armed people. I don’t even walk around town without a gun, and often with my hand on the gun inside my purse.

          It’s called Situational Awareness.

          Because I don’t think evil is make believe.

          Squeeky Fromm
          Girl Reporter

          1. I find you place way too much emphasis on statistics,

            THat’s because you’re innumerate and don’t understand them.

            1. No, there’s just one of me. And I am still alive because I prefer Common Sense to Statistics. Statistically, I would be just fine filling up my car late at night at a service station in a predominantly black area. 99%+ of all people who do that make it out alive.

              BUT, I ain’t going to do it.

              Squeeky Fromm
              Girl Reporter

  9. Four legs good! Two legs Baaaaad!
    Same thing with motorcyles or bikes vs. cars: Four wheels good! Two wheels Baaaad!
    Ride a tank or a car through those terrorist territories.

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