Context: in 1785, Muslim pirates from North Africa, or “Barbary,” had captured two American ships, the Maria and Dauphin, and enslaved their crews. In an effort to ransom the enslaved Americans and establish peaceful relations, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams -- then ambassadors to France and England respectively -- met with Tripoli’s ambassador to Britain, Abdul Rahman Adja. Following this diplomatic exchange, they laid out the source of the Barbary States’ hitherto inexplicable animosity to American vessels in a letter to Congress dated March 28, 1786:
We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the grounds of their [Barbary’s] pretentions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation. The ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise
The United States’ first war and victory as a nation was against Muslims afterthe latter had initiated hostilities on the same rationale Muslims had used to initiate hostilities against non-Muslims.