Depicting Sulayman al halabi (Left) confronting Kleber and his Chief Engineer.

In contemporary Arab history, a well-known story is there in which a single Muslim was able to alter the balance of power, and to influence the course of a large colonization campaign.

This happened when Suleyman al-Halabi (1777-1800), fled from Aleppo to Jerusalem, where he asked one of the city’s clerics to issue a fatwa on killing Jean Baptiste Kléber, the commander of the French campaign in Egypt, whom Napoleon Bonaparte had appointed as his successor.

On June 14, 1800, al Halabi approached Kléber’s home in the guise of a beggar seeking an audience with Kléber. After they shook hands, he violently pulled the general toward him and stabbed him four times with a stiletto, killing him. While defending Kléber, his chief engineer was also stabbed by al Halabi. This was one of the reasons for the departure of the French campaign from Egypt.

The only price of this victory was the achievement of Suleyman al-Halabi(aged 23) and his Shaykh, who issued a fatwa saying that al-Halabi would be a Martyr in Allah’s cause, and the two of them were executed.

Today, his skull and stiletto are on display at the Musée de l’Homme, an anthropology Museum in Paris, under the caption, “Criminal,” written in French.