Posts Tagged ‘Suicide Bombers’

French Academic Olivier Roy on the Nihilistic Psychology of Suicide Bombers

June 15, 2017

Hope Not Hate, the anti-racist, anti-religious extremism website put up a very interesting interview last week with Olivier Roy, a French academic and expert in terrorism at the European University Institute in Florence, by Safya Khan-Ruf. Roy has published a book, Jihad and Death, about the motivations of Islamist terrorists, based on his own research. He states he first became interested in the topic while working in Afghanistan, and from his own experience growing up in Dreaux, a French town where immigrants constitute 30 per cent of the population.

Olivier states that from his sample of youths, who had belonged to a terrorist network, 65 per cent were second generation immigrants, 25 per cent converts. 50 per cent were juvenile delinquents, and none of them had been religious, belonged to a mosque or tried to spread Islam through preaching.

He also makes the point that ISIS’ terrorist methods differ strongly from those of Islamic terrorist groups in the 1970s and ’80s. These groups did not intend to die during their atrocities, and made every effort to escape.

Now the situation is reversed. The suicide bombers actively intend to die. He also argues that it isn’t racism or marginalisation that motivates the bombers either, and points to the fact that British Libyans are actually well integrated.

He argues instead that they have a powerful need for very rigorous, extreme forms of religion, coupled with a violent nihilism that is ultimately drawn from western individualism and the idea of the solitary hero. They use selected teachings from Islam to justify their atrocities like the KKK and other extremist groups in the west used Christianity as the justification for their attacks and terrorisation of others, such as Blacks in America. He states

Despite what many people say, these youth are not the products of unemployment, of racism, or a lack of integration. It’s just not true. For Abedi for example, Libyans are pretty well integrated and while he had a chaotic past, it wasn’t because of his family life.

And then people are ‘stuck’.

My thesis is that these are youth in revolt: nihilists that are suicidal and will ascribe their revolt into the narrative provided by IS. For those that have a Muslim background, it’s easy to adopt the narrative because the keys are already there.

But we also see hundreds of converts that adopt this. IS placed a very sophisticated narrative in play that combines references from Islam at the time of the Prophet with a modern type of extreme individualism – the image of the solitary hero – and a modern aesthetic of violence and death. That is what is working.

So we first need to attack the narrative of IS and the fascination it causes.

In these youths there is a demand for spirituality and mysticism. We’ve known since the anarchists and Dostoyevsky that there is a spiritual dimension to terrorists. The problem is, we fight this demand of spirituality by secularising and using our rational thought. I think our society has a problem with the religious – it doesn’t understand the religious anymore.

He then goes on to argue that people of faith should be allowed to express their religious beliefs freely, without being forced to adapt them to the demands of the secular state. For example, secular society should not demand that religious people alter their traditional hostile view of homosexuality.

He also states that we should be very careful not to overreact to these atrocities. He makes the point that similar killings occur regularly, such as the German pilot who committed suicide, killing all his passengers with him when he crashed the plane. These murders don’t have the same effect as Islamist or White Fascist killings.

http://hopenothate.org.uk/2017/06/05/nihilist-youths-turn-islamic-state-terrorists/

It’s an interesting viewpoint into the murderous, self-destructive psychology of suicide bombers. He’s right in that there is a similarity between their attitudes and the figure of the great, destructive, supremely individual hero that emerged in European Romanticism.

While I don’t dismiss the idea that the ‘great, bad man’ of Romantic literature hasn’t exerted some influence on their psychology, I also think it’s a mistake to downplay their links to organised Middle Eastern terrorism in favour of ascribing their motives to their own, individual psychology. A week or so ago Counterpunch published an article making the point that many Islamist terrorists were imported by Western secret services, who wished to use them for their own neocolonial schemes against secular leaders and regimes in the Middle East. Salman Abedi’s family was part of one such militant Islamist group, set up to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi.

The Counterpunch article further argues that ignoring these connections in favour of pursuing policies based on supposed radicalisation through the internet or in the Muslim community generally are misguided and ultimately harmful. Very few terrorists are recruited through online propaganda, and the ‘Prevent’ strategy of scrutinising all Muslims to check against radicalisation risks alienating British Muslims further. Far from being deterred from joining terrorist networks, they may feel that they are being unfairly suspected of being a terrorist or terrorist sympathiser, simply because of their faith.

And the emphasis on looking for indications of terrorist sympathies in the particular psychology of individual Muslims can lead instead to the mistaken condemnation or suspicion of the victims of violence from the Middle East. The article cites the case of a young boy, whose family had sought asylum in Britain from one of the war-torn countries in the Middle East. In his drawings in class, the lad depicted the planes and violence he had witnessed in his country of origin. Unfortunately, his teachers became alarmed as they thought this showed he had terrorist sympathies, and the poor lad was packed off to be investigated by the authorities and psychologists.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/06/12/britain-refuses-to-accept-how-terrorists-really-work/

Vox Political on Sadiq Khan’s Rebuff to Donald Trump

May 10, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has also written a piece about the rebuff by the new Labour mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to Donald Trump. Trump would like to ban Muslims from entering America, but has said that there would be exceptions. Including Mr Khan, whom he would be happy to see enter the Land of the Free. Khan has said clearly that he would not go to America if such a ban was in place, not while it discriminates against his friends, his family, and others like him. He attacked Trump’s proposal as divisive, and pointed out that it could alienate moderate Muslims. He also stated that Trump’s idea that Islam was incompatible with western liberal values was wrong.

Mike states that Mr Khan is right, and his ban on Muslims is divisive and dangerous. See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/10/khan-is-right-to-rebuff-ignorant-donald-trump/

Of course, Khan’s right. No self-respecting member of any ethnic, national or religious group would want to go to a country that discriminates against their people. I am aware, though, of the people from all over the world, who go to work in the brutally intolerant nations of the Gulf States. In the case of the migrant workers from the Developing World, they’re driven by the sheer necessity to find work in the face of terrible, grinding poverty. For Mr Khan and people like him, the situation is somewhat different. I used to work with a Black historian, who strongly disliked America because of that country’s long history of racism. The man didn’t hate Whites, as some might allege because of this. He had a White wife and friends. But he was concerned about how he might be treated in the more prejudiced parts of the country, and about the way the country had treated people of colour like him.

And going to America under a Trump presidency is not an option for Mr Khan as a British Muslim politician. It would create division and play into the hands of extremists. The fire-breathing preachers of hate, like the wretched Anjem Chaudhury, sneer at moderate, liberal Muslims as ‘chocolate Muslims’, their term for an Islamic ‘Uncle Tom’. If Khan went to America, he’d get this label, and with a certain amount of justification. And as a result, the hands of the extremists – the preachers of hate, who encourage the young, impressionable, naïve and just plain stupid to kill, and maim and rape, or destroy their lives and those of innocents in suicide bombings, would be strengthened immensely.

No true citizen of a diverse, multicultural world city like London would ever want that for their city, let alone a genuinely responsible leader. Khan’s right to turn the coiffured buffoon down. So, I hope, will the people of America at the forthcoming elections. Trump’s a Nazi demagogue, playing on racist fears and insecurities. The American people deserve far better.

Hard Times for Terrorists: ISIS Cuts Salaries by Half

January 21, 2016

It seems that ISIS is also having to suffer cuts and austerity, like everyone else. In this video, The Young Turks’ John Iadarola and Ana Kasparian discuss the recent decision by Daesh to cut their fighters’ pay by 50%. Apparently, the mujahidin can receive anything from $400 to $1,200, with $50 extra for their wives and $25 for their children. But now that things aren’t going so well for them, they’re having to take a cut in salary.

The two presenters express surprise that the crazed mass-murderers of the Islamic State were taking so much in pay, considering that they were supposed to be doing it for the faith. Ana Kasparian states that she doubts that this will make much difference to the suicide bombers. Iadarola takes the point, but believes it might have some effect. Some of the Islamic State’s recruits do become disillusioned and try to leave, when they find out that Daesh’s soldiers aren’t moral supermen inundated with women throwing themselves at them. Unfortunately, when the do try to leave, they’re executed by their former comrades.

It’s also likely to create even more disillusionment with Daesh amongst the subject population. The Islamic State has stated that their fighters are free to find ways to supplement their pay from the surrounding people. That means that they can start extorting money and protection rackets. This will naturally be resented, and cause further opposition to them.

And Ana Kasparian also makes a good point that we could also put a stop to their popularity by stopping killing women, children and civilians with bombs and drone strikes on wedding parties and so on. Although not all bombing is necessarily bad or counterproductive, such as when one bomb hit the building where ISIS were storing their money, thus destroying part of their funds.

My guess is that the cut in salaries is probably caused by ISIS having alienated some of their backers in Saudi Arabia, when they announced they were launching a jihad against them. Also, the Saudis themselves have also taken an economic hit after America lifted sanctions against Iran, allowing the Iranians to start selling their oil again. On Monday the I reported that the Saudi stock market had crashed, after falling 5.4 points the previous night.

I also found it deeply ironic that ISIS should also have to cut their pay after the sneer by their latest spokesman and professional murderer about our soldiers being on basic pay. Memo to psychopathic bouncy castle salesmen, who fancy themselves as ruthless ghazis: don’t tempt fate. Or Allah. Still, perhaps he things that if things get really bad, he can go back to selling bouncy castles in Syria and Iraq.

TomoNews: ISIS Bombers Fall Out, Blow Each Other Up

December 29, 2015

More brutality and stupidity from ISIS, as reported by TomoNews. A couple of would-be suicide bombers accidentally blew themselves up in Sargodha, Pakistan. The two were reported to have been sitting in the street, talking, when they started arguing. The argument turned violent, and in the ensuing scrap, one of them triggered the other’s suicide belt, blowing them both to Jahinnam (hell). The pair were identified, and Pakistan’s finest went round to their homes to arrest further suspects.

Fortunately, the only people these prats killed were each other. And they got exactly what they deserved.

Tomonews: ISIS Suicide Bomber Cries before Attack on Syrian Town

December 28, 2015

This is a grim little video from TomoNews, the news channel that produced such entertaining features as a computer-generated, rampaging Gordon Brown, and ISIS recruits kicking each other in the testicles in Pakistan, and ISIS and al-Qaeda scrapping and hitting each other like the Three Stooges in a competition over which one was the hardest and most brutal. This video is a grim little report showing a prospective suicide crying, and having to be comforted by his fellow murderers. He was apparently afraid his attack would fail. They tell him to have faith in Allah. So off he tries in his crawler, and blows himself up shortly after.

I’m reblogging this for several reasons. Firstly, it dispels the myth ISIS are trying to put out about themselves, that they are utterly unstoppable killers without any human feelings whatsoever. That’s what they’re saying to scare their enemies, which is now just about everybody else in the world. As this clip shows, they still feel fear, a fear that can reduce even the most determined butcher bent on his own destruction and those of others to tears.

That demonstration of a perfectly reasonable, human emotion, albeit perverted to serve ISIS’ ends – he was crying because he was afraid his mission would fail, rather than at the brutalities and horrors he and his loathsome comrades have already committed, also show something deeper: the artificiality and squalor of the terrorists’ suicide training itself.

The American anthropologist, Scott Atran, has pointed out that religious faith alone does not provide sufficient motivation for people to become suicide bombers. Instead, murderous groups like ISIS carefully cultivate and indoctrinate their prospective suicide bombers. Part of this involves separating them from the rest of the fighters, and developing a special group bond within them. It’s fair to say that they’re brainwashed into doing so.

And I’ve mentioned before the moral squalor of the authorities that carry out such brainwashing, whether in ISIS or not. I know Muslims from the Middle East, who despised Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, not least because of the way he encouraged young boys to serve as suicide bombers in the Iran/Iraq War in the 1980s. He handed out to them mass-produced, cheap keys, telling them that they were the keys to the kingdom of heaven. ISIS does pretty much something similar.

And remember what Owen Jones said in the video I reblogged yesterday about the Paris attacks. The people drawn to ISIS aren’t paragons of virtue. They’re a bunch of sad acts and losers, thieves and criminals. Many of them have also suffered from depression, which shows that ISIS also exploits the mentally vulnerable.

The more you see ISIS, the less invincible and impressive they seem. At their core, they’re just pathetic bullies, trying to scare their world with their brutalities into believing their something greater than they are.

Vox Political: 70,000 Indian Mullahs Sign Petition against Terrorism and ISIS

December 15, 2015

Amid the slew of bad news, this is very optimistic news indeed. Mike put up an article yesterday over at Vox Politcal about a report in the Independent that 1.5 million Muslims, including 70,000 members of the ulema – the Islamic clergy, had signed a petition organised by the Dargah Aalah Hazrat condemning ISIS, al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The people signing the petition were pilgrims attending the Urs festival at the shrine of a local Sufi saint near the city of Ajmer in Rajasthan.

Mike writes

But the truth is, these people could deal the terrorists a far more bitter blow than any air strike. They are taking away the terrorists’ assumed legitimacy.

Daesh wants people around the world to believe that it is an Islamic organisation, and that true Muslims not only should, but will support it.

But here are one and a half million of them – admittedly in India – who won’t accept anything of the sort.

This could cripple Daesh’s recruitment of cannon fodder – or perhaps I mean radicalised fighters. No, cannon fodder is more appropriate.

Read the full article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/12/14/70000-indian-muslim-clerics-issue-fatwa-against-terror-groups/

I hope Mike’s right. The ulema are Islam’s religious leaders, and they can play a powerful role in forming Muslim popular opinion, and in providing or denying legitimacy to national governments. The obvious example of this is the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. Even before then, back in the early part of the century, the Islamic clergy were able to mobilise a mass campaign against what they viewed as British imperialist domination. I’ve forgotten the precise details, but part of the grievance was about British economic domination through the tobacco industry. One of the Muslim scholars then denounced baccy as un-Islamic, with the result that nearly everybody in the country stopped smoking overnight. Tobacco profits fell, and the British government had to climb down on that particular point.

I’ve put up several pieces already on how most ISIS fighters actually have only a very superficial understanding of Islam. My guess is that this also extends to a segment of the leadership. Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban, for example, has been reported as having no theological training. Despite the name, he’s not a ‘mullah’, the Iran term for a member of the clergy. At least, he isn’t formally.

As for cannon fodder, my guess is that’s exactly how the upper echelons of ISIS, the Taliban and al-Qaeda regard their followers. The mass use of suicide bombing by Muslims in recent conflicts began with the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. He bought a load of cheap keys, and in a ceremony gave them out to the suicide troops on the front, telling them that they were the keys to the kingdom of heaven. I’m not sure, but I think at least some of the soldiers were young boys. During the war the Iranians were reduced to using kids as young as 14. I know Muslims, who are very unimpressed and disillusioned by this shabby deception on the part of the government.

As for the Taliban, for many liberal and moderate Iranians, they’re a model of exactly the kind of hard-line regime they don’t want in their country. During the elections a few years ago in Iran, Ahmedinijad was attacked by his opponents as wanting to turn Iran into a ‘Taliban state’. John Simpson in his book on Iran makes the point that although the country is extremely authoritarian by Western standards, it’s people still felt they were freer than those of Soviet Russia.

How effective this will be for destroying any spurious legitimacy the Islamists possess remains to be seen. Part of the problem is that there is no overall religious leader in Islam. And Islam, like Christianity and many other religions, is also split into various sects, which can vary greatly on doctrinal issues. Much of the various Islamist movements seem to be a product of, or at least strongly influenced by, Wahhabism, the fundamentalist Islam of Saudi Arabia. This has been lamented by Muslims from nations, whose traditional form of Islam was much more liberal. And there is also the additional problem in that Islamism is a reaction against the official Islam promoted by the state in countries like Egypt. It may well be that the impressionable kids, who most need to take on board the Indian ulema’s message, won’t, because it doesn’t go with the stuff they read coming out of the jihadis’ sites.

This, however, is a major move by popular Islam against the Islamists. It also bears out what one poll reported about the majority of Muslims around the world despising ISIS. Hopefully, it’ll deter some from giving the mass murderers their support and aid.

Young Turks: Terrorists More Motivated by Politics than Religion, Study Finds

December 15, 2015

This is another video from The Young Turks, which is extremely relevant as it takes apart the view that terrorists and suicide bombers are motivated solely or mainly by religion. Robert Pape, a professor at the University of Chicago, and the founder of that university’s Centre for Security and Faith, studied the motives of suicide bombers and other terrorists going back to 1980. He found that in 95 per cent of cases they were far more motivated by politics, and particularly the desire to retaliation after a military intervention, often a military occupation. The attacks were an attempt to take or retake territory that was important to the terrorist. This was the dominant motivation for terror attacks, including the recent massacres in Paris.

Uygur and Iadarola point out that suicide bombing are the tactics adopted by the losing sides. America doesn’t use suicide bombers, because it has the advantage of drones, tanks and aircraft. The Japanese also turned to using suicide tactics in World War II – the Kamikaze pilots – when they were losing, not when they thought they were winning, as at Pearl Harbour. The same is true of other organisations using suicide bombers, like the Tamil Tigers.

They also make the case that while religion is part of it, like Christian fundamentalists, who hate gay people, this is more of a case of someone looking for and adopting a worldview, that confirms their existing beliefs. They also cite Lydia Wilson, a journalist for The Nation, who also interviewed ISIS terrorists. She found that they had a ‘woeful knowledge’ of even the basic tenets of Islam, and had difficulty answering questions about sharia law, jihad, or even the caliphate. But such knowledge wasn’t necessary to support the ideal of fighting for the caliphate. As could be seen from the actions of one British ISIS fighter, who ordered ‘Islam for Dummies’ on Amazon.

The Turks compare their ignorance of Islam with that of Dear, the right-wing fundamentalist Christian, who shot staff and patients in an attack on Planned Parenthood. They also point out that terrorist attacks and suicide bombings have been carried out by secular organisations and individuals. The Turks also point out that military intervention is not necessarily a bad thing. The Korean War succeeded in keeping South Korea free of Stalinism, and World War II was, obviously, a military intervention, that was exactly the right thing to do. Suicide and terrorist attacks do not necessarily make the original military action wrong. They’re just something to be expected as a consequence.

This report sounds pretty much spot on, from what I understand about terrorism. Bassam Tibi, the German-Egyptian writer on Islam and the problems it is experiencing through modernisation, states in his book Islam and the Cultural Accommodation of Social Change states that the Egyptian Islamist terrorist he personally interviewed in Egypt had only a superficial understanding of Islam. A few years ago, the anthropologist Scott Atran also pointed out that violence and terrorism were not solely the product of religion. He pointed out that the organisation that had made the most use of suicide bombings was the Tamil Tigers, who were secular organisation. Atran himself is an atheist, and he made this point as a rebuttal to the claims that religion was mainly responsible for such violence by members of the New Atheism, like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

A~s for reading one’s own political views into a particular religion or holy book, that’s always been a problem. It’s called ‘elective affinity’, and sociologists of religion have acknowledged and studied its importance. One example I was taught at College was the declaration by a 19th century British Tory that ‘the Bible is Conservative through and through’. It’s a classic example of the way a person with strong political opinions believed he had found them in his holy book through projecting his own prejudices and opinions onto the text.

As for the political motivations of many terrorists, there’s an interesting review of a book on the Lobster site by Carol Shaye, one of the officials involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Shaye has since become extremely cynical about the whole process because of the massive corruption at all levels of Hamid Karzai’s regime. She found that the Taliban fighters she interviewed almost exclusively joined because they felt it was a solution to this problem.
Of course, the Taliban isn’t. It is, however, a brutal and murderous collection of genocidal maniacs and mass-murderers. But the point remains.