July 08, 2007

The unexpected profile of the modern terrorist: 26, from a caring family, married, with children, graduate

Via Jihad Watch.

The mainstream continues to awaken to the fact that jihad terrorism is not a product of poverty, and that it is ideologically driven. The Times mentions in this article that it is just now picking up on a three-year-old study; you might have read about it at this site when it first came out.
By Andrew Norfolk in The Times:
...If someone hates us so much that he is prepared to sacrifice his own life in order to commit mass murder, then we want to find a rational explanation in his personality or his background to separate him from the rest of us.
He would ideally have grown up in deprivation, with a dysfunctional family, few friends, minimal education, a poverty of expectation and a world view that can be easily moulded by the Islamist zealots whose nihilistic creed offers a simple, deadly solution to all of life’s problems.

The reality, disturbingly, is very different. A study of 172 al-Qaeda terrorists conducted four years ago by Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist and former CIA case officer in Pakistan, found that 90 per cent came from a relatively stable, secure background.

Three quarters were from middle-class or upper-class families, two thirds went to college and two thirds were professionals or semi-professionals, often engineers, physicians, architects or scientists. The average age for making an active commitment to violent jihad was 26, and three quarters of the terrorists were married, most of them with children. Only one in a hundred had shown any form of psychotic disorder. Two thirds became drawn towards a terror group while living in a country that was not their homeland.

Dr Sageman’s findings, published in 2004 in Understanding Terrorist Networks, led him to conclude that “most of these men were upwardly and geographically mobile”. He wrote: “Because they were the best and brightest, they were sent abroad to study. They came from moderately religious, caring, middle-class families. They spoke three, four, five, six languages.”

Unlike the lone serial killer, these men functioned well in groups. Indeed they depended, isolated as they were in a foreign country, on a close circle of friends who reinforced and legitimised their beliefs. “You could almost say that those least likely to cause harm individually are most likely to do so collectively,” Dr Sageman wrote. Yesterday he told The Times that the existence of a terror plot involving foreign doctors should surprise no one.

[...]

Those searching for an identity that is neither Western, nor the passive Islam of their parents, are presented with a seductive call to duty, and a ready-made sense of belonging, by those espousing the Manichean tenets of radical Islam.

Here is a black and white world of good, the global ummah, and evil, in the form of everyone and everything nonMuslim. Because the West is seen as engaged in a global war against Islam, jihad in the name of Allah is seen as the duty of every Muslim.

That jihadist terrorism is abhorrent to the vast majority of Muslims, and Muslim doctors, living in Britain was emphasised yesterday when a coalition of groups calling itself Muslims United took out advertisements in national newspapers to condemn the car bomb attacks.

“Not in our name,” they said, quoting a verse from the Koran: “Whoever kills an innocent soul, it is as if he killed the whole of mankind. And whoever saves one, it is as if he saved the whole of mankind.” Your educated, middle-class jihadist will point out that the full verse actually prohibits the killing of another human being “except as a punishment for murder and other villainy in the land”.

The Koran’s fifth chapter continues: “Those that make war against God and his apostle and spread disorder in the land shall be slain . . .” For some Muslims, especially those who have lived in or near Iraq, it does not demand a great leap of faith, whatever their profession, to include the United States and Britain among those “that make war against God”.
Astonishing to see a mainstream publication quote Qur'an 5:33, which in full is rather gruesome, even in part, after noting the misleading use of 5:32 by self-proclaimed moderate groups.

Anyway, read it all.