Saturday, November 19, 2005

Know the foe

Harry's Place reviews Brian Keenan’s account of his abduction and 1500 days captivity published as An Evil Cradling.

How can one argue terrorism is Imperial Blowback; that if America just doesn't intevene in the world, or we consume less, thugs described below are going to think differently, or continue not to sprout out of the perverted circumstances today in the Arab world?

That I don't understand. We're the targets of a small but significant movement born of uniquely and largely Arab circumstances. We did not create people described here but sure need to protect ourselves from them because they have the money to get the weapons to make savage destruction and slaughter.
Intuitively, this suggests to me that unlike the IRA, ETA, FARC, or just about any other western terrorist group, the Islamic fundamentalists Keenan describes are not so much politicized and radicalized, as utterly and irredeemably [Baar's empahsis] brainwashed. Keenan notes time and again throughout the book that each attempt at political discourse with his captors was met with vacant looks and a desperate attempt to change the subject. Contrast your average Provo, who would likely be difficult to shut up in such a situation. One thing that characterizes the ‘traditional’ terrorist groups is their unshakeable belief that they have all the best arguments. What each says may be as nonsensical as the incoherent rambling that greeted each of Keenan’s attempts to engage his captors, but at least there is a semblance of a motivation that is sustained by a perverse rationale legitimizing every heinous act committed for the cause. In the case of the Jihadists, not only are the warriors incapable of articulating a case for holy war, they show no sign of even wanting to understand this for themselves. Obsessed with sex, clutching the omnipresent Kalashnikov, they spend their days dreaming of martyrdom and it is enough to know that what they do is willed by Allah. Even this they know only because those in whom they trust tell them it is so.

Interestingly, one of the American captives with whom Keenan was imprisoned, Terry Anderson I think it is, explained that at least half of the Jihadists holding them couldn’t even read the classical Arabic in their Qu-rans. They simply parroted interpretations of the text passed down by, presumably, local clerics and/or literate family.
Don't under estimate the role of family here. That's what we learned from the Woman who failed to detonate her sucide belt recently in Jordan. Terrorism is family business.

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