Jihadville

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What is it about one Moroccan city, and/or its people, that appears to be producing a growing and deadly list of ready-to-explode jihadists?

The New York Times Magazine goes into great detail, finds a few vague answers and tosses out a whole lot of theories. Still there is interesting information and insight to be found :

What, then, caused them to embrace violent jihad? In a city flooded with televised images of civilians dying in Iraq, the forces of politics and religion surely weighed on these men’s lives. For some of them, public outrage merged with personal grievance.

Yet individual experiences and ideological convictions can only explain so much. Increasingly, terrorism analysts have focused on the importance of social milieu. Some stress that terrorists are not simply loners, overcome by a militant cause. They are more likely to radicalize together with others who share the same passions and afflictions and daily routines. As the story of Jamaa Mezuak suggests, the turn to violence is seldom made alone. Terrorists don’t simply die for a cause, Scott Atran, an anthropologist who studies terrorism, told me. “They die for each other.”

The question of what drives someone to terrorism has given rise to a cottage industry of theories since Sept. 11. None may fully explain what happened in Jamaa Mezuak: why some of its young men chose to become terrorists when most have not. The notion that poverty is to blame has been debunked again and again. And while religious extremism can feed militancy, many experts prefer to emphasize the anger generated by political conflicts, like the war in Iraq or the Arab-Israeli struggle.Many may sympathize with a cause, but few ever turn to violence. Marc Sageman, a psychiatrist and former C.I.A. case officer, holds that people prone to terrorism share a sequence of experiences, which he outlines in his forthcoming book, “Leaderless Jihad.”

They feel a sense of moral outrage that is interpreted in a specific way (the war in Iraq, for example, is interpreted as a war on Islam); that outrage resonates with the person’s own experiences (Muslims in Germany or Britain who feel marginalized might identify with the suffering of Iraqis); and finally, that outrage is channeled into action.

This process, Sageman told me, is rarely a solitary one. He and a growing number of law-enforcement officials and analysts argue that group dynamics play a key role in radicalization. While ideology may inspire terrorists, they say, it takes intimate social forces to push people to action. Friends embolden one another to act in ways they might not on their own. This might be called the peer-pressure theory of terrorism. Experts in the field refer to it as the BOG, for bunch of guys (or GOG, for group of guys). “Terrorism is really a collective decision, not an individual one,” said Sageman, who coined the theory. “It’s about kinship and friendship.”

Jihadi groups, like most social circles, tend to rely on frequent, sustained interaction, Sageman told me. People are drawn together by a common activity, like soccer, or by a common set of circumstances, like prison. Often they meet in the temporary spaces born of immigration.

In groups predisposed to violence, there is often a shared grievance around which members first rally. In the case of urban American gangs, the grievance could be police brutality. For the Hamburg cell behind 9/11, it was the war in Chechnya.Law-enforcement agencies have begun changing their approach to counterterrorism in tandem with their heightened awareness of the role that groups play. Investigators in Europe, Canada and the United States are now conducting surveillance of suspects for longer periods of time, in part to observe the full breadth of their social networks.

The horrors and inhumanity of what has happened in Iraq is poisoning the minds of millions of young people across the planet, not just in Morocco. A miniscule number are choosing violence as their way of unleashing vengeance, or evening scores.

But the West is clearly losing the battle of the mind when young men in Morocco can look to television and see for themselves the untold destruction and death unleashed by the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq and feel driven to seek revenge, and all that can be done is to increase surveillance on groups of young men who may or may not be plotting terror attacks.

In the New York Times Magazine story, young Moroccan men are quoted as saying that President Bush is the “biggest terrorist in the world.” They say this, apparently, because they’ve seen on TV what has happened to the people of Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Bush’s nickname of being “The World’s Greatest Terrorist” is seen at marches and rallies all over the planet.

War is Terror, and Terror is most certainly War.

Osama Bin Laden’s calls to jihad would be next to worthless without the wars of President Bush to supply the imagery and horror stories that rots so many souls, and helps to poison so many minds.

The wars feed the terrorism, and the terrorism feeds the wars.

Hopefully it won’t take another generation to end this circle of violence and inhumanity.

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1 Comment »

  1. 1
    poite de darmon Says:

    plyaing stupid game with these kind pf people is harmful


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