Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Inside the Minds of Islamic Militants

Farhad Khosrokhavar, a preeminent research scholar in France, and a Shiite Muslim who speaks Arabic, is interviewed at today's Los Angeles Times.

Khosrokhavar conducted interviews with Islamic militants held in French prisons. He was able to connect with his subjects to a surprising degree. This passage is particularly interesting:

I was struck by the Bosnia veteran I interviewed. He studied in Malaysia. He was able to seduce a Bosnian woman and a Japanese woman, which was like apples and oranges according to him, and get the Japanese woman to convert. He had two wives at the same time. He was very intelligent, very human. But he was a cold monster. He could kill without any hint of an afterthought. A Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde, but he saw it as coherent. He saw no crisis. Usually one side hates the other in a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde personality. But he was not schizophrenic in the least.
We'd have to read Khosrokhavar's research to see what kind of generalizations we might gather from such views.

However, John Rosenthal has published an essay summarizing the implications of Khosrokhavar work, "
The French Path to Jihad."

Here's more from Khosrokhavar's interview, comparing counterterror efforts in the U.S. to Europe:

In the United States, in spite of 9/11, it is a society which understands religion much better than in Europe. Muslims can be practicing and devout without being treated as if they were fundamentalists. Europe is clearly different from the U.S. Islam is the religion of the oppressed in Europe. Most Muslims are working class. There is an underclass that is comparable to the black or Latino underclass in U.S. cities.

The major threat in Europe is small groups that are difficult to spot. Like the two Lebanese who planted suitcase bombs on a German train in 2006. Jihadists are fascinated by 9/11. They want to do something cosmic, apocalyptic, but the intelligence services are all over them. They cannot succeed. The small groups, of less than five, are the most dangerous.


Philippe Öhlund said...

Well, I think the U.S. is much more tolerant than Europe.

You have not really racism or things like that in the U.S., since America basically is made up of immigrants.

In Europe it is very different, but fortunately it is changing here to - but not much.

It is or at least used to be difficult to be accepted, in another part of Sweden.

If you are from Stockholm, how welcome are you in the southern part of Sweden?

Not much.

And if someone from the southern part of Sweden asks for the time in Stockholm, he will most probably not even get a response.

I have myself been witness to that several times.

Belgium is geographically 15 times smaller than Sweden, and yet some times people here are even fighting in the trains, when you cross from the French to the Flemish part of the country...

At one time I had to let appartments in Stockholm.

I was told by my employer to not accept anyone from Poland. This was during the 80's.

And I have a Swedish friend, who cannot stand Danish people, and another one, who hate Finns...

I hope all this will change.

It is true that Sweden for example has a lot of immigration, but most immigrants live in special cities.

It is a very segregated society.

But I do not like to talk to immigrants on the phone, because I almost always find them unpleasant and very aggressive.

My mother, who was born in Belgium lived 30 years in Sweden, but she never got adapted to live there.

So my parents moved to Belgium and lived their 15 last years here, but my father never got accustomed to Belgium.

Belgian people is treated like shit in Sweden, and Swedish people is treated like shit in Belgium.

I have had more than 50 different Swedish colleagues in Belgium, during my almost nine years here, and all have moved back to Sweden - except for one.

Myself, I came to Belgium for family reason.

Now I am divorcing, but there is no way I would consider staying here.

This is how the European Union works.

We live in a hopelessly complicated and sad world.

Laura Lee - Grace Explosion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Philippe Öhlund said...


The numbers of suicides in Europe equals that of fatal car accidents.

Maybe it is a tendency that in Europe governments kill people, or otherwise take away peoples desire to live, whereas in the U.S. individuals kill each other, since there are so many guns in the U.S.

But I don't know. This is just a suggestion.

AmPowerBlog said...

Philippe: Experts say the potential for violent extremist jihadis to sprout is more pronouced in Europe, exactly because of a greater secularism and moral relativism across European states.

Philippe Öhlund said...

You are right, Donald!

Here in Belgium, for example, we have a political party which is gaining strength, AEL, the Arab European League.

Out of 10 million inhabitants in Belgium, the largest immigrant group is 1.5 million Moroccans.

But the most dangerous jihadist are nevertheless all English converts from England who flock here.

The Muslim threat comes primarily not from Arabs anymore.

There are persons just like you and me, but most often from England, who meets Muslim women from Pakistan or some other Muslim countries.

For some reason they feel when they convert to Islam that they most prove that they are more fundamentalist and violent than Arabs ever can be, and eventually for some reason they come here to Belgium.

I do not know how organized this is or what this really is about, but these persons are not poor immigrants from North Africa, but mostly English gentlemen with some screws loose, who seem to want only one thing - to blow up or nuke the whole world in honor of Allah.

Belgium is also a perfect place for them to work from, since this country is in complete disarray, with all the different languages, infightings, and independent and uncontrollable regions.

Some parts of Belgium - Belgium is a tiny country - do not even accept the Belgian flag anymore.

Sweden is on the contrary a rather centralized state, which rather also is ruled by police and the military, where freedom, including religious freedom and liberty are despised, so normally these extremist persons will not have any power there.

But here in central Europe most countries are to weak and corrupt to uphold law and order.

They are also so overwhelmed here by all immigrants that they not are able to distinguish between good and bad anymore.

Here in Belgium people also believe NATO and the U.S. will come and solve all problems.

Sweden was never part of NATO or the Warsaw pact, and that is its strength.

Sweden has over 200 years or peace thanks to a technological advantage and military bases in the north, capable of destroying both Russia and the U.S. at the same time, should it be necessary.

This will of course fortunately not happen, but Sweden's military strength ensures peace and that it not will be involved in coming wars during the coming tribulation period.

The price is nevertheless governmental control, lack of integrity and privacy, and little freedom.

But that is what the people up there want. Centralized but controlled totalitarianism. We can call it a form of military democracy.

It sounds terrible, and it certainly is not pleasant, but it is the best solution for this period of time, with most of Europe in turmoil.

Sweden was Europe's fourth military power during WWII, and thanks to that, Sweden could stay out of that war too, without firing one single shot.

And yes, I strongly believe all these violent extremist jihadis here in central Europe you mention, will blow up most European cities within the next ten years.

They also want to destroy major cities in America, such as Chicago and New York.

I am sure they are working on this at this very moment, and within the U.S.

I hope my divorce lawyers will speed up things, because I clearly can see what is coming here, and I have no wish to be trapped in the middle of what is coming.

You and yours are in my prayers, Donald!

dave in boca said...

There is an interesting New Yorker article in a recent edition [sorry, no link] that studies serial killers as psychopaths, [not the society-blaming "sociopaths" of the '80's], and finds that, like the Iranian well-adapted misfit in your article, they can attain a lot of success in other fields besides crime. The article mentions that many businessmen, lawyers, and religious leaders are psychopaths with a remorseless certainty that they are right and that anything they do is therefore acceptable, by their own internal code.

These people seem to have no real emotional attachments, and manipulate their peers with clever mimicry of emotional commitment and pledges of loyalty.

My own long experience with Middle Easterners in their native habitat convinces me that they are very prone to this sort of mental disease, [not "disorder" as the DSM-!V would term it.]

AmPowerBlog said...

Thanks Dave!