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.


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

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!