Cult psychology may help explain why young men become suicide murderers. Zealots who tend to violence are meant to be easy to spot. That is why the identities of the alleged London bombers are so arresting. All were British born and raised. Most were well educated, showing no signs of religious fervour. Only one appears to have been remotely socially dysfunctional. For those who believe in the stereotyped terrorist as either rabidly fanatical or desperate, illiterate, and oppressed, this superficial normality is mystifying. It is therefore dangerous to reduce this kind of terrorism to an inherent consequence of Islamist extremism.
Category: Suicide Bombers
Te recent wave of suicide bombings in Iraq and Israel has refocused attention on the question of what motivates terrorists. Is it politics or religion, or a mix of both? Terrorism expert Jessica Stern has examined the use of religion as a rallying cry for violence in her latest book on the subject, entitled “Terror in the Name of God, Why Religious Militants Kill.” Most of Jessica Stern’s book looks at Islamic extremist groups like al-Qaida and Hamas and what drives them – but she also includes chapters on American Christian cults and Jewish militants. “To begin with, it is
By BENEDICT CAREY Los Angeles Times Via the Houston Chronicle, Aug. 3, 2002 The list includes architects and drifters, engineers and poets, teen-agers and middle-aged men, a 30-year-old woman, an 18-year-old girl, and, every week it seems, someone else, someone different. “You hear people say that these are all desperate people, or poor people whose families need the money,” said Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism specialist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. “This is nonsense.” Long before the recent rash of suicide bombings in Israel, psychiatrists and terrorism specialists were searching for clues to what prompts people to strap