SECOND POST – SEPTEMBER 20, 2012 – INSIDE THE MIND OF THE JIHADIST SUICIDE TERRORIST; PART II – IDENTIFYING THE CANDIDATE; SYRPER GOES TO BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES;
It’s advisable to go back to September 14, 2012 and read the First Part to this article in which we discuss the source of radical, violent Islamist thinking. In the first part, we covered the role of Ibn Taymiyya as a 13th Century Syrian theologian whose lacklustre career promoting demonization of Mongol invaders only exploded in the 20th Century with neo-Islamist radicals applying those same principles to all perceived enemies of the faith. The interpreters are notorious: Sayyed Qutb; Oussama Bin Laden; Dr. Ayman Zawahiri; Abu Qatada; Anwar Al-Awlaqi and thousands more. Bear in mind, however, that the adherents to Ibn Taymiyya’s philosophy of hate are few in number compared to the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. SyrPer is not suggesting, in any way, that this murderous way of thinking applies to the vast majority of Muslims. But this minority can do a lot of damage.
In order to recruit for “jihad”, you have to have a recruiter. The recruiter is usually non-expendable. A war in Vietnam could be going on in full swing, but army recruiters have to be exempt from combat in order to insure that sufficient numbers of troops are available for actual in-country deployment. And so it is for the Islamist jihadist terrorist organization.
Recruiters must be charismatic. The jihadist candidate is fighting for Islam, Allah and his culture. He must be convinced that the recruiter is someone who is sincere and imbued with a depth of piety sufficient to invoke the presence of Allah. Usually, this can be a religious man, a “sheikh“, a “sayyed“, an “imam“, an “ustadh” or someone who wears the turban, “al-‘umama” or “al-laffah“, a sign of devotion which is even more awe-inspiring when coupled with a calloused spot on the forehead demonstrating repeated, energetic prayer. Such a person can be believed when he tells you that the way to Paradise passes through the ordeal of death for the sake of Allah. Allah is pleased with those who die for the sake of the faith. “Do not consider those who were killed for the sake of Allah as dead, for they are alive in the presence of their Lord, receiving sustenance”. This line from the Qur’an is oft-repeated at funerals for those who die as Muslims. It is especially poignant during valedictory funereal sermons exalting the deceased who was killed fighting for his religion.
Sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki was an American-born Yemeni fanatic, an adherent of Ibn Taymiyya, who was also a professional recruiter for Al-Qaeda or any Islamist Jihadist organization. His assassination by an American drone in Southern Yemen has catalyzed debate over U.S.-sanctioned extra-judicial killing. Obama gave the nod to assassinate him.
A Muslim religious man in London, Hamburg, Newark, Brooklyn or any town usually attracts individuals to pray either on a daily basis or on Fridays. Islam is a social religion. People like to pray together. But the cleric who most exemplifies the traits of Ibn Taymiyya with his speech and beliefs is the best one to magnetically attract adherents whose inclinations are most akin to his. A fanatical cleric, railing against Jews, Christians and infidels, might find his mosque depopulated if the flock is not persuaded by his diatribes. But where the flock is full and rapt in attention, inhaling robustly the vituperations and exhortations to violence, is where the recruiter will find his best candidates for Jihad.
The recruiter, like any salesman, has to know his business. He has to know about the perks, the bargains, the new financing arrangements. In the case of the Islamist recruiter, he must be prepared to explain how Allah demands strict cohesion to the message sent down through the Messenger, Muhammad. He must be able to explain why killing unrelated persons is allowable in the crusade to make Islam the faith of the world and to destroy those who deny the true Word. The recruiter must be prepared to answer questions from skeptical students: “Why doesn’t God do it Himself? He is Omnipotent, Right?” Or, “What if an innocent child dies in the course of the violence?”
The recruiter must be prepared to answer these questions. He must explain that Allah would not have made Paradise for those who died for his sake unless he wanted it that way. Allah will take into consideration the innocents who die in the violence which was prosecuted for Him and His Purpose. How else, therefore, can the true Muslim fight the unbeliever if he is constantly dissuaded by the presence of innocent people or “collateral damage”. Allah has taken care of this by his Promise to welcome those innocents killed for this sake.
When asked once about the Muslims killed in his attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa, Bin Laden, ever the sophist, responded that they would be viewed by Allah as martyrs for Islam and therefore acceptable in Paradise. Ben Laden lived the life of a dissolute billionaire’s son in capitals like Beirut and Cairo with alcohol up to the elbow. He subsequently found God and began killing people in large numbers.
The recruiter cannot simply approach a candidate and tell him to “join up” at the local enlistment center. In many instances these recruiters operate in locales where law enforcement is looking for exactly that kind of activity. The candidate may also be an undercover agent. Unlike the recruiter who can openly tell you to “Join the Navy and see the world”, the Islamist recruiter can only suggest that the young man seek further counseling in cities where he knows the enlistment process is more open. Places such as Peshawar in Pakistan, Abyan in Yemen, Kismayo in Somalia, Northern Mali and Helmand in Afghanistan are known areas for recruitment and training. Note that these places are in desolate territories, largely outside the control of governmental authorities. The recruiter often gives the candidate the name of a contact person in, say, Peshawar – usually a clergyman affiliated with a “madrasa” that graduates Islamist students but which also operates as a factory for producing trained killers. It’s a great cover for the real purpose behind the referral.
Many Pakistani-British young men were referred to these madrasas after being vetted by their clerics. When they came back to carry out an attack or to plan some outrage, the evidence came in consistently the way we described it in the foregoing. The job of the investigator was then to find a way to pin the charge of “aiding and abetting” on the clergyman. But it’s not easy.
The Palestinian, Abu Qatada, is fighting deportation to Jordan where he argues he will be tortured. The U.K. authorities are anxious to be rid of him. He is a classic clergyman/recruiter for terrorism. Ironically, he seeks haven in England while eschewing the Islamic countries.
A recruiter has to be careful not to send over a candidate who works for some foreign intelligence agency. He must not lose respect by liaising a mole or informant with a jihadist group. This could cost him his life. Of course, he will go to Heaven anyway since his mistake was an innocent one. Nevertheless, all joking aside, the Jihadists are not known for their sense of charity or forgiveness.
A recruiter may spend much time with a potential suicide terrorist. He must be able to categorize him. Is he very educated and highly philosophized. Dangerous. This type of recruit could easily change his mind especially after joining up with people much less educated. Is he very smart and capable of learning a new craft – like bomb-making. Engineers or tradesmen are ideal for this. They may not be even useful as terrorists, but, they can make bombs. They are the enablers. Then there are the “expendables”, the ones with the intelligence of simpletons who can be easily swayed to blow themselves up in order to escape the torments of earthly life.
In the Third Part, I will try to describe the profile of the suicide bomber. What he must have.