So you want to be a suicide bomber

A convict tells Dalrymple of his wish to kill innocents. He is

more hate-filled than any man I have ever met.

The offspring of a broken marriage between a Muslim man and a female convert, he

has followed the trajectory of many young men in his area: sex and drugs and rock-and-roll. Violent and aggressive by nature, intolerant of the slightest frustration to his will and frequently suicidal, he experienced taunting during his childhood because of his mixed parentage. After a vicious rape for which he went to prison, he converted to a Salafist form of Islam and has become convinced that any system of justice that takes the word of a mere woman over his own is irredeemably corrupt.

The underlying emotion is hatred

Dalrymple notices one day that his mood has greatly improved.

He is communicative and almost jovial, which he has never been before. I ask him what has changed in his life for the better. He has made his decision, he says. Everything is resolved. He is not going to kill himself in an isolated way, as he previously intended. Suicide is a mortal sin, according to the tenets of the Islamic faith. No, when he gets out of prison he will not kill himself; he will make himself a martyr, and be rewarded eternally, by making himself into a bomb and taking as many enemies with him as he can.

Enemies, Dalrymple asks; what enemies? How can he know that the people he kills at random will be enemies?

They are enemies, he says, because they live happily in our rotten and unjust society. By definition, they are enemies—enemies in the objective sense, as Stalin might have put it—and hence are legitimate targets.

Dalrymple asks him whether he thinks that, in order to deter him from his course of action, it would be right for the state to threaten to kill his mother and his brothers and sisters—and to carry out this threat if he carried out his, in order to deter others like him.

The idea appalls him, not because it is yet another example of the wickedness of a Western democratic state, but because he cannot conceive of such a state acting in this unprincipled way. In other words, he assumes a high degree of moral restraint on the part of the very organism that he wants to attack and destroy.

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