Category Archives: suicide bombers

Riddle of the Manchester bomber’s evil depravity

Salman Abedi, writes Dalrymple,

might genuinely have believed that in killing the people in the Manchester Arena, he was bringing forward heaven on earth (as well as his access to heavenly virgins). But it is perfectly legitimate to ask how he came to believe such a thing, which is so completely fatuous from a more rational point of view. Let us disregard the evident absurdity of his ideology, which hardly deserves the trouble of refutation.

One might point, Dalrymple says, to such factors as Abedi’s

  • cultural heritage
  • experience as a refugee
  • lowly status
  • economic prospects
  • genes
  • level of testosterone

Terrorists, Dalrymple notes,

may have certain demographic characteristics or biographical features in common, certain psychological traits, that others do not have: ergo these things in common are supposed to have caused them to become terrorists. And yet, when all is said and done, we still do not feel that we have understood.

Prepare for communal violence

Dalrymple writes:

One of the objects of the bombers, instinctive rather than articulated, might be to undermine restraint, both of the state and of the population, in order to reveal to the majority of Muslims the true evil nature of the society in which they live, and force them into the camp of the extremists.

If so,

there is some hope of success. It would not take many more such bombings, perhaps, to provoke real and serious communal violence on the Indian subcontinental model. Britain teems with aggressive, violent subgroups who would be only too delighted to make pogroms a reality.

The outlook, Dalrymple points out, is

grim and without obvious solution. Surveys suggest that between 6% and 13% of British Muslims are sympathetic towards Islamic terrorists and their efforts. It is a sufficient proportion and absolute number of sympathisers to make suspicion and hostility towards Muslims by the rest of society not entirely irrational.

This, says Dalrymple,

is the tightrope that the British state and population has to walk; the sweet dream of universal cultural compatibility has been replaced by the nightmare of permanent conflict.

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.

The suicide bomber bears no mark of Cain

Ideology makes all the difference

It is unlikely, writes Dalrymple,

that any characteristic or group of characteristics will prove to be pathognomonic of the condition of being a suicide bomber.

Certainly, says Dalrymple,

there are characteristics that appear in quite a proportion. We think of such bombers as second-generation immigrants in search of a cultural identity, who may have led a life of modern dissipation until, in a fit of self-disgust, they give up that life in favour of violent, arrogant and self-important puritanism.

The trouble is that

any characteristic that is found among suicide bombers is likely to be found among many people who are not suicide bombers. The number of dissipated young men who turn arrogantly pious is likely to be a hundred times greater than that of suicide bombers.

Nevertheless,

a religious ideology, vile and impoverished as it might be, is an important cause. Whatever the travails of Moslem immigrants to Europe, they are not objectively different in kind from those of other immigrants from far-off lands. It is ideology that makes the difference.

Dalrymple adds that discrimination between asylum-seekers is very much

in accordance with that unspeakable thing, the national interest.

Dalrymple: I met a would-be suicide bomber

What, Dalrymple asked himself, in this man

who had not yet had the chance to put his thanatological daydream into practice could have produced as embittered a mentality—what experience of life, what thoughts, what doctrines? What fathomless depths of self-pity led him to the conclusion that only by killing himself and others could he give a noble and transcendent meaning to his existence?

Dalrymple writes that

no threat (at first sight) might deter someone who is prepared to extinguish himself to advance his cause, and who considers such self-annihilation while killing as many strangers as possible a duty, an honour, and a merit that will win ample rewards in the hereafter.

And Britain has an unknown number of such people in its midst, many of them homegrown.

Inside the mind of a Belgian suicide bomber

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 09.11.50Watching some Swiss television

for the first and possibly last time,

Dalrymple views a report on Muriel Degauque, the first white European suicide bomber. Born and raised in Charleroi, she was a child of ordinary working-class parents.

The television underlined this with lengthy shots of her dreary childhood neighbourhood. Even a few seconds looking at it on a screen was almost enough to provoke an existential crisis.

Her life was unremarkable, said the television report.

She was average at school, then worked in a bakery. People who knew her emphasised that she was an ordinary person—the last kind of person to act in such an outrageous way. There was nothing in her life out of the usual. True, she went through a period of sexual promiscuity and drug-taking, but when she converted to Islam—cut to a Muslim area of Brussels—she gave up drugs and was faithful to her Moroccan husband. So really, the commentary concluded, the whole episode was mysterious and inexplicable.

But only, writes Dalrymple,

in the sense that all human conduct is, in the last analysis, mysterious. Actually, the suicide bomber reminded me of the lost and bewildered young whom various Christian sects would look for as they scoured our streets, trawling for recruits into their all-embracing communities. These communities happened to make lots of money for their founders but really did rescue some young people from the gutter.

The television commentary

made no connection between Degauque’s promiscuity and drug abuse on the one hand and her subsequent conversion to a murderously puritanical form of Islam on the other (she wore the most extreme of veils).

Yet it requires little imagination, says Dalrymple, to make such a connection,

for one interpretation of her former life was that she sought to fill a void, a lack of purpose or interest, with sensation. Once the self-defeating nature of this was obvious to her—and nothing suggests that she lacked intelligence, despite her mediocre academic background—she became vulnerable to a ‘complete’ answer to life’s problems. Her death demonstrated, to herself and to others, how deeply (or desperately) she believed in it.

Her problem—a lack of meaning in her life—is

far from unique. Millions of people are in the same or similar position. That is why Europe cannot afford to be complacent about it.

Certain unfortunate consequences of stress

Inactivity; lassitude; moderate activity; tiredness; fatigue; exhaustion;

Stress curve: inactivity; lassitude; collecting social security; moderate activity; drug-dealing; vigorous activity; living off the earnings of kuffar prostitutes; tiredness; drug-taking; fatigue; robbery and violence; exhaustion; breakdown; running amok; mass murder; suicide bombing; 7,000 houris in Jannah

The mother of two of the mass murderers in the 2013 Paris attacks said she was sure that the son who blew himself up with explosives in his vest did not intend to kill anyone and acted in the way he did only because of stress. She thus, writes Dalrymple,

demonstrated how far she had assimilated to contemporary Western culture from her native Algerian, and how well she understood it.

Her statement

combines two important modern tropes: that stress excuses all, and that irrespective of someone’s actual conduct, however terrible it may be, there subsists within him a core of goodness that is more real than the superficial badness, such as taking part in mass murder.

It is true, says Dalrymple, that

most of us are not at our best when we are plagued by anxiety and frustration, when we have a hundred things that claim our attention, when we are worried for our jobs, children, careers, and so forth.

However,

most of us are also aware that if we excuse our ill-behaviour on these grounds (as we all tend to do initially whenever we know that we have behaved badly), there is no end to that ill-behaviour.

Most of us, Dalrymple points out, have, strangely enough,

found it comparatively easy to avoid killing other people.

A stressful life, to be sure, but 7,000 virgins are waiting in Paradise

A stressful life, to be sure, but 7,000 virgins are waiting in Paradise

We have found that we are able, at the end of the day, to avoid

wearing garments full of explosives, however severe our stress.

None of us, Dalrymple surmises, has ever said,

I feel so stressed today that I want to put on a jacket of high explosives and blow myself up near, at, or in a restaurant or a café or a football stadium or a concert venue.

Indeed, says Dalrymple,

most of us would think that to dress up in explosives was a sign of a rather severe moral defect that went quite deeper than a response to the stress of the moment.

Cowards these attackers were not

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 16.51.34François Hollande, the French president, called the November 2015 Paris attacks cowardly. Dalrymple comments:

If there was one thing the attackers were not (alas, if only they had been), it was cowardly.

The attackers were, writes Dalrymple,

evil, their ideas were deeply stupid, and they were brutal: but a man who knows that he is going to die in committing an act, no matter how atrocious, is not a coward.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 16.59.16With

the accuracy of a drone, the president honed in on the one vice that the attackers did not manifest.

This establishes, Dalrymple writes,

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 16.52.34that bravery is not by itself a virtue, that in order for it to be a virtue it has to be exercised in pursuit of a worthwhile goal.

Barack Obama, the US president, referred to the values we all share. Dalrymple says:

Either he was using the word ‘we’ in some coded fashion, in spite of having just referred to the whole of humanity, or he failed to notice that the attacks were the direct consequence of the obvious fact that we—that is to say the whole of humanity—do not share the same values. If we shared the same values, politics would be reduced to arguments about administration.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 16.53.19Bono, the Irish pop star, said that the attacks were an attack on music. Dalrymple:

Bono might as well have said that this was an attack on restaurants, or on Cambodian cuisine.

The Guardian, the London newspaper, said the vast majority of Muslims abhorred the attacks. Dalrymple:

I do not exclude the possibility that this is so, but we do not know, and can probably never know, that it is so: for if Elizabeth I had ‘no desire to make windows into men’s souls’, we have no ability to do so, certainly on this question. But the Guardian wanted it to be so, and therefore, to its own satisfaction, it was so. This is a kind of magical thinking that persists in a supremely scientific age, and is dangerous because completely ineffective.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 17.04.00

 

Judge not these intellectual and moral minors

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 23.46.24Dalrymple asks (of certain people of the Levant and Mesopotamia):

  • Are they full members of the human race?
  • Do they reflect on their circumstances and act on their reflections in the way that fully responsible and potentially culpable people do?
  • Do they have the capacity for independent action?
  • Should we exculpate them?
  • Should we forgive them?
  • Do they have a fully developed moral sense?
  • Should we regard their misdemeanors with a degree of indulgence?
  • Do people who explode bombs, resulting in scores of deaths of people chosen merely because they are (most of them) of a different religious confession, appreciate what they are doing, any more than a dog appreciates what it does when it knocks over a porcelain vase?
  • Are bombings in the Levant and Mesopotamia as inescapable as the weather?
  • Are those who carry out the bombings blameless?
  • Do those who carry out the bombings consciously decide to do so?

There is, writes Dalrymple, an

inability to take seriously the culpability of men and women who, as a matter of policy or tactics, kill large numbers of passers-by and bystanders.

This inability, he points out,

is a hangover of the late-Victorian imperial sensibility, which viewed much of the world’s population as intellectual and moral minors.

The airline hijacker fêted by SOAS

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 10.55.40

Warm friendship: SOAS and the PFLP

Arguably Britain’s two most important taxpayer-funded places of higher learning in their respective fields are the London School of Economics, which is of especially high repute in view of its championing of the revered Muammar Gaddafi’s democratic leadership of Libya during a difficult period for that country, and the School of Oriental and African Studies, noted for its championing of Arab liberationists in general.

It would be petty-minded, writes Dalrymple, to carp that the presence at the latter institution of Leila Khaled, the prominent terrorist and leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, to address a meeting of students ‘undermines Britain’s claim of iron commitment’ to the anti-terrorist cause, for after all ‘consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds’.

The anti-Zionist heroine Khaled pointed out to the packed SOAS meeting a fact that the students will no doubt have absorbed from SOAS professors of protestology, namely that there are no suicide bombers, only freedom fighters.

Dalrymple comments:

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 10.45.44

Smile, you may die soon: Leila Khaled has devoted her life to peace, terrorism and liberation

The eagerness with which SOAS invited Khaled is both alarming and depressingly unsurprising….The trahison des clercs has to attach itself to something: without betrayal of some ideal or other, many intellectuals would feel bereft of a purpose in life. With the departure of communism from the world stage, Middle Eastern terrorism is an obvious home for those who gain their self-importance by supporting the insupportable. Khaled’s presence in Britain illustrates by analogy the truth of Lenin’s dictum: ‘The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.’

(2002)