Understanding the ‘evildoer’

From the Wash. Post via Cryptome, Likely Suicide Bombers Include Profiles You’d Never Suspect by Sharon Begley:

    If individuals are capable of terrible things under the right circumstances, that suggests “it is not possible to ‘profile’ suicide terrorists: They are just like us,” says Prof. Atran.

    Surely, not entirely. A crucial distinction may be that to a terrorist, his cell is everything: kin, friends, neighbors, teachers. Psychological manipulation causes recruits to view the group as a fictive family for whom they are as willing to die as a mother for her child. Such manipulation, says Prof. Atran, “can trump individual personality and psychology to produce apparently extreme behaviors in ordinary people.”

    Terrorists promote small-group cohesion much as the military does. Says Maj. Gen. Stewart, “If you ask a soldier why he is willing to fight and die, he’ll tell you it’s for his buddies.”

    So with terrorists. Some may be lured by the promise of riches to their survivors, or by the feeling that life offers them nothing else but, perhaps, a moment of glory. “Terrorists kill for the same reasons that groups have killed for centuries,” says Prof. McCauley: “For cause and for comrades. We all know we are going to die. Every normal person believes in something more important than life.”

    Suicide terrorism is as old as the Zealots, who 2,000 years ago mounted suicide attacks in Roman-occupied Judea, and as new as human bombs in the West Bank. It may reflect a deep-rooted survival mechanism that allows us to act “in otherwise paralyzing circumstances,” suggests Prof. Atran in the journal Science. As researchers probe the genesis of suicide terrorists, it’s clear that it will be some time before we disprove Dostoevsky’s sad observation: “While nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer, nothing is more difficult than to understand him.”

  • Genesis of Suicide Terrorism by Scott Atran

    1. One person’s Terrorist is another person’s Freedom Fighter. It all depends on perspective.

      We rever the French Resistance from WWII, but let’s say the Nazis had won the war. Would the Resistance have gone down in history as a Terrorist group?

      Just a thought.

    2. it is a matter of perspective