Saturday, March 1, 2008

Why religion is the cause of religious terrorism

"[According to former CIA officer Marc Sageman. ] the first wave of Al-Qaeda leaders, who joined Osama bin Laden in the 1980s, is now down to a few dozen people on the run in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan. The second wave of terrorists, who trained in Al-Qaeda's camps in Afghanistan during the 1990s, has also been devastated, with about 100 hiding out on the Pakistani frontier. These people are genuinely dangerous, says Sageman, and they must be captured or killed. But they do not pose an existential threat to America, much less have the power to provoke a "clash of civilizations."
It's the third wave of terrorism that is growing, but what is it? By Sageman's account, it's a leaderless hodgepodge of thousands of what he calls "terrorist wannabes." Unlike the first two waves, who were well-educated and intensely religious, the new jihadists are a weird species of the Internet culture. Outraged by video images of Americans killing Muslims in Iraq, they gather in password-protected chat rooms and dare each other to take action. Like young people across time and religious boundaries, they are bored and looking for action.
"It's more about hero worship than about religion," Sageman said in a presentation of his research last week at the New America Foundation, a liberal think tank in Washington. Many of this third wave don't speak Arabic or read the Koran. Very few (13 percent of Sageman's samples) have attended radical religious schools. Nearly all join the movement because they know or are related to someone who's already in it. Those detained on terrorism charges are getting younger: In Sageman's 2003 sample, the average age was 26; among those arrested after 2006, it was down to about 20. They are disaffected, homicidal kids - closer to urban gang members than to motivated Muslim fanatics."

David Ignatius, Daily Star (Lebanon), February 28, 2008
Ever since 9. September 2001, there has been people from all sorts of backgrounds who have tried to state again and again and again that religion has nothing to do with terror. For a large part, this is pure revisionism based upon unwillingness to face the truth that religions carry a lot of unhealthy ideas.
With the same logic, WW2 didn't happen because of Nazi ideology, but because of the Versailles treaty. No-one would doubt that the Versailles treaty had an effect, but you would have to be retarded to say that National-Socialism had nothing to do with it. But let's move from WW2 to present day neo-nazism. It is of course a bleak shadow of the heyday of NS-DAP. Hitler is their hero, and that's about it. A lot of the racist attacks on immigrants etc. happen because the racist is an uneducated, unemployed drunkard. But he is also a fan of Hitler, and Nazi ideology offer the framework where attacking immigrants on the street is OK. The SA would have done it like they do, and the SS would have been more thorough.
That's what the afore mentioned revisionists don't see, that while the jihadi theology may be a poor excuse, it is still a theology. They have simply distilled certain values from traditional Islam. (And if Islam was a really peaceful religion, as is often claimed, then this would be impossible.) The fact that the majority of Muslims may have a different view doesn't matter, because the majority of Christians had a different view than Martin Luther when he begun his work too. All religious reformers start off at the fringes.

I think Marc Sageman is onto something when using three categories of terrorists, like above. The London bombings was a copycat crime by fans. No doubt about that. And they're probably not very well edumecated in Islam either. But their faith provided a framework for the act, and Islam provided a framework for jihadi interpretation.

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