What Creates a Terrorist?

Everyone wants to know why the two Boston killers did what they did. At the same time, we’re told (by our President and “Homeland Security” officials) that it has nothing to do with Islam, and we’re not really at war with Islam.

Imagine trying to understand the psychology of someone’s actions without reference to the ideas and thinking that gave rise to it. Imagine a psychological researcher seeking to understand that person telling him, ‘Tell me what you feel—but only the feelings I wish to hear.’

The ridiculous, anti-intellectual pretensions of our politically correct era impede the ability to understand. Our government ties its hands by refusing to look at objective facts.

Interestingly, a few years ago the New York City Police Department did publish a ‘white paper’ on the psychological process leading up to the decision to become a terrorist.

Based on study of terrorist profiles in five different terrorist plots, four phases were found to typically be involved in the creation of a terrorist.

The first phase is ‘pre-radicalization.’ In this phase, The majority of the individuals involved in these [terrorist] plots began as “unremarkable.” They had ordinary jobs, had lived ordinary lives and had little, if any, criminal history.

The second phase is ‘self-identification’ with Salifi Islam (the branch of Islam that calls for jihad, or ‘holy war” against non-believers). They begin to identify with this ideology and move away from people in their lives who did not agree. It’s typical of any cult membership. The defining nature of a cult is the attitude, ‘To those with faith, no reasoning is necessary; to those without faith, none is possible.’ Or put another way: ‘You just don’t get it.’

Cult members do not arrive at their conclusions via reason, logic, science or facts. They are vulnerable to cults only because they have given up on these things. Islam in particular is at war with reason and science, which explains its antipathy towards all things Western.

The third phase identified by researchers is ‘indoctrination.’ At this stage, individual identity and rational objectivity have been subordinated to the authority of the faith’s elders and leaders. ‘Truth’ is swallowed uncritically, because the whole psychological motivation at this point has nothing to do with objectivity or understanding; simply belonging.

The fourth and final phase is ‘jihadization.’ This is when the cultists decide to match faith and belief with action, and either plan their own terrorist events or participate in the planning with others.

The distinguishing feature of ‘jihadism’ is the belief that minds can and should only be changed through violence. Have you ever known a dictatorial boss or family member? Somebody who’s possibly violent, but absolutely uses fear as a motivator to get what he or she wants?

This is the belief of the jihadist. It’s a sense of entitlement, at the core. ‘My view is right.’ This certainty has nothing whatsoever to do with reason or logical proof; it’s simply true because ‘I feel it.’ And, more than that, ‘I’m entitled to have my truth accepted as true, by force.’

Most people tame their faith or feelings by stopping short of force. Most religious people or believers in other sorts of views or principles arrived at by something other than reason don’t seek to impose force on others. Like the jihadists, they do believe that faith in their perspective is the solution to all the world’s problems. They might even feel entitled to have their views imposed by force in limited ways, such as outlawing abortion or gay marriages; but they stop short of initiating violence.

The jihadists are different. They divorce themselves from objectivity and then they expect the rest of the world to go their way—or else.

Not everyone who enters the first stage of terrorist development, according to the study, ends up going through all four stages. But those who do are the ones who become the actual threats.

The study was based on personality profiles and studies of terrorist plotters after 9/11 and up to the time of the study (in 2007). Typically, terrorist plotters were male Muslims under the age of 35. They came from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, but embracing Islam was crucial to their development as terrorists. Interestingly, most came from middle-class or economically better backgrounds, and none were destitute.

These facts fly in the face of the prevalent fictions of our time: That Islam is not responsible for terrorism; that poverty causes crime, including terrorism, and if the United States were not so ‘mean’ to poorer countries there would not be the widespread resentment resulting in terrorism.

In actual fact, it’s the extent to which one embraces Islam unconditionally that one is more prone to become a terrorist. And it’s the relatively well-off who are attracted to terrorism, not the poor.

You won’t hear any of these points coming across from our federal government, and certainly not from our current President.

Finally, the study notes:

“In some cases, a personal or external crisis precipitated this process. While a variety of triggers may have served as the catalyst, ultimately the individual was alienated from his former life and affiliated with like-minded individuals, who via small group dynamics strengthened his dedication to Salafi Islam.”

Faith over reason; group membership over individual identity; and blind obedience to authority. No matter what form these qualities take—and no matter what the specifics—they are always destructive. Those are the real root causes of terrorism, in Boston and elsewhere.

If we truly want to defeat terrorism, we must advance the opposite principles: Individualism, science, economic growth and the continued liberation of humanity from poverty and stagnation. Specifically, we need: A new inventive era, a resurgence of free minds and free markets, and — most of all — a moral backbone expressing pride in the best of the human spirit America historically embodied.

Instead of appeasing Islam or pretending it’s not at war with all we cherish, we should pay attention to the details of this study—and shamelessly condemn Islam, at the core, for the mindless, suicidal sadism it actually is.

Source: City of New York Police Department: “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat” prepared by NYPD Intelligence Division, 2007.


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