Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Terror Psychology: The Mindset of a Jihadi. By Gina Loudon.

Terror Psychology: Mindset of a Jihadi. By Gina Loudon. WND, November 15, 2015.


The attacks in Paris changed the game of terror because ISIS has proven its ability to recruit from local populations to achieve its goals. No longer can a country stay safe by careful scanning of foreign entries. Social media and mass communication have changed all of that. Today, American mothers are shocked to learn that their wayward child has joined ISIS. But who is at risk, and what is the psychology of the recruiting process?

Surprisingly, the Black Lives Matter group, and college protests of everything from 9/11 celebrations to safe spaces, lend some precious insight to the vulnerable. These seemingly hapless acts of those with underdeveloped brains on college campuses illuminate a truth that is well documented in research on terror. The psychology of such tribalistic activities parallels the tribal behavior that Islam uses to recruit, and it thrives for two simple reasons – collectivism and globalism.

No newscaster will admit this, but research proves it out.

Experts offer a number of answers, including that terrorists prey on those who feel disenfranchised, who see themselves as victims or who have the desire to take action and believe in violence.

One thing is certain: For terrorism to have impact, terrorists must find a regular supply of recruits.

Jerrold M. Post of George Washington University suggests Islam, like communism, uses collectivism to convince victims to sacrifice.

He said the recipe for terror includes a combination of the following: 
·         a strong sense of victimization,
·         fear of group extinction,
·         a feeling of a higher moral condition than the lives of the enemy, and lack of political power to make the wanted change.
“Being part of a collectivist cause has always been a hallmark of people willing to undergo personal sacrifices,” said Arie Kruglanski, co-director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, or START.

Kruglanski surveyed thousands of Arabs and people from other cultures, and he found that those most likely to support terrorist activities against Americans are indeed those with the strongest collectivist mentality. Kruglanski said the findings suggest that joining terrorist groups may confer a sense of security and meaning that people do not feel as individuals.

Georgetown University’s Fathali Moghaddam suggests globalism and a fear of cultural annihilation has also contributed to the terrorist mentality.

He writes that globalization has forced on many cultures a large-scale neurotic drive to survive. Moghaddam says Islamic terror is a reaction to the fear that the fundamentalist Islamic way of life is under attack.

Moghaddam’s explanation seems to excuse Islam’s use of terror and implies that they are defending themselves and only trying to survive. Perhaps Moghaddam should research the Quran’s teachings on violence and jihad.

Kruganski and others have come up with ideas on how to convince terrorists that they should not use violence.

They are exploring the use of tactics like using moderate Muslim clerics to teach imprisoned detainees about the Quran’s “true teachings” on violence and jihad.

They also suggested showing concern for the families for terror detainees such as funding their children’s education or offering professional training for their wives.

A while back I spoke to my co-author, clinical psychologist Dr. Dathan Paterno, about these ideas.

Dr. Paterno said, “The idea of paying the education costs of terrorists’ children as some sort of ‘peace’ offering is not only upsetting, it is laughable on its face. … Every bully knows he is winning when he extracts more loot from his victim. It isn’t until the victim punches back – squarely and repetitively – that he gains some respect from the bully. The same is true for Islamic terrorists. Peace is non-negotiable. We need to hit back hard each time, and make them feel it. Until they hurt more critically and more consistently than we do, they will never stop.”

Paterno pushes the point further.

“If we are to follow Kruglanski’s idea and teach the truth of Islam’s teaching on jihad and violence, we would certainly open a few eyes, because violence against ‘infidels’ is advised hundreds of times in the Quran. Those probably are faulty assumptions on the part of the professor, however well-intended.”

Aside from the mindset, there are several personality factors that contribute to terrorism.

Sarah Kershaw in the New York Times cites Ervin Staub from the University of Massachusetts, who says there are three things that lead to terrorist expansion and the way it flourishes today:
Idealists – They support the terror based upon their own ability to identify with the suffering of some group that they are not even a part of. This can be misplaced.

Respondents – They support terror based upon personal experience as a member of a group being defended by a terrorist reportedly acting on the behalf of that persecuted group.

Lost souls – They are adrift, isolated and often ostracized. They can find a sense of purpose in a radical group, so they are “ripe for the picking.”
Kershaw cites another psychologist, Clark McCauley of Bryn Mawr College, who names four basic trajectories of a terrorist:
Revolutionaries – They are involved in a cause over time.

Wanderers – They move from extremist group to extremist group, searching for a sense of purpose.

Converts – They suddenly break with their past and become a part of an extremist movement.

Compliants – They convert to the group via persuasion by a friend, a relative or a romantic interest.
According to the New York Times article by Kershaw, experts weed out the mentally unstable, meaning the truly insane (such as paranoid schizophrenia in the case of Ted Kaczynski, the “Unibomber”). Some contend that actual, clinical insanity is not a leading indicator of susceptibility to follow a terror group, nor is it a credible defense after a terrorist crime in most cases. Further, she says, terrorist leaders prefer to select those of highest status for their suicide missions, since they believe sending those with more to lose lends credibility to their mission.

Other professionals disagree with the opinion that Muslims are fundamentally insane. They argue that the Islamic acceptance of rape, the training of children to kill and the severe oppression, even mutilation and killing of women is not the product of a sane culture. They say the claims of a mental imbalance is little more than an excuse to literally get away with more murder.

Psychologist Nicolai Sennals said: “As a psychologist in a Danish youth prison, I had a unique chance to study the mentality of Muslims. Seventy percent of youth offenders in Denmark have a Muslim background. I was able to compare them with non-Muslim clients from the same age group with more or less the same social background. I came to the conclusion that Islam and Muslim culture have certain psychological mechanisms that harm people’s development and increase criminal behavior.”

He said the typical ways the U.S. deals with crime, politics and punishment is a glaring antithesis to what is really needed to stop the war Islamic terror exacted upon the West.

“Far too many people underestimate the power of psychology embedded in religion and culture,” he said. “As we have already seen, no army of social workers, generous welfare states, sweet-talking politicians, politically correct journalists or democracy-promoting soldiers can stop these enormous forces. Sensible laws on immigration and Islamization in our own countries can limit the amount of suffering, but based on my education and professional experience as a psychologist for Muslims, I estimate that we will not be able to deflect or avoid this many-sided, aggressive movement against our culture.”

But disagreement still abounds among mental health professionals around the world. Solutions evade professionals because of cultural, religious and political differences that appear to culminate in the perfect storm of confusion on the matter, even for the most highly trained psychoanalysts in the world.

More and more the trend is to point to the dangerous occupation of Islam and the West’s stubborn refusal to look squarely at the problem and call it what it is – strictly an Islamic problem. Some analysts say until that first step is accomplished, they are pessimistic that true solutions can be found to curb the violence that will likely affect generations to come.

ISIS Finally Comes After the Jews. By Shmuley Boteach.

No Holds Barred: IS finally comes after the Jews. By Shmuley Boteach. Jerusalem Post, December 28, 2015.


IS is a group of creatures who through their brutality have erased the image of God from their countenance and no longer resemble anything human.

The Kurds have essentially been the only group doing anything to battle Islamic State on the ground and save Yazidi men, women and children from enslavement and death.

For the past few years, the West thought they could ignore this “contained” holocaust that’s been raging in Syria and Iraq.

In recent months, Islamic State (IS) blew up a Russian passenger jet, France saw the slaughter of its citizens in the streets of Paris, and the US experienced a massacre of 14 people in sunny California. These acts add to the growing list of IS-inspired attacks and attempted attacks that have caused the Western world to open its eyes to the evil proliferating across the globe.

And now, finally a number of willing nations have stepped up the war against IS, with not the US but Russia leading the way, and the IS is suddenly finding itself on the ropes, with territory being lost and fighters losing courage.

Something I have found so surprising throughout all these events is how IS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi have hardly made even the smallest mention of Israel or the Jews. I was waiting for that inevitable day when IS would declare its intentions to destroy Israel and commit genocide against the Jewish people.

It’s kind of a coming of age, a rite of passage for a terrorist group when the day comes that they announce their intentions to wipe out the Israelites. But the weeks and months passed and we heard not a peep.

I was not alone in noticing this. For the past few years a favorite rumor among conspiracy theorists and haters of Israel alike has been that IS is actually a Mossad organization, and Baghdadi is in reality a Jew.

Why else have they not done anything to harm the Jews? After all, no one can deny that, barring immediate existential threats, the Jews pretty much always receive the top honors on the genocide wish lists of terrorist organizations.

And now suddenly this last Saturday, after IS had finally taken a real beating from Western forces and air strikes, Baghdadi released a message to his demoralized fighters in which he declares, “We are getting closer to you [Israel] day by day. Do not think that we have forgotten about you.”

Baghdadi continues, “God caused the Jews of the world to gather in Israel, and the war against them has become easy. It is the obligation of every Muslim to carry out Jihad.” He added, “Jews, you will not enjoy Palestine. God has gathered you in Palestine so that the Mujahedeen can reach you soon and you will hide by the rock and the tree.

Palestine will be your graveyard.”

Baghdadi’s threats could have been a little more original, seeing as how Hezbollah’s head Hassan Nasrallah has also previously claimed that the Jews were gathered to Israel to make it easier to kill them all, and Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have referenced the same Hadith about the rocks and trees calling for Muslims to kill the Jews at the end of days.

Nonetheless, Baghdadi finally made the “kill the Jews” proclamation, and the timing is somewhat understandable. History has shown us that whenever the going gets tough for nations, blaming the Jews and promising to wipe them out has been an extremely effective technique for distracting the general population from its woes while uniting them behind a common cause. In 167 BCE, the Hellenized Syrians led by Antiochus Epiphanes realized their bloody campaign to conquer Egypt had failed. The Jews in Israel under Antiochus’ dominion were a perfect scapegoat to vent their frustrations on, and the persecutions began.

This put in motion the events that led to the rise of the Maccabees who soundly defeated the Syrians and declared independence for Judea.

Similarly the Nazis made good use of this technique in the wake of WWI. Hitler blamed the Jews for Germany’s defeat and claimed an international Jewish conspiracy was responsible for the suffering of the German people. This set the foundation for the rise of the Nazis, WWII and the Holocaust.

This scapegoating of the Jewish people by struggling leaders and nations has repeated itself over and over again in history. So now that Baghdadi has referenced the Jews, it’s likely that things must be getting tough for IS. Once you play the Jew card, you’re desperate for a scapegoat. And it seems to work every time. In fact, a recent article written by German reporter Jurgen Todenhofer who visited IS for 10 days claims that IS fears the Israeli army more than any other.

“They told me they know the Israeli army is too strong for them,” Todenhofer said.

“They think they can defeat US and UK ground troops, who they say they have no experience in city guerrilla or terrorist strategies.

But they know the Israelis are very tough as far as fighting against guerrillas and terrorists.”

Regardless of IS’s fear of starting a war with Israel, hatred of the Jews has been Baghdadi’s ace in the hole all along. He knows it is the one thing that all Islamic terrorist organizations the world over can agree upon and rally behind (not to mention all neo-Nazi and racial supremacist groups as well). The blood of an infidel may be nice, but the blood of a Jew, now that really gets terrorists excited. The IS leader must be getting desperate if he’s finally resorting to this time-honored technique.

TOO BAD for Baghdadi that he’s failed to learn from history. Sure, the outspoken hatred of the Jews can often times get someone into a position of power – as the Talmud itself teaches: “Whoever harasses the Jews will find followers who make him a leader.” But Baghdadi, and all the other haters of Israel, have failed to realize that every single one of those nations who persecuted and attempted genocide against the Jews, in the end faced calamity and destruction and are lost to the dustbin of history. And the Jews throughout it all have always managed to survive with each adversary they overcome, albeit with sacrifices far too numerous to justify the victorious outcome.

It has often been said that IS is a group of people who want to take the world back to the dark ages. I disagree. IS is a group of creatures who through their brutality have erased the image of God from their countenance and no longer resemble anything human. And the West needs to understand that an international ground troops coalition against them is a non-negotiable necessity before this disgusting cancer metastasizes and more innocent people die in the most gruesome way.

The End of the Arab Spring Dream. By Sohrab Ahmari.

The End of the Arab Spring Dream. By Sohrab Ahmari. Wall Street Journal, December 16, 2015.

Lowering the bar for Arab Israelis. By Ilan Manor. Jerusalem Post, December 28, 2015.

Opinion Jounal: Still Dreaming of the Arab Spring. Sohrab Ahmari interviewed by Mary Kissel. Video. Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2015.

Death of the Arab Spring Revisited with Sohrab Ahmari. Interviewed by Philippe Assouline. The Lip TV, December 29, 2015. YouTube.


Disorganized urban liberalism couldn’t compete with the politics of tribe—or Islamism.

Thursday marks a bitter anniversary in the Arab world. On Dec. 17, 2010, a Tunisian fruit vendor named  Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire after the authorities confiscated his goods and beat him. The incident sparked an uprising that within weeks would topple Tunisia’s venal autocracy. Protests spread to Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria. Despots from Morocco to Mesopotamia felt the heat of popular anger. Many couldn’t withstand it.

Yet today the Middle East is less stable, and less hopeful, than it was before the Arab Spring. Five years ago, the denim-clad, smartphone-wielding Arab liberal became the region’s avatar. Now the knife-wielding jihadist and the refugee have risen to prominence instead.

Each Arab Spring country is unhappy in its own way. Tunisia is the only success story among the bunch, having adopted a secular constitution and completed several peaceful power transfers. As Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s moderate Islamic Ennahda party, recently told me, “We’ve remained on the bridge of democratic transition while others have fallen off.” True, but the birthplace of the Arab Spring is also the world’s top exporter of fighters for Islamic State, or ISIS.

The situation in Egypt is similarly mixed. The country is once more ruled by the officer corps and back to its prerevolutionary funk: repressive and paranoid, yes, but also stable and on the path of economic reform.

Things are far worse in Yemen and Libya, which have ceased to exist as unified states. Yemen has disintegrated into its sectarian constituent parts, forcing neighboring Sunni powers led by Saudi Arabia to intervene militarily to prevent the Iranian regime from turning the country into a Shiite satellite. Libya is a lawless playground of smugglers and ISIS. Then there is Syria, with its barrel bombs, 250,000 dead, and four million refugees.

At the height of the movement, I edited an anthology of essays by young Middle East dissidents. The essayists described an Arab world where men and women were equal, blasphemous cartoonists were tolerated and gay people could live openly, among other fantasies. The book’s now-cringe-inducing title: “Arab Spring Dreams.”

How did dreams turn into nightmares? The standard account has it that by crushing or co-opting opponents, secular autocrats like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak empowered Islamist outfits that were the only remaining channel for dissent. Once the dictators fell, the liberals were quickly sidelined as Islamists and remnants of the old order battled for dominance.

It’s a theory riddled with contradictions. For one thing, it underestimates political Islam. As early as the 19th century, Islamist intellectuals had called for restoring Islam’s lost glory and expelling Western pollutants. To say that the movement’s grip on the region is a reaction against secular dictatorship is to deny Islamists’ agency and inherent ideological drive.

Secular Arab nationalism had already exhausted its energies by the time Mr. Mubarak and colleagues were overthrown. But as the rise of ISIS shows, Islamism represents a longer historical wave only beginning to crest. Many in the West imagined removing the dictators would also diminish Islamism’s attraction. Events didn’t pan out that way.

Nor could Arab liberals forge a third way. The “Revolution 2.0” model of leaderless, social-media-driven protest was effective against unpopular regimes. But it proved insufficient for winning power, and the liberals failed to articulate a coherent ideological alternative with broad appeal. Had they spent half as much time learning from Israel how to plant democracy in Middle East soil as they did demonizing the Jewish state, today the liberals might be in a better position.

The biggest Western misstep was to treat the quest for freedom as somehow separate from the contest for geopolitical mastery. In Egypt, the Obama administration was likely powerless to prevent the pro-Western Mr. Mubarak’s downfall, but the White House in the subsequent months did little to shape the outcome of the revolution. Washington favored all actors equally, as though Egypt were Luxembourg and the Muslim Brotherhood just another center-right party.

In Libya, the U.S. removed Moammar Gadhafi under a legal abstraction—the responsibility to protect—then swiftly abandoned a country with few viable institutions to its tribal furies. In Syria, President Obama declared that Bashar Assad “must go,” and then watched impassively as the Iran-backed tyrant continued to kill and gas his own people, triggering a refugee crisis that has overwhelmed Europe.

The slaughter has continued for nearly five years. In the long term, the most perilous consequence isn’t the birth of a terror state stretching across Syria and spilling into Iraq but the destruction of U.S. credibility. The Arabs know you can’t impose order without being present and engaged in their world.

As for ordered liberty, five years after Mohamed Bouazizi self-immolated, the freest Arabs still are those who are citizens of Israel. Millions fleeing other parts of the region are rendering their own judgment about the state of Arab civilization. The intellectuals and activists don’t dare imagine another uprising because they know that, given an opening, large numbers of Arabs will demand Shariah law, repression of women, and ethnic and sectarian revenge.

Perhaps that’s an unfair judgment, but it follows from a political culture that prizes honor, tribe and piety above reason and compromise. Viewed in that light, it isn’t just the years since the Arab Spring that the region has wasted, but the whole century since it was freed from the Ottoman yoke.