Proudly presenting the original English version of Jeffrey Gedmin's article in WELT "Islamismus - Was treibt Terroristen an?". Unfortunately, this posting was delayed because of a business trip that kept me from regular posting (as you have surely noticed...).
Islamism - What drives Terrorists?
Column in “Die Welt”, 30.08.2006
By Jeffrey Gedmin
Mohammed Siddique Kahn was happily married, the son of a foundry worker, who had immigrated to the United Kingdom from Pakistan. Kahn was born in Leeds, went to university, and spent most of his professional life helping children. At 8:50 on July 7, 2005 Kahn exploded himself and other passengers on the Circle Line train in London. It makes you wonder about that well-dressed 21-year-old Lebanese student in Kiel arrested in connection with a plot to blow up two trains in Germany this summer.
What motivates these Islamic terrorists? Iraq? In Canada earlier this summer authorities uncovered a plot by home-grown terrorists to attack the parliament and behead the prime minister. Canada was against the Iraq war. Is it George W. Bush? Islamic terrorists planned Sept 11th while Bill Clinton was in office. Even if Abraham Lincoln were in the White House, we’d still have Islamic terrorism says Max Hastings in the left-wing British Guardian. Is it all about America? Islamic terrorists murdered Greek and German tourists in Egypt in the mid.1990s. They kill Muslims in Indonesia today. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country and was also against the Iraq war.
Some keep repeating the nonsense that this is driven by poverty. But then the terrorists are often well-to-do. Africa is far poorer and produces little terrorism in contrast. Others repeat the nonsense that this is about Israel denying the Palestinians their state. But
Osama bin Laden’s rise took place in the 1990s, during the heady days of the Oslo peace process, when a Palestinian state looked attainable. And before anyone blames Islam, consider this: There are 1.4 billion Muslims in the world, the vast majority of whom does not apparently dream of jihad and mass murder.
The single most compelling analysis of Islamic terror I’ve seen can be found in a new book by Michael Gove, a former assistant editor of the London Times and now a young rising star in the British parliament (“Celsius 7/7”). Gove traces this scourge to the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in the 1920s. Already back then, Gove points out, the Brotherhood, wanted a New World Order based on submission to an intolerant, rigid concept of Islam. Hamas became the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood. In Iraq, the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr says his terrorist movement is the Iraqi version of Hamas and Hezbollah. Make no mistake: Islamic terrorism transcends Sunni-Shia divisions. Iran’s Shia leaders have harboured Al-Qaeda’s Sunni killers. They back Sunni terrorists among the Palestinians. They even forge tactical alliances with secular Arabs, like the gangsters who currently rule Syria.
Gove says Islamic terrorists are motivated by ideology. This is the case with 18-year-old Ahmad, the character in John Updike’s new novel, “Terrorist.” Ahmad goes to school, has friends, gets a job in a furniture store, and is obsessed the entire time with ideological purity and violence on behalf of his superior faith. When classmate Joryleen tries to get Ahmad to lighten up--“You should learn to smile more,” she tells him--Ahmad “pictures her smooth body … roasting in that vault of flames and being scorched into blisters.” The founders of the Muslim Brotherhood deplored individual freedom, pluralism, and the “animal-like” mixing of the sexes. Maybe, just maybe, we are starting to figure out what makes our Islamic terrorists tick.