Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Sunday, June 23, 2002
Bloggers Armed Liberal, Andrew Northrup, and Brian O'Connell have all written positively on my post concerning suicide bombings.

This had the pleasant effect of driving my traffic way beyond normal weekend levels. I'll admit it: I'm a shameless whore for hits and I watch my counter about twice as closely as Othello ever watched Desdemona.

Armed Liberal's earlier response to Max Sawicky is part of pretty much the same conversation and especially interesting. In it, he points out that in reading the Times article that started this discussion, Instapundit's comparison of suicide bombing and the culture that spawns it to a cult can be taken quite literally. This is so true that I'm amazed I didn't notice it until it was pointed out to me.

Like Armed Liberal, I came of age in California in an era when cults were everywhere. In my case, I actually joined one. I was personally involved in training recruits to think and respond like proper cult members. So my expertise in this area is more than casual.

The girl who was the primary focus of the article is an absolutely textbook cult recruitment target: young, intelligent, idealistic, seemingly troubled relationships with her family, and vulnerable due to recent catastrophe in her life.

In this case, there doesn't seem to have been any elaborate indoctrination, and the would-be terrorist herself seems to have been fairly nominally religious. Her handler assumed that, unlike earlier and more dedicated terrorists, just her ethnic identity was enough for her to be willing to carry out the attack. The terror organizers, who originally felt it required months of ritual and preparation to persuade intensely religious youths to give up their lives for the glory of killing and maiming random Jews, now feel no need for preparing a random adolescent like Arien Ahmed. Like other Palestinians, she has been surrounded for the past year with images glorifying 'martyrs' on television, street posters, in mosques. So the Palestinian culture in itself was enough of an indoctrination for her to turn to terrorism at a crisis point in her life. It was very much the same way some one in similar circumstances in another social environment might turn to prayer or intoxicants.

It used to take months of training to prepare a Palestinian terrorist from the West Bank or Gaza Strip to commit suicide in the course of killing Israelis. The attackers were strictly from the fundamentalist Hamas and Islamic Jihad, envisioning a covey of virgins and automatic passes to paradise for loved ones left behind.

But the who, why and how of Palestinian suicide bombing have changed, and the changes alarm not only Israelis but also Palestinians concerned for the impact on their own society. Palestinian militants and Israeli experts warn that the changes could reverberate overseas, should the target list in this metastasizing conflict continue to grow....

The range of recruits to suicide missions continues to broaden in often bewildering ways. This week, Israel's forces arrested a 12-year-old Palestinian boy its intelligence had identified as planning an attack.

Dr. Iyad Sarraj, a Palestinian psychiatrist in Gaza City, has watched the trend toward suicide bombing with growing alarm. He said that having grown up with the idea of suicide attacks, Palestinian children were equating death with power.

There are still limits. In this case, two young Palestinians were sent out for terror attacks. According to the survivor, neither wanted to carry them out. One did, killing two Israelis and himself. The other was caught and is now in prison. Had she been more carefully trained for her 'mission', she and several others would certainly be dead today. When she ultimately is released, she say she will have to live outside the Palestinian territories where she is now a pariah, apparently for valuing her own life and, even worse, the lives of Israelis.

The 'death cult' description here is very fitting and not at all a figure of speech or, as Max would have it, some sort of racial stereotype.