Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Palestinian Despair, Pakistani Thrills, and Iranian Ecstacy

In what has since become typical of the media description of the Palestinian Arab suicide bomblers, Julie McCarthy's report included the following for NPR in October 2004:
McCARTHY: ...Glorifying death, according to psychiatrist Iyad Sarraj, has been one of the most damaging effects of the intifada. The doctor and human rights advocate says that the psychology of the people has changed with many younger Palestinians instinctively prepared to sacrifice their lives.

Dr. IYAD SARRAJ (Psychiatrist): The suicide bombing in one word is defying defeat. And the principle behind it is that it is better to die in dignity rather than to live in humiliation and shame.

...Mr. MAHMOUD AJRAMI (Palestinian Diplomat): If a settlement were offered to the Palestinians, we will isolate that tendency. Give us a settlement, a real just compromise, you know, and all these radicals will be isolated in the corner and they will diminish.
While the media excuses, if not glorifies, suicide bombers purely as a reaction and result of Israeli aggression, reports such as "Will the Next Generation of Palestinians Make Peace with Israel?" discuss the active and deliberate educating and training of children by Palestinian Arabs to become suicide bombers.

But if--according to the media--it is the Palestinian hatred and despair aimed at Israel that is creating suicide bombers, what is going on in Pakistan?--
In Pakistan, compelled to join a U.S.-led global war on terrorism after al Qaeda's Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the United States, anger has risen over what many see as an attempt by the West to suppress Muslims around the world.

But that is only part of the story. Pakistan is also locked in a long struggle with its own demons, particularly sectarian violence that has killed thousands.

Three weeks ago, a suicide bomber killed at least 57 people at a prayer meeting in Karachi celebrating the birth of the Prophet Mohammad. [emphasis added]
As a result...video sales are brisk, with titles such as "Slaughter of Americans in Iraq", "Slaughter of Traitors in Afghanistan" and "Taliban Celebrations" being very popular. The article describes one video seller who didn't have the latest best-sellers and had to compensate:
"This one is about the activities of mujahideen in Waziristan and Afghanistan," the seller said.

Dated in December, and supposedly shot in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, it had footage of hangings ordered by influential militant clerics.

The bodies of the hanged men, described as criminals and bandits, were then dragged through the streets by pick-up trucks, in a grisly demonstration of rough justice in an area where the civil administration has, according to tribesmen, collapsed.

...For less than a dollar apiece, some VCDs glorify the exploits of al Qaeda and Taliban fighters, promise 72 heavenly virgins for prospective suicide bombers and prescribe beheadings for informers.
According to the Religion of Peace website that tracks Islamist terrorist attacks, there were 70 terrorist attacks in Pakistan during the first 4 months of this year, resulting in 295 deaths and 401 injured. Among the attacks:
  • 12 people are blown to bits when terrorists bomb a passenger bus. (2/05/06)
  • At least 26 people are killed when a radical Muslim cleric incites his followers to attack resettled Afghan families. (3/28/06)
  • 28 people traveling to a wedding party are blown to bits by a terrorist landmine. Another two die of injuries overnight. (3/10/06)
  • Some 31 Shiites are blown to bits while celebrating a religious holiday by a suicidal Sunni extremist. The dead include women and children. (2/9/06)
  • 55 people attending a religious gathering in a city park are blown apart by two suicide bombers. Some seventy others are injured. (4/11/06)
Anger at the West hardly explains those terrorist attacks--and suicide bombings--carried out by Moslem against Moslem. Nor does it explain the lack of Moslem outcry against those sorts of attacks by Moslems both in Pakistan and in other countries, such as Darfur. And it does not explain their fascination with videos of brutal murders and beheadings. It does, though, parallel the similar fascination that Palestinian Arabs have for terrorist attacks and for inculcating those values that lead to it.

Those same values were evident in Iran during its war with Iraq, when children as young as 12 years old walked together en masse to clear minefields. Later, to keep their remains together, they were given a blanket and would roll over the minefield. In "Ahmadinejad's Demons" Matthias Küntzel writes:
These children who rolled to their deaths were part of the Basiji, a mass movement created by Khomeini in 1979 and militarized after the war started in order to supplement his beleaguered army.The Basij Mostazafan--or "mobilization of the oppressed"--was essentially a volunteer militia, most of whose members were not yet 18. They went enthusiastically, and by the thousands, to their own destruction. "The young men cleared the mines with their own bodies," one veteran of the Iran-Iraq War recalled in 2002 to the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine. "It was sometimes like a race. Even without the commander's orders, everyone wanted to be first."

The sacrifice of the Basiji was ghastly. And yet, today, it is a source not of national shame, but of growing pride.
Ahmadinejad is a member of this group, whose philosophy predominates:
As Basij ideology and influence enjoy a renaissance under Ahmadinejad, the movement's belief in the virtues of violent self-sacrifice remains intact. There is no "truth commission" in Iran to investigate the state-planned collective suicide that took place from 1980 to 1988. Instead, every Iranian is taught the virtues of martyrdom from childhood. [emphasis added]
Add to this the Shia tradition that true Islamic rule requires the return of the Twelfth Imam, descended from Mohammed--and Ahmadinejad's interest in accelerating that return.

Küntzel concludes:
A politics pursued in alliance with a supernatural force is necessarily unpredictable. Why should an Iranian president engage in pragmatic politics when his assumption is that, in three or four years, the savior will appear? If the messiah is coming, why compromise? That is why, up to now, Ahmadinejad has pursued confrontational policies with evident pleasure...And the Basiji who once upon a time wandered the desert armed only with a walking stick is today working as a chemist in a uranium enrichment facility.
This Islamist fascination with death cannot be blamed on the West--or on Israel--but they will have to deal with it nonetheless.

Crossposted at Israpundit

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The suicide bombing in one word is defying defeat.

That's two words.

joe said...

Suicide bombing is the result of fanaticism. Eric Hoffer wrote a book in the 1960s called, "The True Believer." He discussed the psychology of fanatism. For the fanatic, the belief is secondary to the fanaticism itself. Thus fanatics move from the far left to the far right to cult like religions. Hoffer didn't offer new insights, he took his stuff from earlier psychologists, but the concept is still appropriate. Suicide bombers are mostly young kids, easily influenced,who become fanatics. The thought process is exactly like the kids who join the Hare Krishna movement or who followed David Koresh. The have what should be, and I think is, a DSM described condition. It has nothing to do with their economic situation.

Joe