Advice Goddess Blog
« Previous | Home | Next »

Lack Of Civilization And Its Discontents
Why do suicide bombers do it? (Actually, either "homicide bombers" or simply "mass murderers" is more correct.) A French filmmaker named Pierre Reh0v interviewed their families for a film called "Suicide Bombers," and has a few ideas on the topic. Here's an excerpt from an interview with Rehov on MSNBC's "Connected":

What insights did you gain from making this film? What do you know that other experts do not know?

I came to the conclusion that we are facing a neurosis at the level of an entire civilization. Most neuroses have in common a dramatic event, generally linked to an unacceptable sexual behavior. In this case, we are talking of kids living all their lives in pure frustration, with no opportunity to experience sex, love, tenderness or even understanding from the opposite sex. The separation between men and women in Islam is absolute. So is contempt toward women, who are totally dominated by men. This leads to a situation of pure anxiety, in which normal behavior is not possible. It is no coincidence that suicide killers are mostly young men dominated subconsciously by an overwhelming libido that they not only cannot satisfy but are afraid of, as if it is the work of the devil. Since Islam describes heaven as a place where everything on earth will finally be allowed, and promises 72 virgins to those frustrated kids, killing others and killing themselves to reach this redemption becomes their only solution.

What was it like to interview would-be suicide bombers, their families and survivors of suicide bombings?

It was a fascinating and a terrifying experience. You are dealing with seemingly normal people with very nice manners who have their own logic, which to a certain extent can make sense since they are so convinced that what they say is true. It is like dealing with pure craziness, like interviewing people in an asylum, since what they say, is for them, the absolute truth. I hear a mother saying "Thank God, my son is dead." Her son had became a shaheed, a martyr, which for her was a greater source of pride than if he had became an engineer, a doctor or a winner of the Nobel Prize. This system of values works completely backwards since their interpretation of Islam worships death much more than life. You are facing people whose only dream, only achievement is to fulfill what they believe to be their destiny, namely to be a shaheed or the family of a shaheed.

They don't see the innocent being killed, they only see the impure that they have to destroy.

You say suicide bombers experience a moment of absolute power, beyond punishment. Is death the ultimate power?

Not death as an end, but death as a door open to the after life. They are seeking the reward that God has promised them. They work for God, the ultimate authority, above all human laws. They therefore experience this single delusional second of absolute power, where nothing bad can ever happen to them, since they become God's sword.

...Is there a suicide bomber personality profile? Describe the psychopathology.

Generally kids between 15 and 25 bearing a lot of complexes, generally inferiority complexes. They must have been fed with religion. They usually have a lack of developed personality. Usually they are impressionable idealists. In the western world they would easily have become drug addicts, but not criminals. Interestingly, they are not criminals since they don't see good and evil the same way that we do. If they had been raised in an Occidental culture, they would have hated violence. But they constantly battle against their own death anxiety. The only solution to this deep-seated pathology is to be willing to die and be rewarded in the after life in Paradise.

Describe the culture that manufactures suicide bombers.

Oppression, lack of freedom, brain washing, organized poverty, placing God in charge of daily life, total separation between men and women, forbidding sex, giving women no power whatsoever, and placing men in charge of family honor, which is mainly connected to their women's behavior.

...Why are so many suicide bombers young men?

As discussed above , libido is paramount. Also ego, because this is a sure way to become a hero. The shaheeds are the cowboys or the firemen of Islam. Shaheed is a positively reinforced value in this culture. And what kid has never dreamed of becoming a cowboy or a fireman?

...You say that a suicide bomber is a 'stupid bomb and a smart bomb' simultaneously. Explain what you mean.

Unlike an electronic device, a suicide killer has until the last second the capacity to change his mind. In reality, he is nothing but a platform representing interests which are not his, but he doesn't know it.

How can we put an end to the madness of suicide bombings and terrorism in general?

Stop being politically correct and stop believing that this culture is a victim of ours. Radical Islamism today is nothing but a new form of Nazism. Nobody was trying to justify or excuse Hitler in the 1930s. We had to defeat him in order to make peace one day with the German people.

Posted by aalkon at November 28, 2006 11:45 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.advicegoddess.com/mt4/mt-tb.cgi/1876

Comments

I like the insight, but I wish this guy would qualify his statements a little better.

He writes:

The separation between men and women in Islam is absolute. So is contempt toward women, who are totally dominated by men.

This may be true in fundamentalist Islam, but let's not forget, Turkey, a Muslim nation, has female elected officials. And these elected officials are actually not allowed to wear hijabs (a headscarf covering the entire face except for the eyes).

He writes

Since Islam describes heaven as a place where everything on earth will finally be allowed, and promises 72 virgins to those frustrated kids, killing others and killing themselves to reach this redemption becomes their only solution.

This is not a teaching of Islam. Search the Qu'ran high and low; you won't find it. This is a teaching of certain corrupt imams (incorrectly called "clerics;" Islam has no ordained clergy.)

Still, the insight into suicide bombers was fascinating. They just want to get laid. Who'd have thought? I only wish he didn't mar his brilliant insights with such obvious, innaccurate generalizations.

Posted by: Patrick at November 28, 2006 1:47 AM

"Homicide Bomber" is not more correct. It's redundant. The word "bomber" pretty much implies that you're trying to kill someone, as opposed to a friendly demolition engineer. "Suicide" is merely a modifier indicating that the bomber intends to be killed as well. It has a specific meaning. If you feel that the word "suicide" somehow imparts a sense of underved dignity or selflessness then you should just say "bomber." I agree that there is nothing dignified, selfless, or noble about suicide bombers; I would just rather make the argument using clear language rather than using Rovian labeling tactics. "Homicide Bombers" always makes me cringe.

Otherwise, of course, you are an excellent, excellent writer. Sorry to raise my voice...

Posted by: Jon Tyken at November 28, 2006 2:56 AM

To say they just want to get laid is simplification. Theses cultures maintain structure by keeping people disconnected in fundamental ways.

There's much to loathe about mid- to late-20th pop culture in the west, especially if you're not white and middle class. Still, when the number of media choices was very small but all the consumers had money that could be extracted from them, it meant we were on the same (Godless) page.

Here are a hundred stupidities:

http://tinyurl.com/ymumdg

The list is grotesque. But if you could speak that language in postwar America, you could go to lunch at work in the most blessed markets in the world and probably talk to people in a fundamentally sociable way. Maybe you wouldn't thrive, but you had a shot at flirting with the receptionist.

Tastes are fragmented now. Michael Jackson holds the record (1084) at 37 million records sold (or it's the Eagles, I forget). 107 million(!) people watched Julie Andrews as Cinderella on B&W television in 1957. Those days are gone. So many people are never going to care about the dramas of so few again. The biggest figures in the world are figures of derision, like Bush.

This might hurt us. I still fantasize than an infusion of vulgar, colorful pop could anesthetize the Middle East so that civilization could pull its booty from their souls without violence.

It worked on me in the Middle West.

Posted by: Crid at November 28, 2006 4:31 AM

Of course that was supposed to be 1984, not 1084. Only the bass lines were medieval...

Posted by: Crid at November 28, 2006 4:33 AM

John, I like the "homicide" or "mass murder" because it puts the emphasis on the fact that it's not just about offing themselves.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 28, 2006 5:31 AM

> rather make the argument using
> clear language rather than using
> Rovian labeling

People have been tweaking language for minute shades of emotional expression forever. Your high school english teacher isn't running the planet. But I'm certain she agrees with you about Republican advisers.

Rove Rove Rove! Snork snork!

Rove!

Treacher was right; you're *still* obsessed...

Rove!

Posted by: crid at November 28, 2006 5:51 AM

"Of course that was supposed to be 1984, not 1084. Only the bass lines were medieval..."

Lends a whole new connotation to the Cantus Firmus, there.

Posted by: Melissa at November 28, 2006 6:32 AM

Crid, that list is fantastic. Resistance is futile.

Posted by: Hasan at November 28, 2006 6:59 AM

"Your high school english teacher isn't running the planet."

My high school English teachers were gods. Rosa Borenstein (9th grade), Marcie Waksman (10th grade), Miss Speilberg (11th grade), and John Browne (12th grade). Studs! Thank you for this love-hate relationship with language! Love always!


Posted by: Lena at November 28, 2006 7:24 AM

I just finished reading "The Attack" by Yasmina Khadra and it deals with this very subject. I found it extremely interesting, the whole subject boggles my mind.

This is what The New Yorker wrote about the book.

Dr. Amin Jaafari, an Israeli Arab, seems fully assimilated into Tel Aviv society, with a loving wife, a successful career as a surgeon, and numerous Jewish friends. But after a restaurant bombing kills nineteen people, and it becomes apparent that his wife was the bomber, he plunges into the world of Islamic extremism, trying to understand how he missed signs of her intentions. Khadra (the nom de plume of Mohammed Moulessehoul) vividly captures Jaafari's anguish and his anger at the fanatics who recruited his wife. The Israelis don't escape lightly, either, as their army marches over law-abiding Arab citizens in an attempt to stamp out the militants. Khadra's writing has a tendency toward cliché, but the book's dark vision of the conflict is powerful.

Posted by: ana at November 28, 2006 8:45 AM

Actually, he's jaw-droppingly incorrect when he says, "Nobody was trying to justify or excuse Hitler in the 1930s." In fact, there were lots of people trying to justify or excuse Hitler in the 1930's. If it were otherwise, Hitler would not have been able to go nearly as far as he did.

Posted by: Orac at November 28, 2006 10:21 AM

Sexual frustration is an interesting theory, but now I want to know what we can do about it to make this situation better. Women's lib in the middle east? How can a civilization and cultural be so fundamentally changed? It makes the situation seem pretty hopeless.

Posted by: Starfox5253 at November 28, 2006 11:31 AM

My thought is that our best hope is globalization, and I'm not just talking the spread of money and opportunity, but the spread of ideas that would accompany it -- freedom, democracy, etc.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 28, 2006 1:04 PM

Pop culture, I tell ya. Pop culture is the answer. Starfox is right. Al Jazeera just needs an Oprah:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WLoasfOLpQ

Posted by: Crid at November 28, 2006 1:21 PM

^Excellent link.

Posted by: Hasan at November 28, 2006 1:58 PM

You're right, Patrick - this point of view has to do with fundamentalist Islam, not Islam itself. And as with fundamentalists in various religions, including Christian fundamentalists, they twist, reinterpret and/or selectively focus on passages from their sacred texts to justify their own prejudices and agendas.

One quibble - a hijab does not cover the entire face except for the eyes - it just covers the hair and neck.

The problem I have with this analysis is that this French filmmaker clearly thinks with his penis, and thus interprets everything from that standpoint. It's probably more accurate to say that sex is this filmmaker's primary motivation for everything than to put that on suicide bombers.

Repressed libido may have something to do with some suicide bombers, but single-minded hatred taught from the womb, coupled with lack of opportunity and education, is probably more key than not getting any nookie.

Posted by: Melissa at November 28, 2006 2:26 PM

You're right, Patrick - this point of view has to do with fundamentalist Islam, not Islam itself. And as with fundamentalists in various religions, including Christian fundamentalists, they twist, reinterpret and/or selectively focus on passages from their sacred texts to justify their own prejudices and agendas.

One quibble - a hijab does not cover the entire face except for the eyes - it just covers the hair and neck.

The problem I have with this analysis is that this French filmmaker clearly thinks with his penis, and thus interprets everything from that standpoint. It's probably more accurate to say that sex is this filmmaker's primary motivation for everything than to put that on suicide bombers.

Repressed libido may have something to do with some suicide bombers, but single-minded hatred taught from the womb, coupled with lack of opportunity and education, is probably more key than not getting any nookie.

Posted by: Melissa at November 28, 2006 2:28 PM

> this French filmmaker clearly
> thinks with his penis, and thus
> interprets everything from that
> standpoint.

Cheaply reductive and willfully wrong. The early passage Amy quotes is "no opportunity to experience sex, love, tenderness or even understanding from the opposite sex." It's the American blog readers who are trying to turn that into 'they don't get laid,' as if a decades-long network of bonds and interactions could be made whole by an evening with a woman in a tube top at a drive-in.

Sagan or somebody once presented a biological factoid that went like this: Kids need either loving, comforting phyical contact as young children or sexual freedom as young adults. If one or the other doesn't happen, it still might turn out OK. But if a kid doesn't get either, all Hell's going to break loose.

Posted by: Crid at November 28, 2006 4:57 PM

Crid writes: "To say they just want to get laid is simplification."

Ummm... duh?

Apparently, irony is lost on Crid. I never cease to marvel at the quickness of his mind. Like a steel trap...rusted shut.

Posted by: Patrick at November 28, 2006 6:50 PM

Melissa writes: "One quibble - a hijab does not cover the entire face except for the eyes - it just covers the hair and neck."

You have no quibble. Get thee to a dictionary. Or to wikipedia. Your definition is wrong. Hijab refers to a number of garments that satisify the demands of hijab.

Posted by: Patrick at November 28, 2006 6:56 PM

Hi Patrick!

Posted by: Crid at November 28, 2006 7:05 PM

Some years ago I was reading up on various mind-control techniques because the Moonies, Hare Krishna, etc. were picking up "Christian" kids and programming them into worker 'bots.
Lack of proper nutrition is one of the ingredients of this foul brew.
"Modern" diet is a horror from the standpoint of what the human body evolved as feedstock.
Mass media were once feared as carriers of subliminal messages.
Watching Cartoon News Network or Fox doesn't qualify as education either. You have to get out and explore.
Keeping foreigners out means Americans have less opportunity for their conditioning to be challenged by personal observation. People aren't really much different regardless of background. They are loyal to their society and social group and suspicious of the unknown.
Keeping them as separate social cliques is really a no-brainer. Think "The Decider" promotes social skills ? Not so much.
The walled society is always a testimony to the power of fear. That reads as borders, not always just on the outside physical perimeter.

Posted by: opit at November 28, 2006 9:16 PM

>Stop being politically correct and stop
>believing that this culture is a victim of ours.
>Radical Islamism today is nothing but a new form
>of Nazism. Nobody was trying to justify or
>excuse Hitler in the 1930s. We had to defeat him
>in order to make peace one day with the German
>people.

I think this statement is the essence of what is going wrong today. Political correctness and tolerance towards the intolerant is what makes another worldwide war more likely, just like the appeasement of Hitler led directly to World War II. Tolerance should end exactly when it isn't returned by one of the involved parties on a regular basis.

Posted by: Rainer at November 29, 2006 4:59 AM

Dammit, another blog commenter is using my name! NO ONE should be able to do that!!!

Ok, it's probably her name, too. But still...!

I will now use a last initial to distinguish my own inane comments from her thoughtful posts. Everyone knew that wasn't me, right? I mean, I think with my penis all the time.

Posted by: Melissa G at November 29, 2006 7:21 AM

Read between the lines, fellow bloggers:

"Sexual frustration is an interesting theory, but now I want to know what we can do about it" [Starfox]

"our best hope is globalization, and I'm not just talking the spread of money and opportunity." [Alkon]

I'm talking about the spread of the legs. Male jihadists need to unzip their drawers and discover the long-lost explosives in there. Female jihadists need to strap on dildos, not bombs.

Strap on dildos, not bombs!

Posted by: Lena Cuisina, Our Lady of Perpetual Whoredom at November 29, 2006 7:55 AM

Melissa G, I'm a long-time friend of Amy's who has been posting comments for quite some time - sorry that your mom liked the same name, but adding an initial is a good way to distinguish us.

Patrick, right back atcha with "get thee to a dictionary" - after all, you are the one who gave a definition of a hijab that was, by your own admission, incorrect, as it did not reflect that the term could mean multiple garments. My defense is that I was going by common usage of the term among Western Muslims.

Posted by: Melissa at November 29, 2006 11:32 AM

Its the same thing coming up over and over. Religion makes people do crazy things for something that they have no proof exists. If people would focus less on fantastically irrational things and more on the very important rational aspects of life, like sexual, intellectual and political freedom, we would all be much better off.

Posted by: eac at November 29, 2006 2:27 PM

"no opportunity to experience sex, love, tenderness or even understanding from the opposite sex."

And yet somehow, I'm still not a suicide bomber!

Posted by: LYT at November 29, 2006 5:50 PM

We're watching out for you anyway.

Posted by: Crid at November 29, 2006 7:20 PM

But the dictionary does say that's what a hijab is. This is directly taken from their entry: 1. The headscarf worn by Muslim women, sometimes including a veil that covers the face except for the eyes.
2. The institution of protection of women in some Islamic societies through veiling or seclusion.

Seems to be more thorough than I remember it from the first time I looked it up. I don't remember seeing the qualifier "sometimes including." Ah, well. Perhaps someone got informed as to what "hijab" meant and upgraded it.

Or I could just be losing it.

Posted by: Patrick at November 30, 2006 2:20 AM

"Strap on dildos, not bombs!"

Lena, I'm buying the t-shirt!

Nice to meet you, Melissa. :)

I have nothing productive to add on the hijab subject, since I learned the word on a cartoon show. (But, for what it's worth, the The Proud Family agrees with Melissa.)

Posted by: Melissa G at November 30, 2006 9:04 AM

I got Amy a very chic protest button that says, "Dior, Not War."

Posted by: Lena at November 30, 2006 9:54 PM

Stop being politically correct and stop
>believing that this culture is a victim of ours.
>Radical Islamism today is nothing but a new form
>of Nazism. Nobody was trying to justify or
>excuse Hitler in the 1930s. We had to defeat him
>in order to make peace one day with the German
>people.

I agree completely. I wish popular enlightened western society would view islam and Christianity with the same amount of mocking skepticism.

Posted by: me at December 4, 2006 9:32 AM

Leave a comment