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How To Make A Suicide Bomber
Fascinating piece in TIME by Robert Baer, who interviewed a failed suicide bomber who was preparing to assassinate the governor of Afghanistan's Nangahar Province:

Only 17, he was terrified. Not only because of an uncertain fate, but perhaps more so because the world was not as the Taliban had described it. The Taliban indoctrinated him well, convincing him the Americans were stealing the faith of Afghan Muslims. Turning them into kafirs. I asked him if he hated the governor. No, it was simply that in working with the Americans he'd fallen away from Islam. He deserved to die.

...When I asked he said he'd read the Quran. I asked it him if he understood it. He shook his head. It was then it became apparent his education went no farther than the madrassa—he was taught to recite the Quran in Arabic but did not understand a word. Other than what he was told.

And this is where the Taliban came in. Spotting him in the village mosque, they invited him to attend what can only be called an indoctrination course in Waziristan. There he was taught that suicide bombers go directly to heaven, where they're met by virgins and lush gardens. Farhad was also taught that any Muslim working with the Americans in Afghanistan was no longer a Muslim, but a "munafiq," a pretend Muslim. It was written in the Quran, Farhad was assured.

Even I, who have tried to get a grip on Muslim suicide bombing, was stunned by the depth of the brainwashing. I'd never seen anything like it. So I asked the question, What religion is Musharraf, the president of Pakistan? He's a Jew, the Taliban had assured Farhad.

No wonder Farhad agreed to go to Jalalabad to kill a fellow Muslim. Still, wasn't there a doubt in his mind about taking his life like that and who knows how many others? No. The Taliban had told him that when he pushed the button on his suicide vest, it was Allah then who would decide whether to summon him to heaven or not.

Posted by aalkon at July 23, 2007 9:26 AM

Comments

Truly tragic. Such a waste of innocent life (deluded murderer and victims alike). How will the cycle of brainwashing be broken? Does anyone have the will to do it?

Posted by: cpabroker at July 23, 2007 6:45 AM

I believe we fight irrationality with wealth and opportunity spread through globalization and, in turn, through rationality. The problem is that, we, for the most part, aren't a rational society. No, Christians and Jews aren't preaching to their flocks to go blow nonbelievers up. But, who can say one brand of irrational belief makes any more sense than any other?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 23, 2007 7:07 AM

"...who can say one brand of irrational belief makes any more sense than any other?" We can. Some irrational beliefs are better than others.

"I believe we fight irrationality with wealth and opportunity..."

To some extent, but the new wealth of Mid East oil profits, internet, and cell phones has given the jihaddists tools to better organize their attacks.

There is some evidence that areas of political instability line up with the areas of ecological degradation. Such problems arise when a population outgrows its arable land and water.

Posted by: doombuggy at July 23, 2007 7:29 AM

"...who can say one brand of irrational belief makes any more sense than any other?"

Hear, hear. You've convinced me. My life of celibacy begins today.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at July 23, 2007 8:55 AM

Well, rather than "Christians and Jews aren't preaching to their flocks to go blow nonbelievers up," how about "Some Christians and Jews aren't currently preaching to their flocks to go blow nonbelievers up." It's called the Crusades. And the Inquisition. And so forth.

And if encouraging settling in the West Back isn't actually asking your people to blow someone up, it's still incendiary. Then there's all that Christian hate speech, your "gays are evil" and the like.

Posted by: David Traver Adolphus at July 23, 2007 9:00 AM

I would classify combating it through modernity. It encompasses the comments that Amy has made in her post and geared towards social reform too. Even with the oil rich Arab states, Doombuggy, their societies are extremely marginalized. By and large, most Middle Easterners do not know a great deal of their own faith.

Almost all of the Arab Street demonstrations are staged and lack longevity, because they are there to show a public message of 'in-group' solidarity to all the Western media outlets. Once the journalists leave... the crowds break up. You do not want a long demonstration that can last 4 hours in desert climate region.

Posted by: Joe at July 23, 2007 9:08 AM

The liberal opinions posted here are not the signs of a healthy democratic and free society, as you might believe. To Muslims, it is a sign of weakness, uncertainty and moral revulsion. Anyone who has spent time with practicing Muslims knows that they hate liberals as much if not more than conservatives. Why did they hit the WTC, in NYC, the liberal bastion? Why not Dallas or Boise? Because they hate us all. They brainwash young, foolish people and we question Judeo-Christian principles that have created the greatest bastion of freedom in the history of mankind?
Trust me, on Muslim blogs, they are not debating who is right. They are debating about how quickly you get the virgins after you kill the kaffirs.

Posted by: Barry at July 23, 2007 9:50 AM

"It's called the Crusades. And the Inquisition. And so forth."

Um, got a newspaper? It's 2007. Spanish Inquisition still going on today in your LA Times? I think not.

This is "sins of their fathers" thinking that mirrors the idiotic notion of original sin -- that a baby is born already nasty and wrong because its parents fucked it into existence. (Are monkeys and kittens fucked into evilhood, too?)

Believe me, my team (or rather, former team) didn't make out too well in the Inquisition (I'm post-Jewish, in case you're wondering).

These days, today, as of July 23, 2007, there are a handful of Christian nutwads in the world and probably two or three schizophrenic or otherwise mentally off Jews who want to slay people who don't believe in their particular brand of unproven crap. And yes, there are people advocating for religiously-based bullshit to be the law of the land. The difference is, you don't have Joe Pastor standing up at the church on Sunday compelling all the good Christians to go home and blow up their Jewish and atheistic neighbors.

Barry, I'm speculating they hit the WTC, which was blocks from my old apartment in NYC, because it was a symbol of America's money and modernity, and an integral part of the NYC skyline, and because a lot of Jews probably worked there. Anybody have any idea of what the skyline in Boise or Dallas looks like who hasn't been there?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 23, 2007 10:27 AM

"I believe we fight irrationality with wealth and opportunity..."

Yeah, that'll work. Bin Laden was a millionaire. The leader of the 9/11 conspirators was an engineer. Zawahiri is a doctor. So were the wannabes who just missed in the UK.

I don't care why they hate us. It's sufficient to know that they do.

Posted by: MarkD at July 23, 2007 11:09 AM

But, they will have less of a chance of recruiting people if people in the districts aren't at moron level in their ability to reason. I know they hate us and want us dead. Our current strategy of invading and occupying Iraq doesn't seem to be doing much to stop that. Any other suggestions?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 24, 2007 4:51 AM

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