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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > The Pyschopathology Of Jihad

The Pyschopathology Of Jihad

October 7, 2013

October 7, 2013 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - When forced to confront the atrocities committed against innocent civilians in the recent terror attack by al-Shabaab at the Westlake Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, the question naturally arises, "how could present-day human beings engage in such cruelty?"

As is often the case, an October 2 article published on Steven Emerson's The Investigative Project on Terrorism website, Anat Berko, Jihad Tourism, sheds some light on the subject.

Dr. Berko [PhD, Criminology] has conducted extensive research on the matter interviewing Palestinian terrorists serving sentences in Israeli prisons. What she found are, perhaps not so surprisingly, the same type of personality disorders – absent any sense of guilt - which are associated with sociopathic behavior in the West.

During these conversations, Berko, found that typically the jihadists shared these common traits:

"…obsessive thoughts leading them to carry out terrorist attacks. They were addicted to fantasizing about an alternative reality, describing their compulsions in metaphors similar to those used by obsessive gamblers and drug addicts. They likened them to "worms" (duda in Arabic) burrowing into their brains and driving them to seek not another game of cards or a fix, but dead Israelis, Americans, Europeans, or anyone else they considered infidels. They did not try to resist their compulsions or consider that their actions might be wrong, because they felt completely controlled and manipulated by the concept of jihad, which dictated their behavior in every sphere of life…"

Though quite helpful in understanding the inner thought processes that can produce human monsters, Berko seems to be a little leery of what seems to be the obvious linkage between Islamic ideology and jihadistic barbarism. Perhaps this is consistent with current trends in criminology, but having little expertise in that area that is conjecture.

We raise that point because one her conclusions is that despite the great physical and emotional violence these men wrought on "infidels," they were not "mentally disordered."

"…Generally speaking, there is no psychopathology among Muslim terrorists. That is, none of them can be diagnosed as having a recognizable mental illness, even those who attempted to carry out suicide bombing attacks…"
To this author there appears to be a different - and more likely - explanation…if one is willing to go there. Islam's fanatical adherents, as Dr. Berko observes, live within an "alternative reality." Their internal standards of what constitutes moral behavior are far different from those who have not been exposed to a hateful ideology designed to gain dominion over non-believers even through extreme violence.

Under this hypothesis, Islamic law sacralizes horrific behavior so that jihadism becomes not only acceptable, but desirable. We should note here that jihad is incumbent, according to the Shari'a, on all observant Muslims; those who avoid this duty are derisively referred to as "shirkers."

As Berko notes, these men were driven by an inner compulsion, actively seeking victims because of the "rush," that engaging in - what we in the West correctly identify as atrocities - provides.

The mujaheed thus finds what we consider abhorrent behavior - as long as it is consistent with belief structure of Islam - to be greatly fulfilling, both in the personal sense of having physical urges satiated but also in believing that the suffering he causes is pleasing to Allah.

Jihadists are created, often born into a world which teaches that behavior. Future mujahideen are conditioned from an early age to believe that ripping an "enemy" apart, piece by piece, is what their vengeful god desires. Hence the religion serves as license to commit mayhem on an unlimited scale. Converts to Islam go through this same process but in a more compressed time frame - crash course jihadists.

That these individuals generally aren't conflicted by what they do, i.e., they don't experience depression or feel bad because they have sliced and diced some unfortunate individual, is based upon the logic that appropriately directed medieval type cruelty is entirely consistent with the religion in which they have been immersed. In a sick sense then, these jihadists are merely "administering justice" as Allah desires.

In their own world, they are acting "normally."

In our view [yes a moral judgment] the behavior of the suicide bomber or the Nairobi sadist, is itself diagnostic of a mental disease. Looking at it any other way can only be done within the purview of another twisted reality, the belief system of the multiculturalist.

Multiculturalism is pathological in the sense that it counsels relativism regarding making value judgments based upon Western standards/moral precepts even if refusing to make these determinations could likely pose a serious threat to the individual. We make this assertion on the basis that suicide is a pathology.

Proceeding down this path of moral ambiguity leads to a very dark place.

Perhaps we are misinterpreting Dr. Berko's article [her research is as fascinating and useful as it is disquieting] however the apparent conclusion that jihadist behavior is "shahadamania," seems to intentionally be morally agnostic.

Additionally it's unclear why, if "shadamania" means a state of hyper-excitation induced by a compulsion to seek out or actually engage in jihad, how it is not, as classically defined, a mental disease or disorder?

If that's the case then it seems to render some level of absolution on the perpetrator, which we find unacceptable.

We feel that if these Muslim butchers lack a conscience or the ability to feel guilt, that has to serve as an indictment of their religion. Yes this behavior, according to Dr. Berko's research, apparently produces a manic euphoria, but the context in which this occurs can't simply be disregarded, as its precursor - the inculcation into the Shari'a - is the primary goal of every madrassa within the Ummah, the Muslim world.

The inability to correctly name or identify an enemy - in this case those with a fanatical belief in fundamentalist Islam - with one of its key attributes - jihad - makes the development of a threat doctrine impossible, thus leaving us in a rudderless, defenseless position, exactly where the West finds itself today


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