The roots of terror

Social and political scientists – particularly those who sympathize with some of the terrorists’ motives or who put at least part of the blame on the victims – point their finger at the root causes of Islamic terror. The economic and social conditions in the Muslim world, the exploitation of its natural resources (meaning oil) by the West, Western arrogance, occupation of Muslim territory by the so-called infidels, the West’s alleged political backing for Israel over the Palestinians, even the impact of the medieval Crusades: All are given their due as factors. Yet they are all jumbled together in a mishmash with little logical or chronological sequence. The psychological impact of all these factors is said to fuel a sense of despair where terrorism becomes an act of revenge. Even if there is some truth in these arguments, they can only explain the emergence of what could be described as a worldly type of terrorism, meaning terrorism where the perpetrator hopes to witness the consequences of his actions. If not the long-term outcome, in other words fulfillment of his ultimate goals, then at least the short-term ones: the devastation that his acts bring about. Suicide bombers, however, are driven by different motives. Worldly satisfaction has no place here. What matters is the anticipation of other-worldly bliss. Suicide bombers are driven by religious faith. Their motive must be strong enough to overcome the survival instinct, the dictates of self-preservation that determine the actions and non-actions of all living creatures. Death is merely an obstacle to a life destined to continue after it. Sacrificing one’s life by becoming a human bomb becomes a condition for eternal happiness.

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