Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The Other Root of Terrorism

By Louis René Beres

  • For today's terrorist, whether in Paris, Orlando or Nice, the mass murder of noncombatants is a typically satisfying expiation, a scapegoating operation that brings to mind certain ritualistic processes of bloodletting, religious sacrifice and an outlet for sadistic sexual excitement. For the jihadist in particular, terror may find a ready ideological shelter in Islam, but the expressed theology is likely little more than a useful cover for acting on otherwise forbidden wishes. The ready supply of adherents only indicates how widespread these forbidden wishes are -- but have little to do with politics.
Our operational plans concerning jihadist terrorism may need to be more consciously structured as much upon the cumulative wisdom of Sigmund Freud (right), Erich Fromm and others as upon Sun-Tzu (left) or Clausewitz.
"Man differs from the animal by the fact that he is a killer; he is the only primate that kills and tortures members of his own species without any reason... and who feels satisfaction in doing so." — Erich Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.
Throughout the world, many people suffer from some form or other of mental illness. Of these, a substantial number are also inclined to various expressions of aggression. When conditions arise to dignify their irrepressible violent urges under the purifying rubric of some "higher cause" -- such as revolution, rebellion, or jihad -- some will gratefully seize upon those "exculpatory" opportunities.

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