CHARLOTTE, NC, March 29, 2016 – Two questions always arise following a terrorist attack: “Why do they hate us?” and “Are these people crazy?”
The first question is easier to answer than the second. They do not just hate us. Islamic jihadists hate everything they do not believe in, including other Muslims if they regard them as non-believers in what they believe in.
The more complex second question was addressed by Ryan Mauro of The Clarion Project by Dr. Michael Welner, a well-known forensic psychiatrist who had some revealing insights into terrorism.
From the interview we learn that “crazy” according to Dr. Welner is an inaccurate term, although it is frequently misused in the context of “insanity.”
“Crazy has nothing to do with the terrorism we see,” says Welner. “They confuse actions that shock—actions that create a spectacle—with actions that are irrational.
“Islamist terrorism is cold-blooded violence. It is proactive and planned, as opposed to a hot-blooded violence that is reactive and impulsive. The attacks are carefully crafted. The perpetrators are selected based on how disciplined, dedicated, ruthless and in-control they are while carrying out destruction.”
The West views acts of terror as “irrational” but in an Islamist’s world killing is an integral part of a 14 century desert code of tribal conduct.
It may be medieval, but it still exists and the West cannot approach solutions with 21st century thinking.
Many adherents to terror, if they are not born into an Islamic society, are young and/or disenchanted with their prospects in life. It is no different than the Islam created by the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century. Christians and Jews were considered the elite, but the poor and downtrodden had few resources for worship, and Muhammad capitalized on their plight.
From here Dr. Welner explains the “rationalization” most jihadists take to justify their “faith.”
“All of those who are involved in Islamist terrorism are devout or believe they are devout. However, those who gravitate towards a more devout religious observance include many who do not have political aims and are merely following their faith.
“The process of radicalization is an intimate one. It reflects one’s personal relationship with one’s spirituality. Weapons training, when a recreational passion, is common to the devout who later reveal to be terrorists.”
Some experts, especially liberal analysts, explain the differences between the West and the Middle East as simply a conflict of cultures. In these cases, the so-called “authorities” fail to recognize that the world consists of a multitude of cultural disparities but only in the Islamic world does it result in mass violence on a continuous scale.
Mauro then poses the question about cultural misunderstanding to which Dr. Weiner has an insightful response.
“One can only achieve understanding, under ideal conditions of conciliation, between two humans of differing perspective,” answers Welner. “If one party dehumanizes another as a fundamental threat, then conciliation is not possible because the uncompromising goal—as in the case of ISIS—is that the other party is its enemy and submission or extermination is required.
“For ISIS, understanding with others is an existential threat to the purity to which they lay claim. It is ISIS’ and, more broadly, radical Islam’s dehumanization of non-believers that feeds their cause and entitlement to brutalize.
“Spectacle crime, such as terrorism, is a choice made by those with high expectations of themselves to do great but who are painfully aware of their underachievement.”
Many people mistakenly believe it is possible to make jihadists angrier or to hate more than they already do. Welner correctly explains that such thinking is a false premise.
“The claim that the “more we kill, the more they hate us” is vacuous,” he says.
“No matter how we as a nation pursue the Islamist threat, the United States will be portrayed as a devil deserving of destruction. Therefore, the ‘more we kill, the more they hate us’ premise is irrelevant; we are hated not because we kill, but because we exist.”
Mauro’s obvious concluding questions revolve around a solution for which Dr. Weiner had answers, though not hopeful ones.
“Because the problem is a religious one, its treatment is religious as well. And, just like cult treatment, terrorist treatment is difficult because the patient does not accept treatment willingly. Psychiatric treatment for cult survivors requires isolation from other influencers. Isolation is impossible when you’re dealing with a widespread community of believers, as is the case with radical Islam.
“Deradicalization programs aiming to re-educate the violence-oriented with a more peace-oriented Islam are part of a broader psychosocial strategy.”
Unfortunately “a more peace-oriented Islam” does not exist. Muslims may not practice Islam as taught in the Koran, but the religion itself is not a peaceful one, despite the claims of apologists.
“The intellectual freedom in these countries allow for introspection that is not possible, for example, in the Arab world or other Islamic countries. In those countries, discussion about defining Islam in a way that does not threaten the national interest is reflexively regarded as blasphemy,” concludes Dr. Welner.
Though his analysis does not represent a desired outcome, Dr. Welner presents his position in an understandable manner that many who fail to comprehend Islam would do well to read.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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