Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Perspective from a Muslim Psychiatrist

Interesting article from the Sydney Herald: "Eternal Loneliness of a Long-Distance Bomber."  In it, the author, Tanveer Ahmed readily acknowledges that profiling makes sense:
I am regularly pulled aside at airports for ''random checks''. It is a source of amusement for my wife. I am a young Muslim doctor of South Asian ancestry; it makes more sense than searching little old ladies or stray toddlers, which would occur if the searches were truly random.

More importantly though, he paints a picture of the suicide bomber that is attempting to attack the west.  It is not a poor, downtrodden Palestinian type - it is most likely a middle class youth, who feels alienated and is captured in almost cult like fashion by radical Muslim clerics:

Abdulmutallab was the son of a prominent Nigerian banker and educated at University College London. The Somalis arrested in Australia were also tertiary educated. Their version of jihad had more to do with the immature romanticism of revolution.

This last part is particularly interesting too - the bomber is more likely to be akin to a young Trotskyite than a religious fanatic.  They are typically lonely folks - the panty bomber had apparently been rejected by a number of American universities before he decided to enroll at Islamocrazy U in Yemen.  There is some revealing thinking in this that should sharpen our profiling of potential threats:

The attackers are lonely outcasts whose social disconnection is preyed on and invested with meaning by groups such as al-Qaeda. They are reactions to wider society and often the backward traditionalism of their ethnic communities. Focusing entirely on the battle of ideas argument implies the actors' actions are rational and not rooted in a yearning for belonging and meaning.

Worth the read.

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