Sudden Jihad Syndrome

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Not long after I noticed this warning at MEMRI, from the horse's mouth, that many Moslem youths in America are at risk for becoming jihadists, Daniel Pipes pens a chilling article about "sudden jihad syndrome". The article is excellent and deserves a full read. For one thing, it notes why Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar recently attempted to kill nine people at UNC-Chapel Hill, after first describing what he had been like before.

Until his would-be murderous rampage, Taheri-azar, a philosophy and psychology major, had an apparently normal existence and promising future. In high school, he had been student council president and a member of the National Honor Society. A number of UNC students told the Los Angeles Times that he "was a serious student, shy but friendly." One fellow student, Brian Copeland, "was impressed with his knowledge of classical Western thought, adding "He was kind and gentle, rather than aggressive and violent." The university chancellor, James Moeser, called him a good student, if "totally a loner, introverted and into himself."

In fact, no one who knew him said a bad word about him, which is important, for it signals that he is not some low-life, not homicidal, not psychotic, but a conscientious student and amiable person. Which raises the obvious question: why would a regular person try to kill a random assortment of students? Taheri-azar's post-arrest remarks offer some clues.
  • He told the 911 dispatcher that he wanted to "punish the government of the United States for their actions around the world."
  • He explained to a detective that "people all over the world are being killed in war and now it is the people in the United States['] turn to be killed."
  • He said he acted to "avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world."
  • He portrayed his actions as "an eye for an eye."
  • A police affidavit notes that "Taheri-azar repeatedly said that the United States Government had been killing his people across the sea and that he decided to attack."
  • He told a judge, "I'm thankful you're here to give me this trial and to learn more about the will of Allah."
In brief, Taheri-azar represents the ultimate Islamist nightmare: a seemingly well-adjusted Muslim whose religion inspires him, out of the blue, to murder non-Muslims. [bold added, links dropped]
Not to detract from Daniel Pipes's excellent observations, but one should note that the bold passages above might well represent a leftist contribution to young Mohammed's (justice be upon him) rationalizations for his own evil choice. I can't help but wonder how many college versions of Jay Bennish happily contributed to his notion that harming Americans was a good thing. Others have noted this synergy of leftist nihilism and Islamic militancy in the past, including Theodore Dalrymple and Christian Beenfeldt, who wrote about suicide bombers and John Walker Lindh, respectively.

Aside from noting this disturbing phenomenon, Pipes also indicates that this syndrome might understandably have repercussions for other Moslems as well.
This syndrome helps explain the fear of Islam and mistrust of Muslims that polls have shown on the rise since 9/11.

The Muslim response of denouncing these views as bias, as the "new antisemitism," or "Islamophobia" is as baseless as accusing anti-Nazis of "Germanophobia" or anti-Communists of "Russophobia." Instead of presenting themselves as victims, Muslims should address this fear by developing a moderate, modern, and good-neighborly version of Islam that rejects radical Islam, jihad, and the subordination of "infidels."
My biggest problem with this is that it fails to impress upon the Moslems that a failure to discourage uncivilized behavior by their coreligionists can have very dire practical consequences. Long ago, Thomas Friedman put it much better when he said the following.
[E]ither the Muslim world begins to really restrain, inhibit and denounce its own extremists - if it turns out that they are behind the London bombings - or the West is going to do it for them. And the West will do it in a rough, crude way - by simply shutting them out, denying them visas and making every Muslim in its midst guilty until proven innocent.
It's not "Islamophobia". It's self-preservation. Our well-being may not seem like it, but it is, in fact, in the best interests of Moslems.

-- CAV


Vigilis said...

Thoughtful take on an interesting topic, Gus. I cannot disagree with any of it. Let's not forget that Islamists are not only Bad, but as Mohammed Taheri-azar proves, they are incredibly Ugly (not that it matters to a confident male).

When we learn more about this lonely fellow, I suspect his parents wanted him to be an engineer, not a "philosophy and psychology major". Momo was a serious disappointment to his family before he also became their personal embarrassment. That is precisely the revenge he was after.

Odd that Pipes fails to mention the antidote to SJS which Thomas Friedman gets right("in a rough, crude way"). The medical-sounding name for it is: Fed-up Infidels Right Mind Syndrome.

Gus Van Horn said...

"Fed-up Infidels Right Mind Syndrome"