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Weissman writes: "'If the Americans destroy Saddam Hussein and then leave, the situation will be explosive,' Dr. Olivier Roy warned back in 2002. 'Iraq won't be a stable country. Neither will the region.'"

Paris after the recent terrorist attacks. (photo: Martin Bureau/Getty Images)
Paris after the recent terrorist attacks. (photo: Martin Bureau/Getty Images)


Who Are the Terrorists? Look and You'll See Why Bombing in Syria Won't Stomp Them Out

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

29 November 15

 

f the Americans destroy Saddam Hussein and then leave, the situation will be explosive,” Dr. Olivier Roy warned back in 2002. “Iraq won't be a stable country. Neither will the region.”

A political scientist and leading scholar of Persian language and civilization, Dr. Roy helped persuade France’s center-right president Jacques Chirac, his foreign minister Dominique de Villepin, and other “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” not to buy into George W. Bush’s ill-fated invasion of Iraq.

Thirteen years have passed. Iraq, Syria, and much of the region have become even more unstable, just as Dr. Roy predicted would happen. Only now, France’s socialist president François Hollande is leading the effort to include Russia in a global coalition to intervene more forcefully, this time against both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Prescient as ever, Dr. Roy is warning the world not to expect the new intervention to stop terror attacks in Europe or, by extension, in the United States.

In France alone, he has identified some 1500 Islamist radicals who have become known to police and journalists over the past two decades. These radicals include Abdelhamid Abaaoud, or Abu Omar the Belgian, and most of the others in the November 13 attacks in Paris. Some “who jumped into action” went on jihad to Yemen, Syria, Iraq, or previously Bosnia or Afghanistan. Some perpetrated or were caught preparing terrorist attacks. Dr. Roy also looked at another 7000 who had manifested an intention to follow suit, but had not done so for a variety of reasons.

“Can we draw a general portrait of an Islamist radical?” he asked a week after the Paris attacks. “Can we define the conditions and circumstances under which he or she may become radical?”

In their life stories, Roy discovered some surprising patterns, along with a lack of patterns one might expect. “It is not the uprising of a Muslim community victim of poverty and racism,” he concludes. “Only young people join, including converts who did not share the ‘sufferings’ of Muslims in Europe.” The converts number about 25% of the 1500, and 37% of the 7000.

“In the USA,” he adds, “40 percent of those charged in 2011 for jihadist radicalization were converts to Islam, slightly more than the 35 percent of those charged since the 2001 attacks.”

This is not to deny the very real grievances that Muslims suffer, more so in Europe than in the United States. But the young French rebels Roy studied had “a loose or no connection” to the organized Muslim community, to the mosques, or to extremist imams. “None of the radicals has a past of piety,” Roy observes. “Most of them either broke with the Islam of their parents, or had no religious transmission from their parents.”

“Almost none followed a real process of religious education,” he says. “Their religious knowledge is low.” In fact, “few of them speak explicitly about paradise” and some carried with them the book “Islam for Dummies.”

“Many have a past of petty delinquency and drug dealing,” Roy finds. “Before turning born-again or converts, they shared a ‘youth culture’ which had nothing to do with Islam.”

“It is clearly a youth movement,” says Roy, “a youth revolt against society.” Psychologically, they share “frustration and resentment against society,” and they become radicals in “a small network of friends,” of peers, “where nominal Muslims and non-Muslims meet because they live in the same neighborhood, share the same patterns of petty delinquency, found themselves together in jail, or are members of the same family.”

“This puts them often at odds with the traditional view of family and women in Islam,” he adds. “These groups are often mixed in gender terms, and the women play often a far more important role than they themselves claim…. They intermarry between themselves, without the parents’ consent.”

Where, then, do Islamic State and al-Qaeda fit in?

“The main motivation of young men for joining jihad seems to be the fascination for a narrative: the small brotherhood of super-heroes who avenge the Muslim Ummah,” Roy concludes. This remains “global and abstract,” unconnected to real people either in Europe or the Middle East. They build their narrative “using schemes taken from the contemporary youth culture: video-games (Call of Duty, Assassins).” And they stage their super-hero fantasies using modern techniques and “very contemporary aesthetics, with a special role for aesthetics of violence.”

Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State offer them a narrative of heroism, while the religious dimension offers them a framework to restructure their lives: “the truth, the good, a clear set of norms, brothers in arms, a clear objective, and salvation.”

“Jihad is the only cause on the global market,” Dr. Roy explains with obvious disdain. “If you kill in silence, it will be reported by the local newspaper, if you kill yelling ‘Allahuakbar,’ you are sure to make the national headlines.”

In short, the radicals are there to be used, and neither al-Qaeda nor the Islamic State has any qualms about using them. “The eight knights brought Paris down on its knees, after years of French conceit in the face of Islam,” wrote the Islamic State in the latest issue of their English language magazine Dabiq. “A nationwide state of emergency was declared as a result of the actions of eight men armed only with assault rifles and explosive belts.”

The solution is not easy to see, though Dr. Roy knows what it is not.

“To promote a ‘moderate Islam’ to bring radicals back to the mainstream is nonsense,” he says. “They just reject moderation as such … and don’t care ‘what Islam really means.’”

“To ask the ‘Muslim community’ to bring radicals back to normal life is also nonsense. Radicals just don’t care about people they consider as ‘traitors,’ ‘apostates,’ or ‘collaborators.’”

“To consider Islam only through the lens of ‘fighting terrorism’ will validate the narrative of persecution and revenge that feeds the process of radicalization.”

Dr. Roy offers four alternatives: A more sophisticated intelligence system, which won’t waste time monitoring mosques, which the radicals rarely attend. Debunking the narrative of heroism, which – in my opinion – would require an extremely sophisticated use of humor. Breaking the “success story” of the Islamic State, which will require a lot more than dropping bombs. And, most important, letting Islam be a “normal’ religion.” Sadly, that is a direction that France, Europe, and nativist Americans are unwilling to take.

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+69 # RMDC 2015-11-29 17:14
This article is correct. The US regime might as well bomb Paris, Toronto, Detroit or many other cities. where significan Muslims live and who know that their relatives are being bombed.

It is well to remember that the US neo-cons do not want to end any war. The PNAC document called "Rebuilding america's defenses" called for a war that would last for decades. Bush's Defense Strategy of 2004 called for a war that would last for generations or perhaps forever. It renamed the War on Terror "the Long War."

So no one in the US or NATO wants to win. They just want to keep the destruction of nations of non-white people going for generations. This is how the neo-cons imagine white supremacy -- the ability to kill a few million non-white people every year with the explicit message to 95% of the world's people that they could be next.
 
 
+58 # REDPILLED 2015-11-29 18:56
Also, because Islamist terrorism has replaced the USSR/World Communism as a global threat, the arms industry now has an endless enemy to provide endless profits for it and their legally-bribed partners in crime, the politicians.
 
 
+28 # Anonymot 2015-11-29 18:31
Very interesting and sensible, although I wonder if this is as true for the leaders as it is for the everyday extremist soldier.

The root of our problem is the absolute failure of our national leaders to even vaguely understand any thought process but that of people like themselves. I promise you, no one at the top of al Qaida or ISIS thinks like everyone at the top of the CIA/DOD/NSA, etc. or our political leadership.
 
 
+16 # Stilldreamin1 2015-11-29 19:14
What's the role of artificial stimulants in these radicals' violence? I read the Saudi prince who was caught with a large supply of such uppers intended to give them to ISIS fighters going into battle. I wonder if the French tested the attackers'bodie s- those that remained intact- for drugs. There must be some common sense explanation for these young mens' willingness to carry out heinous acts of mass violence. Alienation and indoctrination don't quite cut it.
 
 
0 # JJS 2015-12-02 17:18
My brother told me that there was "standard issue" amphetamines dished out during the Vietnam era to any soldier who wanted it. Not sure what they are pushing now a days. Crack, maybe.
 
 
+7 # ChrisCurrie 2015-11-29 19:28
Yes, ISIS members in Syria and Iraq should be subjected to a propaganda campaign to destroy their credibility in their own eyes as well as in the eyes of the population they live in. We must utterly destroy the credibility of their ideology!
 
 
+12 # barbaratodish 2015-11-29 20:47
Let's destroy the credibility of all bullies and especially the bully 1%, and all the bully 1% wannabes, and bully nations, everywhere first! Speak up to all the bullies in society : TAKE A STAND, LEND A HAND, STOP BULLYING (WAR) NOW! Maybe we all need more sleep, better nutrition (and of course worldwide basic needs provided to all) and better peace of mind by finding bliss in ourselves and in our relationships, instead of (or even in addition to) some various god myth?
 
 
-4 # Aliazer 2015-11-29 19:57
"Dr. Roy offers four alternatives: A more sophisticated intelligence system, which won’t waste time monitoring mosques, which the radicals rarely attend. Debunking the narrative of heroism, which – in my opinion – would require an extremely sophisticated use of humor. Breaking the “success story” of the Islamic State, which will require a lot more than dropping bombs. And, most important, letting Islam be a “normal’ religion.” Sadly, that is a direction that France, Europe, and nativist Americans are unwilling to take."

Dr. Roy offers mostly psychological solutions to fight radical Islam which, more than likely will totally fail for the simple reason that it will be viewed as rank attempts by non-Islamic sources to manipulate their religion as well as its jhadist beliefs. Frankly, I consider it a pie-in-the-sky that it will simply not fly.

Islam is arising from its secular slumber amongst people who practice that religion, wherever they happen to be located while offering a viable antidote to the venal and bankrupt western democracies and rabid economic system that buys and corrupts everything under its heels.
 
 
+1 # kalpal 2015-11-30 06:28
The young who seek to join Da'esh are largely psychopathic idiots with delusions of being close to Allah and fully understanding Allah's plans for the future of mankind.

There is much in Islam's past that supports murder and mayhem as being how Allah directs and supports his BFF who are willing and anxious murderers.

Religion is simply a political tool. Anyone capable of rational thought knows full well that screaming Allahu Akbar while murdering random people will in no way create a flood of converts to the ranks of vicious murderers. It never has and never will.
 
 
+37 # Ellioth 2015-11-29 20:06
George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz et al lit the match and thew it into the gas can that lit the fire that has turned into a conflagration called the mid-east. Let's all give them a standing ovation for their wisdom and commitment to life. May they suffer eternally for what they did to our children.
 
 
+5 # Anonymot 2015-11-29 22:55
Yes, agreed, but don't leave out the lady who spread it beyond Afghanistan & Iraq to all the rest of the Middle East: Hillary and, of course, the CIA.
 
 
+13 # Thomas Martin 2015-11-29 20:10
This is a very important article - it suggests what the primary "vis viva" is behind ISIS - youth, "inauthentic" religion, and perceived persecution - what we should ask, in view of our country's decades-long intervention in the Middle East, is how responsible we are for the current situation, and only then should we decide what we should do about it.
 
 
-1 # barbaratodish 2015-11-29 20:29
Weissman is right about "Debunking the narrative of heroism, maybe by humor- which would require an extremely sophisticated system of humor" The problem is we need an anti "SYSTEM" of humor! Let's all welcome ANTI LEVITY & UNCLE GRAVITY, comic subversives!Any SYSTEM of humor would be predictable, formulaic,limit ed. We need(Lenny Brucian)Donald Trump as POTUS,our comedian in chief, as Camille Paglia has written in Salon. Maybe Trump can lead us all to a new age of freedom of speech, so instead of young people feeling bullied and turning to terrorism to fight bullying with more bullying, namely violence, young people will "Say what the want to say, and let the words fall out (Sara Baraelleis("Bra ve"). Then young people can be free from the bullying of political correctness. In addition to "sophisticated use of humor", we may need surprising juxtaposition of words. Heroism is like being on hero-in. Hero-in "IDENTITY" becomes the drug your in and on. Or maybe we can offer young people the idea that they can be a hero in & to themself and find bliss first in a relationship to the self-as-god instead of (or maybe even in addition to) the currently majoritarian pc world view,i.e., the god myth. THEN they can seek a larger purpose than themself by demanding and feeling valid in seeking RELATIONSHIPS to others who are also a hero-god-to-sel f.With uncondional love(vs quid pro quo) there's bliss in relationships here & now, instead of illusions of Jihad death celebrated in headlines.
 
 
+4 # kalpal 2015-11-30 06:30
Trump will never foster any freedom of speech because he attacks all free speech aimed at exposing his megalomania and that seeks to point out his lies.
 
 
+2 # barbaratodish 2015-12-01 01:17
[quote name="kalpal"]T rump will never foster any freedom of speech because he attacks all free speech aimed at exposing his megalomania and that seeks to point out his lies.[/quote

I met Donald Trump many years ago when I auditioned for "The Apprentice". He must have disliked what I was saying (I was saying that excessive money, fame, and power limits creativity sometimes because there is ego driven comparisons that use energy to protect, conserve excessive money, fame, and power instead of risking to create and possible fail, but fail better, with the result of innovation.) He inquired who I was, and asked me if I was Barbara Todish, and I said "Yes". Then he asked me "And YOU have a Masters Degree?" I replied: with many others listening "Well Mr. Trump, sometimes my masters degree has ME"! He was speechless! He wakled away. He tried to attack my confidence, my freedom of speech and I answered his potential bullying with humor! (of course I went unselected to be on The Apprentice, but I bet he remembers me!~ lol
 
 
+2 # Sweet Pea 2015-11-29 21:00
Why can't we realize that all of us are God's children no matter what name we give to the unknown force? Why are we turning God into some personal rivalry?
 
 
+21 # guomashi 2015-11-29 21:19
Quoting Sweet Pea:
Why can't we realize that all of us are God's children no matter what name we give to the unknown force? Why are we turning God into some personal rivalry?


God isn't the solution, God is the problem. As soon as you posit an absolute you create polarization, no way out of it.
 
 
+12 # kalpal 2015-11-30 06:31
Why can't we realize that god is an excuse to commit murder, mayhem and abuse of others whose faith differs in some fashion.
 
 
+41 # bigkahuna671 2015-11-29 21:04
Actually, the parallels between the converts to Islam and the young Muslims who went with them to be jihadis goes quite well with all the so-called Christians who have distorted the values of the Bible to fit in with a right-wing agenda of hate. They are two sides of the same coin and both are equally scary in that they can destroy the fabric of caring societies across the world and create one of fear, distrust, hatred, and aggression.
 
 
+7 # munza1 2015-11-29 23:16
Than you Steve for bringing this information from someone who clearly knows what he's talking about. And it doesn't fit into the general stereotype portrayed in the MSM, but would both make sense and he relies on first hand knowledge. It certainly gives the possibility of a different approach than simply bombing. Interesting how we're not hearing much about bombing Iran these days and we are in fact de facto allies in certain respects in this jumbled up Middle East. Dr.Roy's 2002 prediction was right on the money and in hindsight perfectly obvious.
 
 
+2 # janie1893 2015-11-30 00:59
ISIS members see themselves as 'crusaders', with all the beliefs that go along with that label. What has the west got to offer that can trump that perception?
 
 
+14 # rich black 2015-11-30 05:46
Dr. Eric Berne, who wrote "Games People Play", said the strongest drive is not the sex drive, or even the drive for survival, but the drive for structure. Take a group of unstructured, young disenfranchised people, already numbed to violence, and give them jihad and chaos as structure, and they become willing, psychopathic murderers. Islam may be a uniting force, but it is the philosophy of jihad and revenge against society, along with a sense of belonging and group acceptance, that gives these 'terrorists' their structure and purpose.

After all, how different are these terrorists, psychologically , from the young and disenfranchised who joined the Mansion Family, and shocked the world by committing some of the bloodiest and most gruesome murders in American history? Today's homegrown terrorists are proving that George Bush isn't the only one who can commit acts of "shock and awe". Remember, Bush put his terrorists in uniform, armed them, and then sent them to the Middle East to wage jihad on millions of innocent Muslims.
 
 
+4 # Activista 2015-11-30 20:08
thank you for this in depth replay - "Take a group of unstructured, young disenfranchised people, already numbed to violence, and give them jihad and chaos as structure, and they become willing, psychopathic murderers ..."
Take a group of unstructured, young disenfranchised people, already numbed to violence, and give them ANY INSTITUTION (as US ....) as structure, and they become willing, psychopathic murderers ...
There is so much violence in our/US "culture"
 
 
+11 # Aliazer 2015-11-30 11:21
My friend, you have said it right!!!

But don't forget Mr. Obama, he has been doing, more or less, the same thing with drones, U. S. Airforce, etc, killing and maiming innocent people and destroying and destabilizing countries throughout the Middle East, North Africa, etc.., etc...
 
 
+6 # Radscal 2015-11-30 15:32
What does it tell us that 25% to more than 50% of all "Muslim Terrorists" are recent "converts?"

What does it tell us that essentially every "Muslim Terrorist" arrested in the US since 2001 was put up to it by an FBI sting operation, including the promise of over $100,000 to commit a terrorist attack?
 
 
+1 # dandevries 2015-11-30 18:07
Wow! A dose of reality in a surreal dysfunctional conversation.
 
 
-3 # Slavetodog 2015-12-01 06:07
In some countries (Australia being one) they take away the passports of suspected domestic ISIS members. ?
I think the policy should be to give them a 15 day passport, let them go to Syria as they wish but surrender their citizenship. After all, they're to become a citizen of the caliphate. And, in Syria they are far less likely to participate in home country operations.
Then when they are all together in one spot bomb the snot out of them.
This is not a neocon stance. It's an attempt to increase the distance between gain and loss by degrading the conditions in the ISIS controlled area.
So, make your choice. Live peacefully as a citizen of 21st Century Australia or live a short 8th Century life in a mud hut in Syria.
 
 
+5 # lydiablanchard 2015-12-01 19:59
Australia has nothing to be proud of in its ongoing and currently devastating treatment of indigenous aborigines.
 

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