[Ed. – So there!]
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people, it’s hard to image what sort of person perpetrates these horrific crimes. What sort of warped psychology drives suspected terrorists to brag about their exploits; what kind of mindset encourages the murder of innocent people?
There are two broad categories of ISIS recruits. The first comprises terrorists born in Iraq, Syria and the Levant and who fight for the cause locally. Such terrorists are inspired less by religion and more by waves of endless violence that plague the region, according to anthropologist Scott Atran, who has dedicated his career to studying the psychology behind terrorism, with a recent emphasis on ISIS and how they radicalize youth. Atran has interviewed terrorists in the days leading up to their executions, rifled through terrorist training manuals and formed a broad understanding of what is going through the mind of a terrorist before, after and during an attack.
“None of the ISIS fighters we interviewed in Iraq had more than primary school education,” Atran writes. “When asked ‘what is Islam?’ they answered ‘my life.’ They knew nothing of the Quran or Hadith.”