This section of DiscoverTheNetworks explores the psychology of individual jihadists -- the belief system and the thought processes that cause them to engage in suicide missions as expressions of faith. This section also examines how the family members of jihadists offer considerable emotional support and encouragement to those who engage in these acts of murder and self-destruction.
Jihadists are created by a formal and informal education that begins in early childhood with collaborating messages from parents, teachers, textbooks, clerics, television programs, and the ambient culture. These major influences imbue youngsters with contempt for non-Muslms ("infidels"), and with a yearning to experience the glories of jihad, which, according to the Quran, will earn its participants eternal rewards in Paradise. The Quran contains many verses that stress the importance (and the nobility) of jihad. For example:
"But do not think of those that have been slain in God's cause as dead. Nay, they are alive! With their Sustainer have they their sustenance. They are very happy with the reward they received from Allah (for dying as a shaheed) and they rejoice for the sake of those who have not joined them (i.e., have not yet died for Allah)." (Quran 3:169-70)
“Truly Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure” (Quran 61:4).
"Allah has purchased the believers, their lives and their goods. For them (in return) is the Garden [of paradise]. They fight in Allah’s Cause, and they slay and are slain; they kill and are killed . . . it [paradise] is the promise of Allah to them.” (Quran 9:111)
The impact of such passages is multiplied if a young person happens to come into contact with recruiters for Islamist and jihadist organizations. Former jihadist Tawfiq Hamid recalls that as a teenager, for instance, he met some members of the terrorist group Jamaah Islamiyah. Their rhetoric influenced him, and as a result: "My hatred toward non-Muslims increased dramatically, and jihadi doctrine became second nature to me."
Muslim terrorists wage jihad against infidels chiefly in response to injunctions communicated via the Koran and Islam's other authoritative texts. There are, however, also some noteworthy psychological and anthropological factors in play. Of particular interest is the relationship between the widespread physical and sexual abuse of children in Muslim society, and Islamic terrorism.
In her book, The Sheik's New Clothes: the Psychoanalytic Roots of Islamic Suicide Terrorism, the Minnesota-based psychoanalyst and Arabist Nancy Kobrin and her Israeli co-author, counter-terrorism expert Yoram Schweitzer, describe barbarous family and clan dynamics in which Muslim children, both boys and girls, are routinely raped, orally and anally, by male relatives; where infant males are sadistically over-stimulated by being masturbated; where boys between the ages of 7 and 12 are publicly and traumatically circumcised; where girls are clitoridectomized; and where women are seen as the source of all shame and dishonor and are, accordingly, treated very badly.
According to Dr. Kobrin, both male and female infants and children are raised by mothers who themselves have been debased and traumatized. As such, all children are forever psychologically "contaminated" by the humiliated yet all-powerful mother. Kobrin further explains that Arab and Muslim boys seek to disassociate themselves from their mothers in spectacularly savage ways; that, on a deep unconscious level, they may also wish to remain merged with the source of the contamination; and that suicide bombers act out this conflict when they kill their presumably most hated enemies, the Israeli Jews, who may actually function as substitutes or scapegoats for an even more primal enemy that is both loved and hated: Woman.
Phyllis Chesler, professor emerita of psychology and women's studies at the College of Staten Island (CUNY), asserts that widespread child sexual abuse in Muslim culture leads to the development of paranoid, highly traumatized, and revenge-seeking adults; that Islam's polygamous, patriarchal culture also leads to highly charged fraternal competition for paternal favor and inheritance; and that this dynamic can set the stage for entire families and clans to remain locked in revenge-fueled mortal combat for generations.
Walid Shoebat, an ex-PLO terrorist who ultimately renounced terrorism and converted to evangelical Christianity, confirms the widespread sexual abuse of both boys and girls in Palestinian society. "It is a strange society," he says. "Homosexuality is forbidden but if you're the penetrator, not the penetrated, it's okay." Adds Shoebat: "If you're a teenage boy with no hair on your legs, other boys your age will pinch your butt and tease you. Once, I saw a class of clothed teenage boys sexualize their gymnastics exercizes. And once, on a hiking trip, I saw a line of shepherd boys waiting for their turn to sodomize a five-year-old boy. It was unbelievable."
According to Shoebat, Muslim teenage boys prey upon younger children; older male relatives prey upon pre-adolescent and adolescent boys and girls. There are many anecdotal accounts about the male preference for anal sex, even within marriage, either as a form of birth control or as a preferred homosexual practice.