2005 July 14 Thursday
On Western Muslim Terrorists

The US Public Broadcasting System Frontline TV show had an excellent segment last week entitled "Al Qaeda's New Front" (and if you get a chance to watch a rerun it would be worth your while). The episode's web site pages have a lot of additional information and I suggest going to that previous link and clicking through and reading some of the articles. One of the people interviewed for the show was psychiatrist and researcher on terrorists Marc Sageman. Among Sageman's points: Terrorists do not need elaborate training.

The violent videos unearthed and broadcast after 9/11 featuring multinationals in fatigues honing their skills in remote training camps may largely be a thing of the past. "While the movement was under the control of Al Qaeda, they could go to Afghanistan to train, but now they don't have that luxury," Sageman says. "Training is no longer necessary. The guys in Casablanca and Istanbul were not trained. There is no evidence the guys from Madrid ever went to a training camp. But yet they are still able to conduct operations."

It turns out making "sophisticated" cell phone detonators is not that sophisticated, Sageman says. "Anyone who knows anything about a cell phone can hook it up to a detonator." He argues that the over 1,000 Web sites coming out of Iraq showing beheadings via video files are actually "far more sophisticated than rigging a bomb up."

Sageman says the devices used by many terrorists are remarkably primitive. "It's pretty amateurish. The real threat today are attacks like Madrid, Casablanca, Istanbul -- it's not [sophisticated attacks like] 9/11 because these guys can't coordinate."

I've previously posted excerpts summarizing some of Marc Sageman's statistical analyses on terrorists in my previous post "Former CIA Case Officer Provides Terrorist Profiles". The Frontline episode includes more details from from Sageman's work. For example, Muslims are more likely to become jihadists if they move to live in a society which has what is to them a foreign culture.

At the time they joined jihad, the terrorists were not very religious. They only became religious once they joined the jihad. 70 percent of his sample joined the jihad while they were living in another country from where they grew up: someone from country A is living in country B and going after country C. This is very different from the usual terrorist of the past, someone from country A, living in country A, going after country A's government.

For an example of the A to B to C pattern look at Mohammed Atta from Egypt who moved to Germany and then decided to attack the United States. If Germany had not allowed Atta and his Middle Eastern co-conspirators to immgrate to Germany then the 9/11 attack probably would have happened. Muslim immigration to Europe (and to Canada for that matter) therefore heightens the risk of terrorist attacks in the Unietd States.

A more general statement perhaps is that people who join the jihad tend to feel like outsiders. The native born British Muslims who join the jihad do not see themselves as British. They see themselves as Muslims living in Britain. There's an obvious lesson here for Western societies: Don't let in people whose religion gives them a belief system which is incompatible with Western cultures. Do not let in people who will see themselves as outsiders. Only let in people who have cultural and religious beliefs that are fully compatible with the existing culture.

Of course, to recognize that some cultures are incompatible with each other requires a rejection of muliticulturalist ideology. One must see differences between peoples. One must give up the illusion that the majority of people in every country of the world are, deep down, secular liberal democrats. To reject myths which are part of one's secular or religious faith in humanity is more than many people can manage. But unless Western intellectuals adopt a more realistic and empirical view of human nature Western democracies are going to become less free and less safe.

The potential for terrorism and conflict is heightened when the immigrants are from a sufficiently different ethnic or racial group that they see themselves an the larger society also see them as foreign. Human beings identify more closely with those who look more like them, act more like them, think more like them. This tendency toward seeing people as belonging to in-groups and out-groups is part of human nature. Policies based a rejection of deep human tendencies lead to foolish immigration policies and foolish foreign adventures such as the debacle in Iraq.

If Western countries will stop allowing Muslim immigration and if Western countries will deport all the Muslim illegal aliens then the future growth of the threat of terrorist attacks can be decreased. Why not make these changes to immigration law and immigration law enforcement? Yes, to make the change requires adoption of a less idealistic view of human nature and a less utopian expectation for the future of humanity. But the result will be more freedom in Western societies and less risk of terrorist attacks or of political fights centered around ethnic conflicts.

The attack by the Pakistani British citizens who apparently engaged in suicide bombing on the trains and the bus works against the argument that better integration will eliminate or greatly reduce the Western Muslim terrorist threat. The Frontline "Al Qaeda's New Front" has a Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) list which includes the observation that Britain has been an especially friendly place for Muslims. Yet 4

Are some European countries faring better than others in integrating their Muslim communities?

Florida State University Professor Alec Hargreaves, author of numerous books on the North African immigrant community in France and currently a visiting professor of immigration and integration at the Sorbonne in Paris, gives high marks to the U.K. "British policy has generally been more accommodating than that of France or Germany," he says. "Given the large geographical distances separating the U.K. from Pakistan and Bangladesh (the two main Muslim states among the countries supplying Britain with migrant labor), it was unrealistic to think of those migrants as temporary residents. Instead, family settlement was more obviously the norm." Britain also led the way among Western European states in the 1960s and 1970s in developing anti-discrimination policies, which other European Union countries, such as France, are only just beginning to catch up with, he says.

The British home secretary's professed shock that the London bombers were born in Britain demonstrates the folly of embracing a mythical view of human nature in place of a more realistic and biological view.

Charles Clarke, the British home secretary, is 'shocked'. According to the latest police updates, the London bombers were not some Johnny Foreigner threat to our 'way of life': they were four young Britons brought up in our way of life; four men aged between 19 and 30 who were born in Britain to normal, and by all accounts perfectly respectable, Pakistani families.

But why is Clarke shocked? The harsh reality is that these young Brits would appear to be pretty typical al-Qaeda types. For al-Qaeda is not, as many have claimed since 9/11, a bunch of foreigners brought up on the dusty backstreets of Cairo or Ramallah and hell-bent on launching war against a faraway West; they tend to be young, respectable, often middle-class and sometimes naive men, many of whom were born or educated - and even radicalised - in the West. For all the talk of a 'clash of civilisations', al-Qaeda is a largely Western phenomenon.

There was absolutely no reason to be shocked that Pakistani Muslims born in Britain chose to kill dozens of people as suicide bombers.

None of the bombers had criminal records or were known to the police in advance.

Shehzad Tanweer, 22, Mohammed Sadique Khan, 30, and a 19-year-old, Hasib Mir Hussain, have been named as the suspected suicide bombers. The fourth bomber has yet to be named.

All three came from respectable Pakistani families and were born in Britain, and lived in Leeds. None of them had previous criminal records.

Police officials said privately that the suspects were not known to police as Islamic extremists, fitting the profile of 'sleepers' who were chosen for the mission because they had not previously attracted police attention.

This is nature's way of telling Westerners that our immigration policy is the height of folly.

One of the London bombers had a father who owns several businesses.

The second alleged terrorist, Shehzad Tanweer, 20, came from Colwyn Road, Leeds, and is believed to have been responsible for the Aldgate bomb. Shehzad came from a close-knit Muslim family, with four British-born children. His father owned several businesses in the Leeds area. The family lived in a large detached house in the Beeston area in Leeds, with two Mercedes parked outside their home. Shehzad attended Leeds University, were he studied Sport Science. He sometimes helped at his father fish and chip restaurant, South Leeds Fisheries. He was a regular at the Bangali Mosque at Dewsbury Road.

The man responsible for the No. 30 Bus bombing at Tavistock Place was 19-year-old Hasib Hussain, from Colenso Mount, Leeds. Hasib, who knew Shehzad, had been wild until eighteen months ago when he became increasingly religious after visiting relatives in Pakistan. The fourth bomber, believed to be from Luton has yet to be identified, and his remains are still in the Piccadilly line train.

Sports science is not a major for the most brilliant. My suspicion is that while a lot of the terrorists have technical and scientific degrees their minds are marginal for the kind of work they set out to do. Plenty of second rate and third rate universities grant degrees in a variety of scientific and technical subjects. Are these the sorts of universities that the educated terrorists have been earning their degrees? If so then it is plausible that they end up feeling intellectually inferior and resentful of the more successful members of the majority population. I'd love to see IQ tests administered to captured terrorists who have college degrees. I'd also like to see the academic standings for the universities where they earned their degrees and their grade point averages at those universities. Anyone out there reading this a terrorism researcher? This cries out for study.

Think about this. Someone living in one country has a hard time comparing himself to someone else doing a superficially similar job in another country. But put them close together in the same office and suddenly their relative abilities become apparent. Differences in raises and promotions drive home the point that some guy has been judged less capable than some other guys in his same office. If a guy refuses to accept the idea that other people in his environment really are more capable and more productive then he's going to blame his superiors for his own inadequacy. If he happens to believe in a religion that tells him he can get a huge reward in heaven by killing these other people then for some small but significant portion of those boiling with resentment suddenly that resentment and that blame gets channelled toward flying a jumbo jet into a skyscraper or blowing up a bomb on a subway.

Also see my previous post Islamic Terrorists Recruiting At British Universities and Razib's corresponding post and the GNXP discussion of Razib's post.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 July 14 02:00 PM  Immigration Terrorism

John S Bolton said at July 14, 2005 4:12 PM:

I would like there also to be considered the possibility , that officials are not sincere in their protestations of shock and dismay over this sort of terrorism. They knew very well that the assisted immigration of hostiles would lead to intensifying hostilities. Their egalitarianism regarding hostile peoples, is a perfectly fake positioning of themselves to use ad hominem fallacies against those who dare to mention that hostiles are being waved in, and might just wilt if called racists , xenophobic or any of the other substitutes for rational disputation. Look at the increase of power that officials are reaching for on account of the terrorism which they have aggressively tolerated; censorship in Milton's land, and emergency powers beckon to the power greed of the left. The oil rich moslem countries have something in common that sets them apart, along the lines mentioned above; they can send a much larger percentage of low IQ people to graduate school than perhaps anywhere else. Their people are more in awe of the educated than the advanced countries of long standing, it is written, so a graduate degree holder, with 20 points lower IQ than his western counterpart, who is from such backward, yet rich, countries may feel all the more aggrieved than another. The perpetrators of communist atrocities in the tropics have also been from such a profile.

john d. said at July 14, 2005 4:52 PM:

Btw, you can watch the Frontline documentary online:


Stephen said at July 14, 2005 5:34 PM:

John, at last we can agree on something - I too do not believe that the officials are sincere in their protestations. But my thinking is that they can't say anything else because that leads to the obvious question from the equally insincere journalists, "Well, if you had concerns, why didn't you do anything about it?"

Stephen said at July 14, 2005 5:57 PM:

What I find particularly amazing is that 4 our of 4 of these guys committed suicide - no one chickened out.

(The guy on the bus might have originally chickened out and left the subway, but presumably got a grip on himself when he heard the sirens of the emergency services attending the other sites.)

Mark said at July 14, 2005 6:46 PM:

They think they're getting paradise and virgins (hopefully virgin gorillas ). If they knew that was it, you are dead, no more living for you no hell below us.. above us only sky, they wouldn't have the balls to do it.

Sam said at July 14, 2005 9:44 PM:

Yeah i agree with both of you there.
The first thing they say is 'shock', yet many on this blog were predicting home grown terrorist bombings for some time now, even before the London bombings. Are the politicians less informed then us bloggers? I for one don't understand why the terrorists kill innocent people, many whom may even agree with their views ( invasion of Iraq ). What is their goal? To turn even more people against them and possibly kill mild supporters. I don't agree with you Randall when you say that these bombers are somehow less intelligent then normal people. When people feel left out, isolated or angry about certain issues then whether they are intelligent or not, they will look for some meaning in their lives. This may be through religion, a life companion etc.

I propose a new direction for terrorism. Terrorists listen up! Instead of killing innocent civilians that have little to no impact on global issues, KILL THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE! Kill the politicians, kill the law makers that you don't care for, kill the people that are RESPONSIBLE! In this way you may have some sort of impact on the remaining air heads that did whatever it is that you are fighting against. Notice how people in power says things like we will not stop the fight in Iraq and Afganistan because of terrorism. That's because they aren't the ones dying, they don't care if innocent civilians have to die to further their reach. I say take the fight to THEIR homes, to THEIR places of work, and then see what impact you will have. After all, that's how it's always been done. Did the shooter that assasinated JFK ever think that bombing the crowd would help his cause?

Mark Amerman said at July 14, 2005 11:11 PM:

But Sam,

It's isn't the americans targeting and killing innocent civilians in
Iraq, it's the Baathists and the Al Quaeda. What was done in London
is the same thing that is done in Iraq, except that in Iraq it's on
a vastly larger scale.

Don't you get it?

Kenelm Digby said at July 15, 2005 3:55 AM:

If anyone here believes that the British political class has learned anything from this tragedy and will institute a volte face in their policies regarding the immigration and settlement of a profoundly alien and hostile population, then you are sadly mistaken.
It's business as usual.Each year Britain grows a small but significant percentage non-White, until White minority status by mid-century.

Jamisia said at July 15, 2005 7:56 AM:

Have you read Richard North on Eureferendum (now more about 'Europe' and the British relation to Brussels)? He tells how he grew up the only christian child in a jewish neighbourhood. No problem at all. Now he lives in Bradford in a small white enclave, in an otherwise Asian Muslim neighbourhood. The muslims can more or less do whatever they like, with regards to hygienelaws and business practices. The neighbourhood simply does not connect to the outside world, only with their relatives in Pakistan. This must be similar, I imagine, in Parisian banlieu's (suburbs). I would think that their are vastly more "outsiders" in Europe than is known. I'm sure most don't give a damn as long as they're left alone.

Today there was a report released about which countries have the most animosity towards muslims. Surprisingly, Britain is in last place (something like 16%). Not surprising either, we - the Netherlands - are in the number one spot, with 51%. I'm rambling already, so I won't finish it. There's this new site: www.werenotafraid.com. I love it! I'm not sure I am afraid of muslims (though I am full of personal fears), but I do get the feeling sometimes of not knowing what to do anymore. We've tried multiculti, we've tried integrating... does anything work at all?

Pico said at July 15, 2005 10:19 AM:

The issue is more complicated. Check out first hand accounts of the immigrant experience in Britain.


John S Bolton said at July 15, 2005 12:51 PM:

What hasn't been tried is answering war with war, or aggression with counteraggression. The use of net public subsidy to assist the immigration of moslems causes their hostility to increase continually. Assisted immigration is an extremely hostile act; it requires hatred of the host population. On top of that, the asylum granting process selects for those with the greatest hostility towards outsiders.

Sam said at July 15, 2005 6:06 PM:


I don't think you understood me, i'm actually speaking to the 'terrorists' in my post, not western nations.

razib said at July 16, 2005 10:42 PM:

the documentary is decent, but anyone REALLY interested in sageman's thesis should check out his book. filled with facts and a compact model presented with brevity.

D-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide-25 said at July 17, 2005 10:43 PM:

Arabs -- modern Arabs that is -- are not the most successful people today. All Muslim nations (including non-Arab), in fact, have been embarrassingly backwards and stagnant. This *has* played a role in building up resenment among the world's Muslims. The Muslim world needs to do some serious soul-searching. Islamic fanaticism must be curtailed if these nations are to advance and enjoy a better way of life.

Europe should cut down on mass immigration as well. Importing millions of Muslims will cause these and other problems.

On the other hand, there are millions of "failures" in the U.S. who do not go out and bomb hundreds of people. Clearly politics is involved.

D-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide-25 said at July 17, 2005 10:57 PM:

Jamisia wrote: "Today there was a report released about which countries have the most animosity towards muslims. Surprisingly, Britain is in last place (something like 16%). Not surprising either, we - the Netherlands - are in the number one spot, with 51%."

The Netherlands is far from a place of xenophobia. In some parts there are Third World immigrants just everywhere -- EVERYWHERE. The Dutch, like Americans, don't say a damn thing about it out in the open. These "polls" don't mean squat.

I have heard of skinhead attacks in East Germany and Eastern Europe, where large percentages are unemployed or in poverty. But you Dutch folks, smug and all, enjoy the creature comforts that we Americans do. :)

The intolerant Dutch. Ha!

Well, at least the Dutch are intelligent. Can't say that about the Rastafarians plaguing y'all.

M.Robinson said at July 20, 2005 6:55 AM:

It seems some peole forget their history very fast and assume their societies have been tolerant of others. Let me remind you that the Netherlands had colonies only a short while back, and on many of their clubs and institutions was the sign 'DOGS AND NATIVES NOT ALLOWED', so this selfserving backpatting should be done away with, you dutch should read some of the attrocities that have been committed not too distant in the past by your state.
I am British and its treatment of the colonies has been far from glorious, not much different to the other european colonialist history.
There are those who rant and rave like lunatics in an asylum about the 'immigration' problem. firstly its the immigrants who carry out the menial and difficult jobs, in the USA its been immigration that has driven the economy, because immigrants want to make a fresh start and thus put that extra effort. Also the natives of USA are the 'indigenous' tribes everyone else is either an immigrant or the offspring of immigrants.
The overwhelming people I have met have integrated quite well, they speak english, enjoy english food and take on board english/british culture which they like.
IN A democratic society people can choose to wear what they want, eat what they want and have ideas different to the next individual, but some the above comments seem to suggest the notion of 'I AM NOT A RACIST BUT', or 'WHY CAN'T THEY BE MORE LIKE US'.

Wake up We are not a homogenous society, WHAT MOST PEOPLE ARE DEMANDING IS THE ASSIMILATIOM OF IMMIGRANTS, this is not possible.
THIS CRAP ABOUT 'THEY ARE DOING IT FOR VIRGINS IN PARADISE' is just a smoke screen, the reason for this is more complex, and trying to reduce it down to 'virgins in paradise' is pathetic. The Tamil Tigers have the concept of suicide bombers since the late 70's. Rajiv ghandi was assasinated by a suicide bomber (female) from the Tamil tigers. The Kamikaze's during the second world war were suicide bombers.
Maybe we should start to understand that when we kill 30,000+ civilians in Iraq then we are going to create enemies who want revenge, or people will sympathise with their cause.

Cutler said at July 20, 2005 8:16 PM:

I don't buy this training argument. The majority of people that came out of Afghanistan were not terrorists, hostage takers, plane hijackers, but run of the mill insurgents. Al Qaeda pumped out storm troopers for most of the Muslim insurgencies going on around the world, Chechnya, Kashmir, the Phillipines, etc... Afghanistan was a boot camp. That sort of thing still needs to be going on, likely in Pakistan where we can't reach them.

Cutler said at July 20, 2005 8:19 PM:

"I propose a new direction for terrorism. Terrorists listen up! Instead of killing innocent civilians that have little to no impact on global issues, KILL THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE! Kill the politicians, kill the law makers that you don't care for, kill the people that are RESPONSIBLE! In this way you may have some sort of impact on the remaining air heads that did whatever it is that you are fighting against. Notice how people in power says things like we will not stop the fight in Iraq and Afganistan because of terrorism. That's because they aren't the ones dying, they don't care if innocent civilians have to die to further their reach. I say take the fight to THEIR homes, to THEIR places of work, and then see what impact you will have. After all, that's how it's always been done. Did the shooter that assasinated JFK ever think that bombing the crowd would help his cause?"

I suppose you'll still be suggesting this b.s. even as the guy's walking towards you waving his life... You're an infidel, get used to it - they don't even have a problem killing their co-religionist Sunnis.

Cutler said at July 20, 2005 8:19 PM:

sigh, life = knife, above.

Randall Parker said at July 20, 2005 10:00 PM:


Al Qaeda trained a lot more people than they invited to join up. They skimmed off who they saw as most promising. I've read they only tried to keep about a quarter of those who came for training. But the more that came through the more they found that measured up to what they were looking for.

The war in Iraq is definitely pulling more people into terrorism than otherwise would have been the case. Most won't go on from Iraq to do attacks elsewhere. But some small but significant percentage will.

M.robinson said at July 22, 2005 5:40 AM:

Wars are brilliant for one thing, resurgence of military manufacturers to the limelight, and they are helped along by devious politicians who line their pockets at a later date (to stop arousing suspicion) with a directorship, or some other title with excellent renumeration. Who cares that somebodies son or daughter is attacking( and killing innocents, and dying in the process) another nation to serve the long term aspirations of politicians and their backers.
Why is it that BUSH walks and talks tough but stayed in the national guard(air) and didn't opt for vietnam. Was it he feared actual fighting, while the likes of Kerry who were in vietnam, are accused of getting gallantry awards for nothing.

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