"Eh up, you unbelieving kuffar bastards . . ."
In a thought-provoking article, "Can We Imagine the Life of a Terrorist?" (New York Times, June 14, 2013), Robert F. Worth describes most would-be jihadis as bumbling fools:
The everyday reality of life in the jihad is often closer to a bumbling black comedy than to a redemptive tragedy or a bildungsroman. Many of those who land in terrorist groups are criminals or desperate men with a history of failure and a thirst for revenge. Most major terrorist attempts in the past decade have ended in humiliation, like Richard Reid's shoe-bombing plot in 2001 and Al Qaeda's repeated attempts to load explosives into the underwear of suicide bombers. And Al Qaeda's regional affiliates often appear to be profoundly dysfunctional organizations, run by men whose narcissism is at odds with their solemn professions of selflessness and holy purpose.Narcissism? Evidence? Here's some provided by Worth:
Last month The Associated Press published excerpts from an extraordinary and revealing letter, discovered in the rubble of Timbuktu after the French military routed the jihadis there. In it, the leaders of Al Qaeda's North Africa branch accuse one of their most unruly commanders, a man named Mokhtar Belmokhtar, of failing to file expense reports, leaving his phone off, skipping meetings that he called "useless" and failing to carry out any "spectacular operations." They complain about Belmokhtar's "backbiting, name-calling and sneering" and accuse him of making a "mockery of the basics of administration." In a passage straight out of Beckett, they describe a delegation sent to contact Belmokhtar that spent three years lost in the desert and then disintegrated without having reached him.Okay, dysfunctional, but where's the comedy? Here, says Worth:
Then there are the videotaped statements suicide bombers make before they die. In the abstract, there is nothing funny about these ghoulish productions, and yet there is something revelatory about the opening scene of Chris Morris's 2010 satire "Four Lions," in which a young British jihadi addresses the camera for his last testimonial while cradling a small toy gun. "Eh up, you unbelieving kuffar bastards," he says in a thick Yorkshire accent. When his friends stop filming and tell him to drop the toy gun, he demurs, his face crestfallen, and insists it only looks small because he has "big hands."Go see those "Big Hands," only about 80 seconds of your time, and it's quite amusing. But despite the many bumblers, there be some who won't always bumble, some mostly non-bumblers who succeed in their jihadist aims.
Even the 9/11 gang had their bumbling moments, but look what they managed to do . . .