Friday, December 21, 2012

Professor Adam Lankford: Parallels Between Suicide Terrorists and Rampage Shooters

Adam Lankford
Criminal Justice Professor
The University of Alabama

I read an interesting IHT opinion piece a couple of days ago by Adam Lankford, "What Drives Suicidal Mass Killers" (New York Times, December 17, 2012), an article in which he reports finding surprising parallels between suicidal mass killers and Muslim jihad 'martyrs':
Over the last three years, I have examined interviews, case studies, suicide notes, martyrdom videos and witness statements and found that suicide terrorists are indeed suicidal in the clinical sense . . . . Although suicide terrorists may share the same beliefs as the organizations whose propaganda they spout, they are primarily motivated by the desire to kill and be killed -- just like most rampage shooters . . . . [W]e should think of many rampage shooters as nonideological suicide terrorists. In some cases, they claim to be fighting for a cause . . . but, as with suicide terrorists, their actions usually stem from . . . [a] deeper and more personal . . . . triad of factors that sets these killers apart. The first is that they are generally struggling with mental health problems that have produced their desire to die . . . . The second factor is a deep sense of victimization and belief that the killer's life has been ruined by someone else, who has bullied, oppressed or persecuted him . . . . The key is that the aggrieved individual feels that he has been terribly mistreated and that violent vengeance is justified. In many cases, the target for revenge becomes broader and more symbolic than a single person, so . . . . the urge to commit suicide becomes a desire for murder-suicide . . . . The third factor is the desire to acquire fame and glory through killing . . . . Attackers who commit murder-suicide in public are . . . brazen and unusual. Most suicide terrorists believe they will be honored and celebrated as "martyrs" after their deaths and, sure enough, terrorist organizations produce martyrdom videos and memorabilia so that other desperate souls will volunteer to blow themselves up . . . . [R]ampage shooters have often been captivated by the idea that they will become posthumously famous.
This is interesting, and not insignificant, for it undercuts the Islamist position that 'martyrdom operations' are not suicide missions and thereby entails that these are forbidden by sharia . . . not that I expect Islamists to accept the findings of an 'infidel' scientist.

One question, however, remains for me: Are the causes of the 'mental illness' also parallel, or does Islamist ideology perhaps drive some individuals insane? Islamism is a grievance ideology, forever blaming external foes for Islam's problems. Anyone who's taken the trouble to look into the matter will attest that Islamists typically blame the Jews, primarily, for all the evils in the world, and they invariably cite the forged documents known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as if these fakes were proof of Jewish aims to dominate the world. Islamists certainly encourage "a deep sense of victimization" among their followers, and I happen to think that Islamism gives rise to extremely frustrated, unhappy individuals "struggling with mental health problems." Moreover, Islamist ideology not only promises that suicide bombers will be "honored and celebrated as 'martyrs' after their deaths," it also promises an eternal afterlife of endless sensual pleasure of drinking and whoring. In effect, these 'suicide' killers get to keep on living, even living it up!

I therefore think that Professor Lankford needs to take his investigation at least one step further and determine if Islamism produces the clinical state of mind that he describes . . . or perhaps he has already, in his book.

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At 10:56 AM, Blogger whitney said...

Ha! No, the islamist will never except those conclusions for a couple reasons. 1) western infidel devil scientist and 2) he refers to a 'triad' of reasons. Don't you know, any trinity makes the islamists 100% nuts (as opposed to the normal 97% nuts). No tricycles in Islam

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Good points, Whitney -- the "triad" objection should also have occurred to me!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:23 AM, Blogger whitney said...

Yeah, the trinity is a serious pet peeve in Islam. I find it pretty amusing that they are flanked on both sides. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to the west and Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to the east. I think if we could just coordinate and press in all their heads would explode and that would be the end of that. And good riddance.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...


Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:55 AM, Blogger whitney said...

Nice! I think I hear allah gnashing his teeth

At 12:25 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Proof, anyway, of his existence . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:42 PM, Blogger whitney said...

Well, if my believing is proof then, Ok, he exists. I will go one step further. Looking at his prophet and his works it is obvious to me who Allah is, and it is not the God of Abraham, Issac and Moses. The only ones saying that are either not paying attention or atheists

At 3:16 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Early Islam had some similar suspicions, but citing those sources now will get you a fatwa.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:51 PM, Blogger Robert Welain said...

This topic is kinda controversial. Students in my country even do argumentative essays about it.
BTW, here is the list with some argumentative essay topics.

Cheers, Jeff! :)

At 8:42 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I usually delete advertisements, but this one can stay.

Jeffery Hodges

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