Suicide bombers: middle class from happy families


The belief that suicide bombers are poor, uneducated, disaffected or disturbed is contradicted by science. Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, found in a study of 400 Al Qaeda members that three quarters of his sample came from the upper or middle class. Moreover, he noted, “the vast majority–90 percent–came from caring, intact families. Sixty-three percent had gone to college, as compared with the 5-6 percent that’s usual for the third world. These are the best and brightest of their societies in many ways.” Nor were they sans employment and familial duties. “Far from having no family or job responsibilities, 73 percent were married and the vast majority had children… Three quarters were professionals or semiprofessionals. They are engineers, architects and civil engineers, mostly scientists. Very few humanities are represented, and quite surprisingly very few had any background in religion.”

No comment, other than profiling for twitchy nuts isn’t going to catch them.

That snippet isn’t exactly clear. So 3/4th of their 400 polled Al Qaeda members (a random sampling, I’m sure) came from relatively wealthy… Were they still well off? What about grief/revenge angles? What percentage of Al Qaeda members are suicide bombers? Were any of the Al Qaeda members “studied” suicide bombers?

Maybe their finding is true, but it’s sure damn hard to tell from the evidence presented. Without some better evidence I’ll continue to believe that suicide bobmers are more likely to resemble those in Syriana.

Did the guy survey 400 suicide bombers or 400 Al Qaeda members? Seems to me a significant point of clarification. One may as well survey 400 evangelical Baptists and come up to conclusions about all Republicans.

Why would you think Al Qaeda suicide bombers would be significantly different than any other kind?

Without some better evidence I’ll continue to believe that suicide bobmers are more likely to resemble those in Syriana.

No doubt based on your extensive statistical information showing it to be true?

Usually if you are destitute poor, survival is your main goal. Politics can go fuck itself. When you’re young, bored, romantic and full of idealism, then older politicians will take advantage of your naivety and turn you into a weapon.

I swear, romanticism is humanity’s worst flaw.

I don’t think much of this study. The results would be different depending on which suicide bombers you studied, and they didn’t even study suicide bombers. People working for Al Qaeda would much more likely be educated, because their goals are much more abstracted than the ones others, like Palestinians and Tamil Tigers, are fighting for. Palestinians are fighting against what they see as occupation and oppression, and you don’t need a degree to understand or want to fight against that. Al Qaeda have high aspirations of uniting the arab world under a single Islamic law. Unlike being occupied by a foreign nation this doesn’t affect an ordinary person’s day to day life, and so isn’t going to attract many other than those who have too much time to think about it, i.e. the rich and educated.

Yeah, twitchy nuts: off the hook.

The new target: Professionals. :FUNNY SMILEY:

The Hammer of Allah is unmoved. :FUNNY SMILEY: Incidentally, I think that (scientifically) looking into what “mainstream” Islam considers to be “okay” and then comparing that to what we consider to be “extreme” Islam might be worthwhile, because I’m not sure most americans really have a grasp on that. Speaking as someone raised in a fundamentalist Christian household and knowing firsthand the brainwashing power it wields, I can say with no hesitation that the thought of blowing yourself or anything else up for Jesus is just fucking crazy. But maybe the Koran makes a sexier argument, I DUNNO.


I don’t know how you do it, Larry! They just keep on coming. Do you make a living selling one-liners to comedians?

I think Al Qaeda suicide bombers are probably significantly different from Al Qaeda not-suicide-bombers, yes.

I think he means, why do you think Al Qaeda suicide bombers are so different from other suicide bombers?

I get it, but that wasn’t my original claim. I was clarifying the left-out adjectives in my first reply.

So that: “Did the guy survey 400 suicide bombers or 400 Al Qaeda members?” becomes: “Did the guy survey 400 Al Qaeda suicide bombers or 400 Al Qaeda non-suicide-bomber members?”

I ask this, because I’d be curious how he got his investigative hands on 400 AQ suicide bombers for the study.

This is kind of a strange thread. This piece of research on the nature of suicide bombing was used to support the invasion of Iraq and the ongoing battle against the jihadists the last time I saw it. It’s a report published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a think tank that can claim among its membership (and editor of its monthly magazine) the right-wing neo-conservative Zionist Daniel “crush the infidel” Pipes. It’s a pro-war institute that is using this study to push the idea that trying to fix the causes of terrorism is not the answer: smashing terrorists (and the civilians that they live among) with guns and bombs is.

The strange thing is who is pushing the report and who is denying it…

Oh crap, you’re right. Shame on me for trusting Scientific American to filter out the agenda-driven.

Heh! I was all set to flame the tar out of you Jason, but I guess you already see that this “study” should be taken with a grain of salt. or two.

Yeah, Al Queda are basically just middle-eastern goths. With bombs.

That’s about right, actually. Romanticism and nationalism go hand in hand. Bill’s joke aside, many of the people in this study are idealists of the worst sort, who emulate a certain type of poetic vision rather than thinking things through. They think their world was a better place before America (or whoever) interfered, and the leaders of the movement just reinforce such ideas.