Chris Boudreau, a grieving mother from Canada, traveled to Europe this last week to learn about ways to spare other families whose children risk the same fate as her son. Damian Clairmont died in January at age 22 while fighting for the jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria. Clairmont, Boudreau said, converted to Islam to help him recover from depression after he attempted suicide when he was 17. He eventually told his mother he was leaving for Egypt to learn Arabic and study as an imam.
Clairmont’s story is not rare. The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King’s College London says that jihadists in Syria have enticed as many as 11,000 recruits since 2011.
Why do young men get attracted to Islamism? I always ask this question. Burkhard Freier, chief of North Rhine-Westphalia’s intelligence service, says “Salafism is a lifestyle package for young people because it offers them social warmth, a simple black-and-white view of the world, recognition by their peer group–basically everything they lack in real life.”
Anne Speckhard, author of Talking to Terrorists, spoke to the psychology of radical Islam in an interview with WORLD News Group. “It gives a course of action, it gives a rationale for revenge, and it gives an out,” she said, adding that jihadists tend to feel extreme calm and endorphin-driven euphoria after swearing to kill infidels or even themselves. “I call it short-term psychological first aid,” Speckhard said. She interviewed more than 400 detained terrorists in Iraq between 2005 and 2007.
Speckhard said, “understanding radical Islam as an emotional crutch for aimless men or depressed youth like Clairmont is important: “No one just adopts a militant ideology out of the blue.”
A Malaysia man fought with Afghan jihadists against the Soviets. He said, “I was a very young man, I was bored in this small village, and it was a chance to see the world.”
True for some people, but I think all jihadists do not become jihadists only because they are depressed. 9/11 terrorists were rich, and successful. They were not aimless dudes. I never heard Osama Bin Laden was a depressed man. He had money, followers, women. Is Abu Bakr al Baghdadi depressed? I doubt it. They were indoctrinated with Islam since chilhood.
There are many reasons for young men to join terrorist organizations. Some to get rid of loneliness, depression, fucked- up life. Some to take revenge. Some definitely find violence exciting. Most terrorists, I believe, become terrorists, because they believe Islam is the only true religion and it is their religious duty to kill enemies of Islam and make the world the land of Islam. They of course think by doing this they will be rewarded in heaven. Political terrorists do the same, they believe their political ideology is the best ideology, and it is their political duty to kill their opponents, and then rule the country without any problem. Political terrorists also get rewarded by powerful politicians. Killing for an ideology is very common, either for political ideology or for religious ideology. However much we say that religion should be a personal matter, but it is almost impossible to make it a personal matter. Politics is hardly personal.