Usama Bin Laden wrote a poem celebrating the September the 11th attacks:
“إنـــي لأشــــهد أنهـــم من كــل بــتار أحـــدّ
I Bear Witness That Each Of Them Was Sharper Than A Cutting Sword
يا طالما خاضوا الصعاب وطالما صالوا وشدو
Tribute To Those Who Jumped Into Troubles And Made Fierce Attacks
شتان، شتان بين الذين لربهم باعوا النفوسـ
Huge Difference Is Between The Common People And Those Who Have Sold Their Lives To Their Lord
الباسمين إلى الردى والسيف يرمقهم عبوسا
They Took A Smiling Look At Death, While Swords Gazed At Them Frowningly
الناصبين صــــدورهم من دون دعوتهم تروسا
They Turned Their Chests Into Shields For The Cause Of Islam
إن أطــبقت ســدف الظـلام وعضنا ناب أكـول
When The Shell Of Darkness Closed And A Wild Beast Bit Us
وديارنا طفحت دما ومضى بها الباغي يصـول
While Our Lands Were Bleeding And The Oppressors Were Making Fierce Attacks
ومن الميـادين اختـفت لُمـع الأسنـة والخيـــول
When The Shining Of Spears And Neighing Of Horses Have Faded From The Battlefield
وعـلت على الأنـات أنـغام المـعازف والطـبول
When The Crying Was Drowned Out By The Sounds Of Drums And Trumpets
هــــبت عواصفـهم تدك صـروحه ولـــه تــقول
At That Moment, They Rose Like A Storm And Brought Down The Enemy’s Palaces And Told him:
لن نـــوقـــف الغـارات حتى عن مرابعنا تزول
We Will Never Stop Attacking You Until You Pull Out Of Our Homes”
The theatrics of terrorism: Bin Laden plays on many narratives and psychological approaches to forge his thinking in another. Two thousand nine-hundred and ninety-six victims, innocent lives lost… do not fall for the tricks of terrorists.
What are these narratives and approaches they use? I will give you ten so you can see through them and avoid them next time:
- Collectivization: The arrogance to believe that you speak on behalf of all others and bracket all people together in a collective cause. In this case, for being a Muslim, for being a member of Islam, the Ummah. Networks and support frameworks are established between those of the ‘same kind.’ For example, ‘the Muslims.’ This may also be known as pseudokinship, in-group love, al-wala, collective identity, collective action, or collective values.
- Otherization: The assumption that one member of a group represents all members of a group.Therefore they are justified as being ‘the same’ or having similar negative traits. The best word that describes this is ‘all.’ Claims are made against all of a certain group. This is otherwise known as pseudospeciation, out-group hate, wal-bara, group selection, group bias, dehumanization, or devaluation.
- Collective Guilt: Compiling the above is the assumption that one member of a group is responsible for all members of that group. If one commits a crime, all are responsible. If one belongs to a system, and the system is implicated, then all belonging to that system are responsible. This also relates to honour-code violations, whereby extremists believe there is a pact between them and Allah, that they work as the ‘body’ of the Ummah. They claim to feel the pain of the Ummah. They claim to fight for their religious honour, the Cause.
Oppression Narrative: The grievance narrative is played off as the oppression of a group of peoples. They may not be in a minority, they may not be oppressed across the spectrum, there may be violence on both sides caused by both sides, but any interventionist approach or encroachment on their lives is seen as oppression. This feeds the victimhood narrative that oppression is a grievance, you are suffering, therefore you need to act and stop it. This also begins the paranoid, conspiracy-like thinking of the ‘other’ group.
Supremacist Narrative: Boundaries are forged between groups of people, absolute boundaries that define one from another. There is decreased interfacing between the groups and thus more backbiting and slander. This categorisation leads to unimpeded portrayal of the ‘other’ as in the wrong, as an oppressor, as an aggressor, and as the enemy. The egotistical and emotional backing is made. The individual see’s his or herself as the ‘better’ one.
- Retaliatory Violence: Violence is not instantly acceptable, it is packaged in the understanding of defence or self-defence. This makes what would be a large meal, easy to swallow in small, edible pieces. Even if the logic does not fit, the violent pathway is offered. ‘We attacked them, so they attacked us, so that means we can attack back‘ is not portrayed. Why ruin the narrative? It goes something along the lines of ‘They are re attacking us, fight back!‘ and the foundation is set. Even when the consequences are to lose your own life, there is always a half-truth that hooks the individual, the precedence is that violence can stop violence. Great bait, mate.
Divinity of Violence: The pursuit of violence is pushed into the divine realm. The ideological void is now filled with a God-given solution, an internal conflict – an ongoing identity crisis, and the appeal of the charismatic recruiter. This confuses the sympathetic, enticing him or her into justifying terroristic violence. This personal transformation for self now becomes an act of God. Ultimately, this is a self-destructive pathway to the benefit of nobody. They will tell you that this is the only religious option. That this is the only thing that the Holy Qur’an says. That this is your duty.
- False Bargaining: The contract set is that “you pull out of our homes.” This contradicts the fore-claimed divinity of violence. The limits set by terror groups expand beyond any meddling in ‘Muslim affairs‘ or ‘Muslim lands.’ The false bargain is an offer with a whole lot of small print. What some misconstrue as anti-Imperialism turns Imperialistic in nature itself as it claims to hold against all those who do wrong, or sin, by the religion.
- False Narratives: The narratives used by terrorist organisations often adjust, sometimes even contradicting one another. I gave a similar example above, but to solidify it: they expand from being in “our homes” to that of disbelief, polytheism, ‘corrupting the land,’ and other explanative religious reasoning. The narrative one minute is that you ‘have invaded us’ and the next minute that you ‘are disbelievers.’ Because there is an eternal cosmic and divine war going on, the attacks will never cease. The escalation of violence continues. What better narrative than a made-up one?
- Reward: Psst, kid, want some virgins? Bin Laden may have hated capitalism and consumerism but he loved feeding recruits the prospect of martyrdom in a neat, corporate-like marketed package. The narrative that dying for the “Cause of Islam” was a productive outlet to your hatred, aggression, frustration, and lack of morality is testament to how self-flagellatory and sadistic Islamic extremism and his target audience really are. It does not just wish to ‘stop’ problems but to punish otherwise innocent people through an individuals own worldview.
Do not fall to the feet of such evil men.
Do not justify the unjustifiable.
What they want you to believe is that the world is out to get you, hurt you, and that they hold the key to your lives. They think they are your saviour. Well, they are not. The only output they are looking from you is loss of self-control and violence.
There are much better, more productive ways of getting your point across than taking live or harming other human beings. Become an activist, lobby politicians, fund political group activities. Shout and yell at rallies for all I care. Just do not hurt anybody.
What good does terrorism do? None. Terrorists, it seems, have never learnt that…