Lawrence Wright offered a decent profile of many Al Qaeda top-men in ‘The Looming Tower.‘
They tended to be smart, educated sorts away from home. Ambitious men with deep grievances and wounded pride. Men seeking purity and strength of purpose, as well as a lost kingdom.
Like many Muslim men relative to those in the West, they’d spent most of their lives segregated from women, with many fewer opportunities to have their educations match a deeper sense of purpose and vocation. These were men, who in that rush of youth, perhaps saw little purpose in merely dedicating their lives to family, work and being connected to others through the kind of civil society and associations we have here in the West.
Of course, some men are pretty sadistic to begin with, but certainly not all.
There was righteous glory to be had, and bloody battles to be fought in driving the infidel from the Arabian peninsula, and eventually Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In fact, most of these men were often exposed to political oppression and brutality within the kinds of States common throughout the Muslim world these days.
As for the new recruits: Some of them had a bomb strapped to them same day. Not much room for franchise growth…in this life!
Wright piece on Al Qaeda’s number two man, Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
Some of Roger Scruton’s essays here. Interesting quote in this video, which may line-up with Wright’s observations about the pursuit of purity, and how it tends to end:
‘Universal values only make sense in a very specific context…the attempt to universalize them, or project and impose them…just leads to their appropriation by sinister forces.”
Any thoughts and comments are welcome.
Feel free to highlight my ignorance.
[Addition]: Of course, what do we do in defense against people who want to kill us where we live, whose ideals are fairly deluded and corrupted from the start?
Related On This Site: From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’…From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”
Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’