Saturday, July 24, 2004

Compulsory jihad 

How low can you go? Very low, apparently:

"It is one of the most frightening forms of violence in Iraq today — dozens of human bombers willing to die for their cause. But Brig. Gen. John Custer, the director of intelligence for Central Command, told ABC News he believes many of the bombers are forced to carry out the attacks.

"Custer said there was evidence some bombers were physically chained inside the vehicles used in the attacks.

" 'What we've found in a number of places are hands chained to a steering wheel,' he said. 'Up in Irbil, we found a foot roped into the car, unable to escape. Their children were kidnapped and held — they were forced. We've seen faces blown off and been able to identify the perpetrator'."
I recall vaguely in the aftermath of S11 some voices in the commentariat saying that the terrorist attacks were horrible, but (there is always "but") one had to in a sense admire the courage of the hijackers who were so committed to their cause that they so willingly sacrificed their lives to further it*. Aside of the big "so what?" (there are always enough people willing to lay down their - and other people's - lives for a cause, however crazy or wicked. It says very little of the nature of the cause or the essential character of the perpetrator), then surfaced evidence that some of the September 11 Nineteen might not have been aware they were in for a suicide mission. And now this milestone in the terrorist struggle: forcibly sacrificing somebody else's life for your cause.

It's tragic, but it also indicates that the jihadis might be finding it harder and harder to find willing recruits to blow themselves up and take some infidels with them. And in contrast with the sense of pride and joy that seems to pervade many Palestinian families after the martyrdom of one of their own, you can imagine the feelings of these Iraqi families towards the terrorists, after daddy or brother is handcuffed to the steering wheel and sent off to die. What a perfect way to lose those proverbial hearts and minds of the locals. 

* For example this famous quote from
Susan Sontag (of course): "And if the word 'cowardly' is to be used [to describe the attack or the hijackers], it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards."


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