Sunday, April 03, 2005

But he was such a nice boy 

A portrait of Al Zarqawi, from his days in Jordanian prison:
"During their years in a Jordanian prison, inmates remember Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in his Afghan dress weeping uncontrollably in the courtyard whenever he knelt to pray.

" 'Abu Musab cried constantly. He was very emotional, almost like a child,' said 35-year-old Yousef Rababaa as he recalled the young militant.

"Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born one-time street thug who is now the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, is remembered as a gentle man obsessed with Islam's past glory...

"Rababaa who left prison with Zarqawi after an amnesty in April 1999 recollects how Zarqawi stood out among his peers for his piety.

" 'Abu Musab would be as preoccupied with writing letter after letter to his old mother as spending long hours reciting the Koran,' said Rababaa...

"Zarqawi would also wash other prisoner's clothes and scrub and clean prison lavatories, chores which other prisoners usually shunned, [another former cellmate] Abu Doma said."
What does it all demonstrate? Not much, except that gentle, humble and emotional mummy's boys can turn out to be bloodthirsty, murdering fanatics. Being sensitive is also a double-edged sword; some grow up to be humanitarians in the St Francis of Assisi mode, others merely become so enraged at perceived injustices and imperfections of the world that they are ready to do anything - absolutely anything - to rectify the situation, and that usually involves killing a lot of people.

No doubt Al Zarqawi's problem was that he became radicalized by the crusading fundamentalist strain of Islam, but nice try to the journo for trying to dig after the usual "root causes":
"Prison inmates and associates say Zarqawi found solace in an austere brand of Islam that gave him spiritual comfort from the social alienation he endured in a deprived upbringing.

"The childhood of Zarqawi, the son of an elder Bani Hassan tribesman, was shaped by poverty and the politics of the bleak industrial city of Zarqa, a melting pot of downtrodden Palestinian refugees and Bedouin tribes."
Which, seeing the usual middle to upper-class background of most of Al Qaeda's leaders, rather makes Al Zarqawi the odd one out.


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