More and more evidence from around the world is suggesting that many of the terrorists wreaking havoc both in America and abroad are often racked with emotional and mental trauma themselves. Paul Kix ran down just some of this research, that of the University of Alabama’s Adam Lankford, in a Boston Globe piece from December 2010:
Lankford cites Israeli scholars who interviewed would-be Palestinian suicide bombers. These scholars found that 40 percent of the terrorists showed suicidal tendencies; 13 percent had made previous suicide attempts, unrelated to terrorism. Lankford finds Palestinian and Chechen terrorists who are financially insolvent, recently divorced, or in debilitating health in the months prior to their attacks. A 9/11 hijacker, in his final note to his wife, describing how ashamed he is to have never lived up to her expectations. Terrorist recruiters admitting they look for the “sad guys” for martyrdom.
“Sad guys,” depressed people facing trauma and failure, and people who have attempted suicide before. Is it a psych ward at the hospital, or a large section of Al-Qaeda? It’s getting harder to tell.
I’m blogging for a couple weeks at The Nation. My first post is about why society should start affording Muslim terrorists the assumption of mental illness the way we do white dudes like James Holmes.