Dr. Watson: What makes a suicide bomber tick?

Published 9:35 pm Saturday, August 19, 2006

We have all asked how a person of normal intelligence could blow himself or herself into oblivion in order to kill innocent fellow human beings. What appears to be unexplainable is reframed by radical Muslims to the point that the perpetrator is presented as a hero carrying out the orders of Allah.

Research shows that suicide bombers are not crazy and there is no evidence they are psychopathic but are otherwise ordinary people from average backgrounds. They generally have good insight into their actions and are aware of how others view them. They believe that their violent behavior, while regrettable, comes from their faithfulness to and love of their Muslim culture. In fact, they do not see what they are doing as suicidal murder at all but one of heroism and honor.

According to the researchers, the suicide bomber has been brain washed to accept as fact a set of ideas that he or she has been victimized by a hostile world. As Muslims they have been treated unjustly by a policy, a person, or a nation which is. without a doubt. a demon in the service of Satan that must be destroyed. To serve as the instrument of Allah in killing infidels is to fulfill a divine mission.

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To take the idea a step further, suicide bombers are fully convinced that by blowing themselves up in a crowd of people, they make themselves into martyrs, earning for themselves a place in Paradise. And why not? They have carried out a noble and Godly mission. Through this one act they have upheld the values of their family, religion, race and nationality and caused the triumph of the good. They are sure that acting on God’s behalf to defend these values is more important than life itself. For example, for a Muslim to live under any government that is not Islamic is humiliating. It would be far better to live in Paradise as a hero.

Interviews with suicide bombers who have been stopped before they could carry out their mission shows that they tend to depersonalize their victims, thinking of them as only infidels or not thinking about them at all. Instead, they are focused on the details of their mission and the great rewards that lie ahead in the next life. We might pause here to remember that opposite of love is not hate but indifference. The quality that makes us civilized human beings is a caring concern for one’s fellow man. That trait is clearly missing from the mind and heart of a suicide bomber.

Brigitte Gabriel, from Lebanon, shared her view of suicide bombers at the Duke University Counter Terrorism Speak Out a couple of years ago:

“When the Moslems and Palestinians declared Jihad on the Christians in 1975, they started massacring the Christians, city after city. I ended up living in a bomb shelter underground from age 10 to 17, without electricity, eating grass to live, and crawling under sniper bullets to a spring to get water..

Once upon a time, there was a special place in the lowest depths of hell for anyone who would intentionally murder a child. Now, the intentional murder of Israeli children is legitimized as Palestinian ‘armed struggle’. However, once such behavior is legitimized against Israel, it is legitimized everywhere in the world, constrained by nothing more than the subjective belief of people who would wrap themselves in dynamite and nails for the purpose of killing children in the name of God. Because the Palestinians have been encouraged to believe that murdering innocent Israeli civilians is a legitimate tactic for advancing their cause, the whole world now suffers from a plague of terrorism, from Nairobi to New York, from Moscow to Madrid, from Bali to Beslan

A majority of America’s Arabs came from the area of the Middle East comprising Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan and most of them settled in Michigan, California, New Jersey, and New York. The earliest immigrants were merchants from Syria and Lebanon. (Remember the Lebanese traveling salesman in the Broadway musical, Oklahoma?) While a majority of the population in the Arab world are Muslims, the vast majority of Arab Americans are Christians, not Muslims. According to the Arab American Institute, 63% of the Arab American are Christians, 24% are Muslims, the remaining 13% are of other religions or have no affiliation.

Trouble in the their homelands brought most of the Arab immigrants to America:

Many were displaced Palestinians when Israel was established in 1948.

Others came from Egypt where their lands were confiscated by the Nasser regime.

Syrians came after they had been overthrown by revolutionaries.

Iraqi royalists were fleeing from the Republican regime in Iraq when they came.

There was a dramatic increase in the number of Arabs coming to America from the Middle East in the 1960’s. ( I only wish they could have known the calmer, gentler America of the 1950’s). Many came because of the turmoil in their homelands:

The 1967 war,

The civil war in Lebanon,

The Kurd-Iraqi war of the 1960’s,

The violence in Iraq and Iran in the late 1970’s.

These conditions pushed the Arabs out of their countries at the same time the U.S. Immigration Act of 1965 ended the quota system that had favored Immigrants from Europe. Many in the later migration were wealthy, well educated Muslims. They generally spoke fluent English, many had attended Western schools, and many were professionals. In general, Arab Americans have earned masters and doctoral degrees at twice the national average.

Like the early immigrants from Lebanon and Syria, many of today’s Arab immigrants carry on the tradition of selling. They may be characterized as young, well educated, often holding executive positions or owning their own businesses. While their women are generally behind the men in education and positions, the right to become all they wish to be in this country has also produced some outstanding Arab women who are leaders in their chosen fields.

Here are a few of our distinguished Arab Americans :

Let me begin with Huda Akil Watson, the wife of our oldest son, Stan, and the mother of two of our grandchildren, Katie and Brendon.

I met Huda when she was a young student at the University of Iowa. I was impressed with this friendly young lady with a lovely personality and ready smile and, when Stan confided that he was very interested in Huda, I agreed that she was a keeper. Although I had met several of the fine young women he dated, I remember telling him, “Don’t let this one get away.”

For over two decades Huda and Stan have served as CoDirectors of the Mental Health Institute of the University of Michigan. She is the Gardner Quarton Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at the University and past president of the Society for Neuroscience, an international organization of over 28,000 brain research scientists.

Dr. Michael DeBakey, chancellor of Baylor University’s College of Medicine, the pioneer in heart surgery who invented the heart pump.

Danny Thomas, actor and comedian founded the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. (His daughter, Marlo, is an Emmy award winning actress.)

George Mitchell, U.S, Senate Majority Leader during the Clinton Administration, later served as chief negotiator seeking to establish Israel and the Palestinians as neighboring nations.

Donna Shalala, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin. She also taught at Baruch College and Columbia University. Appointed by President Bill Clinton, she served for 8 years as the nations longest serving Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Jamie Farr, better known as the colorful Corporal Klinger on the long running T.V. series, M*A*S*H .

Christa MeAuliffe, the school teacher astronaut who died when her space rocket, Challenger, exploded in space.

Doug Flutie, quarterback who was voted Canadian Football’s Most Valuable Player.

We can appreciate the contributions of Arab Americans in contrast to the danger of the radical Muslims who have invaded our nation. Radical Muslims have openly declared that they have every intention of wiping Israel off the map, dominating Europe and the Middle East and defeating America. We came much closer to losing WW ll than most of us realize but, in the opinion of many political analysts, we are now facing a greater danger and it will not go away in our lifetime. Our present need is to identify the terrorists while being careful to protect loyal, patriotic Arab Americans because, like us, they are also targeted by the terrorists.

Arab Americans have become invaluable to our nation in many occupations from working in plants, to owning grocery stores, from classroom teaching to science and politics. Clearly, they have accepted the challenge laid down by President John Kennedy when he inspired an entire generation with the admonition, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Those words were penned by Arab American author, Kahlil Gibran, several years before the President quoted them.

You no doubt have learned about the terrorists who planned to blow up planes filled with American passengers flying from London to the United States. Among the plotters was a couple who intended to fill the baby’s bottle with a liquid explosive. Civilized people across the world have expressed horror that a little baby would be sacrificed in such a tragic plot. We need to keep in mind that the sick religion of these people teaches that Allah is a great God who hates all except a few chosen Muslim radicals. They believed that, by sacrificing themselves and their little baby boy they would become martyrs and immediately be together in heaven. The fact that the true God of creation loves all people of all nations equally has never crossed their minds.

Anyone raised in the Christian tradition of nurturing human life will find it virtually impossible to understand what make a suicide bomber commit suicide/murder and call it an act for God. Nevertheless, children in radical Arab schools around the world are not being educated, they are being brain washed to hate the rest of mankind. It will test the ingenuity of free people everywhere to get to them with the truth. Military defense is necessary for the present but the real war will be won or lost in the minds and hearts of people- what is true and good versus what is false and evil. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12 King James Version.