Archive for Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Just what makes terrorists tick?

September 7, 2010


“My Trip to Al-Qaeda” (8 p.m., HBO) offers one journalist’s meditation on fundamentalist Islam, and its history and appeal. Lawrence Wright has won a Pulitzer Prize for his book “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11,” and he has recently put on a one-man Broadway show about his experiences and his moral qualms about researching the book and interviewing men he knew were murderers and terrorists.

Wright’s link to Islamic culture goes back to the late 1960s, when he taught at an American school in Cairo. Some of the 9/11 hijackers graduated from that school long after Wright’s time there. But he understands the culture of the educated, westernized and disaffected Muslims who chafed against Egypt’s corrupt society and who were radicalized by time spent in jail cells and torture chambers.

Wright does a rather remarkable job describing the existential absurdity of Saudi Arabia. He describes a society where a handful of sheiks literally own everything and where a religious order controls everything else. The only outlet, he observes, is shopping. He cites statistics about the widespread depression of young Saudis who feel trapped and turn to the suicidal nihilism of the extremists as the only way to bring meaning to their empty lives.

Wright’s brush with terrorism predates 2001. Three years before 9/11, Wright wrote the screenplay to “The Siege,” a speculative Hollywood drama about a terror attack on New York starring Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington. Even before its release, fundamentalist groups called the film a slur on Islam and bombed a Hard Rock Cafe in South Africa, citing the restaurant chain’s connection to Bruce Willis. Several tourists were killed.

“The Siege” did not predict 9/11, but Wright found much of it sadly prescient. He sees the invasion of Iraq and the use of torture and rendition of suspects as playing right into Bin Laden’s playbook. While we talked about “liberating” Iraq, most in the Muslim world saw it as just one more humiliation at the hands of Western “crusaders.”

• The Disney Channel turns to an old friend and property with the music-filled “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Road Rally” (6 p.m., Disney).

Tonight’s other highlights

• Starting tonight, “Friday Night Lights” (5 p.m., Family) airs nightly on ABC Family.

• The “30 for 30” documentary “One Night in Vegas” (7 p.m., ESPN) recalls the night of a 1996 Mike Tyson bout that ended with the shooting death of rapper Tupac Shakur.

• The top 10 perform on “America’s Got Talent” (8 p.m., NBC).

• “Primetime” (9 p.m., ABC) looks at food and the brain.


jaywalker 7 years ago

"Wright wrote the screenplay to “The Siege,” a speculative Hollywood drama about a terror attack on New York starring Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington. Even before its release, fundamentalist groups called the film a slur on Islam and bombed a Hard Rock Cafe in South Africa, citing the restaurant chain’s connection to Bruce Willis. Several tourists were killed."

"That's a slur! Come, let's bomb some innocents to prove it! " Laughed out loud at the irony and idiocy.

Ron Holzwarth 7 years ago

For a Westerner like me, it was bone chilling to hear about how thrilling it was to watch a woman get stoned to death in Saudi Arabia. First, the woman was buried in sand up to her neck. The rest of the details are to gruesome to describe.

We will simply never understand it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

Yea, it's a whole lot more "civilized" to have snipers kill women and children from building tops, or from helicopter gunships, or with 2000-lbs "smart" bombs, or predator drones, or ....

jaywalker 7 years ago

First of all, please support your standard hyperbole concerning snipers taking out women and children. Man, you're one sick puppy.
Second, who made such a comparison or said either was ok or more "civilized"?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

"please support your standard hyperbole concerning snipers taking out women and children"

If it really happens then it's not hyperbole. And it really does happen, and not just by "terrorists," but by so-called armies wearing the uniforms of the US and Israel, among many others.

"Man, you're one sick puppy. "

What does that mean? Do you want to lap up my puke? (Now that's sick.)

"Second, who made such a comparison"

I believe that would be I who made the comparison, which I believe is perfectly acceptable under the user guidelines (although clearly not under yours, but who cares?)

"or said either was ok or more "civilized"?"

Don't know. My opinion is that it's neither OK nor civilized in either case. Do you agree?

jaywalker 7 years ago

So you can't support it. Check. (Shocker)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

It must be nice to have memory that resets itself every two minutes or so, jaywalker. It must make denial ever so easy. But it must be difficult having to relearn how to tie your shoelaces every morning.

jaywalker 7 years ago

Not as nice as believing that throwing out any old piece of bs makes you credible in any sense.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

We aren't writing master's theses, here jaywalker.

I have no intentions of footnoting every post I make just because you want to play ignorant if I don't.

Then again, you probably aren't playing, are you?

jaywalker 7 years ago

It's fairly amazing you keep posting what you do and think you've actually said anything.
I haven't asked for footnotes, I'm simply STILL waiting for you to support the claim I initially disputed. But that's not gonna happen, is it buddy? Like I said, shocker! Actually surprised? Naaaw, 'cuz this is how it works with you every time: 1) You post something absolutely ludicrous, assinine, hyperbolic, incredibly exaggerated.... 2) I call you on it 3) You never support it AND/OR obfuscate.

Come on, now, post some more about foot notes or how it's not hyperbole if YOU say it isn't. That's all so much more persuasive than actual support or a real argument.

jafs 7 years ago

Do you think we haven't killed any civilians??

jafs 7 years ago

Or from helicopters.

Or with "smart" bombs.

Or drones.

The statement, although a bit provocative, was clearly a statement that we shouldn't be proud of our activities in war.

And that they result in the deaths of many civilians - in fact many more civilians than combatants.

jafs 7 years ago

I understand.

But it just seems like a big waste of time to focus on one line.

I'd much rather see people discuss the point raised, which was that we have an unfortunate tendency to ignore our own bad actions, while focusing on the bad actions of other nations.

And, I think Bozo could and should have worded his comment differently, if he wanted to generate a worthwhile discussion, rather than just being provocative.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

Jaywalker isn't really "thinking" here. He's merely doing his contrarian schtick in order to pump himself up.

jaywalker 7 years ago

Quite right. Has nothing to do with challenging heinous accusations, but merely a vanity exercise wherein I reflexively take a contrary position without actually thinking that bozo's self-loathing agenda must be factual 'cuz, after all, he says so.
Ya got me.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

"self-loathing agenda"

Can you support that? Footnotes, please.

jaywalker 7 years ago

You're asking for support? That's amusingly ironic. I'd say the bulk of your comment history suffices, it's readily available for you at any time. Have at it.

jafs 7 years ago


Do you think we don't kill massive amounts of civilians in wars?

If we do, we shouldn't be proud of it.

jaywalker 7 years ago

I apologize for not responding to you already, jafs, but I didn't because I believed Vertigo had cleared this up for you. This futile exercise with bozo is in regards to his ludicrous claim which Vertigo already pointed out. Has nothing to do with whether civilians become casualties of war, that's certainly an unfortunate, horrible side effect of conflict. And I don't know anyone who's proud of it. But we don't have snipers taking out women and children, period. And that's what this has been about.

jafs 7 years ago

He also included many other ways in which civilians may be getting killed.

You focus on one part, which may be debatable, and ignore the rest.

And, when people focus on the horrible things that the "other side" does, while ignoring the horrible things that "our side" does, they do it in order to maintain some sort of moral high ground, which in many cases is not warranted.

I think that's Bozo's main point.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

No, no, no. My main point, as jaywalker so insightfully points out, is to loathe myself.

Now, pardon me, I need to go self-flagellate. I'm already behind for the day (but I've got some nifty new spiked chains I got off the interweb.)

jaywalker 7 years ago

Sure he did, jafs, 'cept that's not what I took issue with. I wasn't ignoring the rest, I simply wanted some sort of citation for the claim that our forces are using snipers on women and children. As you can see, none are forthcoming.

As for your equivocation, I don't wanna get bogged down in a discussion on our "sins" vs. others. While bozo may have wished his 'point' to be as salient as you attribute it to be, he chose instead to throw out an inflammatory lie right from the start. It's also amusing that while cheaply smearing our military in comparison with some people that would stone a woman to death, he chose to include 'smart bombs' as an example of our "uncivilized" murder of civilians. The whole point of the smart bomb technology is to minimize collateral damage.

In any case, I wasn't debating the effects of collateral damage or who commits more uncivilized acts. My argument was with the sniper claim. That's it.

jafs 7 years ago


Way to miss the point, though.

jafs 7 years ago

And, I take issue with your characterization of "equivocation" - I am neither attempting to deceive nor refusing to commit myself.

I believe that it is a very bad idea for us to ignore our own many flaws and mistakes, while pointing out those of the other side.

I believe it is a form of projection of the shadow (see Jung).

I believe that we should look honestly at our nation and its' actions, and stop pretending we're perfect.

In fact, I believe, with Jung, that it is our moral duty to do so.

And, that it would be more in our own best interests to do so, since we cannot correct mistakes we are unable to acknowledge.

Hardly equivocal.

jaywalker 7 years ago

First of all, you're taking my responses to you entirely the wrong way. I meant nothing by "equivocation" except as a sum-up of that one paragraph concerning bad acts vs. bad acts.

Second, I'm NOT missing ANY point. You came along and broadened the scope of what this particular dialogue was about. Vertigo alerted you to the subject, now I've done it twice. You're the one missing the point here. I agree with what you're saying in regards to recognizing our own flaws, but THAT is NOT what I've been hammering bozo on. Sweet cheese and rice, I'm simply focusing on the sniper comment..... the sniper comment the sniper comment the sniper comment....

Got it?

jafs 7 years ago


Except it's a tiny part of his post.

And misses the point entirely.

I realize that's what passes for discussion these days, especially in political matters, but it's not very useful.

jaywalker 7 years ago

A tiny part of his post? It's the longest segment of one open-ended sentence, and it's a flat-out delusioinal fabrication! You answered "Sure", as in you "Got it", but YOU are still missing the point. Once he opted to start his 'point' with that offensive and twisted piece of bozo-ness, whatever else he has to offer has lost all credibility, at least to me. I don't know how many other ways I can spell this out for you, but it was never a political discussion I was looking for from him, I simply wanted him to support that rot or call him on it. That's it.

And I stand corrected on 'equivocation', poor choice of words on my part. I'm embarassed. My bad.

jafs 7 years ago

Thanks for the other part.

That is what "equivocal" means though, just so you know.

jaywalker 7 years ago

"And that they result in the deaths of many civilians - in fact many more civilians than combatants."

Whoops. Missed the above response to Vertigo, jafs. I certainly hope you're not serious with that last sentence fragment, but if you are I sure would love to see some citation that support that assertion.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

You know, there's this new-fangled thing called the internet, and another one called google. You should check them out sometime.

jaywalker 7 years ago

No kiddin'? Seems like those might be good tools for you to use when called out for being a liar. I've noticed you don't always have a problem posting links, curious why you'd post back here multiple times and not use those tools to prove me wrong? Head scratcher, that one.

And I've already done a search for jafs' claim, pal. Bupkiss.

jafs 7 years ago

Well, I'd have to do some research.

But I'm pretty sure that more civilians are killed in wars than combatants, especially with the casual attitude we have towards "collateral damage".

And I know that we have killed about 30 times more Iraqi civilians than the American folks who died on 9/11.

Given a pretty conservative estimate of 100,000 Iraqi civilians.

jaywalker 7 years ago

You really need to stop when you're talking rationally and factually, jafs. First: your initial claim wasn't a general "killed in wars", it was "we". 'Course, at the end of that you do use "we", and then you inexplicably add in the 'casual attitude'. That's not just tippin' your hand on this, it's flat out dumb. Read above: smart bombs....and then do some research. 'We' have invested billions into R&D in an attempt to make conflict as antiseptic as possible; we're the WORLD leaders in TRYING to minimize collateral damage. There is no 'casual attitude' amonngst those in the midst.

"we've killed 30 times more Iraqi civilians than American folks who died on 9/11"

Ok. Now THAT's equivocation. Is one somehow supposed to correlate with another???? Regardless, your belief that you have a firm grasp on the facts is downright disturbing. There MAY have been that many civilians killed in Iraq, but that would be a TOTAL with the overwheliming majority attributed to insurgents or tribal martyrs.

Wow. That's all so bad in so many ways.

jafs 7 years ago

I retract my original claim - I don't have the time or energy to research it enough to support it.

I stand by my assertion that we as a nation are too willing to accept civilian casualties as "collateral damage". If they're civilians of other countries.

And, that with all of our advanced technology, and the billions of dollars we spend on our military, that we should be doing better.

For example. if we had gone after Bin Laden with a small, covert elite force and killed him, without killing any civilians, that would have been a military action I could support (although I wonder if it wouldn't have been better to put him on trial first).

jafs 7 years ago

The more important point is that those "freedom fighters" most likely became anti-American after we refused to help the Afghans rebuild their country once they had helped us bring the Soviet Union down.

I believe that part happened under Reagan's watch.

Graczyk 7 years ago

Just what makes terrorists tick?

Bomb timers. Next question please.

mr_right_wing 7 years ago

Defender...I'm worried about you. You're really starting to mellow.

& ha ha!! Very witty.


jonas_opines 7 years ago

Homeland Security doesn't look for ticking anymore because Modern Terrorists don't tick. But when a Modern Terrorist vibrates, Homeland Security has to move in.

Red_Forman 7 years ago

I thought they had all gone digital.

Take_a_letter_Maria 7 years ago

You mean besides the little clock attached to the bomb strapped to their chest?

booyalab 7 years ago

looks like lots of people beat me to it. Gotta work on my originality

missunderestimate 7 years ago

Timex. It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

Armored_One 7 years ago

At first glance, I thought the word 'tick' in the title was the word 'sick', and I just had to pause and absorb that, which naturally led me to the conclusion I had to have read it wrong.

A fanatic is a fanatic. The woman that shot Selena was no less mentally unhinged than the ones on the planes on 9-11, the guys that blew up Pan Am 103, or that truly psychotic [expletive deleted] that carved 'Slayer' into his arm and ended up being the cover art for that same band's album.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.