Peter R. Neumann,
Director of the Center for Defense Studies
King’s College, London
Dear Dr. Neumann,
I read your Op-Ed entitled “Profiling terrorists”, which appeared in todax’s International Herald Tribune (July 7, 2007). I appreciate that one cannot in a short article provide sources for the numerous allegations made.
Nevertheless, I wonder whether there exists empirical evidence to support some of the claims made in your article, particularly the thesis that some type of alienation might prompt highly educated Muslims in the West to prepare and commit terrorism, including suicide operations.
My skepticism is prompted by the fact that the alleged terrorists of 9/11, including Mohammed Atta, whom you describe as having “just completed his post-graduate degree in urban planning” and have been officially designated as fanatic Muslims, willing to sacrifice their lives for jihad, were reportedly playboys who spent their time in bars and brothels in Florida. Atta has been reported in the US media to have indulged in cocaine sniffing, gambling, drinking and lap dances. The flight school in Florida to which Atta was connected, was involved in drug smuggling in which Atta may have been involved. This is hardly what Muslim fanatics would do in their spare time, let alone highly educated professionals.
Common sense commands us to doubt that highly educated people with a job, unless suffering from acute depression, would be motivated to commit a senseless crime, let alone a suicide operation. A senseless crime is, as I define it, a crime which does not bring any benefit to the perpetrator or to the cause he wants to pursue. To arbitrary kill a few innocent passerby has no sense from a political or ideological point of view (even if we disregard the moral issue). It only causes a backlash against the group from which the perpetrator comes.”There is simply no point in such acts from the perspective of the alleged perpetrators. And while some individuals may act for absurd reasons, surely this cannot be the case when a pattern emerges. In that case, a policy can be inferred. And any policy, even the most criminal, is based on some rational reasoning.
Viewed from another perspective, the terrorist acts fulfil a very specific utilitarian purpose, namely that to discredit Muslims and keep alive the “war on terror” which has brought enormous profits to corporations and increased opportunities for the military and the intelligence services. The “war on terror” has permitted the US to accomplish what they have desired and could not do without some type of casus belli, namely attack and occupy Afghanistan and Iraq. By asking the simple question cui bono, the enigma addressed in your article, fits better Occam’s razor.
As I presume that your quest for the truth stands above political expediency, I hope that you may take into account the above considerations.
6 July 2007