As with becoming a whistleblower or an activist or an artist there must be numerous reasons why any individual becomes a terrorist — whether military, contract, or independent. Various irrational hatreds and fears (and promises of paradise after death) and the ready availability of weaponry certainly play roles.
But did you know that every single foreign terrorist in the United States in recent decades, plus domestic terrorists claiming foreign motivations, plus numerous poor suckers set up and stung by the FBI, plus every foreign terrorist organization that has claimed or been blamed for attempted or successful anti-U.S. terrorism have all claimed the same motivation? I’m not aware of a single exception.
If one of them claimed to be motivated by the needs of Martians, we might set that aside as crazy. If every single one of them claimed to be acting on behalf of Martians, we would at least get curious about why they said that, even if we doubted Martians’ existence. But every single one of them says something much more believable. And yet what they say seems to be a secret despite being readily available information.
Typically, this information is reported toward the end of articles with unrelated headlines, such as the Washington Post‘s article on Wednesday headlined “Orlando shooter posted messages on Facebook pledging allegiance to the leader of ISIS and vowing more attacks.” One has to read the article to discover why he would have pledged his allegiance to ISIS. Then one finds these quotations of what he wrote or said:
“America and Russia stop bombing the Islamic state.”
“You kill innocent women and children by doing us airstrikes . . . now taste the Islamic state vengeance.”
“Mateen claimed he carried out the attack because he wanted ‘Americans to stop bombing his country.’ While Mateen’s parents are from Afghanistan, he was born in the United States. Another witness said Wednesday that Mateen said, ‘America needs to stop bombing ISIS in Syria.'”
There’s a video on CNN of a survivor. The accompanying headline tells you nothing. But if you watch the video, you hear her say that she and other survivors listened to the killer call 911 and tell them that “the reason why he was doing this was he wants America to stop bombing his country.” She also says that he asked if there were any black people present, and then told them “I don’t have any problem with black people. This is about my country. You guys suffered enough.”
So this, like every other such act, was a deranged and indefensible commission of mass murder driven by resentment of U.S. bombing, and by some sort of belief in the larger cosmic justice to be found in killing the right type of people as revenge against that bombing. (Just as Americans defend bombing people in Afghanistan who’ve never even heard of the crimes of September 11, 2001, because of those crimes.)
National Public Radio, like the rest of U.S. society, holds such a strong belief in the importance of not knowing this, that it falsely reported the other day that, following a terrorist bombing in Spain, the people of Spain elected a rightwing government. In fact, the people of Spain became aware that the bombing was blowback for participation in a U.S. war; they elected a leftist government; and Spain pulled out of Iraq. And there was not another bombing in Spain.
While this latest terrorist’s country was the United States, his comments may have referred to Afghanistan or Syria or Iraq or Pakistan or Yemen or Libya or Somalia, all countries that the United States is heavily bombing. This is confusing to Americans who imagine those wars are over or have no idea they were even begun.
Should we counter every kind of bigotry? Should we watch out for signs of the next killing spree and try to prevent it? Of course. But there are two much more effective steps that could be taken: (1) get rid of all the guns; (2) stop bombing people around the world.
If it pleases your desire to hate ISIS, bear this in mind: While the Orlando killer said the bombing of ISIS must stop, that is the very last thing ISIS wants. By being bombed it develops the power to motivate more killers. ISIS lives off the same thing the bomb manufacturers live off, the same thing the NRA lives off, the same thing major media outlets live off: the reliable expectation that the United States will try to solve every problem by just doing more of what created the problem in the first place.