Scott Atran – What Makes a Terrorist?

April 22, 2013

Back in the summer of 2011—just before the 10 year anniversary of 9/11—this show welcomed on Scott Atran, an anthropologist who is a leading expert on terrorism and violent extremism.

Now, in the wake of the Boston bombings and the dramatic capture of suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, we called Atran back to discuss the first large scale U.S. terrorist bombing since 9/11.

As Atran’s research shows, the Tsarnaev brothers share many parallels with other young, disaffected men who opt for extremist violence around the world.

But Atran’s broader conclusion from the past week may be an unsettling one: When we devote such massive societal attention to a few homegrown terrorists, we may not ultimately be doing ourselves any favors.

Scott Atran
is an anthropologist and an expert on terrorism with appointments at John Jay College, the University of Michigan, and Oxford. He is author of the book Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (un)Making of Terrorists, and in his research has personally interviewed mujahidin, Hamas, and the plotters behind the Bali bombing.

This is point of inquiry from Monday, April 22nd, 2013, on the show this week, we talked to anthropologist and expert on terrorism, Scott Atran, about what makes a terrorist. 

Welcome to Point of inquiry. I’m Chris Mooney point of inquiry is the radio show and the podcast of the Center for Inquiry, a think tank advancing reason, science and secular values in public affairs and at the grassroots. And if you don’t already, please follow us on Twitter at point of inquiry and also on Facebook at slash point of inquiry. Back in the summer of 2011, just before the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. This show welcomed on the air. Scott Atran, an anthropologist who’s a leading expert on terrorism and violent extremists. Now, in the wake of the Boston bombings and the dramatic capture of the suspect, Jahar, so naive. We called Attaran back again to talk about what is the first large scale U.S. terrorist bombing since then. ASAT Trends research shows the Tsarnaev brothers share a lot of parallels with other young disaffected men who opt for extremist violence around the world. But at Trend’s broader conclusion from the past week may be kind of an unsettling one, because as he will explain, when we devote such massive societal attention to a few homegrown terrorists, we ultimately might not be doing ourselves any big favors. Scott Atran is an anthropologist and an expert on terrorism with appointments at John Jay College, the University of Michigan and Oxford. He is author of the book Talking to the Enemy, Faith, Brotherhood and the Unmaking of Terrorists. In his research, he has personally interviewed mujahedeen members of Hamas and the plotters behind the Bali bombing. Scott Atran, welcome back to a point of inquiry. Glad to be back. 

Yes, very timely moment to have you back because there’s no media swarm of attention about these guys, these brothers. Sarn, I have brothers who have just been apprehended. One of them was killed in Boston. And we talked two years ago about the kind of people who end up becoming terrorists and violent extremists. So how much do these guys fit the pattern, not fit the pattern. 

Well, they pretty much fit the pattern. I mean, that’s pretty much what I thought from the very beginning. I mean, you know, they were sort of self-declared ordinary what they were described as sort of regular Cambridge kids. 

Most of the most plotters, like the young men who carried out the Madrid or London attacks or some of the young growing homegrown plotters here. Most of these homegrown jihadi plotters are just disaffected young men from diaspora immigrant communities. About 90 percent of attacks against the West are from a diaspora immigrant community. And they sort of first hook up with the broad sentiment against the global attack on Islam before they move in to sort of narrow, parallel universe, sometimes get an apartment together. Often they equip the mosque or expelled because there are interruptions of Friday’s sermons and discussions. When they yell at the imam and others to put up or shut up for jihad just aren’t tolerated anymore. So they’re kicked out and they start cutting ties with their former companions who they feel are too timid to act. They’ve become estranged from their wives and girlfriends. Some of the times they’re Christians ties with want to leave bombers in Madrid or Tom Flynn Nayef Nayef. And then they cement their bonds with friends and family who are willing to strike. And they come out of their cocoon with a strong commitment to kill and die if necessary, but without any clear contingency planning for what might happen after the initial attack. 

Well, that sounds like it matches it pretty closely, although I guess there’s one thing that doesn’t match here. The younger brother, I think if I’m an apprentice animated show car doesn’t seem like he withdrew because he was back at school the next day. And his friends say they never noticed any change in him. He seemed like he managed to not vanish from society, right? 

Yeah. A lot of the times it’s it’s it’s one of the people who are truly committed. They are able to bring or lose others into their cocoon. And some of the others maintain sometimes maintain ties with the outside. That’s, again, pretty common. These aren’t cells and they’re not a brainwashed group. They’re clusters of young young guys disaffected for one reason or another who seek significance and meaning in their life, glory and adventure. Other usually guys in transitional stages in their life. I mean, it used to be the old al-Qaida was well-educated, you know, mostly science educators. Matter of fact, engineers and doctors, because those are the people usually lead revolutionary insurgency groups or terrorist groups. They’re ideologically committed and they usually beat out the police and the armies who operate on sort of typical reward structures, pay or promotion. But since 9/11, with the destruction of the al-Qaida core, it’s sort of diffused into a mass movement. And it’s the you know, the old al-Qaida were sort of action figures for these younger people who want to, again, find significance, who are in these transitional stages between jobs or girlfriends or students or. Immigrants and they find significance in this case is a pretty powerful, pretty powerful call. But again, they’re not cells by any means. They’re just, you know, bunches of guys who who are self seekers rather than rather than. Recruiters and this is the case, you know, almost everywhere. Take a Faisal Shahzad, you know, the guy who tried to blow up Times Square or Major Hasan killed 13 fellow soldiers at Fort Hood. So they’re inspired by online rhetoric, in this case by Anwar al-Awlaki. You know, it’s a firebrand preacher, firebrand preacher in North Virginia mosque who went to Yemen, was killed by a U.S. drone in 2011. And I would like he used to say to these guys, look, you want to do something in the United States. You and and the way it works is, you know, there’s this massive media, global mass of media, political awakening for the first time really in human history with the advent of the Internet and cable news and social media so that any place on earth can tune in with any other place on earth. And again, rather than a clash of civilizations, a resurgence of millennial territorial traditions, there’s a collapse of them and sort of the dark side of globalization. And young people are sort of flailing around looking for identity and they match up vertically instead of horizontally through their elders and institutions with their peers. And they attach onto a very powerful and superficial message just to show you how superficial, historically and ideologically it is. I mean, take the case of, you know, jihadis in Sulawesi or Borneo, which is, you know, between New Guinea and Malaysia willing to go and actually going to fight for dove or jihad in Afghanistan or Chechnya or Pakistan or wherever or Palestine. And, you know, these guys were literally cannibals three generations ago, even two generations ago, separated by fifty five thousand years of human history from guys in the Middle East. And yet they’re willing to die for the guys in Middle East. So it can’t be because they share share any deep traditions or history. It’s got to be because they’re hooking up in in rather fast and superficially with this message like Islam’s being persecuted. Now, if that global message resonates personally with you, if you’re, you know, sort of frustrated ambitions, especially, it’s especially the case with these use the transitional stages in their lives, these emerging adults, then your personal frustration becomes a sort of moral outrage and you’re increasingly willing to act on it. Now, most people who know all the polls show that they’re about seven percent of Muslims who really support this stuff. That’s a small minority. But still out of one point four billion Muslims, that’s almost 100 million people. But of those who actually do it, it’s very, very few, you know, a few hundred in the United States, mostly, actually in entrapment cases, a few thousand in Europe where things are much more difficult for Muslims. And they they buy into this message that Islam is being attacked. And the best predictor of whether they’re actually join up is, you know, who their friends are, especially if they’re sort of action oriented guys. In this case, you know, like Tamara Lemonde job No. One was a wrestler and a soccer player and the other was both a soccer player and a boxer. And Tom Flynn especially, he had real issues with life in America. He was denied citizenship, but he felt increasingly isolated that it really didn’t have many friends. His father was absent, which is frequently the case here. And then he found this as an avenue of expression. And he brought in his brother who lost. My brother was devoted to that, that we find again and again. Again, you know, 10 to 20 percent of all the people who joined the jihad. Well, about 90 percent who joined the jihad in these attacks are our diaspora community immigrants, about 10 to 20 percent of family members. Mostly same generation family members and about 60 percent are friends and the rest are a mishmash of people who are actually foreign or disciples of others. 

So would you call these guys amateurs? 

I mean, surely if you get actual sophisticated training in being a terrorist from somebody who knows something about it, you don’t use your Twitter and YouTube accounts to draw attention to how you’re feeling. Right? I mean, if anyone had been monitoring them, then they would have known and they would have given up the game. So they’re not that strategic? 

No, no. They’re certainly they’re amateurs. What would you find a lot of the time is that someone has a relative or a friend or a friend who has a relative in one of these sort of hotspots, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Somalia, Libya, Mali, wherever. And most of the guys who tried to link up with them never make it or just don’t have the money or not. But some guys do, especially if they’re off the radar. And then they hook up with, you know, some some dice or some your mom or some firebrand idealogue or preacher. And they may get some sort of fast and superficial training, 10 days, sometimes two weeks. I mean, even they make it up to the Afghan Pakistan frontier. They’re only going to get about two weeks. It’s nothing like the old al-Qaeda where there would be actually months. I mean, actual courses here, you learn to make a bomb and you push a plunger or shoot a gun and that’s it. So then basically the guys who motivate them, you know, they’re already self seekers, right? They’re already sort of psyched up to do this thing or at least move to radical to some radical stage because they think everybody else is just talking. And it’s time to act. And basically, the guys overseas who they hook up with say, OK, now go home and blow up something. Here’s an idea. And or they’ll give them a link to an Internet page where it says, you know, make a make a a bomb out of a pressure cooker, which is both from the al-Qaida manual on the anarchist cookbook, and then might even be some emails back and forth. 

That’s when the NSA, our authorities usually pick them up or the guy just remembers what to do and then starts making them intelligent off. I mean, this guy, Tamerlan, he wanted to be an engineer, so he was smart enough to be able to figure this out. It’s all on the Internet anyway. How to do it. The ingredients are fairly simple. And then you just go ahead and do it, but then you don’t really have a plan what to do afterwards. 

So given that this is, as you’re saying, sort of the primary route towards, you know, violent extremist and then actually launching an attack. Are we trying to detect them the right way or not? 

Well, you need. Yeah. I mean, the United States has pretty good intelligence and we’re pretty plugged in. 

And especially, you know, groups like the NYPD are really good, really good at following leads and tracking them down. In fact, it’s surprising how few successful attempts to have been exact, namely exactly one in the last 12 years. Despite efforts by lots of guys, but here’s the thing. I think that our intelligence is adequate and our. Police work is adequate. What is inadequate is the preparation of the citizenry, because the whole philosophy, the political philosophy is that there has to be zero tolerance of terrorism. Now, you can’t zero have zero tolerance of anything, really. I mean, maybe smallpox, like zero tolerance wiped away. But, you know, even in epidemics, zero tolerance is a is just wishful thinking. You know, you try to live with it and get it to be as small as possible. 

But the attempt to to reduce it to zero tolerance, which is an impossible task, leads to mass hysteria and waste of resources. About a thousand one in terms of the resources we’ve committed compared to the costs that the terrorists have incurred. And about something less than one, an order of magnitude in terms of the casualties and killings that our reaction has caused compared to what the terrorists cause. And that’s just, you know, unsustainable. 

So ugly. It’s rare enough so that, you know, it passes like a great tidal wave. But it’s sort of nuts. 

Well, are you saying then that the last week was an overreaction? I mean, you could see it from the perspective of the police when they don’t know where that guy is and they don’t know. 

They think he has bombs. They think he’s going to use them. They shut down the city. I mean, then then everybody gets completely freaked. 

That’s right. So the president declares, you know. He says the Americans refuse to be terrorized. And ultimately, that’s what we’ll remember them this week. You got to be kidding. You I believe that now I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to say it. I mean, the bombings provoked the most intense display of law enforcement and media coverage since 9/11. Places in full lockdown. The headlines screamed, you know, goes down city and terror war zone. Public transportation was stopped. A no fly zone was proclaimed. People told to stay indoors. Schools and universities closed. Hundreds of FBI agents pulled from know really other pressing investigations to exclusively focus on the case. Ten thousand law enforcement officials, other state and city agents, heavy weapons, armored vehicles, helicopters, planes all close to martial law with the tools of the security state mobilized to track down, you know, a couple of young immigrants with low tech explosives and small arms who failed to reconcile their problems like entity and so became a terrorist. You know, the events were shocking and brutal, but this is, of course, you know, part of the overall U.S. reaction to terrorism since 9/11, where I think perhaps never in history have so few armed with so few means cause so much fear and so many. It’s like the anarchist a century ago. It’s precisely the outsized reaction that sponsors of terrorism always use to terrorize. 

So how do you how do you reverse that, because it to me, it’s kind of like the great white sharks, you know? I mean, very few people die from a great white shark attack, but great white sharks are so scary that they get incredibly dramatized. And so we we get incredibly afraid of the water. I mean, it it’s the same thing with the terrorist attack. It’s so scary that it gets. It reverberates. 

Yeah. Go you go and report. Just call this the Jerkovic when you hit a pothole for the first time. It really all you know, you’re surprised. You get all excited, blood rushes and you start being very worried about potholes everywhere. But then it should die down. Right. Even if it was a massive attack, you can’t expect a massive attack every time. And I think it’s all. I mean, look at the difference between, say, the reaction even to Pearl Harbor and World War two compared to this. I mean, that certainly was a much more momentous event and mobilize the entire world and the entire nation and everything about it. And it really was a world historical struggle with the outcome wasn’t decided by any means in advance. OK, so Edward R. Murrow, veteran journalist. He’s at the White House. And he hears of the attack. 

And first thing he does, it says, I can’t report this until the administration knows what’s going on and has a plan to address the American people. And no one would do that in this country. You have a scoop. It’s a 24 hour news cycle. In fact, if you actually look at news stories between 1950s when Edward R. Murrow was reporting for CBS. And now you find that the average news story length has shrunk from about two minutes and 40 seconds to eight to 15 seconds and soundbites. And he’s a repeated soundbite. And so you’ve got sort of nonsense stories. It’s theme songs repeated all over and over again, and they sensationalize the spectacular and of course, violence privileges that because nothing more sensational than violence except rough sex or violence and sex. And then there’s this frenetic, hyperkinetic competition for sensationalism and the politicians who are have to respond to the media because that’s the way they get their message. Both both from the people and to the people they buy into it. And so this is rather marginal phenomena. Certainly never threatens the United States infrastructure economy or the society in any really serious, severe way. But of course, our reaction does value stop it. Well, you’ve got to stop the hysteria. So come now. Here’s the problem. It’s an open society, an open society, especially under the First Amendment. The free press is supposed to act as the republic’s watchdog. It’s just not really doing to prevent government excesses and abuses. So a well-informed public can monitor and decide what government policies should go. So censorship constitutionally. And because of the history of our people just isn’t going to work. I mean, we try it Europe, it backfires. I mean, they’re a little more successful because notions of the free press are a little less. A little less embedded in history and also because they’re a little less concerned with money in terms of the businesses involved in the press, kopit this frenetic competition. But, you know, some self self restraint would be in order down. The newspapers used to do that. The great news version of The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, St. Louis Dispatch, The Sun, Walmer Sun, all these papers, we practice this kind of self-restraint, not even a gentle censorship, but really self-restraint, you know, because they thought of themselves as reporting for the social good. But that’s not the case anymore. I mean, even if they would like to report themselves for the social good, they’re now in competition with people couldn’t care less about the social. 

Yeah, but you also have I mean, a lot of this is not even media. 

A lot of this is social media. I mean, I got news about most of my information from Twitter. Of course, it was mostly wrong, right? A lot of it was wrong in the immediate first 10, 15 minutes. So I knew extremely fast and everybody was so mean. There’s no self-restraint on there, even if major media were doing self-restraint. You’d still have this flood of social media pictures and comments. Oh, my God, I just heard an explosion. 

Yeah. But then the media and the politicians can say, well, hold off, guys. Let’s you know, we’ve got a lot of noise. Let’s see what the message is here. And let’s not, you know, overreact like CNN post, the guy who, you know, chooses the wrong people. Headlines screamed, you know, 12 man terror cell. I mean, even a few years ago when we were doing studies of suicide bombing for the US government, we found that newspaper articles and stories and television, especially television press, got between 30 to 50 percent of their facts wrong. And even the names of the people involved in this identified. So when we were doing data analysis, what made our our stuff a little better than most was that we just ignored everything written for the first six month. And then we you know, we actually went through things like court transcripts, trial. Trial, cross examination. Trial is very much like peer review. And you can can filter the information that you can’t do that in the beginning of the public demands reaction. But again, the whole the reaction the public demands is stoked by the sort of hysterical reaction that’s that’s reported out there. And the job of politicians and the media should be, you know, to help the people. 

Well, let me just clarify, because I think this may be controversial. Are you also saying that this bill you’re calling hysterical reaction. Does that fire up? Are you arguing that that fires up terrorists? I mean, do they want. 

They want publicity or do they want to kill people? 

They want publicity. I mean, this is the oxygen of terrorism. Look, these are mostly young men for whom mortal combat, the band of brothers in the service of a great cause provides the ultimate venture and Maximus, especially in the eyes of their peers. And so for many of these disaffected guys, he has a heroic cause that holds promise that anyone from anywhere in the world can make a mark the most powerful country in the world. But because these guys thrive and act in small groups and among networks of family and friends, not large movements or armies, the threat can only match their ambitions if it’s fueled way beyond actual strength by policy, which is the oxygen of terrorism. So like nations, they avoid publicizing killing. Well, whether it’s ethnic cleansing or even collateral deaths from drug. But the whole the whole purpose of terrorism is to be spectacular and have an act which even fails. By the way, we can even feel amplified all out of proportion by the media and the hysterical reaction of the politicians you’ve got, for God’s sake, there was a global security alert in 190 countries after this thing. I mean, even after Faisal Shahzad figured within, you know, the guy is such, you know, basically such a such a moron that he tried to ignite a gas canister with a firecracker. There was a national alert. The whole country was put on national military and civilian. I mean, this is really crazy. And in fact, that is what makes terrorism terrorism. We help terrorists terrorize. And if we could show restraint to the extent that we show restraint. OK. And let people simply go on with their lives and show people carrying on with their lives than terrorism in whatever form can never succeed. And probably fatally. 

Well, let me just shift it in one more direction. The question of the influence and this is another controversial doctrine, the question of the influence of Islam. I mean, and this is, you know, if you’re in secular humanism, new atheist circles, there’s a Jew in another giant flare up of this. People have accused Sam Harris of actually being Islamophobic, which he strongly rejects. And he says back, no. Look, I mean, the obvious fact of the world is that, you know, you can’t criticize Islam or you get attacked, whereas you can criticize other you know, you could never have a Broadway play making fun of Islam like you have a Broadway play making fun of Mormonism right now. He says there’s something about it in the world today that is more violent. That’s his contention. And, you know, here we have these the latest attackers again. It is it is Islam. 

So what is your take on that? 

God, that’s such a complex and confusing issue. First of all, religions are fairly neutral vessels. They can be used for good or bad. I mean, they have no sort of fixed propositions and you can interpret them almost anything you want. I mean, there are no truths or falsehoods, really. 

There’s just what you make of it. And that’s why you have weekly sermons. And that’s why they survive over centuries, because it means not fixed propositions. You know, it’s certainly collapsed faster than scientific traditions, which collapsed pretty fast because they’re sort of falling apart. 

So, you know, they’re they’re frameworks, they’re moral frameworks that provide sort of a transcendental moral foundation for large groups coalescing. I mean, how else do you get genetic relatives to form? Large co-operative group doesn’t have to necessarily today be religious. 

But, you know, it involves transcendental idea that human rights, for example. That’s a crazy idea. You know, 10, 15 years ago, a bunch of intellectuals in Europe decided that the providence or nature made all human beings equal, endowed by their creator with human rights, liberty and happiness. When history of two hundred thousand years of human life had been mostly cannibalism, infanticide, murder, suppression of minorities and women. And so through wars and social engineering, they took this crackpot idea and made a real. But in general, societies that have, you know, sort of unfalsifiable and unverifiable transcendental conceptions win out over those that don’t. I mean, Darwin talked about this moral virtue and said that this is responsible for the kind of patriotism, sympathy and loyalty that makes certain tribes win out over other tribes in this filing competition for dominance and survival. And again, without these transcendental ideas, we can’t really block. People can’t really be blinded to exit strategies. I mean, societies that are based on social contracts, no matter how good they are, the idea that there’s always a better deal down the line makes them liable to collapse while these societies are much less prone to that. And there are all sorts of other things associated with these sort of unverifiable propositions. So now the propositions of these things themselves can be interpreted, however, depending upon the political and social climate of the age. Islam has been interpreted in ways that were extremely progressive at one time, and at least parts of it are extremely risk retrogressive, especially as concerns science, for example, of the position of women in the world, especially parts of it. And in many countries, it’s extremely retrograde. 

But Islam itself, I mean, didn’t have some essence that, you know, encourages this kind of crazy violence. No, not at all. But it truly is absurd and just false. I mean, if you if you look at the history of Christianity, Judaism and other religions or even non-religious like communism or fascism, you find the same sorts. Now, is it the case that Islam today? Something special about the interpretation of Islam today? Well, yeah. I mean, just like white supremacist movements interpret a variant of fundamental Christian identity in crackpot ways. So so, Lisa. And that’s dangerous. Now, the difference is that Western democracies and even Western democracies like Russia, their political structure is dominant with respect to others in their in the world or in their geopolitical region. And so on. And the societies whose dominant societies are advancing. To the extent that they’re not advancing and there’s no real possibility of expression, political expression or economic advancement. Then, you know, people with frustrated aspirations buy into whatever, you know, transcendental mode, significances around that. 

Give them a story, a narrative about what they should do with their lives and what others should do with their lives to make things better. Now, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, you have one sort of really dominant narrative out there that’s Democratic liberalism. George Bush said in the reaction to 9/11, the national security doctrine is only one war. There’s only one way of life right and true for every person and every society. And Ahmadinejad says exactly the same thing about Islam. 

His version of Islam does sort of counter culture. And so we are all frustrated guys. More and more marginalized guys. They hook up with this counterculture and see a way of empowering them and giving them significance and possibility where previously there was none. And. Islam, the fact that Islamic countries for so long have been sort of in the dustbin of history and disadvantage in so many ways, not necessarily by explicit policies of the West, but by their internal their own internal dynamics. They’ve become stagnant and retrogressive. And so the young people take those aspects of Islam that they think can advance them. And the jihadi way, the path to jihad, violent jihad is one way. And they’ve seen it’s being extraordinarily successful by the reaction the United States can take, you know, take 9/11 costs. Four hundred thousand dollars. Well, between four and five hotels now putting on the. We’ve spent in reaction to this before, Boston, about four trillion dollars. Well, you know, that’s pretty good cost benefit for the terrorists. And so the message is out there, you know, YouTube was just with box cutters or, you know, it needed a pipe bomb can change the world. Go ahead. But again, I don’t see anything about Islam itself. 

You need some kind of transcendental ideal to get people to sacrifice for genetic strangers, for these larger groups religions. Right. As human history has come up with. But there are other competing transcendental notions of which a democratic liberalism, human rights, communism, fascism or others. Right now, the democratic liberal human rights thing is is is is predominant over a large part of the world. And it’s a salvation of ideology. And the people who don’t want that or who feel left on the driftwood of globalization has drifted of globalization. They are looking for something else to give them equal power and significance. 

Now, I just do have to ask that question because I know it’s on a lot of people’s minds. 

You know, I was in Cairo often key leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Moscow. And, you know, I thought, you know, that, OK. The Muslim Brotherhood, they have to be moderate. You know, those guys are out to lunch, too. I mean, they want nukes. And I was asking, Chef, the guy who was the secretary general of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council and the guy who actually you with Mohammed B.W., the. But more should the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood appointed Morsi as a candidate for president. He’s also the head of the world capital of Sunni scholars. And you told me you’d explain to me why you Japanese nuclear weapons has nothing to do with Iran. They needed to counterbalance the power of Israel and America so that there’s a level playing field. And once there’s a level political playing field, then Islam naturally win the hearts of the entire world and the game is over and we’ll all be in Jerusalem. You really believe this now? The difference between, say, al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood is that all political groups actually will had this this insight. All political groups, you know, have to manage both the values which make them forces for political change and the responsibilities of governance, such as providing economic security and physical security for their people. All along the spectrum, groups like al-Qaida are simply values driven. I mean, they don’t care what they sacrifice, who they sacrifice when they sacrifice. Everything has to be done now and they are completely value driven by groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. Really do try to take care of their people. They have responsibilities of governance. Now, the hope is, as with Hezbollah, these kinds of groups can their true north. Their values can be shifted over time. But I’m finding that, you know, they’re pretty cagey guys in terms of being able to temporize, delay, yet not give up one bit of what they consider to be their final. I mean, after all, they suffered 80 years of persecution, killings, imprisonment. Now they’re in power and they’re trying to realize their goals. There’s much more savvy than most other groups and do it. 

But that particular vein of Islam represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is part of the you know. Post-colonial reaction. I think it is dangerous. I think it’s not as dangerous as al-Qaeda precisely because by the very fact they have to take responsibility for their people and meet economic necessities, they’re subject to influence and even change, although I don’t know how much. But groups like al-Qaida know forget it. I mean, they literally have to be either far to the death or contain isolated, marginalized in ways that, you know, they can’t hurt us. But allowing them I mean, publicizing al-Qaida as a movement, Al, and publicizing amplify by a thousand fold, by a million fold. Their acts only makes them strong. Beloved must be turning over in his grave like alive. 

Well, let me let me just ask you one one final question here, because you’ve really raised, I think, a very difficult point of how much attention we pay to attacks like the ones in Boston. So is anybody big yet? It’s such a hard question to address because of everybody’s instinct in the media and the political system. So is anybody taking this message beside you? Or is it trickling up? 

I mean, you know, or maybe all people understand it, but but the vote dynamic will political and social and economic forces. Well, political and economic forces in our country make it. It would make instant Wide-Ranging gun control look like a game of hopscotch. The I was once I was with a group of FBI guys and CIA guys and Intel guys from all over the world in a meeting and in the parliament. United Kingdom w director. Yes, I was there. I said like, are you kidding me? People keep talking about these shells. This is mass hysteria. Yeah, I know. I know what we’re talking about, by the way. The Torrance case case of a former Black Panther and a gang member who teamed up in a cell and decided to become jihadis and. Well, one of them got out. He got a couple of friends and one immigrant, one son of a professor, and they robbed a gas station and they dropped the cell phone. And when the police picked up the cell phone, you know, they were robbing the gas station to do jihad. They got a crackpot scheme to hijack a plane to Mecca to blow up the Israeli planes and embassy. Well, you know, instead of just taking it as a sort of, you know, robbing a yes station, two losers fails to really Rabbi Glass at the gas station and drop their cell phone and have some crazy idea. They pulled 500 FBI agents. They pulled them off of St. Louis. They led all other cases, dropped to track down these two losers. And in fact, Mueller, the director of the FBI, said, you know, one of the reasons for the economic meltdown is that we had to put so many people on these, you know, a lot of times entrapment cases because, you know, people were demanding action, that we lost the ball on white collar crime, which was much more devastating to the American people and to the world. They understand it. You know, the FBI, the heads of the FBI. Counterterrorism guys, guy guys I work with in the White House. And now, in fact, they have a company with those guys. They understand it. But again, the political and economic forces are such and the collusion between the media and the politicians sort of frenzied, overwrought, neurotic relationship makes any change difficult. 

Well, I’m glad we have given you a chance to air this, because it’s of all that. And there’s been so much attention, right. And so many people offering so many opinions. Let me honestly say that I don’t think many people are offering that opinion, but it seems very important and very valid and well reasons. I’m glad that this show is actually come to be a place where we can get that out there. So, Scott, thanks so much for being with us again on point of inquiry. Chris. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of Point of Inquiry to join the discussion about today’s show, you can visit us at point of inquiry dot org. You can also send questions and comments to feedback at point of inquiry dot org. And you can find us also on Twitter at point of inquiry and on Facebook at slash point of inquiry. Those are more places you can add questions. The views expressed on point of inquiry are not necessarily the views of the Center for Inquiry, nor of its affiliated organizations. 

One of inquiry is produced by Atomizing in AMRs New York. And our music is composed by Emmy Award winning Michael Waylan. I’m your host, Chris Mooney. 

Chris Mooney