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The Psychological Profile of Al Qaida -
by Stephen Morgan (Fonte)

The Psychological Profile of Terrorist Cults

What then is the psychological profile of these elements, which make the cult cells and networks? Like the camps, they are something of a rather, messy mélange of neurotics, post-traumatic stress sufferers (PTSD) and psychopaths. In profiling them we have to remember that the labels are probabilities and not one single type suits each particular position within the network. There can be different types at different levels and also, it is important to note that the features or symptoms of their disorders often overlap. When it comes to these types of pathological illnesses there are no “Chinese Walls” between the manifestations and behaviours they exhibit. That said there are certain specific features, which are more likely to occur for certain terrorist types.

Most of them appear to be veterans of the Afghan war against the Soviet Union. They are usually also not Afghans, but Saudis, Algerians, Yemenis or Egyptians. They made up part of the “Afghan Arabs” (Afghan people are not Arabs, though Muslim); volunteer fighters who formed foreign battalions in Afghanistan to fight alongside the mujahideen. Bin Laden himself left Saudi Arabia at the age of 23 to join the Afghan resistance. In the first place people like this are brutalized, de-humanized by the experiences of war.

Many who went in the first place were probably already psychologically unstable or unwell beforehand and their experiences only perverted their disorders further. Nearly everyone returns from war damaged in some way, but those who are healthy and came from loving families have a better chance of integrating and overcoming the trauma of war. Many such people did from the 2 World War and Vietnam. But a large number of people never truly do. Often at the end of the war, their lives fall apart and they suffer from PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. This terrible illness is carried by tens of thousands of vets in the US who live lives of horror, reliving the war in dreams and daily experiences, socked in alcohol or drugs, emotionally volatile and depressed and feeling hopeless. Many try and succeed in committing suicide. They continue to fight the war in their minds, never able to leave the psychological battlefield. Some, though not the all, are violent and anti-social and many hate and despise the society and world, which delivered such horror on them.

They are killing machines, which seek objects to mangle and destroy. Having been in or led battalions in the guerrilla war they are ideal commanders of underground cells. They are held in highest esteem for their war record and are feared as killers within their own ranks. They revel in their new terrorist positions because they can continue to live, as only they know how, in danger, in secrecy, in adversity, toying and outwitting the enemy and ambushing unsuspecting victims. They have the opportunity to relive their war in the streets of New York, Nairobi, Paris or London. These types must keep going because, if they stop, they will have to face themselves and their own psychology. Their PTSD is a sort of violent denial, a way to live through death. If they stop they are likely to fall apart and self-destruct. In the end many volunteer to do just that, to destroy themselves and others at the same time.

War can be an experience of human inversion. You look into the abyss and, as Nietzsche said, the abyss looks back into you. The terrorist Lieutenants of Death are the abyss, they have become a human abyss. As a result of the experiences of the abattoir of Afghanistan, all natural feelings of affection, trust, positive relations, honesty and love have been lost in the unfathomable depths of their abysmal minds. Their PTSD has become a pathological condition of permanent war psychosis. They are like the Doors song the “there’s a killer on the road, his brain is squirming like a toad.”

For these elements, the survival instinct common to all of us, has been warped and inverted into a death instinct. They have vomited out all positive human relations and exchanged them with all the negative ones. They have seen people they loved, trusted, respected and relations they treasured blown apart before their eyes. They cannot bear to go through such loss again, so they cannot bear to ever have those feelings again. They fear that love, trust, honesty, relations will only lead to again to having their faces smeared in entrails, watching brothers writhing in flames, and cradling boys heads absent of their brains. Being too much for them to bear or integrate, their damaged psyche has drawn the conclusion that survival cannot be based on any positive or genuine relations or feelings whatsoever.

Some also suffer terrible guilt at having survived the war while their comrades died. Why are they alive? Indeed, why, they may think, should they have been left in live in such a living psychological hell? They feel they too should have died for Islam, and this guilt of being alive, coupled with religious dogmas and justifications, often empowers them toward terrorist suicide. Ironically, suicide can actually give them a reason to live. They can make sense of their continuing survival, until the time has come when they are chosen to die for Allah.