Posted by Wordsmith on 21 September, 2014 at 3:02 pm. 5 comments already!

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Inside the mind of homegrown jihadi recruits:

Misplaced religious beliefs may have been a key factor in the decisions of some of these men to join the global jihad. But not all recruits are well versed in jihadist theology or even the Qur’an. Two British jihadists setting out for Syria ordered Islam For Dummies and The Koran For Dummies before they left.

Islam may be just a vehicle for nihilistic rage. Richard Barrett, a former British intelligence officer who authored a report on Western recruits for the Soufan Group, a security consultancy, says the reasons for Westerners joining the jihad are legion but that “people are seeking a greater purpose and meaning in their lives.” He notes French officials describe their jihadists as “disaffected, aimless and lacking a sense of identity or belonging.”

According to former Taliban recruiter, Mubin Shaikh, who now works for counter-terrorism research groups, jihadist mentors focus on people who don’t know the religion well and concentrate on converts, as they are more impressionable. Analysts have noted that in Belgium jihadist recruiters focus on the more shabby and dull towns where job opportunities are slimmer and excitement is in short supply.

“Violence is never simple to understand,” says O’Toole. “When you have someone who resorts to this kind of intense violence it is an evolutionary process. They were groomed. And the grooming doesn’t stop once they get there. They may kill because they have to – because it is required of them once they get over there.”

O’Toole doesn’t think all the Western recruits are psychopaths. “That doesn’t make sense to me,” she says. “Most people that young don’t think about consequences. They may never have been violent, although they may have talked a good game back at home. Once they are in Syria they are being exposed to violence that is off the charts and some of them will not be able to handle it.”

That appears to have been the case for a group of 30 British jihadists, who are reported to be disillusioned and eager to return to Britain, according to The Times newspaper. One jihadist claiming to represent the group contacted a de-radicalization center in London saying they were ready to submit to surveillance in the UK, if that meant they could avoid jail terms. “Right now we are being forced to fight – what option do we have?” he told researchers at King’s College London.

Others, though, demonstrate all the hallmarks of being psychopaths, says O’Toole. She would include the British jihadists involved in the killings of the American reporters and Haines. They engaged in what psychologists would describe as “instrumental violence” that “requires you look at people not as human beings but just as objects that you can do with what you want. It is very cold-blooded and very well planned out violence; you kill even though your victim did nothing against you and didn’t deserve it.”

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