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Extremism, Terrorism: Mad, Bad, or Both?

While terrorism continues to make headlines around the world, some researchers have suggested that terrorists are mentally ill and have used labels such as psychopathic or sociopathic, narcissistic, paranoid and schizophrenic. Others have argued that there is no evidence to indicate that they are mentally ill, disordered, psychopathic or otherwise psychologically abnormal.

The Royal's Dr. AG Ahmed, Dr. Wadgy Loza and Dr. Pius Adesanmi discuss research findings and reflect on the new meanings and manifestations of terrorism and extremism in Canada and around the world.

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Extremism, Terrorism: Mad, Bad, or Both?

  1. 1. ROH – 2015-03-25ROH – 2015-03-25 11 Terrorism, Extremism: Mad, Bad or Both? Dr.Dr. Wagdy Loza, C. Psych.Wagdy Loza, C. Psych.
  2. 2. ORH – 2015-03-25ORH – 2015-03-25 22 What do Terrorists hope to achieve? To establish a “true” Muslim state (Caliphate; “Umma”“Umma” ‫ألمة‬‫,)ألمة‬ impose pure Islamic societies & govern by Sharia law – declared goals of ISIS/ISIL/IS.
  3. 3. Psychological Characteristics of Middle-Eastern Terrorists BeliefsBeliefs ThinkingThinking AttitudesAttitudes BehaviourBehaviour FeelingsFeelings 33
  4. 4. Beliefs in extremists’ ideologies • There must be a revival of religion throughThere must be a revival of religion through Jihad (HollyWar)Jihad (HollyWar)‫عين‬ ‫فرض‬‫عين‬ ‫فرض‬ • Duty to fight theDuty to fight the ‫الكافرين‬‫الكافرين‬ (infidels)(infidels) ‫عين‬ ‫فرض‬‫عين‬ ‫فرض‬ • State of war must continue between the houseState of war must continue between the house of peace and the house of war.of peace and the house of war. • Democracy is not compatible with religion.Democracy is not compatible with religion. • Citizenship through religion, not countriesCitizenship through religion, not countries • The current man-made rules are laws made byThe current man-made rules are laws made by ungodly rulers (apostates), want Sharia lawsungodly rulers (apostates), want Sharia laws • A just world only if practicing the “true religion”A just world only if practicing the “true religion” • The West is the source of evil:The West is the source of evil: CrusadersCrusaders.. • Dying as a martyr is the most honourableDying as a martyr is the most honourable deathdeath ROH – 2015-03-25ROH – 2015-03-25 44
  5. 5. Thinking • Brainwashed with extremists’ ideologies • Rigid, unsophisticated, one-way, simplifies complex issues • Opposite view is heretic • Subjective interpretation of events • Desire to convince/convert others • Utopian  near-perfect future ORH – 2015-03-25ORH – 2015-03-25 55
  6. 6. Feelings/Emotions Problems with their personal lives (inability to hold a job, failure to join the military, a failed relationship, addiction, personal needs/ objectives). Dissatisfaction with a combination of society problems: social, economic, political, cultural, religious conditions, etc. Perception that “their people” have been humiliated, threatened or aggrieved; victims of an injustice, no hope for success (occupation, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, defeat…..etc.) Strong feelings for revenge ROH – 2015-03-25ROH – 2015-03-25 66
  7. 7. AttitudesAttitudes • Negative towards other religions and cultures. • Externalize the blame to others. • Perceiving themselves as “victims”, “freedom fighters” & “revolutionaries.” ROH – 2015-03-25ROH – 2015-03-25 77
  8. 8. ROH – 2015-03-25ROH – 2015-03-25 88 Behaviours • They dehumanize their victims (infidels, PIGS, conspirators and oppressors absolving themselves of any guilt) • Emphasis on conformity: Peer pressure, group solidarity to create “group mind- set” and “group moral code”. Developing “in group love” and “out of group hate” • Require unquestioned loyalty & obedience to the “Ameer” & the group
  9. 9. Few researchers: Behavior of terrorists can be explained by mental illnesses such as psychotic states, psychopathic or sociopathic, narcissistic, schizophrenic, paranoid, depressed, borderline, or passive-aggressive personality disorders. ROH – 2015-03-25ROH – 2015-03-25 99 ARE TERRORIST MENTALLY ILL?
  10. 10. ROH – 2015-03-25ROH – 2015-03-25 1010 ARE TERRORIST MENTALLY ILL?/2 Interviews with many Terrorists & Research: •“No existence of clear symptoms of psychopathology of would be suicide bombers or the families of completed suicides in Israel” . • ”The outstanding common characteristic of terrorists is their normality”. • ”The acutely mentally ill tend to be incapable of carrying out the detailed planning and execution of terrorist operations”. •“Terrorist groups do not permit emotionally disturbed to join them, security risk”. •Seriously disturbed individuals tend to act alone
  11. 11. Evidence: Terrorists are DevoutEvidence: Terrorists are Devout •USA 9/11, bombings in England, Spain, Bali,USA 9/11, bombings in England, Spain, Bali, Scottish Drs., Toronto 18s, Australia, France, Drs.Scottish Drs., Toronto 18s, Australia, France, Drs. recently joined ISIS.recently joined ISIS. •Bin Laden, el-Zawahiri, Jihadi john, Dr. Nidal,Bin Laden, el-Zawahiri, Jihadi john, Dr. Nidal, ISIS leaders (Abo Baker), Sadat Keller'sAbo Baker), Sadat Keller's •Boko Haram, The M.Bs burned governmentBoko Haram, The M.Bs burned government building, > 80 churches, killed & still killingbuilding, > 80 churches, killed & still killing officers, civilians, & deliberate destruction.officers, civilians, & deliberate destruction. 1111
  12. 12. ROH – 2015-03-25ROH – 2015-03-25 1212 Terrorism, Extremism: Mad, Bad or Both? • Mad: NO - devout • Bad: It depends which side you’re on. – ISIS: burning & slaughtering people, destroying properties. – History of collaborating with drug dealers, vandalizing, kidnapping, ransom, some involved in petty crimes to support their agenda, few career criminals. • Both: No
  13. 13. ROH – 2015-03-25ROH – 2015-03-25 1313 RADICALIZING & RECRUITING OF FOREIGN FIGHTERS https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10153633314252316&set=vb.73528002315&type=2&theater
  14. 14. ROH – 2015-03-25ROH – 2015-03-25 1414 How to identify westerners susceptible to extremist’s propaganda? They look for participants who want: - Feelings of self-actualization, fulfillment, status, power and direction. - a way out of their routine life & adventure. - a highly honored glorious name - camaraderie. - a way to become a “somebody”. -Wearing a military uniform & carrying a gun boosts their egos & self-esteem.
  15. 15. ROH – 2015-03-25ROH – 2015-03-25 1515 What roles do the internet and social media play? • CDs since the 1970s – M. Brotherhood. • ISIS supporters producing as many as 90,000 tweets and other social media responses every day. • Al-Qaeda told followers "We must make the Internet our tool." • Justifying their ideologies & grievances • Internet allows the Middle Eastern ideology espoused by terrorists to grow in Western countries. • Exposure to extremist ideologies facilitated terrorist groups to convert and recruit youth.
  16. 16. ROH – 2015-03-25ROH – 2015-03-25 1616 ISIS Video & propaganda • Background music with a man singing in a soft voice about the glory of Islam while parades of “victorious” jihadist riding horses & carrying swords & weapons with black flags • Promise members a glorified role full freedom, no control from parents/teachers, new friends, opportunity for adventure, and relationships. • To girls: you will marry anyone you love. We will pay all your expenses. You can leave any time you want. • Many were killed for attempting to leave.
  17. 17. Thank youThank you Wagdy LozaWagdy Loza WML@QUEENSU.CAWML@QUEENSU.CA ROH – 2015-03-25ROH – 2015-03-25 1717
  18. 18. ROH – 2015-03-25ROH – 2015-03-25 1818
  19. 19. Rigid Simplistic Poor knowledge Conformity Reject change History Backward Extreme religious beliefs (Jihad, Martyrdom) Political (internal & external) Socio-economic Anger Powerless Alienated Dissonance Past Glories Fertile Soil 1. Thoughts 2. Feelings Model for Terrorist Act 1919
  20. 20. IQ: Mod - Hi Easily manipulated Wish to belong Self-actualization Desperate Over-controlled Blaming Negative to authority No acceptance for different beliefs Uncompromising Injustice Modernity is bad 3. Attitudes /beliefs 4. Personality 5. Behavior TERRORISTACT Model for Terrorist Act 2020

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While terrorism continues to make headlines around the world, some researchers have suggested that terrorists are mentally ill and have used labels such as psychopathic or sociopathic, narcissistic, paranoid and schizophrenic. Others have argued that there is no evidence to indicate that they are mentally ill, disordered, psychopathic or otherwise psychologically abnormal. The Royal's Dr. AG Ahmed, Dr. Wadgy Loza and Dr. Pius Adesanmi discuss research findings and reflect on the new meanings and manifestations of terrorism and extremism in Canada and around the world.

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