09.25.2016 08:08 AM

Ahmad Rahami

As a rule, I don’t ever name terrorists, mass murderers and their ilk. They don’t deserve the recognition they seek. 

But this New York Times front-page profile of the Chelsea bomber is worth your attention. What struck me – having written this book, and having written this one, coming out in the next few months –  I was struck by how much Rahami reminded me of the dozens of neo-Nazi skinheads I knew and interviewed over the years. 

He, like them:

  • fought all the time with his family, or came from a broken one
  • was disinterested in school
  • had troubled relationships with the opposite sex, often involving domestic violence 
  • had regular run-ins with the law
  • initially was enthusiastic about the society he would later pledge to destroy 

The change – the transformation from unremarkable loser to front-page-news killer – always, always comes about in the same way: the young man somehow comes under the influence of an older man, who gives him a credo, a uniform, a brotherhood and a mission. 

And then, like all converts, all zealots, he starts to make up for lost time. 


  1. Maps Onburt says:

    I don’t disagree that the types of people that get drawn into this are social rejects but to say that being social rejects is an excuse for terrorism as many progressives do is a bit much. I’d bet that nearly every one of Hitler’s key leaders and Hitler himself were social rejects. It doesn’t make what they did strictly criminal. They did terrorism (or in the Nazi’s case Genocide) and deserve to be treated and punished as such. The left’s fascination with root cause is beyond me. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of social rejects in our society… a very minuscule percentage of them go on to being terrorists. The real problem is that there is a religion out there that 1) says that changing the words of the Koran is a sin punishable by death and 2) the Koran says that is OK to kill the non-believers. 99.99% of Muslims don’t take this to heart but enough do, and can point back to Imams, scholars and western media giving them justification for their actions. The fact that they are social rejects is immaterial. Go after the REAL root cause.

    • doconnor says:

      Disaffected youth act out in various violent ways. The ones who join gangs kill more people but get less news coverage. The ones who commit suicide get even less. Helping these kind of people would prevent all these problems, without condemning a whole major religion, like you do.

    • Joseph Krengel says:

      I’m not aware of a single progressive that regards this as an excuse.

      The reason why it is important to understand this behaviour is to prevent it; “shoot ’em all and lot God sort them out” is not an effective strategy. Ask yourself this: what’s more important, extracting vengeance on someone who commits a heinous act, or trying to prevent the next person from doing it.

      And FYI, Islam has been around for a while; if it was the real root cause of all this violence why is it just coming to the fore now?

      • Maps Onburt says:

        Joseph, the cry from the left after any of these attacks is always to look at the root causes… I never said nor do I advocate shoot em all. but taking out (or talking out) individual kamikaze bombers isn’t a strategy that could ever work… in WW2 they only stopped the bombers when we got rid of the leaders that were recruiting the bombers in the first place.

        Your assertion that Islam has been around for a long time and this is only a recent problem is silly. Islam also justified piracy and slavery (which is one of the reasons they are popping up again in Somalia) and Europe’s strategy at the time was one of appeasement which got them nowhere. They had been paying ransom for centuries and the Roman Catholic church had even setup an organization to collect donations to pay off the ransom demands and get back people taken into captivity. Up until the 1800’s estimates that more than 1 million Europeans were killed and or taken into slavery by the Islamacist pirates between the 16th and 19th century. When Thomas Jefferson (as US envoy) went over to London to negotiate with Tripoli’s ambassador and asked why they were making war upon nations who had done them no injury, the ambassador replied:

        “It was written in the Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.”.

        Once Jefferson became President, the US marines very quickly sorted it all out in 1805 for almost 200 years by invading the hornet’s nest in Tripoli (forever memorialized in the Marine Hymn “to the shores of Tripoli”). Eight US marines and about 400 mercenaries attacked 600 miles overland and took over the city of Derne forcing the end of the war and the end of ransom payments (which were demanded to be 1/6th of the entire US budget at the time). The major European states had been putting up with it and paying them off for centuries… The willingness to apply overwhelming force solved it… just like it solved it in Japan. Nothing less with sort this out. Calling these useful (for the islamacists) idiots criminals and otherwise denying the existence of the real root cause is just appeasement. That never works against bullies.

  2. gyor says:

    Maybe if society didn’t abaddon these young men and mark them as losers, they wouldn’t fall under the influence so easily of someone who nakes feel like body, like somebody actual cares and values them as human being (even if as in this case that person does care and is only using them).

  3. Jean A P. says:

    Agree with W.K.on his description of a young person vulnerable to becoming a mass killer. Also agree that there is something more at work with some of these killers…perhaps a desire for fame or recognition that they achieved a “mission” to get someone’s approval. All the more reason not to publicize their names.
    Maybe everyone has the conceit that we want someone’s approval or even public approval? I just don’t understand why mass murder would be approved by anyone, except fanatical deluded zealots. Aaron Driver comes to mind.

  4. dave constable says:

    A quick google gave me a few thousand mass (more than 4 victim) shootings in USA thus far this year. I also tried to google ‘number of bombings ‘ in USA, but all I got was a list of terrorist attack sites, as if bombing = terrorism every time. We are lucky no one was killed by this guy’s bombs, but his name and religion sure make a difference to the way his actions are covered in the media, and on message boards like this one.

    If we are going to mitigate this kind of violence, are we going to concentrate on just one religious group? When so many mass attacks are carried out by people outside this religious group. If we do go after just one, probably small group, we will likely miss what is affecting so many others who commit this crime. If we attack the problem more universally, we just might find ways to mitigate such violence coming from particular groups and individuals.

  5. Glen says:

    Not sure what the guy that just shot up the Seattle mall’s family life is/was like, but reading his twitter timeline reads just about like any other kid his age.

    This kid, from the looks of it, just seemed to go rogue on his own.


  6. MikeTO says:

    You are absolutely right Warren, and what should give everyone here pause is the amount of college educated young men that the system has not co-opted, who now live in their parents basements; laughed at and rejected. There are thousands, I see then on the Boards. Raucous times ahead.

  7. Ron says:

    Hyper-religious, dumb as a dog’s foot and easily led.

    Those are the operative prerequisites.

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