If a terrorist can never win, why do they keep trying? And what is the difference between terrorism and murder?
Have you ever felt so angry you lash out? Road rage, fans from opposing football teams clashing, a drunken brawl; there are countless opportunities for our sometimes aggressive animal instinct to take the upper hand.
For most of us, the combination of our upbringing and the laws that are passed by government to prevent anarchy means we manage to rein in our violent tendencies most of the time. For England especially, we have enjoyed decades of peace; World War II being our last major conflict and whilst we have the benefit of being an island, we also have relative economic stability (and I emphasis the word relative).
But imagine if you lived in constant fear of your life, if the people that governed you used violence and deceit to meet their own ends and where you were made to feel unimportant and easily expendable.
When the Boston bomb exploded on Monday 15 April 2013, there was disbelief, horror indeed terror that a wonderful event such as the Boston Marathon could be targeted by a terrorist. As events unfurled with live byte by byte details on Twitter, there were some who were immediately baying for blood yet others who were being more cautious pointing out that there was no confirmation it was actually a bomb.
The cause of the explosion was discovered quickly and the bombers were charged with “using a weapon of mass destruction” and the details are continuing to be investigated, mainly with the help of surviving 19 year old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
It was this tragic event that made me think about the mentality of the ‘terrorist’ and if indeed the Tsarnaev brothers could be classified as such. Is it the people who detonate the bombs who should be blamed or those that indoctrinate them with so much hate, they can no longer see reason?
‘sometimes our aggressive animal instincts take the upper hand’
For the UK, a prime example would be the cleric Abu Qatada who was heavily involved with al-Qaeda whilst benefiting from our country’s hospitality using the defence of likely torture if he was returned to Jordan.
So going back to my earlier comment about living in a country where each day brings a new survival challenge, imagine going to bed each night and waking each morning wondering if you will live to see the next day.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was born in Kyrgyzstan (Central Asian Republic) in 1987. Kyrgyzstan has a terrible history as it was used by Stalin to deport thousands of Chechens after World War II as punishment for allegedly collaborating with the Nazis. Over the years, the hatred and unrest grew until the outbreak of the First Chechen War 1994-96 and when the Second War broke out in 1999, the Tsarnaev family moved to the Russian republic of Dageston.
Tamerlan would have been 12 years old.
The first Chechen War 1994-96 was followed by the Second War in 1999
Over the next few years the conflict continued due to corrupt politicians, economic instability and the police and army being used to stamp on any form of uprising.
Tamerlan’s father and brother moved to the States in 2002; Dzhokhar would have been 8 years old when he arrived; Tamerlan remained in Dageston, he was 15 years old and would be familiar with the relentless life of war.
When Tamerlan eventually moved to America he must have been stunned by their culture and the ease of life compared with his childhood. Here was a country with an opportunity at every corner rather than a gun pointing at you, there were people who enjoyed life and were optimistic, looking to the future and having the confidence that if you believed you could, then you would.
Tamerlan’s brother, Dzhokhar won a scholarship and put his life goals as “career and money”, he seemed more able to participate in the American dream, but perhaps Tamerlan could not remove himself from the mental torture of his previous life and the resentment he had inherited from war torn Chechnya was too deeply ingrained to be erased.
Dzhokhar won a scholarship but Tamerlan turned to Islam
He turned to Islam for answers to his dissatisfaction; he stopped drinking alcohol and ended his promising boxing career, then in 2012 made a return visit to Dageston.
So was it his overwhelming emotion of bitterness and frustration with his own country’s inability to live peacefully that made him resent anything that was positive, happy and optimistic?
Was Tamerlan looking for a way to vent this intense anger and someone else latched onto this and goaded him into putting the bomb on the finish line of the Boston Marathon?
The location of the atrocity must be because he lived there, but the reason for actually carrying out the evil crime? I suspect he was feeling clinically depressed, marginalised and ostracised; he saw the Americans and the American way of life as his enemy rather than something that could have given him and his family a much better life.
My suspicion is that his brother was caught up in this maelstrom of malice and was put under pressure by his older brother not appreciating the gravity of his actions.
Aggression & hate is easier to fuel
They cannot be forgiven for what they did, they murdered innocent people, but my suspicion is that this was a case of a man who resented the American way of life and was unable to control the aggression that had formed the first 15 year of his life. And aggression is far easier to fuel and therefore control and I suspect the provokers can be found in Dageston in their hundreds.
A final thought – the brothers planned to bomb New York but the car they hijacked ran out of petrol and when they stopped to fill the tank, the driver ran away and raised the alarm.
Hardly the work of an organised terrorist.