This is a guest post by Mitnaged
Prof Richard Landes lists some of the characteristics of demopaths and, under the heading “Demopathic Discourse”, sets out the fundamental being-in-the-world of Anwar al-Awlaki: “…In order for me to prevent you from dominating me, I must dominate you first…” In most Muslim societies this is the status quo and the domination is literal and physical, but Al-Awlaki, as we are seeing, takes it to a new and hideous level by means of psychological manipulation and mind games. Al-Awlaki, of course, dresses up his need to dominate in fundamentalist religious clothing, but at base level this need to dominate – not the rights of Palestinians, not world domination by Islam – is his main driver.
The dupes of Islamist demopaths such as Al-Awlaki may not be Islamists themselves but the Muslim imperative of loyalty towards other Muslims, coupled with a lack of any sense of efficacy and a phobic injunction against being different in ideas or behaviour, add to the belligerent self-pity which can always be cranked up and all of these form a particularly toxic mix which Al-Awlaki takes advantage of and uses.
Nussaibah Younis is the latest in the Guardian/CiF’s stable of empty-headed apologists for Islamism, given her fifteen minutes of fame on CiF because she became besotted with this Islamist instigator of terrorism.
She still basks shamelessly in the reflected infamy of Anwar Al-Awlaki, whose groupie she unselfconsciously admits she was when she was seventeen years old, when Al-Awlaki was a “minor celebrity.” She admits that she was “thrilled” to be “mesmerised” by him. It seems that she still is.
Younis’ article is the usual shallow, selective and ill-informed nonsense designed to appeal to an audience who cannot cope with complexity and which questions very little In the cloyingly self-pitying, “woe is me” fashion so beloved of Islamists, their fellow-travellers and apologists for their excesses, she tries to excuse Al-Awlaki’s descent into infamy. Apparently, and according to her, Al-Awlaki was “deeply hurt” by the US response to 9/11* and that he began to believe that maybe American “freedom” was a charade. Missing from her account, of course, is any awareness of context of the US response, and any awareness or understanding at all on her part of how Americans perceived the murders of thousands of their fellow-countrymen and women on 9/11 in the name of Islam. Of course demopath Al-Awlaki did not care about that – demopath that he is he was almost certainly more concerned about how to make use of it to boost his power base – and of course neither does she, because it would certainly interfere in a major way with the rosy picture that she tries to paint of the “rather literalist” (her words) Al-Awlaki’s behaviour and his motives.
*(Curiously, Younis makes no mention either of the fact that Al-Awlaki’s sermons were attended by three of the 9/11 hijackers from 1999. He reportedly met privately with at least two of them, Nawaf Alhamzi and Khalid Almihdhar, in San Diego, and one moved from there to Falls Church, Virginia, when al-Awlaki moved. Investigators suspect al-Awlaki may have known about the 9/11 attacks in advance. This strongly suggests that Al-Awlaki’s “hurt” had him beginning to manipulate others to commit terrorist acts years before 9/11 took place).
Also conspicuously absent from this paean is any mention of the other terror attacks and attempted murders for which Younis’ hero, Al-Awlaki, is responsible:
He was mentor to Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas in 2009, and to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound jetliner on 25th December 2009. Abdulmutallab was chair of the Islamic Society at University College London from 2006 to 2007. (The UK provides, as we are finding out, a particularly facilitative climate for such sociopathy to mature). In May 2010, Faisal Shahzad, who pleaded guilty to the 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt, told interrogators he was “inspired by” al-Awlaki and made contact with him via the internet. Al-Awlaki also inspired (if that is the appropriate descriptor) the attempted murder of the British MP, Mr Stephen Timms, for which the perpetrator was jailed for life at the Old Bailey in November 2010.
All these being the case, if Younis actually believes what she has written then I am concerned for her grip on reality. She would have us believe that Al-Awlaki’s “transformation” into a sociopathic purveyor of terror (presumably from an all-round Mr Nice Guy) was political and not religious, and that he got his retaliation in first against the West which, he believed, was intent upon destroying Islam. (Getting in his retaliation first is, of course, is the demopath’s typical modus operandi – see above).
I myself find it impossible to believe that Al-Awlaki was ever a “nice guy”. Very much more likely is that his behaviour began in childhood and is typical of the sociopathic jihadi leader. I also believe that his sociopathy meant that he was attracted to, and his ideas meshed perfectly with, those of the Wahhabi strain of fundamentalism he subsequently preached and which led to the acts of terror he encouraged others to perform. This encouragement is typical of the demopathic sociopath who prefers to manipulate others into killing and getting killed “for the cause” rather than leading by example. He preaches about the holiness of jihad and martyrdom – but for others. He loves himself far too much to give his own life but he sees others as expendable.
Among the features of sociopathic personality disorder are:
- Glibness and superficial charm
- Manipulativeness – They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviours as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.
- Grandiose sense of self – feel entitled to certain things as “their right.”
- Pathological lying. Have no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.
- Lack of remorse, shame or guilt – A deep-seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Do not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.
- Shallow emotions – when they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.
- Callousness/lack of empathy – unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others’ feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.
- Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others.
- Not concerned about wrecking others’ lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Do not accept blame themselves, but blame others, even for acts they obviously committed.
Al-Awlaki’s behaviour and attitudes tick almost every box above, and in the light of that his pamphlet about the different ways to support jihad makes particularly chilling reading. Note how he normalises murderous behaviour by making a virtue out of the support of it.
And what of Younis as a blind follower and apologist for such a one? Aspects of her article show her almost to exhibit signs of co-dependency, so concerned is she to excuse the murderous behaviour of the object of her admiration. It is evident that she still has a strong emotional attachment to her construction of Al-Awlaki, in much the same way as young people have such attachments to rock stars.
As for CiF which allows Younis free rein to enthuse about her hero, readers may come to their own conclusions about why a blog under the banner of a once-great newspaper still allows contributors to it to make excuses for Islamist terrorists in general and this one in particular. Al-Awlaki is of a different, more malignant order from the usual Islamist terrorists featured and adored on CiF. He is infinitely more dangerous. Kath Viner should be more aware of the damage CiF may be doing by promoting him as some sort of hero, but is she afraid of bucking the trend?