It is foolish to think that being raised by parents who have participated in terrorism cannot play a role in influencing a child to eventually become a terrorist. Yet, one of the most important details about the terrorist who killed 22 innocent concert goers in Manchester, just a few days prior to the death US foreign policy strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski, is being overlooked. The terrorist, Salman Abedi, was the child of Libyans who had worked with the United States and the United Kingdom against the Islamic Socialist Government of Moammar Gaddaffi.
Abedi’s father had fought against Gaddafi as part of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. NATO bombs had backed them up on the battlefield, and US made weapons had been supplied to them in order to topple the socialist government and reduce Libya to chaos and misery. Before conducting his ruthless terrorist attack, and in the process losing his own life, Abedi himself had gone to his parent’s home country to coordinate with the victorious Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a strong force in Libya now that the Islamic Socialist government has been demolished.
It appears that Salman Abedi was yet another radical islamist who took up the family business. Like so many other recent terrorists, he was the child of extremists backed by the United States to topple independent governments. Though Brzezinski is now dead, the impact of the policies he engineered and mastered will live on.
Radical Islamists – A Pattern of Terrorism
After Afghanistan’s 1978 Saur Revolution, led by the People’s Democratic Party, the United States began working with militant religious Afghans who opposed the secular government. The heir to a wealthy Saudi construction firm, Osama Bin Laden, was drafted for the purposes of championing the cause and recruiting Muslims around the world to join in.The Soviet Union sent troops to defend the People’s Democratic Party.
The late Zbigniew Brzezinski bragged about his efforts to topple the People’s Democratic Party. He said: “The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity to give the USSR its Vietnam War.”
Brzezinski had engineered US support for anti-Soviet uprisings in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and elsewhere. His career working behind the scenes to craft foreign policy involved manipulating artists, youth, and other dissident elements in Soviet aligned countries. However, in Afghanistan, Brzezinski suddenly had a new constituency to fight in his envisioned “Permanent Revolution” against independent, socialist, and nationalist governments: Wahabbi Muslims.
The United States escalated its support to anti-Soviet and anti-democratic Afghans after the Soviet Union’s intervention. Among the Afghans who opposed the Soviet Union’s presence was Siddique Mateen, the father of Omar Mateen, who eventually became the perpetrator of the Pulse Night Club Shooting. The father of Ahmad Rahami, the New Jersey bomber, was also among the US aligned, anti-Soviet, anti-democratic, fanatically religious faction of Afghans.
What Brzezinski called the “Afghan Trap” was part of a bigger strategy of utilizing Saudi Arabia to radicalize Muslims in Central Asia to oppose the Soviet Union. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with its strict Wahabbist interpretation of the Islamic faith, become a center of recruitment and propaganda.
For many years the United States and Saudi Arabia armed radical muslims in Chechnya, who worked to break this historically Islamic region away from the Soviet Union. Among the anti-Soviet Chechens were the parents of the Tsarnvev bombers, who conducted the infamous Boston Bombings in 2013.
So many of the terrorists who have conducted recent murderous attacks in western countries are the children of US backed anti-Communist Islamists. Their extremist Muslim parents, enlisted to fight the Soviet Union, the Afghan People’s Democratic Republic, or the Islamic Socialist Government of Libya were rewarded for their efforts with visas. In so many recent cases, their children grow up in the United States or Britain and eventually commit acts of terrorism.
It’s apparent that these radical islamists, of which there are thousands and thousands in the United States and Britain, are very dangerous. This particular demographic seems to be particularly susceptible to the “radicalization” and psychosis that leads to horrendous acts of terrorism.
The point is not to create sympathy for such a person. The crimes committed by the Mateens, Tsarnevs, Rahamis, and Abedis deserve no sympathy. However, in the interests of preventing these kinds of terrorist attacks, we must look into the makeup of radical islamists. What about their background makes them predisposed to terrorism and mass murder?
Same Terrorism, Different Countries
Well, first of all, let’s remember what their parents did before coming to the United States.
While the US public was led to believe that these were mystical holy warriors, fighting for freedom in the mountains, the actual deeds of US backed Islamic fighters were quite atrocious. One of the pastimes of US and Saudi backed fighters in Afghanistan was acid attacks on women not wearing headscarves. Women lived in terror of not being covered up, knowing that if seen without head covering, they could be permanently disfigured by radical islamists, who were violently imposing their Wahabbi or Salafi interpretation of Islam onto society.
Afghan Mujihadeen also executed members of the Democratic Youth League of Afghanistan who conducted its literacy campaign. Often the corpse of a young Afghan would be hung in a public place, to terrify others as to the consequence for teaching women to read or in any way cooperating with the People’s Democratic government.
In addition to these acts of terrorism targeting individuals, the Mujihadeen were known to commit bombings, mass shootings of civilians, and other typical acts of terrorism. The same for anti-Gaddafi Libyans and Chechen Islamist Seperatists. These extremists were known to blow themselves up in crowded places, or open fire on random crowds of civilians in regions sympathetic to the government they opposed. If an individual died in the process of killing Marxists or Socialists or Atheists, he was was deemed to be a martyr for Islam.
The actions that Omar Mateen, Ahmad Rahami, Salman Abedi, and the Tsarnaev brothers conducted in the United States and Britain are not at all different from the kind of actions their parents engaged in. The only difference is geography.
However, while US media accurately portrays the horror of these actions in the US and Britain, these actions were romanticized in Afghanistan, Libya, and Chechnya.
During the 1980s, there was a huge effort to romanticize the Mujahideen of Afghanistan. The 1987 James Bond film “The Living Daylights” was dedicated to them. CBS news was caught airing fake battle footage, staged to portray the Mujahideen as romantic freedom fighters.
Libya’s “revolutionaries” along with Chechnya’s “freedom fighters” received a similar propaganda cover from the western press. In US media discourse, bombing concerts and shooting up dance clubs in the US or the UK is called “terrorism.” Doing it in Gaddaffi’s Libya, the Soviet Union, or Democratic Afghanistan was called “fighting for freedom.”
The radical islamists who conducted horrendous terrorist attacks in the west, all grew up in households with parents who undoubtedly bragged to them about committing such atrocities, and also carried the psychological trauma of witnessing and participating in such events. Imagine a child growing up around parents who spend their days bragging to them of all the “infidels” they slaughtered, and on many night awaken in screams and cold sweats, haunted by flashbacks and PTSD.
Religious Fanatics in a Secular Playground
Furthermore, the Afghans and Chechens who were mobilized to oppose the Soviet Union, and the Libyans who were mobilized to oppose Gaddaffi, seemed to be primarily motivated by religion. The primary grievance against these governments was not a lack of democracy or western style markets, but rather, a lack of religion. This indicates that the parents of the radical islamists, who took up guns and killed people in the hopes of toppling a secular government, are most likely deeply conservative and religious people.
The United States and Britain today are not exactly the ideal environment for such people. While the Mujihadeen disfigured women for not having their faces covered, partial and sometimes even complete nudity is widely tolerated in public places in western countries. Prominently displayed billboards show women’s breasts, buttocks, stomachs. Prime time TV broadcasts portray sexual intimacy. Homosexuality is increasingly tolerated, with gay marriage being legal, and LGBT couples displaying intimacy toward each other in public settings.
In such an environment, the radical islamist is most likely being told by his parents about the sinfulness and immorality of the society around him. His parents may not allow him to even make a crass joke, while the society around him is filled with nudity and pornography.
The society around him reflects the blatant opposite of what he is being raised to believe. The child is given the choice of either rejecting his upbringing, or hiding with his parents in an enclave of religious purity.
He is constantly being tempted by the world around him, and in the process, having his relationship with his family put into jeopardy. In order to maintain his fanatical beliefs and remain on good terms with his family, he must learn to have deep contempt for the society he lives in. In such circumstances, the fact that his parents received US military support in their jihadist efforts makes no difference.
Proving Themselves With Terror
In further understanding the insanity of radical islamists, add to the trauma of war, the more conservative and strict parenting styles which are more typical among conservative Sunni Muslims, but widely rejected by western societies. While corporal punishment is increasingly frowned on in the US, especially in more liberal urban areas, his traditional and religious parents may regularly spank or beat him as a routine method of discipline. In addition to harsh traditional parenting styles, his parents, scarred by years of war, are likely to fly into fits of rage and violence. The confusion and tension of such circumstances can undoubtedly contribute to a psychological explosion.
Psychology tells us that the desire to prove oneself and win the approval of one’s parents is deeply embedded in all human beings. In cases of abuse, neglect, or isolation from the wider society, this drive can become more extreme and dangerous. Think of a young man whose father constantly brags of committing atrocities in the name of Islam, while harshly punishing and castigating his son and isolating him from the society around him. It is not hard to imagine such a young man becoming psychotic and going out into the society he has learned to hate, and committing the same kind of atrocities his father once committed in the home country.
Let’s not forget that the stated motivations of Afghan Mujihadeen fighters for hanging literacy campaign volunteers, or anti-Gaddafi extremists for bombing schools and hospitals in Libya, or Chechens for taking hostages and beheading people, are the same as the stated goals of recent terrorist attacks. These are attacks intended to punish the “infidels” who advocate a secular society with more sexual freedom.
Their parents did such things in the homeland against Marxist or Socialist governments that were opposed by the western powers. They do them against the people living within the United States and Britain. To these fanatics, the acts are the same, and so are the victims. Both anti-imperialist “Marxists” or “Socialists” or westerners who embrace a more liberal lifestyle are deemed to be “infidels” who deserve death.
Now in Syria, even other Muslims, deemed to be “Shia Apostates” are ruthlessly slaughtered by US and Saudi backed religious extremists. The goal of the extremists in Syria and elsewhere is to topple the Islamic Republic of Iran, which they deem to be an abomination for allowing Christians, Zorostrians, and Jews to worship freely, and practicing Shia Islam, which they consider to be a deviation of the faith.
Re-Thinking “The Snake”
By arming and training these forces, who are so deeply intolerant of other views and lifestyles, and so committed to killing those who disagree with them, the United States and Britain have not only been endangering the world, but they have endangered themselves.
Currently in Syria, the United States is aligned with Wahabbi, Saudi-linked fanatics. They commit horrendous terrorist attacks against Syrians who support the secular Baath Socialist Government.
While liberals hold “welcome the refugees” parades, they forget that Anti-Assad Syrians are not Trotskyists or Anarchists, or people who long for western style democracy. The primary motivation for opposing the Syrian Arab Republic is religious fanaticism. To the anti-Assad “revolutionaries” Assad is not a “dictator” who rejects western capitalism and civil liberties.
To the overwhelming majority of those on the battlefield, the opposition to Assad is due to that fact that he is an Alawaite and “Shia Apostate.” To the “Syrian opposition” Assad and Syrians who support him deserve death for not practicing Islam in the same way as the Saudi King.
Though it is strategically unspoken, you can be sure that these fanatics have similar feelings about the millions and millions of non-Wahabbis in the United States and the United Kingdom. To the Wahabbis, American and British liberals and Syrian Baath Socialists are the same. Yet, the leaders of western capitalism, with their eyes set on “regime change” continue to back and arm such forces.
The refugee debate is mistakenly framed in terms of “compassion” versus “self-interest.” The left screams “can’t we help these poor innocent people” and the right screams “they might be dangerous.” They both avoid pointing out the actual reality of the situation.
During his Presidential campaign, Donald Trump recited a poem “The Snake” as a warning against bringing refugees into the country. The poem tells of a woman kindly welcoming an injured snake into her home, before being bit by it. The snake tells her as she dies “you knew I was snake, before you took me in.”
However, this narrative on refugees misses the point. The parents of Omar Mateen, Ahmad Rahami, Salman Abedi, and the Tsarnaev Brothers were not welcomed into western countries out of a misguided or manipulated sense of compassion.
Rather, the visas they received allowing them to legally live in the most wealthy sections of the world economy, were rewards. They had helped topple independent, socialist governments that challenged the dominance of western capitalism. They committed horrendous acts of terror, motivated by dangerous, extremist ideology. For these actions, they were welcomed to the USA and the UK.For Trump’s poem to be honest, it would have to shed more light on the true insanity of the policies championed by Zbigniew Brzezinski. A poem telling honestly of events that led to recent terrorist attacks would end with “We knew you were a snake… that’s why we took you in.”
Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.