By Any Name

Two books of religious teachings, the Quran and the Bible.

A young man walks into a restaurant full of families enjoying their meals. Little kids run around the servers who try and balance the pizzas, beers and milk filled cups with straws poking out of protective lids.

The young man, in righteous wrongness, pulls out an automatic weapon to free child sex slaves that he knows are hidden in the basement of this otherwise idyllic scene.

The staff and patrons escaped to nearby bookstores and coffee shops. The police arrived and the young man, self-radicalized by conspiring theories on the internet, surrendered with his hands over his head. Thankfully nobody was hurt. I guess nobody was hurt.

This in a very tony area of Washington, D.C.

He later said that maybe he made a mistake.

After recently having internet service installed at his house, he was “really able to look into it.” He said that substantial evidence from a combination of sources had left him with the “impression something nefarious was happening.” He said one article on the subject led to another and then another.- NYTimes

He was under the belief that this wild and unsubstantiated about Hillary Clinton being involved in child sex trafficking was true. And that he should do something about it.

Another time, another young man entered a church. He executed nine people who welcomed him into their prayer circle. He killed them because they were African American and he wanted to start a race war.

Roof wrote he was radicalized via the Internet following the Trayvon Martin case. Roof wrote he researched “black on white violence,” which took him to the website of South Carolina-based hate group the Council of Conservative Citizens (formerly the White Citizens’ Council). – The Daily Beast

You tell me he acted alone. Or that he was radicalized by social media and people spewing hate over the internet. Like other young terrorists.

[R]esearchers identified 16 key “mindsets” of members of terrorist groups….Among those mindsets: A belief that the world is a disaster, that peaceful change is not possible, that self-sacrifice is honorable, that noble ends justify immoral means, and that it is possible to create a utopia. – NPR

Terrorists believe they are making the world a better place.

It seems like there is a cohort of generally young terrorists that spans religious and political spectrums. They speak similar languages of antipathy and want to take actions to fix the world. They pick up and hone their ideology from online sources with improbable and flat out incorrect sets of “facts.” They study techniques that they find on like-minded websites to learn how to accomplish their attacks.

It’s critical to understand the actual problem we are trying to solve. Otherwise we risk solving the wrong ones. Are we running down a rabbit hole by focusing on specific ideologies? If we look at the characteristics of home-grown terrorists should we be looking for disaffectation? Youth? Fear? Bloated sense of honor? Is there a trigger that incites action? Are there interventions that could stop attacks? Is a focus on specific and deeply held moral or ethical beliefs helpful? Harmful? A distraction? Are there specific sets of ideologies that are more fertile ground for terror activities?

People who commit heinous acts of terror may read different holy books or have different motivations, but their wrongness is the same. Let’s work on the right problem.

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