What fuels the hatred?-terrorists

Okay, this is a question I hate to ask, only because it puts a spotlight on things that I should but don’t know, but I really want to know…

What exactly is the beef the terrorists have with us? Is it purely ideology? Is it nothing but religion gone horribly bad fueling this hatred?

I won’t give details about where I work, because it would be a OPSEC booboo, but I see a lot of people from the middle east (ok, fuck it, Iraq) and they come here asking where they can get hookers and alcohol and tell me that “Allah can’t see what they do here”. Um, yeah, thats some faith in your religion, bud. HE can’t see you here, but people that have your (similar) beliefs will blow up buildings here?

The President will tell us that they “hate our freedom” but that makes no sense to me. I suppose it will to a crazy person, but why would you hate an entire nation of people because they have a democracy? (and its not actually a true democracy and we all know it ain’t perfect) I can appreciate that middle eastern countries don’t want to be like us , and that they have their own culture, religion and so on. (but after being there in the middle east, I have to say it sucks ass)

I suppose it all bewilders me because the handful of people on the planet that I can say that I hate, I hate because I’ve dealt with them personally.…and they’re all sons of bitches…but I don’t hate any of them enough to want to kill them or cause harm to a bunch of strangers to get at them. I’ve made it a point in my life to not hate anyone because of crap like race, religion or ethnicity. I may not agree with your ideology but I won’t hate you for it. (unless your religion and ideology calls for harming other innocent people indiscriminately…but I’ve been told the koran doesn’t actually say that…not that I ever plan on reading it myself)

I think this is purely a matter of personal opinion. As someone who was in the Marines and in the Middle Easy numerous times, I personally think that is the reason. Because we are in their land which they view as sacred. In my opinion, they don’t justify this war because we have a free and democratic government, but justify it on a religious standpoint. “We are in Allah’s land trying to change their ways”. As a Marine, or any other military member, we are taught to respect ‘our enemy’.

Needless to say, I know many people from the Middle East who do not share these views (at least not openly). To clarify something, I am and was supportive of the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq (RELAX EVERYBODY-IT IS ONLY MY OPINION), however, how would you feel if someone invaded your country, justified in their mind or not?

Anyway, this probably belongs in IMO.

“An American bomb killed uncle Amal, I shall not forgive them until every one of them is dead.”

“The Americans and the British have installed governments of their choosing over the wishes of the true believers. We shall slay them all, and free the holy land.”

“Israel was created by Western Zionists, and the people of the region are dispossessed, hunted, and killed by the war dogs of imperialism. We shall drive them into the sea, though it takes a hundred generations.”

Take your pick.


The religious part is just used to multiply the existing contention and attract recruits for the struggle. As for the real points of contention, various elements have always been crystal clear that they are against the West (and particularly US) support of Israel no matter what Israel does. Seeing the US as an agent of Israel, they particularly resent US troops occupying Arab country, in particular the religiously significant Saudi peninsula. There is also some perception that the US sponsors tyrannical, undemocratic Arab governments simply because their economic interests are aligned.

So yeah, you can’t really look at it as pure ideological conflict. You can’t look at it as a purely US conflict either, because Israel figures hugely into this.

I’ve moved this to Great Debates rather than General Questions. Since there is no single correct answer to the question, you can air it out over there.

I also amended your thread title, adding the word “terrorists.” The more descriptive you can be in creating a thread title, the more responses you will get on this board.

samclem GQ moderator

I know it won’t happen, but I’ve always thought that if you could get all the opposing sides in this conflict to sit down and agree to not kill anyone, not blow anything up, and just try to leave each other in peace and rebuild the destruction for lets say five years, maybe after that time they’d figure “Hmmm…you know, Maybe We Can All Get Along!”.

I know its more complex than that…but its a nice idea.

It takes time for hatred to “go away” or subside, at least. When I was a child I was called the N-word 10 times daily at least in my home town. By the time I was in high school my first girlfriend was white. It took my parents awhile to get used to that (and considering they were raised before Rosa Parks, not a surprise). but there was progress made during that time. That at least gives me some hope for peace in other places.

To Formermarineguy: I was there in Desert Storm. I didn’t personally agree with invading Iraq, but I’ll admit I was for rooting the Taliban out.

My understanding, such as it is - and it will be interesting to see how this compares with that of others:

o They don’t ALL hate us, but it only takes a few hotheads with fairly simple bombs and poison gas and whatever to do a lot of damage. Most muslims are peaceable and practice the parts of the Koran that talk about hospitability to strangers and the unfortunate. It only takes a few hotheads.

o They have deep historic and ongoing reasons to really hate the Jews and Isreal. This is a slight problem, what with the U.S. and other western nations seen as supporting Isreal.

o Much of the violence in Iraq and similar countries is the local equivalent of political posturing, more like Mafia gangs trying to establish territory than much thought of taking down the infidels. The Sunnis are scared of persecution under the Shiites, and vice versa - so much of the violence is pre-emptive. We’re caught in the cross-fire, though the ones doing the shooting aren’t inclined to fret about that.

o There’s probably some fear of loosing their cultural bearings - no one really likes change, no matter how beneficial it might turn out to be in the future. They’ve grown up thinking, both men and women, that men have their place, and women have theirs - and messing with that is a recipe for long-term disaster. Democracy is an interesting, if curious idea, but the local imam is pretty wise, and why not let him do the thinking about this theoretical stuff. The West does seem to have its material comforts, but they’ll come to no good in the end, Allah will see to that.

These are my own generalizations. ALL generalizations are false.

Hard to figure on a number of levels.

First off, not every hothead is angry for the same reason. People in Saudi Arabia who are upset with us are anti-establishment. People who are upset with the West in Iran are pro-establishment.

(As a corollary, it stands to reason we cannot overly reason with them because their opinions are so diverse.)

Next, some religious types are upset because The West helped the Saudis in the First Gulf War. (This is the idea the entire Peninsula must be reserved for Muslims only.)

Others are upset because The West represents modernity, which attacks their traditional way of life. Strictly speaking this is not a religious opinion, but is so related to religion as to make a distinction difficult.

Still more are upset because The West ‘supports’ the local governments. (How do we support the Saudis on a day-to-day basis? We sell them things. We don;t give them help we sell them help.)

Others still are upset because we support the Sunnis over the Shiites.

But what is often overlooked is the huge amount of testosterone laying around in puddles around here. There is a freakin’ huge population bulge working its way through here. Lots and lots of unemployed young men with no chance to get married. That is very, very dangerous.

All in all, a riddle wrapped inside and enigma covered in secret sauce. (As Arthur Carlson would say.)

So the answer is to get these guys laid? :smack:
Sorry, I couldn’t resist it.

The Islamic world has no sense of “Statute of Limitations.” September 11 didn’t commemorate any modern insult; it commemorated the failed Siege of Vienna. There are radical Islamists revanching the Crusades and Charlemagne.

[Of course, many Christian antisemites are still revanching something even older, so I wouldn’t call Muslims the worst offenders. I would call them the most enthusiastic, though.]

For less extreme Muslims, I have heard that there’s a sense that everyone in the world is prospering except for them, and most likely at their expense. And Muslims living in/visiting the West see hot, hot women slutting it up with everybody but them.

It could foster an attitude.

I suppose I should tell ya why that lame joke came to my mind…back after the gulf war had ended and we were pulling out, I was on guard duty at one of the compounds for US personnel. No joke, a big freakin’ caddy pulls up to us with a suadi guy in it. He was dressed like a pimp from a bad 1970’s blaxploitation movie. The conversational exchange went like this:

Saudi Guy: My man, my man,…maybe you can help me…I am looking for naked American White Woman.
Me: **Hell, who isn’t? **

A few days later a saudi national tried to “buy” the only female in my squad. He was dissauded by the fact that the guys had armed weapons and told him to get lost.

The day before my unit actually left guys were trying to get rid of any contraband they might have, knowing they’d be checked at the airport. I was throwing trash (regular trash) away in a dumpster when the garbage man showed up. He saw a number of playboy, penthouse and other such magazines in the dumpster. (That soldiers had thrown away). He then asked me if he could have them. Hell, they weren’t mine to begin with and they were in the dumpster. I told him they were his. He immediately started acting like I had saved his first born child from a rampaging rhino. "Thank you, thank you…"etc.

I suppose if I got that happy over the pictures of naked women I’d be a little volatile too…

Fuck all.

I saw this BBC documentary a few months ago. Subsequent events seem to prove that Sageman’s “bunch of guys” theory is pretty bloody close to the mark.

Everyone says that some group is prospering better than they are, so in the US that is not likely to foster much sympathy. I’m black, I’ve been hearing that mantra for years, and yeah, I’ll say for us its kinda true.

But if the hot, hot women thing is true maybe muslims should try not treating their women like cattle. (thats my opinion of course). Kinda hard to get a hot woman thats willing when they have no rights and are treated like 2nd class citizens.

Also, many of them still appear to be holding a grudge over the Crusades – rather petty, considering they won!

Then again, in the 19th and 20th Centuries many parts of the MENA came under the rule or domination of European imperial powers. Many non-Islamic former colonies are still feeling a grudge over that, though not nearly to the same extent.


The pervasive poverty throughout Moslem lands certainly contributes to the indignant hate. Also, the wealth of oil rich countries isn’t spread through to the masses - like it should be according to Islam. Finally, those who are rich are generally seen as colluding with Western nations.

Plus, of course, a whole lot of other stuff. But personally, I think it is the inequality of wealth which really fuels the fanaticism at an individual level. When you have no real economic future to provide for a family, why not join the battle against the infidel? They’ll give you food, shelter, purpose, etc.

Stagnation leads to da da da daaam! Boredom! In many parts of the Muslim world, lots of the population (Male predominantely) are unemployed, are part of a very very large working class and in many cases aren’t even literate, doing repetitive manual labour, which in turn helps when radical Islamists want to recruit. Combine all those factors, and the inability to find a job without;

A) Bribing someone

B) Bein’ someones brother, nephew, grandson, cousin etc etc


C) When you can’t attain a lifestyle you want because of certain restrictions, it leads to resentment and the ‘blaming of the other’

Then it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

I think Oil has alot to do with this, it’s pretty much put the cultures of the Arab world in suspended animation for God knows how long, and has done alot to hold them back, and has provided the excuse for their governments not to do much other than maintain the status quo.

In addition, not much of the Arab world has even experienced an industrial revolution of sorts, which I always see as a precursor to ending violent religious fundamentalism in this context.

Thats my 2 pence. :wink:

Most of what people have said in this thread is true (with the usual caveats about small numbers of Muslims being radical islamists, etc., etc., plenty of people in the Middle East being only loosely Muslim or even only Muslim in name, and so forth), but I just wanted to add one thing: there are a substantial number of liberal, often ex-pat Muslims I know who hatehatehate the radical branches of Islam (not least because many of them are women who have only been able to get out of the house thanks to moving to the West), and the oppresive regimes that rule places like Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. You might think that these people are the natural allies of the West- and in a sense, they are.

However, many of those I have spoken to in recent years (since the Iraq War, basically) are becoming utterly disgusted with Western leaders because of what these Muslims see as their hypocrisy, prejudice and patronising attitude towards Muslim culture. Many of them have a deep pride in both their faith and their region, which they see (not unjustly) as being one of the oldest civilizations on earth, with values that, although different, are no worse than those of the West. Many of them want democracy and efficient, honest government brought to their home countries, nearly all of them want to extend the liberal privelages they enjoy to those in the Middle East (nearly all have family still there).

However, when they see the West propping up oppresive, undemocratic regimes (not least Israel- in their perception, the fault here lies entirely upon the side of the Israelis, and there is little that will shake their views on this issue, IME) and taking part in various programs and actions which they see as blatantly anti-Muslim (whether that be things like Abu Gharib or other abuses by Western troops, which tend to get huge press in the Arabic-speaking media, or more subtle things like Blair’s recent attack on the Muslim community for failing to integrate- two weeks after police arrested two innocent Muslim brothers, and shot one, on suspicion of terrorism) they tend to develop a gut-level disgust for the Western governments- not unreasonably, one might say. I’ve had a lovely Muslim girl I know tell me that although she used to love the West (since it allowed her to train as a doctor, not wear a burqua et al- she comes from a northern area of Pakistan) the actions of Western governments have made her consider moving back to the ME.

In a sense, I think that if these people- who should be the best allies of the West in the Islamic world- have such reactions, how much more extreme must be the thoughts of the average citizen of one of the MEern states, where you also have to factor in state (and, in general, anti-Western) control of the media.

Mind you, I don’t want to overemphasise my point: most of these people have never exhibited any dislike of me or other Westerners, nor have I ever met that attitude when staying in the ME. In that, they display an ability to distinguish between the actions of Westerners and their governments that I sometimes think is lacking in our perceptions of the Islamic world.

For what it’s worth. And yes, I know that the plural of anecdote is not data.

I’m sorry but that’s taking an extreme view of things and applying it broadly to Muslims living within the UK. You know what? From my experience with Muslims, most of them couldn’t give two shits about what’s goin on in the world, just like the majority of us don’t and are more concerned with going on with our lives.What you’re talking about is the politically active minority. Which tends to have a big gob.

As for Blairs ‘attack’ on the Muslim community, when you have these articles basically blaming the government for the 7/7 bombings, why do you think he makes such comments in the first place?

Or how about a member of the Muslim Council of Britain basically saying the same thing?

In August 2005, Inayat was appointed by the Home Office as the Convenor of a working group on Tackling Extremism

So no, the blame doesn’t lie with the government, it lies within the community which is unable to shrug off this extremism without being essentially labelled ‘traitors’

But even still, this is one man, not the majority.

I was merely trying to give one perspective of a group who one would think would be highly supportive of Western actions. I never claimed it was representative of the entire Muslim community. On the other hand, when the OP is talking about people like suicide bombers, the explanations are going to be necessarily restricted to what a small segment of the population thinks, since the majority are not suicide bombers. In any case, the politically active minority tend to be the spokespeople and, frequently the policy-determiners of the community. I think it’s valid to talk about the perspective of a segment of the “politically active minority”

Exactly so- the extremist segments of the Muslim population are a (very small) minority- that’s not to say, of course, that there isn’t generalised bad feeling against the government on the part of British muslims. It is exactly the fact that the extremists are a small minority that made Blair’s attack on the Muslim community as a whole so unpleasant- after all, it is these people we should be trying to attract, not berating them for allowing bad blood to develop in Muslim communities while the actions of the government are causing that disgruntlement (Forest Gate, most obiously and recently).

I think one of the reasons so many people cannot comprehend anti-Americna terrorists’ motives is a distinct lack of empathy. That is, empathy in the sense of literally being able to put one’s self in another’s shoes, not necessarily as in wanting to go give them a big warm hug. Think of how angry we get at basic every-day things. Obviously that’s magnified many times when lives are in the balance. While a death count from an Israeli bombing might be nothing but a number on the news, if one of those numbers was your husband, or your daughter, or your father, you’re going to be beside yourself with anger. Let nobody kid themselves that Westerners wouldn’t do the same if we were in the same position. Would “sorry, it was for the greater good” be an acceptable excuse for anyone here if their mother was killed by a missile? Obviously, not all of our bereaved would go so far as to become terrorists-- but neither do all the bereaved of the Arab world.