Book in 2012 Predicted Boston Bombing Motive
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 09:06:54 AM EST
A book published in 2012 predicted the motive for the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. Terrorist's Creed, by professor Roger Griffin, explains how revolutionary religious movements construct a motive for terrorism against the United States and the West.

Griffin, a world-renowned expert on totalitarian thought and the connections among political fanaticism, violence, and religion, highlighted Chechnya in his study that explains how young men are radicalized into a zealous form of Islam. Carefully avoiding stereotyping Islam or Muslims around the world, Griffin zeros in on the powerful allure of revolutionary "Islamism" in mapping a course toward terrorism.

The Tsarnaev brothers, suspects in the terrorist act in Boston, are ethnically Chechnyan with parents and other relatives in the Russian Republic of Dagestan.

Chechnya and Dagestan are in the northern region of the Caucus mountains that link Russia to the neighboring countries of Iran and Afghanistan, Griffin discusses the historic “protracted struggle" of Chechnya against the forces of "Tsarist Russia” and how “an idiosyncratic form of Islam blending Sufism with pagan traditions served as an ethnic marker for the Chechens in their Caucasian homeland.”

Over time, Chechnya went through a process of Islamization, and eventually “Sufi missionaries finally succeeded in transforming Chechens into practising Muslims in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries,” according to Griffin.

As I reported on Talk to Action on April 19, The repression in Chechnya by invading Russian troops was brutal and deadly. In 2002 Human Rights Watch issued a report stating that "Russian forces in Chechnya arbitrarily detain, torture, and kill civilians in a climate of lawlessness."

Some Chechen Muslims suggest that Russia and the United States reached an understanding whereby the US would not pay attention to human rights abuses in Chechnya as long as Russian forces were fighting radical Muslims.

A YouTube page reportedly created by Tamerlan Tsarnaev reveals a fascination with apocalyptic Islamic prophecy. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a battle with police and his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was later arrested and charged in the terrorist attacks.

Griffin suggests that Islam has” become integral to the nomos [the social construction and ordering of experience into meaningful identity frameworks] that Chechens were seeking to defend. From the mid-1990s, Chechnya underwent a process of Islamic radicalization as Saudi-backed Wahhabism swept aside Sufism.” Griffin cites the work of Jeffrey Bale, "who has studied modern Chechen terrorism in depth."

Griffin notes that Bale:

warns against assuming that ‘in the 1990s the Chechen resistance movement was essentially secular, nationalist movement with irredentist aims’ concealed behind an Islamic façade.
“Chechnya was declared an Islamic Republic, writes Griffin, and, “under the influence of the Global Salafi Jihad, plans were developed within the new Chechen fundamentalist communities to conquer neighbouring Dagestan and create a larger Islamic state.”

On Talk to Action on April 19 I reported that religious fanatics often combine a totalitarian political mindset with a belief in sacred prophecy that they are mandated by God to rule the world, and they must act now against their enemies because time is running out. In fact they believe that we are approaching the end of time itself, the literal end of the world as we know it. This worldview is call apocalypticism.

The role of apocalypticism in the Boston bombing is clearly outlined in the video favored by the late Tamerlan Tsarnaev, “The Black Flags from Khorasan,” which details a prophecy which tells of a massive army of non-Arab Muslims marching on Jerusalem to prepare the way for the return of the Mahdi, the figure in Islamic apocalyptic narrative who signals the end of time and the global triumph of Islam.

Khorasan is the name of a historic region south of the Caucuses, and it's role in apocalyptic prophecy within Islamism is promoted by al Qaeda. Some analysts claim that this prophecy helped al Qaeda recruit young Muslims to fight in Afghanistan, first against the Russians, and later Americans.

A chapter by Griffin is titled "Rethinking What We Read in the Newspapers About Terrorism." Griffin argues that the "widespread misunderstandings of the metapolitical causes of terrorism, and the role that religion, particularly Islamism, may play in them has had important consequences for its coverage in the media."

The Washington Post of 27 January 2012 reported the case of Yonathan Melaku, a US citizen of Ethiopian ackground raised by Coptic Christian parents. The former Marine was arrested while on his way to desecrate the graves of US soldiers by scrawling ‘Arabic statements on them’ and leaving ‘handfuls of explosive material nearby as a message’.

23 Months earlier he had gone on:

...a mysterious shooting spree that targeted the Pentagon, the National Museum of the Marine Corps and two other military buildings in Northern Virginia. A video found after Melaku’s arrest showed him wearing a black mask and shooting a 9mm handgun out of his Acura’s passenger window as he drove along Interstate 95, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar!’

The article indicates that Melaku was a recent convert to Islam and had decided to carry out a series of attacks on buildings and ‘sacred sites’ of the US military, the synecdoche of the nation that Islamists see as the imperialist arch-enemy of their faith. Despite these clues, the article’s headline reads

‘Motive of Shooter who Targeted Military Sites is Unclear’.

The fact that over a decade after 9/11 a patently obvious Islamist message did not get through to the journalists of the Washington Post suggests continuing failure to appreciate the semiotic dimension of what took place that day in the capital of the US.

Semiotics is the study of the meanings of signs and symbols and how they are interpreted by individual. The novels and films built around the popular "The Da Vinci Code thriller series" are built around the concept of semiotics. But on a more serious scholarly level, semiotics is considered a useful way to understand how we all create meaning, identity, and actions around our interpretation of signs and symbols.

Scholar Umberto Eco is an example of a prestigious intellectual who uses semiotics to write not only serious academic work but also popular novels.

For more information on Griffin’s work, click here.




Display:

WWW Talk To Action


The JFK Speech That Made Santorum Want to Throw-Up
On February 26, 2012, (when I first published this post), the heated GOP presidential primaries were getting hotter as the Christian Right sought to......
By Frederick Clarkson (9 comments)
The Religious Bigotry of Rick Santorum
Now that Rick Santorum has announced that he is running for president, again, it is worth reminding ourselves that he is a coarsely obvious......
By Frederick Clarkson (24 comments)
Thoughts on the Finale of the Finn Debacle
Now that Bishop Robert Finn has finally resigned his leadership of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri -- here are some final thoughts......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
DeVos and School Privatization Funders Backing Philadelphia Democratic Mayoral Candidate
The Betsy DeVos-led American Federation for Children (AFC) and its core funders have spent more than fifteen million dollars in Pennsylvania over the last......
By Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)
Religious Right Rabbi: Christian Coalition Favorite Daniel Lapin Resurfaces
Back in the 1990s when I was regularly covering the antics of TV preacher Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, one part of the job was......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Christian Right leaders escalate anti-LGBTQ threats
As marriage equality has advanced around the country, and the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on the issue in June, threatening language......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Could Support for LGBTQ Rights Disrupt the Coalition of Jews and Evangelical Christian Zionists?
Some might say that the relationship between the conservative US Jewish community and Evangelicals is inviolable, with support for Israel being the cement that......
By Bill Berkowitz (1 comment)
Whine Festival: Second-Tier Religious Right Leaders Still Don't Like Marriage Equality
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow in Obergefell v. Hodges, the marriage equality case.In preparation for this, a sad collection of......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Whither the Christian Right in the Democratic Party?
You don't have to be a Hillary hater (and I'm not) to recognize that Clinton and other Democratic Party leaders have had long and......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Bishop Robert Finn Resigns Leadership of St. Joseph-Kansas City Diocese
Bishop Robert W. Finn, the Opus Dei Bishop who was convicted by a Missouri court for failing to report suspected child abuse by a......
By Frank Cocozzelli (5 comments)
Two Overlooked Indiana Outcomes that Could Haunt the Christian Right
I think there are two underreported features of the fallout from Indiana that we should make sure do not get lost in the hoo......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Terms, Definitions & Glossaries for Writing about the Religious Right
One of the challenges in writing about the Religious Right and what to do about it is the matter of terms and definitions. That's......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
President Obama Can Help Stop Religious Discrimination
Barry Lynn, the longtime executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, recently posted an important essay at Huffington Post. In......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Marriage Matters: Thoughts On The Recent Unpleasantness In Indiana
Last week I taped an interview with Sister Maureen Fielder, host of "Interfaith Voices," a popular radio program exploring religious issues that is carried......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
The Campaign Against Pro-LGBTQ Denominations
The recent endorsement of marriage equality by the Presbyterian Church (USA) seemed like a good moment to discuss the campaign to divide and conquer......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)

Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (0 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (3 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (1 comment)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (5 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (5 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (2 comments)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else © 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.