The gunman in the shooting rampage at Ft. Lauderdale Airport attack has a recent history of mental problems, having told the FBI in Nov 2016 that the government was "forcing" him to watch ISIS propaganda videos by invading his mind. While there is little doubt the gunman is deranged, there is another side to this coin.
[update: the Airport shooter was an Islamic convert. See here. The Ft. Lauderdale Airport shooter is a Muslim convert who years before joining the U.S. Army took on an Islamic name (Aashiq Hammad), downloaded terrorist propaganda and recorded Islamic religious music online, according to public records dug up by the investigative news site of an award-winning, California journalist. This is pertinent information that the Obama administration apparently wants to keep quiet, bringing up memories of the Benghazi cover up, in which the president and his cohorts knowingly lied to conceal that Islamic terrorists attacked the U.S. Special Mission in Libya.)
After an end-of-the-year ISIS video showing pre-teens hunt down and kill bound prisoners in an abandoned building, the Islamic State released an even more gory follow-up with children as young as preschool age murdering prisoners tied to broken carnival rides.
In what world does this not classify as "insane"?
In Apr 2015, an article in a British paper reported here that Britain's most senior counterterrorism officer warned ISIS was attracting people with mental health issues.
The Islamic State (Isis) is not attempting to form terror cells based on the model of al-Qaeda to commit attacks in the West, but instead radicalise misfits, criminals and the mentally ill to carry out lone-wolf attacks, according to a UK police chief.
Speaking at the Counter Terror Expo in Olympia, west London, Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, head of specialist operations at the Metropolitan Police, said that the group aggressively targeted potential recruits through social media, and was actively attempting to recruit "the vulnerable, people with violent backgrounds, very young people and those with mental health issues".
And what is it about Islamic terrorism that makes it so attractive to the mentally ill? In 2014 Hugh Fitzgerald insightfully offered the following reasons:
- Islam offers a Total Regulation of Life. Like the Junior Woodchucks of America, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, you get special Arabic words to learn: Allahu Akbar, alhumdulillah, Jihad, Kuffar, things like that. You get to make up a special name, in Arabic, for yourself. It can express your origin in a particular country: Al-Amriki, Al-Frangi, Al-Britani, just the way those to the manner born can be called Al-Misri (from Egypt) or Al-Shami or Al-Hijazi. You can give yourself a new first name: Stephen might choose to become Suleiman. A new identity, and an instant Community of Bruvvers, fellow Believers, one for all and all for one (that can be especially important in prison). [note: Islam is the fastest growing religion in American prisons.)
- Islam offers a Complete Explanation of the Universe. Life is so confusing, so overwhelming. But to the True Believer, life suddenly becomes simple. See Eric Hoffer. There is the Enemy -- in Islam,it's the non-Muslims, the Unbelievers, the Kuffars, the Ungrateful Ones. There is the Cause for which one subsumes one's own personality (not that such people ever had much of one to begin with), ready to do everything, ideally, for that Cause. And Islam is all about a Cause -- the Cause of Islam itself. The true object of worship in Islam is not Allah, but Islam. It is for Islam that we live and die. And Muslims, to the precise extent that they take Islam to heart (and someone may not take Islam to heart, and then do so, but converts ordinarily are among the most fanatical, the least willilng to modify their behavior, or to embarrassedly or uneasily try to ignore some of the tenets and teachings of Islam).
- Islam is attractive as a Gang. In prisons in the Western world, where Musliims represent such a disproportionate number of those incarcerated (in France Muslims may be 5% of the population, but constitute 60% of the prison population, and similar figures can be found in every other country in Western Europe) Islam is attractive as a Gang, the biggest and most dangerous Gang, and the one you want to belong to, for your own protection against others, and of course, against that Muslim Gang. Western governments have yet to do the obvious and sane thing, which would be to put Muslims in prisons for Muslims only, keeping them away from others who might otherwise convert to this dangerous doctrine.
- Islam legitimizes criminal behavior. It makes the convert feel good about his behavior, not ashamed or guilty. Have you raped, or stolen from, or killed people who are not Muslims? That's not only not a crime, but they had it coming to them. Not only have you not done wrong, but if you continue to do what you are doing, you can see it in a new light: you are merely helping yourself to the Jizyah that the Infidel nation-state, for now, prevents you from claiming. If you rape seductively-dressed Western women who aren't wearing a niqab, or chador, or even a hijab, and whose skirts may be short, and who may wear lipstick and rouge, then they are asking for it. The little English girls who were made sex slaves deserved what they got. So for a certain kind of convert to Islam, his life now becomes justifiable; he's been a warrior for Islam all along.
- Islam provides a permanent source of enmity -- the Infidel -- whom you can blame for all of your woes. That's very relaxing. In the Western world, we find so many different things to blame if things go wrong -- and things always go wrong. But in Islam, you can always blame the Infidel for everything. And that's what Muslims do, with their conspiracy theorizing, all the time.
In 2015, the mother of a Wisconsin man (Joshua Van Haften, 34) accused of trying to join the Islamic State group said he's a mentally ill loner who often makes boastful comments to try to win acceptance. Federal prosecutors charged Joshua Van Haften, 34, with trying to provide material assistance to a foreign terrorist group. He was arrested at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago flying back from Turkey after a failed attempt to join the group in Syria.
Radical Islam ultimately is a death cult with no basis in sanity - i.e., witness the barbaric and sadistic videos constantly produced by the Islamic State. As such, it is a magnet for those suffering mental health issues. The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child speaks of the Islamic State selling young children into slavery, pressing mentally handicapped kids into service as suicide bombers, using them as human shields against American air strikes, and conducting mass executions of children by beheading them, crucifying them, and burying them alive.
In 2104, Jeet Heer authored an article in The New Yorker entitled "The Line Between Terrorism And Mental Illness" theorizing a clear link between mental illness and an attraction to Islamic terrorism.
Rather than hastily framing attacks in the context of a battle between the West and the Muslim world, it may be more productive, in terms of diagnosis and prevention, to look at more profiles of self-styled ISIS fellow-travelers who commit attacks as individuals. What we know of Zehaf-Bibeau’s biography offers some instructive clues. According to reports published in the Globe and Mail and elsewhere, he had a history of mental illness and of run-ins with the law, involving drug possession, theft, and making threats. He battled an addiction to crack cocaine and, in the weeks leading up to the attack, he was living in a homeless shelter. Dave Bathurst, a friend of Zehaf-Bibeau and himself a Muslim, told the Globe, “We were having a conversation in a kitchen, and I don’t know how he worded it: He said the devil is after him.” Bathurst said his friend often spoke of the presence of shaytan—the Arabic term for devils and demons. “I think he must have been mentally ill.”
... “Islamic-extremist online recruiters are very good at pulling in people who are mentally vulnerable,” Heather Hurlburt, of the Washington-based think tank New America, said.
... It’s natural to see terrorism and counter-terrorism as a drama of violence and retribution played out on the international stage. Both Zehaf-Bibeau and Couture-Rouleau certainly seem to have seen themselves as part of a similarly apocalyptic saga—Zehaf-Bibeau, in particular, was said by people at the shelter where he was staying in Ottawa to have spoken in his last days about the end of the world. But it’s worth remembering that Zehaf-Bibeau talked not just about an external battle but an internal struggle with demons, spiritual beings he felt had a real existence. That was a battle he was fighting in his own mind, which may have been the ultimate source of the violence that he inflicted on the world.
In 2015, Simon Cottee offered the following in an article in The Atlantic entitled "Pilgrims to the Islamic State",
ISIS’s caliphate project, because it offers a bracing utopian alternative to Western secular society, speaks directly to those who feel their lives are worthless, spiritually corrupted, empty, boring, or devoid of purpose and significance, and who see no value in their own societies. It promises, in short, salvation and ultimate meaning through total commitment to a sacred cause.
The Islamic worldview often finds ready acceptance in the deranged mind. Indeed, a contemporary psychological analysis here of Islam's founder in 2012 based on his dark history offers a tentative diagnosis of schizophrenia. Ultimately, it can be effectively argued that Islam is not a religion per se, but a theocracy and terrorist cult that hides behind the mask of religion in order to achieve its goal of world domination. As such, it often appeals to the mentally deranged. In addition to mental illness, I suspect much of the extreme Islamic barbarism is also demonic. Only Christ can deliver one from this depth of madness.
At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored (Dan 4:34)