No doubt we will learn more in coming days. But it’s unlikely that anything will ever really explain why he did what he did. Perhaps that says something about the nature of evil, — that it is ultimately not fully explicable. Even the perpetrators themselves can never really articulate “Why?” in any meaningful way.
“Even the perpetrators themselves can never really articulate ‘Why?’ in any meaningful way.” Really? The jihadis themselves can’t articulate why they turned to jihad? Let’s see what a few of them have to say: in his 2002 letter to America, Osama bin Laden declared, “The first thing we are calling you to is Islam.”
The first thing we are calling you to Islam? You mean, Osama’s jihad had something to do with Islam? That seems fairly well articulated. And in fact, his jihad did have to do with Islam, and he wasn’t alone. Contrary to Bergen’s confident pronouncement, other Muslim terrorists have seemed fairly well able to articulate why they did what they did as well. One Malaysian Muslim said that the Qur’an led him to join the Islamic State. A Muslima in the U.S. promoted the Islamic State by quoting the Qur’an. An Islamic State propagandist’s parents said of him: “Our son is a devout Muslim. He had learnt the Quran by heart.” A Muslim politician from Jordan said that the Islamic State’s “doctrine stems from the Qur’an and Sunnah.”
Other jihadis have pointed to similar reasons why they turned to jihad:
“Many thanks to God, for his kind gesture, and choosing us to perform the act of Jihad for his cause and to defend Islam and Muslims. Therefore, killing you and fighting you, destroying you and terrorizing you, responding back to your attacks, are all considered to be great legitimate duty in our religion.” — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow 9/11 defendants
“Allah on 480 occasions in the Holy Koran extols Muslims to wage jihad. We only fulfil God’s orders. Only jihad can bring peace to the world.” — Taliban terrorist Baitullah Mehsud
“So step by step I became a religiously devout Muslim, Mujahid — meaning one who participates in jihad.” — Little Rock, Arkansas terrorist murderer Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad
“Jihad, holy fighting in Allah’s course, with full force of numbers and weaponry, is given the utmost importance in Islam….By jihad, Islam is established….By abandoning jihad, may Allah protect us from that, Islam is destroyed, and Muslims go into inferior position, their honor is lost, their lands are stolen, their rule and authority vanish. Jihad is an obligation and duty in Islam on every Muslim.” — Times Square car bomb terrorist Faisal Shahzad
“Jihad was a way of life for the Pious Predecessors (Salaf-us-Salih), and the Prophet (SAWS) was a master of the Mujahideen and a model for fortunate inexperienced people. The total number of military excursions which he (SAWS) accompanied was 27. He himself fought in nine of these; namely Badr; Uhud, Al-Muraysi, The Trench, Qurayzah, Khaybar, The Conquest of Makkah, Hunayn and Taif . . . This means that the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) used to go out on military expeditions or send out an army at least every two months.” — Abdullah Azzam, co-founder of al-Qaeda, Join the Caravan, p. 30
“If we follow the rules of interpretation developed from the classical science of Koranic interpretation, it is not possible to condemn terrorism in religious terms. It remains completely true to the classical rules in its evolution of sanctity for its own justification. This is where the secret of its theological strength lies.” — Egyptian scholar Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd
“And now, after mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives, and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad.” — Texas terrorist bomber Khalid Aldawsari
What about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon jihad murderer? Bergen acknowledges that his older brother Tamerlan was an “Islamist militant,” but says of Dzhokhar that he “never seemed to embrace militant Islam.” Yet CNN reported a week after the bombings that “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, wounded and held in a Boston hospital, has said his brother—who was killed early Friday—wanted to defend Islam from attack.” And just before he was captured, when he was hiding out inside a pleasure boat, Dzhokhar wrote a long self-justification on the inside of the boat, including the line: “When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims.”
But we may never know why, says the learned Mr. Bergen! Because the terrorists just can’t seem to explain why they do it, eh?