Belmont Club

The Flowers of Evil

Terror experts tell Fox News that “the grisly massacre at an upscale Kenyan shopping mall by al-Shabab militants is a ‘great shot in the arm’ to the Al Qaeda-linked group’s efforts to recruit fighters from the West, including the U.S.” It’s going to attract new adherents in droves.

By selecting and ultimately carrying out an attack on a soft target such as a shopping mall frequented by Westerners and affluent locals, al-Shabab — which means “The Youth” in Arabic — sent a clear message to would-be jihadists, Schroeder said.

“We’re still credible and we’re alive,” he said. “So come join us. That’s going to be the message.”

Astonishingly enough, ThinkProgress agrees. It’s a poster drive. A recruitment campaign. “The bloody Shabaab attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall on September 21 was an act of desperation by a jihadi group beset by internal power struggles and plummeting support.”

There’s a tendency in the Western public to believe that the scenes of mayhem, cruelty and destruction are somehow a turn-off to the al-Shabaab cause. They imagine that these grisly scenes will discourage new recruits.

Why would they think that? People talk about dog whistles. This is a message in a special pitch.

Making the assumption that terrorism attracts the idealistic, disaffected, and alienated is as epic a blunder as assuming Che Guevara was a nice guy. Or that Pol Pot only had humanity in mind. Like everything else, the prospect of inflicting death, pain, and cruelty on others attracts a certain kind of individual.

It’s the same old call from the same shadowy places. The lure of power. The chance to gratify sadism, perversion, and greed. For the most brutal, it is a chance to inflict fear and absolute abjection as a way of affirming the nothingness in them.

Oh they dress it up with a line of patter. But that’s just to add insult to injury. Not only are they going to hurt you, but they are going to make you thank them for it before they’re through.

There have always been people like that, in every society, on the fringes of certain political ideologies and even at the center of them. And of course there are people ready to make excuses for them. For they feel the attraction too, but are too chicken to put their actions into practice. So they cheer instead, feeling they’ve done their bit by supporting the Cause.  It gives them a sense of importance and an escape from their own deeply felt mediocrity.

In this there is nothing new. Bad guys and wannabe bad guys have been a part of this world since it began, though we have been encouraged to forget that. The only question is: are you ready to meet them? Because they are anxious — and ready — to meet you.

In other news we hear that one handgun in Kenya saved 100 lives.

An off-duty member of the SAS emerged as a hero of the Nairobi siege yesterday, after he was credited with saving up to 100 lives.

The soldier was having coffee at the Westgate mall when it was attacked by Islamists on Saturday. With a gun tucked into his waistband, he was pictured helping two women from the complex.

He is said to have returned to the building on a dozen occasions, despite intense gunfire.

A friend in Nairobi said: ‘What he did was so heroic. He was having coffee with friends when it happened.

‘He went back in 12 times and saved 100 people. Imagine going back in when you knew what was going on inside.’

Calling Piers Morgan. Calling Piers Morgan.

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