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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.