The Rise of the Ignoramus Jihadist

It is still widely believed in leftist circles that the generic Islamic terrorist is the product of ignorance and poverty. This idea – that terrorists are a persecuted minority of the ignorant and downtrodden – dovetails neatly with another liberal tenet: that the problem of modern terrorism is amenable to a socioeconomic solution. Typical of this putative class of terrorist is “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. A petty criminal who was arrested in his teens for assaulting an elderly woman, and who was in and out of prison for most his adult life, Reid considered himself a victim of racism. He was thus promising material for conversion to Islam: the Jihadists love to glom onto disaffected and benighted losers to do their dirty work.

But even liberals are coming around to the view that many acts of terror are being planned and carried out by “educated” members of the Islamic middle class, not a few of whom have come from affluent and privileged backgrounds. Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist and former CIA case officer, states in his book Understanding Terror Networks that a high percentage of al-Qaeda operatives are college educated (34 percent) and come from skilled professions (45 percent). A governmental report prepared for the CIA in 1999 entitled “The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why?” reached the same conclusion.

However, some qualification of the word “educated” is in order. While secondary education in some Islamic countries like Malaysia is modeled on the Western system, in the Middle East it is largely the responsibility of the madrasahs (religious schools), which are dedicated almost exclusively to religious instruction and indoctrination. Though not all these institutions are stridently anti-Western, the fact that the curriculum is entirely religious-based, i.e., focused on the Quran and the hadith, means that the average madrasah graduate is blissfully unaware of the modern world and thus a receptive vessel for the anti-American narrative promoted by militant jihadists.

For example, if you were to ask a madrasah graduate to explain what role the Christian democracies have played in world affairs in the twentieth century (the Anglo-American alliance that defeated German imperialism in 1918, the Nazi-Fascist Axis in 1945, and international Communism in 1989), they would have no idea what you were talking about. Indeed, so profound is their ignorance of current events and world history, few would even know there had been a Cold War.

If the number of Nobel laureates is any measure—Islam, 20% of the world’s population, has produced 6, while the Jewish community, a tiny minority of 0.2%, has produced 165—intellectual curiosity is not a highly rated virtue in the Koran; “Islam” is a Syriac word meaning submission, which is the surrender of the mind to faith, i.e., the abdication of free conscience and independent thought to the teachings of the Prophet. Most so-called “educated” jihadists, those who see themselves as symbolic emissaries of Islam and are fully convinced of the rectitude of their cause, suffer from a cognitive disorder Thomas Aquinas called “invincible ignorance.” The best (or worst) you can say of graduates of the madrasahs is that their knowledge of history and world affairs is roughly equivalent to that of an average American fourth-grader. In no other culture, society, or religion is the pursuit of knowledge viewed with such virulent contempt and ignorance of the world considered evidence of virtue.

So when we speak of “educated” jihadists we are referring to training and expertise in a specialized technical field or in one of the professions, like medicine. Practically all university-educated jihadists are engineers and technologists. In terms of general education, however, middle-class, university-educated jihadists like Mohammed Atta, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and Jordanian double agent Mulal al-Balawi aren’t much better off than ordinary graduates of the illiberal and benighted madrasah, i.e. they reason with the intellectual sophistication of superstitious children. Exposure to Western science and technology does not erase years of obscurantist religious indoctrination and conditioning. Like their fellow supplicants, they have been taught from early childhood to believe that the West, and Israel and America in particular, are their mortal enemies; and that Western Enlightenment values, and the temptations of Western popular culture, constitute a diabolical conspiracy to defile and undermine their religion.

According to a Congressional Research Services report published in 2008, radicalized madrasahs in Afghanistan were incubators for the Taliban movement:

In the 1980s, madrasas in Afghanistan and Pakistan were allegedly boosted by an increase in financial support from the United States, European governments, Saudi Arabia, and other Persian Gulf states all of whom reportedly viewed these schools as recruiting grounds for anti-Soviet mujahedin fighters. In the early 1990s, the Taliban movement was formed by Afghan Islamic clerics and students (talib means “student” in Arabic), many of whom were former mujahedin who had studied and trained in madrasas and who advocated a strict form of Islam similar to the Wahhabism practiced in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

The Madrasahs are, in fact, indispensable to the perpetuation of Islam’s medieval worldview. Deprivation of information about life and the ways of the world is an essential tool for infantilizing generations of Muslim students: isolated from reality, these adolescent novitiates never encounter the world as it is and thus never achieve full adulthood. Their maturation into self-actualized individuals is defeated by a distortion field of fanatical dogma and a rancorous hatred of the infidel; while Islam’s demonstrable inferiority to the West fans a searing humiliation and inchoate resentment that cuts them off from every decent human instinct.

Since these embryonic jihadists have no inclination or opportunity to discover their own humanity they will never sense any solidarity with the community of mankind. In the Muslim view the non-Islamic world constitutes “the other,” i.e., the enemy of Islam. In place of humanity Islam offers its young men the spiritual blessings of imams, mullahs, and ayatollahs, and the unsurpassed exhilaration and exaltation of martyrdom.

But while the motivations of information-deprived terrorists are comprehensible, the complacence of Dar al-Islam is unfathomable. One can only gasp with disbelief on learning that in nuclear-armed Pakistan, an ally which the U.S. has bankrolled with over a billion dollars in aid yearly, 64 percent of the population views the U.S. as an enemy. What is to be said of a country where one in five trust Osama bin Laden more than Barack Obama, and of the population that clings to these beliefs after Taliban militias have penetrated to within sixty miles of Islamabad, and after Al Qaeda has, according to estimates of the World Health Organization, killed 150,000 Muslims in Iraq alone? The forces of paranoia, superstition, and ignorance will not be quelled by reason: the roots of anti-Western sentiment are deep, global, and generational in Islamic society. Indeed, how could it be otherwise in Middle Eastern states where outlawing political debate, saturating the media with anti-Western slogans, and propagating hate speech in mosques and in school textbooks, have become institutionalized strategies to maintain political power and prop up incompetent tyrants?

I happened to be teaching at a government prep school in Malaysia, a country that practices a relatively benign version of Islam, during the siege and occupation of the U.S. embassy in Teheran by revolutionaries of the Ayatollah Khomeini, and I was surprised when a devout but gentle Muslim teacher approached me and half-apologetically explained his admiration for the revered Iranian religious leader who had lately occupied the world stage. I hadn’t expected him to repudiate the Ayatollah for fomenting revolution against the Shaw (self-determination is the right of every decent society) but I was disturbed to hear him countenance the storming, and the imprisonment the staff of, an American embassy that was under the protection of international law.

So sacrosanct is the concept of diplomatic immunity that the Italian Minister Bettino Craxi allowed Mohammed Abbass, leader of the Achille Lauro hijacking, to leave Italy because he had a diplomatic passport issued by Iraq. In the history of revolution, some perpetrated by ruthless and vicious regimes, the taking of hostages of a foreign embassy was unheard of. Moreover, to countenance Ayatollah Khomeini was to countenance his barbaric fatwa against Salmon Rushdie, a criminal incitement to the assassination of a celebrated novelist and blatant attack on the very roots of Western civilization. What did such reckless and defiant acts portend for the future of Islam and the world? The lawless Ayatollah had passed the infallible litmus test for fascism that had been the mantra of every tyrant in history: What’s Mine is Mine and What’s Yours is Mine.

The complacent attitude of my Islamic colleague whose faith in the Iranian Ayatollah was absolute and who believed the revered spiritual leader could do no wrong, was almost as disturbing as the event itself; for me and my generation, his viewpoint bore an eerie resemblance to the mindless adoration of the German people for Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. How a gang of inept sociopaths succeeded in taking over the country that gave the world Kant, Goethe and Beethoven is still something of a mystery. When asked about it, most Germans simply shrug and say they awoke one morning and found the Nazis in control. Something like the Nazis’ stealthy seizure of power seems to be taking hold in Islam: a cabal of sociopathic clerics masquerading as a holy religious cause appears to be co-opting Islam in an apocalyptic confrontation with the civilized world with the passive compliance of Islam itself.

The 2005 Pew survey below would seem to indicate that the support of mainstream Islam for violence is diminishing. Such fluctuations in attitude are probably due to increased awareness of the self-liquidating nature of the jihadist philosophy and internal contradictions of Islamic fundamentalism. Such trends can be misleading because the primary cause for jihadist violence still exists, i.e. a culture that has no intellectual tradition, and that uses information deprivation to manipulate the faithful.

As the examples of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and the Khmer Rouge show, unanimity is not a prerequisite for the takeover of a society. With a misinformed, cowed, and submissive populace, a scant minority of determined fanatics can do the job. What Dar al-Islam does not fully understand or refuses to admit, even to itself, is that the rise of child-martyrs and ignoramus-jihadists in its midst holds more peril for Islam than it does for the West.

Dealing with Islamic mentality for the first time can be a startling and eye-opening experience for a Westerner. Confronted with Islam’s negative view of the West, one is beset with an overwhelming sense of futility. The problem lies not in only correcting facts, or in supplanting illusion with objective information; this is a mentality so steeped in obscurantist tradition and ignorance that it has never developed any standard for truth; rather “truth” is something used to hoodwink an opponent. And this is an ignorance so absolute and on a scale so extensive that it is impossible to convey it to anyone who hasn’t experienced it. One quickly realizes that in an ignorance this total any fiction, no matter how outrageous, can not only survive but take permanent residence and flourish.

This is a problem that can only be corrected by a major overhaul of the Islamic educational system. For where there is no concept of truth, there is no idea of free inquiry. Thus, it would appear that the tender-minded liberals had it right after all: this is a socioeconomic problem. The children of Islam are the disadvantaged educationally-deprived victims of deliberate parental abuse and theological violation, and nothing will change until this problem is remedied, either by Islam itself or by the political and cultural disaster that certainly awaits it over the horizon of history.

Finally, for those who question the power of the Mosques and madrasahs to infantilize and dehumanize Muslim society, and to cocoon a population in near absolute ignorance, there was this AP filing on April 19, 2010:

A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear immodest clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes. “Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes,” the cleric, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Mr. Sedighi is Tehran’s acting Friday Prayer leader. Women in Iran, one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries, are required by law to cover from head to toe but many, especially the young, ignore some of the stricter codes and wear tight coats and scarves pulled back that show much of the hair. “What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?” Mr. Sedighi asked during a prayer sermon on Friday. “There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam’s moral codes.”

It would probably be disrespectful to suggest that Sedighi is himself getting off on those sexy Iranian bints in tight coats and exposed locks. Nonetheless the lip-smacking relish with which this revered Shiite cleric describes the cause and effect between male arousal and earthquakes is certainly suspicious. Surrealistic decrees from Iran’s delusional leadership have taught us not to be shocked by any communiqués originating in Teheran, but Westerners would probably be surprised to learn how many listeners in Sedighi’s audience actually agree with this childish nonsense. More to the point, the grim-mouthed cleric spouting this vile claptrap is the venerated prayer leader for a regime that is acquiring the capacity to build nuclear weapons and the rocket technology to deliver them.

William Fankboner is the author of The Triumph of Political Correctness and A Hypertext Field Guide to Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media. He runs a web site at: His e-mail address is:

  • tarleton

    Islam is to religion what Nazism was to race…..supremicists

    How many Nazi or Soviet suicide bombers were there ?
    Islam is Western Civilizations oldest ,consistant and implacable foe…it's the frozen religion of the desert that hasn't evolved , matured and mellowed with age …it's a religion that has failed miserably to ''grow up''…..moslems are emotionly immature , hysterical , irrational , superstitious, fanatical and cruel . They are , in fact Medieval man in the modern world , with access to modern technology and destructive weapons
    We , in the West , take logic and reason for granted , because we are taught it from early schooldays and assume it's natural to the human condition …..IT'S NOT ….ignorance , superstition and irrationality are natural ! The human mind is capable of compartmentizing and as such can be both irrational and rational …..superstitious and logical….medieval and modern….Mohammed Atta and Major Hassan being the classic examples…a veneer of modernity around a medieval core

    • Duncan Druhl

      Personal suicide bombing was "invented" by the Tamils in what used to be Ceylon, long after WW II. Irrelevant and incorrect history-onics does not help any discussion.

      I've known and worked with people who were inculcated with hatred through their childhood. While they may be fun to bait, they are not pleasant people, viewing most of life and work through eyes that have this hate-tinged glow.

      There is the crime of this era in Islam.

      It was not always so as the Caliphate depended on Jews high in the administration of the Empire to manage most of the assets and operational aspects of the Sultan's decrees. No, anti-Semitism as we know it was invented in the early 19th century in France and spread from there. Anti-Jewish sentiments, more common during the evolution of the Reformation, are another matter altogether and have been around as long as jealousy has existed. Why? Probably because the Jews were the best educated group throughout most of history before the Enlightenment. For that reason their members were valued throughout ME and European regimes as the rest of the populace was mainly illiterate. Such behaviour does not endear you to the masses of ill-educated serfs.

      This prompts the question: so what has changed in 2000 years? Not much, really.

  • tarleton

    Islam is like a form of religious rabies , a kind of invasion of the body snatchers or zombies ….you never can tell who's infected and when they will ignite and have this creepy , all knowing , sadistical smile of the assassin about them

  • badaboo

    The author uses a a key word "futile " , and it is truly futile to reason with muslims . What I find remarkable is that a muslim , born in America , or the west , apparently integrated in the norms of those societies , can into a murdering barbarian , casing humanity and civilised behavior totally aside , at the mere suggestion of his fellow adherents ,whether by hearing a spoken word or reading the printed words of their fellow deranged adherents . Yes mosques and madrassa's are the breeding ground , where the dormat "gene" is activated , but also any exposure to a "properly dictated "religious text .
    1.5 billion possible Manchurian Candidates . But once triggered will never return to normalcy .

    This is WAR .

  • badaboo

    AND NOW , if this barbaric death cult gets it's way – the ULTIMATE act of ARROGANCE – a mosque will be built in NYC ……..right next to GROUND ZERO !!!

    • tarleton

      It's the ultimate act of political correctness and appeasment

    • GodsSeer

      And the cries of, ''We shall never forget'' have wafted away in the wind of the Muslim Trojan Horse as it enters the land.

  • Huffer115

    When you suggest that Muslim's are beginning to change their attitude toward violence, I believe the reasoning may have a snag in it. I do not believe they are beginning to show civility but they are being taught a new approach to overtaking the world. I note that mostly liberals accept a false softening of Islam. Do not be fooled! I believe that because their leaders are finding more acceptance of their brainwashing by using civilizations own legal tools to further their cause. Americans, like the Europeans, are slowly accepting their presence in our societies,while the Muslims are breading like rabbits and slowly taking over our nation. Do not be fooled,they see more resistance from us when they use violence so their leaders,who even ignorant of the modern world, are some of the best psychologists in the world!
    Beware! Islam has not changed one iota, but the approach to world domination has. Remember,they are permitted to commit any lie,or sin as long as it is perceived to benefit Allah's (Satan's) assumed teachings.

    • Tolerant and upset

      If every Muslim supports terrorism does that mean that every Catholic supported the Inquisition? Or that every German supported the Nazis? Or that every American supports the war in the Mid-East?

  • tanstaafl jw

    Islam inspired the Nazis, not the other way around as some have insisted.

    • USMCSniper

      Tell me why is it that Hitler's "Mein Kampf" translated into Arabic has been the best seller in Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and in the Palestinian terrotories for over 40 years? That is a fact.

    • Duncan Druhl

      Actually, most of the race purity garbage came from American Margaret Sanger and her Eugenics movement in the early part of the 20th century. You may remember her as the founder of Planned Parenthood.

      • aspacia

        I like Sanger because she started the movement to legalize a woman's ownership of her body. She did not call for euthanizing those unfit, the feeble minded, diseased ridden. She did much good for women::

        • Mike

          You've got to be kidding. Either you are purposely trying to mislead or are not very well educated about Ms Sanger. She wanted a way to keep down the birthrate of the undesireables, mostly blacks. It's history no matter what new age spin you would LIKE to think of it. Look it up. Of course if your only source of information is wikipedia that explains everything. Sanger-One EVIL woman.

          • aspacia

            You are correct in that I have not researched Sanger very much. She probably was a racist, but most whites of her time were; even Lincoln was a racist. Yes, she did want to keep the handicapped and potential disease ridden population down. Who does not want every child to be born without handicaps? EVIL- why? For showing women how to prevent unwanted pregnancy or for promoting healthy babies? Eugenics was a new "science" during her time, and she explored the now debunked thinking. Nazi "scientifically" designed breeding houses, bred many a deformed and handicapped child from the "Aryan" race.

            BTW: I usually do not use Wiki, and distrust this site as you do.

  • Nancy Albert

    Polygamy plays a large part in the Islamic plague of vicious idiots. For every man that takes 4 wives, there are three young men with no hope of a happy life. This is a good way to raise a military. Why doesn't some academic collect some statistics about how many children the suicide bomber's father sired? OBL was 47th and the Undy-Bomber was 19th, I think.

    What Islam needs is another Attaturk, who changed the curriculum and alphabet to western, banned polygamy and veils, and put women into universities. He then set up Turkey as a democracy. He had to kill a lot of clerics to do it. Turkey now has wealth without oil.

    • Dean from Ohio

      It seems Ataturk only put off the day of reckoning. More and more Turks are turning their back on the secular government and institutions of Turkey, which were not aided by the corruption of the secular parties over the past 40 years. Turkey is officially a republic (Turkiye Cumhuriyeti = Republic of Turkey), but your point is that the people elect their leaders. Now the battleground is between the deep-state Kemalists and the Islamists, and is realigning its orbit into that of Iran. I pray that Turkey will not have to endure its own Islamic revolution as did Iran for its people to see the truth.

      And yes, keeping half the population, specifically that part of the population that passes education and moral convictions on to the next generation, ignorant and under foot, is a root of the anti-social problems in the Islamic world.

  • 9-11 Infidel

    And Jamie Glazov puts all this together so well. It isn't just the Islamic ignoramous that is the problem. Its the alliance of ignorance that Islam has with the leftists.

    Why is it that Eric Holder can't bring himself to admit that the failed bomber's motivation might have something to do with Islam? Answer: read United In Hate.

  • Dean from Ohio

    @ "How a gang of inept sociopaths succeeded in taking over the country that gave the world Kant, Goethe and Beethoven is still something of a mystery. When asked about it, most Germans simply shrug and say they awoke one morning and found the Nazis in control."

    The answer is there for those with eyes to see it. Yes, the Germans were highly intelligent and educated, but that is only half the story. Too many Germans were, in C.S. Lewis' words, "men without chests," those deformed creatures whose intelligence seems so unusually large only because their hearts–morality, courage and a host of things that humanity knows without education–were so underdeveloped that their chests were shrunken by comparison. I'm reading Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, and more than once have thought of Lewis' characterization. One of Eichmann's scornful responses to questions about his crimes against humanity and what he thought of in retrospect was particularly revealing: "Repentence is for children." Yes, it is. Jesus said, "Unless you repent and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven." The sickness at the heart of the German people was spiritual and moral. As the concrete of pride hardened, repentance was no longer in reach.

    A people that in arrogance rejects God and the light of his truth, as did Germany, will eventually stumble in darkness and will be enslaved by one thing or another. The folk wisdom of the country song is spot on: If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

    Ironically, America is a more apt comparison to Germany than is the Islamic world.

    • Syd Barrett

      "The folk wisdom of the country song is spot on: If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."

      Don't forget the folk wisdom of the rock song: If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice!

  • tattelteller

    seems everywhere these muslims go the gotta be spreading this hate crap.if their ways are so great then why dont theygo back home and practice it 24/7.they want the free medical,food stamps,and acess to our schools of their host countries.they expect everyone to drop who they pray to and worship some prophet who had sex with a 9 year old girl.I for one think these scumbags should have their citizenship papers revoked and that they get the boot inass and sent home.mohamed the pedophile.what a guy to follow.all these muslims must be pedophiles.since they believe in him so much.go home !the welcome mat no longer is there.more and more nonarab people are fed up with your death threats and your politics.every arabic person in my country should be put on watch.

  • Tolerant

    If every Muslim supports terrorism doesn't that mean that avery Catholic supported the Inquisition?

  • Tolerant

    If every Muslim supports terrorism does that mean that every Catholic supports the Spanish Inquisition?

  • Davel

    You take the actions of special cases and apply it to an entire religion. Don’t insult our intelligence and next time use a less fallacious argument.

    If you want to be taken seriously, that is.