Whenever a culture-enricher in the West goes on a rampage with a gun or a machete or a knife or a fork, police spokesmen and the media immediately float the idea that he was “mentally ill” or “had a history of psychological issues”. If the warbling cry of “Allahu Akhbar” eventually enters the picture, the loony-meme gets a little shaky. But the authorities hang onto it tenaciously until the perp’s martyrdom video emerges, with its black flag of jihad and an oath of allegiance to the Islamic State. Then they have to switch to Plan B, which is to portray the killer as a “lone wolf” who was “radicalized suddenly” on the Internet.
The thing is, I don’t think that a diagnosable psychiatric condition is incompatible with Islamic devotion. In fact, it may be a prerequisite for fighting jihad in the way of Allah. Entire societies made up of mentally ill people — why is that impossible?
A reader and Counterjihad colleague emailed me today with some questions about the Munich shooter, Ali David (more likely Dawud) Sonboly, who slaughtered nine people on July 22:
I don’t know if you saw this, but The Mirror and Focus have reported that Munich killer Ali Sonboly went to Iran in December to train with guns.
This strikes me as strange. Iran has strict gun control. They wouldn’t allow him or his dad to train and shoot unless they approved of it.
And there was also that report that he said Allahu Ackbar.
Of course, it could just be that this report in the Focus is suspect. I have no idea how credible they are. And I have also heard that he really was very mentally ill.
What do you think?
The “mentally ill” trope engaged my attention more than the part about Iran, and made me think about mental illness and violent jihad. Here’s what I said in reply:
In reverse order: I think that “mentally ill” and “Muslim” go together like soup and sandwich. It’s quite possible that every single mujahid is mentally ill in a clinical sense, as Western medicine understands the term. So that point is actually moot.
Yes, I heard about his visit to Iran; I think we had it in the news feed at some point. I think it’s a credible report. Iran allows foreign mujahideen on its soil and nurtures them, even the Sunnis.
The thing is, it’s quite possible that all four of these things are true:
|1.||Sonboly was bullied in school|
|2.||He was mentally ill.|
|3.||He had revenge fantasies about mass murder.|
|4.||He carried out a jihad attack.
These statements are NOT mutually exclusive. The first three provide a fuel mix that supercharges the fourth one. If you, a disturbed young man, meet the first three criteria, then Islamic belief can provide a framework that justifies what you feel compelled to do, making it coherent and above all holy — killing infidels in jihad is a sacrament within Islam.
The Columbine shooters committed similar acts, but if they had also been Muslims, they would have seen their actions as righteous and sanctioned by Allah. The addition of Islamic belief probably makes acting out such fantasies more likely, and may help goad the killer to be as effective a murderer as possible before he attains his longed-for martyrdom.
What’s hard for a Christian to wrap his mind around is that theft, torture, rape, murder, and massacre are sacred rites in Islam. The commandments to do these things are all there in the scripture.
It’s a demonic faith; it inverts everything that we would consider sacred. Once you understand that, it all makes sense.
When the moment of understanding finally dawns, it brings with it a sick feeling in the pit of the stomach…