Inside the Mind of a Suicide Bomber

John Howkins drew my attention to this extraordinary interview in Time Magazine. Unfortunately, you need to be a subscriber (or be willing to pay $1.99 for a peep) to read the piece in full, but here’s a sample:

One day soon, this somber young man plans to offer up a final prayer and then blow himself up along with as many U.S. or Iraqi soldiers as he can reach. Marwan Abu Ubeida says he has been training for months to carry out a suicide mission. He doesn’t know when or where he will be ordered to climb into a bomb-laden vehicle or strap on an explosives-filled vest but says he is eager for the moment to come. While he waits, he spends much of his time rehearsing that last prayer. ” First I will ask Allah to bless my mission with a high rate of casualties among the Americans,” he says, speaking softly.

What’s striking is the discrepancy between the calm enthusiasm of this chap and the prevailing portrait in the British media of suicide bombers as carpet-chewing psychopaths. (Which is one reason why I was puzzled by reports that the CCTV footage of the suspected London bomber at King’s Cross station allegedly showed them laughing and joking even as they went to their deaths.) We’re never going to make headway against this until we try to understand what makes these people tick. (And even then, of course, we may not be able to do anything about them.) Grim realities.