Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Making of a "Martyr" in Iraq

The New York Times has a very excellent article talking about the controversy in Iraq over the revelation that the suicide bomber that killed 125+ in Hilla, Iraq was from a wealthy Jordanian family. Apparently this news has sparked large protests towards Jordan within the war-torn country.

"In a two-hour interview in his home, Mr. Banna described a son unlikely to harbor extreme religious or political views, or to even pick up a gun. In a way, Mr. Banna's tale contained echoes of those told by many Middle Eastern parents, of sons who had once looked on the West with great hope and enthusiasm, endured some alienating experience, then turned to violence against the very place they had coveted for so long.

Mr. Banna, the owner of a cement distribution company in Jordan, described his son as a great fan of the United States who fell in love with the country during an 18-month stay in Southern California, from 2000 to 2002. Mr. Banna showed a visitor a stack of photos taken in the United States, one of them showing his son straddling a Harley-Davidson, another showing him smiling in front of the World Trade Center before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Mr. Banna said, 'My son said that the Sept. 11 attacks had done great harm to Muslims and Arabs in the United States.'

He said his son's hopes of marrying an American woman and eventually setting in the United States were dashed in 2002 when he tried to renew his visa, after an American visa officer concluded that he had failed to answer a question on his application truthfully. Raad was sent home. 'He was crestfallen,' his father said."

While this story is anecdotal, this appears to be yet another example of the fact that most of these terrorists are not in fact simply the poor who are being exploited by Islamic terrorism, but actually are often rich or middle class young men. That part of it does not surprise me. What makes me concerned, is how his view of the United States changed so quickly. Perhaps there is a thinner line between a love for a society and a complete alienation from it than I thought.

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