Talking to the Enemy
Faith, Brotherhood, and the (un)making of TerroristsBook - 2010
Looks at the root causes of terrorism; discusses the psychological, social, and religious aspects of terrorism; and offers practical solutions on ways to identify and prevent future terrorists.
Terrorists don't kill and die just for a cause.
They kill and die for each other.
In this rigorous and challenging work that combines the penetrating insight of The Looming Tower and the historical sweep and scope of Guns, Germs, and Steel, renowned social scientist Scott Atran traces terrorism's root causes in human evolution and history, touching on the nature of faith, the origins of society, the limits of reason, and the power of moral values.
Atran interviews and investigates Al Qaeda associates and acolytes, including Jemaah Islamiyah, Lashkar-e-Tayibah, and the Madrid train bombers, as well as other non-Qaeda groups, such as Hamas and the Taliban, and their sponsoring communities, from the jungles of Southeast Asia and the political wastelands of the Middle East to New York, London, and Madrid. His conclusions are startling, important, and sure to be controversial.
Terrorists, he reminds us, are social beings, influenced by social connections and values familiar to us all, as members of school clubs, sports teams, or community organizations. When notions of the homeland, a family of friends, and a band of brothers are combined with the zeal of belief, amazing things?both good and bad?are possible: the passage of civil rights legislation, the U.S. Olympic hockey team's victory in 1980, the destruction of 9/11 and the attacks on the London Underground in July 2005.
Atran corrects misconceptions about suicide bombers and radical Islam, explaining how our tolerance for faith enables extremists to flourish, and shows why atheism and science education have little effect. Going beyond analysis, he offers practical solutions that can help us identify terrorists today, prevent the creation of future terrorists, and ultimately make the world a safer place for everyone.
“Atran explores the way terrorists think of themselves and teaches us, at last, intelligent ways to think about terrorists.”
—Christopher Dickey, Newsweek Middle East Editor and author of Securing the City
Talking to the Enemy by Scott Atran is an eye-opening and important book that offers readers a startling look deep inside terror groups. Based on the author’s unprecedented access to and in-depth interviews with terrorists and jihadis—including Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Taliban extremists, as well as members of other radical Islamic terror organizations—Talking to the Enemy provides fresh insight and unexpected answers to why there are people in this world willing to kill and die for a cause. A riveting, compelling work in the tradition of The Looming Tower and Terror in the Name of God, Talking to the Enemy is required reading for anyone interested in making the world a safer, more secure place for everyone.