James Q. Wilson writes in the City Journal about what terrorists are made of and what can be done to combat them. In an eye-opening essay he gives a look at the history of terrorism and its modern manifestations.
Until the nineteenth century, religion was usually the only acceptable
justification of terror. It is not hard to understand why: religion gives its
true believers an account of the good life and a way of recognizing evil; if you
believe that evil in the form of wrong beliefs and mistaken customs weakens or
corrupts a life ordained by God, you are under a profound obligation to combat
that evil. If you enjoy the companionship of like-minded believers, combating
that evil can require that you commit violent, even suicidal, acts.
The Thuggees of India during their several centuries of existence may
have killed by slow strangulation 1 million people as sacrifices to the Hindu
goddess Kali. The Thugs had no political objective and, when caught, looked
forward to their execution as a quick route to paradise.
In the Muslim world,
one kind of terrorism, assassination, has existed since shortly after the death
of the prophet Muhammad. Of his early successors, three were....
It is well researched and thought out and definately worth reading it all.
(Thanks to Ed L. for the lead.)