Brendan O’Neill in Slate:
There have been three major terror attacks in the West over the past five years—9/11, the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, and the 7/7 suicide attacks on the London Underground. For all the talk of a radical Islamist conspiracy to topple Western civilization, there are many differences between the men who executed these attacks. The ringleaders of 9/11 were middle-class students; the organizers of the Madrid bombings were mainly immigrants from North Africa; the 7/7 bombers were British citizens, well-liked and respected in their local communities. And interpretations of Islam also varied wildly from one terror cell to another. Mohamed Atta embraced a mystical (and pretty much made-up) version of Islam. For the Madrid attackers, Islam was a kind of comfort blanket. The men behind 7/7 were into community-based Islam, which emphasized being good and resisting a life of decadence.
The three cells appear to have had at least one thing in common, though—their members’ immersion in gym culture. Often, they met and bonded over a workout. If you’ll forgive the pun, they were fitness fanatics. Is there something about today’s preening and narcissistic gym culture that either nurtures terrorists or massages their self-delusions and desires?