After Brussels: Once again thinking through terror

Kenan Malik in Pandaemonium:

Pierre-soulages‘Solidarity and anger. Those were my immediate emotions’. So I wrote last November after the Paris attacks: ‘Solidarity with the people of Paris, anger at the depraved, nihilistic savagery of the terrorists.’ My emotions are much the same after the savage attacks in Brussels this week. ‘But, beyond solidarity and anger,’, I observed in November, ‘we need also analysis.’ I have written much over the past few years about why conventional views about radicalization and the making of European jihadis are wrong. So here, some of the main themes of my articles on jihadism.

Terrorists often claim a political motive for their attacks. Commentators often try to rationalize such acts, suggesting that they are the inevitable result of a sense of injustice created by Western foreign policy or by anti-Muslim attitudes in the West. Yet most attacks have been not on political targets, but on cafes or trains or mosques. Such attacks are not about making a political point, or achieving a political goal – as were, for instance, IRA bombings in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s – but are expressions of nihilistic savagery, the aim of which is solely to create fear. This is not terrorism with a political aim, but terror as an end in itself.

More here.