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Posted in: Jihad & Terrorism

Published on Dec 04, 2008 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

The Electronic Jihadist

A Brief Conversation With Dr. Nancy H. Kobrin


One of my favorite people came by: Dr. Nancy Kobrin, with whom I have written articles (you may read some of them, Here, Here, Here, and Here) and whose work I adore. Dr. Nancy is an Arabist and psycho-analyst whose book about terrorism was once in press at Looseleaf Law, a publisher of law enforcement and counter-terrorism titles. At the last minute, the publisher rejected the work because he was honestly afraid that he would not be able to adequately protect his staff from bomb threats, riots, or lawsuits. How very fragile our political speech turns out to be! This happened long before the brou-ha-ha over the The Jewel of Medina. Whenever we're together we mean to relax and to even engage in "small" talkā€“but we never do. Thus, here we are, talking, at our most relaxed.

PC: Welcome Nancy! Tell me, when is your book coming out?

NK: The book has been completely edited. One new publisher, The Center for the Study of Political Islam, has expressed serious interest. I am very optimistic.

PC: Yes, that's Bill Warner's rather excellent publishing house. They publish very thoughtful and important titles with no authorial byline. Your byline might be their first. They have been publishing a major series about "political Islam." Their titles include: Mohammed's Life, the Sira ; The Traditions of Mohammed-the Hadith; The Koran; and The Submission of Women and Slaves. They have also just released a Self Study Course on Political Islam which also exists as a c.d. (What a great idea!)

NK: Bill Warner is the only one that I know who has done a statistical analysis of the Qu'ran in terms of ideological topics.

PC: Remind us, what is the name of your book?

NK: The Sheikh's New Clothes. The Naked Truth About Islamic Suicide Terrorism. One wonders whether a reticent publishing world will be willing to change post the Mumbai massacre.

PC: It might make them even more reticent and yet such acts of horror might also act to firm up our resolve.

NK: It seems more than ever that we have to go to a deeper level of analysis in order to understand the psychology of extremism and the gender issues involved in terrorism. Both India and Pakistan are shame and honor cultures. The "Jew" is the ultimate female, the ultimate "other" in the Muslim unconscious. Initially, this massacre was referred to as the "Mum" attacks. Is this a reference to "mother" in British, so to speak? And is the psychological motive involved an anti-colonialist and anti-woman motif? Can't let her go, can't live with her either?

PC: Granted that we know very little about them, still, what do you make of these Mumbai terrorists?

NK: As you know my book deals with the imagery and the psychology of Muslim terrorist attacks. The imagery of Mumbai reminds me of a very violent video game. This is what I call an "E-jihadi" phenomenon. These jihadists are addicted to violence and violent videos. They are also recruited via the internet. It reveals an enormous deficit in their ability to relate to people in a healthy way. They relate only through violence.

PC: Thank you Nancy.


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