Brass Al Qaeda

Another interesting talk at the ICA: Faisal Devji on the Ethic of Al Qaeda, and in conversation with Spiked’s Brendan O’Neill. Devji argues, quite coherently, that rather than being a traditional terrorist movement with a political logic, Al Qaeda has more in common with global movements like environmentalism in its global vision, open endedness and the ethical imperative of martyrdom. It’s a useful knife with which to separate the ‘morally equivalent’ terrorism of Hamas and Hizbullah with clearly defined objectives, from the mystical and sufi-ish jihad of Bin Laden.

Though he points out the absence of any experience of oppression from most of AQ’s martyrs, he doesn’t say anything about the psychological transformation turns kids from Yorkshire into bombers any more than to compare them to similarly remote anti-war protestors. When I ask him whether there’s an equivalent ethical imperative in the ‘morality’ of the ‘War on Terror’, he replies that the acts most like those of matrtyrs, both ‘ethical’ and narcissistic, were the acts of Charles Graner and colleagues at Abu Ghraib.

About quarter of an hour late, into the room walks Chris Morris, all bushy hair and carrying his cycling gear. Perhaps he’s planning a suicide bomber sitcom? It couldn’t be less funny than Nathan Barley.

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