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Friday, April 26, 2013

How Fast Can Someone Be ‘Radicalized’?

FBI released this image early Friday, April 19, 2013, showing "Suspect 1" in the white cap and "Suspect 2" in the black cap, walking through the crowd in Boston on Monday, April 15, 2013, before the explosions at the Boston Marathon. (FBI/AP)

The FBI released this image early Friday, April 19, 2013, showing “Suspect 1″ in the white cap and “Suspect 2″ in the black cap, walking through the crowd in Boston on Monday, April 15, 2013, before the explosions at the Boston Marathon. (FBI/AP)

Of the many questions that have yet to be answered in the marathon bombing investigation, the toughest question may be: Why?

News reports indicate Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, exerted a lot of influence on his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Investigators say Tamerlan did frequent jihadi websites, but Dzhokhar’s friends say he was not a Muslim radical.

“… very intelligent, educated people from good families can be recruited and indoctrinated into something totally against their values system.”
– Steve Hassan

Steven Hassan is a mental health counselor and author of “Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults, and Beliefs.”

In the 1970s, Hassan was drawn into Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, and now helps people break away from cults.

His personal experience, he said, could shed some light on what might have happened in the case of the Tsarnaev brothers.

“For me, I was recruited when I was 19 years old, and it took two weeks for me to drop out of my college, quit my job, donate my bank account and believe the messiah was on the Earth. It took me, I’d say, another year before I was willing to die or kill on command. But I can tell you in 36 years as a therapist, very intelligent, educated people from good families can be recruited and indoctrinated into something totally against their values system.”

And “loners” aren’t the only ones susceptible to recruitment, Hassan said.

“I was an extra-honors student and popular and was not interested in joining a group,” he said. “My girlfriend dumped me and three attractive women flirted, and then it was history.”

Hassan says there are ways to help prevent recruitment to cults or extremist groups.

“Masoud Banisadr, a former Iranian MEK [Mojahedin-e-Khalq] cult member came up with this idea – he said after a civil trial, there should be a sharia trial. An Islamic cleric should come in and basically try the person and say, ‘You’re going to hell, because the Koran explicitly states you should not harm women, children, elderly,’” Hassan said. “And I’d like to see ex-jihadists come and give lectures on campuses, at mosques and such. I’d like to see more people taught about how social influence works.”

Video: Steve Hassan interviews Masoud Banisadr, former member of MEK

Guest:


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  • andic_epipedon

    Here is another well thought out news story.  For the first few minutes of this piece I considered skipping it, but as it rolled on I realized there was more to it than the Boston Bombing.  When I heard that the guest had experience with the Unification Church or whatever it is called my ears perked up.  I am glad the guest was able to break the bonds that held him to that mind controlling organization.  I think he is right in that the key is to keep people from getting sucked in to begin with.  

    I was approached by this cult when I was in high school and saw their ploys as scary.  My brother who had many more problems than I did and has a more genial temperament then I do was also not sucked in.

    Some conservative churches use similar, but more subtle ways of keeping their members in line.  My parents raised us to think for ourselves.  I have seen many people who are brilliant, but can’t think for themselves be unable to function without their conservative church.  It gets even scarier when they get pulled into a cult.

  • Argentus

    We can be “sucked into” a situation in mere moments, and sadly, far too many of us aren’t free-thinkers enough to stop and realize what we’re doing.  Think Stanley Milgram’s experiments, or the Stanford prison experiment.  We all fall into roles all too easily.  It’s human nature.  It’s also the true men and women that start thinking and leave. 

    Obviously, the Tsarnaev’s were either radical to begin with, or too weak to break away and be rational.  In my mind, if you can kill and maim folks by planting a bomb in a crowd of people, you’re weak and cold-hearted.  End of story.  To all the bleeding hearts that think Dzokhar Tsarnaev was brainwashed by his older brother, stop judging people by their pictures and descriptions. 

    Time to GROW UP.  Yes, really, I said it.  It’s as if some people never saw a movie where the little guy was really the mastermind.  Seriously?  This kid could have engineered the whole thing, but people are giving him sympathy because of deep eyes, curly hair, and the fact that he was wounded in a boat for hours.  They don’t seem to give a care that he shot at police officers and then ran over his own brother to escape.  He’s a stone-cold killer.  If you can’t see that, recuse yourself from any jury selection, please, because you’re not thinking rationally.    

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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