Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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A Fascinating Look At a Village That Produces Suicide Bombers
There is no doubt that suicide bombers, routinely used now in the Islamist struggles in Afghanistan, Iraq, the West Bank and elsewhere, have radically changed the face of modern warfare.

Figuring out what moves people to self-select into the group, almost always men in the current context, who are willing to kill themselves in the struggle, is of primary importance.

Obtaining answers is both as a military imperative and a broader necessity to understand the driving forces of _jihad_.

On NPR today, there is a fascinating story about research into a single neighborhood in the Moroccan village of Tetuan that has produced more than 30 suicide bombers, funneled to different parts of the world, primarily Iraq and earlier, to Spain.

The reporting provides not just insights into why these people kill themselves, but a disturbing look at the dangers of the growing criminal-terrorist nexus in different parts of the world. This includes groups specializing in crossing the U.S. border.

As researcher Scott Atran, a senior fellow at City University of New York's Center on Terrorism notes, while there are tens of millions of people who sympathize with the concept of _jihad_, there are relatively few who actually carry out violent acts.

Feeding the ability to move disaffected young men from Morocco to Damascus or Istanbul, before crossing over the border to kill themselves in Iraq, is the area's vast underground economy.

The economy around Tetuan is primarily the illicit trade of many commodities, including drugs, to Europe. The men are able to piggy back on those same routes to move themselves.

This is similar to the situation on our own border, where criminal gangs, allied with drug trafficking organizations and the _maras_ of Central America, provide the same type of illicit economy, and on a grander scale.

Those who move drugs can move people, stolen cars, weapons and virtually anything else through the pipelines that exist. The transnational pipelines to our countries have been operational for decades.

There is still a school of thought in the Intelligence Community that terrorists don't or won't deal with unbelievers, including criminals. The belief persists despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, of which is only the latest bit. The convergence of factors in Tetuan should give us pause, if only because of their similarity to the factors at play along much of our southern border.

Perhaps Atran's most disturbing conclusion is that the concept of violent _jihad_ is now part of of the political landscape and growing in its appeal across norther Africa.

Atran called _jihad_ the "big dream out there now. There is a massive, media-driven political awakening of which _jihad_ is the vanguard...At least in these young people's minds, they are looking for a dream and they want to be heros."

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