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Al-Qaeda's Syrian Recruits: The Case of 'Abu Majed'

Amer Ghajar went from being a student at a prestigious private university to al-Qaeda jihadist, falling in battle last week.

A suicide bomb goes off in a crowded street, targeting an army checkpoint or perhaps a government building. Several soldiers die, a building or two is defaced, but also, almost as an afterthought, a dozen or more innocent passersby are killed or maimed. What kind of people are behind this sort of assault and, more importantly, what kind of rationale do they employ?

More worrisome, perhaps, we should be asking how they continue to draw recruits and expand. Al-Qaeda, and to varying extents all other jihadi Islamist groups, adhere to a culture of death, although they prefer to call it a culture of martyrdom. It is a form of religious nihilism, where this mortal, worldly life is seen as futile and meaningless, and the goal should be to get to the afterlife as quickly as possible.

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