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Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence

Mark Juergensmeyer
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 3
Pages: 336
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt4cgfbx
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  • Book Info
    Terror in the Mind of God
    Book Description:

    Completely revised and updated, this new edition of Terror in the Mind of God incorporates the events of September 11, 2001 into Mark Juergensmeyer's landmark study of religious terrorism. Juergensmeyer explores the 1993 World Trade Center explosion, Hamas suicide bombings, the Tokyo subway nerve gas attack, and the killing of abortion clinic doctors in the United States. His personal interviews with 1993 World Trade Center bomber Mahmud Abouhalima, Christian Right activist Mike Bray, Hamas leaders Sheik Yassin and Abdul Azis Rantisi, and Sikh political leader Simranjit Singh Mann, among others, take us into the mindset of those who perpetrate and support violence in the name of religion.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93061-2
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface to the Revised Edition
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. Introduction

    • CHAPTER 1 Terror and God
      (pp. 3-16)

      When plastic explosives attached to a Hamas suicide bomber ripped through the gentrified Ben Yehuda shopping mall in Jerusalem in December 2001, the blast damaged not only lives and property but also the confidence with which most people view the world. As in prior acts of terrorism on this same popular mall, the news images of the bloodied victims projected from the scene portrayed the double arches of a McDonald’s restaurant in the background, their cheerful familiarity appearing oddly out of place with the surrounding carnage. Many who viewed these pictures saw symbols of their own ordinary lives assaulted and...

  6. Cultures of Violence

    • CHAPTER 2 Soldiers for Christ
      (pp. 19-44)

      Even before the horrific attacks on September 11, 2001, in New York City and Washington, D.C., Americans—like residents of Belfast and London—were beginning to learn to live with shocking, disturbing incidents of violence laced with the passion of religion. In these cases, however, the religion associated with terrorism was Christianity. In addition to the terrorism associated with both Catholic and Prostestant sides in Northern Ireland, recent incidents of Christian terrorism include the shootings at a Jewish day care center in California on August 10, 1999, the 1996 bombing of the Atlanta Olympic Games, the 1995 devastation of the...

    • CHAPTER 3 Zion Betrayed
      (pp. 45-60)

      Peace talks with Palestinians constituted a “betrayal,” Jewish activists in Israel asserted during the unsuccessful Wye River negotiations sponsored by American President Bill Clinton.¹ Members of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza described Israel’s stance as a “pathetic capitulation” and proclaimed that the Israeli prime minister was “no longer our leader.”² Their strident posture exacerbated a climate of hatred that led to a series of violent demonstrations against an already weakened government that in turn helped to bring to power the hard-line administration of Benjamin Netanyahu. A similar revulsion against Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s failed negotiations...

    • CHAPTER 4 Islam’s “Neglected Duty”
      (pp. 61-84)

      Osama bin Laden’s alleged selection of the World Trade Center and Pentagon as targets for the spectacular aerial assaults on September 11, 2001, followed a macabre tradition. Symbols of secular economic and political power had also been chosen—perhaps again by bin Laden—when American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were attacked on August 7, 1998, when an American military residence hall in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, was bombed in 1996, and when a truckload of explosives was ignited in the parking garage of New York City’s World Trade Center in 1993. Although the bomhing sites chosen by the Lehanese Amal...

    • CHAPTER 5 The Sword of Sikhism
      (pp. 85-102)

      India has been plagued with incidents of religious violence virtually from its inception as an independent state. Communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims have erupted from time to time in such tragic outbursts as the destruction of a historical mosque in Ayodhya by a mob of angry Hindus in 1992 and mass killings in the state of Gujarat in 2002. In many of these cases the central issue has been the nature of India as a multicultural state—whether it will be dominated by one tradition or incorporate a diversity of cultures. In other cases the very unity of India...

    • CHAPTER 6 Armageddon in a Tokyo Subway
      (pp. 103-118)

      Perhaps the religious tradition in which one least expects to find violence is Buddhism, and the location for which a violent act of religious terrorism is least anticipated is modern urban Japan. Yet it was an offshoot of Japanese Buddhism, Aum Shinrikyo, that was catapulted into the world’s attention when its members released vials of poisonous sarin gas in the Tokyo subway, killing a number of commuters and injuring thousands more. It was one of the few incidents of religious activism anywhere in the world in which a weapon of mass destruction has been deployed in an act of terrorism....

  7. The Logic of Religious Violence

    • CHAPTER 7 Theater of Terror
      (pp. 121-147)

      Do these stories of piety and mayhem have anything in common? This is a critical question, and considering the frequency of acts of religious terrorism around the globe, either answer is significant. If the answer is no, these cases may suggest a worldwide loosening of social control that makes inexplicable acts of violence possible. If it is yes, and if we can find convincing explanations for these patterns, we may shed some light on why violence and religion have reemerged so dramatically at this moment in history, and why they have so frequently been found in combination. The question, then,...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER 8 Cosmic War
      (pp. 148-166)

      The world is at war, Osama bin Laden proclaimed in a fatwa delivered long before the catastrophic attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and months before the bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania—bombings he was accused of masterminding and financing. In his 1998 fatwa, Bin Laden wanted to make clear that it was not he who started the war, however, but Americans, through their actions in the Middle East. These had constituted, in bin Laden’s words, “a clear declaration of war on God, His messenger and Muslims.”¹ His own acts of violence, by implication,...

    • CHAPTER 9 Martyrs and Demons
      (pp. 167-189)

      When Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death he was allowed to say a few words to the court. The convicted bomber of the Oklahoma City federal building chose this special occasion in 1997 to do something that many in the courtroom thought odd, especially considering the highly antisocial nature of his crime: he quoted from Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. The passage came from a statement in which the justice had cautioned the government against acting improperly in the case of illegal wiretaps during Prohibition. “Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher,” Justice Brandeis wrote, adding that “for good...

    • CHAPTER 10 Warriors’ Power
      (pp. 190-218)

      To outsiders, the struggles in which most members of terrorist groups see themselves engaged appear to be of such cosmic proportions that they cannot conceivably be won. This point was amply demonstrated by the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the tragic suicide bombings in Israel. The very means by which these and similar battles have been waged—violent assaults launched by small minorities against opponents who are infinitely better armed—seem destined to failure. It is hard to take seriously the notion that these are rational efforts to achieve power, at least by ordinary calculations. Yet,...

    • CHAPTER 11 The Mind of God
      (pp. 219-250)

      In one of the first videotapes that Osama bin Ladin released for viewing on al Jazeera television after the September 11, 2001 attacks, he praised God, saying that by His will the twin towers of the World Trade Center had collapsed. It was a comment similar in its piety to the one made by the shy young man who grinned into the videocamera the day before he was to become a martyr in a Hamas suicide operation, proclaiming that he was “doing this for Allah.”¹ In both cases they were demonstrating one of the remarkable facts about those who have...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 251-280)
  9. Interviews and Correspondence
    (pp. 281-284)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 285-304)
  11. Index
    (pp. 305-321)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 322-325)