Terrorists as Monsters: The Unmanageable Other from the French Revolution to the Islamic State 0190927887, 9780190927882

From the chilling threats of the "ISIS vampire" to the view of al-Qaeda as the "Frankenstein the CIA crea

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Table of contents :
Cover
Terrorists as Monsters
Copyright
Dedication
Contents
List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
1. Introduction: Terrorism, Monsters, and Archetypal Metaphors
PART 1 TERRORISTS SEEN AS MONSTERS
2. The Abominables: To the Roots of “Terrorist” Monsters
3. Contemporary Logomachies
PART 2 TERRORISTS ACTING AS MONSTERS
4. Revolutionary Monstrosity
5. Monsters in the “Jihadi Revolutionary Atmosphere”
PART 3 MONSTROUS REFLECTIONS
6. The Monstrous Enemy in the “Terrorist” Mind
7. The Abyss of Counterterrorism
Conclusion
References
Index
Recommend Papers

Terrorists as Monsters: The Unmanageable Other from the French Revolution to the Islamic State
 0190927887, 9780190927882

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Terrorists as Monsters

Terrorists as Monsters The Unmanageable Other from the French Revolution to the Islamic State M A R C O P I N FA R I

1

3 Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and certain other countries. Published in the United States of America by Oxford University Press 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, United States of America. © Oxford University Press 2019 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, by license, or under terms agreed with the appropriate reproduction rights organization. Inquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above. You must not circulate this work in any other form and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer. Library of Congress Cataloging-​in-​Publication Data Names: Pinfari, Marco, author. Title: Terrorists as monsters : the unmanageable other from the French revolution to the Islamic state /​Marco Pinfari. Description: New York : Oxford University Press, [2019] | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2019006328 (print) | LCCN 2019017510 (ebook) | ISBN 9780190927899 (Updf) | ISBN 9780190927905 (Epub) | ISBN 9780190927882 (pbk. : alk. paper) | ISBN 9780190927875 (hardcover : alk. paper) Subjects: LCSH: Terrorists—​History. | Monsters—​History. | Revolutions—​History. Classification: LCC HV6431 (ebook) | LCC HV6431 .P5625 2019 (print) | DDC 363.32509—​dc23 LC record available at https://​lccn.loc.gov/​2019006328 1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2 Paperback printed by Marquis, Canada Hardback printed by Bridgeport National Bindery, Inc., United States of America

primo et ire viam et fluvios temptare minaces audet et ignoto sese committere ponti nec vanos horret strepitus. (Geo. III. 77–​79) For Yunus

Contents List of Illustrations Acknowledgments

ix xi

1. Introduction: Terrorism, Monsters, and Archetypal Metaphors

1

PA RT  1 :   T E R R O R I ST S S E E N A S M O N ST E R S 2. The Abominables: To the Roots of “Terrorist” Monsters

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3. Contemporary Logomachies

53

PA RT  2 :   T E R R O R I ST S AC T I N G A S M O N ST E R S 4. Revolutionary Monstrosity 5. Monsters in the “Jihadi Revolutionary Atmosphere”

79 100

PA RT  3 :   M O N ST R OU S R E F L E C T IO N S 6. The Monstrous Enemy in the “Terrorist” Mind

125

7. The Abyss of Counterterrorism

154

Conclusion

176

References Index

185 209

Illustrations 2.1 Anon., “Les Abominables ou le Jacobin et la Discorde Semant le Crime et la Terreur sur leurs pas,” 1794–​1799. Bibliothéque nationale de France, De Vinck Collection, 6556.

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2.2 Richard Earlom, “The Plundering of the King’s Cellar, Paris, 10th August 1793/​J. Zoffany Esqr. pinx./​R. Earlom sculpt.,” 1794. Library of Congress, FP—​XVIII—​E11, no. 325.

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2.3 John Tenniel, “The Irish Frankenstein,” engraved by Joseph Stein. Punch, May 20, 1882.

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3.1 John Tenniel, “The Dynamite Dragon,” engraved by Joseph Stein. Punch, April 16, 1892.

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3.2 JAK (Raymond Jackson), “The Irish.” Evening Standard, October 29, 1982.

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3.3 John Cox and Allen Forkum, “Hydra,” September 30, 2001 (Cox and Forkum, Black and White World, 2002, 9).

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4.1 Mario Moretti, Photograph of Idalgo Macchiarini, March 3, 1972.

94

4.2 Anon., Photograph of Aldo Moro, March 18, 1978.

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4.3 Anon., Photograph of Roberto Peci, August 3, 1981.

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5.1 Anon., Computer image on the Dhaka terrorist attack, July 2, 2016. Reposted online by SITE Intelligence Group.

114

5.2 Anon., Still image from Islamic State video footage showing the execution of Ethiopian Christians in Libya, April 19, 2015.

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6.1 Anon., “Louseous Japanicas.” Leatherneck, March 1945, 37.

134

7.1 Anon., “Gorgon Stare.” United States Air Force/​Sierra Nevada Corporation.

172

Acknowledgments This book is the product of an intellectual (and physical) journey that took me from Italy through England to the Middle East, and specifically Egypt. The spark that gave light to the ideas on which this book is based came from a seminar discussion in my course “Terrorism:  A Critical Analysis,” that I have been teaching at the American University in Cairo (AUC) since 2013. While reading and discussing with my students a passage from what I consider the greatest work of fiction on terrorism—​Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent—​we came to focus on the projected madness and the performative content of the attacks carried out by Islamic State militants. The fact that an attack may be rationally and painstakingly constructed so as to appear as the work of a madman or monster, and the presence of substantial precedents in this sense among anarchist, ethnonationalist, or left-​wing movements in Europe, seemed to fascinate my students. As it often happens in teaching, these exchanges also planted a seed in my mind and made me interested in exploring more in depth how the monster images that kept appearing in the propagandistic material produced by Islamic State militants could be positioned in this tradition, as part of my ongoing engagement with issues that concern the political aesthetics of terrorism and domestic conflicts. Still, it is somewhat ironic that the country in which most of this book has been written—​Egypt—​appears only in occasional snapshots in the pages that follow. My interest in performative violence and (especially) in framing is nevertheless a direct product of the downward trajectory of the Egyptian transition after the 2011 Tahrir revolution, during which I witnessed first-​ hand the pervasive and tragic effects of framing all opposition movements as “terrorist.” Egypt does not provide us with particularly significant examples of “terrorists as monsters,” but it has been my experience in Egypt since 2012 that led me to explore not only the varied functions that certain imagery plays in framing processes, but also how framing interacts with—​and often directly shapes—​counterterrorism. Many colleagues and friends have been on my side providing me with suggestions, advice, and support throughout what has proven to be a long and demanding project, which was completed while serving as associate dean of

xii Acknowledgments the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HUSS) at AUC. These include Nesrine Badawi, Rabab ElMahdi, Ibrahim ElNur, Bahgat Korany, Imane Abaza, Nathaniel Bowditch, Robert Switzer, Ahmed Zein, Mariam Ghorab, and Nouran Shash. The participants in the conference “Transnational Monstrosity in Popular Culture” held at York St John University (UK) on 3 June 2017 provided me with excellent feedback and ideas that directly fed into the final version of the manuscript; my thanks go specifically to its co-​ organizers, Steve Rawle and Keith McDonald, and to Liz Gloyn. At OUP, I am particularly indebted to Angela Chnapko, who for two years provided me with constant support throughout the many ups and downs of the editorial process, from the moment in which I first presented my project to the signing of the contract. I am also grateful to David Pervin for his enthusiastic early endorsement of my project, to Alexcee Bechthold for her valuable feedback on several pedantic queries from my side, and to the copy editors and producers that helped make my manuscript ready for publication. The comments of three anonymous reviewers helped me improve the analytical focus and coverage of earlier manuscripts, and these were deeply appreciated. I am also grateful to several individuals and institutions who approved the reproduction of their artwork and other material, including John Cox, Luca Falciola, the Archivio storico del Museo di Antropologia Criminale “Cesare Lombroso” at the University of Turin (with special thanks to Cristina Cilli), the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the editors of the Leatherneck magazine, and Solo Syndication. This book is dedicated to my son, Yunus. He and my wife Reham had to cope with the hardships that completing this project while on full-​time academic duties at AUC put on family life. And, for more than two years, Yunus had to forego uncountable hours of playing while his dad was fighting his own monsters in front of a computer screen. I hope he will forgive me. When he will be in a position to read these lines, I trust that he will have learned to value the outlook that growing up in a stimulating metropolis like Cairo provided him. Still, I heartily wish that he will keep a critical attitude toward what is wrong in the country he is living in and that eventually, like the best breed of foals in Virgil’s Georgics, he will find his own “unknown bridges” to brave. And that he will not let the “vain noise” of any monster—​in him or around him—​frighten him off.

1 Introduction Terrorism, Monsters, and Archetypal Metaphors

Not much is known about Rabie Shehada. The little information that trickled through media reports tells of a 26-​year-​old Palestinian man from a village close to Nazareth, married and with a son, who had joined a mechanical engineering college. He then left his studies and crossed into Syria via Turkey to join the Free Syrian Army before switching to the Islamic State (IS) where he became known as the “Palestinian slayer” (Al Arabiya 2014a). His name was echoed in news outlets around the world in September 2014, when he posted a video in Arabic that contained a series of chilling threats that can be translated as follows: We are coming to you. I swear to the one and only God—​we love to die for the sake of God just like you love to live. I swear that we love to drink blood and we learned that your blood is delicious. So we came to drink it—​God willing. We came to slaughter you. (Anon. 2014)

Rabie Shehada’s message was not only deeply disturbing but also puzzling, as drinking blood is clearly forbidden by the same Islam that the Islamic State purports to serve and spread. However, the resonance that the “ISIS vampire” (as he was soon dubbed in the media—​Chumley 2014) gained with this statement shows that he struck an emotional chord by portraying himself as a terrifying, unstoppable creature vowed on the destruction of his enemy. That is, he gained visibility by presenting himself in the forefront of world public opinion as a monster. This video was widely covered in the West, where the general public is undoubtedly used to seeing terrorists as monsters. Ever since the French Revolution, political cartoons have visualized terror through monster metaphors—​from the Jacobin “reign of terror” inhabited by Medusa-​like savages to the “dynamite dragon” of anarchic terrorism slain by St George that often appeared in nineteenth-​century British newspapers. More recently, Terrorists as Monsters. Marco Pinfari Oxford University Press (2019) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190927875.001.0001

2 Introduction in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks, the language of monstrosity, bestiality, and social abjection has become an integral part of the discourses utilized by Western media to frame al-​Qaeda and jihadist terrorism (Puar and Rai 2002; Rai 2004; Devetak 2005). Even before September 11, Bin Laden and his followers had been described as a “Frankenstein the CIA created” (J. Burke 1999). After the 7 July 2005 attacks in London, William Pfaff referred to al-​Qaeda as “a monster of our own making” (Pfaff 2005). Its franchise-​like structure that stretched across state borders was likened by the Economist to the shape of a “hydra-​headed monster” that, once it has come into being, “nobody knows how to handle” (Economist 2008). Unsurprisingly, the Islamic State is regularly described through such imagery as well, and the same metaphor of the uncontrollable and unstoppable monster of one’s own making (the Frankenstein’s Creature monster type) is often used in relation to the Islamic State as it was with respect to al-​Qaeda. In October 2014, the former president of Iran Abolhassan Banisadr accused the United States, Europe, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Gulf countries of having created “a monster that is now threatening their interests” (Banisadr 2014). Islamic State militants are routinely described in the media as “bloodthirsty monsters” (Lowry 2015; Burman 2016)  and have been charged, for instance, with “creating a generation of monsters” (Stanton and Akbar 2015) after the release of footage allegedly showing children executing prisoners and taking part in military training sessions. One can argue that presenting oneself as a monster is very different from framing the other as a monster. These characterizations appear to have two distinct and somewhat opposite goals—​a self-​presented monster may want to maximize its scare power, while framing someone else as a monster normally aims at dehumanizing it and at reducing the room for mutual empathy. However, these two processes share one significant feature:  they both use instrumentally a concept that hits on a core of deep-​seated feelings in the human mind. In the past, some scholars looked into the reasons why “terrorists” may be presented (or “framed”) as beastly creatures; however, we lack an analysis of the multiple yet interconnected functions that monstrosity plays in terrorism and counterterrorism. Two major themes, in particular, have been neglected so far. On the one hand, as mentioned previously, references to specific monster types (such as the hydra, the vampire, and Frankenstein’s monster) are at least as common in these processes as the usage of the simple word or concept of “monster.” But some specific types seem to be more common in

Introduction  3 certain contexts than in others—​for instance, why is Frankenstein’s monster mentioned so often in relation to jihadist terrorism? A second theme that seems to be absent altogether from the debates on terrorism is the analysis of the cases in which groups that engage in terrorist violence either decide to present themselves straightforwardly as monsters, as Rabie Shehada did, or do their best to construct performatively their actions so that they can appear as monsters. That is, we lack a reflection on the role of monstrosity as a framework through which “terrorists” may construct their public persona vis-​à-​vis their target audience. As Shehada’s warning showed, the importance attached to projecting this identity may even lead an Islamic State militant to defend or encourage behavior that, if taken literally, would violate some widely accepted principles in Islam. The main goal of this book is to look systematically at these two main themes—​the use of monsters in terrorism from the perspective of both the framer and the terrorist actor. Because monsters and monstrosity cannot be safely confined to the disciplinary boundaries of politics and international security, this will require engaging with a variety of debates both within and beyond the traditional range of terrorism studies, including the contributions of psychologists, philosophers, anthropologists, and many other leading scholars who looked into the sources of fear and terror and their relations with the human unconscious. This introductory chapter will lead the reader quickly through the main ideas and assumptions that form the basis of the rest of the book—​from the role of language in molding the profile of the “terrorist” actor to the concepts of “prototype” and “archetype,” from the processes of cultural reception to the factors that can allow terrorists to successfully terrorize their target audience. These sections will inevitably be brief and cursory but will provide a necessary primer into these and other key debates that will be developed later on.

Terrorism and “Terrorists” This section will not engage with the vast and overworked debate on the definition of terrorism. However, the way in which this concept is approached in this book needs to be explained, because this has a direct bearing not only on the identification of certain events as instances of terrorism, but also on how this book approaches the role played by archetypal metaphors of fear and terror in relation to terrorism and political violence.

4 Introduction This book is based on the assumption that there exists a core of largely consensual features that make an act terrorist, whereas the identification of an actor as “terrorist” remains mostly discretional and relies on a wider range of social and discursive practices. This approach is in line with the suggestion, increasingly popular in political studies and associated primarily with the work of the German jurist Carl Schmitt, that all definitions of political concepts, such as terrorism, are inherently political themselves (Schmitt [1932] 1996). It also broadly agrees with the view, proposed by scholars, such as Christopher Finlay, who looked at terrorism though the framework of “speech-​act” theory, that distinguishing between the rhetoric and the “principled” (or objective) component of definitions of terrorism is a futile exercise because “all uses of the word ‘terrorist’ are rhetorical in one sense or another” (Finlay 2009, 753; emphasis in the original). This is because, especially when someone applies a specific label to an act or event, language hardly functions as a mere descriptive device; instead, as the concept of “speech act” implies, through such utterances the person is “performing an action” (Austin 1962, 6) and directly contributes to shaping the world around us. Nevertheless, when it comes to agreeing on what the core features of a terrorist act are, most people seem to share an “established background” (Finlay 2009, 751)—​something that allows us to distinguish between more or less inventive (or, in Finlay’s words, “good” or “bad”) usages of such rhetoric. What exactly such core encompasses is not entirely clear, but I would argue that, at its heart, an act of terrorism is a deliberate and violent act aimed at eliciting fear in an audience, and in which a degree of “bifocality” (Khatchadourian 1998, 11)—​or differentiation between direct victims and target audience—​ exists. Various other features are often, but not always, associated with terrorism; these include the political (as opposed to criminal) nature of such acts, the non-​combatant status of the victims, and the threat of using violence (Coady 1985, 52; B. Hoffman 2006, 40). Beyond these and perhaps few other debates, Finlay (2009, 757) correctly argues that we enter the realm of “revisionary redescription”—​that is, attempts at defining terrorism whose purpose is to “try to alter public attitudes” on terrorism rather than trying in good faith to provide a good definition within the “proper range of the word.” Things might be different, however, when we focus on the “terrorist” agent instead. Strictly (and logically) speaking, a “terrorist” should be one who commits an act of terrorism and is identified only as the perpetrator of such an act. However, the term, similar to the label “criminal,” remains attached to

Introduction  5 an individual or group beyond his or her participation in the act itself, often under the assumption that terrorism is not just about committing discrete acts of terror but rather a way of living. Once such a synecdoche has entered common usage, it has offered the framer much more rhetoric or linguistic freedom than the process of identifying an act as terrorist. It is unclear, for instance, how many years an individual who once took part in a terrorist attack should be considered a “terrorist,” or what degree of participation in the event would justify using such label. Since all these decisions seem to rest on the “wider sensibilities of listeners, the perception of the organization in terms of its cause or political legitimacy, and other contingent factors” (Finlay 2009, 757), the framing of “terrorists” is a much more creative process than defining terrorism as a strategy, or the framing of individual acts of terrorism. In fact, the idea of monstrosity plays a major role as part of this creative framing. Following in the footsteps of Jean-​François Lyotard (1990) and Tomislav Longinovic (2011), in this book the term “terrorist” (in quotation marks) will be used regularly in relation to individuals or groups. In doing this, it is not intended to imply a value judgment on whether subjects who have been described as “terrorists” really deserve this label. Quite the opposite, referring to “terrorists” in quotation marks highlights the contested nature of these characterizations in an attempt to acknowledge but also temporarily “disarm” (Longinovic 2011, 4), for analytical purposes, the heated debates that often surround them. Also by stressing this distinction between defining “terrorism” and framing “terrorists,” this book takes a different route than that in Finlay (2009) in negotiating its way between fully objective and fully subjective definitions of terrorism—​or the “Scylla of Platonic essentialism and the Charybdis of radical contingency” (765). Finlay suggests that the interpersonal backdrop on which definitions of terrorism rest is made almost exclusively of shared “rules for correct usage” of language, themselves based on some “moral and political values” that are reflected in language itself (765). In my analysis, I do not deny the value of this route in explaining most conventions surrounding the concept of terrorism, nor the importance of linguistic structures (including binary juxtapositions—​Kearney 2003, 25) for framing terrorists. In fact, this book focuses mainly on the use of one specific rhetoric device—​metaphors, and more precisely, monster metaphors. In mapping monster images in the medieval world, David Williams (1996, 61)  concluded that the “association of monsters with language is a profound, longstanding one.” However, the way in which (monster) metaphors operate cannot be explained simply

6 Introduction within the “rules of correct usage” of language. I tend to agree instead with George Lakoff, whose extensive engagement with metaphorical reasoning has shown that the “locus of metaphors is not language at all, but in the way in which we conceptualize one mental domain in terms of another” (Lakoff 1993, 204). The “mapping” to which Lakoff refers, and the way in which it interacts with cognitive schemata and human instincts, deserves attention on its own—​this important issue will be discussed later in this chapter. However, one aspect of immediate relevance in Lakoff ’s analytical framework is the fact that he presents reason itself as “not purely literal, but largely metaphorical and imaginative” (Lakoff and Johnson 1999, 4). That is, in Lakoff ’s view, metaphors not only operate as filters through which individuals understand the world around them, but also as rational frameworks through which visions and agendas can be articulated. As a result, the use of monster metaphors in relation to terrorism should not be seen just as a cultural residue of archaic imagery that keeps being reproduced in language because it is perceived as broadly “correct” for presenting certain social events, but rather as one of the ways in which terrorism as a political phenomenon is actively and continuously framed and performatively (re)produced.

Culture(s) of Monstrosity Even if, at various stages in history, monsters have been treated as real creatures—​and, on some occasions, still do to this day—​they exist primarily as literary and cultural constructs, as the products of human imagination, often (but not necessarily) drawing inspiration from unexplained events or unusual encounters with the human or animal “other.” As such, monsters also tend to be culture-​specific; each tribe, ethnic, or national group has forged across time its own mythical imaginary populated by hybrid and frightful creatures. However, the relation between monstrosity and cultural traditions is more complex that it is sometimes assumed. Across time, even culture-​specific monster images are not cited just as part of different narratives on the basis of some fixed, “immanent value”; rather, they are “time and again ‘received’ and ‘(re)appropriated’ ” by each generation that puts their hands on them (De Pourcq 2012, 219). As such, these images that are at the heart of specific

Introduction  7 cultural traditions form a flexible “repertoire” or “communicative memory” (220) that can be utilized selectively and reshaped creatively as time passes. Within the cultural universe of Western Europe, one prominent example of these uneven but fascinating cultural trajectories is represented by the so-​called many-​headed monster. What would become a recurrent metaphor for resilient networked terrorism has its origin in ancient Greece (at least since the time of Hesiod) as the Lernaean Hydra, which appeared in one of the main reservoirs of monstrous imagery in Greek culture—​the tales of Hercules’s Twelve Labors. In the first known visual depiction of this creature, tracing back to approximately 700 BCE, it was presented with six heads, but its later iconography usually crystallized on seven or nine heads. Monsters with comparable features also creeped into the Bible, especially in the book of Revelation; both the “red dragon” and the first “beast” that appear in ­chapters 12 and 13 have “seven heads” like the Hydra. To the imagery of the Hydra, the monsters of the book of Revelation detracted one important feature—​the ability to regrow its heads once they were severed, which made the Hydra particularly resilient even against a demigod like Hercules—​ while several others were added, such as the presence of “ten horns” with “ten crowns.” The apparent mismatch between the number of heads and the number of horns sported by the monsters of the Revelation may be due to the desire to hybridize the symbolism of the hydra with imagery drawn from another influential text of the apocalyptic genre, the book of Daniel. The Fourth Beast of Daniel’s dream did in fact possess ten horns (which, later in the same book, an angel is interpreted as representing “ten kings”) but it only had one head; however, it was the horns that, in Daniel’s sight, fell and regrew—​reproducing at an allegorical level the fall and rise of empires in the ancient Near East. As discussed in ­chapter 2, the many-​headed monster has a long history in European culture as a metaphor for unruly behavior and political rebellion. In the sixteenth century, a many-​headed monster wearing crowns (but with no horns) appeared in Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s famous painting depicting The Fall of the Rebel Angels, possibly as a reference to the ongoing political turmoil in the Netherlands (Meganck 2014, 158). However, as the monster became a regular feature in cartoons and prints during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the iconography of the hydra gradually resurfaced, and St Michael was progressively replaced by Hercules as the nemesis of the monster. In more recent times, the “beast” of the book of Revelation continued to be cited in some religious circles (for instance, among Northern Irish

8 Introduction Unionists) to symbolize the threat coming from Catholic “terrorism.” The iconography of the hydra in political cartoons owes much more to the revival of Greek myth in Western movies and television series—​in which the monster is often presented as a much larger creature than in classical depictions and with dragon-​like features—​than to Daniel’s dream. A comparable argument could also be made about the cross-​fertilization of cultural traditions across space. As cultures gradually spring out of pre-​ existing civilizations and traditions, people brought parts of their mythical imaginary with them—​which, in turn, may be re-​elaborated and developed over time. Muslims’ sacred texts, for instance, recount the tales of what is known in Christianity as Satan—​a jinn named Iblis or Azazeel (El-​Zein 2009, 44–​47) who was cast down by God, lured Adam into sin, and eventually “swore enmity forever to the sons and daughters of man” (Awn 1983, 119). Christians and Muslims may not agree on the exact characteristics and nature of the devil, but, like the Christian Satan, the Arab Iblis can take an animal shape, especially as a serpent (El-​Zein 2009, 99–​100), and is portrayed as “an essentially evil and malevolent figure” who “actively plots for the destruction of man, using any possible means, even the good” (Awn 1983, 118). The case of the Arab Iblis also shows how the boundaries between cultural reception within a single tradition and cross-​fertilization across cultures are often thin ones. Even the many-​headed monster, which became popularized mostly within Western European culture, has most likely a non-​European origin in the mythology of the Mesopotamian peoples, and the idea of multiple “heads” connected to a single monstrous body appears even in Islamic sources—​for instance, in Muhammad Ibn Abd el-​Wahhab’s nineteenth-​ century treatise on the concept of taghout, which will be discussed in ­chapter 6. Even so, some of these cross-​fertilization processes are particularly tortuous. The Western vampire tradition, for instance, was rooted in specific incidents involving unexplained murders and buried bodies that failed to show the usual signs of dissolution. In modern Europe, vampires gained popularity after two cases of alleged vampirism that were investigated by Austrian authorities in the first part of the eighteenth century (Barber 1988, 5–​9). However, as Matthew Beresford (2008, 7) noted: [b]‌elief in vampires is well documented throughout history, from the shores of Ancient Greece and Rome to the wind-​swept deserts of Ancient Egypt; from Babylonia and India in the East to France and England in the West.

Introduction  9 There are vampires in Norse mythology, in the plagues and witch trials of the Middle Ages, in the seventeenth-​century “Age of Reason.”

If vampires are a monster type that is now recognizable worldwide, this is primarily due to the global reach of the Western gothic tradition, especially in the latter half of the twentieth century. However, the pre-​existence around the world of culture-​specific monsters that resemble Stoker’s Dracula, which in turn may have been inspired by incidents similar to those that started the vampire scare in nineteenth-​century Europe, certainly played a role in facilitating the spread of this imagery even if they rarely reflected in its entirety the characterization of the Western vampire. The avamangala avatar of the Sri Lankan Hiri-​yakka or blood demon “wanders about fresh graves which he digs up in order to devour the bodies or suck the blood” (Wirz 1954, 27) but typically takes the shape of an ordinary animal. The Arab ghoul, instead, is a demonic creature that does not feast specifically on human blood but shares several other features with the Western vampire—​its association with death and cemeteries, its ability to change shapes, and the fact that it may be killed only with a sword stroke hitting it in a specific part of its body (Al-​Rawi  2009). As a result, Glennis Byron (2013) convincingly argued that the current cross-​cultural spread of gothic imagery, of which the vampire is one of the main expressions, cannot be ascribed to single traditions but should rather be seen as part of a “globalgothic” culture. In “globalgothic,” the “use of specific tropes and conventions” set by the Victorian gothic literature remains recognizable (Byron 2013, 3), but as gothic themes and imagery are “produced and read in new temporal, geographical and political contexts,” they become “inextricable from the broader global context in which [they] circulate” (4). When Rabie Shehada impersonated the terrorist-​vampire, he positioned himself across several cultural crossroads. His message was in continuity with previous, comparable statements by Hamas militants that, in turn, were probably influenced by the spread of specific biblical imagery to frame Palestinian “terrorism.” However, the historical model that inspired Hamas predates Israel’s framing and, with its eminently un-​Islamic emphasis on drinking blood, was rooted in pre-​Islamic Arab culture and imaginary. The global reach of gothic culture, in turn, most likely had an impact on the choice to spread this message on the Internet and on the resonance that it rapidly obtained. The power of this performative act lies in the way in which it selectively summons a polysemy of signifiers that convey different

10 Introduction messages to different audiences, each of which with a place within its own culture-​specific genealogy.

Prototypes and Archetypes Tracing the historical development of some monster types that are repeatedly associated with terrorism and political violence, both in the West and in some non-​Western cultures, is one the main purposes of this book. But, in doing so, I also want to do more than provide a mere overview of different monster metaphors. In fact, this book is primarily an attempt to uncover what lies beneath the recurrence of this imagery across time and space. The first step in this direction requires engaging not only with individual monsters, but also with the concept of monster or monstrosity itself. This concept can be described as a “prototypical category”—​a “cluster of perceived attributes” that are normally seen as belonging together (Rosch 1978, 35). At the very least, the prototype of monstrosity can be articulated into culture-​ specific monster typologies. Isidore of Seville in his Etymologies arranged monsters into seven types that included respectively human–​animal hybrids, creatures that are over-​or undersized in their entirety, have one part of their bodies that is over-​or undersized, have an abundance or lack of body parts, that lack or have only one body part, transform, and mix genders (Verner 2005). Similar attempts at categorizing the incarnations of demons and monsters can be found in different cultural settings around the world. For example, Paul Wirz (1954, 25) explained that in the Sri Lankan tradition there are approximately nine types of demons or yakku (each of which can manifest itself through different avatara) responsible for spreading specific types of diseases. However, the more we treat monsters as metaphorical or symbolic signifiers as opposed to real freak creatures endowed with some kind of ontological essence, the more the efforts to arrange monsters in typologies can be seen as attempts to trace the different social functions (Williams 1996) that this imagery plays. In most traditional societies, as Stephen Asma argued, monsters provide people “with a ritualized, rehearsable simulation of reality, a virtual way to represent the forces of nature, the threats from other animals, and the dangers of human social interaction” (Asma 2009, 282–​283). By evoking certain types of “threats,” monster images may also be connected with certain types of fears; if so, even different monsters that nevertheless

Introduction  11 share some fundamental traits (either in their attributes or in their powers) may play similar functions, signal similar types of threats, and provoke similar fears. Some scholars, such as Judith Halberstam (1995, 6), have been understandably reluctant in generalizing and essentializing the threats and fears that can be summoned by different monstrous images, and in assuming that they apply to an equal degree across time and space. However, we should also avoid the “culturalist fallacy” (Clasen 2017, 12) of treating monsters simply as abstract cultural constructs. Lakoff and Johnson (1999) have presented metaphors as the expression of “prelinguistic aspects of our thinking, shaped by cultural conventions and native psychophysical tendencies” (Asma 2009, 14). The striking similarities that can be noticed across individual monster types in different cultural settings “without the slightest possibility of cultural diffusion” (Gilmore 2003, 2) led anthropologist David Gilmore, among others, to conclude that we are “dealing with almost identical ideas among disconnected people” that rest on “some deep human thread” (2). In light of their Janus-​faced nature, Asma (2009, 14)  has described monsters as “metaphorical archetypes.” The Swiss psychiatrist and anthropologist Carl Jung used the concept of “archetype” with reference to the “patterns or instinctual behavior” that reside in the “collective unconscious” of humans (Jung [1936–​1937] 1959, §91). Jung saw the archetypes rooted in human nature as “unconscious images of the instincts themselves” (§91). In earlier writings, Jung argued explicitly that “mythological fantasies [. . .] come from the brain—​indeed, precisely from the brain and not from personal memory-​traces, but from the inherited brain structure itself ” (Jung [1918] 1970, §12). Asma’s resort to the concept of archetype does not equal an unconditional endorsement of Jung’s vision, which has been much debated and is rarely accepted in its entirety. In particular, its assumptions about the innate nature of archetypes and the very existence of a “collective unconscious” have been contested both from within the Jungian tradition—​for instance, by James Hillman’s “archetypal school” (Vannoy Adams 2008)—​and from outside of it, most notably by Jacques Lacan and his followers, in whose view the concept of “collective unconscious” may make sense “only within the global context of [an] already established discourse” (Gullatz 2010, 710). And yet, even if Lacan is right to remind us that not every theme that is uncanny and apparently unconscious should be treated as an archetype, post-​ structuralists struggle to grapple with that part of the unconscious that rests

12 Introduction on instincts and feelings that appear to be deeply ingrained in human nature and are difficult to rationalize, such as terror, horror, and the idea itself of the “sublime” (Morris 1985, 311). Monsters can be seen as an expression of these instincts. Even if the monster types that we normally meet in fiction “come to life in language,” a monster—​according to Peter Brooks (1995, 100)—​is: that which cannot be placed in any of the taxonomic schemes devised by the human mind to understand and to order nature. It exceeds the very basis of classification, language itself: it is an excess of signification, a strange byproduct or leftover of the process of making meaning.

Another reason for taking Jung’s archetypes seriously is that, in his later work, he provided a subtler elaboration of his theory that goes some way to avoid the risk of excessive essentialism. In The Spirit of Psychology (1947), Jung differentiated between the archetypes-​as-​such or primordial images—​which can be seen as “the predisposition to have a certain experience” (Stevens 2006, 77; emphasis in the original)—​and archetypal images, which instead encompass the “ideas and behaviors that the archetype-​as-​such gives rise to” (77). That is, Jung made it clear that the innate and “deeply unconscious” component of the archetypal system is limited to the “possibilities of ideas” (Vannoy Adams 2008, 108), while their precise (and conscious) contents may be context-​specific. In this classification, the archetype-​as-​such is pushed back almost to the level of human instincts, while the archetypal image interfaces both with the unconscious and with the socialized part of the individual psyche. In this later re-​elaboration, Jung seems to be arguing that “instincts have a cognitive aspect” and that “archetypal images serve as their representation in consciousness” (Lindenfeld 2009, 225). Jung’s collective unconscious can be treated, in this vision, as “a kind of symbolic cognition,” and archetypes in turn bear a close resemblance to what Lakoff and Johnson 1999 present as “image schemas”—​which are “also embedded within the expressive patterns of physical and animate nature, and so continually available as exteriorized sources of metaphor” (Hunt 2012, 80). Similarly, psychological research suggests that the origin of fear itself can be located at the interface of “behavioral, psychophysiological, and verbal-​cognitive” processes (Öhman and Mineka 2001, 484). Because individual monster types would constitute, in Jung’s theory, examples of archetypal images (D. Gilmore 2003, 11; Asma 2009, 282),

Introduction  13 monster images should therefore rest on few underlying archetypes-​as-​such. Some scholars have tried to identify a limited set of core features that are shared by monsters even across different cultural traditions based on the types of fears that they elicit in their audiences. As the archetype-​as-​such can “only be inferred from its effects” (Waller 2002, 13)—​and these “effects,” in the case of monster images, are the reasons why monsters scare people—​I suggest that these features constitute our best guess about the content of the monster archetype-​as-​such or primordial images from which individual archetypal images of monsters emerge. These “effects” can also shed light on the connection between these primordial images and the underlying instincts of fear and terror necessary for the survival of the human species. This task is aided by the fact that, according to “bio-​cultural” approaches to horror in art and literature (Boyd 2005), “[a]‌ll common fears can be located within a few biologically constrained categories or domains” (Clasen 2017, 35) that broadly correspond to different types of “danger” faced by our ancestors. According to Asma (2009, 7–​13), monsters scare us first of all because of their inhuman nature—​they are either tout-​court feral beings, or creatures that, for whatever reason, have sunk “to the level of an animal” (8). Secondly, monsters are unthinkable—​their behavior “can’t be processed by our rationality” (10), or perhaps we “cannot readily relate to the emotional range” that would be required to fully empathize with their actions (10). Thirdly, monsters are unmanageable—​even if their nature may not be intrinsically evil, their behavior can be unpredictable, dangerous, and destructive. This typology of fears obviously does not include all the constitutive components of individual monsters as archetypal images, which are instead culture-​specific and extremely diverse in shape and form. It also is not an exhaustive list of all the archetypes-​as-​such or instincts that individual monster types can evoke. Monsters, for instance, could elicit not only fears but also feelings of attraction (Oppenheimer 1996, 73) of a platonic or even sexual nature. Charm is often associated with the peculiar combination of the “impossible and the forbidden” (Foucault [1975] 2003, 56) that the unthinkable nature of monsters can evoke and the temporary “suspension of judgment” that may ensue” (Rajan 2004, 55). These three fears appear to be common features across monsters from different cultural traditions and, as a result, are arguably the core functional component of the prototype concept of monstrosity itself. Each individual monster is, in some way or another, inhuman, unthinkable, and unmanageable. But monsters also tend to “specialize” in only some of these three fears.

14 Introduction At its core, Frankenstein’s monster is primarily an unmanageable monster of one’s own making. Other monsters scare us mainly because they are human–​ animal hybrids, and still others because their practices defy reason or undermine basic ethical standards. The resort to monster images and monster metaphors is not the only way to evoke these individual fears. Animal metaphors and different types of religious or secular symbols regularly appear in the political discourse. The former are employed regularly across different cultures, for instance, to dehumanize enemies and political opponents. At a closer look, however, animal metaphors are rarely taken literally out of zoology books and are mostly, either explicitly or implicitly, intended to present the “other” as a monstrous human–​animal hybrid. One of the main reasons why monster metaphors deserve particular attention is that monsters are particularly flexible images that, in contrast to other metaphorical or metonymic constructs, are not expected to be a literal verisimilar reflection of the natural or real world. Moreover, as each single monster is typically an assemblage of different attributes, each individual monster image is a compound metaphor that carries with it a portfolio of symbolic and cultural references. In fact, it can be suggested that the very nature of monsters as “composites” of different creatures (Asma 2014, 946) is key to their scare power; by appearing as “morphologically incoherent” and by “transgressing the categories” through which humans are used to organize the world around them, monsters generate a process of “category jamming” (948) or “cognitive mismatch” in the presence of which the human brain appears to be “designed to generate fear” (Konner 2002, 219). The fact that monsters are designed to scare makes them particularly suitable to evoke a range of fears that is inherently related to the nature of terror-​ism. Furthermore, as true examples of “political polysemy” (Feldman 1991, 81), these images can enjoy a degree of semantic flexibility that other metaphors cannot wield and are particularly suitable for articulating subtle, tailored political messages. As a result, as Asma (2014, 958)  noted, both horror and monsters “have always been politically useful”; inhuman, unthinkable, and unmanageable monsters evoke three types of fears that have an eminently political content—​the fear of the “other,” the fear of the (ethically or socially) liminal, and the fear of phenomena or processes that (can) get out of control. By identifying the minimum common denominator between different monster types evoked in relation to specific enemies—​ that is, the basic primordial fears that these monster types are designed to

Introduction  15 evoke—​and reflecting on why specific monsters, but not others, have been chosen, we can therefore cast light on how political actors perceive and present the phenomenon (or the enemy “other”) that they are facing and how they position themselves in relation to it.

Terrorizing and Performance Like monsters, the fear caused by terrorist acts has also been described as being “rooted in deep cultural anxieties” (Jackson 2005, 117). Lawrence Freedman, a forensic psychiatrist who was among the first to apply psychiatric research to political violence, noted that the effectiveness of terrorism rests on predispositions that are related to the “evolution” of Homo sapiens, whose survival: is based on the growth of its central nervous system, its open-​ended mechanism for adaptation, and its prolonged period of dependency and need for adults to attend its newborn. For these means of species survival humans pay in horror, disquietude, and a sense that the narrow boundary of the circle of survival is surrounded by evil, darkness, and terrible demons. The inward dread is projected to the vast, insensate, and threatening other world. (Freedman 1982, 18–​19)

However, if fear is at the heart of terrorism, terrorizing a target audience is not easy. Even types of attacks (such as car bombs against specific targets like embassies or shopping centers) that in some circumstances are seen as very frightening might not be perceived as such on other occasions. In the 1980s, Freedman suggested that, in order to understand the “puzzling phenomenon of the extraordinary excitement, fear and indeed terror” (Freedman 1982, 26) that terrorists create, we need to develop a “model of terroristic resonance” (26) that explains which factors or conditions can help “reinforce” (Gerbner et al. 1980, 30) the effect of terrorism on the public, and which ones can instead weaken or undermine it. Since then, the analysis of the logic of “terrorizing” developed into a niche of terrorism studies that has produced some interesting, yet still underdeveloped, intuitions. For instance, many correctly noticed that the media play a central role in reporting and representing terrorist events and, therefore, in amplifying (or filtering) the fear and terror elicited by an attack. According to Michelle Slone, images of

16 Introduction terrorist attacks shown through the media are associated with greater anxiety and can have a “powerful and potentially damaging impact [. . .] on the psychological well-​being of the viewing public” (Slone 2000, 515). Exposure to television news of terrorist events, in particular, appears to be associated with a higher “perceived risk” and, in turn, with a stronger sense of fear (Nellis and Savage 2012, 761). A relevant part of the “resonance” of terrorist acts, however, has to do with some characteristics of the terrorist event itself, including the choice of the target and how this event relates with other acts of political violence that precede it, including the wider terrorist campaigns, or the civil or interstate wars of which it may be part. This aspect is particularly significant when the perpetrators of a terrorist act have little or no influence on the way in which conventional media report and represent terrorist events, such as in the case of acts that are intended to have a worldwide audience. Although a comprehensive analysis of the factors that impact negatively on the power of terrorist acts to terrorize is not yet available, researchers have long suggested that the “overuse of violence” (Crenshaw Hutchinson 1972, 389; Wardlaw 1989, 36) over a relatively short period of time or “continual attacks against specific targets” (Neumann and Smith 2005, 758)  are key explanations for the decline in the fear factor associated with political violence. These arguments were proposed by scholars, such as Martha Crenshaw in the 1970s, in the wake of the sustained campaigns of left-​wing revolutionary movements in Germany, Italy, and elsewhere. These suggestions also resonate particularly well in the post-​September 11 world, where the prolonged campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq have resulted in one of the “longest war[s]‌” (Bergen 2011) in living memory. In the presence of such “overuse of violence,” the perpetrators of terrorist acts may end up “numb[ing] the target” (Wardlaw 1989, 36) as the “bulk of the target group may come to feel sufficiently removed from the campaign of violence to experience a high degree of threat” (Neumann and Smith 2005, 758). Especially when faced with a numbed audience, “terrorists” will try hard to maximize their chances of successfully terrorizing it. A repeated theme in the literature is that the “unpredictability of danger” is the “most psychologically damaging factor” in the process of instilling fear in an audience (Crenshaw Hutchinson 1972, 388). History has shown that would-​be “terrorists” around the world are well aware of this intuition. In attempting to maintain or re-​establish a degree of unpredictability in their actions, they regularly look for new modi operandi, challenge “established ethical

Introduction  17 barriers” (Neumann and Smith 2005, 578) and, in general, try to ensure that the audience will unequivocally perceive them as terrifying. Most “terrorists” try to achieve such goals in ways that also induce the media to amplify, rather than hamper, the fear factor associated with the event. Therefore, it should not be surprising that the metaphorical archetype of monstrosity—​which is widely used to frame “terrorists”—​can also provide a very attractive framework for “terrorists” themselves to construct performatively their own actions. Several practices associated with terrorism or “terrorist” groups—​such as the murder of unarmed civilians and prisoners, or the Islamic State’s “unusual practice of deliberately damaging archaeological sites and museums” (Harmanşah 2015, 171)—​ may appear to many as irrationally brutish and cruel. Some commentators, such as Roger Cohen (2014), have even concluded that “there is no why to the barbarism of ISIS.” This emotional shock can be one of the reasons why terrorists may be instinctively described as monstrous creatures—​even if, as discussed later, these processes are almost always mediated by enduring and culture-​specific metaphorical constructs and depend in their exact final shape (and in the choice of specific monstrous images among many that could be selected to express the same instinctive repulsion) on conscious, rational processes. Behavior that appears to be in breach of widely held ethical principles, however, does not need to be inexplicable and random simply because it shocks us. In most circumstances, the perpetrators of terrorist acts have a rational—​even if not necessarily ethical—​justification for these atrocities (Eagleton 2010, 8). In fact, in an article titled “Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You” that appeared in the July 2016 issue of its magazine Dabiq, the Islamic State has explicitly claimed to be a rational actor: The gist of the matter is that there is indeed a rhyme to our terrorism, warfare, ruthlessness, and brutality. As much as some liberal journalists would like you to believe that we do what we do because we’re simply monsters with no logic behind our course of action, the fact is that we continue to wage—​and escalate—​a calculated war that the West thought it had ended several years ago. (Dabiq 2016d, 33)

Distinguishing between the potential rationality of the actor and the nature of the act that is committed is beneficial for understanding any act of political violence but becomes particularly important when it comes to terrorism,

18 Introduction where there are, in fact, two sets of victims—​a smaller group that is immediately hit by an attack and a larger group that the attack wants to terrorize. In this case, the logic of terrorizing adds an extra layer of complexity. The strategically motivated resort to actions designed to appear as irrationally brutish has a long history among Western “terrorist” movements. A famous literary reconstruction of the painstakingly rational process that may lie behind the projected madness of terrorism can be found in Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent (Conrad [1907] 2007). In this fictionalized account of the 1894 botched terrorist attack on the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park—​a marginal event of the so-​called “Anarchist wave” which David Rapoport described as “the first global or truly international terrorist experience in history” (Rapoport 2004, 47)—​an unnamed foreign diplomat explains to the protagonist, Adolf Verloc, why attacking the Royal Observatory would ensure the highest resonance among the British public. “An attempt upon a crowned head or on a president,” he notes, “is sensational enough in a way, but not so much as it used to be” (Conrad [1907] 2007, 25). In fact, he continues, in the age of anarchist terrorism, political assassinations had become “almost conventional” (25). Instead, attacking scientific institutions—​which he sees as one of the “sacrosanct fetishes” of Victorian Britain—​would have indeed shocked the general public (26). In his reasoning: the absurd ferocity of such a demonstration will affect [the British public] more profoundly than the mangling of a whole street—​or theatre—​full of their own kind. To that last they can always say: ‘Oh! it’s mere class hate.’ But what is one to say to an act of destructive ferocity so absurd as to be incomprehensible, inexplicable, almost unthinkable; in fact, mad? Madness alone is truly terrifying, inasmuch as you cannot placate it either by threats, persuasion, or bribes. [. . .] The attack must have all the shocking senselessness of gratuitous blasphemy. (Conrad [1907] 2007, 27)

Outside of works of fiction, few “terrorists” have provided us with such an elaborate and eloquent rationalization of the projected irrationality of terrorist acts. In fact, Faisal Devji even questioned the idea that jihadist “terrorists” always have a clear, rational goal in mind and described al-​ Qaeda’s decision-​making as based instead on a “landscape of relations that are not determined by causes and intentions” (Devji 2005, 19). However, whether “terrorists” want to achieve immediate and clear goals or whether

Introduction  19 these are very distant, few dispute the fact that “terrorism is theatre” (Jenkins 1975, 16; Kubiak 1991, 4; Weimann and Winn 1994; Passmore 2007, 21). As Juergensmeyer (2003, 124–​126) argues, terrorism is in essence a form of “performance violence,” and terrorist attacks are dramas or “movies” (Gabler 2001), parts of a public ritual that is carefully crafted in order to have a specific “impact on the several audiences that they affect” (Juergensmeyer 2003, 126). Thinking about terrorism as a stage play helps us to make sense of those episodes of apparently brutal and inhuman violence—​such as the video showing Jordanian pilot Muath Al-​Kasasbeh being burned alive—​that took place in carefully staged settings and were presented to the broader audience through well-​executed and polished videos. But the concept of “performance” can be further stretched to treat terrorist acts as “performative” in the meaning given to this concept by speech-​act theory—​that is, acts that are meant to have a “transformative impact” on the world (Juergensmeyer 2003, 126). Strictly speaking, this latter meaning would apply primarily to the way in which the act is conveyed or communicated to the audience, rather than the act itself. In presenting the terrorist act to an audience or in presenting oneself as a militant, the “terrorist” may manipulate its communication (and the symbolism that it may evoke) so that it can better achieve its strategic objectives, or at least what is often the basic goal of terrorism: convincing an audience to take a group or individual “terrorist” seriously. Somewhat ironically, this may be most fitting explanation for the apparent brutal or monstrous face shown to the West by Islamic State militants. For militants—​ especially in an age in which jihadist terrorism has become almost conventional, as anarchist terrorism was in the late nineteenth century—​appearing as a senseless brute may well be the best way to be taken seriously. It is also worth remarking that, in analyzing the rational nature of apparently brutish and monstrous acts, I do not intend to make value-​claims about the ethical frameworks of “terrorist” actors or delve in depth into the religious arguments that may be presented by certain groups or individuals to justify terrorism and violations of basic human rights standards. For instance, when noting that Rabie Shehada’s reference to drinking blood contradicts a widely held principle in Islam—​that drinking blood is haram—​I am not necessarily suggesting that it is impossible to justify such practices (or at least the threat to commit such acts) within the framework of Islam. This is because the focus of this analysis, when it comes to the use of the archetype of monstrosity by “terrorists” themselves, is more about the type of interpersonal

20 Introduction framework chosen by the “terrorist” to communicate with the audience rather than about what the “terrorist” truly believes in its mind. Relatedly, I am not interested in making claims about whether specific acts are—​or can be—​justifiable in Islam with reference to specific jurisprudential opinions (fatwas) or interpretations of the Qur’an and the Prophet’s tradition. The debates on whether specific fatwas are really in line with “true Islam” are obviously significant, both for understanding the internal rationales of jihadist terrorism and for contrasting it, but these are beyond the scope of this book as they do not necessarily have a bearing on the interpersonal performance in which “terrorists” are acting, especially in front of a Western audience. Finally, some readers might have noticed that, in this analysis of rationality and irrationality in terrorism, I have refrained from discussing the role that psychiatric conditions or heavy drug use might have played in specific terrorist events that are portrayed as mad or sick. To be clear, I am not arguing that all members of “terrorist” groups are mentally sound and in perfect psychophysical conditions when they attack civilians and behead prisoners, or even when they talk in front of cameras. In fact, there is quite substantial evidence not only about individual Islamic State affiliates suffering from a “long history of mental problems” (Guardian 2016) but also of the recruitment strategies of the Islamic State focusing specifically on people described as “misfits and mentally ill” (Whitehead 2015). The material that I analyze in this book, however, shows beyond doubt that the overall strategic vision of specific groups is inherently rational (Bloom 2005, 3) or at least can be explained systematically with reference to rational models. In itself, the involvement of “misfits” as pawns in the hands of these groups does not detract from the strength of this core argument.

Monsters and Terrorism in the Perspective of This Book This book is the first organic attempt at analyzing the functions and implications of the use of monster imagery in terrorism. Even if the intent is not to document all the monster types that have been utilized to describe “terrorists” through time and space, the book covers several types of “terrorist” actors (from state terrorism to ethnonationalist groups to left-​ and right-​wing militants to jihadist movements) and cultural traditions (from the Western imaginary to Islam to “popular religions” in the Indian

Introduction  21 subcontinent). The main sections of the book (especially Part 1) take into account the sequencing of what Rapoport (2004) describes as the different “waves” of terrorism since the nineteenth century. Because a substantial degree of overlap exists between these waves, however, some of the cross-​ cutting trends that will be analyzed—​such as the trajectory of “revolutionary terrorism” with its performative component but also the “othering” of enemy targets at the hands of the “terrorists” themselves—​are better exemplified by some “waves” or specific ideological trends rather than others. Especially when certain monster types appear repeatedly as metaphors for political violence, such as the many-​headed hydra or (more recently) Frankenstein’s monster, this book follows their development across several historical phases and, when they do straddle across cultural lines, in different cultural traditions. In so doing, this book is also an attempt to straddle several disciplinary boundaries and triangulate the existing research on monstrosity and terrorism with the sociological and anthropological literature on monstrosity and the debates on the logic of “terrorizing.” Even though much has been said and written about individual themes related to the cultural resilience of monster imagery and the processes of political framing, especially in the aftermath of September 11, I argue that only a holistic understanding of the functions of monster metaphors in terrorism across time can help us explain the recurrence of specific monster types, and the reasons why even fewer common monster metaphors are employed at the expense of others for framing a specific enemy, or for characterizing performatively the actions of the “terrorists” themselves. I do not have the ambition to provide a single explanation for all uses of monster metaphors, but I  identify and discuss several interesting regularities—​including the recurrence of monsters that evoke the fear of the unmanageable enemy in framing “terrorist” groups, or of animal–​human hybrids in how terrorists themselves see their targets. Also, this book traces for the first time the longer-​ term historical trajectory of revolutionary terrorism and its performative impersonation of the monster prototype, as well as the connections between imagery utilized in framing and the performative ritual reenactment of this framing in counterterrorism, as in the case of the characterizations of Arabs and Palestinians as the latest incarnation of Amalek, the arch-​enemy of the Jewish people. Both framing and performative action can be located at the interface between the rational and the irrational. This book suggests that, even in their resort to imagery that evokes subliminal and primordial fears, and even if

22 Introduction they are typically filtered by cultural and racial stereotypes, these processes remain essentially rational, selective, and functional to furthering specific worldviews or political agendas. In most circumstances, when a specific monster type is evoked in relation to political violence, either in framing or as the imagery that is being impersonated performatively, the choice of a specific monster and the way in which it is characterized are anything but casual and irrational, even if cultural traditions provide the semantic and symbolic pool from which specific imagery is hand-​picked. This book will provide several examples of these processes, in which, for instance, the explanations that the framer itself supplies for the choice of a specific image, the communalities between two or more metaphors used in the same context, or the choice to deviate from existing stereotypes in conjunction with the introduction of new political agendas leave little doubt about the rationales behind the use of specific imagery in specific circumstances. As a result, this material supports the broader view that, even when “terrorist” groups resort to mythical or cosmic imagery and appear to behave irrationally and even if they inevitably operate within the cultural frameworks to which they belong, both they and their framers can be treated as essentially rational actors. This book also advances a related argument—​that the rational choice of certain monster metaphors to present oneself or the “other” as “terrorist” eventually helps constitute terrorism as we know it. That is, it suggests that terrorism and “terrorists” do not exist as political phenomena independently of the metaphorical imagery (and the monsters) through which they are (re)presented. Exploring “how representative practices themselves have come to constitute and shape political events” (Bleiker 2009, 4)  is one of the main analytical concerns of what Bleiker has described as the “aesthetic turn” in the study of international politics. Aesthetic approaches, as defined by Bleiker, contest the tendency of mainstream epistemologies of international security—​what he brands as “mimetic” approaches—​to disregard the “relationship between the represented and its representation” and to assume that a “political reality” exists “in an a priori way” (21). While I do believe that reaching a broad agreement on the constituent features of terrorism as a form of political violence is indeed possible, this book concurs with Bleiker in arguing that—​in terrorism as in international relations at large—​the relation between “represented and representation” is “the very location of politics” (21). Empirically, even if the material considered is not constrained by temporal, spatial, or ideological boundaries and includes examples from as

Introduction  23 far back as revolutionary France, particular attention is paid in this book to global jihadism and its most recent expression, the group that identifies itself as the “Islamic State” with its ramifications. The Islamic State has become the focus of a burgeoning body of literature (including Byman 2015; Warrick 2015; Cockburn 2015; Moubayed 2015; Griffin 2016; and Mabon and Royle 2017). However, with rare exceptions—​most notably the work of Henry Giroux (2014), Ömür Harmanşah (2015), and Simone Molin Friis (2015)—​few scholars have tried so far to reflect on the logic behind its modus operandi, and much of what has been written since its creation reflects emotional responses to individual events, often with little or no attention to how it positions itself within some broader historical trajectories, both in framing its enemies and in performatively constructing its monstrous persona. One of the main aims of this book is to help fill this gap. This book is structured in three main parts that reflect the various logical steps of these arguments and some of their key ramifications. Part 1 discusses the processes through which “terrorists” can be framed—​ or seen—​as monsters. It first explores the nature of framing in terrorism, its role in the processes of “othering,” and in portraying the “terrorist” actor as a socially abject being. Monstrosity can contribute to these processes in various ways, also depending on the exact monster type that is utilized in a specific text. At the very least, monsters as inhuman creatures can help portray an individual as a sub-​human—​or even non-​human—​being. However, monster types that build on other components of the broader monster prototype, especially uncontrollable behavior, appear to be particularly prominent in the history of terrorism and are, for instance, the most common monster metaphors through which jihadist “terrorists” have been framed since September 11. This specific framing serves at least two sets of goals—​it can be used to shift blame and highlight the hypocrisy of actors who belatedly decide to fight certain groups after having helped or financed them, or it can help politicians and journalists promote specific solutions to terrorism and gain acceptance for harsher counterterrorist measures. Part 2 looks instead into those instances in which “terrorists” themselves act as monsters, or at least strive to be perceived as such. The emphasis here is on the theatrical nature of terrorism itself and on the occasions in which “terrorists” take advantage of the framework of monstrosity for maximizing their power to scare their audience. The chapters in this section consider cases in which “terrorists” impersonate some of the key features of the

24 Introduction monster prototype or, occasionally, present themselves as outright monsters. These practices will be associated with the modus operandi of so-​called revolutionary terrorism, which in turn implies that a literal red line connects the tactical choices of different waves of terrorism—​from anarchism to left-​wing terrorism, and then on to Palestinian movements and global jihadism. Part  3 builds on the arguments presented in previous sections but considers their implications from different angles. Chapter  6 applies the approach adopted in Part 1 to explore the role of monsters in framing the “other” to the demonization of their enemy targets by the “terrorist” or rebel groups themselves, which may happen with the purpose of promoting—​or defending—​their own versions of rule-​breaking behavior, including the resort itself to terrorist acts. This chapter shares some case studies with previous sections, including left-​wing and jihadist terrorist organizations, but it also focuses on movements or historic phases that provide particularly interesting examples of these metaphorical enmification processes, such as state terror during World War II or right-​wing white supremacism. The main focus of ­chapter 7 is instead on counterterrorism. Paying specific attention to the counterterrorist policies of Israel and the United States since 2001, this chapter returns to the framing processes presented in c­ hapter 3 to consider the extent to which the use of monstrous imagery in framing “terrorist” groups also directly inspired the resort to certain counterterrorist tactics or strategies. In discussing three main sets of examples—​the actualization of the “cosmic war” scenario against the Palestinians-​Amalek, the recurrence of brutal detention practices during the War on Terror, and the reliance on unmanned surveillance systems and weapon platforms—​this chapter substantiates the suggestion that framing and counterterrorist policies are regularly co-​determined and part of the same rational, policy-​driven process and considers the extent to which the prototype of monstrosity can provide the framework for constructing performatively counterterrorism as a form of monstrous response to what has been framed as the monstrous brutality of “terrorists.”

PART 1

T E R ROR IST S SE E N AS MON ST E R S

2 The Abominables To the Roots of “Terrorist” Monsters

Monsters, if properly represented, could serve useful purposes. (Botting 1995, 6)

“Terrorists” are seldom talked about as humans. Media, public authorities, and other influential actors regularly present them through different types of figurative imagery with strongly negative connotations. Like all social processes, terrorism is a language-​mediated phenomenon. However, more than other political events and processes, the very existence of terrorism rests on how people perceive and talk about “terrorists” and specific violent acts that become sources of terror. Monsters are a key component of these dynamics. Even if they do not really exist, monsters are one of the most common ways in which specific fears are expressed and articulated. They can provide the figurative means through which certain events are categorized and explained, and therefore set the bases for elaborating socially acceptable solutions. And yet, although there are numerous monsters, only a few—​probably three or four monster types altogether—​have been consistently associated with political violence during the past centuries in the West. Exploring these processes can help us understand exactly how (and why) socially influential actors manipulate our perception of political violence and thus help us unpack the nature of terrorism as a social phenomenon.

The Teratology of the Different Teratology—​the study of physical abnormalities and natural marvels, from the Greek word for monster, teras—​has fascinated the human mind since Terrorists as Monsters. Marco Pinfari Oxford University Press (2019) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190927875.001.0001

28 Terrorists seen as monsters antiquity. Monsters first appeared in literature and popular imagery in connection with unexplained natural phenomena or rumors from travelers and hoaxers about encounters with strange people around the world. From the cyclopes in Homer’s Odyssey to the dog-​headed men mentioned first by Herodotus and later by Pliny the Elder, these deformed or hybrid creatures were arguably a direct expression of the primordial fears of the ancients when dealing with unknown and unexplored lands. Beasts and monstrous creatures have a longstanding connection (dating back at least to early Christian writers) with racial diversity, which was reinforced by some para-​historical explanations for their origin. Within the biblical tradition, for instance, several teratological legends associate the appearance of monsters with the collapse of the Tower of Babel and connect casually the two events; the fall of the Tower, in providing the mythical explanation for the “origin of human discursive activity,” also marked the “beginning of diversity and division in human society” (Williams 1996, 61). Within Christianity, monsters are also regularly associated with devious social behavior, sin, and depravity. The Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible, resorts to a variety of monster types—​from the dragon that symbolizes Satan to the two “beasts” that it unleashes—​in its allegorical representation of the cosmic battle between Christ and evil. Monstrous images as representations of Satan and evil would populate the visual imagery of Medieval Christendom, peeking from the pages of illuminated manuscripts, crowding paintings of the Last Judgment, or appearing as grotesque architectural features in column capitals and gutters. Since ancient Greece, the texts that set the bases for modern geography and natural sciences have regularly blended the real and the imaginary. Stories of so-​called monstrous races were retold by Greek and Latin authors, including Pliny the Elder, and illuminators gradually assigned to them distinctive iconographic traits. Manuscripts such as the twelfth-​century Arnstein Bible and the thirteenth-​century Hereford Mappa Mundi depicted all sorts of fantastic, monstrous, and unnatural creatures. These included headless men with faces drawn on their chests, men who use their single giant leg and foot to take shade from the sun, or those who are wrapped in their own oversized ears. According to Alexa Wright (2013, 9–​10), these mythical races: could not be considered fully human because of their remote existence, far from “civilized” human society. Incorporating human/​animal hybrids, exaggerated, misplaced or missing body parts and performing curiously

The Abominables: To the roots of “terrorist” monsters  29 inhuman practices, their mixed-​up bodies manifest confusion about what might constitute the boundaries of human society and the limits of acceptable human being.

In the Middle Ages, however, an interesting evolution in the use of monsters happened. In the Hereford Map, in line with the beliefs of the ancient world, most of these creatures were literally “located at the ends of the earth” (Van Duzer 2013, 390)—​in a tiny strip of land positioned beyond the known borders of Africa. Sometimes the illuminators did not even take the effort of illustrating these creatures; as the edges of their maps had become the “familiar area of marginalized peoples,” some of them simply bore the rubric “monstruosi homini” (“monstrous people”) and let the reader’s imagination fill in the gap (Friedman 1994, 85). These maps also operated exclusively within the biblical and Christian imaginary; the Arabian Peninsula was presented simply as “Arabia Deserta” and “all traces of the Islamic world [were] lacking” (92). However, especially since the time of the Crusades, images of half-​human, half-​animal creatures were increasingly used to depict the Eastern neighbors of Christianity (Arjana 2015, 38–​41). That is, although ancient monsters were primarily a representation of the distant “other” that lived in lands yet to be explored, late medieval monsters gradually came to represent—​at least in some significant examples—​the near “other,” who dwelled in more well-​known lands, from which Christian Europe felt threatened. The range of monsters evoked in this context spanned the entire breadth of the monster prototype. Arabs, Saracens, and Tartars (but also Jews, Sasanians, and Ethiopians) were viewed as “little better than animals” (Morey and Yaqin 2011, 9) if not as outright feral beings, often with dog-​ like features. In the Song of Roland, some Saracens that “bark like dogs” are mentioned, and Muslim soldiers were at times described as “hounds” that “bared their teeth and barked” (Strickland 2003, 59–​60). Goths, Jews, and Muslims were also believed to descend from the biblical monsters Gog and Magog—​one of the many archetypal images of unmanageable monsters that “when unleashed, would bring an end to the world” (Arjana 2015, 40)—​ while depictions of Tartar and Saracen giants that were “hard to kill” were widespread in Medieval romances (47). Finally, unthinkable or unnatural practices, especially cannibalism, were routinely associated with Saracen troops at the time of the Crusades—​even if episodes of anthropophagy are actually attested on both sides of the conflict.

30 Terrorists seen as monsters

The Hydra, Medusa, and Terror in Revolutionary France If monsters have a long history as metaphors of racial diversity, social ills, and religious sins, their use as metaphors for certain regime types and political behavior gained popularity in more recent times, possibly only from the late Renaissance. As we shall see, monster metaphors had occasionally been employed with these connotations since antiquity. However, their diffusion was linked primarily with the development of anthropomorphic allegories to describe the sovereign state as a “body politic.” This image was originally designed to differentiate the mortal, physical body of the king (or “body natural”) from sovereign royal power and was used increasingly often since the sixteenth century by European scholars as a metonymy for the sovereign state. In this context, monster metaphors were employed primarily with two purposes. One common use was to represent aberrations or distortions of the true purposes of this “body” at the hands of tyrants. This use appears already in Cicero (Lacqueur 1978) who in his treatise De officiis justified tyrannicide by arguing that: as certain members are amputated, if they show signs themselves of being bloodless and virtually lifeless and thus jeopardize the health of the other parts of the body, so those fierce and savage monsters in human form should be cut off from what may be called the common body of humanity. (Cicero 1913, §3.32)

After a long hiatus, this imagery was resurrected in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In one of the final scenes of Macbeth (V, viii, 25–​27), Macduff turned against the tragedy’s namesake—​who incidentally was also physically deformed and therefore, in a way, monstrous—​with the threat to have “thee, as our rarer monsters are,/​Painted upon a pole, and underwrit,/​ ‘Here may you see the tyrant.’ ” The front page of a 1762 book by Nicolas Antoine Boulanger and Paul Henri Thiry d’Holbach titled Research on the Origin of Oriental Despotism and Superstitions (Recherches sur l’origine du despotisme orientale et des superstitions) featured a verse from Virgil’s Aeneid that described the anthropophagous blind cyclops Polyphemus (monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens—​“a horrible, deformed and gigantic monster”) that was treated as a symbol of tyrannical rule (Verde 2013, 49).

The Abominables: To the roots of “terrorist” monsters  31 In the same period, however, political metaphors of monstrous creatures also took different forms. As political theorists reflected on the nature of sovereignty and explicitly connected it not with the king as an individual person but rather with the state, the “body politic” came to be associated with political communities. When these acted as the disciplined subjects of effective rulers, the “body politic” of the state could be depicted as a single giant whose body is an ordered assemblage of innumerable individuals, as in the well-​ known representation of Hobbes’s Leviathan. When, however, these subjects revolted and turned into what elites saw as unruly and uncontrollable mobs, the metaphor of choice was that of the Lernaean Hydra—​the mythological snake or dragon with multiple heads that Hercules defeated (not without much trouble) in the second of his Twelve Labors. This use of the hydra as a metaphor for “th’ idiot multitude” made of “hinds and peasants, rude and merciless” (Hill 1991, 185) is already attested in Plato’s Republic and became increasingly popular in early seventeenth-​century Britain, featuring for instance in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus and Julius Caesar (B. Parker 2004, 61–​ 67). The English elite were particularly afraid of “letting loose” (Hill 1991, 196) these crowds and to bring about the “monster of a democracy” (203), and yet did not succeed in preventing the country from plunging into chaos and civil war. Another snake-​headed monster—​the gorgon Medusa that, according to another Greek mythological saga, was defeated by the demigod Perseus—​ appeared as a metaphor for riots and revolutions already in Renaissance Italy. The statue of Perseus and Medusa commissioned by Florence ruler Cosimo de’ Medici to Benvenuto Cellini in 1545, and which still occupies a prominent position in the Loggia dei Lanzi among other symbols of seigniorial power, was probably intended as an allegory of Cosimo’s defeat of the revolt led by Pietro Strozzi. The decapitation of a snake-​headed figure also carried with it a strong sexual symbolism as a metaphor of castration (Bowers 1990, 220) that reinforced the political message conveyed by the statue. The same symbolism may also be associated with the severing of other monstrous snake heads—​for instance, those of the hydra. At least since the sixteenth century, the many-​headed monster had also occasionally symbolized resilient tyrannical rule, especially when it enjoyed the support of different public figures which could be represented as its heads. Its monstrous appearance still hinted at the presence of figurative deformities in the “body politic” of a state, but its association with bad or evil rule was probably helped by the iconographic parallels between the Lernaean Hydra

32 Terrorists seen as monsters and the Beast of the Revelation. A 1572 print that appeared in a satirical pamphlet printed in the Netherlands, the Duke of Alba—​a Spanish nobleman sent by Emperor Philip II to suppress the Dutch rebellion, which nevertheless continued in different forms until the Peace of Westphalia in 1648—​was represented as a cannibal giant feasting on children, flanked by a many-​ headed monster that bore the heads of the personalities that supported him, including that of the all-​powerful Cardinal Granvelle (Meganck 2015, 161). Two centuries later, it was this connotation of the many-​headed monster that the French Revolution appropriated, at least in its first years. A print that was issued in the very first phases of the revolution represents the French people fighting against an “aristocratic hydra,” whose multiple heads are equally split between the two estates that topped the ancien régime (the nobles and the clergy). The monster represented the revolutionary struggle against the resilient and diverse remnants of the old order; in this case, the reference to the hydra as opposed to the Beast of the Revelation was made clear by the severing of its heads at the hands of revolutionary soldiers. With its symbolic association with the fight against the resilient and multifaceted tyrannical rule of the ancien régime, the hydra was referenced extensively by the new republican leadership at least until the beginning of the Reign of Terror. Hercules smiting the hydra was the chosen subject for the dry stamp used to validate the assignats for fifty livres issued on 14 December 1792 (Pressly 1999, 62–​63). Hercules’ club and the dead hydra also appear in Jean-​François Janinet’s print of the allegory of Liberty, and a colossal statuary group named The French People Crushing the Hydra of Federalism was commissioned for the Festival of Unity and Indivisibility in August 1793 (62–​63). On the other side of the Channel, the French Revolution was seen—​and framed—​differently. In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Edmund Burke stops short of describing the revolutionaries themselves as monsters, but repeatedly uses this term with reference to the “constitution” and “public measures” that they implemented (E. Burke [1790] 2003, 57; 166). Yet, as Fred Botting (1995, 12) noted, to English “radicals advancing the cause of reason, humanity and democracy Burke’s position appeared as the gothic antithesis to enlightened values, reinforcing social and political injustice and perpetuating inhuman practices.” To them, the real enemies were still the representatives of the old regime, especially the clergy—​described by Mary Wollstonecraft in her response to Burke, A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790), as “monsters” who were revered only “on account of their antiquity”

The Abominables: To the roots of “terrorist” monsters  33 (Wollstonecraft [1790] 1999, 49). In her pamphlet titled An Historical and Moral View of the Origin and Progress of the French Revolution, Wollstonecraft elaborated on her view of the habits and customs of European high classes in particularly eloquent and vivid terms: The natural feelings of man seldom become so contaminated and debased as not sometimes to let escape a gleam of generous fire, an ethereal spark of the soul [. . .]. But, by the habitual slothfulness of rusty intellects, or the depravity of the heart, lulled into hardness on the lascivious couch of pleasure, those heavenly beams are obscured, and man appears either an hideous monster, a devouring beast; or a spiritless reptile, without dignity or humanity. (Wollstonecraft [1794] 1999, 367)

On the same note, another even more influential English radical, William Godwin, in the second tome of his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice described the feudal system as “a ferocious monster devouring wherever it came all that the friend of humanity regards with attachment and love” (Godwin [1793] 1999, 337). In the meanwhile, the course of the revolution in France was taking some dramatic turns. In January 1793, shortly before the publication of Godwin’s book, King Louis XVI was guillotined in the Place de la Révolution. At the block, his head was held up high by one of the assistants of the executioner, like a modern Perseus presenting the head of the Medusa-​king to the public (Verde 2013, 48). The story of Perseus and Andromeda was among the preferred myths of Louis XIV, who had statues inspired by it erected at Versailles—​while the revolutionary illustrations of Louis XVI’s execution cited (at times literally) the iconography of Cellini’s statue in Florence (48). The revolutionaries had appropriated another “conservative” monster; the gorgon queen had now become the ruthless tyrant who petrifies his subjects with its sight. Later in the same year, the revolution entered a new phase in which the manipulation of language and symbolic imagery took center stage. A  Committee for Public Safety was created with the stated purpose of protecting the revolution from internal and external threats. In July, prominent Jacobins, including Maximilien de Robespierre, joined the Committee, which in September 1793 issued two key directives aimed at suppressing internal dissent and prosecuting those who were perceived as enemies of the revolution. In the process, Robespierre appropriated a concept that is

34 Terrorists seen as monsters normally given negative connotations—​that of “terror”—​to assign it a positive, almost cathartic valence (Edelstein 2015, 456). A proclamation read on 5 September announced that: [i]‌t is time that equality bore its scythe above all heads. It is time to horrify all the conspirators. So legislators, place Terror on the order of the day! Let us be in revolution, because everywhere counter-​revolution is being woven by our enemies. The blade of the law should hover over all the guilty. (Andress 2006, 178–​179)

This semantic shift did not happen in a vacuum. Ronald Schechter showed that, in the eighteenth century, Enlightenment thinkers had “helped to make terror attractive to political actors” by giving this concept, if not outright positive connotations, at least a “highly ambivalent” aura that made it amenable to different interpretations (Schechter 2012, 34). As previously mentioned, the notion that terror had “aesthetic value” (49) was first introduced in the cultural discourse of eighteenth-​century Europe by Edmund Burke’s work on the sublime (Burke [1757] 2008; Neocleous 2004). Quite ironically, the same author who depicted democratic rule as monstrous in 1790 was probably key to the cultural legitimation of the concept of terror through his earlier book published in 1757. In the following decades, the highly influential Baron d’Holbach still maintained that la terreur—​that, in French, is the third and most extreme level of fear after peur and crainte—​was “the surest mean of deceiving and subjugating men” at the hands of both tyrants and men of religion (38). Still, both his work and that of other scholars who reflected on the death penalty, like Voltaire and Cesare Beccaria, recognized that fear of punishment is crucial to deter crime, and that “[t]‌he more people are unruly, the more the public force has to contain them through terror” (52). Robespierre took one step further from these reflections by linking more explicitly terror and virtue. In an oft-​quoted speech delivered on 5 February 1794, he argued that: [i]‌f virtue be the spring of a popular government in times of peace, the spring of that government during a revolution is virtue combined with terror:  virtue, without which terror is destructive; terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue; it is less a distinct principle than a natural

The Abominables: To the roots of “terrorist” monsters  35 consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing wants of the country. (Robespierre 1794)

Aware that during the Enlightenment terror was predominantly associated with despotism, in another less known part of the same speech Robespierre also tried to carve out a specific place for what he saw as a legitimate use of terror within his revolutionary government: It has been said that terror was the mainspring of despotic government. Does your government, then, resemble despotism? Yes, as the sword which glitters in the hands of liberty’s heroes resembles the one with which tyranny’s lackeys are armed. Let the despot govern his brutalized subjects by terror; he is right to do this, as a despot. Subdue liberty’s enemies by terror, and you will be right, as founders of the Republic. The government of the revolution is the despotism of liberty against tyranny. Is force made only to protect crime? And is it not to strike the heads of the proud that lightning is destined? (Robespierre 1794)

When Robespierre’s rule came to an end on 27 July 1794 with the so-​called Thermidorian Reaction (named after the month of the revolutionary calendar during which this coup d’état took place), his use of the concept of terror became fair game for the Thermidorians and their supporters. In 1795, we see the first documented appearance of the term terroriste with a derogatory connotation to describe those who took part in Robespierre’s Reign of Terror, while in the same year the Thermidorians defined their own regime as the age of the anti-​terrorisme (Brunot 1937, 871). In parallel, monster metaphors were also turned against Robespierre’s rule. In a public speech in late 1794, playwright Jean-​François de La Harpe described Robespierre and his followers as “cannibals” and “harpies,” and in 1795 Robespierre himself found his place in the pamphlets that presented allegorical bestiaries of the revolution as a wildcat or chat-​tigre (Martin 2016, 326–​327). In what may be the first documented instance of visual framing of terrorism, a cartoon titled The Abominables (Les abominables) dating to the Thermidorian period or the years of the Directory (1795–​1799) presented in the foreground a Jacobin and a Medusa-​headed, emaciated savage named Discord that brandished a torch and a dagger, “sowing crime and terror as they go” (Figure 2.1). The background shows what appears to be a mob, a burned house, corpses, and a skull and crossbones directly at the feet of the

36 Terrorists seen as monsters

Figure 2.1  Les Abominables (1794–​1799): Robespierre’s terreur seen as a Medusa-​headed monster at the time of the Thermidorian reaction. Credits: Bibliothèque nationale de France

Medusa. The caption summarized the mindset that was prevalent among the supporters of the Reaction: “O vicious rogues, thank God your Reign is over!” The imagery of Medusa had now come back to represent the unruly popular mob, while its association with the idea of discord was possibly a conflation between the biblical snake that broke the harmony of the Garden of Eden and the snake hair of Medusa, which in the Greek myth were primarily functional to emphasizing Medusa’s terrifying, semi-​feral nature. Medusa-​headed characters also appeared in a larger satirical print that presented a much more complex allegory of the Terror, published in 1797 under the title The mirror of the past to save the future: A talking picture of the cadaver-​faminocratic government of [17]93 under the tigro-​cracy of Robespierre and company (Blum 1916, 191–​192). Among numerous demons

The Abominables: To the roots of “terrorist” monsters  37 and allegories of Death, this picture includes two Medusa-​like figures, one of which (described as a “fury”) breaks through the floor of the hall to unleash snakes. Like Medusa, the hydra also was clawed back by the reaction—​at least in England. A 1794 painting by Johan Zoffany, a neoclassical artist of German origin but by then residing stably in London, and known mostly for his gentle portraits of eighteenth-​century British nobility, provided one of the most vivid illustrations of the popular mobs during the revolution for the use of the British public (Figure 2.2). His portrayal of The Plundering of the King’s Cellar, an episode of the revolution that took place on 10 August 1792 but which the prints of this work mistakenly dated one year later (during the Reign of Terror), strikes the onlooker as a “modern bacchanal” of violence and disorderly behavior that included drunkenness, sexual innuendo, and possibly racial stereotypes (Pressly 1999, 48). As one of the few non-​human features of the paintings, a statuary group representing an “imposing and dignified” Hercules smiting the Hydra towers above the impromptu execution of a Swiss guard that is more akin to lynching (64). The accounts of that day present “the mob as an unstoppable monster” and describe the attackers as being “in number like the sand on the sea shore, and animated with the fury of daemons” (63). In Zoffany’s painting, the parallel between Hercules’ smiting of the Hydra and the violence of the mob not only reawakened the connection between the many-​headed snake and rioting—​a riot that was erroneously, but perhaps not involuntarily, connected to the Reign of Terror—​ but also drew attention to the fact that Hercules, an old royal emblem and therefore a metaphor of the old order, smote its enemies in a much more “dignified” way than the revolutionary mob. The political use of the hydra metaphor had thus come full circle. Four main lessons can be drawn this period. First, it is clear that at the origin of the concept of “terrorism” in its contemporary connotation lies a process of linguistic contestation and intentional, creative use of language and political imagery to frame oneself and the political adversary. The Reign of Terror, which is considered as the first instance of modern terrorism (Hoffman 2006, 3), was certainly based on the actual use of terror to repress any anti-​revolutionary sentiment or behavior by creating an atmosphere of suspicion and fear in the population that was reinforced by tens of thousands of public executions of suspected “enemies of the revolution.” However, Robespierre, by willingly erecting terror as “the order of the day” or by admitting that the rule of terror resembled despotism, was not

Figure 2.2  Johan Zoffany’s The Plundering of the King’s Cellar (1794) in a coeval print: Hercules smiting the hydra, metaphor of the revolutionary “mob as an unstoppable monster.”

The Abominables: To the roots of “terrorist” monsters  39 shying away from controversy—​in fact, the rhetorical power of metaphors, oxymorons, and especially paradoxes was key to his articulation of the rationale of “terroristic” rule. This rhetorical arsenal was turned against him by the Thermidorians, who immediately noticed the political benefits that could be reaped by turning the concept of “terror” against those who had attempted to utilize it with a positive connotation that was somewhat counterintuitive. However, again, the power of such use rested in the fact that Robespierre had presented himself as a “terrorist” in the first place. Interlocking discourses based on mutual citations and intertextual relations (Hodges 2008), interacting with the political agendas of the actors involved, therefore played a key role in terrorism since its origin. A second interesting fact that emerges from this material is that monsters were part of these processes from their outset, not least because they had already entered the language of politics as metaphors for deformed and diseased forms of rule. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this imagery was used in political pamphlets and prints to terrify readers by presenting an enemy that was out of control—​normally popular mobs and riots. However, it should also be noted that monster metaphors were employed with a substantial degree of creativity, at least on three different levels. First, the same monster could be used to frame different phenomena—​for instance, the hydra was alternatively a metaphor for unruly mobs or of the resistance mounted by the aristocracy and the clergy against the revolution. Second, different aspects of the same monster or myth were emphasized in different circumstances; the Medusa could appear, for instance, as a defeated enemy or as a living monster unleashing snakes against its enemies. Third, new or hybrid monsters could be created by tweaking some features of well-​established monster types with the aim of generating a more nuanced image to fit the events that were being framed. The medusa-​headed figure used to frame the Reign of Terror in satirical prints, for example, was not the healthy young woman that we find, for instance, in the works of Marqueste and Thirion, but rather an old crone with dry breasts and wrinkled skin—​features that, when used on their own, often symbolize famine rather than discord and terror. This reveals two important aspects about the way in which monster images were employed in framing processes. On the one hand, the monster types that appear in political cartoons, political treatises, or newspaper articles can be understood as flexible metaphorical signifiers. They can be used to frame or present very different topics or empirical referents; a specific

40 Terrorists seen as monsters monster may be chosen in a specific circumstance, and its exact shape can be adapted to the features of the phenomenon under consideration that the framer wants to emphasize. Certain clear common themes across the events that are described as monstrous reveal how these images were not just casual representations of frightful creatures that elicited a generic sense of fear and repulsion, but rather part of a conscious attempt to scare the public by hitting on some specific types of fears—​for instance, the fear of facing an invincible, unmanageable, and resilient enemy that always finds new ways to re-​create itself and its threat, such as the hydra that continuously issues new heads to replace those that have been severed. These fears do not create a tight iconographical straightjacket across time and space, but they do explain why some mythological creatures, such as the hydra, may be used to describe phenomena that are empirically different and yet share the fact of being, in the eyes of their enemies, unmanageable and difficult to defeat once and for all. A fourth and final theme that emerges from this material is that monster types are culture-​specific, not just across space but also across time. The monsters represented in Europe between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries are the monsters of Greek and Latin mythology (hydras, cyclopes, gorgons, and harpies) with also few references to biblical creatures such as the Beast of the Revelation, the Leviathan, or the snake of the Garden of Eden. Unsurprisingly, the monstrous imagery used in a specific period has to be drawn from the imaginary that is shared by a specific audience. The education of middle and high classes of most European countries since the late Renaissance rested on classical studies, and monsters abound in classical Greek and Latin literature. Later, the Europe of the Restoration would have its own monsters, mostly the product of the creative imaginary of gothic writers. However, gothic monsters should probably be seen not as a completely new generation of scary creatures but rather as one specific articulation of some deep-​seated fears that were expressed by the classical monsters of the revolutionary period.

Framing and Monsters The use of rhetorical devices, especially metaphors, to present or construct an event is normally related to what is called “framing.” This term is used very often in both political and media studies, to the point that the literature discussing the nature and implications of framing processes is “not always

The Abominables: To the roots of “terrorist” monsters  41 a coherent one” (Vultee 2011, 79) and framing itself has been described as a “fractured paradigm” (Entman 1993) with “no key founding text that serves as a single reference point” (Watson 2012, 282). In my analysis, I treat framing as a communication strategy that provides concepts and imagery through which specific events are interpreted, categorized, and evaluated (see also Entman 1993, 52; Norris et al. 2003, 11). Some components of this definition deserve specific attention. First, even if some literature in terrorism studies talks explicitly about media framing (Norris et al. 2003), I believe that drawing a line between media and other types of public and formal communication (especially statements and speeches by public officials) is practically and conceptually problematic—​so it is preferable to refer to the concept simply as “communication strategies.” It is useful to keep in mind, however, that in order to be politically relevant, framing has to be a public or official process and to come from an authoritative source—​for example, a person who has a social position and a degree of authoritativeness and whose opinion can influence that of others. Some authors (for example, Watson 2012, 286) have noted that the role of the communicator and of its status and power in shaping framing processes has not been given the attention that it deserves in the literature on framing, while it occupies a central position, for instance, in the debates about securitization—​ what may be seen as a specific type of framing (Vultee 2010, 33) aimed at constructing and presenting a phenomenon as a security issue (Wæver 1995; Buzan et al. 1998). In this literature, effective framers or securitizers are those able to combine “linguistic competence” (Balzacq 2005, 191) with social or “positional” power (Stritzel 2007, 370) sufficient to influence their audience. Most key political personalities and news outlets should normally be included in this group, while actors who operate at the fringes of mainstream media and politics might wield such power in relation to smaller audiences that are loyal to them. Defining framing as a “strategy” also raises the question of whether it should be seen as necessarily intentional or not. The use of specific interpretative categories or “organizing idea[s]‌” (Gamson and Modigliani 1989, 3) in media and political communication—​not differently, in a sense, from storytelling—​is clearly affected by the broader cultural and social contexts within which people live and communication happens. In this sense, framing has been described correctly both as an independent and as a dependent variable (Vultee 2011, 78). However, in my view, framing as a speech act always has a voluntary and “active” component (Benford and Snow 2000, 614); as a

42 Terrorists seen as monsters “communicative strategy,” framing essentially “steers the audience towards embracing one point of view over another” (Matusitz 2013, 111). Certain types of framing, such as the decision to select a specific part of an article or speech as its headline, are undoubtedly based on conscious and intentional strategies. In the context of media or political communication, framers also enjoy a good degree of expressive freedom; as we saw at the time of the French Revolution, essentially the same metaphorical image could be used to present very different—​even opposite—​empirical referents. In analyzing the message that is conveyed in a communication process, a line can be drawn between the “what” (the signified) and the “how” (the signifier). Framing, by its very nature, tries to blur the line between these two components by conjuring specific imagery to alter public perceptions of a phenomenon. Still, it is often quite easy to recognize and conceptually separate the different components of this communication process. The “signified” or “what” component in itself includes what could be described as a topic (what one is talking about) and an actual content (what one is saying about the topic). The signifier is the form—​how the signified is conveyed. Form is primarily about whether the communication is visual or written (which, in turn, has an impact on the choice of the medium through which the message is broadcast to the audience), but it also includes whether or not a message is conveyed through rhetorical devices such as similes, metaphors, metonymies, oxymorons, paradoxes, and others. These devices, especially metaphors, are a typical component of framing, whose broad goal is to present an event or process as something else. In itself, evoking fantastic and unnatural creatures as figurative signifiers should not be taken as an indication that the content of communication is irrational. Parents conjure all types of imaginary creatures to achieve the very practical and rational goal of keeping their children away from danger; similarly, whatever its form, political framing has a purpose. Norris et al. 2003 argued that the media frames of terrorist events are “patterns of selection, emphasis and exclusion that furnish a coherent interpretation and evaluation of events” (4) and that an “anti-​terrorist frame allows us quickly to sort out, interpret, categorize, and evaluate” a specific conflict or terrorist act (11). The exact nature of these different purposes deserves specific attention. In my view, when it aims at providing interpretations and evaluations of events, framing tends to work primarily as an independent variable, and both the content and the goal (but not necessarily, as we shall see, the form) can be understood as essentially rational and functional. When aimed at categorizing

The Abominables: To the roots of “terrorist” monsters  43 an event, however, framing is more akin to the process of stereotyping, heavily interacting with cognitive biases and emotions. I believe that certain topics lend themselves to be the object of specific types of framing; political processes, for instance, tend to be framed with the main purpose of affecting their interpretation and promoting specific solutions or evaluations, while racial or ethnic framing is primarily about categorizing an “other” that is often seen as a more personalized adversary. When it comes to the use of monsters in framing processes, my main argument is two-​fold. First, if form affects the way in which a content is perceived by an audience, I believe that not any form affects it in the same way. More specifically, using monster metaphors is not just any metaphorical way of communicating or describing a specific empirical referent, and it is not just any form of media spin. Even if we focus exclusively on negative framing and, therefore, exclude the (not rare) circumstances in which framing can be used to present terrorist acts as something good, it does make a difference if a “terrorist” is presented as a gangster rather than as a many-​headed monster. The different strength and effectiveness of different metaphors may lie in the types of symbolic imagery that each individual monster type (as specific articulations of primordial images influenced by cultural and social processes) can conjure. However, there is something about the use of monsters to refer to “terrorists” that goes beyond the mere manipulation of language. Instead, I would argue that the idea itself of “monster” is related to how humans, by referring to certain archetypal images, warn each other about specific dangers (Clasen 2017, 35) and activate specific instincts. This connection is also a literal, etymological one. Even if both Foucault and Derrida associated the Latin word monstrum with its cognate verbal form monstro (meaning “to show”), its actual root can be traced to the verb moneo, the main meaning of which is to warn or advise. Monster images are thus more than mere metaphorical signifiers; their rooting in specific archetypes allows the framer not just to reinforce the message that he wants to communicate, but also to supplement the conveyance of a specific message with an appeal to deeper human instincts. These implications of the use of monster imagery are particularly important as I believe that the vast majority of the instances in which “terrorists” are framed as monsters are intentional—​that is, like a novelist or fairy-​tale writer, the framer has chosen, voluntarily and consciously, to use an archetypal image that is known to evoke a specific primordial image, even if the exact content of the latter remains largely unconscious. Once such connection has

44 Terrorists seen as monsters been established, the archetypal image as a metaphor of choice for a specific topic can have a life of its own, become part of popular culture as a socially accepted way of referring to a specific phenomenon and act as cognitive shortcut in the minds of individuals. Either way, this use of monster images has a direct bearing not just for framing itself, but also for understanding the nature of terrorism. If, Maurice Berger (1993, 20) argued, “the central question concerning the political effectiveness of terrorism hinges on the issue of representation itself,” one may conclude that the very existence of terrorism as a politically relevant phenomenon rests not just on the fact that people are terrified by specific actions, by also on the willingness of its audience to reinforce this effect by talking about its authors as terrifying creatures. The second part of my argument suggests that monster metaphors convey contents that are—​or can be—​much more diversified than is often assumed. This is primarily because, in the first place, the archetypal images of monsters are more complex than most authors who treated this theme seem to recognize; therefore, so are the contents that monster metaphors can convey. The complexity of these images derives primarily from the fact that monsters rest on different types of primordial fears which—​as I suggested in c­ hapter 1—​ include the fear of the beastly “other” but also fear of unmanageable and unthinkable creatures. As conscious images shaped by cultural and social interactions, monsters are also inherently hybrid in the sense that each individual monster type has a variety of features. These can include secondary aspects that are not necessarily archetypal in nature but which define the iconography of a specific monster and its potential metaphorical or symbolic valence, as in the case of the multiple heads of the hydra. Some of these features may even evoke subconscious feelings beyond the mere sense of fear and terror associated with monstrosity itself; the story of Frankenstein’s monster, for instance, is at least as much about the nature of parental relations between father and son as it is about death and murder. The literature on the use of monsters as political metaphors usually argues that this imagery is used to present enemies as “non-​human” creatures (Devetak 2005, 624; Arjana 2015, 2) that, like the “monstrous races” of the pre-​modern world, exist “at the outer fringe of the outer fringe of humanity” (Rai 2004, 549). The main purpose of using them in framing would then be to present the “terrorist” as the “other”—​a dehumanized creature that is an “abject,” someone who, as argued by Julia Kristeva (1982, 2), is “radically excluded” from a social system and against whom our own identity is constituted. With reference to Asma’s terminology, monsters, in this case,

The Abominables: To the roots of “terrorist” monsters  45 are seen primarily as inhuman creatures, and the purpose of framing is their categorization as an abject “other.” In The Order of Things Michel Foucault himself places his analysis of “monsters and fossils” in the section about “classifying” the natural order (Foucault 1970, 150–​57). Othering “terrorists” has several policy implications. It categorizes them as belonging to a different natural order, enforcing an “us vs. them” Manichaean partition of society and of the international system. It identifies terrorist acts unequivocally as the products of a “deviant psyche” (Rai 2004, 547), thus also reinforcing by opposition the definition of what acceptable or normal social behavior looks like. In responding to real or imagined “terrorists,” it justifies the denial of a humane treatment to creatures that are portrayed as not human. The role of symbolic “othering” after the September 11 attacks, as it emerges from the work of authors like Rai, Arjana, and Devetak, is certainly significant and is arguably the result of the conflation of political and racial framing of specific “terrorist” actors, in which new political agendas mixed with age-​old Islamophobic discourses that have their roots in the use of monster images in relation to Muslims and Saracens since the Middle Ages. As discussed at length in ­chapter 6, presenting an enemy “other” across cultural lines as monstrous is a widespread practice in politics and warfare. However, “othering” is just one function that monster images can play in relation to political phenomena like terrorism. If the most apparent feature of monsters is their weird, non-​human appearance, this is not necessarily the main—​and never the only—​reason why they scare us. Moreover, even if all monsters are scary and (in some ways or others) beastly and inhuman creatures, only some of them are used repeatedly to frame “terrorists.” And some of the monstrous creatures that are most commonly associated with terrorism—​like Frankenstein’s monster—​are clearly not good choices as purely inhuman monsters. The recurrence of certain monster types in relation to terrorism can partially be explained with enduring symbolic associations between certain features of monsters and abstract concepts—​such as between the multiple heads of the hydra and the idea of facing a multitude of enemies that can nevertheless be associated with a single body. However, I believe that, at its core, the choice of a specific monster as a metaphorical signifier rests on the extent to which that specific monster (and not another that may share similar beastly features) hits on a specific primordial image, and therefore a specific type of fear. The hydra, for instance, is just one of many snake-​shaped

46 Terrorists seen as monsters monsters in the Western imaginary (that includes dragons, gorgons, and many other similar creatures), but its enduring association with some types of political processes is primarily because it was a particularly resilient monster, its heads continuously regenerating themselves. Each of the severed heads of the mythical Hydra of Lerna actually multiplied exponentially once they were cut—​each being replaced by two or more. Even Hercules understood that he would be unable to defeat the Hydra on his own and, eventually, did so only with the help of his nephew Iolaus who cauterized the heads that had been cut off to prevent them from regenerating (Cadario 2013, 203). Therefore, especially for an audience familiar with Greek mythology, the hydra was primarily an invincible or unmanageable monster, one that even the most powerful demigod struggled to subdue. Unmanageability appears only cursively in the literature on monstrosity and terrorism, perhaps because the fear of an uncontrollable domestic or international enemy has been articulated through different archetypal images in modern and contemporary history. However, it seems to be the theme that is most enduringly associated with political violence—​one that hits at the heart of terrorism as a political phenomenon. It is also one that leads to a broader variety of interpretations and evaluations than those suggested by inhumanity alone, often as the result of the auxiliary features of the monsters that are chosen as metaphors. The multiple heads connected to a single body of the hydra, for instance, can easily be seen as a fitting metaphor for networked terrorism. Referring to the uncontrollable nature of the monster and its resiliency helps to rationalize at a symbolic level the failure of normal coercive measures and, as a result, can help public authorities manage the discontent of the targets and audience of terrorist campaigns for the recurrence of terrorist attacks. In this sense, the metaphor of the uncontrollable monster may be seen as one of the ways in which a political community responds to the attempts by “terrorists” to “alienate the authorities by portraying them as impotent in the defense of their citizens” (Neumann and Smith 2005, 577). Through this imagery, political authorities both acknowledge the threat and provide symbolic interpretative categories for understanding it, and therefore partially neutralize terrorist attempts at “spread[ing] chaos” (577). The fear of facing an uncontrollable threat also helps to justify a broader variety of policies when compared to the framing of “terrorists” as mere inhuman creatures. The response to an unmanageable monster should arguably include not just the suspension of human rights, but also the imposition of

The Abominables: To the roots of “terrorist” monsters  47 a broader set of extraordinary military, legal, and political measures that should be as bold as the threat that the community is facing.

Frankenstein’s Monster and Irish Nationalism The new uncontrollable monster types created by the gothic imaginary would add further semantic flexibility to this model. A few years after the Congress of Vienna put a formal end to the revolutionary era in France, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley published the first edition of an immensely influential book in nineteenth-​century England and Europe and christened what would become the single most popular monster metaphor for politics and terrorism. The 1818 edition of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was published anonymously when Mary Shelley was just twenty; the second edition in 1823 was the first to state her authorship; and a third, much chastised “popular” edition published in 1831 cemented its central position in the nineteenth-​century gothic tradition and popular culture. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to delve in depth into the content of this novel, or to enter the vast debate on its literary merits. Three important themes, however, are worth noting for the sake of our own analysis: the relation between the novel and the cultural and political climate of the revolutionary period; the crystallization of the metaphorical charge of the Monster, that obliterated the subtleties of Mary Shelley’s original depiction of the Creature and emphasized a core set of features that bear a direct relation with archetypal themes already seen in other monster types; and the eventual use of Frankenstein’s monster in political and racial framing in late nineteenth-​ century England, inaugurating what would become an enduring metaphorical connection in the contemporary history of political violence. First, the novel is linked to the cultural climate that surrounded the French Revolution in at least two ways. At a literal level, a fictional Frankenstein came into being almost three decades before Mary Shelley’s book as a character in François-​Félix Nogaret’s novel Le Miroir des événemens actuels, ou la belle au plus offrant, first printed in Paris in 1790 (Martin 2016, 327). Nogaret told the story of six inventors, one of whom was named Frankénsteïn, who created humanoids with the goal of impressing a young woman and, in the process, contributing to the progress of France’s war-​torn economy (Douthwaite and Richter 2009, 382). The novel only partly overlaps with the themes of Mary Shelley’s story, but the fascination with automation and humanoids as

48 Terrorists seen as monsters metaphors of the revolutionary “new man,” in addition to the obvious coincidence between the names of the two creators, show that Shelley was most likely aware of this work. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is also a product of the French Revolution in other, less obvious ways. It is well known that her novel engages with the human subconscious at a variety of levels, not least in relation to birth, sexual fantasies, and family relations. Its most famous character—​the Creature or Frankenstein’s monster—​is not, however, just another reinterpretation of the prototype of monstrosity; it is rather the product of a subtle critique of the processes of political framing of the revolutionary and post-​revolutionary period (Botting 1991, 51). This is hardly surprising considering that Mary Shelley, herself only a child when the revolution unfolded, was the daughter of the two “radicals” who had attacked Burke’s negative characterization of the revolution—​Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. Aware of the political diatribes with which her parents had engaged, Mary Shelley cited almost literally some of the metaphorical imagery of the anti-​Jacobin literature (such as grave robbing and the revival of the dead) to shape the character of Victor Frankenstein. The Monster itself was probably inspired by some of this literature, for instance, Burke’s characterization of the Jacobin Revolution as a “vast, tremendous, unformed spectre” (E. Burke 1807, 314). The way in which the Monster is presented in the novel, however, was probably designed to show the reader how “the very act of perceiving and defining a monster has become problematic” (Sterrenburg 1979, 159). Even though he is physically deformed, Frankenstein’s monster was not given unmistakably monstrous features; rather, he was consistently seen and treated as a monster, first of all, by its own creator. The narrative devices chosen to present the story—​the absence of an omniscient narrator and the reliance on three, interlocked first-​person accounts from the traveler Robert Walton, Victor Frankenstein, and the Creature—​were also designed to signal the absence of privileged points of view into these tragic events. If anything, especially in the first edition, the reader is led to sympathize with the monster, who credibly and eloquently complains with his creator of having been treated unfairly, rather than with the cynical, inconsistent, and selfish character of Victor Frankenstein. The character of the Monster, therefore, can be seen as a critique of the reactionary literature against the Revolution. At a substantial level, it cites the republican imagery of tyranny and misrule unleashing parricidal impulses within the population; at a rhetorical level, it highlights how negative framing

The Abominables: To the roots of “terrorist” monsters  49 may create monsters, where others might see creatures that are looking for understanding and to have their rights acknowledged. As Ronald Paulson put it, “the so-​called monster is a stereotype into which each of the narrators [of the novel]—​Victor, Robert Walton, and the creature itself—​is locked” (Paulson 1983, 242). So it is not without some irony that, in the remaining years of the century, the metaphorical charge associated with the use in politics and media of Frankenstein’s monster crystallized around three basic features that were taken at their face value—​that of a deformed, parricidal, and uncontrollable creature. It is also important to note that the Creature did not incarnate the individual components of the prototype of monstrosity to an equal extent. The Monster, for instance, was not a non-​human creature. In the novel he is described as oversized and deformed but, in his first-​person narration, he comes across as surprisingly sophisticated and well spoken. In fact, he remains to this day one of the most human among the monster types in common use. On the other hand, throughout Shelley’s novel the monster scares the reader primarily because he is uncontrollable and unstoppable, to the point that Victor Frankenstein not only does not manage to shake him off, but also regularly finds him exactly where he hopes that he would not be. That is, Frankenstein’s monster can be seen as another expression of the primordial image of the unmanageable monster (Asma 2009, 11–​12). Still, it differentiates itself from other unmanageable monsters not only because of its quasi-​human nature, but also because its archetypal image rests on other features, especially the idea of parricide. Frankenstein’s monster is indeed an uncontrollable monster of one’s own making, a monster that not only gets out of control but also has been unleashed by its own creator and, once released, cannot be restrained even by its own “father.” The use of Frankenstein’s monster as a political metaphor, which began very soon, and even before the third edition of the novel, was based on this dumbed-​down image of a parricide “mindless brute” (Baldick 1987, 60). In 1824, UK Foreign Secretary George Canning likened a freed slave to the Creature, arguing that “[t]‌o turn him loose in the manhood of his physical strength, in the maturity of his physical passion, but in the infancy of his uninstructed reason, would be to raise up a creature resembling the splendid fiction of a recent romance” (60). Yet, at least until Boris Karloff ’s interpretation in the homonymous movie first screened in 1931, the iconography of the Creature remained far from settled, to the point that in political cartoons the Creature is almost impossible to recognize if it were not identified as

50 Terrorists seen as monsters such in the caption. The first visual representation of Frankenstein probably came with Richard Brinsley Peake’s stage adaptation of the novel titled Presumption; or, The Fate of Frankenstein, first staged in 1823. The actor who portrayed the Creature, Thomas Potter Cooke, had fully human features but wore green, black, and blue body paint to mimic the look of a corpse (Lederer 2002, 33). In the 1830s, the Monster appeared repeatedly in political cartoons as a metaphor of ill-​conceived political decisions that “trampled upon” other more important issues. In an 1833 cartoon titled Reform Bill’s First Step Amongst His Political Frankenstein, the Monster is represented again as a fully human creature but oversized and with carnivalesque traits. In late-​nineteenth-​century England, these traits would make the Monster a particularly suitable metaphor to depict a specific phenomenon: the rise of Irish nationalism. An interesting aspect about this process lies in the fact that, probably for the first time, it conflated two types of framing—​the political framing of a secessionist and (eventually) “terrorist” movement, and the racial framing of a nation traditionally victim of a large set of ethnic and religious stereotypes. Although not all types of terrorism have been subject to this double framing, or at least not to such a degree, the conflation between racial and political framing would re-​emerge repeatedly in the history of contemporary terrorism, especially with reference to Islamic jihadism. In the nineteenth century, at a racial level, the Irish were regularly “depicted as being inebriants, feral, charming, flagitious, or corrupt” (Forker 2012, 58). At a more political level, Irish republican groups surfaced at various stages at least since 1798 and coalesced in the second half of the following century around the Irish Republican Brotherhood and its American counterpart, the Fenian Brotherhood. The resilience of these movements repeatedly worried English authorities, who saw the Irish as a “monster” with the “potential to run out of control” (Lederer 2002, 35). Both themes were articulated in political cartoons through the imagery of Frankenstein’s monster, which was tweaked to reinforce the specific message that was conveyed—​as had happened with the myth of Medusa in revolutionary France—​but this time arguably enjoying even more artistic freedom. In 1869, two cartoons depicted an “Irish Frankenstein” as a deformed man with an unnaturally large head and ape-​like features, in one occasion resting drunk on a barrel of malt. In 1882, the Irish National Invincibles, a splinter group of the Irish Brotherhood, carried out the terrorist assassination of the Chief Secretary for Ireland Lord Frederick Cavendish and his Permanent Undersecretary in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. In response to this event, the London-​based Punch magazine published a cartoon depicting another “Irish

The Abominables: To the roots of “terrorist” monsters  51 Frankenstein” that was, this time, a tall muscular man, over a quote from Shelley’s novel—​“The hateful and blood-​stained Monster . . . yet was it not my Master to the very extent that it was my Creature? . . . Had I not breathed into it my own spirit?” (Figure 2.3). In this case, the features of the Monster

Figure 2.3  The Irish Frankenstein (1882): Frankenstein’s monster appearing in an anti-​Irish cartoon in England after the Phoenix Park murders.

52 Terrorists seen as monsters are essentially those of a “normal” human being, except perhaps for his accentuated fangs and a somewhat feral beard. It is not his somatic features but his actions and clothing—​the fact of carrying a dagger and wearing a mask—​that determine the main message of the cartoon and powerfully present the Irish as fearful criminals and murderers.

3 Contemporary Logomachies Anarchist Hydras and Brutes The high point of nineteenth-​century terrorism was probably reached in the last decade of the century, when a long series of major attacks by anarchists were recorded on both sides of the Atlantic—​including those that claimed the lives of the heads of state of France, Italy, and the United States in 1894, 1900, and 1901, respectively. Because of its reach, anarchist terrorism also provides the opportunity to compare and contrast different types of framing across various countries, and the extent to which they were affected by their different cultural contexts and the agendas of the framers. In Germany and Austria-​Hungary, the monster most commonly used to represent the anarchist threat was once again the hydra. As mentioned earlier, the hydra was a fitting metaphor for an enemy that proved to be particularly resilient and difficult to eradicate. The decentralized and elusive nature of the anarchist movement was indeed one of the features that baffled its contemporaries the most, as “no sooner had the head of one anarchist been severed then another seemed to appear in its place” (Gabriel 2007, 109). With anarchism, the hydra began its association with a specific type of “terrorist” movement—​now known as networked or franchised terrorism. The many-​ headed monster “evoked the image of collaboration among the anarchist heads [.  .  .] while also intimating that these heads were attached to a larger body” (110), and its ever-​regenerating heads required that it is “exterminated root and branch” (158). “Terrorist” networks—​like other types of networks that span the social space, both domestically and internationally—​have often fascinated the human imagination and have given rise to their own figurative imagery or “network aesthetics” (Jagoda 2010, 66). The many-​headed monster has been one of the first and most resilient metaphors utilized for conveying the nature of such networks “both as material social infrastructures and as metaphorical totalities” (67). Terrorists as Monsters. Marco Pinfari Oxford University Press (2019) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190927875.001.0001

54 Terrorists seen as monsters The hydra metaphor appeared repeatedly in the German-​speaking press. For instance, Luigi Lucheni—​the assassin of Austrian Empress Elisabeth in 1898—​was described as “a member of the anarchist party, this blot of our time, this noxious hydra” (Gabriel 2007, 110). On that occasion, the Austrian foreign minister described anarchists as “wild beasts without nationality” and called for the establishment of an international police league—​what would later become Interpol—​to fight transnational crime and terrorism (Deflem 2005, 281). This characterization of the anarchist movement was derived directly from the use of the hydra metaphor by conservative elites to describe the socialist movement; the latter was particularly strong in nineteenth-​century Germany and was perceived as a direct descendent of the Jacobin mobs of the revolutionary period. In 1886 the Prussian Interior Minister Robert von Puttkamer claimed in front of the Reichstag that “behind every large labour movement [. . .] lurks the hydra of violence and anarchy” while—​in the words of a coeval German police inspector—​German police was engaged in a “struggle to subdue the hydra of socialism” (Gabriel 2007, 110). In England, other snake-​s haped monsters were preferred to represent the anarchist threat, especially dragons, not least because they lent themselves to be associated with the Patron Saint of the country, the dragon-​s layer St George (Figure 3.1). Furthermore, the leading role played by Russian activists in the anarchist movement, such as Mikhail Bakunin, helped create another “interpretative framework” that “linked anarchist monstrousness to a specifically Russian form of degeneration” (Gabriel 2007, 103). Fear for the threats carried out by a bloodthirsty, foreign “other” crept into popular culture and probably played a key role in Bram Stoker’s Dracula—​a horror story set in the 1890s and first published in 1897. Dracula himself is a monstrous creature rooted in a specific archetypal image (the Balkan tradition of the vampire as an unnatural or unthinkable creature) that, like few others, was blended with the other components of the prototype of monstrosity to generate a monster that is also inhuman and unmanageable. In the countries that suffered mostly from attacks carried out by home-​ grown anarchists, such as Italy, France, and Spain, terrorism and political violence were not seen as unnatural or foreign evil, but rather as the expression of a “primitive form of nature within an advanced society” (Pick 1986, 65). Anarchists were therefore portrayed as humans who combined in themselves

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Figure 3.1  The Dynamite Dragon (1892): St George slaying the dragon of anarchism.

a healthy and a sick, almost prehuman personality—​the latter having the potential of turning the individual into an uncontrollable monster. A substantial contribution to the construction of this specific view of anarchism came, not from journalistic imaginary, but rather from

56 Terrorists seen as monsters pseudoscientific research into physiognomy and anthropological criminology, which was soon extended into the analysis of political violence. This research tried to prove on medical grounds that criminals, including “terrorists,” were affected by severe and possibly inheritable medical conditions or exhibited primordial or subhuman physical traits. The leading scholar in this field was the Italian criminal physiologist Cesare Lombroso, whose research would later be met with ridicule in the academic community but who was highly popular in his time. His main explanations to the nature of criminal behavior focused on a pseudo-​ Darwinian connection between the “criminal type” and primitive human forms, which was partly indebted to the discovery of the type specimen of Homo neanderthalensis in 1856 and the hype that followed it. In a book published in 1871 titled The White Man and the Colored Man: Readings on the Origin and Variety of Human Species, Lombroso reproduced a drawing of the cranial bones of a Neanderthal man and commented on their features (Giacobini and Maureille 2015, 174). His own work focused specifically on common criminals but also paid attention to revolutions and terrorism, trying to link rioting not only to human evolution but also to physiological conditions and broader environmental factors, such as the geography and meteorology of a specific country. Lombroso was particularly interested in the case of Sante Caserio, the young Italian anarchist who assassinated the French President Marie François Sadi Carnot on 24 June 1894; caught and immediately tried, he was executed in Lyon less than two months later. Caserio’s portrait was on the cover of Lombroso’s treatise The Anarchists (Gli anarchici), printed in Turin in 1895. Lombroso noted that Caserio’s facial traits “have nothing of the criminal type, except for the lack of beard, the attached earlobe and his deep brow ridges” (Lombroso 1895, 75). The fact that Caserio’s father allegedly suffered from epilepsy was discussed by Lombroso as an “important” aspect of his case (78) and he went on to suggest that Caserio’s own mood swings were symptomatic of “psychic epilepsy” (80). Lombroso then reported an episode of the trial: People say that [Caserio] was gentle and moderate, but would turn into a beast when someone goaded him about anarchy. A new proof of his psychic epilepsy is in the following scene. When, in front of Judge Benoist, he simulated the daggering of Carnot, his face turned on, his eyes filled with blood, his facial features changed, all

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his body was shaking, to the point that the judge in horror (or having never seen anything of the like before) shouted: “Enough—​you are a monster!” To which [Caserio] replied, partly in basic French, partly in Italian: “This is nothing! You will see me at the trial and then at the guillotine. Ah! My performance at the trial will be remarkable indeed!” And laughed cynically. However, five minutes later, he entered into a sort of physical and emotional state of exhaustion; he rested on the bed and fell into a deep sleep. Just one hour later he suddenly woke up and, holding his head in his hands, asked the two guards that watch him day and night for some spirit, rum or any other strong liquor. (80–​81; emphasis in the original)

Today we would probably infer from this report that Caserio was under the influence of alcohol. In this episode, however, Lombroso found confirmation of his pseudoscientific theories about “fanaticism” (98) and the role of “passion” (69) in political violence. In his personal archive,1 Lombroso also kept a newspaper cutout dated 24 November 1894 about the Spanish anarchist Santiago Salvador Franch. Salvador’s name resonated around Europe when he exploded an Orsini bomb—​a spherical device ignited by small rods of mercury fulminate, named after the Italian patriot who first used it in 1858 (Pinfari 2009)—​at the Liceu Theatre in Barcelona during a performance, killing twenty attendees. When told that the judge had sentenced him to death, the article notes, Salvador “seemed to turn mad. He screamed, shouted blasphemies, then kneeled, prayed, and wailed loudly.” At the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, a high relief representing a demonic creature in the act of passing an Orsini bomb to a “terrorist,” carved in the last years of the nineteenth century, was probably inspired by Salvador’s action at the Liceu. Lombroso’s portrayal of anarchists as creatures with two natures—​being “a model, the exaggeration of honesty” (Lombroso 1895, 70) in their everyday lives but turning into beasts when talking about their ideas and executing their plots—​echoes the ancient monster type of the lycanthrope or werewolf. A more recent and perhaps more accurate elaboration of this imagery can also be found in the characters of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that first appeared in Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novel—​both apparently inspired by clinical cases of split-​personality disorder. 1 Archivio Lombroso, Series “Raccolte di articoli (1878–​1934),” Archival Unit 1082.

58 Terrorists seen as monsters Their double nature made anarchists particularly dangerous and difficult to both identify and control, which in turn provided an explanation for the failures of police authorities and criminologists in containing the phenomenon of anarchist attentats. Before being killed by Gaetano Bresci in 1900, the Italian king Umberto I had been the target of four other attacks throughout his twenty-​two-​year reign (Centini 2009, 11–​13). It is also worth noting that anarchism was probably the first movement systematically committed to terrorism to become strongly aware of the negative consequences of framing on their reputation and their recruitment. Especially in the first part of the twentieth century, in an attempt to win back support at least from cognate movements such as socialists, they actively challenged what some called the “logomachy” (or “war of words”) that was waged against them. An anonymous pamphlet printed in Paris but directed at the Italian public complained about what anarchists saw as “intended misrepresentations” as follows: After the latest actions of Parisian anarchists, and remembering the similar ones that happened in London some time ago, all the bourgeois press and the so-​called democratic press almost in its entirety felt the need to assess these extraordinary events on the basis not of logical reasoning derived from some solid philosophical system, but rather of false and contradictory logomachies. [. . .] These intentional and stupid misrepresentations gave origin to an innumerable set of contrived speculations by more or less famous salaried scribblers. (Anon. 1912, 1)

These attempts at redressing the image of the anarchist movement, however, were not very successful. The infighting between different anarchist factions, together with increasingly efficient (and sometimes brutal) countermeasures taken by the countries where these groups had a stronger rooting, contributed to the fizzling out of the anarchist wave in the 1920s and 1930s. Caught in these diatribes, the Italian anarchist Massimo Rocca was described by other members of the movement who were skeptical about his nihilist positions and his apology of political violence as “a panting, sputtering little monster who for two hours forced us to listen to lucubrations that he was trying to sell as philosophical reflections” (Borghi [1954] 1989, 77). The unmanageable hydra had become, in the eyes of its own people, a grotesque homunculus. Doctrinally and strategically divided, in the interwar period anarchism stopped being the worst nightmare of crowned heads around the world.

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Beasts, Blood-​Lickers, and Yakku in Ethnonationalist Terrorism After the decline of the international anarchist movement, terrorism became primarily associated with groups whose political agenda focused on the “elimination of colonial control and the formation of new nation states” (Kaplan 2016). Ethnonationalist or separatist terrorism has a long history that predates the peak of the anarchist wave—​in the central decades of the nineteenth century, for instance, Italian insurgents advocated and practiced the use of “terrorist assassinations” as part of their political agenda—​and continued well beyond what Rapoport (2004) presented as the next and third “wave of terrorism,” that of the “New Left.” In fact, New Left groups (discussed at length in the next chapters) shared with anti-​colonial movements across the world a similar ideological imprint and, especially in the late 1970s, developed close operational links with many of them. Chapter 2, in tracing the historical development of Frankenstein’s monster and its iconography, already introduced an early example of ethnonationalist, anti-​colonial movement that preceded the “anarchist wave,” and whose longer-​term ramifications led straight into the following century and the next “wave” of terrorism. The solution to the national claims of the Irish came with the 1921 Anglo-​Irish Treaty, which nevertheless allowed the counties of Northern Ireland to petition to opt out of the Irish Free State. Once they exercised this option in 1922, the ethnonationalist conflict was reignited, albeit now concentrating mostly in Northern Ireland. The anti-​Treaty Irish Republican Army (IRA) was established in the same year to continue the fight for the independence of the entire island and waged several campaigns against British forces until the early 1960s. In the late 1960s, the conflict in Northern Ireland escalated into a renewed phase of open confrontation—​ known as the “Troubles”—​ between the British security forces, Irish Republican fighters, and Ulster Unionist militants. Since 1971, both the Republican and the Unionist sides resorted to terrorism, mostly bombings against civilian targets both in Northern Ireland and in Britain, but the group that employed terrorist tactics most consistently was the Provisional IRA (P-​IRA)—​a paramilitary formation that broke off from the Irish Republican Army in 1969. An internal “discussion document” of the British Ministry of Defence, made public in 2007, famously presented the P-​IRA as a “professional, dedicated, highly skilled and resilient

60 Terrorists seen as monsters force,” while the formations that belonged to the opposing, loyalist side were dismissed as “little more than a collection of gangsters” (BBC 2007). The P-​IRA was responsible for more than 1,700 deaths between 1969 and 2001—​approximately half of the aggregate death toll of the Troubles (CAIN 2001)—​and executed a variety of ambitious and operationally demanding operations both in Belfast and in central London. In the British press, the Troubles led to the resurgence of the anti-​Irish sentiment that we already saw at work in the late nineteenth century. A 1982 cartoon in the London Evening Standard (Figure 3.2) portrayed an English citizen walking past a large billboard advertisement of a new film produced by “Emerald Isle Snuff Movies” about “The Irish,” described as “the ultimate in psychopathic horror,” “featuring the IRA” and five other militant groups (McLoone 2005, 209). This cartoon also became infamous among the Irish communities in Britain because the billboard represented the starring characters of this movie as monkey-​like creatures brandishing knives, guns, and a dynamite detonator box (209).

Figure 3.2  “The Irish” in the British tabloid press during the Troubles (1982). Credits: JAK /​Solo Syndication

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According to McLoone, this revival of the myth of the “simian Irish” that was pioneered by Punch one century earlier drew from “two distinct traditions” (209). On the one hand, Irish brutality was presented once again as atavistic in nature. This view helped reinforce the “theory of Anglo-​Saxon superiority” while also “absolv[ing] Britain from any responsibility for political violence in Ireland and put[ting] the blame securely on the Irish themselves” (209). However, the depiction of the Irish as uncontrollable psychopaths also echoed the “myth of Frankenstein,” not least because the Irish leaders were seen as responsible for “stirring up the beast of violence and then losing control of the monster they created” (209). As the standard archetypal image of the uncontrollable monster of one’s own making, Frankenstein’s monster became, in the case of Northern Ireland but also—​as discussed later—​in relation to Islamist “terrorism” in the Middle East and elsewhere, the metaphor of choice for exchanging accusations on the political paternity of resilient insurgents and paramilitary groups. Within left-​wing British circles, for instance, the “British rulers” were instead accused of being unable and unwilling “to confront the Frankenstein’s monster of Orange sectarianism created by their own past actions” (Harman 1993). In Spain, Eduardo “Teo” Uriarte—​a long-​time prominent member of Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA)—​once used the same imagery to describe himself as “one of the fathers of the monster,” which nevertheless, in his own words, he was “unable to direct it towards democracy” (Sellers 2008). The Frankenstein’s monster metaphor had some currency within the borders of Northern Ireland as well. For instance, Billy Mitchell—​a key figure in the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force—​accused Unionist leaders of having “incite[d]‌people to form armies and then walked away,” thus “creat[ing] a monster” that, once it had come to life, “does what it wants” (McKay 2005, 52). Other prominent figures in the Unionist camp preferred instead to draw their imagery from the Bible and the Protestant anti-​Catholic repertoire. Chief among these was Reverend Ian Paisley, the Presbyterian religious minister whose inflammatory rhetoric and political activism was among the causes of the escalation that led to the Troubles. In 1971 Paisley founded the Democratic Unionist Party, which he led until 2008 and which became the main political expression of the loyalist camp during his time in Parliament in Westminster between 1970 and 2010. Even if the Unionist activists and thinkers often had to tread a thin line in articulating a political identity that was “at the centre of two different and complicated relationships” (Farringdon 2006, 4)—​with Britain and with

62 Terrorists seen as monsters Ireland—​Paisley’s portrayal of the Catholic Republican camp was uncompromising. He believed that Northern Ireland was “one of the last strongholds of Protestantism in Europe” and that, by challenging it, the Republicans were “doing the work of the Antichrist” (Bruce 2007, 210). In 1972 he wrote an article praising the Scottish Presbyterian reformer John Knox: When I read about him my blood warms in my veins and fire seizes my soul [. . .]. He had a conflict with Rome and he conquered it by a ‘no compromise’ attitude. May the Lord help us in this day to have no compromise with the minions of the Roman Antichrist. (Mitchel 2003, 176)

Paisley and his followers were known specifically for their resort to symbolism drawn from the book of Revelation and the book of Daniel. Paisley himself sat at the European Parliament between 1979 and 2004 primarily because he believed that the Republican camp was just the bridgehead of a larger Catholic conspiracy that the European Union, and its majority of Catholic countries, was spearheading. When Pope John Paul II was invited to the European Parliament in 1988, Paisley took the floor to describe the European Economic Community as “one of the ten horns of the Beast” (Jordan 2013, 313). The “Beast” in question is the creature described in the Revelation as having “ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name” (Rev. 13:1). This Beast bore close resemblance to Daniel’s “fourth Beast,” which was presented as: terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a human being and a mouth that spoke boastfully. (Dan. 7:7–​8)

The Beast of the Revelation also had hybrid animal features—​it “resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion” (Rev. 13:2)—​and its unstoppable nature was remarked by noting that “[o]‌ne of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed” (Rev. 13:3). The beast that “was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority,” and that

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“opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name” (Rev. 13:5–​ 6), was envisioned by the Paisleyans as a premonition of the “emergence of the Church of Rome” (Mitchel 2003, 199). This view drew from the common interpretation of the four beasts in Daniel’s dream as four empires of the ancient world, and the ten-​horned beast as the Roman empire—​of which, according to this symbolism, the European Union should be seen as a direct descendant. However, this unstoppable, exceedingly strong creature that “was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them” (Rev. 13:7) also represented the strength of the “politico-​religious system” incarnated by the Vatican and its allies, who were accused of being “directly responsible for Sinn Fein/​IRA crimes” (Mitchel 2003, 199–​200). Biblical imagery also provided the main backdrop for the framing of the Arab-​Palestinian enemy by Israeli Jews. The metaphor of choice has in this case been that of Amalek, an ancient nomadic population that inhabited the wastelands that stretch from the Sinai Peninsula to the Negev down to the central regions of the Arabian Peninsula. The book of Exodus recounts the first hostile encounters between the Amalekites and the Hebrews at Rephidim, in the Sinai Peninsula. The Amalekites kept attacking the marching Hebrews across the region, taking advantage of their weariness “by ruthlessly cutting down those who lagged behind” (Landes 1962, 101). Once the Hebrews took control of the important caravan hub of Kadesh-​Barnea (that some identify with the site of Petra) the Amalekites withdrew from the land of Canaan. Nevertheless, for at least five more centuries they “remained a constant threat to Israelite security, even after stronger political authority had been established” and the memory of their “formidable nature” lingers on in the Jewish imaginary to this day (101–​102). Talmudic and Kabbalistic writings, tracing back at least to the time of the sixteenth-​century Jewish mystic Isaac Luria (Vincent 2014, 17), have idealized Amalek as “a kind of metaphysical principle of opposition to God rather than a real people on earth” (Webb 2009, 127). This process was helped not only by the characterization of Amalek not only as the “archenemy of the Jewish people” but also by the fact that both the Bible and Rabbinic sources regularly dehumanize it through a variety of derogatory metaphors and similitudes—​as “a swarm of locusts,” “a fly looking for sores to feed on,” or as a “dog” (Müller 1901, 483). However, the mythical nature of Amalek also led to a series of esoteric interpretations for its resiliency and for its supposedly relentless hatred for the Jews. Some Rabbinic commentaries suggested that some Amalek victories against the Hebrews were obtained through

64 Terrorists seen as monsters witchcraft (483) and etymology of the term “Amalek” itself was given as the “people who lick [blood]” (D. Patterson 2015, 89). Even if this interpretation has no basis in historical records, the fact itself that—​in contrast to many other peoples mentioned in the Bible—​no archaeological evidence has been found about this population that contributed to their image of a legendary, almost supernatural enemy whose symbolic existence transcended time and space. If references to Amalek as the paradigm of foreign people hostile to the Jews have abounded in Jewish culture, in modern times it was only when the Jews were faced with the supreme evil of Nazi Germany that this metaphor became strongly associated with political violence perpetrated by specific enemies vowed to their destruction (Vincent 2014, 17–​19). The events of the Holocaust prompted a reflection among Jewish thinkers on the nature itself of political evil, which the concept of “Amalekism” helped articulate. As argued by Simcha Elberg in 1946, if “the ancient Amalek wanted to kill Jews only because they believed in God,” Hitler—​the “new Amalek”—​“built even gas chambers in God’s name” (Greenberg 1991, 49). As a result, “Amalekism” could not be considered anymore simply as “synonymous with badness.” Hitler had shown how violence against Jews could contain a “much stronger power of evil” than previously thought conceivable (49). The transition from Nazi Germany to Palestinian terrorism as the main focus of this “Amalekization of the other” (Cromer 2001, 195)  happened across several decades. In 1956, in one of the “first major statements of religious Zionism” (Weiss 2010), Rabbi Soloveitchik ([1956] 2006, 78–​79) claimed: When a nation emblazons on its standard ‘Come, let us cut them off from being a nation so that the name of Israel shall no longer be remembered’ (Psalms 83:5), it becomes Amalek. In the 1930’s and 1940’s the Nazis, with Hitler at their helm, filled this role. In this most recent period they were the Amalekites, the representatives of insane hate. Today, the throngs of Nasser and the Mufti have taken their place.

Especially during and after the first Intifadah, the focus of such “Amalekization” shifted away from the political representatives of the pan-​ Arab or Muslim identity toward a more explicit emphasis on Palestinian militant groups, mostly thanks to the inflammatory rhetoric of leading figures in religious Zionism, such as Meir Kahane and Yitzhak Shapira. Kahane’s

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followers, in particular, “consciously adopted a meta-​historical approach which applied the term amalek to describe all enemies, past, present, and future, of the Jewish people [.  .  .] and the Palestinians in particular” (C. Jones 2001, 35). As the Amalekization of the Palestinians has “becom[e]‌ more mainstream” in Israel’s politics and society, this characterization found its way even into booklets distributed under the auspices of the Israeli Department of Religious Education (Ibrahim 2008). In 2004 the chairman of the Israeli council of settlements, Benzi Lieberman, when asked “if he thought the Amalekites existed today,” he replied in unequivocal terms: “The Palestinians are Amalek!” (Goldberg 2009b). The use of religious symbolism to frame rebel groups in ethnonationalist conflicts is not limited to the religious traditions that draw inspiration from the Bible. In South Asia, the Sri Lankan civil war stretched between 1983 and 2009. By the time the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) admitted defeat, it had caused tens of thousands of deaths and had severely strained the resources of this densely populated island. The LTTE was founded in 1976 with the goal of creating a separate state for the Tamils, a Dravidian group that accounts for around fifteen percent of the population of Sri Lanka but is mostly concentrated in the coastal regions of the northwest and northeast. Even though minorities within the Tamil population practice Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and other religions, most Tamils are Hindus—​while the vast majority of the Sinhalese population follows Theravada Buddhism. Most of the Sri Lankan civil war took the form of an indecisive war of attrition, but the LTTE quickly developed the reputation of being a fearsome, disciplined paramilitary group that was among the first to employ suicide terrorism on a substantial scale. Between 1987 and 2001, they were responsible for seventy-​six suicide attacks that killed 901 people (Pape 2005, 139). In the process, they took the lives of several high-​profile political leaders, most notably Rajiv Gandhi, India’s prime minister, in 1991 (India had sent a “peacekeeping” force in 1987, in agreement with the Sri Lankan government, in order to help disarm insurgent groups in the country) and Ranasinghe Premadasa, Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese president and long-​term prime minister, in 1993. Tamil nationalism in Sri Lanka emerged gradually, mostly in response to a series of chauvinistic policies put in place by the Sinhalese majority since 1948. The conflict escalated in series of riots that peaked in July 1983, when an attack by the LTTE caused a nationwide pogrom against the Tamil minority that left hundreds dead and tens of thousands homeless. The escalation of

66 Terrorists seen as monsters the conflict was accompanied by an increasingly aggressive use of “political rhetoric” by Sinhalese politicians, designed to frame the conflict through the main national narratives and beliefs of the Sinhalese community (Kapferer 1988, 33). The basic frame through which Tamil violence was presented was that of the mythical struggle between Prince Vijaya and the demons (yakka, pl. yakku) that he slayed when he settled in Sri Lanka. According to the Mahavamsa, the “great Sinhalese chronicle” (34), Vijaya was the son of an Indian king named Sihabahu (“lion-​arm”—​from whom the Sinhalese draw their name and their association with the lion as the national symbol). When Vijaya was banished from India because of his unruly behavior, he sailed to Sri Lanka with 700 men. On the island, he found swarms of yakku that he fought and subdued, with the help of a female demoness named Kuveni. After his victory, he settled with his men on the island to become the mythical founder of the line of Sinhalese kings. Several uncanny resemblances can be found between the biblical story of Amalek and Vijaya’s encounter with the yakku. Both Amalek and the yakku are the pre-​existing dwellers of a land that a more deserving external intruder claims for itself, on the basis of its royal lineage or of a godly promise. As a result, both stories are not only designed to identify an enemy “other” that pre-​existed the ongoing conflict, but both also help articulate and explain at a symbolic level the opposing claims that the conflict parties have on the same land. This articulation is particularly important because both the Hebrews and the Sinhalese could not unequivocally present themselves as the original inhabitants of the territory that they called their homeland. Moreover, in both cases the enemy in question proved to be intractable and, even when defeated, difficult to eradicate completely. Amalek, even after having been overpowered militarily, remained a threat for the Israelites throughout most of their ancient history. The yakku were also never entirely subdued; according to other Sinhalese stories, they eventually reached an “agreement” with Indra (a high deity in both Hinduism and Buddhism) to the effect that they would stop killing and devouring people but would still cause illnesses to the men who did not offer suitable ritual compensation to appease them (Wirz 1954, 7). As a result, the yakku are believed to haunt humans to this day; classified according to a complex typology that associates them with several ailments, they can be pacified only through specific offerings and in the context of elaborate exorcism rituals.

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Finally, like Amalek, the yakku were seen as a sort of supernatural evil that transcends rationality. In Sri Lanka, the LTTE were believed to be, like the yakku, “superhumanly cruel and cunning and, like demons, ubiquitous” (Spencer 1990, 619). Over time, as a result of a “deadly conflation” encouraged by a toxic mix of “propaganda, serious reasoned scholarship, and political rhetoric,” even “the everyday ethnic other—​Tamil workmates and neighbors—​became vested with the attributes of the violent and terrifying supernatural other” (619–​620). The events of the Black July—​a series of anti-​ Tamil pogroms that are usually considered as the starting point of the Sri Lankan civil war—​probably began when groups of Sinhalese men wanted to “teach the Tamils a lesson” for the actions of the LTTE and ended up encouraging a spiral of violence driven by “a kind of instant mythologizing in which terrifying new experiences were reinterpreted in terms of more familiar cultural structures” (620). The secretive, ghostly, yet deadly power of LTTE attacks was seen as the latest incarnation of the cunning, demonic yakku. Moreover, the LTTE had embraced the “otherness” that was projected onto them by adopting the tiger as their emblem, openly challenging the leonine symbolism of Sinhalese nationalism and engaging in a sort of symbolic feral fight with their enemy. Far from being just a symbol of the non-​human other, the image of the “ubiquitous and powerful tiger” added to the scare power of the LTTE. However, especially in the context of the 1983 riots, the image also provided a symbolic backdrop for the fears of the Sinhalese population and led to a further escalation of violence (620). As the country plunged into a state of panic, even “the actions of innocent Tamils—​firing shots into the air to disperse the crowd, running away, boarding a train or bus to get out of the city—​were read as evidence that they were Tigers” (620). The framing of the Tamil as demonic yakku and the symbolism of the tiger was key to the presentation of the Tamils as “an inherently violent and dangerous creature” (Spencer 1984, 190). Portrayed as ferocious, resilient, and cunning, communities that had been subject to decades of discrimination and violent police crackdowns came to be perceived not as victims but “at least equal partners if not the protagonists” (191) of the violence that pervaded the country. If the symbolic repertoire of Sinhalese tradition provided a suitable framework for this framing, it was Sinhalese politicians and pamphleteers who intentionally “infuse[d]‌their rhetoric with references to legends” (Kapferer 1988, 38), resorting to language and symbolism that the audience is “culturally prepared” to accept. As I will discuss more at length in ­chapter 6, this repertoire is often flexible and open to different types of

68 Terrorists seen as monsters interpretations. For example, the same legend of Vijaya’s flight to Lanka was at times used to portray a polarly different (and much more conciliatory) image of the Tamils and Sinhalese as part of a single nation by attributing the origin of the Tamils, not to the yakku, but to the descent of Vijaya’s ministers (35).

The Unmanageable Monster of Global Jihadism The unmanageable monster also crept into the next and most recent “wave” of terrorism, in which religion became the dominant motivating force. The first steps of this wave are often associated with Sikh militancy in the early 1980s, when a number of assassinations and bombings wreaked havoc across India and culminated with the murder of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984. It is, however, with the emergence of jihadist movements roughly in the same period that this wave eventually reached its climax. The concept of jihad has a long history in Islamic thought and has been treated, among others, by the classic Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, Muhammad Ibn Abd al-​Wahhab, and in more recent times, Sayyid Qutb and Abu al-​Ala Mawdudi. Its formalization into a “solidly argued” ideology (Khosrokhavar 2009, 18) with direct political relevance, however, is mostly associated with the late 1970s and early 1980s. In this period, its principles formed the ideological substratum of rebel movements, such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the mujahidin militias in Afghanistan, and encouraged the development of specific practices that were rare or even unknown in terrorism until that moment, such as suicide bombing. Jihadist movements advocate a set of core goals that include the liberation of Muslim land from Western influence (and especially the removal of Zionist control over the whole of Palestine), the establishment of an Islamic state based on Shari’ah law, and the spread of Islam beyond the borders of the Islamic state. The vision of these movements, however, evolved quite substantially over time. Originally centered predominantly on domestic struggles against their own governments, other ethnic and religious groups, or foreign occupiers, their focus—​on both strategic and doctrinal grounds—​ has gradually been supplemented by a more global vision where the “near enemy” has been replaced by a “far enemy” (Springer, et al. 2009, 59). On doctrinal grounds, global jihadism (Byman 2015)  provided a diagnosis of the evils suffered by the Muslim world that is very akin to the tenets of anti-​ colonialism—​the “far enemy” being essentially Western imperialism—​even

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though the cure prescribed for the illnesses of Muslim lands remained strongly rooted in Islamic history, that is, the re-​establishment of the Islamic state ruled by a caliph, restored to its original global ambitions. Strategically, this step required an upgraded organizational structure and more ambitious operational tactics. Al-​Qaeda, the offspring of the mujahidin militias that since the late 1990s had spearheaded global jihad, structured itself as a “hierarchical network” based on centralized control of decentralized cells (98). Its main operational achievement, the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 against the United States, was made possible by the resort to suicide terrorism in combination with a variety of advanced skills previously and patiently acquired by the executors of the attacks, including airplane piloting. After September 11, al-​Qaeda became even more decentralized, relying on traditional guerrilla tactics where circumstances allowed it, and elsewhere on “local, self-​sustaining cells” loosely connected with the base (112). A pre-​existing group that declared allegiance to al-​Qaeda in 2003, acquiring the denomination Tanzim Qa’idat al-​Jihad fi Bilad al-​Rafidayn (“The Organization of the Base of Jihad in Mesopotamia”—​usually known simply as “al-​Qaeda in Iraq”), resorted primarily to unconventional warfare against the international coalition led by the United States that had attacked Iraq early that year. Al-​Qaeda in Iraq also supported jihadist insurgency in Syria after the beginning of the civil war in 2011, especially the Jabhat al-​ Nusra, which itself relied both on guerrilla tactics and on local, clandestine cells to operate. In 2013 al-​Qaeda in Iraq, having expanded its range of activities into Syria, changed its name to al-​dawla al-​Islamiyya fi al-​Iraq wa ash-​Sham, sometimes abbreviated in Latin characters as DAESH. The English translation of this denomination varied between the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) and the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS). In 2014 the leader of ISIL, Abu Bakr al-​Baghdadi, began referring to his group simply as “Islamic State,” declaring himself as caliph and explicitly vowing to create a global Islamic polity under his rule. Since then, the Islamic State has waged a semi-​conventional war in Iraq and Syria, acquiring and ruling over a substantial amount of territory, and has encouraged the formation of a loose network of cells and lone terrorists around the world. The reach and impact of IS activities through its vast network of affiliated “regions” or individuals indoctrinated through online forums have few, if any, precedents in the history of terrorism, with the partial exception of the peak of anarchist terrorism in the 1890s.

70 Terrorists seen as monsters Various scholars have looked into the way in which, in the aftermath of September 11, monster metaphors have been employed in the Western world to portray Muslims. Jasbir Puar and Amit Rai, for instance, highlighted how right-​wing media networks in the United States presented Bin Laden as a “dirtbag” and a “monster” and his network as “diabolical” and composed of “terror goons” (Puar and Rai 2002, 118). The authors also took note of the widespread use of cultural and racial stereotypes in the visual representation of Muslims, such as turbans and beards. Sophia Arjana (2015) analyzed extensively the impact of September 11 on the visual culture of the United States. Monsters drawn from the historical imagery created by Western encounters with non-​Western people—​from mummies to zombies to “aliens”—​seemed to populate most of the cinematic production that followed the attacks. These processes, in Arjana’s words, reinforce the “imaginary dehumanization” of Muslim men that has its roots in the Eastern monsters that appeared since the early Middle Ages (Arjana 2015, 180). Their purpose, according to Puar and Rai (2002, 118), is to identify the “terrorist-​monster” as “pure evil” and as “the opposite of all that is just, human, and good.” For the Western world, Muslims are indeed a paradigmatic “other” (Jackson 2007b, 400) and violence perpetrated by the “other” traditionally provides an opportunity for constructing polarized, Manichaean world views based on the dualisms of wrong vs. right, justice vs. evil, civilization vs. barbarism (Bhatia 2009, 284). It is also not surprising that racial stereotyping is used in these circumstances to blur the differences within the Oriental “other” and attach features to it that make it appear as uncivilized, threatening, or different. However, when looking systematically into the monster types that are evoked when referring to jihadist terrorism, especially after September 11, by far the most common monster types through which jihadist terrorism is framed are once again Frankenstein’s monster and, to a lesser but still significant degree, the hydra. It should be clear by now that Frankenstein’s monster is not an obvious choice for framing someone as “pure evil” or as a beastly, inhuman creature. The Western imagery provides many more graphic and effective archetypal images for these purposes. Frankenstein’s monster and the hydra are both expression of the primordial image of the unmanageable monster, and evoking this specific fear is arguably the basic purpose of choosing these specific types. Unmanageability, more than racial stereotyping, also tends to be associated with specific explanations and interpretations of the phenomenon that is being framed. These can be further

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fine-​tuned by choosing a specific monster type as opposed to another, and therefore evoking the metaphorical potential of its specific iconography. One of the main reasons why Frankenstein’s monster became a widespread metaphor for jihadist terrorism is that, being an uncontrollable monster that turns against its own creator, its metaphorical potential dovetailed with a key narrative that attributed responsibility for the rise of al-​Qaeda to the support that the Afghani mujahidin received from the United States in the 1980s. This narrative emerged even before September 11, when Indian media described the alleged collusion of the CIA and Pakistan “to create the ‘monster’ that is today Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban” (Suri 2001), and an unnamed American official acknowledged that “we created a whole cadre of motivated people who turned against us. It’s a classic Frankenstein’s monster situation” (J. Burke 1999). After September 11, a true logomachy or “war of words” emerged about this imagery, with the Frankenstein’s monster metaphor being used to exchange accusations about the supposed paternity of the uncontrollable creature of jihadist terrorism. Arab scholars once more talked about “the sight of the jihadi Frankenstein’s monsters, so carefully nourished by the United States, turning suddenly on their masters” (Al-​Azm 2004). This criticism was internalized and accepted by various Western commentators, who described al-​Qaeda’s campaigns as “a monster of our making” (Pfaff 2005) and Bin Laden as a “monster of our own creation” (Scheer 2011). In some cases, this self-​criticism acknowledged the role of Western countries in “spawning millions of radicalized Muslims” through their foreign policy toward the Middle East (RT 2013). Others, however, shifted the responsibility away from Western imperialism and toward “a misguided and catastrophic pursuit of multiculturalism” (Pfaff 2005). Some American scholars nevertheless contested the idea that the United States had exclusive paternity of this monster, noting instead that it was during the rule of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that “the jihadist Frankenstein in Pakistan blossomed” because of the following: Despite repeated requests from President Bill Clinton between 1997 and 1999, Sharif took no action to apprehend bin Laden, attack his infrastructure in Pakistan and Afghanistan or to pressure the Taliban and Mullah Omar to control him or extradite him to Saudi Arabia. During Sharif ’s election campaign in 2013, his party’s rallies and candidates were never attacked by the Taliban or other jihadists while those of the other parties were under constant fire and attack. (Riedel 2014)

72 Terrorists seen as monsters Especially after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, carried out by a group based in Pakistan that left more than 160 people dead, the responsibility of Pakistan in the rise of global jihadism is unsurprisingly common also in India’s press, which sees its neighbor as “stuck with a Frankenstein’s monster” created by the way in which its “Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) has played with the fire of religious obscurantism” (Hindustan Times 2016). However, it was primarily the rise of the Islamic State that provided an opportunity to Western media to retort this imagery against the Arab and Muslim world. Paul Vallely, for instance, presented IS as “the Frankenstein monster of Saudi Arabia and Qatar,” stressing both the connection between the ideology of the Islamic State and Wahhabism and the financial support that both Saudi Arabia and Qatar originally poured into rebel groups in Syria (Vallely 2014). Turkey’s initial support for anti-​Assad groups and its decision to allow its border with Syria to remain open (or at least “porous”) during most of the Syrian civil war also retorted against it, as the country’s ambivalent dealings with IS and the influx of refugees threatened its own stability—​a predicament that Western diplomatic source summarized by noting that Turkey “created a monster and doesn’t know how to deal with it” (Trofimov 2015). However, the longer-​term responsibility of Western countries for the rise of global jihadism still surfaced in a variety of material. Some highlighted how the rise of the Islamic State in the Middle East was made possible by the alleged collusion between foreign Islamist mercenaries and Western countries that responded lazily and somewhat reluctantly to the wave of repression and authoritarianism following the Arab revolts. Venezuela president Nicolas Maduro—​a supporter of Syrian president Bashar al-​Assad—​in his 2014 address at the United Nations General Assembly placed this argument within his broader anti-​imperialist world view, by suggesting that: [o]‌nly an alliance that respects these nations’ sovereignty and the assistance of their governments, people and armed forces will truly defeat Islamic terrorism as well as all of the terrorist forces that have emerged like a Frankenstein, a monster nursed by the West itself. (Al Arabiya 2014b)

Although Frankenstein’s monster is a deformed but not inhuman creature, the other archetypal image that is used to describe global jihadism—​ the hydra—​is a snake-​shaped monster that is unequivocally perceived as a repulsive “other” and that carries with it the complex symbolism inherent

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in the metaphorical use of reptiles and dragons, including their association with deception and viciousness. However, as with the anarchist wave, the hydra allowed framers to highlight the multiple, yet interconnected, manifestations of networked terrorism—​for instance, how “al-​Qaeda may have been cut down in Afghanistan, but it is growing in Pakistan’s border area” (Economist 2008). Disagreements on policy decisions can also be reinforced by evoking specific attributes of this bestiary of snake-​headed creatures. David Cameron’s description of the raids on Rakka, the Islamic State capital, as attempts to cut off “the head of the snake” (McDermott and Pickard 2015) offered the chance for critics of his policies to reply that, because of the hydra-​like nature of jihadist terrorism, “several of its heads have already been chopped off and it keeps growing bigger ones” (White 2015). A similar implication can be drawn from a cartoon by Cox and Forkum, published on 30 September 2001 (Figure 3.3) that pictured Uncle Sam holding the “al-​Qaida” snake head cut off from a hydra representing “terrorist states,” while two new heads emerge from its stem. The features of the

Figure 3.3  Al-​Qaeda as a hydra (2001): the many-​headed monster as a metaphor of networked terrorism in the aftermath of September 11. Credits: Cox and Forkum

74 Terrorists seen as monsters terrorist hydra in this cartoon bears some striking resemblances with the monster smitten by Hercules in Zoffany’s painting (Figure  2.2). This iconography survived in contemporary art also thanks to Ray Harryhausen’s stop-​motion special effects in the movie Jason and the Argonauts (1963), an “enormous box office hit” (Llewellyn-​Jones 2007, 424) that was instrumental in reintroducing Greek myths among the general public in the United States and beyond, and which directly inspired Cox and Forkum’s depiction of the monster (Cox and Forkum 2002, 8). Finally, presenting it as an “unkillable monster” (Harte 2015) whose face is “constantly changing” (Blitz and Khalaf 2013), framers implied that the resilience of the jihadi hydra could not be underestimated. As an Australian conservative newsletter noted: The West’s labour with Islam is similar to Hercules’ epic encounter with the multi-​headed Hydra-​monster. Every time Hercules lopped off one of the monster’s heads, two new ones grew in its place. To slay the beast once and for all, Hercules learned to cauterize the stumps with fire, thereby preventing any more heads from sprouting out. Similarly, while the West continues to lop off monster heads like figurehead Zarqawi, bin Laden, al-​ Baghdadi, and so on, it is imperative to treat the malady—​Islam—​in order to ultimately prevail. Victory can only come when the violent ideologies of Islam are cauterized with fire. (Harte 2015)

The suggestion that Islam’s violent manifestations should be “cauterized with fire” is only the most extreme of various implications that framers drew from this metaphorical arsenal. In fact, both versions of the unmanageable monster archetype were also repeatedly used to provide policy recommendations. As Sasha Abramsky argued: Once a monster has been created, once its ambitions have been unleashed, the most important question ceases to be, “How and why did this situation develop?” and becomes, “How can we quench these mad fires that threaten to consume all before them?” (Abramsky 2005, 25)

Especially countries that presented themselves (more or less credibly) as third-​party mediators in the Syrian crisis, such as Iran, the unmanageability of global jihadism provided an opportunity to call for a coordinated international response to it. Abolhassan Banisadr, former president of Iran, claimed

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that “the US, Europe, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Persian Gulf Arab regimes are culprits in creating a monster that is now threatening their interests,” and that therefore “the solution should also be sought in the collaboration of these players” (Banisadr 2014). Similarly, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for the formation of “a coalition of repenters” attempting to control the “Frankenstein that came to haunt its creators” (R. Wright 2014). An unmanageable threat can therefore call for exceptional, almost unnatural international coalitions for fighting it. As discussed at length in c­ hapter 7, such a threat can also call for exceptional, unprecedented, and discretional measures by individual states. However, before discussing the way in which this framing can contribute to encouraging and legitimizing specific forms of counterterrorism, we should take a careful look at how terrorists themselves use the imagery of the inhuman, unmanageable, and unnatural monster to maximize their ability to scare their audience.

PART 2

T E R ROR IST S AC T I NG AS MON ST E R S

4 Revolutionary Monstrosity If “terrorists” are often seen as monsters by their target group, they sometimes also want to appear as such—​typically by impersonating some of the main features of the monster prototype or, more rarely, by presenting themselves as outright monsters. The term “acting” seems to be particularly appropriate to describe these processes. It suggests not only that monstrosity can pertain to the terrorist action done by the “terrorist” (rather than only to how its audience sees it) but also that this very action is normally constructed performatively as a theatrical act (Ignatieff 2004; Molin Friis 2015) intended to maximize its shock power rather than being a reflection of some innate monstrous instincts. The centrality that the “terrorist”-​monster would acquire in contemporary terrorism is the result of a complex evolution process that first saw terrorism become—​in the era of the anarchist attentats—​a self-​conscious performative phenomenon focused on the impact that the terrorist act has on specific audiences, and then respond to the challenges and opportunities that emerged once the anarchist wave petered out. This chapter considers these phases in turn.

Terrorism and the Propaganda of the Deed The roots of the modern articulation of terrorism as an audience-​centered phenomenon lie in the concept of Propaganda of the Deed. Sometimes used as a synonym for terrorism or violent insurgency tout court (Bueno de Mesquita and Dickson 2007), this notion emerged out of the attempts by socialist thinkers since the 1840s—​and, later, by anarchist activists and writers—​to legitimize political violence against bourgeois capitalism. Friedrich Engels, in his essay The Condition of the Working Class in England, was one of the first to argue that capitalists are actively killing workers by making them fall to an “unnatural death” that is “as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet” (Engels [1845] 1987, 127). One Terrorists as Monsters. Marco Pinfari Oxford University Press (2019) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190927875.001.0001

80 Terrorists acting as monsters immediate implication that anarchists drew from this view is that attacking the bourgeoisie and responding to its structural violence through actual violent deeds should be treated as a form of self-​defense. The view of attentats as acts of self-​defense would run through the entire history of anarchism. In the late nineteenth century, Émile Henry declared during his trial that “we will not spare the women and children of the bourgeois, for the women and children of those we love have not been spared” (Henry [1894] 1977, 195). In the 1920s, the American anarchist Alexander Berkman disavowed the use of terrorism—​as did most of the anarchists of his time—​but still described governments as “the fountainhead of invasion and violence” (Berkman [1929] 1972, xxxii). Once revolutionary murder was seen and conceptualized as an acceptable response to the crimes committed against the underclass, what came next was the attempt to reflect on its broader strategic value and contribution to social rebellion. This step was taken by the Italian patriot Carlo Pisacane, whose political testament is normally credited with having introduced the idea of “Propaganda of the Deed.” In this short document, he argued that: [i]‌deas spring from deeds and not the other way around; the people will not be free until it is educated but it will be well educated once free. The only thing for a citizen to do to be of service to his country is to patiently wait for the day when he can cooperate in a material revolution; as I see it, conspiracies, plots and attempted uprisings are the succession of deeds whereby Italy proceeds towards her goal of unity. Milano’s bayonet1 has produced a more effective propaganda than a thousand books penned by doctrinarians who are the real blight upon our country and the entire world. (Pisacane [1857] 2005, 68)

In Pisacane’s formulation, the Propaganda of the Deed is in direct opposition to the “propaganda of the word.” The deed of Agesilaus Milano who tried to kill the King of Naples in 1856, in his view, had more resonance among would-​be patriots than the words of those who wrote extensively about Italy’s independence and unity but lived safe in their intellectual ivory towers. We should also note that in Pisacane this concept is not just an articulation of the 1 The meaning of this passage is unclear and transcriptions of Pisacane’s manuscript differ on whether the author referred to the baionetta di Milano (“Milano’s bayonet,” which seems most likely on both ideological and chronological grounds) or baionette di Milano (“the bayonets of Milan,” a possible reference to the Austrian repression in the city of Milan in 1848 and the following years).

Revolutionary monstrosity  81 broad idea that actions speak louder than words; rather, it highlights the impact of exemplary deeds on political mobilization and speaks to the Marxian notion that new ideologies and political visions can take roots in the general population only when its material conditions are ripe. Somewhat ironically, whether Pisacane himself could be described as an anarchist remains a matter of debate (Pernicone 1993, 12). Surely, however, he was a patriot—​or, using a term that is both more neutral and more current, an insurgent—​influenced by Proudhonian socialism and, like Felice Orsini (who attempted to assassinate Napoleon III in 1858) and many others, he strived to achieve the political goal of a unified and independent Italy. The ideas of Pisacane and Orsini, as well as Giuseppe Garibaldi and Giuseppe Mazzini, found their way into anarchism primarily through the works of other writers such as Mikhail Bakunin, the Russian-​born revolutionary who is considered, with Pierre-​Joseph Proudhon, as one of the two core ideologues of nineteenth-​century anarchism (Jensen 2004, 122). Bakunin arrived in Italy in 1864, finding a country that had just achieved political unification but was still seething with revolutionaries. His stay in the bel paese proved crucial in his own intellectual voyage. Bakunin had been a political activist and writer with an interest in rebel movements but little ideological consistency, but in 1866 he wrote his Revolutionary Catechism in which he outlined a programmatic manifesto for the anarchist movement and called for the overthrow of the bourgeois order through insurrections and underground conspiracies. This document was followed three years later by a second Revolutionary Catechism, penned by Sergey Nechayev possibly with a contribution from Bakunin himself, in which the authors explicitly encouraged the use of violence in different forms, from robberies to assassinations. In this latter text, the “revolutionary” is presented as someone who: knows that in the very depths of his being, not only in words but also in deeds, he has broken all the bonds which tie him to the social order and the civilized world with all its laws, moralities, and customs, and with all its generally accepted conventions. He is their implacable enemy, and if he continues to live with them it is only in order to destroy them more speedily. (Nechayev 1869, §2)

As soon as the notion of Propaganda of the Deed had become a key principle in the anarchist movement, its political meaning subtly but significantly shifted. By the 1880s anarchists were effectively divided into two

82 Terrorists acting as monsters factions, sometimes described as the contemplatifs and the impulsifs—​or the “theoreticians” and the “activists” (Sonn 1989, 238). The former kept hold of the socialist roots of the movement and saw violence as a means rather than an end in itself, while the latter (with a large following, especially in Russia) were attracted by the destructive power of the terrorist act more than by its potential as a tool for political propaganda. In this context, the concept of Propaganda of the Deed was endorsed by writers such as the prominent French anarchist Jean Grave to signal their rejection of what scholars would later call “expressionist” terrorism (McCormick 2003, 475) and to suggest instead that violence is allowed only when functional to a legitimate political end (Adamo 2004, 32–​33). That is, for late nineteenth-​century anarchism, the true opposite to the Propaganda of the Deed was not the propaganda of the idea, but rather a deed that does not have a propagandistic aim altogether and does not contribute to the success of the political vision that anarchism wants to promote—​an act that is a mere manifestation of individual hatred, of the desire of improvised bomb-​throwers to act as Nietzschean Übermenschen. This newer take on the Propaganda of the Deed would directly influence the trademark modus operandi of anarchists throughout the terrorist campaign of the 1890s in Western Europe and the United States—​a relentless hunt for “legitimate” targets among heads of state and the high bourgeoisie, and greater attention paid to how the “terrorist” should perform if captured by state authorities. In fact, more than in the terrorist attacks themselves, it would be through the court cases that followed them—​or, in case, through their last words pronounced on the gallows—​that anarchists would be able to articulate and spread their views, capitalizing on the limelight that they had gained through their actions. Some of these proceedings, such as the trials of the French anarchist Ravachol in 1892 (Merriman 2009, 72–​73), became true causes célèbres and were widely covered by the press. These trials would function as megaphones for constructing performatively the terrorist act, giving “terrorists” the chance to express both their unyielding hatred for their enemies and their dedication to the plight of the underclass. The confident and sometimes eloquent performances given by anarchists such as Émile Henry or Auguste Vaillant puzzled many middle-​ class observers, contributing to creating the image of anarchists as creatures with two natures (as discussed in c­ hapter 3) while also making them hugely popular among the working classes and contributing to recruitment (Sonn 1989, 248).

Revolutionary monstrosity  83 The “era of attentats” left an enduring legacy in the history of contemporary terrorism. The concept of the Propaganda of the Deed turned the attentat into an act of political violence that is audience-​aware, and the “terrorist” into a propagandist who tries to steer the perception of the act itself in the direction that is most beneficial to the strategic goal of his or her movement. With this notion, terrorism became a “blend of strategic communication and political marketing,” promoting or advertising different “products” depending on the nature and goals of the movement that utilizes it—​whether “a political platform, mood change, or sense of moral concern” (Bolt 2012, 121). Anarchists were also aware of the fact that terrorism affects not one but “multiple audiences” (Tuman 2010, 33–​34) and of the need to diversify their communication so that each of these individual audiences received the intended message. At the very least, “terrorists” want to communicate with an out-​group (the bourgeoisie, heads of state—​the “other”) that is normally the group from which they select their targets, as well as with an in-​group whose interests and values they purport to defend. The terrorist act speaks by itself—​it terrifies the out-​group and may elicit a sense of admiration (or even some form of gratitude) in the in-​group. The communicative power and nuance of the attentats were nevertheless limited, all the more considering that the anarchists had no control over how the bourgeois press would cover them. The statements given by the captured anarchists during trials or, more rarely, documents including claims of responsibility for the attacks offered instead an opportunity to articulate and expand on the nature of their actions and their goals. They also gave the “terrorist” the chance to scare more effectively the out-​group, for instance by presenting himself—​as in the case of Émile Henry—​as someone who is prepared to slaughter the women and children of the enemy, while also appealing to his or her in-​group by promoting specific sociopolitical visions and giving resonance to its pleas.

Monstrosity as a Modus Operandi Both the ideology and the practices of anarchist terrorism cast a long shadow on the decades that followed; however, during the twentieth century, two developments substantially affected the way in which political violence would be articulated and performed. One was already clear in the last years of the nineteenth century and had to do with the “emotional desensitization” (Neumann 2009, 136) that sustained

84 Terrorists acting as monsters terrorist campaigns create in the general public. As Joseph Conrad put it in his fictional account of the 1894 Greenwich bombing, anarchists became aware that their modus operandi, based on political assassinations and dynamite attacks in public places, “is sensational enough in a way, but not so much as it used to be” (Conrad [1907] 2007, 25). At the height of the “era of attentats,” between 1892 and 1894, there were thirteen terrorist attacks in France alone (Sonn 1989, 237). By the second half of that decade, the shock and awe effect of political violence began to wear off, and it became increasingly difficult for the anarchist movement to reap any political benefit from its attacks. Terrorism, unlike other types of political violence that rely primarily on the actual impact of force rather than on the fear that it spreads, is strongly affected by the negative consequences of its overuse over a short period of time. As a result, it has been described as a form of “contingent violence,” whose “next iteration [. . .] is shaped by both the reactions of the state and the behavior of the target audiences during the previous iteration” (Bloom 2005, 90). In the first decades of the twentieth century, governments became increasingly effective in countering the anarchist movement, and the general public grew accustomed to its violent tactics. If “terrorists” wanted to retain their edge and get through to their desired audiences, their “daggers, rifles and dynamite” (Jensen 2004) needed to be replaced with new and more innovative methods. A second key development fully unfolded in the decades after World War II, when the changing nature of political communication revolutionized the media stage in which each terrorist act is played and also opened new avenues for “terrorists” to affect and reach out to the general public (Molin Friis 2015, 728). Already in the interwar period, photojournalism heralded a new media environment “heavy on, if not dominated by, visuals” (Holly 2008, 323). Visual journalism has an appetite for morbidity, and this reinforced the need for “terrorists” to intensify their strategies and make them increasingly brutal and terrifying (Neumann 2009, 138). However, more recent developments in media technology also allowed “terrorists” to harness the power of visual communication by putting them in charge of producing their own visual material. New photographic technologies, such as the Polaroid camera, and the availability of portable filming equipment enabled them to generate their own footage of the terrorist act or other visual material that supported or articulated its message. Polaroid pictures, for instance, allowed “terrorists” to print their photographic material instantly and

Revolutionary monstrosity  85 without any external intervention, while also not leaving behind any negative film that, if found in someone’s possession, could have been a liability for any member of the group (Fiorentino 2012, 144–​145). These developments turned terrorism into the most accomplished manifestation of the intimate link between political violence and its visual representation. This connection was eerily prefigured by the “irrepressible identification of the camera and the gun, ‘shooting’ a subject and shooting a human being” (Sontag 2003, 66) and became established well before the age of social media, when a famous advertising campaign of the Polaroid camera already promised to its customers: “You press the button, we do the rest.” These processes would deeply affect the nature of contemporary terrorism. The more the barrier between the “terrorist” and the general population thinned, the more the gap between the terrorist act and the acting of the “terrorist” (that for anarchists took place in two very distinctive settings—​ the attentat and the trial) shrank to the point that the act itself could be charged with performative meanings, leading to what Haroro Ingram (2014, 4) described as the “synchronization of narrative and action.” If anarchists chose their tactics and weapons almost exclusively on the basis of utilitarian considerations, while more subtle ideological considerations would be left to other opportunities (such as the trial), twentieth-​century “terrorists” paid particular attention to how the attacker behaved when performing the attack—​and not just to its efficiency. The upscaling of terrorist tactics in the twentieth century took various forms, including the development of “urban terrorist tactics” such as car bombs (Davis 2009), the hijacking of planes and ships, and the breaking of the gender barrier with the increased involvement of women in terrorist missions (Neumann 2009, 140). However, I would argue that the two most significant and influential responses to this new operational environment are suicide terrorism and what could be labeled as “revolutionary terrorism.” The phenomenon of suicide terrorism has been studied extensively, especially in the aftermath of September 11 and the 2003 war on Iraq (Pape 2005, Bloom 2005, Pedahzur 2005, Asad 2007, Moghadam 2008). However, the instrumental use of suicide missions to convey political messages can be traced at least to the early 1980s, when this tactic was repeatedly employed by Shi’a insurgents during the Lebanese Civil War before being adopted by other militant groups, most notably the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka and, in Palestine, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

86 Terrorists acting as monsters The concept of “revolutionary terrorism” designates instead a specific type of political violence that has its roots in the notions first exposed by Nechayev in his Revolutionary Catechism as reinterpreted and popularized by Marxist guerrilla fighters and writers such as Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Orsini 2011, 82). Nechayev presented the revolutionary as someone with “no emotions,” prepared to unleash its “revolutionary passion” with “cold calculation” to pursue its single aim—​the “merciless destruction” of the State and the “educated classes,” with which it is engaged in a “relentless and irreconcilable war to the death” (Nechayev 1869, §1–​7). The inhumane behavior required from the “terrorist” therefore turned it into an inhuman being that engages (if necessary) in any practice that can ensure the destruction of the enemy and pursue its task until the end, whatever it takes. That is, the revolutionary was expected to act as a monster, presenting itself through the usual range of features associated with such creatures—​inhumanity, unmanageability, and unthinkable behavior. The peak of revolutionary terrorism was arguably reached in 1978 with the kidnapping and murder of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro—​just three years before suicide missions began wreaking havoc in Lebanon—​but it would directly inspire “terrorist” groups around the world for the following decades, including factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and jihadist insurgents in the aftermath of September 11. Suicide terrorism and revolutionary terrorism share various features. First, they can both be described as terrorist “tactics” (Bloom 2005, 2; Moghadam 2008, 22) or, perhaps more accurately, as ideal types of terrorist modi operandi—​sets of consistent tactical choices that become distinctive of the way in which specific “terrorist” groups operate but that, in the hands of different groups, can also serve different strategic visions. Further, as tactics or modi operandi, the behavior that they promote is not to be treated as innate or spontaneous, but rather as the result of mainly rational calculations. Most scholars agree that suicide bombers are rarely suicidal (Gambetta 2005, 270; Townsend 2007, 35). In fact, comparative research on groups that utilize suicide missions suggests that that “no general profile of suicide bombers can be established” (Moghadam 2008, 258) and that, if anything, their profile “resembles that of a politically conscious individual who might join a grassroots movement more than it does the stereotypical murderer, religious cult member, or everyday suicide” (Pape 2005, 200). Similarly, a revolutionary “terrorist” is not monstrous itself. Some, such as the Italian Red Brigade member Mario Moretti, were known for being particularly cold-​blooded and

Revolutionary monstrosity  87 ferocious, and yet they did not appear to suffer from any significant “personal pathology” that could explain their violent behavior (Tarantelli 2010, 541). In fact, in the few but significant private portraits that reached us, revolutionary “terrorists” appear as fully human—​they show mixed feelings about violence and at times seriously doubt about their path. An episode recounted in the biography of one of the founders of the Red Brigades, Alberto Franceschini, is indicative of the attitude to armed revolt of left-​wing “terrorists” in the early 1970s. It tells of how in 1972 Franceschini and three other brigadists—​ Renato Curcio, Mara Cagol, and Mario Moretti—​repaired to a countryside hideout after a police raid, from which they barely escaped, and considered giving up their struggle: One evening we realized that each one of us four had thought, at least once, of throwing the guns in the fields and leaving. After a joke from Mara [Cagol]—​“It feels like we’re on holiday!”—​we looked at each other in the eye and laughed. Her joke forced us to consider what to do next. Going back to holding meetings, being chased by the police, organizing attacks that are increasingly risky, or staying on a holiday that had been imposed on us but was not that unpleasant? It was Mario [Moretti] who put aside the jokes and got straight to the point: we either quit or go on. We laughed again but soon turned serious. Leaving the revolution halfway? Quit at the first sign of trouble? Desert the companions that up to that moment had put their trust in us? If we did all this we would have looked at ourselves for the rest of our days as losers. And it was this sense of premature failure that woke us up. For few days more we would joke about “quitting” just to remove the temptation [. . .]. So the Red Brigades survived; in fact, it was in that countryside house that the true Red Brigades were born [. . .]. (Franceschini 1988, 67–​68)

The immediate goals of these modi operandi are also comparable. Both revolutionary and suicide terrorism are designed to prove determination to the out-​group, even with limited means and when faced with an audience that is accustomed to violence. As Assaf Moghadam noted, suicide operations are “cost-​effective, highly lethal, and the most accurate weapons available” to many insurgents; even if they require “little planning,” they are “are among the most shocking and awe-​inspiring tactics possible” (Moghadam 2008, 259). Revolutionary “terrorists” also had to consider the cost-​effectiveness of their methods; at some stage, the entire arsenal with which Italian left-​wing

88 Terrorists acting as monsters “terrorists” planned to take on their imperialist enemies amounted to four handguns (Franceschini 1988, 66). Still, especially when compared to other contemporary terrorist tactics such as car bombs and hijackings, suicide missions and revolutionary monstrosity are about more than efficiency—​ when adopting these tactics, the “terrorist” wants to show an attitude that goes beyond what is expected from normal humans and evoke a sense of “horror” in the target audience (Asad 2007, 66). The shock and awe that these attacks elicit has to do with the behavior of the perpetrator during the attack as much as with the destructiveness and violence of the act itself. However, there are also three fundamental differences between revolutionary and suicide terrorism. The first concerns the means of the fight. By definition, at the heart of suicide terrorism is the self-​sacrifice of the attacker, or at least the expectation that he or she will not survive the suicide mission (Crenshaw 2007, 138). Even if the tactical purpose of the attack is normally that of creating as much death and destruction as possible, its central focus is therefore on the self—​and this, as we shall see, is also crucial to how suicide missions appeal to the in-​group that they want to affect. Revolutionary monstrosity is, instead, predominantly focused on the other—​in fact, it is crucial for this tactic that the enemy is unequivocally portrayed as the victim. Although most revolutionary “terrorists” know that their actions may eventually lead to their own capture, death, or self-​immolation, it is not a key part of the performative message that they want to convey, which is instead about presenting oneself as inhuman, unthinkable, and unmanageable. This difference also emerges from comparing the trademark mise-​en-​ scènes that are associated with these types of terrorist violence. Especially since the 1990s, many suicide missions have been accompanied by pre-​ recorded video testaments—​short videos in which the suicide attacker is literally at the center of the scene. This material is designed to elaborate on the message of the attack, to formalize and showcase the commitment of the perpetrator (Atran 2003, 1537), and eventually to aid recruitment (Torres Soriano 2012, 268). These are not different, in some ways, from the goals that captured anarchists tried to achieve during their own trials. At the core of these video testaments therefore lies the “direct contact” established between the “terrorist” and the audience, who appears in flesh and bone after its own death almost as a ghost, to reiterate its message against the out-​group and often show to the in-​group not only its determination but also its humanity, for instance, by directing a final goodbye to its parents, children, and friends (Hafez 2007a, 204).

Revolutionary monstrosity  89 The trademark mise-​en-​scène of revolutionary terrorism is instead a modern, mediatized version of Robespierre’s revolutionary trials, where the focus is steadily on the “other.” It is the presence in flesh and bone of the victim that gains the center stage here, while the perpetrator either remains a ghostly presence off-​scene or hides his or her features behind a balaclava, thus completing his evolution into a non-​human and depersonalized monster. This format originated from the pictures issued by left-​wing “terrorist” groups since the early 1970s that represented their victims in settings that directly cited (or mocked) police mugshots. The evolution of this material into video footage first happened at the hands of the Red Army Faction (RAF) in Germany during the kidnapping of businessman Hanns-​Martin Schleyer in 1977 (Vague 1994, 75–​77; Weisbrod 2011)  before being emulated and perfected by the Italian Red Brigades in the following years. In the latter’s footage of the revolutionary trial of Roberto Peci in 1981, the victim was the only person that would be seen in the video while the terrorist-​“judge” was off-​scene, threatening the victim with a “low-​pitched, single-​stringed” voice before announcing the death sentence (Uva 2013). More recent variations of this format by jihadi groups normally include both the victim and the murderer in the same setting, but the point of the latter’s presence still remains the same—​conveying a sense of brutal, unemotional determination. This leads us to the second key difference between suicide terrorism and revolutionary terrorism, which has to do with their relation to the idea of “humanity” itself. Self-​immolation is a super-​human act; it is not fully understandable based on immediate human rationality, but it makes sense within widely accepted religious and ideological frameworks that rationalize it as part of the concept of martyrdom (Hafez 2007b; Post 2009; Finn 2012). Although people who commit suicide are normally seen as self-​centered and almost cowardly, martyrs gain a higher and more dignified status even compared to other fighters who are killed in the course of their duties but do not submit to their fate as willingly and self-​consciously as martyrs do. A  monster is instead non-​human—​it shows behavior that explicitly challenges and reverses social expectations. The terrorist-​monster wants to appear as inhuman, shocking, cold, and without sentiments. Finally, these tactics differ in how they contribute to the strategic goals of the movements that resort to them. Suicide terrorism has traditionally been one of the ways in which rebel groups fight a pre-​existing war, normally one with a strong ethnonationalist component. The advantages that a group can achieve when resorting to suicide missions are various. Internally, the

90 Terrorists acting as monsters choice to use suicide terrorism has been associated with in-​group competition and outbidding. Mia Bloom, for instance, has argued that historically “suicide terror was adopted when multiple organizations ramped up insurgent violence with increasing degrees of lethality” (Bloom 2005, 95). In these circumstances, suicide missions can allow some groups to distinguish themselves from other factions that compete for representing the grievances of the in-​group, “gain credibility” and “win the public relations competition” (95). The appearance of tactics such as suicide terrorism in an ongoing conflict therefore reflects disagreements not about whom to fight or on whether conflict is inevitable, but rather about how to fight and about which faction should lead a resistance movement or insurgency. In relation to the out-​group, suicide terrorism is seen as a comparatively efficient means for striking and terrorizing an enemy, especially (but not only) by groups with limited resources. For most of the contemporary history of suicide terrorism, the identity of the “other” has been that of a near enemy, normally some kind of real or perceived “occupation,” such as the “presence of American and French forces in Lebanon, Israeli occupation of West Bank and Gaza [and] the independence of the Tamil regions of Sri Lanka,” among others (Pape 2003, 347). If suicide terrorism is primarily about (more effectively) fighting a struggle that already exists, the basic purpose of revolutionary violence is to create one. The “terrorist”-​monster makes a statement about the depth of hate and irreconcilability of world views with the purpose of encouraging political radicalization. That is, as Kenneth Payne puts it, in revolutionary terrorism “fighting creates politics, not the other way around” (Payne 2011, 131). This modus operandi therefore tends to emerge when the in-​group needs to be convinced of the necessity of having a struggle in the first place. The birth of left-​wing “terrorist” groups after the student riots of the late 1960s was the result of the divide between those who continued to believe in incremental reforms and those who instead concluded that the articulation of their “voice” through the political system was insufficient and opted instead to “exit” it (Hirschman 1970). Similarly, jihadist terrorism at the end of the century wanted to stir up the average population in Muslim countries and the migrant communities in the West to revolt against Western imperialism and any local leader who colludes with it. The out-​group that revolutionary “terrorists” face tends therefore to be a far enemy (and its local puppets). Even the left-​wing groups that fought their own governments in Italy, Germany, and elsewhere presented their battle as part of a struggle with

Revolutionary monstrosity  91 global goals—​for instance, as directed to “disarticulating the structures and the plans of the imperialist bourgeoisie by attacking the political-​economic-​ military personnel that embodies it” (Red Brigades 1978a). The goal of this battle often is to replace an existing economic–​political system with a completely new one (the dictatorship of the proletariat; the caliphate) in which state boundaries and national divisions would become obsolete.

The Revolutionary Monsters of the 1970s Exactly one century had passed since the publication of Nechayev’s Catechism when, in December 1969, a bomb exploded at the headquarters of a bank in central Milan, Italy, killing seventeen and wounding many others. A local anarchist, Giuseppe Spinelli, was soon framed as the author of the attack. However, as Spinelli plunged to his death from a fourth-​floor window of the police building in which he was being detained, many suspected that the bombing was actually the work of right-​wing groups, with the support of the Italian secret services, aimed at tainting the name of left-​wing activism and engendering a social conflict that would have led to the suspension of the democratic process and the imposition of authoritarian emergency measures. In 1970 a number of young communist activists who were frustrated with the failure of the student protests of the late 1960s in bringing about social change, as well as with the performance of left-​wing parties in parliament, decided to respond to the “strategy of tension” that was initiated by the 1969 attack by embracing clandestine armed struggle. The “Red Brigades” (Brigate Rosse) were born. At an ideological level, the left-​wing groups that took on armed struggle in the 1970s—​including the West German Red Army Faction, also founded in 1970—​were one of the offsprings of the communist movement, with which they shared an internationalist world view, treating imperialism as the main enemy and the desire to engender a class revolt against the capitalist bourgeoisie. Like that of communist parties, however, their organizational structure remained essentially confined within state boundaries, with international links often limited to the networking activities of single individuals or to a simple emulation effect. However, these groups were mainly distinguished from their comrades who sat in parliament, and other communist grassroots groups that proliferated since the 1960, by their adoption of illegalism, political

92 Terrorists acting as monsters violence, and terrorism as means of struggle. Their choice was the outcome of two main influences. The most direct one was the popularity of the Latin American anti-​imperialist guerrilla fighters, including Carlos Marighella’s Tupamaros (Curcio 1993, 70; Jamieson 1990a, 3) and Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the true “legend” (Franceschini 1988, 30) and source of inspiration for the early brigadists. In his Message to the Tricontinental—​what may be seen as Guevara’s political testament, published a few months before his death in 1967—​he described his vision of anti-​imperialist guerrilla in the following terms: Our mission, in the first hour, shall be to survive; later, we shall follow the perennial example of the guerrilla, carrying out armed propaganda [. . .]. The great lesson of the invincibility of the guerrillas taking roots in the dispossessed masses. The galvanizing of the national spirit, the preparation for harder tasks, for resisting even more violent repressions. Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us over and beyond the natural limitations that man is heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy. We must carry the war into every corner the enemy happens to carry it: to his home, to his centers of entertainment; a total war. It is necessary to prevent him from having a moment of peace, a quiet moment outside his barracks or even inside; we must attack him wherever he may be; make him feel like a cornered beast wherever he may move. Then his moral fiber shall begin to decline. He will even become more beastly, but we shall notice how the signs of decadence begin to appear. (Guevara 1967; emphasis added)

Che Guevara’s notion of anti-​imperialist guerrilla not only presents conflict as inevitable and necessary, but also is intended to convince his in-​group that the “aim of the revolutionary education is to program people to deliver death without betraying any emotion” (Orsini 2011, 82)—​without which they should entertain little hope of defeating the much more powerful and cunning “beast” of imperialism. In introducing themselves explicitly as “guerrilla fighters” (guerriglieri), the Red Brigades were also paying homage to the Italian resistance movement during World War II. The term “brigade” intentionally cited the denomination of the most significant left-​wing paramilitary formation of the resistance—​the Garibaldi Brigade—​and it was retired partisans in the

Revolutionary monstrosity  93 Emilia-​Romagna region who supplied the brigadists with some of their first weaponry (Franceschini 1988, 4–​5, 32). Like the resistance movement, which took advantage of its military successes to create some ephemeral republics in territory liberated from Nazi-​Fascist rule, the Red Brigades had the ambition to act as a quasi-​state, appropriating sovereign prerogatives by presenting robberies as “proletarian expropriations,” kidnapping operations as formal arrests, and execution of hostages as revolutionary trials. Whether the Red Brigades truly believed that they would eventually become a parallel state, or even replace the bourgeois institutions of republican Italy with the dictatorship of the proletariat, remains a matter of contention. What is clear, however, is that they consistently acted as if this were the case. In contemporary politics, as Jean Baudrillard (1988, 166) argued, often “it is the map that precedes the territory”; the simulation of sovereignty may be sufficient to generate an illusion of political power that may be indistinguishable from reality, and that therefore exists in a state that can be described, in Baudrillard’s words, as “hyperreality.” For the Red Brigades, visual communication was key to the hyperreal (re-​)presentation of a political order that had not yet materialized—​and probably never would. Visual violence also allowed them to showcase their ostentatious defiance of a more powerful enemy through staged and almost gratuitous cruelty. The main and most direct purposes of this tactic included terrorizing the enemy, taking direct revenge for any perceived wrongdoing against the working class, conveying a sense of determination, and therefore contributing to the eventual implementation of their political vision. However, the material that they produced was also easy bait for the mainstream media, keen to feed to the general public images that would satisfy its appetite for morbidity and violence. As a result, whether or not it contributed to convincing Italians of the goodness of their cause, this publicity certainly helped the Red Brigades to become part of the public discourse—​that is, it helped a movement that at some stage owned fewer weapons than any average criminal gang at least to “conquer the right to exist” (Donato 2013) and to be taken seriously. The construction of the monstrous persona of the Red Brigades happened through three visual milestones. In 1972 they kidnapped Idalgo Macchiarini, a manager who was particularly unpopular among the workers of the SIT-​ Siemens factory in Milan. Macchiarini was held in a van for approximately twenty minutes, subjected to an interrogation about the work disputes in which he was involved, and then released. This operation was unprecedented

94 Terrorists acting as monsters in many ways—​it was the first action of the Red Brigades against a human target, it was the first of a long series of kidnappings framed as police arrests followed by interrogations and trial sessions, and it was also the first action accompanied by a visual document that summarized the nature and scope of the operation and reinforced its terrorist message (Figure 4.1). In 1972 the visual self-​branding of the Red Brigades was still quite rough; the Polaroid image of Macchiarini in the van was visually crammed and not accurately staged—​“there were four people on top of each other in little more than one square meter” (Moretti 1998, 39), Mario Moretti would later recount—​and the facial expression of the victim was enigmatic despite the gun pointed at his cheek. This improvised mise-​en-​scène was literally a work of theatre; Renato Curcio revealed in his biography that the revolvers used in the operation were “old rusty things that perhaps could not even shoot” (Curcio 1993, 70) and the kidnappers had explained to the victim that the guns pointed at him were only having a “symbolic” valence and that he would not be harmed. The lower half of the picture was occupied by a poster hanging from the victim’s neck that presented four Red Brigade slogans

Figure 4.1  The Polaroid picture of the kidnapping of Idalgo Macchiarini (1972).

Revolutionary monstrosity  95 (including the Red Brigades’ take of the Propaganda of the Deed—​“Strike one to educate one hundred”), making this image in fact a hybrid of written and visual communication. Macchiarini’s Polaroid picture was mailed by the Red Brigades directly to the main Italian press agency ANSA. What Moretti dubbed as an “awful picture” on technical grounds (Moretti 1998, 39) was, in Curcio’s words, a “very important” propaganda tool because it allowed the Red Brigades “for the first time, to ‘showcase’ [far vedere—​literally ‘make seen’] an episode of armed struggle in 1970s Italy” (Curcio 1993, 70). In fact, Moretti would add, “the picture was the goal of the action” in that it showed “a manager in our hands, on the forefront of the image, with a sign bearing the slogans of armed propaganda” (Moretti 1998, 39). In the following days, this photograph would be all over the Italian press. As expected, it elicited a sense of fear mixed with outrage among the economic and political leadership of the country, while the targeting of a manager known for his disputes with factory workers did win new sympathizers to the Red Brigades among the latter. The publicity success of the hit-​ and-​ run abduction of Macchiarini encouraged further operations of the kind in the following years, targeting victims of increasingly high rank. On 16 March 1978, the Roman column of the Red Brigades went for the ultimate prize—​Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro, who was also the chairman of the ruling Christian Democracy party. This operation first required intercepting Moro’s car convoy and neutralizing his bodyguards; all five of them were killed by a Red Brigade commando. Moro was then held captive for fifty-​five days, before being executed. Moro’s kidnapping was staged as a paramilitary operation and the long revolutionary trial to which he was subjected—​ documented in nine communiqués—​was presented as the rightful exercise of sovereign powers by (self-​appointed) representatives of Italy’s proletariat (Jamieson 1990b, 516). It is worth remarking once more the centrality of the symbolism of the trial in terrorism. Even if “terrorists” might use them for their own propaganda, for states, trials are an important opportunity for normalizing the terrorist act and bringing it back into the foreseeable path of due process, reinforce the rule of law, and show that the state is still in control of its territory. In other words, the trial has historically been the main political and legal antidote to terrorism. The Red Brigades were keen to provide a visual testimony of their appropriation of this ultimate symbol of state power, especially when

96 Terrorists acting as monsters

Figure 4.2  The first Polaroid picture of Aldo Moro as a captive of the Red Brigades (1978).

they had the prime minister in the dock. The first Polaroid picture was found two days after the kidnapping, together with the first written communiqué. Behind its minimalist simplicity—​the picture was essentially a raw mugshot of a grinning Moro in front of the standard of the Red Brigades—​the higher proficiency in visual communication acquired by the Red Brigades over almost a decade is apparent. The picture obviously wants to be a staged mugshot of Moro, framing his abduction as a legitimate arrest, but it also wants to provide a clear picture of Moro’s face almost as an objectified trophy, a tribute to the brave savagery of the commando who took him literally from the hands of his bodyguards (Figure 4.2). In contrast to the hurried picture of Macchiarini, Moro’s picture is a tech-​savvy shot in which the photographer maximized the contrast and quality of the image, and possibly took care to provide either a natural light source or of utilizing professional daylight lighting equipment (Silj 1978). This subtlety is only partly clear in the picture that was presented by

Revolutionary monstrosity  97 the media, which was based on a low-​quality copy made available by the authorities. Also differently from Macchiarini’s picture, Moro’s shows no trace of the brigadists themselves or their weapons either in his first picture or in a second, very similar one made found on 20 April 1978. The “terrorist” has become a shadowy, immaterial presence with no recognizable features. Its ability to terrorize the enemy rested not just in its non-​human form but also on its unpredictable, unmanageable behavior. Moro’s grin perhaps betrayed his expectation that he would be freed after a prisoner exchange (as happened with the kidnapping of the public prosecutor Mario Sossi in 1974). However, after almost two months of indirect negotiations, this exchange did not materialize. Even though until that moment no abducted prisoner had been killed by the Red Brigades, Moro’s revolutionary trial ended with a death sentence. The third and last visual step would be taken with the abduction of Roberto Peci in June 1981 and his eventual execution. In the three years that separated this operation from Moro’s kidnapping, much had changed for the Red Brigades. Predictably, the cadres that were at large at the time of Moro’s execution were hunted down and eventually captured. In April 1981, the arrest of Mario Moretti led to the formation of a splinter group, named “Front of the Prisons,” that pledged the continuation of armed struggle with a focus not only on bourgeois targets but also on moles and informants—​many of whom had been instrumental to the arrests that followed the Moro operation. The use of violence and terrorism for in-​group policing is far from uncommon among insurgent movements who are losing internal support among their constituencies (Fearon and Laitin 2000, 868; Kalyvas 2003, 481). However, their attempt to generate support through such means is usually an indication that their days are numbered. This, in fact, was the case with left-​wing terrorism in Italy and Germany that fizzled out within the first half of the 1980s. Roberto Peci was the brother of Patrizio Peci, the first Red Brigade member who had defected from the movement to collaborate with the Italian judicial authorities. A  working-​ class electrician employed in a shop in San Benedetto del Tronto (around 200 kilometers northeast of Rome), Roberto Peci was abducted by a Red Brigade commando, kept captive for fifty-​three days, and then executed. This time various parts of his revolutionary trial were filmed using a portable VHS video camera, creating

98 Terrorists acting as monsters the first series of “terrorist videos” in contemporary history. At that time, portable equipment of this sort was still rudimentary, which resulted in the footage being much less polished than Moro’s mugshots. However, this visual material was constructed almost literally as a transposition of Moro’s pictures into a movie setting. The victim again appeared alone at the center of the frame under a Red Brigade banner; the sessions of the trial were treated as official news bulletins (introduced by lines such as “It’s the Red Brigades here”), but throughout the footage the kidnappers remained off-​scene, interrogating Peci with a low-​pitched, almost artificial voice. Although it remains unclear whether the Red Brigades had actually planned to kill Moro when they abducted him, in this case the revolutionary trial was constructed so that the victim would be forced to confess that his brother was never a true brigadist but rather a police mole with whom he colluded, so that his eventual execution as a “backstabber” (infame) could be framed as legitimate. The video narrative of Peci’s trial stopped short of filming the moment of his execution, which was instead captured with a Polaroid picture (Figure 4.3). This image was not only the first visual testimony of the actual shooting of a Red Brigade hostage, but it was also the first time since the Macchiarini operation that it included a sign of the physical presence of the “terrorists”—​ again, it was not the “terrorists” themselves but rather their weapons, which

Figure 4.3  The Polaroid picture of the execution of Roberto Peci (1981).

Revolutionary monstrosity  99 functioned as the visible appendixes of the ghostly, non-​representable bodies of the “cold killing machines” envisioned by Che Guevara. Within nine years, the Red Brigades had significantly upped their stakes, and the symbolic violence of Macchiarini’s abduction had become real. However, the terrorist event still remained a staged performance; in fact, technology opened new avenues for articulating its visual language and loading it with subtler and more diversified performative meanings.

5 Monsters in the “Jihadi Revolutionary Atmosphere” From the Red Brigades to Al-​Qaeda (via Palestine) Some scholars argue that a red line connects the revolutionary terrorism of the Red Brigades with al-​Qaeda. For instance, according to Olivier Roy (2008): Al-​Qaeda is an avatar of the ultra-​leftist radicalism. Its targets are the same as the traditional targets of the ultra-​left: US imperialism, symbols of globalization. When Bin Laden referred to Vietnam in his video speech of September 2007, instead of quoting the Koran, he was in fact addressing an audience more sensitive to the political dimension than to the religious one. When al-​Qaeda executed western hostages in Iraq, it staged the execution by using the same mise-​en-​scène invented by the Red Brigades when they killed Aldo Moro. (16)

Intriguing as it might seem, Roy’s argument needs some important qualifications. The increasingly brutal practices that Roy attributes to al-​ Qaeda, including the execution of Western hostages in Iraq through decapitation, are a rather late development in al-​Qaeda’s tactics and mostly related to its Iraqi affiliate—​originally a separate insurgent group that later swore allegiance to al-​Qaeda “central,” that in turn often dealt with its local branch with unease. Al-​Qaeda’s trademark modus operandi was instead a global-​ scale evolution of the practices perfected by jihadist groups in Palestine and Lebanon, centered on suicide missions and hijackings. Furthermore, the executions that gained al-​Qaeda in Iraq’s fame of untamed brutality involved the broadcasting of a series of visually shocking images, such as showing to the public the entire decapitation process or at least the severed head of the victim, as in the case of the beheading of Nicholas Berg in May 2004. On the other hand, as we saw, the visual language of Moro’s Terrorists as Monsters. Marco Pinfari Oxford University Press (2019) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190927875.001.0001

Monsters in the “jihadi revolutionary atmosphere”  101 kidnapping was much tamer and more indirect, and the Red Brigades did not publish any morbid images of Moro’s execution. The graphic pictures that the Italian press took of his corpse, found in a car trunk in central Rome, gained wide coverage worldwide but were, somewhat ironically, not produced by the Red Brigades themselves. After fifty-​five days of rumors and headlines, the appetite for morbidity prodded by the “terrorists” led the mainstream press to play their own game. Roy is right in two regards, however. First, al-​Qaeda’s take on suicide terrorism combined for the first time a tactic used prior to that stage primarily to fight a “near” enemy with the pursuit of a global agenda directed against a “far” enemy. This resulted in a certain degree of ideological convergence between global jihadists and left-​wing “terrorists.” Originally, the groups that formed or joined al-​Qaeda—​including the mujahidin fighters in Afghanistan and the Egyptian al-​gama’a al-​Islamiyya—​fought a near enemy like other groups that resorted to suicide bombing in Lebanon, Palestine, and elsewhere. One of the first raisons d’être of al-​Qaeda—​“the base” in Arabic—​ was in fact the coordination of local Islamist groups around the world, from Algeria to the Sudan and from Afghanistan to the Philippines. However, a “strategic shift” (Moghadam 2008, 129) toward a global struggle against a far enemy occurred in the early 1990s, possibly under the leadership of Ayman al-​Zawahiri and of the Sudanese scholar Mamdouh Mahmud Salim (also known as Abu Hajer al-​Iraqi)—​an engineer by training who was apparently treated by Osama Bin Laden as a religious authority and who was entrusted with al-​Qaeda’s fatwa committee. This shift was encouraged by a variety of strategic and tactical considerations. The physical presence of the United States in Iraq after the 1990–​1991 war provided an immediate link between local occupation and global imperialism, making the transition between a near enemy and a far enemy practically and ideologically seamless (Moghadam 2008, 130–​131). Abu Hajer’s interest in the Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah also led him to develop jurisprudential arguments equating people (civilian or military) who colluded with non-​Muslim occupiers with the infidels themselves, thus legitimizing both armed resistance and terrorism in Muslim lands. This also meant that the near enemies of jihadist movements were never actually removed from al-​Qaeda’s radar, but they were increasingly framed as puppets of imperial, global masters—​similar to how left-​wing groups saw their own governments as direct expressions of capitalist imperialism. These shifts led to what Thomas Hegghammer (2009) described as an “ideological

102 Terrorists acting as monsters hybridization” of global jihadism—​an uneven amalgam of arguments calling for both local and global struggles that was a testament to al-​Qaeda’s increasingly ambitious vision. At the same time, however, this was also an indication of al-​Qaeda’s operational weakness, as it hid the defeats suffered by local jihadist movements outside of Afghanistan within the framework of a global war whose features remained vague and flexible. Secondly, Roy correctly points at the fact that after September 11 the modus operandi of global jihadism inched increasingly closer to that of revolutionary terrorism. Especially since 2004, the tactics of choice of global jihadism could be seen as an updated edition of the revolutionary “terrorist”-​ monster—​made increasingly brutal, compatible with at least some sources of Islamic jurisprudence, and hybridized with other tactics that had a successful track record in conflict theatres, such as suicide bombing and lone-​ wolf terrorism. This tactical reorientation of al-​Qaeda and other jihadist groups after September 11 was essentially reactive, spurred by the new operational environment created first by the War on Terror, then the war on Iraq, followed by the “mounting difficulties” that they faced when directly targeted by “United States’ military might” (Mendelsohn 2016, 63). This convergence, however, was not coincidental either, because various types of connections exist between left-​wing terrorism and contemporary jihadist movements. The most direct of these links—​but also, at a closer analysis, the least substantial—​is the thin thread of operational continuity that can be traced between the Red Brigades and armed rebel groups in the Middle East, especially in Palestine. The European left-​wing “terrorist” groups of the 1970s publicly supported the Palestinian struggle and developed over time an informal working relation with the factions within the PLO that had a more explicit Marxist orientation, such as George Habash’s “Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine” (PFLP). In the late 1970s, one of the historic leaders of the Red Brigades, Mario Moretti, was at the heart of this network that acted under the cover of a Paris-​based language school named Hyperion. In 1979 Moretti himself coordinated an arms deal that led to a substantial weapons shipment from Italy to Lebanon, and it is known that various “autonomous militants” from European left-​ wing formations “frequently traveled to Lebanon, Syria and Jordan” (Falciola 2014, 13–​17). The influence of home-​ grown European terrorism on the PLO led to the formation of paramilitary groups explicitly devoted to armed struggle and terrorism. The names of these groups reflected this international connection—​such as the Red Eagle

Monsters in the “jihadi revolutionary atmosphere”  103 Brigades (later renamed as Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades), the armed wing of the PFLP that has been described as “one of the forerunners of Palestinian global terrorist activities” (Bröning 2013, 99). However, the significance of this connection should not be overstated. European left-​wing groups and the PLO were certainly tuned in with each other on an ideological level. However, the operational links between them “had limited scope and short duration” (Falciola 2014, 18)  and might, in fact, have been motivated more by the interest of European “terrorists” for seeing Palestinian groups in action (and their media-​savvy tactics—​Dobkin 2005, 123–​124) than by the latter’s desire to emulate left-​ wing terrorism. Also, within the Palestinian liberation movement, groups such as the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades have been effectively outbid over time by others that had a stronger religious orientation and adopted suicide terrorism as their tactic of choice, such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Another element of continuity between left-​wing terrorism and global jihadism rests on the use of a comparable visual language. Since the 1980s terrorist video messages indeed tend to show striking similarities across time and place, such as their setting, the use of banners and flags showcasing the ideological and religious standpoint of the group, and the focus of visual attention funneled to the center of the frame. The visual representation of terrorist violence certainly is not immune from the dynamics of “remediation” (Uva 2008, 39–​40); as “media are continuously commenting on, reproducing, and replacing each other” (Bolter and Grusin 1999, 55), new videos directly or indirectly cite previous material and, in so doing, perpetuate its influence. In this sense, left-​wing “terrorism” may file a paternity claim on most of the visual productions of terrorist groups in the following decades. Still, by itself, the simple existence of terrorist-​produced photographs and footage since the 1970s does not explain the significant variations of terrorist video messages that we have witnessed, especially since the development of suicide terrorism. I previously argued that it does make a difference if, at the center of these performances, we find a would-​be suicide bomber or a member of the out-​group who is about to be executed. In the 1990s, it was the video testament, not the revolutionary trial, that became the most widespread format of terrorist video messages. Even the relatively short history of global jihadism is marked by significant tactical and strategic changes, despite some obvious elements of continuity in the way in which terrorism has been presented visually.

104 Terrorists acting as monsters In fact, a third and more convincing explanation for the similarities observed by Roy is to argue that the relation between al-​Qaeda (and other global jihadist groups) and the Red Brigades was, more than a case of direct filiation, a matter of shared ancestry. Both movements read the main works by the anti-​imperialist guerrilla fighters and writers of the 1950s and 1960s and implemented their lessons, adapting them to their own operational and ideological settings. The use of a comparable and “remediated” visual language, adjusted to the different ideological framework of jihadist terrorism, added to this eventual tactical convergence to make al-​Qaeda and, later, the Islamic State, an “avatar of ultra-​left radicalism.” The Palestinian national movement was the key linchpin of this process. Apart from the thin direct operational links between European left-​wing militants and specific factions within the PLO, the latter could trace at least part of its own genealogy back to the heart of the global anti-​colonial movement. Khalil al-​Wazir (also known as Abu Jihad), one of the main personalities in Fatah (the largest and most influential faction within the PLO), developed close operational ties with the Algerians and with other anti-​colonial movements in Africa; as part of his outreach, he met personally with Che Guevara, who “pledged Cuban backing” for the Palestinian struggle (Sayigh 1999, 102). In 1959, the year of the success of the Cuban Revolution and five years before the establishment of the PLO, Guevara had actually traveled to the Gaza Strip, which was then under Egyptian control. His visit was “momentous” (Abu Sitta 2015, 6) and instrumental in reshaping the Palestine question from a regional conflict to a cornerstone of the “global struggle against colonialism” (4). Guevara met with Gamal Abdel Nasser and with several local leaders; after being shown evidence of the poor condition of the civilians living in the refugee camps, he scolded the Palestinian authorities for not doing enough to advance their nationalist cause. He remarked that Cuba had “worse case[s]‌of poverty” and continued: You should show me what you have done to liberate your country. Where are the training camps? Where are the factories that manufacture arms? Where are people’s mobilization centres? (7)

As with the Red Brigades, Guevara rapidly became a mythical figure for the Palestinian movement. The third-​worldist declination of the concept of “revolution” (thawra in Arabic) became the main “linchpin of the heroic narrative” of the Palestinian struggle at least throughout the 1960s and 1970s

Monsters in the “jihadi revolutionary atmosphere”  105 (Khalili 2006, 96). Yasser Arafat was described by the spokesman of Fatah as the “Che Guevara of the Middle East” (Heradstveit 1972, 30)—​echoing al-​ Zawahiri’s characterization of Osama Bin Laden as the “new Che Guevara” (Napoleoni 2005, 214) some decades later. In 1969, Gerard Chaliand “saw books by Mao, Guevara, Fanon and Debray” in Palestinian guerrilla training camps and added: [f]‌rom Fanon they take the description of the psychology of the colonized and the need to resort to violence; from Guevara, the texts advocating the need for armed conflict; from Mao, the concept of prolonged war; from Debray, whose works are extensively translated into Arabic, the idea that the party is useless, for “the guerrilla nucleus is the party in gestation.” (Khalili 2006, 97)

Especially between 1969 and 1970, the PLO tried to put these lessons into practice and organized several guerrilla operations against Israel. A break-​off faction of the PFLP, named the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PDFLP), launched in 1969 “Operation Che Guevara” against Israeli forces as part of a larger series of attacks against Israeli positions waged from Lebanon, Jordan, and the Golan Heights (Sayigh 1999, 204–​205). The results achieved by these actions were nevertheless disappointing, and the prospect of launching a successful guerrilla war remained an “epic mirage” (202). Reflecting on this campaign, PFLP militants advocated shifting the PLO strategy toward what they called a “mobile war” and discussed the need to create a “revolutionary atmosphere” (206) that would sustain—​ ideologically and operationally—​the confrontation with Israel. The expulsion of the PLO from Jordan in September 1970 and the internationalization of the Israeli–​Palestinian conflict were accompanied by an increased resort to terrorism and assassinations as opposed to guerrilla-​style paramilitary operations. The first notable operation of the Black September Organization (which in 1972 would be responsible for the Munich Olympics massacre) was the assassination of Jordan’s Prime Minister Wasfi al-​Tal on 28 November 1971 in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in Cairo. After the shooting, one of the assassins bent down on the lobby floor where al-​Tal lay and “lapped his blood” (Rubin 1994, 38). Arafat later “claimed responsibility for the killing” (38). The audience of the blood-​licking performance after al-​Tal’s assassination was eminently intra-​Arab. This gesture was most likely meant to signal the

106 Terrorists acting as monsters sworn enmity that now separated Palestinian militants from the leadership of the Arab states that, in their view, had betrayed them. To convey this message, al-​Tal’s assassins positioned themselves in line with the tradition in Islamic warfare of (threatening to) commit cannibalistic acts on enemies. A remnant of pre-​Islamic practices, the feasting on body parts of fallen enemies is documented in early Islamic chronicles not only in the context of acts of revenge, but also for terrorizing enemies and—​as a result—​for sending clear signals that the “other” qualifies as such. An instance of cannibalism in a war setting, which is often recounted as part of the story of Prophet Muhammad and is well known among Muslims, has as protagonist Hind bint Utbah (the mother of the founder of the Umayyad dynasty) who before her conversion to Islam had the liver of the fallen Islamic leader Hamza ibn Abdul-​Muttalib gouged out and attempted to eat it raw. Even if these practices are not religiously allowed in Islam, and in no passage of the Qur’an does God explicitly authorize them, over time they have become a component of the cultural repertoire of war and enmity in Islam, one that is widely recognizable among Muslims. Not only apostates, but also adversaries belonging to the so-​called “people of the book” have been repeatedly threatened with this treatment. In the early decades of Islam, Khalid Ibn al-​Waleed—​a renowned general known as the “Sword of Islam”—​told a Christian commander in Syria that “we are people who drink the blood of our opponents. We have heard that Roman blood is very delicious, and we have come here to enjoy it” (Ghadanfar 2001, 56). After the religious turn within Palestinian nationalism in the 1980s, the performative symbolism of the blood-​licking people gained increased currency. Hamas did not abjure the revolutionary legacy of the PLO—​in 2014 the Israeli army published excerpts of a “manual of urban warfare” allegedly written by Hamas members (T. Parker 2015, 41)—​but, in updating it through new modi operandi (such as suicide terrorism), Hamas also increasingly articulated it through religious symbolism. Furthermore, the rise to prominence of religious Zionist discourses in Israel’s politics provided opportunities to rely on symbolism that appealed both to Muslim and to Jewish audiences, actualizing the age-​old battle between Islam and its enemies for the sake of their internal audience, while also citing the supposed behavior of the age-​old cosmic enemy of the Jews in order to maximize their scare power. In his video-​testament broadcast in 2006, a Hamas suicide bomber declared that:

Monsters in the “jihadi revolutionary atmosphere”  107 [m]‌y message to the loathed Jews is that there is no god but Allah [and] that we will chase you everywhere! We are a nation that drinks blood, and we know that there is no blood better than the blood of the Jews. We will not leave you alone until we have quenched our thirst with your blood, and our children’s thirst with your blood. (D. Patterson 2011, 43)

Savagery, Polarization, and the Strategic Turn of Global Jihadism Five years before Hamas’s impersonation of the blood-​ drinking monster, al-​Qaeda had rattled the Western world with its September 11 attacks. Like Palestinian militants, global jihadists, far from being improvised hate-​ sowers, have developed their own strategic thinking (Stout 2009; Adamsky 2010). Especially after the “strategic miscalculations” (Mendelsohn 2016, 77) that led to disappointing performances in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2002–​ 2003, they scoured the modern history and theory of warfare looking for ideas that suited the operational environment they faced. Unsurprisingly, one of the main tactical schools to which rebel groups in the Middle East looked for inspiration was once more that of Latin American anti-​imperialist guerrillas and their main authors. Osama Bin Laden himself was proficient in their doctrines, which transpire in many of his speeches (Chipman 2003). However, it was in the aftermath of the 2003 war on Iraq that a particularly important addition to “jihadi strategic studies” (Adamsky 2009, 1) has been recorded, associated primarily with the work of Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, better known as Abu Musab al-​ Suri—​ an al-​ Qaeda member of Syrian origin who is considered by some as the “leading Salafi jihadist strategic thinker” (Stout 2009, 879). In 2006 al-​Suri published the influential 1,604-​page manual titled Call of the Global Islamic Resistance (da’wat al-​muqawamah al-​Islamiyyah al-​’alamiyyah) which cemented his fame as the “architect of Al Qaeda’s post-​9/​11 structure and strategy” (Cruickshank and Ali 2007, 1). In al-​ Suri’s strategic thinking, several themes stand out. In his recommendations for structuring insurrectional activity, al-​Suri seems to have “absorb[ed] the lessons of Mao, Giap, Che, and Marighella” (Payne 2011, 125)—​all of whom, with the exception of Marighella, are repeatedly cited by name in his manual. However, al-​Suri also positioned himself in line

108 Terrorists acting as monsters with the strategic reflections of Palestinian groups after the failure of guerrilla warfare in the late 1960s, by arguing that: [t]‌aking up arms and preparing for jihad in the cause of God and resisting enemies is ultimately the fruit of the general atmosphere in which the heat of consciousness and emotion must be deepened and the concepts of martial doctrine must become entrenched, in order to reach what can be called a “jihadi revolutionary atmosphere” which automatically leads the resistance mechanisms. (Al-​Suri 2006, 33)

The concept of “jihadi revolutionary atmosphere” (al-​munakh al-​jihadi al-​ thawri) adds a religious twist to the argument about the importance of the “revolutionary atmosphere” already aired by the PFLP. Quite remarkably, however, later on in the same lengthy treatise al-​Suri acknowledges that in itself the notion of “revolutionary atmosphere” (with no reference to jihad) refers to the situation in which individuals “have reached the limit” and realize that “there is no longer any acceptable solution except for armed action,” while also adding candidly that this exact scenario is “what we call ‘jihadi environment’ to fit our ideology and our agenda” (1083). Al-​Suri highlighted the role that both consciousness (wa’a) and emotions or passions (‘atafa) play in the emergence of this atmosphere, arguing that it is only when both are “hot” that resistance can happen. Mere economic or political preconditions, albeit important, are not sufficient for a revolt to begin. Like Che Guevara, al-​Suri also stressed the “radicalizing” role of violence in forcing “the masses to choose a side” (Payne 2011, 131) and in “creating momentum for political change” (Zabel 2007, 10): Resistance is a clash. And an agenda of confrontation. A very important fact that must be clearly stated and understood is that, without a strong armed confrontation on the ground, and without resistance that takes the shape of a generalized phenomenon (rather than a set of [individual] acts of uprising), there will be no value to any of the political and media theories of the resistance. Resistance draws its existence and its life from its armed might on the ground, while its political and media agendas draw their significance from the shots of the mujahidin rifles, and the noise of the explosions of mujahidin operations. But, on the other hand, without political and media action, all military efforts are wasted and are of no use to achieve the goal. (Al-​Suri 2006, 1114; emphasis added)

Monsters in the “jihadi revolutionary atmosphere”  109 Relatedly, for al-​Suri, hate became a key motivation for the “global Islamic resistance.” He highlighted that the West is engaged in a “crusade” (hamlah salibiyyah) and a war “on all grounds” (‘ala kull sa’id) against Muslims (Al-​ Suri 2006, 528–​529) and presented both the War on Terror and Islamophobic incidents in the post–​September 11 period as proofs of the existence of a true clash of civilizations (Zimmermann 2009, 534) and of the inevitability of a war to the death with the West. Provoking and exploiting the overreaction of the enemy is a recurrent strategy in terrorism—​Tom Parker (2015, 38) described it as “terrorism 101”—​but it is hard to miss how al-​Suri’s vision echoes Guevara’s words about “hatred as an element of the struggle” and about the role that “a relentless hatred of the enemy” has in transforming the terrorist into “an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine” (Guevara 1967). Finally, at an organizational level, al-​Suri is credited with having theorized the destructuring of al-​Qaeda’s hierarchical structure into a disaggregated network of cells or even “individuals acting independently of organized structures” (Zimmerman 2009, 533; Cruickshank and Ali 2007, 10). This latter suggestion especially, which was made necessary by the impact of the War on Terror on al-​Qaeda’s network, may have been inspired by the modus operandi of right-​wing “terrorists” (Zimmerman 2009, 536) and is an indication of how al-​Suri’s strategic thinking tends to gloss over potential ideological or political differences with the actors that are taken as models to focus pragmatically on their success and impact. Even if direct causation remains difficult to prove, the publication of al-​ Suri’s manual in 2006 corresponded to a clear evolution in the tactics of al-​Qaeda’s affiliate units, marked by a more significant decentralization of terrorist and insurgent activities. This was accompanied by an increased brutalization of the means of fighting, which was explicitly recommended in another treatise that appeared in the same year by Abu Bakr Naji, titled The Management of Savagery (Idarat at-​Tawahhush), in which the author explicitly advocated “escalating the severity of operations” (Springer et  al. 2009, 80). An entire section of Naji’s treatise is dedicated to the effects of brutality on the “polarization” of the umma (Muslim community). He claims explicitly that: [t]‌here is no doubt that in previous battles in this stage we had to strive to polarize (the Umma) so that the battle would develop as expected. That actually

110 Terrorists acting as monsters happened in some of the countries and its encouraging results appeared. However, movements in many of the countries were afraid of causing polarization because they feared losing control over it, especially in light of the widespread ignorance in the Umma, the state-​controlled media, the sophism of the rabbis and the monks, and the propagandists of the Islamic groups who spend their time calling for national unity. (Naji 2006, 46)

He then continues by explaining the how he understands the nature and purpose of such “polarization”: [b]‌y polarization, here, I mean dragging the masses into the battle such that polarization is created between all of the people. Thus, one group of them will go to the side of the people of truth, another group will go to the side of the people of falsehood [. . .]. (46)

His recommendations highlight the central role that brutal violence, in his vision, should play in these processes: Dragging the masses into the battle requires more actions which will inflame opposition and which will make the people enter into the battle, willing or unwilling, such that each individual will go to the side which he supports. We must make this battle very violent, such that death is a heartbeat away, so that the two groups will realize that entering this battle will frequently lead to death. That will be a powerful motive for the individual to choose to fight in the ranks of the people of truth in order to die well, which is better than dying for falsehood and losing both this world and the next. This was the policy of battle for the pioneers: to transform societies into two opposing groups, igniting a violent battle between them whose end is either victory or martyrdom, whose emblem is either glorious war or humiliating peace. One of the two opposing groups is in Paradise and the other is in Hell [. . .] This battle alone, through its vehemence and its (ability to) separate (people), is that which will enable us to polarize the largest number of individuals toward our ranks such that we will not grieve afterwards over those who are destroyed in the other rank. (46)

Once this polar divide is established: [. . .] we make no agreements or deals with the troops and officers of the regimes of apostasy. However, we will not kill them if they leave us alone

Monsters in the “jihadi revolutionary atmosphere”  111 to train, to propagate our message, and to enlist (other people) freely in crowded regions and in the peripheries (of the country). If they oppose us, they will receive only the sword from us. By this means, large steps will be taken towards the stage of the management of savagery and forcing the weak, neglected troops of apostasy who are abandoned in the peripheries and the crowded regions—​since the elite and the well-​equipped forces are scattered between guarding the governments and the Crusaders and guarding the economic regions and the regions of amusement and tourism—​to choose between killing or joining us, or fleeing and abandoning their weapons. (44)

These new strategic and tactical orientations became particularly clear in Iraq, where the men loyal to Abu Musab al-​Zarqawi fought both American occupation and internal opposition with increasingly “gory” methods (Lynch 2006) centered on the “systematic and routinized” use of beheadings (Al-​Marashi 2014), staged through re-​editions of the format of the revolutionary trial—​updated and adapted to a Muslim setting. These attracted criticism from al-​Qaeda’s deputy leader al-​Zawahiri, who was especially worried that the beheading of Iraqi Shi’a would alienate part of the Iraqi population, rather than win it to the jihadi cause; together with various organizational and strategic disputes, al-​Zarqawi’s tactics were at the origin of the rift that led to the eventual disavowal of the Islamic State by al-​Qaeda “central.” In contrast to other terrorist tactics, such as hijackings and car bombs, various scholars noted that “ritual beheading has a long precedent in Islamic theology and history” (Furnish 2005; McCoy 2014), even if the applicability of these notions to contemporary asymmetric wars remains contested even among prominent Muslim clerics (Bloom 2014). The beheading of unbelievers appears to be encouraged repeatedly in the Qur’an; in Sura 8:12, Allah declares: “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks.” Sura 47:4 also commands Muslim soldiers who “meet in battle those who disbelieve” to “smite the necks until [they] have overcome them.” According to Sami Moubayed (2015, 135), these and other similar passages of the Qur’an are “always” cited by Islamic State militants when asked about their beheadings. However, this practice is hardly limited to the theological boundaries of Islamic doctrine alone. From Samurai warriors to revolutionary France, and more recently to the war between Mexico’s drug cartels, decapitation has a long history that extends across different ideological and religious traditions (Zech and Kelly 2015, 84). Especially when practiced without the aseptic precision of the guillotine,

112 Terrorists acting as monsters one constant feature of decapitation that explains its appeal across time and space is its tactical value. “Terrorist” groups, insurgents, and criminal gangs see beheadings as an effective means for “striking fear” in their adversaries and for “weakening their resolve” (86). When performed publicly or broadcast to a wider audience, the “brutal and public nature of these extremely violent acts communicates the consequences of resistance,” signals that “there is no room for negotiation or reconciliation,” and presents the victims as “deserving criminals” (86–​87). As part of the performative nature of terrorist acts, how a victim is killed could become a way to signify why it is being killed. Al-​ Zarqawi’s group “pioneered” the practice of broadcasting the recordings of terrorist beheadings between May and October 2004 (Bloom 2014), in correspondence with the American presidential campaigns and elections (Griffin 2016, 12), first with the decapitation of the American businessman Nicholas Berg by al-​Zarqawi himself, followed by ten other similar videos. Their modus operandi was intended to take advantage of the shock and awe that these events generated and the appeal to Islamic sources inherent in the practice of decapitating unbelievers, but their method was supplemented with anti-​ imperialist performative symbolism—​ for instance, by making the victims wear orange suits similar to those worn by Guantanamo inmates.

“We Will Kill You Even in Your Dreams” When in September 2014 Rabie Shehada presented Islamic State jihadists as “terrorist”-​vampires who “love to drink blood,” “love to die [. . .] just like as you love to live,” and strive to “slaughter” infidels (Anon. 2014), he was not the first militant animated by a “relentless hatred for the enemy” to frame himself and the members of his movement as “violent, selective and cold killing machine[s]‌” (Guevara 1967)  who, in their terrorist performances, want to appear as someone who has shaken off his or her human nature. The Islamic State—​through its operational and ideological filiation from al-​Zarqawi’s al-​Qaeda in Iraq—​is just the latest group to have adopted the modus operandi of revolutionary terrorism. Its articulation of this tactic only made the terrorist performance more explicit, direct, and brutal, but this group responded essentially to the same structural challenges that terrorism faced throughout the twentieth century—​an increasingly numbed

Monsters in the “jihadi revolutionary atmosphere”  113 audience and the need to harness the power of visual communication in its latest technological developments—​while enforcing a polarizing world view and obliging its audiences to take sides. At first sight, the resort to revolutionary terrorism by the Islamic State is not without its ironies and apparent contradictions. As mentioned in ­chapter 1, this group maintained in its external communication that being treated as a “monster” by the West obscures the rational reasons behind its struggle (Dabiq 2016d, 33). In the same propagandist article, however, it also claimed that there is a “rhyme” to its “terrorism, warfare, ruthlessness, and brutality” (33). In another article published few months later, it provided a lengthy defense of the resort to “severe brutality” until the defeat of the enemy (Rumiyah 2016c, 22) and cited Khalid Ibn al-​Waleed’s vampiric threat to the Byzantine army (25). That is, while claiming that its actions followed a logic and rational agenda, the Islamic State also explicitly tried to maximize its scare power and its ability to polarize its audiences and did so by putting itself in line with the tradition of revolutionary terrorism as interpreted and adapted by Palestinian militants and previous al-​Qaeda ideologues. The performative impersonation of monstrosity is at the heart of this modus operandi. It now should be clear that the performative component of Rabie Shehada’s rambling statement was not particularly innovative; the main gist of his performance directly mimicked similar statements for instance from Hamas’s militants. However, in citing the blood-​licking monster without specific reference to the fight against the Jews, he also impersonated for the global audience the vampire monster type; as mentioned in ­chapter 3, the Victorian blood-​drinking vampire is particularly suitable for impersonating the monster prototype in all of its three key components (inhuman, unmanageable, and unthinkable) while also being the epitome of the Western fears of the Oriental “other.” However, the citation of the blood-​ licking monster seems to be only part of a broader strategy because, in their communication, Islamic State militants (much more than Hamas) have repeatedly tried to present themselves through the prototype of monstrosity, for instance, by acting as balaclava-​clad versions of the closet monster. The execution of thirty Ethiopian Christians in April 2015 was accompanied by a warning to infidels—​“you will not have safety even in your dreams until you embrace Islam” (Shaheen 2015a). Similarly, a computer image attributed to the hacking division of the Islamic State, posted online soon after the July 2016 attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh, warned “Crusaders” that Islamic State

114 Terrorists acting as monsters militants “will kill you even in your dreams” (Figure 5.1). Facing an audience accustomed to a mixture of visual and written communication, the Red Brigades typically advertised their actions with a written communiqué accompanied by a Polaroid picture. In the era of social media, where “only simple or simplified narratives can usually go viral” (Lim 2013, 638), the

Figure 5.1  Computer image posted online shortly after the Dhaka attacks (2016), attributed to the hacking division of the Islamic State.

Monsters in the “jihadi revolutionary atmosphere”  115 inhuman and unmanageable revolutionary “terrorist” is instead presenting itself literally—​even somewhat naively—​as a monster. Even for the Islamic State, however, most of the performative articulation of the terrorist-​monster happens not by citing directly specific monster types, but rather by impersonating the key features of the monster prototype. This happened primarily through three tactical choices: a heavy reliance on staged trials as the main publicity device of the group; the adoption of tactics that have a proven track record of high efficiency and impact (such as suicide missions and lone-​wolf terrorism) and which have been further brutalized to increase their scare power; and the resort to attacks against unthinkable targets. In order to have full control over the performative construction of these actions, the Islamic State took explicit and arguably unprecedented steps to control its own branding and communication, such as establishing its own press agency and an online magazine, Dabiq (renamed since September 2016 as Rumiyah), that perfected previous attempts by al-​Qaeda branches to articulate their propaganda in a newsletter-​like format and turned them into a full-​fledged, glossy jihadist fanzine. The Islamic State version of the revolutionary trial was a direct evolution of the format adopted and developed by al-​Zarqawi. The part of the trial that directly imitates judicial proceedings and in which the “defendant” is interrogated—​which was central in the video of Roberto Peci—​may still be performed but has been reduced to little more than a formality. In the video showing the execution of the Ethiopian Christians in April 2015, the victims were formally asked if they intend to pay the jizyah tax so that they could hope to be formally treated as “people of the Book” and guaranteed protection under Islamic law (Shaheen 2015a). The main focus of the video, however, remained the decapitation of a prisoner; the footage shown may include the decapitation process in its entirety or only the severed heads of the victims at the end of it. The determination displayed by the “terrorist” in executing a brutal act far removed from the experience of contemporary societies, even in war-​torn regions of the Middle East, makes the perpetrator appear as an unthinkable, inhuman monster. As at the time of the Red Brigades, the quasi-​ sovereign powers that the “terrorists” claim through their mock judicial proceedings also contribute to the hyperreal construction of the Islamic State as a true state-​like body. In all cases, the center of attention in the trial format remains the victim and how it is framed and presented—​in stark contrast to the video testament of suicide bombers, in which the focus is steadily on the would-​be martyr

116 Terrorists acting as monsters and his or her behavior and words. Islamic State militants continued some symbolic practices typical of al-​Zarqawi’s beheadings, including the use of the orange Guantanamo suits. The Islamic State, however, differentiated its trials and executions from those of its predecessor in at least three ways, which imply a more explicitly audience-​centered articulation of these staged performances and reveal a deeper awareness of how the framing of the enemy victim during the trial—​if properly constructed performatively—​can send tailored messages to both the out-​group and the in-​group. First, in at least some of the videos the executioner talked directly in English, which allowed him to engage in a direct and unmediated way with the out-​group. Next, the Islamic State repeatedly resorted to group beheadings, especially of members of non-​Muslim communities in the Middle East and Africa. Despite the logistic problems that these performances pose, this format seems to be particularly attractive primarily because of its powerful symbolic implication—​presenting an entire group or community, rather than an individual, as the target. Finally, Islamic State militants appear to emphasize the symbolism inherent in the decapitation process for degrading the victim both in the eyes of their in-​group and their out-​group. Once a year, many Muslims perform an act comparable to the beheading of the victim portrayed in this footage when they slaughter a goat during Eid al-​Adha, or the “Feast of the Sacrifice.” As Muslims would associate in their minds the image of their ritual slaughtering with the visual performance of the decapitation (Figure 5.2), the human victim of the trial is metaphorically equated to an animal; therefore, the beheading reinforces the symbolic framing of the non-​Muslim “other” by the “terrorists.” This connection is sometimes constructed performatively in other, more creative ways; for instance, the Jordanian captive pilot Muath al-​Kasasbeh—​who was not beheaded but, at least apparently, burned alive—​was presented inside a cage that could have been borrowed from a zoo or animal circus. Apart from its trademark decapitation videos, the Islamic State has gained visibility through a variety of operations that, as terrorist tactics, have many precedents in the recent history of terrorism. The tactical expediency of the Islamic State is particularly apparent in its resort to suicide missions, mostly in and around its territorial heartland across Syria and Iraq, and to lone-​ wolf attacks especially in Europe and the United States. In 2014 and 2015 the Islamic State and its direct affiliates were responsible for at least 294 suicide attacks, leading to the death of more than 3,000 people (CPOST 2016). In comparison, Hamas has been credited with 78 attacks between 1993 and

Monsters in the “jihadi revolutionary atmosphere”  117

Figure 5.2  Still image of the footage showing Islamic State militants beheading Ethiopian Christians in Libya (2015).

2014, who left on the ground 511 dead, while al-​Qaeda Central has been directly responsible for 20 attacks between 1998 and 2008 (CPOST 2016). A professionally designed infographic, published by the group’s own Amaq News Agency, claimed that in the first half of 2016 it averaged around one hundred suicide operations per month (Joscelyn 2016). The Islamic State has been keen to present performatively its suicide operations not only as unmanageable and unstoppable, but also as unthinkable. On 19 February 2016, an article in the Washington Post reported on Islamic State footage apparently showing a young boy kissing goodbye to his father before exploding himself (Miller 2016). A few days later, a reader’s letter to the same newspaper was a proof of the success of this tactic: The Feb. 19 news article “ISIS increasingly using youths in suicide missions” was particularly horrifying and terrifying. While some mammals and insects cannibalize their young, sacrificing one’s offspring is so totally contrary to human nature and humanity as to be universally unthinkable. The terrifying part, of course, is that for the Islamic State it’s not only thinkable but also an encouraged path to martyrdom. (Walderman 2016)

Even though Islamic State affiliates have carried out various suicide missions outside of the Middle East, lone-​wolf terrorist attacks that do not result in

118 Terrorists acting as monsters the voluntary death of the perpetrator has so far taken the lion’s share of its activities in the West. A  testament to the success of al-​Suri’s vision of disaggregating jihadism into a loose network of individuals acting independently from any central headquarters, these operations are perhaps the most apparent expression of the unmanageable nature of Islamic State terrorism but pose the extra challenge of establishing whether the perpetrators act on the basis of some type of centralized directive, or as self-​taught emulators. The fact that the official mouthpieces of the Islamic State normally claim responsibility for these events ex post, often providing information about the affiliation and political views of the attacker that are impossible to verify independently (Wagstyl and Shotter 2016), does not make this process easier. However, in their modus operandi, lone-​wolf attackers appear to have adopted—​or emulated—​the same performative approach that transpires from other Islamic State operations. The gunman who shot dead forty-​ nine people at a LGBT nightclub in Orlando in June 2016, for instance, was described as “cool and calm” when, after the massacre, he talked to law enforcement officers about his plans for further attacks and claimed allegiance to the Islamic State (Alvarez et al. 2016). Similarly, the “ISIS-​inspired attack” by the Danish teenager Lisa Borch against her own mother was described by the public prosecutor as “cold-​blooded, ice cold and committed in a bestial manner” (Spear 2015). The final typology of operations involves attacks against historic heritage. These operations need to be understood in light of the wide spectrum of audiences that the Islamic State wants to affect. The most common attacks of this type have been directed against centers of worship that belong to groups considered by the Islamic State as non-​Muslim, including Shi’a sites. These attacks, similar to the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban, are declinations in the cultural sphere of the standard messages directed by Islamic State militants against ethnic and religious minorities that fall into their territory (that religious diversity will not be tolerated) and to their in-​ group—​that the example of Prophets Ibrahim, Muhammad, and other early caliphs, including their efforts in fighting shirk (Arabic for “idolatry”), will be followed to the letter (Harmanşah 2015, 170). The destruction of ruins at the site of Nineveh in Mosul (northern Iraq) and the international outcry that followed, however, made Islamic State militants directly aware that the Western world was paying attention to such actions, especially those directed against ancient heritage sites. Therefore “place-​based violence” (170) that was previously meant to affect primarily

Monsters in the “jihadi revolutionary atmosphere”  119 local audiences, or had utilitarian purposes—​such as looting and reselling antiquities for profit—​began being presented with more care as part of its “spectacles of destruction” (173) and loaded with subtler performative meanings. In the eight issue of Dabiq, the destruction of Assyrian heritage at the site of Nineveh was presented in a three-​page article illustrated with seven pictures. The narrative that accompanied this photo-​shoot began as follows: Last month, the soldiers of the Khilāfah, with sledgehammers in hand, revived the Sunnah of their father Ibrāhīm (‘alayhis-​salām) when they laid waste to the shirkī legacy of a nation that had long passed from the face of the Earth. They entered the ruins of the ancient Assyrians in Wilāyat Nīnawā and demolished their statues, sculptures, and engravings of idols and kings. This caused an outcry from the enemies of the Islamic State, who were furious at losing a “treasured heritage.” The mujāhidīn, however, were not the least bit concerned about the feelings and sentiments of the kuffār, just as Ibrāhīm was not concerned about the feelings and sentiments of his people when he destroyed their idols. (Dabiq 2015e, 22)

Other sections of this article added even more nuance to these events, for instance, by suggesting that the destruction of Assyrian heritage was a way to contrast the “nationalist agenda” of the Iraqi state and its use to carve an Iraqi identity away from the transnational ummah of the believers, and that it was against Islam to showcase the remnants of a civilization that was destroyed by God as a punishment for its disbelief. A few months later, in May 2015, Islamic State troops conquered the city of Tadmur and the nearby archaeological site of Palmyra—​among the most significant UNESCO Heritage sites in Syria and one of the best-​preserved ancient cities in the Middle East. This event and its potential consequences for the treasured heritage preserved at the site were widely discussed in the Western press (Barnard and Saad 2015; Tharoor 2016). However, in this case the Islamic State had to consider the negative repercussions that any substantial damage to the archaeological site would have had on its grip on the city of Tadmur, an important strategic stronghold on the way to Damascus. Once it became clear that the local population would have strongly resented any damage to historical artifacts, not least for the long-​lasting consequences that this would have had on the tourist industry, local military considerations took precedence over the performative gains that could have been reaped

120 Terrorists acting as monsters though the destruction of the archaeological site. A few days after the conquest, the leader of Islamic State militias in Tadmur announced—​as a compromise between the different agendas of the Islamic State—​that only statues representing the “idols that the infidels used to worship” would be targeted (Shaheen 2015b). As months passed, and as the grip over the city tightened, various monuments within the archeological site would indeed be destroyed, including two “shirk” temples of Baalshamin and Bel. Pictures of these operations were published in issue 11 of Dabiq (2015k, 32–​33). The patchy information that trickled through the mouthpieces of the Islamic State and few other sources created in the Western world the impression that the city was being destroyed “piece by piece” (Jeffries 2015) and that nothing would eventually survive the iconoclast fury of its occupiers. However, when the city was reconquered in March 2016, the majority of its monuments seemed to be untouched. Most of the Assyrian statuary that was defaced or knocked down in Mosul also turned out to be plaster-​cast replicas, even though it is unclear whether the cadres who ordered the destruction of this material were aware of this. In any case, such a mise-​en-​ scène certainly would not be unprecedented; the history of staged visual material produced and broadcast by terrorist groups dates back at least to the Polaroid picture of Macchiarini’s hit-​and-​run kidnapping (Figure 4.1). Even the content of the narrative that the perpetrators of these acts purport to convey is hardly new. The Islamic State seems to have internalized the lesson that, in Joseph Conrad’s book The Secret Agent, the unnamed foreign diplomat was imparting to Verloc. When facing an audience accustomed to violence, only an attack against the “sacrosanct fetishes” of the target audience and that has “all the shocking senselessness of gratuitous blasphemy” can be truly terrifying (Conrad [1907] 2007, 27). These acts also reveal an explicit attempt, as in Conrad’s novel, to identify where exactly the audience drew the line between “human” and “in-​human” behavior, and to act so that they—​the perpetrators—​were perceived unequivocally as the latter. Some Western observers did indeed see these acts as “so absurd as to be incomprehensible, inexplicable, almost unthinkable” (27)—​and were deeply puzzled by what they saw as a rejection of something inherent to human nature itself by arguing that: [t]‌he past is not a remote place. It is the mirror of ourselves. To cherish history and art is to care about the future. Only if we can imagine ourselves as part of a human story that connects those ancient faces from Palmyra with

Monsters in the “jihadi revolutionary atmosphere”  121 the people around us can we call ourselves “civilized.” Otherwise we’re just animals without memory. (Jones 2015)

In either case, most of the Western out-​group targeted by Islamic State militants was shocked and scared by the visualized performance of the jihadist “terrorist” acting as an inhuman, unmanageable, and unthinkable creature. The monstrous propaganda of the revolutionary “terrorist” had once again proved effective.

PART 3

MON ST ROU S R E FLE CT IONS

6 The Monstrous Enemy in  the “Terrorist” Mind Until this point, our focus has been mainly on two processes (the framing of “terrorists” through monster metaphors and their performative impersonation of the monster prototype) that fall literally within the theme suggested by the title of this book—​the analysis of “terrorists as monsters.” However, like (or arguably even more than) other types of political violence, terrorist acts cannot be isolated from the historical context in which they take place or from previous episodes of political violence within the same region, country, or conflict. In fact, even the performative construction of bifocal political violence is not a unique prerogative of non-​state “terrorist” actors but may also be found elsewhere, including in interstate warfare and counterterrorism. Similarly, archetypal metaphors also tend to characterize the entire cycle of action–​reaction within which terrorism happens; all political actors—​including the “terrorists” themselves—​resort to creative imagery in framing their enemies. These processes not only reveal similar patterns of language usage or communicative action by different political actors, but they also are inherently intertwined with the framing processes presented in Part 1. As both “terrorists” and their targets typically frame each other through metaphorical language, these metaphors—​by evoking certain types of ritual customs or by encouraging logical and historical parallels—​can, in turn, legitimize and routinize specific types of exceptional behavior. This final section of the book considers these dynamics more in detail, reflecting in particular on some common threads that emerge when comparing historical examples and on the extent to which they truly mirror the processes described in the previous sections. The demonization of enemies is a widespread practice in warfare that has been analyzed and dissected extensively, especially since its systematic use during World War I.  Various monster metaphors used in relation to the framing of “terrorists” have found their way into the framing of war enemies, Terrorists as Monsters. Marco Pinfari Oxford University Press (2019) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190927875.001.0001

126  Monstrous reflections including that of the hydra to represent the global spread of bolshevism (Leonhardt 1939; Servi 2005, 135)  or zombies and other similar uncontrollable creatures as allegories of German expansionism (McIntosh 2008; Crespo-​Fernández  2013). Demonization is not an incidental part of warfare; it is one of its integral and constitutive aspects. If the enemy is not cast away effectively from the human community in which we spend our daily lives, the fundamental ethical exception upon which war is built—​that killing and hurting other humans, something which is forbidden by any social pact, is instead necessary and morally mandated—​would not be sustainable. My argument in Part 1 elaborated on this moral substratum by suggesting that, when it comes to framing “terrorists” as monsters, public actors not only present the “terrorist” as an abject “other” but also—​and, arguably, more systematically—​ characterize terrorism as a resilient and intractable threat that demands serious attention by the state and its citizens. Through these monster metaphors and the fears that they evoke, states not only frame “terrorists” as outcasts but also contribute to rationalizing the (actual or constructed) threat posed by such “terror” and making it politically relevant. This chapter returns to this argument but considers specifically how “terrorists” see their own enemies (rather than how they are seen by them) and how monster metaphors are employed as part of this process. In relation to warfare, the concept of demonization is normally utilized in a figurative sense as a synonym for what is sometimes presented as “hostile imagination” (S. Keen 1986) or “enmification” (Rieber and Kelly 1991, 6). When it comes to how “terrorists” approach their adversaries, however, demonization can often be taken literally—​especially since the rise of so-​called “religious terrorism” (Juergensmeyer 2003, 4–​10), in which “terrorists” seem to be especially prone to using demonic and monstrous images to portray the “other” against which they direct their violence. Mark Juergensmeyer (2003, 2008), for instance, has shown how different religious fundamentalist groups across the world seem to share a “larger than life” (Juergensmeyer 2003, 149) social and political vision influenced by religious narratives of “cosmic war” (Juergensmeyer 2003, 148; Aslan 2009; Jones 2011, 296) or “radical apocalypticism” (Flannery 2016). The exact content of these narratives may vary; Christian groups draw from the imagery of the book of Revelation, Hindus from their epic poems such as the Mahabharata or the Ramayana, and Muslims from the encounters between God and Iblis-​ Satan narrated in the Qur’an and discussed in the ahadith. However, the

The monstrous enemy in the “terrorist” mind  127 argument goes, they all share some common traits: they “evoke great battles of the legendary past” that “relate to metaphysical conflicts between good and evil” (Juergensmeyer 2003, 149). Believers are naturally drawn to approach contemporary events on the basis of these interpretative frameworks, which therefore end up providing the “script being played out in the violent performances of militant religious activists” (151)—​a script that allows “acts of religious terror [to] serve not only as tactics in a political strategy but also as evocations of a much larger spiritual confrontation” (150). The diffusion of the imagery of “cosmic war” is interesting for several reasons. Within the broader context of the use of monstrous imagery in political violence, these cosmologies are a good example of how framing can rest on—​ and contribute to—​ complex and all-​ encompassing allegorical narratives. An allegory is a rhetorical device that “describes one thing under the image of another, or speaks one thing while implying something else” (Tambling 2010, 6); as part of this process, individual “metaphors are deliberately tied into each other” (Fletcher 1964, 77). Allegories are powerful devices that are employed extensively even beyond religious literature, from children fables to gothic novels. Like metaphors, they are an integral part of the ways in which humans interact with the world around them; in contrast to the versatility of metaphors, however, the purpose of allegorical narratives is typically geared toward “moral and didactic suasion” (124). They present “a traditional ‘given,’ and accepted proverbial moral view” that is “couched in the language of praise and dispraise” and which “puts pressure on the reader to accept given hierarchies” (120–​128). The cosmic war imagery may therefore draw most of its normative power from its religious underpinnings, but at least part of that power also rests in the fact that it presents as a coherent and morally cogent world view that reinforces and amplifies the effect of the individual metaphorical constructs that it evokes. Uncovering the structure and content of these “cosmic wars,” however, can also help to understand how the political violence inspired by these narratives actually unfolds, and it may even help to predict the times and locations in which a certain group is more likely to strike. This is because those who believe in certain cosmic frameworks are also naturally drawn to ritually reenact its narratives (Tambiah 1996, 222, 310–​311; Juergensmeyer 2003, 127; Frankfurter 2006, 20). Most religious traditions actively encourage this reenactment in their religious rituals, which typically identify certain times of the year, certain locations (holy cities or locations mentioned in their religious texts), and certain types of ceremonies (from processions to festivals)

128  Monstrous reflections as particularly propitious for what normally takes the form of purely symbolic rites. The remembrance and reenactment of violent events is often a central part of these rites and, as such, the transition between the “spectacle of violence in religious rituals” and the “actual aggressive and military violence occurring outside of a truly religious context” (Bloch 1998, 165) may be almost seamless. This step may be aided by the form that ritualized violence takes and the direct role of religious rites in “suggesting and legitimating nonritual violence” (168) against certain groups; even in purely symbolic and ritual contexts, real (human or animal) blood is sometimes spilled, and real or realistic effigies of enemies might be used. Although this cosmic imagery tries to present the nature of individual conflict through a single, all-​encompassing allegorical model, it is also important to remember that these allegories are essentially group-​specific or even subjective frameworks that operate within the boundaries of certain cultures, groups, or even individual mindsets. Even in conventional warfare, the fact that certain actors demonize each other rarely means that this demonization happens within a shared allegorical imaginary. During World War II, the United States and Japan portrayed each other as a non-​human, devilish enemy; however, the United States primarily relied on the repertoire of Christian symbolism and Western-​centric racial stereotyping, whereas Japanese war propaganda likened its enemies to the oni—​a type of demon or ogre that features prominently in Japanese folklore (Reider 2010, 104–​119). Exceptions to these patterns do exist; President George W. Bush, for instance, famously resorted to one of the expressions used in the Qur’an to describe the Devil (“the evil one”) to demonize Osama Bin Laden (Winch 2005, 292). However, almost by definition, in conflicts that unfold across cultural lines, the conflict parties do not share in the same allegorical vocabulary. In fact, perhaps even more interestingly, even when conflicts do happen between groups that belong to the same religious or cultural imaginary, some actors might be significantly more active than others in evoking certain religious and symbolic allegories—​as in the case of the use of Christian demonology in the Northern Irish conflict, in which the Unionist Protestant side appeared to be much more fluent than its Catholic adversaries. A similar argument can be made about Sri Lanka, in which the complex demonology presented in ­chapter 3 has been central to the political rhetoric of the Sinhalese majority but was rarely evoked by the Tamil activists, who rarely resort to religious or mythical symbolism (Trawick 1999, 160) compared to their counterparts, despite the fact that the “Sinhala Buddhist ideas about

The monstrous enemy in the “terrorist” mind  129 gods and demons” (Stirrat 1992, 150) have found their way into the devotional practices of Tamil Catholics as well. Some specific individuals or subgroups within a conflict party may even be particularly prone to frame a conflict as a “cosmic war,” whereas others who share both the same religious imaginary and a similar political agenda might be less willing or prone to do so. In Northern Ireland, for instance, not every member of the Unionist camp was as active and creative in demonizing its Catholic adversary as Ian Paisley, whose abstruse and cryptic references to Old Testament symbolism were probably unintelligible for many Protestant and Catholic militants. Their imaginary was instead populated by the ghosts and banshees of Irish folklore or by urban legends such as the tales of “black men” that were magically immune to gunshots (Feldman 1991, 65–​84). The cultural asymmetry that characterizes even instances of reciprocal demonization between enemies implies that the ritual reenactment of violence that can be the result of the use of religious imagery in warfare or terrorism, while still performative in nature, is inherently different from the performative strategies that analyzed in the Part 2 in that it targets an in-​group audience rather than the out-​group. However, this does not imply that a single terrorist performance cannot evoke several different symbolic layers that appeal to different audiences; in fact, the execution videos of the Islamic State often do exactly this—​by projecting an image of a brutal, inhuman monster intended for the West, while at the same time replicating ritual actions that are immediately recognizable by the Muslim public. In reviewing these and other instances of demonization and ritual reenacting of violence, this chapter also departs from the literature on the significance of the “cosmic war” imaginary in terrorism in two main regards. On the one hand, this literature typically argues that the emergence of the language of “cosmic wars” in politics can be associated with the emergence of “religious wars” and of an “anti-​modern [. . .] disaffection with the values of the modern West” (Juergensmeyer 2008, 140), signaling a turn toward a more “irrational” (Wilson 2012, 159)  and emotional approach to politics. However, the examples that have been cursively mentioned so far in this chapter already reveal how the use of allegorical imagery by “terrorist” actors to demonize their enemies tends to be selective and can respond to rational and strategic concerns and that its exact form is influenced—​but not univocally determined—​by the cultural or religious tradition from which it draws inspiration. Paraphrasing Juergensmeyer (2003, 151; emphasis added), religious narratives and practices do not necessarily provide “the script played

130  Monstrous reflections out in the violent performances of militant religious activists,” but rather a number of scripts from which militants draw inspiration for their own narratives. This intuition is confirmed by the fact that most religions and folk traditions have inspired both violent and peaceful cosmologies and that even religious traditions mostly associated with nonviolence, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, have been called on repeatedly by fundamentalist and “terrorist” groups across Asia. The apparently uneasy cohabitation of extreme models of behavior within these traditions—​ranging from brutal violence to unconditional ahimsa—​has been explained by some scholars as the result of the contamination of religious beliefs with local traditions, which results in “popular religion[s]‌” (Perera 2001, 183; Schmidt 2011, 73) and devotional practices that may water down or even contradict the tenets of the belief systems to which they formally belong. Even if the internal complexity and regional variations of some religious traditions—​such as Theravada Buddhism (Swearer 1991)—​seem to corroborate this view, the selective use of religious and mythical imaginary for justifying political violence follows a path that is far from uncommon in the evolution of political ideologies. Like most religious or secular belief systems, when religious cosmologies are morphed into political agendas, they are not just passively re-​evoked and cited but rather “transposed and adapted” (Tambiah 1996, 231). In the process, these belief systems typically lose the “philosophical complexity, narrative variety, and ritual vitality” that characterizes most religious traditions and they become “homogeniz[ed]” and reduced to a “simplified core teaching and a moralistic program of right living” (Swearer 1991, 649). As a result, the use of religious “cosmic” imagery for demonizing political adversaries rarely leads to the reproduction and actualization of a specific cosmic order in its entirety, with the complex demonologies that underlie most of these systems; rather, this religious imagery is often designed to manufacture an undistinguished, blurred “other” that can be made into an easier target for violence. Moreover, these new political cosmologies tend to draw from their religious counterparts only the imagery that serves their direct political purpose; the demonic or monstrous images that are chosen—​in contrast with what one would expect when following the logic of the “cosmic war” argument—​may not be particularly prominent in the religious or allegorical systems from which they are drawn, but fit in well within the political agenda of the framers.

The monstrous enemy in the “terrorist” mind  131 In fact, there seems to be a cross-​cultural tendency toward choosing inherently ambiguous demonic or mythical figures that are more amenable to being molded to pleasure. Some of the symbolism inherent in the stories of Vijaya and Dutugemunu, which are central to the cosmic framing of the conflict in Sri Lanka, have been described by Bruce Kapferer as “deeply ambiguous” and reflect the inextricable relation between birth, death and re-​birth that is “consistent with Sinhala Buddhist cosmological thought” (Kapferer 1988, 54, 60). However, perhaps the most significant and relevant example of such instrumental and selective use of ambiguous demonic metaphors can be found in the prominence that the concept of taghout has achieved in the political symbolism of modern political Islam, at least since the Iranian Revolution. A true example of a linguistic and conceptual monster, the word taghout underwent a tortuous semantic journey from being one of the ways in which Arabs referred to pre-​Islamic idols to being treated as a metaphor of injustice (and also used with a similar connotation, in the Qur’an, as a metonymy for Satan himself) to eventually becoming the word of choice for designating Muslim leaders that are seen as enemies of “true” Islam. In the Qur’an, this word appears only five times, in contrast to the abundant references to the Devil either as shaytan or Iblis, but its presence in the vocabulary of Islamist movements is substantially more significant; in the twenty-​ five issues of Dabiq and Rumiyah published by the Islamic State between July 2014 and June 2017, the word taghout appears 377 times, more than twice as often as all other terms (“devil,” “Satan,” “shaytan,” and “Iblis”) that are used to refer to the Devil, in English or Arabic transliteration. A similar degree of selectivity also can be noticed in the way in which groups that subscribe to religious cosmologies reenact ritual violence. This performative reenactment and the mimicry of religious rituals are never complete, and the rites that are reenacted are not necessarily the rites that would be religiously mandated to counter a cosmic enemy. Because framing does not cite literally but rather reinterprets and actualizes ancestral myths, the reenactment of ritual violence also tends to adapt to this new context. For instance, the historical and religious examples through which Islamist groups articulate their use of political violence are drawn from the wars waged by early Muslims against “unbelievers.” The performative recreation of certain religious rites is apparent in some mediatized material, for instance in the way in which—​as explained in c­ hapter  5—​the execution of some Islamic State prisoners cites the ritual slaughtering of sheep at Eid al-​Adha. The symbolism inherent in these performances is not directly related with

132  Monstrous reflections the fight against taghout, the Devil, or even with the Qur’anic injunctions about fighting unbelievers. It may be, more simply, a way of degrading the victim by assigning it a role that in Muslim rituals is normally given to goats or rams. The Sri Lankan case is particularly interesting in this regard. Jonathan Spencer (1990, 610)  argued that, if “premeditated aggression is certainly present in the Sri Lankan setting,” it is more commonly “channeled into sorcery rather than direct violence.” As a result, despite the fact that Sri Lanka’s devotional practices did provide a broad symbolic framework for anti-​Tamil violence, when Spencer described the behavior of the Sinhalese population against Tamil “demons” during the 1983 riots, he rightly noted that in no ritual setting a mob “attacks demons with clubs or burns them to death with petrol” (622). Sorcery, as a process in which “people’s motives are channeled away from premeditated crime into its (to us) symbolic counterpart,” may be seen as example of ritually reenacting violence functioning in the opposite direction from what the cosmic war model suggests—​that is, in some circumstances religious and folkloric rituals allow individuals to “reduce the tension” felt by an individual under stress by symbolically “satisfy[ing] his immediate desire for vengeance” (Obeyesekere 1975, 20). Similar arguments have been made about the ritual functions of cursing (Feddema 1997)  and even dancing (Rajapakse 2004, 70). In Sri Lanka, therefore, several devotional practices and rituals might have helped prevent the unleashing of urban riots; when the angry mobs took to the streets, it was not necessarily because violence was mandated by religion but despite the presence of religious practices that could have provided more appropriate ways of channeling it. The performative metaphor of the “prisoner-​animal” recreated through the decapitation rite by Islamist groups reminds us of a second, important analytical caveat that needs to be considered when applying the “cosmic war” model to terrorism—​that the actualization of such “cosmic wars” is not the only framework through which “terrorist” actors demonize their enemies. “Terrorists” may choose to cite aspects of their religious creed and rites, or of their ancestral heritage, that are not allegorical but rather merely symbolic (Rieber and Kelly 1991, 14; Juergensmeyer 2003, 128; Orsini 2011, 61)—​that is, that are meant to convey a specific message without relating to a wider, all-​encompassing metaphorical system. However, “terrorists” can also demonize their enemies through allegorical systems that are not religious in

The monstrous enemy in the “terrorist” mind  133 nature (such as, as we shall see, the “buck” allegory that often surfaces in white supremacist discourses), or they can resort to metaphors that do not necessarily form part of a wider allegorical system. These metaphors, in turn, may reinvent and actualize ancestral myths and narratives or can create new hybrid and monstrous creatures. These creatures need not be devilish and may not have much to do with the religious notions of good and evil. In fact, much of the use of hybrid, monstrous images in the demonization of enemies by “terrorist” actors can be understood through conceptual categories similar to those applied in this book to the study of the framing of “terrorists” themselves by state actors. These images typically aim at evoking both a feeling of rejection for a non-​human “other” and to instill a sense of fear for the power of the enemy. If the latter is often important as a trigger of the decision of the “terrorist” to take matters in its own hands, this chapter suggests that—​in contrast to the use of monster images in framing “terrorists”—​the most common pattern in the use of monstrous images by “terrorist” groups is indeed to “other” and degrade the enemy. The nature itself of terrorism—​the way in which it forces individuals to challenge the boundaries of morally acceptable behavior on an exceptional basis—​seems to require even more than other forms of political violence that the enemy must be seen not just as evil and determined, but also as non-​human and therefore worthy of such extraordinary treatment that is spared to other fellow human beings.

State Terror and the Pest–​Human Hybrid On page  37 of its March 1945 issue, the Marine magazine Leatherneck published a mock announcement warning about the outbreak of “lice epidemics” in the Pacific region, accompanied by the visual depiction of a Louseous Japanicas—​a mouse-​toothed louse with eagle-​like claws bearing the emblems of the Japanese empire on its monstrous body (Figure 6.1). Its appearance—​ the announcement explains—​ was “officially noted on December 7, 1941, at Honolulu” and the Marine Corps “was assigned the gigantic task of extermination.” It then concludes as follows: Flame throwers, mortars, grenades and bayonets have proven to be an effective remedy. But before a complete cure may be effected the origin of the

134  Monstrous reflections

Figure 6.1  The “Louseous Japanicas” (October 1945): “Exterminationist” rhetoric and racial stereotyping in the framing of the Japanese enemy. Credits: Leatherneck Magazine plague, the breeding grounds around the Tokyo area, must be completely annihilated.

A few months later, in August 1945, Time magazine would announce the release of DDT for public use on the same page on which it published pictures of the first atomic explosion (Russell 1996, 1526). Even if the intimate connection between conventional warfare and the demonization of war enemies runs through most of the history of humanity, the sheer scale of World War II, and the deep ideological polarization that lay at its roots, proved to be fertile breeding grounds for perfecting new strategic doctrines and for developing qualitatively new weapon systems, such as nuclear warheads. In particular, the war included several paradigmatic instances of what would be known as state terror—​episodes of intentional and systematic targeting of civilians by actors operating on behalf of state institutions (including regular armies and police forces) with the bifocal purpose of spreading fear into a larger population.

The monstrous enemy in the “terrorist” mind  135 State terror poses a vast set of moral questions, especially in cases when it is used by state institutions against its own citizens (Primoratz 2004, 115–​ 117). Some recent examples of what has been described as state terrorism are discussed in ­chapter  7 as part of the analysis of the scope of contemporary counterterrorist strategies and the extent to which they mirror the practices that they are designed to counter. During and after World War II, one of the main areas of contention was “terror bombing”—​the use of strategic bombing against countervalue, civilian objectives aimed at affecting the population of enemy countries in their entirety by lowering morale, reducing support for their regimes, and encouraging internal migration. Both the Allied side and the Axis were responsible for operations that could be presented under this denomination, but it would be the missions carried out by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command led by Arthur “Butcher” Harris since 1942 to become the standard example of systematic use of this strategy. By early 1942 British air raids on German cities were explicitly designed to target residential districts. Their main aim, not differently from that of other forms of state and non-​state terror, was—​in Harris’s own words—​“to make people conscious of constant personal danger” (Mace and Grehan 2014, 4) and affect the political and social behavior of the entire German population accordingly. The conscious decision by the British political and military leadership to forfeit the life of German civilians has been debated at length, not least because the Allied side constantly claimed a higher moral ground compared to Nazi Germany and its allies. Michael Walzer famously argued that terror bombing, at least in some phases of the war, was justifiable as an exception to the “just war” framework because Britain was facing a “supreme emergency.” According to Walzer, when confronted with a danger that is “imminent” and of an “unusual and horrifying kind” (Walzer 1977, 252–​253), a state might be morally allowed to temporarily put aside the principles of jus in bello, such as non-​combatant immunity, which are central to upholding the moral distinction between lawful and unlawful warfare. Over time, Walzer’s argument on terror bombing has become “something of an orthodoxy among philosophers and political theorists” but has also been repeatedly criticized for its faulty internal logic, its arbitrariness, and its “illegitimate pro-​state bias” (Coady 2004, 782). In particular, some critics rightly took issue with the assumption that the preconditions for supreme emergency could be established and proved objectively. In fact, even Walzer himself recognized how warring sides “exaggerate the dangers of defeat in

136  Monstrous reflections every war,” which might in turn “threaten to escalate every defeat to the appearance of supreme emergency” (Cook 2007, 139). But, if truth is the first casualty of war, political metaphors do not merely reflect the clouding of the rational mind of political leaders “amidst the heat of battle” (Orend 2005, 140). Rather, they help articulate political strategies and perpetuate views of the enemy and of the nature of the cause for which the war is fought. In so doing, they normalize behavior that, even within the context of a hard-​fought, all-​in war, would be perceived as morally reprehensible and whose implementation might encounter resistance, both among the general population and in the military. In this context, the use of monster metaphors is central for sanctioning what Waller (2002, 236), building on earlier work focused especially on the nature of slave–​master relations (Patterson 1982), describes as the “social death of the victims”—​one essential precondition for making the killing of humans on a large scale cognitively acceptable and emotionally bearable. Warfare is primarily about talking about the enemy, not as a human, but as something else—​an animal, a sub-​ human being, a monstrous hybrid creature, even an amorphous incarnation of an abstract ideal. The “dehumanization” of the enemy (Waller 2002; Smith 2011) allows armies to establish a “degree of psychological distance between the perpetrator and their acts of evildoing” and this, in turn, “justifies or rationalizes extraordinary evil” against victims that are “often depicted as highly threatening” (Waller 2002, 248–​249). The use of force, even beyond ethically acceptable standards, becomes not just acceptable but also necessary. “Linguistic dehumanization” (247) rests on what psychologists have shown as the peculiar ability of humans to engage in “social speciation” by creating social borders between human groups that can play the same functions as the biological borders between species (Erikson 1996, 51). By killing an enemy, a soldier is “protecting the only truly valuable order of human life on earth, which is that, of course, of one’s own people” (56). At its core, the “supreme emergency” exception is therefore an attempt to sanction on ethical grounds the tendency of some political communities “at decisive times, to consider themselves, more or less consciously and explicitly, the only truly human species” (51). During World War II, the use of specific monster metaphors to represent the enemy also had a direct bearing on the specific type of ethical exception that was sought in fighting them. This does not mean that monster metaphors, on their own, shape the way in which war is fought and the types of strategies and weapon systems that are employed; however, these

The monstrous enemy in the “terrorist” mind  137 metaphors do play a role in making certain strategic decisions thinkable and socially acceptable. The main discursive and iconographic traits of the demonization of Germany in Britain were set at the time of World War I. This imagery was mostly devoid of explicit racial stereotypes and focused instead on Germany’s ruthlessness and barbarism. Building on a similitude first used by the German Kaiser in a speech to the German troops bound to China to crush the Boxer Rebellion, Prussian-​German militarism was likened to the mythical tales of the Huns and of their “bloodthirsty leader” Attila, and gradually formalized around the iconography of the “bloated bull-​necked Prussian, spike helmet on his head and sabre belt round his huge waist, torturing civilians, raping women, mutilating babies and desecrating churches” (Kertesz 1992, 33). In the first months of 1940, the British press was active in “rekindl[ing] the embers of that old fire of hate” while warning that “we are fighting deliberate, clever, ruthless men, not a horde of wild savages” (69). By May and June, before the Blitz and the Battle of Britain, tabloids like the Daily Express were not only describing Hitler’s “illusion of invincible force, ruthless and irresistible power” but also calling for the Allied powers to be “just as ruthless” (69–​72). Even if Britain’s resort to terror bombing since late 1940 was in many ways a direct response to Germany’s attacks on British cities, the seeds of this notion and of the ethical exception on which it rested lay in pre-​existing, self-​ fulfilling prophecy of portraying Germany as an “irresistible” and “ruthless” enemy that cannot be defeated when fighting within the laws of war. The Pacific War inspired instead different types of linguistic demonization of the enemy. The foreign policy of the United States has been described by Johan Galtung (1990) as a form of “manifest theology” built around concentric rings, “with the US in the centre, closest to God, and its enemies at the edge, closest to Satan” (Wilson 2012, 170). This political reinterpretation of the Neoplatonic cosmology was instrumental in positioning Hitler and his followers as modern incarnations of Satan and could accommodate the ample use of religious symbolism by Roosevelt for describing the nature of the war and its stakes (170). However, the symbolism of choice for describing the threat posed by the Japanese empire appeared to be inspired more by American cartoon culture than by the cosmic battles evoked by the Bible. The Japanese were racially stereotyped regularly as pests and mice, and propaganda material representing “jap rats” with “big ears” seemed to cite directly the poses of famous cartoon characters like Hanna & Barbera’s Jerry Mouse, that first appeared in 1940.

138  Monstrous reflections Especially toward the end of the war, the depiction of the Japanese as “insects,” “lice,” “cockroaches,” and “vermin”—​often maintaining, in their iconography, some of the racially stereotyped physical traits of mice (especially their prominent incisors) creating monstrous hybrids like the Louseous Japanicas—​was key to the development of an “exterminationist rhetoric” based on the language of “infestation and eradication” (Steuter and Wills 2008, 99). This, in turn, helped set the stage for the first (and only) uses of nuclear weapons against civilian targets—​which Richard Falk has described as the “most extreme and permanently traumatizing instance of state terrorism” (Falk 2004, 45). In the last years of the war, a gradual discursive buildup of similitudes and metaphors drawn from the banal domestic ritual of insect extermination normalized the idea of aggressively and decisively “poisoning” the Japanese—​arguing, for instance, that “whether Japs or flies, it’s fast action that counts” (Russell 2001, 99) or that [t]‌he fundamental biological principles of poisoning Japanese, insects, rats, bacteria and cancer are essentially the same. Basic information developed concerning any one of these topics is certain to apply to the others. (137)

Presenting enemies as human–​insect hybrids helps single them out as inhuman and beastly, but also as a lowly and undistinguished “other.” As such, according to Steuter and Wills (2008, 71–​72), these metaphors are instances of Lakoff ’s conceptual metaphor of lowliness, in which the distance between “us” and “them” is articulated through the “up” and “down” scale—​ and “the worse is the enemy, the lower the place he occupies” (80). In the case of the Pacific War, portraying in diminishing terms what proved to be a highly motivated and resilient enemy also had a direct effect in supporting the morale of the troops on the war theatre. However, the specific insistence on “exterminationist rhetoric” (99) cannot be disconnected from the choice to resort to what would later become the epitome of the weapon of mass destruction and which, even when employed during a war, strikes at the heart of one of the main ethical barriers against the use of terrorist tactics—​the intentional targeting of civilians.

The monstrous enemy in the “terrorist” mind  139

The Buck, Incubus, and “Mongrel Monstrosities” in White Supremacist Terrorism The use of human–​animal hybrids to demonize—​and dehumanize—​a racially distinct “other,” and as a result to normalize exceptions to ethical standards, is obviously not a unique prerogative of state terror. White supremacist movements, for instance, have repeatedly resorted to “racial terrorism”—​defined by Kathleen Blee (2005) as “violence perpetrated by organized groups against racial minorities in pursuit of white and Aryan supremacist agendas” (421)—​under the cognitive clout of enduring allegorical systems that equate black people to domesticated “human animal” creatures (Collins 2004, 57)  bearing some “mythical” traits (Harris 1984, 107), including their supernatural sexual potency. These characterizations have been reinforced by collective rites, such as lynching, and their discursive power echoes in the ideological frameworks of lone-​wolf, right-​wing “terrorists” like Dylann Roof and Anders Breivik. In the United States, the historical root of these metaphors should probably be traced back to the structure of racial relations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the nature of chattel slavery—​the direct ownership of slaves by white masters. In this context, African natives were likened with “beasts untamed by civilization” that can attain “partial domestication through slavery” (Collins 2004, 56). This full-​fledged allegorical system—​ arguably one of the most complete non-​religious allegorical systems related with the use of political terror—​revolved around what Patricia Hill Collins described as “the controlling image of the buck” (56), which repeatedly surfaces in metaphorical images such as the “black buck,” often used in relation to black men suspected of rape, or the expression “go[ing] buck wild” used to describe the sexually predatory behavior of black and Latino males (104). Some recurrent metaphors in the language of contemporary white supremacists—​such as the association of blacks with the soulless “mud people” that, according to some traditional stories, Satan himself formed as a parody of Adam’s creation by God (Herbst 2003, 118)—​make vague reference to what has been described as a “pseudotheology of Christian identity” (Mason 1999, 169). However, historically it was the “buck” imagery that took center stage in legitimizing and normalizing a variety of assumptions and practices. At an immediate level, the buck metaphor “depicted Black men as being intellectually inferior to Whites” (Collins 2004, 56), as naturally wild creatures

140  Monstrous reflections that are also tameable, if proper (political and social) measures are taken by their masters. In his ideological manifesto, Dylann Roof—​the lone-​wolf white supremacist who shot dead nine black church members in Charleston, South Carolina, on 17 June 2015—​repeatedly resorted to metaphors of domesticated animals, such as dogs and donkeys, to explain his view of black people and to justify his support for the reintroduction of racial segregation (Roof 2016). Seeing slaves as “livestock” is, in fact, one of the oldest metaphorical constructs related to slavery—​one that can be traced back at least to ancient Greece and Rome (Smith 2011, 110). The buck metaphor also “reinforced the political status of enslaved African men as chattel” and, by alluding to the process of domestication, it helped present slavery as socially necessary and beneficial for “placing their brute strength in service to productive manual labor” and eventually “justified Black economic exploitation” (Collins 2004, 56–​57). Domestication was also designed to stress the need to restrain the wild sexual power of the blacks and to direct “their natural albeit deviant sexuality toward appropriate female partners” of their own kind (57), which in turn helped sustain the patriarchal, “sexist and racist perception that white women—​and only white women—​needed or deserved legal protection” (Holden-​Smith 1996, 33). The animal–​human allegory of the “black buck,” however, was never limited to the mere re-​evocation of the natural order and of the process of domestication of pets and cattle. The wild sexual power of blacks was located within a multifaceted mythical imaginary that included not only the “myth of Negro sexual superiority” but also the “myth that every black male desires a white woman” (Harris 1984, 107)—​a version of the European, archetypal vision of ideal womanhood filtered through the lenses of racial stereotyping and erotic imagination. The myth of the black man as the “chimerical beast-​ rapist” (Holden-​Smith 1996, 49) was sometimes articulated literally through classical monsters, especially the demon known as Incubus. Part of the European folk imaginary and mentioned by a variety of Christian writers, including Saint Augustine, Incubus is a winged demonic beast that appears at night to have intercourse with women. Its name can be translated simply as “nightmare” but the literal etymology (“in-​cubare”—​Latin for “sitting over” and “oppressing”) suggests that this beast could literally take control of the bodies and souls of its victims. This hybrid, sexually potent personification of frightening night dreams was popularized during the Romantic era and became the namesake monster of one of Henry Fuseli’s most influential paintings, whose iconography may

The monstrous enemy in the “terrorist” mind  141 have in turn inspired some murder scenes in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Ward 2000). Even if its origin may actually have a direct connection with the rationalization of extramarital intercourse—​in fact, its appearance at night was at times cited as an (unlikely) explanation for unexpected pregnancies—​ figuratively, Incubus was a fitting metaphor for rape and nonconsensual sex. In the late nineteenth century, white supremacists regularly articulated the myth of the black “beast-​rapist” by referring to the “black incubus” in their midst (G. Gilmore 1998). In 1898, a representative of the White Supremacy League “pulled out his usual incubus speech ‘to inflame the white men’s sentiment’ ” (80) in Wilmington, South Carolina, before a mob chased and killed up to one hundred blacks and forced black leaders to leave the city. Lynching, one of the most hideous manifestation of “racial terrorism,” ritually reenacted and reinforced this allegorical system, while also reflecting its internal complexity. As noted by Amy Wood (2009), it directly cited the “hunt-​and-​kill ritual, adopting its methods and language”—​something that is “not surprising in a culture that conceptualized black men as ‘beasts’ and ‘brutes’ ” (97). Hunting itself was, for Southern white men, “a ritualized performance, a ceremonial dance of power between man and animal and an outlet for white masculine self-​assertion and self-​indulgence” (94). Lynching photographs, which were often reproduced and sold in large numbers, typically bore “an uncanny resemblance of the familiar snapshot of a hunter with his prey” (94). And yet, even in the context of the brutal display of violence that characterized most lynchings, the “process of dehumanization of the victim was more complicated [. . .] than might be assumed” (98). On the one hand, the attempt to present these acts as exemplary punishment—​whose bifocal nature is key to transforming these events into acts of terrorism—​also required the victim to be “recognizable as a human body” (98). As a result, in addition to the symbolism of the hunt, the victims were often asked to perform a ritual confession of their crimes and to recite their final prayers. The final part of the rite—​including the hanging of the victim or the burning of its corpse—​was also performed in public. The photographs that portrayed the dead body of the victim served as “a souvenir, a portable memory” and were taken while the corpse was still intact, “so that he could be recognized and defined as a criminal deviant” (103). Even if, soon after the execution, it was common practice for the lynchers and other bystanders to collect bodily trophies from the victim, the photographs ensured that the “now dismembered black body was continually remembered” (103).

142  Monstrous reflections Lynchings also typically included rites designed to counter the supernatural nature of the evil incarnated by the black “other.” In response to the (often imagined or alleged) sexual offenses that prompted them, most lynchings involved the emasculation of their victims. In doing so, the mob was replicating an action that “was commonplace for rural southerners in association with animals” but was also, physically and symbolically, “desecrating the bodies of those who they believed had desecrated their communal bodies” (98)—​thus engaging in what has been described as a form of social “exorcism” (Harris 1984, 11). As a result, the nature of the rite in its entirety and of some specific aspects of its symbolism—​including the participation of different sectors of the white society “in community spirit” in its rituals, from “burning, mutilation, gathering trophies” (107) up to the social initiation of children—​have been associated to the “scapegoat rituals” that are performed by a variety of traditional societies around the globe with their ritual emphasis on the communal “expulsion of evil” (2–​3). These ritual actions responded to, and helped perpetuate, the hybrid nature of the “black beast rapist” (Williamson 1984, 115; Holden-​Smith 1996, 59; Wood 2009, 98) as both an “inhuman brute” and a demonic, “hypersexual man” (Wood 2009, 98) that challenged the social fabric of its executioners. If the hybrid human–​demonic nature of the “black beast rapist” keeps creeping up in the racial stereotyping of white supremacists, other types of racial hybridity have spurred racially motivated political violence in the West. For instance, the derogatory epithets used to designate mixed-​race individuals—​from generic terms such as “mongrel,” “mulatto,” and “mestizo” to the more precise “half-​caste,” “quadroon,” and “octoroon”—​are just the latest products of a long line of “human hybrids” that, as John Hutnyk (2005, 89) rightly noted, can be traced back to the “goat-​men, winged feet, angels and mermaids of western mythology.” The hybridization of races and cultures is often portrayed by right-​wing “terrorists” as one of their main concerns. Anders Breivik, the author of the Utøya massacre in Norway, claimed that his radicalization was driven by the conviction that “conflict is inevitable when mixing incompatible cultures” (Breivik 2012). However, if the hybrid characterization of the demonic black beast created a prototypical compound image that scared its audience because of its “subhuman” (Blazak 2001, 991) and supernatural features, what is shared by such “disproportionate fervour and zeal for classification” (Hutnyk 2005, 89) of mixed-​race individuals is the attempt to demonize hybridity itself as unnatural and ultimately unthinkable—​ a sign of impurity and a dangerous exercise in liminality that challenges the

The monstrous enemy in the “terrorist” mind  143 clear-​cut racial divides on which white supremacist ideologies rest. In the 1970s, white supremacist magazines described these “incoherent beings” as “brown zombies,” “mongrel monstrosities” and as: [m]‌alformed pieces of humanity sporting a combination of woolly negroid hair, white complexion and slanted mongol eyes. They call themselves “black people,” but they are neither black, white or yellow, but all and none of these races. These are the children of integration. They have no culture, no common heritage, no identity and no pride. What would you call them? Half-​castes? Hybrids? Monsters? (Ferber 1997, 198–​199)

Proteus and the Iron-​Clawed Beast of Global Capitalism The varied racist imaginary evoked by right-​wing militants in framing the mongrel “other” in the late 1970s is in stark contrast with the showcasing of Hegelian dialectic and scientific historicism that permeates the communiqués by left-​wing “terrorist” groups in the same years. As Alessandro Orsini noted, however, the Red Brigades never refrained from describing their adversaries in less than flattering ways. The targets of their actions were regularly characterized, for instance, as “parasites,” “filthy worms,” “pigs,” “rabid dogs,” “servants,” “wretches,” or “bastards” (Orsini 2011, 58–​59). The socialist imaginary also includes several recurrent monster metaphors for describing in more holistic terms the nature of the structural enemies that the working class faces—​the capitalist system and imperialism as its “highest stage.” In the third communiqué issued during the kidnapping of Aldo Moro, the Red Brigades argued that: [t]‌he violence and the state terrorism of the Imperialist State and of the Multinational Corporations that are unleashed on to the proletariat every day show that, even if the imperialist beast has iron claws, it can be beat to death and strategically annihilated. (Red Brigades 1978b)

In the ninth and final communiqué, they similarly concluded that: [t]‌ he ferocity, the vicious violence that the regime unleashes on to the proletariat and its vanguards are nothing but the convulsions of a

144  Monstrous reflections deadly-​wounded beast, and what appears to be a display of strength is in fact a proof of its essential weakness. (Red Brigades 1978c)

Another—​and possibly even more powerful—​metaphor has an even longer history in socialist writings as a symbol of capitalism. In discussing the condition of cotton spinners in the first decades of the nineteenth century, the great British polemicist Thomas Carlyle claimed that: [c]‌otton-​spinners, as we learn are generally well paid, while employed [. . .]. And yet, alas, there seems little question that comfort or reasonable well-​being is as much a stranger in these households as in any. [. . .] English Commerce, with its world-​wide convulsive fluctuations, with its incommensurable Proteus Steam-​demon, makes all paths uncertain for them, all life a bewilderment; sobriety, steadfastness, peaceful continuance, the first blessing of man, are not theirs. (Carlyle [1839] 1899, 143)

Friedrich Engels, in his 1845 treatise on The Condition of the Working Class in England, cited this passage and laconically added that “[w]‌hat Carlyle says of the cotton spinners is true of all English industrial workers” (Engels [1845] 1987, 117). Proteus, the prototypical shape-​changing monster of Greco-​Roman literature, also appeared repeatedly in the political debate within the Italian Left at the height of the “years of lead,” in which different positions emerged on the nature of revolutionary Marxism and on whether political violence was avoidable. In the process, capitalism was again repeatedly presented through the Proteus metaphor. A special issue of one of the most influential periodicals of this period, the Quaderni della Rivista Trimestrale, an editorial piece titled Catching Proteus: How to Tackle Capitalism (Afferrare Proteo: Per misurarsi col capitalismo) argued: From the gradual fading of Marxian categories, in a cultural environment that has radically changed, in contemporary thought has slowly emerged a vision of capitalism that is very different [from that of the past] and that has increasingly become dominant over the past decade. Summarizing it is not easy. It is not easy, first of all, because recent contributions have highlighted the surprising adaptability of this system, its resilience in surviving its own crises and to re-​emerge having changed its shapes and structures. In fact, it calls to mind two of the most ephemeral and enigmatic characters of Greek

The monstrous enemy in the “terrorist” mind  145 mythology—​Antheus, who draws renewed strength from crisis, and the uncatchable Proteus. (Cavalieri 2002)

In introducing a lengthy collection of theoretical reflections titled The Bee and the Communist (L’ape e il comunista) that some boast as “the most important theory document written by the Red Brigades” (Gruppo di studio Resistenze Metropolitane 2013), another leftist magazine named Corrispondenza Internazionale likened the debate within revolutionary Marxism on how to tackle the capitalist system to the struggle to “catch Proteus”—​the metaphor of the “multi-​shaped, but not eternal, capitalist” system (Corrispondenza Internazionale 1980). To an Italian audience, this reference could have evoked the graphic depiction of the fight between Aristaeus and Proteus in the fourth book of Virgil’s Georgics, in which the hero is instructed to subdue Proteus physically so that the monster would issue the prophecy that Aristaeus sought: Deep in Carpathian woods, there is a prophet by the name of Proteus, who is the colour of the sea, who travels the wide watery range pulled by a team that’s one half fish, the other half two-​legged horse. [. . .] He’s the one that you, my son, must bind in chains so he’ll explain the sorry story of the cause of sickness and bring it to a good conclusion. If he’s not forced he’ll tell you nothing, nor will you bring him round by begging. Brute strength alone will grind him down and run his useless wiles aground. [. . .] But even when you’ve grabbed a hold of him and fettered him he’ll conjure different forms and features of wild animals to foil you. One minute he’ll become a bristling boar, a shady tiger, scaly snake, or lion with its tawny mane, or burst into a whiff of flame to slough off his chains, or melt into thin air–​–a​ nd away with him! But the more he plies his repertoire of shapes, my son, the more you must maintain a grip till his physique reverts and so resumes the profile you first set eyes on when you found him, draped beneath the weight of sleep. (Virgil 2006, 87–​88)

The functions that such figurative language played in left-​wing “terrorist” groups are several. As discussed in the previous chapters, these groups—​as well as other groups committed to revolutionary terrorism—​subscribed to a polarized world view and wanted to enforce it through political violence. Their main goal is not to win a pre-​existing struggle against another political

146  Monstrous reflections community, but rather to produce a cleavage that would force every individual to nail its colors to the mast. A significant component of their strategy rested on conveying performatively to the out-​group the image of a monstrous enemy. Beyond this, their communication strategy rested on at least two rather different types of texts. Some documents had a rather substantial ideological content and tried to engage, directly or indirectly, with a wider audience. These included a series of “resolutions” issued by the “strategic directorate” before Curcio’s arrest, and several statements published when the Brigades were sure to have the attention of the entire nation, such as their communiqués made during Moro’s kidnapping. These texts tended to be lengthy and attempted to explain in rational and logic terms the reasons for their struggle, why embracing violence was needed in that historical phase, and were designed to trace the connections between global capitalism, imperialism, and the agendas of certain parties, groups, or individuals that had become their immediate targets. Anti-​colonialism and class struggle were the main frames through which these groups presented their battle. The metaphors of the agonizing iron-​clawed beast or of Proteus were therefore not at the heart of complex interpretative constructs, as opposed to the buck symbolism or the cosmology of political Islam, and did not add up to a larger allegorical system. However, they still helped articulate symbolically their view of capitalism, its nature, and its points of weakness. As true examples of political polysemy, some of these metaphorical constructs had the potential of conveying very subtle political messages that more learned members of their target audience could have been able to decode. The “imperialist beast,” which also appears in some statements by the German Red Army Faction, provided a fitting metaphorical framework for what these groups portrayed as a resilient, mighty creature that nevertheless, as Marx showed, is riddled with weakness and can be out-​strategized by the actions of the self-​conscious vanguards of the proletariat. The capture of Proteus could instead allude to the various shapes that the capitalist threat can assume, articulate the necessity of violence to capture a fiery, shape-​changing creature, or suggest—​in the context of the diatribe between academics and activists within Italy’s Far Left—​that, as in the case of the story told in Virgil’s Georgics, the capitalist enemy might eventually be prepared to come to terms with the working class, but only after the latter has showcased its power and restrained it by force (Putnam 1979, 288).

The monstrous enemy in the “terrorist” mind  147 The most common figurative content in the written material of the Red Brigades—​an amorphous collection of insulting epithets, derogatory language, and dehumanizing metaphors—​may instead form what Michael Kimmel (2010, 98)  called “metaphor clusters.” As such, these metaphors seemed to respond to practical operational concerns about mobilization and in-​group cohesion, more than to ideological ones. These images most commonly are found in a second type of document—​shorter leaflets designed for circulation in the factories or claims of responsibility for certain attacks—​and were most common in the first half of the 1970s when the Red Brigades were attempting to establish their credentials. Metaphor clusters are “attention grabbing” devices that can help “dynamize discourse” (98); for the brigadists, they arguably served the double purpose of appealing to the instincts of their own immediate constituency (factory workers in major industrial centers) and of motivating their own militants. In one of the “leaflets of struggle” that were circulated in 1970, directed specifically at the workers in the Pirelli tire factories, they argued that: [i]‌f we direct the contractual struggle against the establishment of capitalist production and power, we should expect a harsh backlash. Pirelli, like all owners, will not refrain from resorting to fear and terror in order to weaken our will to fight and to divide us. The “enlightened” owners are no less ferocious. And they will enlist factory supervisors, spies, monsters and sycophants. No more needs to be said; it is enough to say that those who intervene or act against the struggle and the interests of workers are our enemy and, as such, must be attacked! (Anon. 1970, 77)

Through this material and in their internal communication, the Red Brigades clearly attempted to effect the social death of the victim before its physical elimination. As several Red Brigades militants put it, their goal was to have “already eradicated people before killing them” (Orsini 2011, 61); their victims were “reduced to a symbol” (62), as an abstract “authority that had to be stripped of its power” (60). In fact, the Red Brigades probably needed more than other groups to deride and vilify their targets and to create a robust cognitive and ideological barrier between their militants and their victims. In contrast to religious or right-​wing groups, they could not rely on pre-​existing ritual or religious symbolic frameworks for the resort to violence. Moreover, their operatives included several middle-​ class, university-​educated young activists; in the absence of major ethnic,

148  Monstrous reflections religious, or racial cleavages, many of the victims of left-​wing terrorism were individuals who came from similar paths of life as the brigadists themselves—​especially young conscripts and policemen. Motivating their militants and ensuring compliance were therefore paramount concerns for them. Once live, direct contact was established between the victims and the killer, the latter’s ideological certainties tended to crumble easily. Valerio Morucci, for instance, remembered that “after seeing as human beings two policemen, aged nineteen, reading comics outside the delle Nuove prison in Turin, whom we were supposed to kill, [he] left the Red Brigades” (59).

Taghout: The Idol, the Demon, and the Tyrant Like left-​wing terrorist groups, global jihadism also subscribes to a polarized worldview and wants to enforce it through political violence. In contrast to the diverse and fragmented metaphoric repertoire of the former, however, the imagery that appears in “modern Islamic justifications for violence” (Juergensmeyer 2003, 80) tends to be part of a more cohesive cosmic vision. What has been described as the “othering theology” of Islam (Ghobadzdeh and Akbarzadeh 2015, 691)  can be traced back to the life of the prophet Muhammad and the historical setting of the revelation of the Qur’an. Rejected by most of his kinsmen in Mecca, Muhammad flew to Medina only to face the Meccans two years later in the battle of Badr, the victory of which was crucial for the survival and eventual expansion of Islam. Badr quickly came to symbolize the fight between believers and unbelievers, or between Islam and kufr. Badr was, in many ways, as much about religion as it was about politics and, for the community of Medina, mere survival. The evolution of the concept of kufr itself from an original meaning closer to the ideas of “ingratitude” and “self-​sufficiency” (Waldman 1968, 451)  toward the more familiar “unbelief/​disbelief ” (understood as “false negation of the concept of iman” or faith [453]) probably happened in parallel to the enmification of the Meccans and the gradual identification of the “enemy in battle” as kafir during the Medinan period. However, the cosmic framework of the all-​encompassing battle between good and evil, as symbolized by the opposition between God and Satan, was never too far off. When he was still in Mecca, during one of the speeches through which he tried to convert

The monstrous enemy in the “terrorist” mind  149 his own tribe to Islam, Muhammad was said to have been tipped by the devil to include in his speech an invitation to bow to the pagan goddesses of his tribe. Even if Satan is not central to the nature of kufr, the famous incident of the “satanic verses” shows how the confusion that Satan causes in the mind of humans can indeed lead them astray and far from the belief in the unity of God. The repeal of these verses by God’s order, as clarified by the new verses that form part of the Sura al-​Hajj (“God annuls that which Satan casts and then establishes His Signs clearly”), ritually renewed the expulsion of shaytan/​Iblis from heaven when he refused to prostrate to Adam. The polarity between Islam and kufr later crystallized in what is usually presented as Islam’s “classical paradigm” (Sabet 2008, 127) of international relations—​the distinction between the “abode of Islam” (dar al-​Islam) and the “abode of war” (dar al-​harb). The emergence of these concepts in Islamic jurisprudence should probably be located at a later stage, possibly at the time of the Umayyad defeat at the battle of Tours in 732 (Khadduri 1955, 52) that put an end to the unrestrained expansion of Islam since the time of Muhammad. As a result of its late introduction and what seems to be its historical contingency, this notion has been the object of much debate among Muslim scholars—​with some arguing that it has “no basis in Islamic Shari’ah” (Ahmad 2005, 11). In the recent decades, several Muslim “religious activists” and politicians have once more presented their battles against non-​Muslim enemies as part of “a cosmic struggle of Manichaean proportions” (Juergensmeyer 2003, 156). Sheikh Yassin described the Palestinian cause as the “combat between good and evil,” and Saddam Hussein framed the war waged against him in 1990 as “another episode in the fight between good and evil” (156–​157). In his 2002 Letter to the American People, Osama Bin Laden wrote: The Islamic Nation that was able to dismiss and destroy the previous evil Empires like yourself; the Nation that rejects your attacks, wishes to remove your evils, and is prepared to fight you. You are well aware that the Islamic Nation, from the very core of its soul, despises your haughtiness and arrogance. (Bin Laden 2002)

Even if Islam as a religion does provide a cosmic, polarized framework for positioning one’s own conflict as part of a timeless struggle between good and evil (or between God and Satan), this brief overview also showed that

150  Monstrous reflections the notions through which this eschatological struggle is articulated (the fight between belief and kufr, the distinction between dar al-​Islam and dar al-​harb, and possibly the way in which the relation between God and Satan is articulated in the Qur’an) have developed in parallel to the political and historical events to which they first applied. As a result, these notions are not just part of a symbolic reservoir through which enemies can be demonized; they are themselves the result of hostile encounters and “othering” processes that happened at earlier stages of Islamic history, as well as selective attempts at framing the “other” in order to maximize the ability of Muslim leaders to mobilize and motivate their in-​group. One of the latest products of the co-​determination between the “othering theology” of Islamic jurisprudence and the demonization of enemies in specific historic settings has been the popularity that the concept of taghout has reached since the years of the Iranian revolution. This term appears so rarely in the Qur’an that its precise meaning remains mostly a matter of speculation. Its semantic root encompasses a broad variety of meanings around the general idea of “going beyond the measure” (Fahd 2000, 93). In this sense it referred both to high places, such as the summits of mountains, and (possibly in relation to the locations where they were worshipped) to the most important Arabian deities venerated before Islam (93). Grammatically the word taghout was treated in the Qur’an both as a plural, in referring to the pre-​Islamic idols, and as a singular as a namesake for the devil or shaytan “the soothsayer” (Siddiqui 2008, 235). In this latter use, it was probably intended as a collective noun—​the idols of pre-​Islamic Arabia being treated as different manifestations of the same source of evil. The same root also developed a parallel figurative meaning as “excess of injustice” and tyranny, the opposite of the legitimate authority exercised according to shari’a law (Fahd 2000, 93). Over the centuries, the concept of taghout has been the object of several reflections among Muslim scholars; in the paucity of references to monstrous creatures in Islamic scholarship, taghout was among the few concepts with political connotations that were attributed as having hybrid monstrous features. In a short treatise titled The Meaning of Taghout and the Heads of Its Categories (Ma’anaa at-​Taaghoot wa Ru’oos Anwaa’ihi), the founder of the Wahhabi movement, Muhammad Ibn Abd al-​Wahhab, provided its own contribution to the tradition of the many-​headed monster by arguing that the taghout can be seen as having five “heads” (ru’oos) which, in turn, can be associated with five facets of this concept. The first “head” is “the Devil who

The monstrous enemy in the “terrorist” mind  151 calls the people to worship other than Allah,” the second is “the tyrannical and oppressive ruler who changes Allah’s rulings,” the third is “the one who judges by other than what Allah has revealed,” the fourth is “the one who claims to have knowledge of the Unseen, apart from Allah,” and the fifth is “the one who is worshipped apart from Allah, while being pleased with being worshipped” (Bin ‘Abdir-​Rahmaan Al-​Khumayyis 2003, 9). The individual heads of the many-​headed monster (or their attributes) were sometimes associated with specific symbolic meanings—​in Daniel’s dream, for instance, the ten horns were meant to represent “ten kings” who will rule during the age represented by the monster. However, Abd al-​Wahhab’s exegesis of the five “heads” amounts to a rather unique attempt at articulating the exact polysemic content of this metaphor. In contemporary political Islam, the concept of taghout rose to fame primarily in relation to the preaching of Ruhollah Khomeyni, who used this term in referring to the Shah and his regime probably already in 1977. The leadership of the Islamic Republic has also “retrospectively ‘taghutised’ all former kings of Iran” and, as a result of the extensive use of this term over the following decades, “taghuti, the adjective, is now commonly used as a pejorative description in contemporary Persian” (Matini 1985, 43). Verses 2:256–​ 257 of the Qur’an became the staple for Islamist movements when they needed to “other” a “near enemy” of Islam—​that is, when they want to portray local Muslim rulers as possessing at least two of the metaphorical heads of the taghout, both being “tyrannical and oppressive” and resorting to legislation other than Islamic shari’a. These verses are cited in Hezbollah’s 1985 Open Letter (Avon and Khatchadourian 2012, 113) and were at the heart of Osama Bin Laden’s rejection of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah’s Initiative on the Israeli–​Palestinian conflict in 2002: Our Muslim nation:  In the Pharaonic language, these initiatives are no more than impudent plots and obvious plans. Their definition in the dictionary of politics is “seats of power in return for treason.” But, in the dictionary of the shari’a, this is “apostasy” by supporting infidels against Muslims. In our religion, this is considered one of the ten greatest sins in Islam that lead to disbelief. The Muslim, whoever he is and regardless of his position and circumstances, cannot but reject this sin and its perpetrator, as it is one of the acts of the tyrants. A person is not a believer until he rejects Tagut. “Whoever rejects Tagut and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy Hand-​hold that never breaks” (2:256). (FBIS 2004, 203)

152  Monstrous reflections The taghout, defined as “a tyrant ruling by manmade law” (Dabiq 2014a, 24), is also a regular target of the propaganda of the Islamic State. This term is used in the Islamic State magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah to refer, among others, to Bashar al-​Assad (Dabiq 2014c, 38; Dabiq 2015l, 50) and the Syrian Interim Government (Dabiq 2015n, 15), Turkey’s entire political spectrum from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (Dabiq 2015i, 32), Necmettin Erbakan (Rumiyah 2016d, 2) to Tayyip Erdogan (Dabiq 2015g, 58; Dabiq 2015i, 32; Al-​Mujahir 2016, 4; Rumiyah 2017a, 5; Rumiyah 2017b, 5) and PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan (Dabiq 2015i, 30), the Emir of Qatar (Dabiq 2015h, 8), Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi (Dabiq 2015j, 25), and Khalifa Haftar (Dabiq 2015m, 60); Egypt’s king Farouk (Dabiq 2016c, 38), presidents Hosni Mubarak (39), Mohamed Morsi (Ash-​Shamali 2014, 52; Rumiyah 2016a, 6), Abdel Fattah al-​Sisi (Ash-​Shamali 2014, 52; Dabiq 2015a, 3), and the former Coptic pope Shenouda (Dabiq 2015b, 32); Saudi kings Faisal (Ash-​ Shamali 2014, 60), Abdullah (Dabiq 2015c, 56), and Salman as “chief taghut” (Ibn ‘Abdil-​Wahhab 2017, 36); Yemen’s president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi (Ash-​Shami 2014, 22; Rumiyah 2016b, 25); Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (Dabiq 2016c, 29); Ali Khamenei (29); Saddam Hussein (Dabiq 2015o, 45); Vladimir Putin (44); the governments of Jordan (Dabiq 2014d, 29; Dabiq 2015a, 4; Dabiq 2015f, 22), Pakistan (Ash-​Shamali 2014, 44; Dabiq 2016a, 50; Rumiyah 2017e, 32), Bangladesh (Ash-​Shamali 2014, 46), Nigeria (Dabiq 2015d, 5), Tunisia (5), the Philippines (Rumiyah 2017c, 5; Rumiyah 2017f, 40), Malaysia (Rumiyah 2017d, 29), and Trinidad (Dabiq 2016e, 66); as well as Benjamin Netanyahu (Dabiq 2014e, 56), Barack Obama (Dabiq 2016b, 14), the United States (Az-​Zarqawi 2017, 13), and the International Criminal Court (Ibn ‘Abdil-​Wahhab 2017, 35). It is clear that such extensive use of taghout, and the emphasis on “taghutizing” certain personalities (especially Tayyip Erdogan) in conjunction with the recrudescence of hostilities against them, are not theoretical exercises in Islamic jurisprudence but rather examples of aggressive, intentional, and selective framing of enemies that IS-​related groups face in battle but that, among themselves, share little (in some cases, not even the fact of being Muslims) except for their perceived or actual enmity to the Islamic State. The use of the concept of taghout with a metaphorical or symbolic connotation was reinforced by attempts to actualize the symbolic struggle between God and Satan, so that its continuing relevance could be corroborated by more tangible facts. An opportunity for performatively reenacting the

The monstrous enemy in the “terrorist” mind  153 cosmic component of the taghout symbolism was provided by the conquest of areas of Northern Iraq inhabited by Yazidi population. This subgroup of the Kurdish people practices a cult, probably of Sufi derivation, centered on the figure of Malak-​Tawus (Peacock Angel). Often described as “one of the most exotic figures in the Near Eastern religious continuum” (Asatrian and Arakelova 2003, 22), Malak-​Tawus is a demiurgic deity that “represents both God and evil at the same time” (Nicolaus 2014, 317); however, the narratives related to its origin and powers have clear parallels with the stories of Iblis in Islam and their Sufi derivations. On these bases, the Yazidis have traditionally been described by Western travelers as “devil worshippers,” even if they usually strongly protest this designation and highlight the multifaceted, hybrid nature of their cult instead (Arakelova 2011, 35). These events were given prominence in Dabiq, in which the Yazidis were described as follows: The Yazidis present-​day creed—​as it has changed over history—​entails the worship of Iblīs who they consider to be a fallen but forgiven angel amongst the angels who were ordered to prostrate to Ādam! He alone refused to prostrate to Ādam, and they consider this arrogant disobedience of Allah to be his noblest deed! They consider him to be misunderstood by mankind! They consider him to be good and enlightened, and claim that Allah will openly forgive him on Judgment Day after already forgiving him beforehand for crying tears of piety over a period of thousands of years! So they have made Iblīs—​who is the biggest tāghūt—​the symbolic head of enlightenment and piety! What arrogant kufr can be greater than this? (Dabiq 2014b, 14)

The portrayal of the Yazidis as a group practicing a strange, demonic cult helped to justify subjecting this population to what Dabiq itself described as the first example of “large-​scale enslavement of mushrik families” (Dabiq 2014b, 15) in centuries. The attention that Dabiq paid to explaining the validity of this practice, based on a selective use of Islamic jurisprudential sources, assumes that the vast majority of Muslims would still object to it. As a result, in this case as in many others discussed in this chapter, the “othering” of an enemy through the use of particularly repulsive imagery proved functional to legitimizing a practice that a “terrorist” actor itself saw as straddling across widely accepted ethical barriers.

7 The Abyss of Counterterrorism This chapter explores the extent to which, in Sue Grand’s words, “counter-​ terrorist practices mirror the demonology that they are designed to resist” (2008, 671). It is clear that presenting someone as a monster or as a human–​animal hybrid encourages some sort of reaction in kind. In 1981 a Madrid-​based newspaper, for instance, described the “activists of ETA” as “beasts” and continued by wondering: [t]‌o what degree do beasts deserve human rights? [. . .] Beasts are enclosed behind the heaviest bars that there are in the village; first they are hunted by all kind of tricks. And if in the venture someone is killed, bad luck, or good luck [. . .]. No human rights come into play when a tiger must be hunted. The tiger is searched after, is hounded, is captured, and if necessary is killed. (Ramirez 1981, quoted in Zulaika and Douglass 1996, 157)

Counterterrorist practices do not just mimic the hunting ritual; they sometimes openly flirt with the supernatural. Surveillance programs developed in the context of the post–​September 11 War on Terror repeatedly cited ancient Greek monsters with magical sighting abilities, such as Argus Panoptes and Medusa. Joseba Zulaika (2009, 202–​203) also showed how the supposedly rational logic of the War on Terror bore uncanny resemblances with the process of oracle consultation among the Azande tribes and how counterterrorist strategies are sometimes predicated on “oracle certainties” that do not rest on demonstrable hypotheses but rather on self-​fulfilling visions of “mystical dangers”—​such as the idea that, in the context of ongoing terrorist and counter campaigns, “horror will happen, no matter what.” On some occasions, policymakers literally resorted to the paranormal as part of their operations against “terrorist” groups. During the kidnapping of Aldo Moro, in circumstances that remain not fully clear, a number of senior civil servants and academics organized a séance in which—​some attendees reported—​the spirits of previous political leaders of the Christian Democracy Terrorists as Monsters. Marco Pinfari Oxford University Press (2019) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190927875.001.0001

The abyss of counterterrorism  155 party revealed the name of a location (“Gradoli”) that should have helped discover Moro’s whereabouts. Gradoli is the name of a small village not far from Rome, in which police soon organized a fruitless search; however, in the street in Rome bearing the name of this village (“Via Gradoli”) an empty Red Brigade hideout was indeed discovered few weeks later. Magic hardly qualifies as an orthodox form of counterterrorism, and this séance—​ whose participants included Romano Prodi, the future Italian prime minister and president of the European Commission—​ is now widely interpreted as a mise-​ en-​ scène through which some individuals, who had been tipped by Italian or foreign informants, tried to convey anonymously information about the kidnapping (Imperi 2016, 79–​80). However, the fact that an episode of this kind could take place in the middle of a major political crisis does show how, in responding to violence that is perceived or presented as highly unconventional, even senior and supposedly fully rational policymakers feel that highly unconventional responses are in order. Another more direct way in which presenting terrorism as monstrous (or the performative self-​representation of “terrorists” as such) affects the responses to such actions is by encouraging revenge attacks. Especially when these attacks mimic the actions to which they are designed to respond, they seem to echo the eerie logic of Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous warning—​ “whoever fights with monsters should see to it that he does not become one himself. And when you stare for a long time into an abyss, the abyss stares back into you” (Nietzsche [1886] 2002, 69). The phenomenon of “revenge motivated lone wolf terrorism” (Bates 2012, 11), which has a long history especially among individuals with psychiatric disorders (such as New York’s infamous “Mad Bomber” George Metesky [3]‌), has become particularly prominent in the aftermath of September 11 and the attacks carried out in more recent years by Islamic State affiliates. Some of these actions, such as the 2017 Finsbury Park attack in London, explicitly mimicked the uncontrollable modus operandi of Islamist attacks, including the use of vans to ram pedestrians on trafficked roads or pavements. Some individuals who became known for their brutality in dealing with convicted suspected “terrorists,” such as the “Monster of Bagram” Damien Corsetti, were also emotionally affected by the September 11 attacks. In an interview, Corsetti described himself as having felt “super angry” at the sight of the damaged Pentagon, and he seems to have “carried that super anger with him” (Honigsberg 2014, 8) when he was flown to Afghanistan.

156  Monstrous reflections To be clear, an action that is performed in reaction to a terrorist attack, and that in itself complies with the definition of terrorism, is terrorism. In fact, the cycle of revenge almost always permeates the logic of terrorism, and most terrorist actions are designed as revenge for some real (or imagined) crime committed by the enemy. In a similar way, counterterrorist strategies often resort to tactics, including the indiscriminate, bifocal use of terror bombing against civilian population, that can be described as forms of state terrorism. The main focus of this chapter will be to analyze some of these counterterrorist strategies implemented by state actors in order to proactively restrain or eliminate “terrorist” groups. Like monster metaphors, counterterrorist practices have been described as an exercise in “political liminality” (Montgomery 2010, 194)  and as aimed at establishing “liminal security-​ scapes” (Wall and Monahan 2011). In focusing specifically on the “performative power of counterterrorism” (de Graaf and de Graaff 2010, 268), this chapter delves into these practices and on the role of monstrosity in their performative construction. Some of the most significant questions raised by these practices are about the extent to which contemporary counterterrorism involves—​indeed, requires—​the impersonation of the monster prototype by the state and its representatives, and how this impersonation can be located within the schemata of interpretation created by the use of monster metaphors to frame terrorism in the first place. There could be various reasons why a state would behave like a monster when fighting what it sees as monsters. One could argue, for instance, that some actors are locked within certain symbolic or allegorical systems that subliminally affect their views of the “other,” their policies and their actions. Stuart Croft (2006, 32), for instance, has highlighted the role of Christian eschatology—​the theological doctrines that deal with the “end times”—​in the formation of the discourses through which Christian fundamentalist groups viewed the War on Terror, whose cosmic engagement with evil is seen as part of the Great Tribulation that is expected to precede the Second Coming of Jesus. A comparable resort to emotionally charged religious symbolism has also taken foot in Israel at least since the late 1960s (Kurtulus 2012, 41–​42) and, as we shall see, can be associated with specific developments in Israel’s counterterrorist strategies. Brutality in counterterrorism can also be prompted by how policymakers interpret their duty to respond effectively to the threats posed by terrorist attacks, especially when faced by an upscaling of the technological or tactical savviness of their “terrorist” enemies. Even if politics is the art of

The abyss of counterterrorism  157 exaggeration, it is difficult to deny that major unexpected terrorist attacks, such as the downing of the Twin Towers on September 11, create in the political elite of a country a heightened sense of danger and an urge to respond swiftly and decisively. However, terrorism is at least as much about threats as it is about opportunities. Even in the aftermath of a major shocking attack, the performative execution of counterterrorist measures by state actors is regularly “constructed and employed for specific purposes” (Jackson 2005, 19). In the short-​and medium-​term, terrorist attacks that create a sense of anger and disorientation in the general populace offer politicians the opportunity both to single out enemies and to take decisive action to destroy them. This, in turn, could be beneficial for the political elite for many different reasons. According to Richard Jackson (2005, 116), the “creation of social anxiety and moral panics” can be instrumental, at a very basic level, to the “maintenance of the social contract and the enforcement of collective identity.” However, it can also be used for “delegitimising dissent and muting criticism,” to further private sector interests, or for “distract[ing] the public from more complex and pressing social ills” that affect a country (117). In the long run, counterterrorist policies—​whether designed to respond to specific attacks as opposed to a more generic, “terrorist” threat—​can also serve to validate and normalize wider strategic trends that are beneficial for state authorities on more indirect grounds. These trends transcend individual counterterrorist campaigns and can be located within broader developments of contemporary warfare and its relationship with the state itself. For instance, the increased reliance on non-​human weapon platforms in combat can allow the military and political establishments of Western democracies to embark in risky military endeavors even if their citizens are increasingly described as “extremely sensitive to the risk of military combat casualties” (Vasquez 2005, 849); and yet the resort to these weapon platforms may give rise to ethical debates that only an effective framing of the enemy can help contain. This brings the arguments about framing presented in Part 1 of this book to full circle. Since “the practice of counter-​terrorism is predicated on and determined by the language of counter-​terrorism” (Jackson 2005, 8; emphasis in the original), one of the purposes of the introduction of specific imagery within the metaphorical imaginary of political violence is to establish or re-​ negotiate the borders between what is “reasonable or unreasonable, appropriate or inappropriate” (9) in countering it.

158  Monstrous reflections In the recent history of counterterrorism, the processes of this kind that involve the metaphorical constructs of monstrosity have arguably taken two main forms. In some cases, specific demonologies or allegorical frameworks have been called upon by senior political actors as part of counterterrorist campaigns. As discussed in the previous chapter, these processes may be somewhat partial as inconsistent, as in the case of the use of mythical imagery by Sri Lankan authorities against the LTTE. More recently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi cited Jatayu—​a divine vulture whose strenuous (but eventually ineffective) defense of Rama’s wife Sita against the evil Ravan is narrated in the Ramayana—​as the “first ever person to fight terrorism” (Bisaria 2016). This statement came as an attempt to present through a mythical frame the “surgical strikes” conducted by the Indian army against Pakistani and militant outposts in Kashmir (Masood 2016)—​attacks that, like the angry mobs that took to the streets against the Tamil yakku, may be seen or justified through the symbolism provided by certain mythical narratives but are in no significant way ritualized reenactments of these cosmic battles. Incidentally, Modi’s statement sparked outrage among some Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka, where Rayan is venerated as one of the early kings of the island; they noted that Rayan “had not been dubbed a terrorist” in the Ramayana and suggested that this statement could “hamper the ongoing reconciliation process in Sri Lanka” (Indian Express 2016). In contrast to Modi’s extemporary exegesis of the Ramayana, in some instances the political and military elite of a country has endorsed a certain demonology of the enemy and has cracked down on it accordingly. In doing so, they formulated or endorsed strategic directives that appear to be fully in line with this demonology and the “cosmic war” scenario that it evokes, while also consciously pursuing an eminently political vision aimed at the elimination of what they see as enemies of their state. A paradigmatic example of this scenario is the adoption of the so-​called Dahiya Doctrine by the Israeli army since 2006 and its implementation against the Palestinian population, especially during the 2008 Gaza war. During this war and its immediate aftermath, the new Amalek has been subjected to a similar treatment as its historical precedent, against whom—​according to the first book of Samuel—​God himself authorized waiving the customs of war in light of the exceptional resilience that it had shown in fighting the Israelites. On other occasions, the framing of terrorists as monsters has happened almost exclusively through the media as part of wider processes of

The abyss of counterterrorism  159 demonization and othering of the enemy, as in the case of the reaction by Western media to the September 11 attacks and the threat of international jihadist movements. And yet, even if these characterizations are not as widely shared as the national narratives that supported the implementation of the Dahiya Doctrine, state authorities have constructed performatively their counterterrorist policies in ways that mimic and reinforce this framing. In the context of the post–​September 11 War on Terror, one can identify the adoption of the uncontrollable monster persona in the operational directives that condone brutality in dealing with “terrorists,” as well as the non-​human monster persona in the increased automatization and de-​personification of warfare, for instance, through the increased use of drones. In contrast to what is sometimes argued, the impersonal brutality showcased by these forms of counterterrorism should not be considered just as one of the “unintended consequences” (Honigsberg 2014, 4) of these campaigns. The characterization of the “terrorist” enemies as uncontrollable or inhuman monsters may certainly encourage emotionally charged, retaliatory reactions in kind—​driven not only by the framing adopted by Western media but also by the performative construction of their actions by the “terrorists” themselves. However, especially when we consider longer-​ term strategic directives, brutality in counterterrorism should be seen as part of a more conscious signaling strategy directed at the “terrorists.” Political signaling is a form of communication designed “to project intentions, influence perceptions [and] create expectations” in dealing with enemies or other political actors (Wich 1980, 280). Especially in the context of the War on Terror, counterterrorist practices are often designed to deter enemies from repeating their attacks by conveying the sense of one’s own strength, but the urge to convey this intention effectively encourages the recourse to the same language of uncontrollable, non-​human brutality in which the “terrorists” are supposed to be fluent. The eventual adoption of specific policies can be part of the political vision of the actors and groups that impersonated these metaphors in the first place. However, it is when we consider the contribution of the “terrorists” themselves to these processes through the performative construction of their own actions that the tragic logic of this cycle of action and reaction becomes obvious. As counterterrorism stares into the abyss of brutality, monster metaphors may become key to the success of “terrorist” groups in provoking exactly the type of overreaction that helps fuel their recruitment and legitimize their actions in the view of their internal audience.

160  Monstrous reflections

The Dahiya Doctrine and the Death of Proportional Force Most “cosmic war” scenarios provide prescriptions about how to treat enemies. In some cases, these prescriptions are far from obvious; they need to be derived through analogies that leave ample space for discretionary interpretations and adaptations. On other occasions, however, these cosmologies carry with them very specific recipes that not only legitimize the use of violence in war or counterterrorism, but also identify a detailed range of policies that are allowed and mandated in facing such enemies. Especially in these circumstances, the adoption of certain policies cannot be seen just as a consequence of framing; rather, it is an integral part (or even the main source) of such framing in the first place. The use of the allegorical frame of Amalek is a clear example of the co-​ determination between framing and counterterrorist policies. The confrontation between the ancient Israelites and Amalek was unequivocally portrayed in the Jewish tradition as the paradigm of a zero-​sum confrontation. In Canaan Amalek was “at the head of the confederated clans already in possession of the land” and it soon became clear that “the struggle between them and the invaders was to determine the whole future of the rivals, the success of the one necessarily meaning the utter destruction of the other” (Macpherson 1919, 78). However, Amalek is not only the archetypical enemy of the Jewish people; it is also the one enemy against whom, in light of its remarkable resilience, God itself authorized waiving of the laws of war that were followed in dealing with other adversaries. As reported by the first book of Samuel, God commanded the Israelites to “go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys” (1 Sam 15:3). This injunction was preceded by several passages in the Torah claiming that God had sworn enmity with Amalek “from generation to generation” (Ex 17:16) as a result of its repeated attacks against the Israelites: Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. When the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in

The abyss of counterterrorism  161 the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget! (Deut 25:17–​19)

The increased prominence of Amalek in the framing of Israel’s enemies, and in the reenactment of violence against them, was the result of at least three converging and mutually reinforcing trends, two of which have been discussed, respectively, in ­chapters 3 and 5. One was the growing relevance of religious Zionist narratives among Israel’s political and military elite, bringing to the political arena the suggestion—​aired by Jewish religious figures since the early 1980s—​that “the Amalekism of our generation expresses itself in the extremely deep hatred of the Arabs to our national renaissance in the land of our forefathers” (Sprinzak 1993, 127–​128) and that, as a result, the Palestinians should be given “the same fate as the Amalekites” (Khader 2007, 150). Furthermore, at least since 2006 Hamas militants have encouraged this identification by explicitly impersonating the monstrous persona of the “blood-​licking” Amalekites in presenting perfomatively their actions. A few months after the publication of this video message, Israel engaged in a month-​long conflict in Lebanon with Hezbollah and other factions. This conflict added a third and final layer of complexity to the Amalek metaphor by providing a strategic setting in which the story of Amalek—​which until that time was mostly seen as the “metaphysical principle” of opposition to God and its chosen people” (Webb 2009, 127)—​became an actualized self-​fulfilling prophecy. The Israeli narrative according to which Hezbollah had engaged in an “unprovoked” war of friction against Israel (Monbiot 2006) evoked the Amalekite attacks against the marching Hebrews in the desert. The quasi-​symmetrical yet highly unconventional nature of the 2006 conflict—​what Frank Hoffman (2007, 35) described as a prototypical “hybrid war”—​was also reminiscent of the mixture of conventional and unconventional modi operandi of the Amalekites’ troops and their targeting of Hebrew “civilians.” Finally, and arguably most importantly, the encirclement syndrome provoked by the presence of “hybrid organizations” (F. Hoffman 2007, 28) both in Lebanon and in the Palestinian territories (Olmert 2006) encouraged a response that, as in the case of God’s command against Amalek, was meant to be exemplary in nature and mirror the relentless hatred and moral liminality with which this monstrous enemy was associated. Rabbinic sources describe the harsh reaction against Amalek as necessary because its attacks had “made Israel appear lukewarm in battle

162  Monstrous reflections in the eyes of the nations of the earth” (Cromer 2001, 194), encouraging more attacks from other hostile peoples while they were on their way to Canaan. Similarly, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (2006) claimed that Israel’s neighbors had misconstrued its “willingness to exercise restraint as a sign of weakness” and therefore needed to be reminded of Israel’s strength once and for all. Starting on 18 July 2006, approximately one week into the conflict, Israel’s military began targeting several areas in Lebanon’s capital Beirut, focusing specifically on the southern suburb known as Dahiya. This densely populated neighborhood, composed mostly of six-​to ten-​story apartment buildings (Arkin 2007, 80), housed a large number of Shi’as and is often described as a symbolic “stronghold” and “operations hub” for Hezbollah (Chulov 2014). Dahiya alone suffered more than half of the damage to residential buildings caused by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) strikes over Beirut during the conflict. According to the report of a commission of inquiry appointed by the UN Human Rights Council: The devastation in Dahiyeh was extensive. The area had been subjected to very heavy aerial bombardment from apparently precision-​guided bombs. Whole buildings of 10 or more floors had completely collapsed. The bomb craters witnessed by the Commission were enormous, indicating the use of very heavy ordnance. There were still unexploded bombs in some buildings. There was a pattern in the bombing and some buildings had been hit several times. (UNHRC 2006, 33)

If any military advantage could have been achieved through the terror bombing of Dahiya, it did not appear to feature high on the list of priorities of the Israeli military leadership. Instead, the bombing was presented explicitly as an exemplary measure targeted to every Israeli enemy—​not only Hezbollah—​that would attack Israel. In 2008 Gadi Eisenkot, then head of IDF’s Northern Division (who later climbed the ranks of the IDF to be appointed in 2015 as Chief of Staff) famously elaborated on what he himself presented as the “Dahiya Doctrine”: What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. [. . .] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. [. . .]

The abyss of counterterrorism  163 This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved. (UNHRC 2009, 254)

The Dahiya Doctrine was more than an attempt to deter further attacks by conveying Israel’s intention to use overwhelming force against its enemies. As a “militarized way of thinking about strategic communication” (Hasian 2016, 51), it broadcasted Israel’s explicit decision to waive one core tenet of the “just war” theory and jus in bello—​the principle of proportionality of means—​and, in so doing, it directly followed in the footsteps of “the command to use disproportionate, genocidal force against the Amalekites” (Atlantic 2009). The 2008–​2009 Operation “Cast Lead” on Gaza became the main testing ground of this doctrine. As noted by the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict chaired by Richard Goldstone, in the planning of this operation senior Israeli generals had reflected on the strategic use of the Dahiya Doctrine beyond Lebanon, for instance, by arguing that: [t]‌his approach is applicable to the Gaza Strip as well. There, the IDF will be required to strike hard at Hamas and to refrain from the cat and mouse games of searching for Qassam rocket launchers. The IDF should not be expected to stop the rocket and missile fire against the Israeli home front through attacks on the launchers themselves, but by means of imposing a ceasefire on the enemy. (UNHRC 2009, 255)

While “Cast Lead” was ongoing, Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni presented it as a reenactment of Amalek’s lesson—​fighting the perception of Israel being “lukewarm in battle”—​actualized through attacks that explicitly impersonated the uncontrollable monster: We have proven to Hamas that we have changed the equation. Israel is not a country upon which you fire missiles and it does not respond. It is a country that when you fire on its citizens it responds by going wild—​and this is a good thing. (256; emphasis added)

One of the consequences of Israel’s “going wild” was the treatment of Palestinian civilians who did not directly qualify as combatants as part of Hamas’s “supporting infrastructure,” to the point that “very large sections of the Gazan civilian population” were considered as legitimate targets of Israeli attacks (257). The mass dehumanization and reification of civilians that resulted from

164  Monstrous reflections treating them as mere “infrastructure” meant that both ends of the ethical framework of jus in bello—​both the proportionality of means and the principle of non-​combatant immunity—​were waived as part of the implantation of the Dahiya Doctrine. “Cast Lead” was therefore described in the Goldstone Report as “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population” (UNHRC 2009, 408). By 2009, Amalek had become mainstream in Israel’s political discourse. Benjamin Netanyahu, soon after he took office for his second time in 2009, described Iran as ruled by a “messianic apocalyptic cult”; when one of his aides was asked to explain exactly how Netanyahu saw Iran’s nuclear program, his response was simply, “Think Amalek” (Goldberg 2009a). As a result, as Jeffrey Goldberg (2009a; emphasis added) noted, “If Iran’s nuclear program is, metaphorically, Amalek’s arsenal, then an Israeli prime minister is bound by Jewish history to seek its destruction, regardless of what his allies think.” However, the legacy of “Jewish history” and its exact political prescriptions are not as obvious as politicians and influential public figures like to portray them. In the summer of 2014, when the Gaza Strip suffered from yet another implementation of the Dahiya Doctrine, a paid op-​ad by Jewish Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel was published in a number of international newspapers with the heading, “Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it’s Hamas’ turn.” Paid for by the US-​based group This World:  The Values Network—​the self-​ described “world’s leading organization promoting universal Jewish values in culture, media and politics,” led by Orthodox Rabbi Shmuley Boteach—​this op-​ ed contrasted Abraham’s decision not to sacrifice his son with “Muslim children used as human shields [. . .] by worshippers of death cults indistinguishable from that of the Molochites” (Wiesel 2014), another legendary people mentioned in the Bible (possibly corresponding to the historical Ammonites) that were said to practice blood sacrifices. Although Wiesel’s invitation to “return child sacrifice to the darkest corner of history” (Wiesel 2014) was certainly welcome, his selective use of the Jewish tradition failed to mention that the Bible also provides some excellent scriptural pretexts for the progeny of the ancient Israelites to kill the “infants and suckling” of their own “blood-​licking” enemies.

Detention and Signaling: The Monster of Bagram Unlike Israel’s cosmic enmification of Hezbollah and Hamas, the framing of the enemy during the post–​September 11 War on Terror cannot be traced

The abyss of counterterrorism  165 back to a single mythical repertoire. Even so, in continuity with the tendency of US presidents to present their foreign policy as a theological system (Galtung 1990), George W. Bush repeatedly resorted to religious symbolism in referring to al-​Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden and to the War on Terror as part of a God-​ordained mission that gave the United States the chance to play a “unique role in human events” (Wilson 2012, 155). Al-​Qaeda and jihadist terrorism were also repeatedly portrayed in the media and by politicians through monster metaphors, especially as uncontrollable and unstoppable monsters. In many ways, however, the War on Terror did mirror the demonology that it was designed to resist (Grand 2008, 671). It did so by developing, not a single strategic doctrine that actualized a mythical cosmic war that happened in the ancient past, but rather a series of counterterrorist practices that reproduced the persona of the brutal, uncontrollable monster. As far as we know, no unified strategic directive was issued by civilian or military authorities in the United States that explicitly condoned unlawful brutality in dealing with enemy troops and prisoners. What we witnessed instead was a more subtle process based on two types of political signaling—​ one directed at the enemy and one directed at the in-​group, especially those individuals operating in war theatres and in detention facilities. The content of the external signaling was, in turn, twofold. The War on Terror was designed as a display of force in kind that conveyed the message of unrestrained power. Because a pure display of unrestrained power was likely to have a number of negative reverberations, the United States only conveyed in potentia what they could do—​as Alan Dershowitz (2002, 3)  put it, the fact that it “could easily wipe out international terrorism if [it] were not constrained by legal, moral and humanitarian considerations.” Through its actions (or, citing again St Thomas Aquinas’s rendition of Aristotle, in actu), it inched toward waiving these legal and ethical constraints but without openly acknowledging—​as the Israelis did—​that they were to be dispensed with. Still, the message inherent in its actions appeared clear; as Ken Roth put it, “[i]‌f you start opening the door, making a little exception here, a little exception there, you’ve basically sent the signal that the end justifies the means” (Keen 2006, 207). As mentioned before, the individuals on the front line of the War on Terror—​ soldiers, interrogators, other contractors—​ had witnessed the events of September 11 and were operating within the frames set by the media and politicians in its aftermath. As social psychology and several

166  Monstrous reflections experiments—​including the notorious Stanford Prison Experiment—​have shown, individuals typically set their ethical standards on the basis of “whatever [they] have come to consider ‘normal’ behaviour” on the basis of the social setting that surrounds them—​a process that is referred to as “re-​normalization” (Luban 2005, 1451). “Public discourse” (Jackson 2007a, 335) was key to the (re-​)normalization of torture in the context of the War on Terror, with the emergence of a debate of unprecedented proportions (at least in modern times) about the legitimacy of torture against “ticking bombs.” However, this process was aided and supplemented by what David Keen (2006, 119)  has described as “signals from the top,” part of a consistent strategy of internal signaling. These included George W. Bush’s decision on 7 February 2002 not to extend the protection provided for by the Geneva Convention to al-​Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan; Donald Rumsfeld’s approval of hard interrogation techniques, including the exploitation of individual phobias in order to “induce stress” (Keen 2006, 214); and legal opinions suggesting that “someone accused of torture could effectively argue self-​defense, meaning defense of the country” (Lewis 2004, 13). The way in which this trickled down to the individual operatives reflected the intangible dynamics of interpersonal relations in hierarchical, ideology-​driven organizations that operate under a high degree of stress. As the lawyer of one of the US officers accused of torture in Iraq put it: The story is not necessarily that there was a direct order. Everybody is far too subtle and smart for that [. . .]. Realistically, there is a description of an activity, a suggestion that it may be helpful and encouragement that this is exactly what we needed. (Keen 2006, 120)

The War on Terror can therefore be described as the story of a global counterterrorist operation waged by individuals socialized in viewing the other as an uncontrollable monster, encouraged to employ measures that reproduce the monstrous nature of this fight, and to convey to the enemy the impression that it faces an uncontrollable monster. Stress, anger, and feelings of revenge did contribute to making some individuals particularly cruel and merciless in dealing with enemies and prisoners. However, they were not isolated “rotten apples”; in the words of Derek Gregory (2004, 318), their “actions (and inactions) are the fruit of a vast poisoned orchard assiduously cultivated by the president and his undergardeners.”

The abyss of counterterrorism  167 One of the sprouts in this poisoned orchard was Specialist Damien Corsetti. He was one of the military interrogators in charge of extracting information from “high value” detainees at the detention facility of the Bagram Air Base, in northeast Afghanistan. He arrived at Bagram on 29 July 2002 in his early twenties, and left seven months later for Iraq, where he remained until October 2005. One day after his return to the United States, he was arrested on charges of “dereliction of duty, maltreatment, assault and performing indecent acts” (Pérez-​Sales 2017, 54) during his tenure at Bagram, and his name also appeared in relation to the Abu Ghraib scandal. He faced court martial but, on 1 June 2006 he was found not guilty of all charges. Diagnosed with post-​traumatic stress disorder, he was later honorably discharged by the United States Army, recognized as permanently psychologically disabled and offered paid retirement at age twenty-​five. Corsetti’s reputation was fierce. Physically imposing, he had the word “mostro” (Italian for “monster”) tattooed on his chest since 2001. At Bagram, he certainly acted as one. He acknowledged practicing “inhuman” violence against detainees—​violence that was “uselessly sadistic, vengeful or humiliating” designed to “destroy [people] from a psychological point of view” (Pérez-​Sales 2017, 61); he later claimed that he treated his own dog “better than we treat prisoners” (Honigsberg 2014, 12). His interrogation techniques were designed to inflict “unthinkable humiliation” to the prisoners (12). He was accused, among other practices, of the following: sitting on top of a detainee, throwing garbage on him, putting cigarette ash on him, walking across a detainee’s handcuffed hands, pulling hairs out of his chest, pulling the head and beard of a detainee, removing a detainee’s pants to expose his genitalia to a female interrogator, bending him over a table and waving a bottle in close proximity of his buttocks, striking the detainee in the leg, groin and chest with his hands and knees, showing a detainee a condom and his penis and saying, “This is special for you,” “This is your god,” and “I’m going to fuck you,” and placing his penis near the detainee’s face and placing his groin against the detainee’s buttocks. (12)

However, what was arguably the most significant feature of the approach to interrogation and torture at Bagram was described as “casual cruelty” (Pérez-​ Sales 2017, 54). The detainees at Bagram were subjected to a whole “system” of abuse (from the treatment that they received when they entered the facility to their daily routines and, obviously, the interrogations themselves) that was

168  Monstrous reflections designed in its entirety to “humiliate prisoners and steadily subject them to psychological torture” (54). The testimonies during Corsetti’s trial showed how Bagram operated on the basis of a self-​sustaining, pervasive, and arbitrary routine of intimidation to which all inmates could be subjected at their jailers’ whim. As Corsetti put it, “We had the freedom to apply the techniques we wanted, when we wanted,” since the “key to breaking the psychological resistance of a suspected terrorist is, above all, to surprise him and provoke emotions that he can’t control” (56). The “intractable culture of casual cruelty” (Medlicott 2009, 259)  practiced in detention facilities like Bagram completes the actualization of the monster persona by making the inhuman and unthinkable treatment of the Bagram inmates also unpredictable and, from their point of view, unmanageable. Corsetti was aware of being at the heart of this system. He knew that his colleagues referred to him as the “Monster” and the “King of Torture” (Pugliese 2013, 113). He also explicitly took the “role of the intimidator,” partly because of his large physical size (Honigsberg 2014, 10). And yet, in hindsight, his attitude toward his behavior at Bagram was mixed. During the trial, he admitted having been responsible of most (but not all) the practices for which he was charged and acknowledged that he did “some horrible things [. . .] on a moral level” (13) and later added: [w]‌hile I  was scrubbing floors at Fort Bragg, I  realized that everything had been simply monstrous. I realized that there is nothing like seeing a tortured man. I’ve been to war. I’ve been shot. I’ve killed people. None of that is as bad as torture. (Pérez-​Sales 2017, 56)

Still, Corsetti remained adamant that his behavior had not violated law. He declared that he had received training on the Geneva Conventions before he was flown to Afghanistan and, during his tenure at Bagram, he allegedly questioned the validity of the interrogation practices there. A meeting was then arranged with military lawyers who “explained to Corsetti and the other interrogators that they were not violating American law or the Geneva Convention, and could continue with their interrogation techniques” (Honigsberg 2014, 11). There is probably some truth in the fact that Corsetti—​as some of his colleagues reported—​was not an innately brutal man. His admission to have “conducted more interrogations drunk than sober” (Pérez-​Sales 2017, 56) could also help explain some of his extreme behavior. But, most of all, it is

The abyss of counterterrorism  169 Corsetti’s claim that his torture techniques were in some ways “institutionalized” (Honigsberg 2014, 11) to deserve credit. At the very least, he operated in an environment that had effected what in c­ hapter 6 is described as the “social death of the victim”—​one in which he was encouraged not to look “at these people as human” but rather as “numbers” or “evil” (11). However, his story also reveals how torture during the War on Terror was “part of a system that presses for results, that trains interrogators, permits practices that are officially forbidden, covers up their actions, and offers impunity if they are ever uncovered” (Pérez-​Sales 2017, 57). In the years that followed Corsetti’s indictment, three other former military interrogators and three guards in Bagram were also prosecuted for mistreating detainees. The trials of former Bagram interrogators were just one of the occasions in which the monstrous brutality of the War on Terror came to the surface and were preceded by several scandals and public campaigns concerning other detention facilities that began as early as in early 2002—​just a few months after the September 11 attacks. When the 2003 war on Iraq began, for instance, the condition of detainees in Guantanamo was well known. Comparing the treatment of these inmates with that of Allied soldiers by Japanese captors during World War II, John Hickman (2013, 200) highlights how the Bush administration and Imperial Japan: shared an understanding of international affairs as the struggle by great powers to impose order that is effectively unrestrained by international law, and an appreciation of the power that states exercise over the disposition of prisoners to signal their status as hegemons. With the Guantanamo decision the Bush administration was signalling that under the new order it possessed the power to deny captives the protection of international law and US constitutional law. [. . .] Short of televising their summary execution, [. . .] what greater expression of a captor state’s power over prisoners taken in war is possible?

However, the bifocal nature of the projection of the uncontrollable monster persona did not depend only on political campaigns and global media; this reputation also spread among local communities by word of mouth. At Bagram, Corsetti himself came to realize that “ninety-​eight percent” of the prisoners were probably “innocent” (Pérez-​Sales 2017, 55) and that many of the inmates had “nothing to offer” (Honigsberg 2014, 11); they appeared to have been “swept up in a wide net” (11) as a result of mass arrests or of being

170  Monstrous reflections tipped off by other Afghans. As torture bordered into collective punishment, the interrogation practices of the Monster of Bagram revealed more than one dark side of being a “representative of America” on the frontline of the War on Terror.

Automated Warfare: Drones, ARGUS, and the Return of Medusa Damien Corsetti acted like an inhuman, unthinkable, and unmanageable monster, but was still physically recognizable as an individual. Indeed, part of his effectiveness as an intimidator rested on the fact that his inmates could recognize him, remember the violence that they had suffered at his hand, or panic at the thought of what someone with his reputation would do to them if they did not collaborate (Pérez-​Sales 2017, 55). It was also because of his recognizability that inmates were able to accuse him directly of the brutal treatment that they had received at Bagram. However, the War on Terror was also the apogee of a type of counterterrorism that had in the literal removal of the human component of warfare its main tenet, with the goal of inflicting extensive and unstoppable damage to real or projected enemies. These developments came as the result of military trends rooted in the dilemmas of post–​Cold War warfare and that were, at their heart, inward-​looking—​in the service of political agendas whose main concern was not the projection of certain political messages to the “other,” but rather to the domestic constituencies of Western powers. Their reduced tolerance toward casualties in the ranks of Western armies threatened to undercut support for military operations abroad. Reducing casualties by increasing the efficiency of these operations, and eventually make them as little dependent on human fighters as possible, thus became one of the main operational priorities of the US Army, with other allied militaries following suit depending on their own domestic priorities and spending power. Stealth technology was one of the main products of this operational environment. Research on technological advances that could make aircrafts (and other weapon platforms, including destroyers) almost invisible to radars was funded repeatedly throughout the Cold War and eventually produced a “truly groundbreaking” (O’Connor 2012) operational aircraft, the F-​117 Nighthawk. First employed in battle during the 1990–​1991 Gulf War, the F-​117—​with its highly unusual geometrical shape and black livery—​soon

The abyss of counterterrorism  171 became a “supreme mythical object, perhaps the mythical object for the contemporary West” (Dorrian 2003, 102; emphasis in the original). In the words of Mark Dorrian, “[t]‌he surfaces of the aircraft, to which it owes its minimal electromagnetic profile, find a direct correspondence with the gifts in ancient myths which confer invisibility and which always have the nature of a ‘skin’ ” (102). In the post–​Cold War era, the F-​117 came to epitomize the increased resort to a supposedly hands-​off, surgical, and shadowy form of strategic bombing against the enemies of the West, as in the case of the 1999 war on Kosovo. During this campaign, the F-​117 program suffered its only loss in battle. Its wreckage was not only prized by Serbian and Russian military experts keen to study the military technology carried by this aircraft, but also by many lay men and women: When the F-​117A was brought down during the bombing of Serbia, the press reports of what followed drove home the mythical nature of the event. The reporting in the British press at the time cast the local farmers’ dismemberment of the wreckage as a kind of folklorish eucharist whereby a peasantry wielding rustic knives divided the body of a fallen god. Thus we were told that when the object “fell from the sky like a meteor [. . .] all of Europe was lit by fire.” As for where the body landed, “for all time this will be The Place Where the Plane Fell Out of the Sky.” Each fragment of the aircraft was sought after like “a piece of the True Cross.” (102)

After September 11, the operational requirements of counterterrorist operations abroad short-​circuited with the ghostly nature of stealth warfare to create an integrated system that could see all and strike everywhere while still remaining (almost) unseen. This monstrous automaton brought to full fruition the vision of warfare already embodied in nuce by the stealth fighter—​ “the monstrous, phobic ‘thing’ whose semiotic condition is established not so much by systematically eradicating the anthropomorphic as by preying upon it” (104). The denominations for the surveillance components of these projects openly referenced monstrous and supernatural creatures (Dorrian 2014). In 2007 the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contracted a project named ARGUS-​IS—​short for Autonomous Real-​Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System—​capable of producing 1.8-​gigabyte zoomable aerial pictures. This acronym cited the name of Argus

172  Monstrous reflections Panoptes (the “all-​seeing”), a mythical giant charged by Hera to watch over the beautiful priestess Io from her husband Zeus. According to some myths, Argus had a hundred eyes and always kept at least fifty open—​a suitable metaphor for the 368 sensors employed in the camera mounted on ARGUS-​IS. The gorgon Medusa, one of the oldest monster metaphors associated with terrorism, also became the namesake for an integrated surveillance system that was developed in different phases since 2009 (Figure 7.1). Deployed in Afghanistan since 2011, this system was designed to provide “wide-​area surveillance” by triangulating images taken by several different cameras, which would then be distributed to several operators or processed by artificial intelligence. This system reproduced Medusa’s “Gorgon Stare” in two ways—​by allowing remote operators to produce frozen, stuck-​in-​time images of enemy targets, but also by providing visual intelligence and aerial reconnaissance in support of ground operations, therefore setting in motion the process at the end of which individuals may be apprehended or killed. Despite their monstrous appearance, metaphors like those of Argus and Medusa—​two classical creatures that are part of the Greek tradition—​are

Figure 7.1  The logo of the “Gorgon Stare” project (2014).

The abyss of counterterrorism  173 not intended as a signal for the enemy. Instead, their use was functional to the internal rationalization and inward-​ oriented strategic communication of counterterrorist measures by Western armies, designed to highlight their commitment to effective intelligence gathering—​such “effectiveness” being articulated both through the number of eyes deployed to watch the enemy and by their effect in freezing hostile activity. As part of the War on Terror, but also within the broader context of post–​Cold War warfare, developing expensive surveillance systems against external threats is one of the low-​risk strategies that can allow countries like the United States to maintain their imperial stretch with comparatively low risks of causing American casualties. In so doing, however, they also endorsed a vision that condones and normalizes the establishment of voyeuristic routines by state institutions that can seamlessly integrate with “panoptic” practices (Foucault 1977)  at home and “inur[e]‌people to invisible monitoring in domestic spheres” (Wall and Monahan 2011, 240). Surveillance systems like ARGUS-​IS or “Gorgon Stare” are mounted on remotely piloted aircrafts commonly known as “drones.” Itself a zoological metaphor, the word “drone” appeared already in the 1930s in the US military jargon with reference to aircrafts that, like the male bee biologically designed only to fertilize the queen, “depends on others for upkeep” (Shoaps and Stanley 2016, 103). Its larger-​scale, stealth-​coated namesake also appears to be “a ‘mindless’ object that depends on a subject for control” and, as such, as the latest product of the long progeny of dumb but deadly hetero-​directed monsters. As with Frankenstein’s monster, the issue of control appears to be at the heart of the nature of drones. The expression “unmanned aerial vehicle” that is commonly used to describe this technology refers to the absence of a physical pilot on board, which gives them a particularly unusual look—​and, to people used to the sight of aircraft, unnatural and ghastly. However, the word “unmanned” can be seen as misleading because these aircrafts are steered remotely by individuals who, especially in the ranks of the US Army, have repeatedly claimed the title of “pilot,” eventually prompting the official designation of unmanned vehicles as “remotely piloted aircrafts” (RPAs). RPAs also raised questions about the nature of “institutional control over the technology itself ” (Shoaps and Stanley 2016, 105); within the US Army, this technology has given rise to a “longstanding inter-​service battle over material resources” (105) of which the official denomination of the technology was only the tip of the iceberg.

174  Monstrous reflections As simplified drone technology gradually became available to the public and was increasingly used by private companies for non-​military purposes, it was the word “drone” (rather than RPA) that came to designate in common usage unmanned, remotely piloted flying vehicles. And yet, exactly because this term has entered common use, private businesses and hobbyists are now increasingly unhappy about its use to refer to their remotely piloted devices because drones have become a synonym for drone warfare. During the War on Terror, some models of RPAs have been equipped with surveillance system whereas others took on combat tasks. In Pakistan alone, the US Army has conducted 401 drone strikes between 2004 and 2016, killing up to 3,600; in Yemen, between 2002 and 2016, there were 185 drone attacks with a death toll in excess of 1,100 (New America 2017). As a result, the word “drone” underwent another shift by being increasingly used as a verb, not only with reference to the conversion of aircrafts to remote-​control technology but also as a metonymic equivalent to drone bombing tout court, as shown for instance by the morphing of Barack Obama’s trademark campaign slogan into “Yes We Drone” at the hands of anti-​war campaigners. Within the context of the War on Terror, drone warfare has actually led to the re-​actualization of the fundamental dilemma raised by Frankenstein’s monster—​ the relation between (lack of) control and responsibility. In their zones of operation, drones convey to the local population the feeling of an omnipotent, unmanageable, and out-​of-​control threat hanging over their lives like a sword of Damocles. For their victims, drones are “indeed petrifying” (Chamayou 2014, 45), not unlike Medusa’s monstrous sight. As one resident of the Waziristan region of northwest Pakistan (a hotspot for US-​led drone attacks) put it:  “They’re always surveying us, they’re always over us, and you never knowwhen they’re going to strike and attack” (44). Another civilian confessed: Everyone is scared all the time. When we’re sitting together to have a meeting, we’re scared there might be a strike. When you can hear the drone circling in the sky, you think it might strike you. We’re always scared. We always have this fear in our head. (45)

From the standpoint of their remote pilots, and the military and political hierarchy that directs them, drones are not out of control. Although there is a debate on their actual effectiveness compared to manned air strikes (Zenko and Wolf 2016; Shane 2016), RPAs do help reduce casualties among

The abyss of counterterrorism  175 Western ranks and ensure compliance by “inflict[ing] mass terror upon entire populations” (Chamayou 2014, 45). Especially at the hands of political elites who are reluctant to engage in open displays of military force and are sensitive to military losses, like the Obama administration, they do so by creating the illusion of a diffusion of responsibility on these deadly attacks, by replacing the temporal distance between Victor Frankenstein’s life-​giving experiment and his creature’s actions with the spatial distance between the remote pilot of the RPAs and their all-​too-​real victims in the faraway lands of the Middle East and East Africa. However, as among the readers of a gothic novel ideated 200 years earlier, in a rainy summer on Lake Geneva, the externalization of violence at the hands of non-​human or unnatural monsters still appears as a tragic, childish, and eventually unsuccessful attempt of dodging responsibility for one’s own monstrosity.

Conclusion In 1882, the assassination of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Thomas Burke, his Undersecretary, in Phoenix Park, Dublin, was presented in the British press as the action of an oversized, murderous, and uncontrollable Frankenstein’s monster. In the last phases of World War II, the Japanese people were portrayed in the United States as a swarm of mouse-​toothed, pest–​ human hybrids that deserved to be exterminated. In cartoons published in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, a many-​headed hydra representing “terrorist states” had one head—​“Al-​Qaida”—​severed, while two newer snake-​heads sprouted in its place and others, including those named “Hamas,” “Hezbollah,” and “al-​Jihad,” lurked in the shadow waiting for their turn to strike Uncle Sam. Monster metaphors are a pervasive presence in relation to “terrorist” acts and actors, across time and space. They creep into the speeches of political leaders, media coverage, op-​eds, and cartoons to present enemies that need to be attacked, to articulate one’s own actions, and to frame enemy attacks. Some, like Frankenstein’s monster and the many-​headed hydra, but also the demonic yakku of the Sinhalese culture, are the products of visual or written traditions that continue to be cited and, in the process, actualized and re-​ interpreted. Others, like the Louseous Japanicas, are new hybrid creatures invented for the purpose of summarizing in a single visual entity what is hideous about the enemy that is being fought—​and, as a result, why and how it should be fought. The effectiveness of these metaphors rests not only on their position in relation to existing discourses and visual traditions, but also on their ability to elicit certain types of deep-​seated feelings and fears about the enemy. The process through which this imagery is chosen (and therefore the exact fears that are evoked) is rarely irrational in itself. The Phoenix Park murders were the responsibility of a small movement, the Irish National Invincibles, that emanated from an impoverished nation that had recently lost one-​fourth of its population in a famine. The Japanese “lice” were instead fourteen times more numerous than the Irish, and their army wreaked havoc in the Pacific for years. The clear reversal of what in hindsight would appear as a more natural order of things—​that the Japanese, much more than the Irish, are Terrorists as Monsters. Marco Pinfari Oxford University Press (2019) © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190927875.001.0001

Conclusion  177 valid candidates for being collectively presented as an uncontrollable brute—​ shows the extent to which these metaphors intentionally alter our way of seeing politics. Irish terrorism needed to be taken seriously so that it could be fought seriously. Japanese expansionism was already serious enough, to the point that troops and the American public needed to be reminded of their own (racial) superiority, while at the same time—​until the end of the war—​ how to deal with that expansionism remained a subject for debate. The visual framing of the enemy through these metaphors at the very least interacted with policy by making certain courses of action thinkable; if certain policy decisions were already being mulled over, the metaphors helped articulate, legitimize, and normalize them. Racial prejudice did play a role in these representations. However, the choice of Frankenstein’s monster to represent the Irish at the time of the Phoenix Park murders might have more to do with its uncontrollable behavior than with its non-​human or sub-​human nature, especially considering that the Creature, at least in its earlier iconography, was rarely portrayed with beastly traits. Similarly, there might be something intuitively valid in the “network aesthetics” (Jagoda 2010, 66) of the hydra and in the representation of networked terrorism through the many-​headed monster; however, there is hardly anything casual in the choice of the specific movements whose names, in Cox and Forkum’s cartoon (Figure  3.3), are attached to its snakeheads. As Lakoff and Johnson (1999, 4) argued, metaphorical reasoning “arises from the nature of our brains, bodies, and bodily experience” but also remains in essence a rational process, especially when both cultural traditions and the human imagination provide us with so many monsters to choose from. Monsters are not the only metaphorical construct that appears in relation to terrorism, but the fact itself of presenting actions performed by humans as the product of someone—​or something—​else seems to encourage the resort to figurative images that hybridize the human with the non-​human. Many animal metaphors used in relation to terrorism are, in fact, intended to present the enemy as a monstrous animal–​human hybrid rather than simply citing the biological features of existing creatures from the animal realm. The nature of terror-​ism as a phenomenon based on the projection (or internalization) of fear also contributes to making monster metaphors not just an incidental part of the political discourse but rather one of the fundamental, constitutive components of the way in which terrorism is presented and understood.

178 Conclusion This book had no ambition to provide an exhaustive overview of all monster metaphors used in relation to terrorism across time, in the West and in the rest of the world. By surveying different movements, different historical phases, different processes associated with terrorism, “enmification” and the performative projection of metaphorical personae, and by including examples drawn from different cultural traditions, it has nevertheless shown how these metaphors typically have a functional rather than descriptive nature, help constitute political violence and terrorism as socially and politically relevant phenomena, and shape the way in which political and military responses to the acts of “enemies” are conceived and implemented. As a result, this book also demonstrated that terrorism as a political phenomenon cannot be fully understood outside of the metaphors that we use to characterize it. Monster metaphors, however, do not represent acts—​they refer to the people who commit them. The uncontrollable monsters are the Irish, the Muslims, the Tamils, and so on, and these labels have stuck over time, often over many decades. At the source of this framing remain acts that, although never seen objectively (as no political event is), share some basic characteristics—​they are violent acts that involve the harming or killing of individuals in unusual and somewhat extraordinary circumstances or through some extraordinary means, which in turn create disorientation and fear. Some of the cases discussed in this book (such as the actions of the Red Brigades and the “terror bombing” campaigns during World War II) show how, even in the context of bloody wars or ongoing “terrorist” campaigns, militant groups or state actors rationally realize that an extra effort is needed to convince their operatives and their supporters—​or their soldiers and their constituencies—​that the enemy deserves to be treated in ways that are normally considered as excessive. This brings us back to Finlay’s analysis of the discursive nature of terrorism as a political phenomenon. The terror and the nature of the “terrorist” actor exist in the context of linguistic and social conventions, the “wider sensibilities of listeners, the perception of the organization in terms of its cause or political legitimacy, and other contingent factors” (Finlay 2009, 757), whereas some shared common denominators can still be found in relation of the nature of terrorist acts—​without which it would hardly make sense to talk about terrorism as a political phenomenon that can be analyzed through time and space. However, like contemporary warfare, even terrorist acts have a fluid nature. Political elites might feel the threat these acts pose requires a strong

Conclusion  179 response that the general public might not necessarily support, or they wish to exploit these acts in order to implement policies that are in line with their vision or are advantageous to them. Even if all monster metaphors are designed to evoke creatures that are, to different degrees, inhuman, unthinkable, and unmanageable, it is probably for these reasons that the common denominator of the monster metaphors employed to frame “terrorists” lies in the fear of facing an unmanageable and particularly resilient monster. This framing is also one that tends to inspire strong counterterrorist policies and pervasive emergency measures, both at home and abroad. In the process, fear and terror are amplified; especially when faced by an uncontrollable monster, counterterrorism is not about countering terror but rather exploiting and channeling it. A recurrent theme in the academic debates on monstrosity in terrorism is the relevance of this imagery for “othering” the perpetrators of these acts. I have expressed some doubts about the extent to which othering should be seen as the main function of monster metaphors, especially in framing “terrorist” actors. For instance, the monster metaphor that is probably most widely utilized in relation to terrorism in the West—​Frankenstein’s monster—​is not an obvious metaphor for othering an enemy and for presenting it as a non-​human creature. However, it is very suitable for portraying the enemy as a murderous monster that is out of control, and possibly for attaching responsibility for its paternity—​which, in turn, can be particularly important when a country faces non-​state groups that enjoy the support of other state actors. The snakeheads of the hydra do appear beastly and evil, but the main attribute that explains why this metaphor is, with Frankenstein’s monster, one of the most common metaphors for jihadist terrorism is not so much for its lack of humanity but rather for its resilience. “Othering” does nevertheless emerge repeatedly among the functions of the monster metaphors used in relation with terrorism. A key component of the prototype of monstrosity, the inhuman nature of monsters, is given particular emphasis especially when the framer wants to create emotional and cognitive distance with the enemy. As such, it is common when framing happens across cultural lines—​when the “terrorist other” may be presented as an ape, for instance—​but it seems particularly prominent as part of the enmification processes through which the framer wants to ensure the “social death” of the victim before its physical execution. These, in turn, can happen in the context of counterterrorist campaigns, but they are also at

180 Conclusion the very heart of terrorism itself—​of the ability of “terrorist” actors to mobilize militants or domestic constituencies to support measures that straddle ethical lines. In framing political enemies, the third component of the monster prototype—​monsters as unthinkable creatures—​does not appear to be as prominent as the other two, even if we did encounter some examples of how liminality as a source of monstrosity that defies reason has played a role in motivating “terrorist” groups, as in the case of the “mongrel monstrosity” of mixed-​race individuals enmified by white supremacists. The impersonation of the “blood-​licking” monster type is also arguably an example of “terrorists” exploiting the fear that unnatural and unthinkable practices can elicit in an audience. The archetype of monstrosity can also be designed—​especially when impersonated performatively—​to evoke other feelings, including attraction. In fact, most of the metaphors that are used both to frame and to articulate performatively acts of political violence have several intended audiences and carry with them several messages for different target groups. I have decided in this book to focus specifically on the use of archetypal metaphors in creating and reproducing the feeling of terror that is connatural with the idea itself of terrorism and with the process of action–​reaction that tends to characterize most contemporary conflicts in which “terrorist” actors operate. However, the feeling of attraction that the charm of some monster-​types can elicit, for instance, may deserve attention of its own as part of a structured analysis of “terrorist” recruitment, especially in relation to the increasingly frequent attempts of “terrorist” movements at “narrowcasting” certain messages to specific subgroups, as well as through social media (Weimann 2016, 83). Such analysis should start by taking the monster imagery evoked by “terrorist” performers seriously—​a research trail that this book has tried to blaze by engaging with the several different functions that can be attributed to specific monster metaphors depending on their exact content, rather than treating them as merely functional to eliciting feelings of abjection and otherness. Even so, in evoking the monster archetype, all monster metaphors are designed to create a distance between two or more groups of peoples, to draw lines, and to effect ethical, social, and political chasms. The attention paid by Dabiq to explain at length the legitimacy of enslaving the Yazidis, even in the midst of a bloody war and among other articles that describe all sorts of ethically liminal practices, is a testament to the resiliency of ethical

Conclusion  181 norms. I believe that the vast majority of the leaders of “terrorist” groups accept that several of their practices are ethically troubling and are concerned about the commitment and motivations of their operatives; similarly, the target audiences of “terrorist” groups may see something right and agreeable in their claims—​and certainly many political actors fear that this may be the case. Monster metaphors provide a remedy by closing down these unwanted windows of empathy and by erecting almost insurmountable cognitive and ethical barriers. As in the literature of the Middle Ages, the main purpose (and effect) of the use of monster imagery in contemporary politics is “to negate the similitudes of mimesis” (Williams 1996, 48). Sometimes these barriers are created through words; sometimes, through actions. The performative power of acting as a monster can be functional for polarizing a social fabric that does not (yet) understand the necessity of taking sides. As such, as in the case of the historical trajectory of revolutionary terrorism in the Western world, monstrosity may be impersonated in its wholeness, as a prototype concept whose components are well understood by the target audience. Sometimes, as in the case of the “terrorist”-​vampire by IS militants, this impersonation rests on a series of cultural references that are probably meant to convey targeted messages to different audiences, showing once again the versatility and flexibility of monstrosity as a polysemic construct. Performativity also plays a role in counterterrorism; deterrence is, by nature, a performative process, and monstrosity can provide the grammar through which the capabilities and intentions of the actors responding to terrorist attacks are articulated and conveyed. Let us then conclude this book where it started—​from Rabie Shehada’s impersonation of the vampire type in his attempt to articulate performatively the agenda of the Islamic State. If this book is primarily an attempt to explain how the grammar of monstrosity works in relation to terrorism, by reflecting on the functions that certain types of archetypal metaphors play in articulating and (re-​)presenting acts of political violence that rest on spreading terror to wider audiences, it should now be clear that the “ISIS vampire” was in essence a performer. One basic implication of the analysis presented in this book is that the monstrosity projected by “terrorists” should never be taken at face value—​as an indication that these people truly are monstrous and inhuman beings. Although some terrorist acts are, in fact, particularly brutal and inhumane, the people who mastermind them follow scripts that are explicitly designed to use such terror to amplify the scare power of these events and are

182 Conclusion chosen primarily for their proven effectiveness rather than for being rooted in specific religious doctrines. This book has also shown that these scripts have been around for many decades, if not centuries. The modus operandi of revolutionary terrorism, if anything, seems to have changed remarkably little over more than 150 years and—​despite the clear religious orientation of the movements that have adopted it in recent years—​it has been the trademark tactic for groups with different ideological, political, and religious agendas. The projection of monstrosity—​typically through the impersonation of only some aspects of the monster prototype rather than by all of them—​is intrinsic to the nature of terrorism itself and was certainly not born out of the cultural and religious traditions that we now commonly associate with the “terrorist”-​monster. As this book has shown, it is now also a key part of how counterterrorist policies are articulated, explained, and implemented. But, we may wonder, has this display of monstrous brutality served counterterrorism well? De Graaf and de Graaff (2010) noted that, in the recent history of terrorism, “a visible increase of power, responsible authorities or measures did not automatically lead to a more effective form of counterterrorism” (270). In their empirical sample, they found that a “low level of performative power of counterterrorism policy,” coupled with “punctual” crime prevention and “a certain level of secrecy,” proved most successful in taking “the sharpest edge away from a number of radicalization tendencies” (270). These findings are not surprising. However, several contributions on the role of framing in counterterrorism suggest, less credibly, that a change in language is a good place to start when it comes to avoiding a “war of words” like the one that we witnessed in the first years of the War on Terror. Metaphorical systems are indeed flexible and have some intrinsically “generative properties that give a certain cast to surface discourse while facilitating the appearance of novel features” (Danziger 1990, 333; emphasis in the original). Elaborating on this notion, Steuter and Wills 2008 have advocated the need to engage in a “conscious process of frame restructuring” of the ways in which terrorism is presented, “involving the design of a new narrative or metaphor that sets the problem in a new way” (205). This effort should focus specifically on choosing “more constructive metaphoric frameworks” that position terrorism outside of the realm of in-​out confrontation (205). Their final recommendation is therefore that: [w]‌e need to actively seek out a workable, effective alternative to the war metaphor because our history is already too full of the stories of war and

Conclusion  183 too short on the stories of peace. Instead, we require a new narrative, with a better conclusion; perhaps in place of the narrative of the leader-​as-​general, who responds to attack with annihilating aggression, we might substitute the story, suggest Blechman and Doherty (2001), “about the wise leader who listened to all the counsellors and then chose the path of peace, reconciliation and justice.” (205)

This book, in analyzing the history and functions of specific linguistic devices applied to terrorism, has demonstrated that language is not a good place to start to change the way in which terrorism operates, how terrorism is understood, and how it is eventually countered. Linguistic constructs like the monster metaphors explored in this book may reflect and embody long-​standing cultural frameworks but are, in essence, a means through which pre-​existing mindsets and policy are articulated and normalized. Policy, not language, is therefore a more appropriate place to start to reshape the social context in which terrorism and counterterrorism unfold. As lone-​wolf attacks continue to terrorize Western capitals and jihadist groups keep finding new avenues for reaching out to their intended audiences, one should wonder if the West has run short of ideas for designing a “new narrative” that could replace the binary monstrosity of the War on Terror, or if there is actually little political will to run away from the monsters that have haunted the West for the past centuries.

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Index For the benefit of digital users, indexed terms that span two pages (e.g., 52–​53) may, on occasion, appear on only one of those pages. Figures are indicated by f following page number Abd el-​Wahhab, Mohammed ibn, 8, 68,  150–​51 Abdullah, King of Saudi Arabia, 151, 152 abjection, 1–​2, 23, 44–​45, 126, 180 Abominables, The,  35–​37 Abraham, Prophet. See Ibrahim, Prophet Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, 102–​3 Abu Ghraib prison, 167 Abu Jihad (Khalil al-​Wazir), 104 acting (in terrorism). See performativity aesthetics, 22, 34 network aesthetics, 53, 177 Afghanistan, 16, 68, 71, 72–​73, 101–​2, 107, 118, 155, 165–​66, 167–​70, 171–​72 mujahidin, 68–​69, 71, 101 al-​Assad, Bashar, 72, 152 al-​Baghdadi, Abu Bakr, 69, 74 al-​dawla al-​Islamiyya fi al-​Iraq wa ash-​ Sham (DAESH). See Islamic State (IS) al-​gama’a al-​Islamiyya, 101 al-​Iraqi, Abu Hajer (Mamdouh Mahmud Salim),  101–​2 al-​Kasasbeh, Muath, 19, 115–​16 Al-​Qaeda, 1–​2, 18–​19, 68–​74, 100–​4, 107, 113, 115, 116–​17, 164–​66, 176 Al-​Qaeda in Iraq, 69, 100–​1, 107–​13 execution of hostages, 100–​1 al-​Sisi, Abdel Fattah, 152 al-​Suri, Abu Musab (Mustafa Setmariam Nasar), 107–​9,  117–​18 al-​Tal, Wasfi,  105–​6 al-​Zarqawi, Abu Musab, 74, 111–​13,  115–​16 al-​Zawahiri, Ayman, 101, 104–​5, 111 Alba, Duke of, 31–​32 Algeria, 101, 104 aliens, 70

allegory, 7, 28, 30, 31, 32, 35–​37, 125–​26, 127, 128–​30, 132–​33, 139, 140, 141, 146, 156, 158, 160 Amalek, 21, 24, 63–​65, 66–​67, 106–​7, 158, 160–​62,  163–​64 Amalekization,  64–​65 Amaq News Agency, 116–​17 anarchist terrorism, 18, 23–​24, 53–​58, 69, 72–​73, 79–​83. See also Propaganda of the Deed contemplatifs / ​impulsifs,  81–​82 “era of attentats,” 82–​84 ideology,  79–​82 trials, 56–​57,  82–​83 Andromeda, 33 angels, 7, 142–​43, 152–​53 Antheus,  144–​45 anti-​colonialism /​ anti-​imperialism, 59, 68–​69, 89–​90, 91–​83–​, 107, 112, 143–​44, 146. See also jihadism; left-​wing terrorism; guerrilla warfare; revolutionary terrorism Antichrist,  61–​62 anxiety, 15–​16, 157 Arabian Peninsula, 29, 63 Arabs, 9–​10, 21, 29, 63, 64–​65, 71, 72, 105–​ 6, 131, 161 Arab revolts (2010–​), 72 Arafat, Yasser, 104–​5 archetype, 3, 11–​13, 140, 160 archetypal metaphors, 3, 11, 17, 125, 180,  181–​82 archetypal images, 12–​13, 29, 43–​44, 49, 54, 61, 70–​71 archetypes-​as-​such /​ primordial images, 12–​13, 43–​44,  49 Argus Panoptes, 154, 171–​73

210 Index ARGUS-​IS (surveillance system), 171–​72,  173 Aristaeus, 145 Aristoteles, 165 Arnstein Bible, 28 assassination, 18, 50–​52, 59, 68, 81. See also tyrannicide Ataturk, Mustafa Kemal, 152 Attila, 137 Augustine, Saint, 140 Austria, 8, 53, 54 azazeel, 8   Babylonia,  8–​9 Badr, battle of, 148–​49 Bagram Air Base, 167–​70 Bakunin, Mikhail, 54, 81 Bangladesh, 152 Banisadr, Abolhassan, 2, 74–​75 banshees,  128–​29 Baudrillard, Jean, 93 Beast of the Revelation, 7, 28, 31–​32, 40, 62–​63. See also many-​headed monster; hydra Northern Irish Republicans, 62–​63 Beccaria, Cesare, 34 beheading. See decapitation Berg, Nicholas, 100–​1, 112 Berkman, Alexander, 79–​80 bestiary, 10, 35–​37, 72–​73, 142–​43 bifocality, 4, 17–​18, 125, 134, 141, 156,  169–​70 Bin Laden, Osama, 1–​2, 70, 71, 74, 100, 104–​5, 107, 128, 149, 150–​51,  164–​65 black buck (racial stereotyping), 132–​33, 139–​40,  146 Black September Organization, 105–​6 blood drinking / ​licking, 9–​10, 63–​64, 105–​7, 112–​13, 161, 164, 180 body politic / ​body natural, 30, 31–​32 bolshevism,  125–​26 Borch, Lisa, 117–​18 Boulanger, Nicolas Antoine, 30 Breivik, Anders, 139, 142–​43 Bresci, Gaetano, 58 Brinsley Peake, Richard, 49–​50 Bruegel The Elder, Pieter, 7–​8

brutality, 17, 18, 19–​20, 24, 84–​85, 89, 100–​1, 102, 109–​11, 112–​15, 129, 156–​57, 158–​59, 164–​70,  181–​82 Buddhism, 65, 66, 118, 130, 131, 158 Buddhas of Bamiyan, 118 Sinhala, 128–​29, 131 Theravada, 65, 130 Burke, Edmund, 32–​33, 34, 48 Burke, Thomas, 176 Bush, George W., 128, 164–​66, 169   Cagol, Mara, 86–​87 caliphate, 68–​69, 90–​91, 118 Call of the Global Islamic Resistance,  107–​9 cannibalism, 29, 31–​32, 35–​37, 105–​7, 117 Canning, George, 49–​50 car bombs, 15, 85, 87–​88, 111–​12 Carlyle, Thomas, 144 cartoons, 1–​2, 7–​8, 35–​37, 39–​40, 49–​52, 55f, 60, 73–​74, 133–​34, 137, 176, 177 American cartoon culture, 137 Caserio, Sante, 56–​57 castration, 31, 142 Catholicism, 7–​8, 61–​63,  128–​29 anti-​Catholic sentiment,  61–​63 terrorism, 7–​8,  61–​63 Vatican,  62–​63 Cavendish, Frederick, Lord, 50–​52, 176 Cellini, Benvenuto, 31, 33 Charleston church shooting (2015),  139–​40 charm, 13, 50, 180 child sacrifice, 164 Christianity, 8, 28–​29, 65, 106, 113–​15, 126–​27, 128–​29, 139, 140, 156. See also Catholicism; Presbyterianism; Protestantism demonology, 61–​63,  128–​29 eschatology, 156 CIA, 1–​2, 71 Cicero, 30 clash of civilizations, 109 Clinton, William Jefferson “Bill,” 71 cognition, 6, 12, 14, 43–​44, 136, 139, 147–​48,  179–​81 cognitive mismatch, 14 cognitive schemata, 6 symbolic, 12

Index  211 Cold War, 170–​71 communication, 19, 41–​43, 83, 113–​15, 125, 147–​48, 159 communicative action, 125 communicative memory, 6–​7 political, 41–​42,  84–​85 strategic, 41–​42, 83, 146, 163, 172–​73 visual, 84–​85, 93–​99, 103, 112–​13 Communism, 91–​92, 145. See also left-​wing terrorism; Socialism Conrad, Joseph, 18, 83–​84, 120 conspiracy, 34, 62, 80, 81 Cooke, Thomas Potter, 49–​50 Corsetti, Damien, 155, 167–​70 Cosimo de’ Medici, 31 cosmic imagery /​cosmic war, 21–​22, 24, 28, 106, 126–​33, 137, 146, 148–​50, 152–​53, 156, 158, 160, 164–​65 counterterrorism, 2–​3, 24, 58, 125, 135, 154–​75, 178–​80, 181,  182–​83 anti-​terrorisme, 35 collective punishment, 169–​70 extraordinary measures, 46–​47, 75, 125, 155, 164–​70,  178–​79 overreaction, 109, 159 surveillance programs, 24, 154, 171–​75 torture, 137, 165–​66, 167–​70 Cox and Forkum, 73–​74, 176, 177 crime, 4–​5 , 34, 35–​3 7, 50–​5 2, 54, 62–​6 3, 80, 93, 111–​1 2, 132, 141, 156, 182 anthropological criminology, 55–​57 cruelty, 17, 67, 93, 166, 167–​68 casual,  167–​68 Crusades /​Crusaders, 29, 109, 110–​11,  113–​15 Cuba, 104 cultural reception, 3, 6–​10, 176 Curcio, Renato, 86–​87, 94–​95, 146 Cyclops, 27–​28, 40   Dabiq (magazine), 17, 115, 118–​20, 131, 152, 153, 180–​81 Daniel, Book of, 7–​8, 62–​63, 150–​51 De officiis, 30 Death (personified), 35–​37 death penalty, 34, 97 Debray, Jules Régis, 104–​5

decapitation, 31, 32, 100–​1, 111–​12,  115–​17 guillotine, 33, 111–​12 justification in Islam, 111–​12 symbolism, 112 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), 171–​72 dehumanization, 2, 14, 24, 44–​45, 63–​64, 70, 125–​34, 136–​39, 147–​48, 158–​59, 163–​64,  168–​69 democracy, 31, 34–​35, 61 Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland), 61 demonization. See dehumanization demons, 8, 10, 15, 35–​37, 66–​68, 126–​27, 128, 130–​31, 140, 142–​43, 144. See also azazeel; iblis; satan; yakka Derrida, Jacques, 43 despotism. See tyranny detention, 24, 132–​33, 164–​70 prisoner-​animal,  132–​33 devil, 8, 28, 128, 131–​32, 137, 139, 148–​51,  152–​53 Dhaka attack (2016), 113–​15, 114f discourse, 1–​2, 4, 11, 14, 34, 37–​39, 45, 93, 106, 132–​33, 147, 156, 164, 165–​66, 176–​77,  182 discursive activity, 28 discursive practices, 4 genealogy,  9–​10 interlocking,  37–​39 dog-​headed monster, 27–​28, 29 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 57 Dracula, 9, 54. See also vampire dragon, 1–​2, 7–​8, 31, 45–​46, 54, 72–​73 drone warfare, 158–​59, 171–​75 drug use, 20, 57 Dutch rebellion, 31–​32 Dutugemunu (mythical character), 131   Egypt, 8–​9, 101, 104, 105, 152, 160–​61 Eisenkot, Gadi, 162 Elberg, Simha, 64 Elisabeth of Bavaria, Empress, 54 empathy, 2, 13, 180–​81 Engels, Friedrich, 79–​80, 144 England. See Great Britain Enlightenment, 8–​9, 34, 35

212 Index enmification, 24, 126, 148–​49, 164–​65, 178, 179–​80. See also dehumanization Erbakan, Necmettin, 152 Erdogan, Tayyip, 152 erotic imagination, 140–​41 ethics, 13–​15, 16–​17, 19–​20, 126, 136–​ 37, 138–​39, 153, 157, 163–​64, 165–​66,  179–​81 jus in bello, 135–​37, 138, 163–​64, 180–​81 Ethiopia, 29 execution of Ethiopian Christians (2015), 113–​16, 117f ethnonationalist terrorism, 20–​21, 59–​68, 89–​90. See also Israel; Northern Ireland; Palestine; Sri Lanka Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), 61, 154 European Union, 62–​63 evil, 28, 31–​32, 64, 70, 142, 149, 152–​53 Exodus, Book of, 63 exorcism, 66, 142 exterminationist rhetoric, 133–​34, 138,  176–​77   F-​117 Nighthawk,  170–​71 Faisal, King, 152 Fall of the Rebel Angels, The,  7–​8 famine, 35–​37, 39, 176–​77 fanaticism. 57 Fanon, Frantz, 104–​5 Farouk I, King, 152 Fatah (Palestine), 104–​5 fear, 3, 4, 10–​11, 12–​17, 21–​22, 27–​28, 34, 37–​40, 44, 45–​47, 54, 67, 70–​71, 84, 95, 111–​12, 113–​15, 126, 133, 147, 160–​61, 174, 176–​77, 178–​79, 180. See also terror Fenian Brotherhood, 50 feudalism, 33 Finsbury Park attack (2017), 155 Foucault, Michel, 13, 43, 45, 172–​73 framing, 2–​3, 5–​6, 9–​10, 21–​22, 23, 24, 35–​47, 53, 59–​68, 70–​75, 115–​16, 125–​33, 149–​50, 152, 156, 157, 159–​ 60, 165–​66, 176–​77, 178–​80, 182–​83. See also securitization cultural context, 41–​42 definition,  41–​43

as dependent /​independent variable,  41–​42 as a fractured paradigm, 40–​41 frame restructuring, 182 logomachy, 58, 71 negative,  48–​49 purpose,  42–​43 role of the media, 15–​17, 41, 70, 72, 159, 176 France, 8–​9, 22–​23, 47–​48, 53, 54–​55, 83–​84, 111–​12. See also French Revolution Franceschini, Alberto, 86–​88 Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, 47–​49,  140–​41 Frankenstein, Victor (fictional character), 48–​49,  174–​75 Frankenstein’s monster, 1–​3, 13–​14, 21, 44, 45, 47–​52, 173–​75, 176–​77, 179 Basque terrorism, 61 iconography, 49–​50, 177 Irish nationalism, 50–​52, 61, 176–​77 jihadism, 70–​73,  74–​75 parricide,  48–​50 Free Syrian Army, 1 Freedman, Lawrence, 15 French Revolution, 1–​2, 32–​40, 41–​42, 47–​49, 54,  111–​12 fury,  35–​37 Fuseli, Henry, 140–​41   Gaddafi, Muammar, 152 Gandhi, Indira, 68 Gandhi, Rajiv, 65 Garibaldi, Giuseppe, 81 Garibaldi Brigades, 92–​93 Gaza Strip, 104, 163–​64 Geneva Conventions, 165–​66, 168 George, Saint, 1–​2, 54, 55f Georgics, 145 Germany, 16, 54, 64, 89, 90–​91, 125–​26, 135, 137 ghost, 67, 88–​89, 98–​99, 128–​29, 171 ghoul, 9 giants, 29, 31–​32 Giap, Vo Nguyen, 107–​8 globalgothic, 9 globalization, 100. See also global jihad

Index  213 Godwin, William, 33, 48 Gog and Magog, 29 Golan Heights, 105 gorgon, 31, 33, 40, 45–​46, 171–​72, 172f, 173. See also Medusa gothic tradition, 9–​10, 32–​33, 40, 47, 127,  174–​75 Goths, 29 Granvelle, Antoine Perrenot de, Cardinal,  31–​32 Grave, Jean, 81–​82 grave robbing, 48 Great Britain, 31, 37, 54, 59–​63, 135, 137 Greece, 8–​9, 28 Greek myth, 7–​9, 31, 35–​37, 40, 45–​46, 73–​74, 144–​45,  154 Greenwich Royal Observatory bombing (1894), 18, 83–​84 Guantanamo Bay detention camp, 112, 115–​16,  169 guerrilla warfare, 69, 86, 91–​93, 104, 105,  107–​8 Marxist, 86, 91–​92 Guevara, Ernesto “Che,” 86, 91–​92, 104–​5, 107–​9, 112–​13,  115 visit to the Gaza strip, 104   Habash, George, 102–​3 Hadi, ‘Abd Rabbih Mansur, 152 Haftar, Khalifa, 152 Hamas, 9–​10, 73f, 85, 103, 106–​7, 113–​15, 116–​17, 161, 163–​65, 176 Hamza ibn Abdul-​Muttalib, 105–​6 Haniyeh, Ismail, 152 harpy, 35–​37, 40 Harris, Arthur, 135 Harryhausen, Ray, 73–​74 hatred, 63–​64, 81–​82, 92, 109, 112–​13,  161–​62 Hebrews. See Jews Henry, Émile, 79–​80, 82, 83 Hercules, 7–​8, 31, 32, 37, 38f, 45–​46,  73–​74 Hereford Mappa Mundi, 28, 29 Herodotus,  27–​28 Hesiod, 7 Hezbollah, 73f, 151, 161–​63, 164–​65, 176 hijacking, 68–​69, 85, 87–​88, 100, 111–​12 Hillman, James, 11

Hind bint Utbah, 105–​6 Hinduism, 65, 66, 126–​27, 130 Hiri-​yakka (blood demon). See yakka Hitler, Adolf, 64, 137 Hobbes, Thomas, 31 Holocaust, 64 Homer,  27–​28 Homo neanderthalensis,  55–​56 Homo sapiens, 15 homunculus, 58 horror, 11–​13, 14–​15, 54, 56–​57, 60, 87–​88,  154 bio-​cultural approaches, 12–​13, 43 literature, 54 human-​animal hybrids, 10, 13–​14, 21, 27–​ 29, 44, 132–​34, 136, 137–​40, 142–​43, 154,  176–​77 humanoids,  47–​48 Huns, 137 Hussein, Saddam, 149, 152 hybrid wars, 161–​62 hybridity. See human-​animal hybrids hydra, 1–​3, 7, 21, 31–​32, 37, 38f, 39–​40, 44, 45–​46, 53–​54, 58, 72–​75, 125–​26, 176–​77, 179. See also many-​headed monster; Beast of the Revelation anarchist terrorism, 53–​54, 58 jihadism, 70–​71,  72–​74 networked terrorism, 53, 125–​26,  176–​77 Hyperion,  102–​3 hyperreality, 93, 115   Iblis, 8, 126–​27, 131, 148–​49, 152–​53 Ibn Taymiyyah, 68, 101–​2 Ibrahim, Prophet, 118, 119, 164 image schemas, 12 imperialism, 68–​69, 71, 87–​88, 90–​91, 92, 100, 101–​2, 143–​44, 146, 149, 172–​ 73, See also iron-​clawed beast Incubus,  140–​41 India, 8–​9, 65, 66, 68, 71, 72, 158 Indra, God, 66 inhumanity (of terrorist-​monsters), 13, 14–​15, 23, 44–​45, 46–​47, 49, 54, 75, 86, 88, 89, 92, 97, 113–​17, 120–​21, 129, 136, 158–​59, 167, 170, 178–​80,  181–​82

214 Index insects, 117, 138 instincts, 6, 11–​13, 17, 43, 79, 147 International Criminal Court (ICC), 152 Interpol, 54 intertextuality,  37–​39 Iolaus,  45–​46 Iran, 74–​75, 131, 150, 151, 164 Iraq, 16, 69, 85, 100, 101–​2, 107, 111–​12, 116–​17, 118–​19, 144, 152–​53, 165–​ 66, 167, 170–​71. See also Al-​Qaeda in Iraq; Islamic State; Yazidis 1990–​1991 war, 101–​2,  170–​71 2003 war, 16, 85, 102, 107–​88, 111–​12,  169 Assyrian heritage, 118–​19 Ireland, 50–​52, 59, 176–​77, 178. See also Northern Ireland Anglo-​Irish Treaty, 59 anti-​Irish stereotyping, 50–​52, 60–​61,  176–​77 Irish Free State, 59 Irish nationalism, 50–​52 simian Irish, 61 Irish National Invincibles, 50–​52, 176–​77 Irish Republican Army (IRA), 59–​60 Irish Republican Brotherhood, 50–​52 iron-​clawed beast, 143–​44, 146 irrationality, 17–​20, 21–​22, 42–​43, 129–​30, 154,  176–​77 Isidore of Seville, 10 ISIS vampire. See Shehada, Rabie Islam, 1, 3, 8, 9–​10, 19–​21, 65, 68–​69, 74, 102, 105–​7, 109–​10, 113–​16, 126–​27, 146, 148–​53. See also jihadism; Qur’an dar al-​Islam /​dar al-​harb,  149–​50 hadiths /​Prophet’s tradition, 19–​20,  126–​27 Islamic world, 29 jizyah tax, 115 jurisprudence, 19–​20, 101–​2, 149, 150, 152, 153 kufr (unbelief), 148–​50, 153 Muslims, 29, 45, 64–​65, 71, 90–​91, 106, 109–​10, 164, 178 othering theology,  148–​53 pre-​Islamic culture, 9–​10, 105–​7, 131, 150

Shari’ah law, 68–​69, 115, 149, 151 Umma, 109–​10, 119, 149 Islamic Jihad (Palestine), 68, 85, 103 Islamic State (IS), 1–​2, 3, 17, 19, 20, 22–​23, 69, 72, 104, 111–​21, 129, 131–​32, 152–​53, 155,  181–​82 beheadings, 111–​12, 115–​17,  131–​32 damage to heritage sites, 17, 118–​21 framing, 72 performance violence, 112–​21 tactical expediency, 116–​17 Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). See Islamic State (IS) Islamist “terrorism”. See jihadism Islamophobia, 45, 70–​71, 109. See also Orientalism; racial framing Israel /​Israelis, 9–​10, 24, 63, 64–​65, 89–​90, 105, 106–​7, 151, 156, 158, 160–​65. See also Jews; Palestine /​Palestinians Dahiya Doctrine, 158–​59, 160–​64 Land of Canaan, 63, 160, 161–​62 Italy, 16, 31, 53, 54–​55, 80–​81, 86–​88, 90–​ 99, 102–​3,  143–​48   Jabhat al-​Nusra, 69 Jacobins, 1–​2, 33–​34, 35–​37, 48, 54 Janinet, Jean-​François, 32 Japan, 128, 133–​34, 134f, 137–​38, 169,  176–​77 Jason and the Argonauts,  73–​74 Jerry Mouse, 137 Jews, 21, 29, 63–​65, 66, 106–​7, 113–​15, 160, 164. See also Israel jihadism, 1–​2, 18–​21, 22–​24, 50, 61, 68–​75, 86, 90–​91, 100–​4, 107–​12, 113–​21, 148, 151–​53, 164–​65, 176, 183. See also al-​Qaeda; al-​Qaeda in Iraq; Islam; Islamic Jihad (Palestine); Islamic State; revolutionary atmosphere global, 68–​69, 72, 100–​4, 107–​12, 148 history,  68–​69 ideological hybridization,  101–​2 near /​far enemy, 68–​69, 90–​91, 101–​2,  151 polarization, 109–​11, 112–​13, 148 and resistance, 108–​9 strategy, 101–​2,  107–​12

Index  215 John Paul II, Pope, 62 Jordan, 102–​3, 105, 152 Julius Caesar, 31 July 5 attacks (2005), 1–​2 Jung, Carl, 11–​13   Kabbalah,  63–​64 Kahane, Meir, 64–​65 Karloff, Boris, 49–​50 Kashmir, 158 Khalid ibn al-​Waleed, 106, 113 Khamenei, Ali, 152 Khomeyni, Ruhollah, 151 kidnapping, 89, 92–​99, 100–​1, 143–​44, 146,  154–​55 Knox, John, 61–​62 Kosovo, 171 Kuveni (mythical character), 66   La Harpe, Jean-​François de, 35–​37 Lacan, Jacques, 11–​12 Lakoff, George, 5–​6, 11, 138, 177 language, 3, 4, 5–​6, 11–​12, 27, 33–​34, 37–​39, 43, 67–​68, 125, 131, 139, 141, 145–​46, 157,  182–​83 binary juxtapositions, 5–​6, 70 linguistic competence, 41 linguistic contestation, 37–​39 linguistic dehumanization,  136–​37 manipulation, 43 visual, 98–​99, 100–​1,  103–​4 Last Judgment, 28 Leatherneck (magazine), 133–​34, 134f Lebanon, 85–​86, 89–​90, 100, 101, 102–​3, 105, 161–​63. See also Hezbollah 2006 Lebanon War, 161–​63 Second Lebanese Civil War (1975–​ 1990), 85, 89–​90 left-​wing terrorism, 16–​17, 20–​21, 23–​24, 59, 86–​88, 89, 90–​99, 102–​5, 143–​48. See also Red Brigades; Red Army Faction; revolutionary terrorism Lernaean Hydra. See hydra Leviathan, 31, 40 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), 65–​68, 85, 158 Libya, 115–​16, 117f Liceu Theatre bombing (1893), 57

Lieberman, Benzi, 64–​65 liminality, 14–​15, 142–​43, 156, 180 Livni, Tzipi, 163 Lombroso, Cesare, 55–​57 London, 37, 59–​60 London Evening Standard (newspaper), 60 lone-​wolf terrorism, 102, 115, 117–​18, 139, 155, 183 Louis XVI, King, 33 Louseous Japanicas, 133–​34, 134f, 138,  176–​77 Lucheni, Luigi, 54 Luria, Isaac, 63–​64 lycanthrope. See werewolf lynching, 37, 139, 140–​42   Macbeth, 30 Macchiarini, Idalgo, 93–​95, 98–​99, 120 Macduff (fictional character), 30 madness, 18, 20, 45, 56–​57, 86–​87, 155 Maduro, Nicolas, 72 magic, 128–​29, 154, 155. See also sorcery; witchcraft Mahabharata,  126–​27 Mahavamsa, 66 Malak-​Tawus (Peacock Angel), 152–​53 Malaysia, 152 Management of Savagery, The,  109–​11 many-​headed monster, 7–​8, 31–​32, 37, 43, 53, 62–​63, 74, 150–​51, 176–​77, See also Beast of the Revelation; hydra; taghout Mao Zedong, 104–​84, 107–​8 Marighella, Carlos, 91–​92, 107–​8 Marqueste, Laurent-​Honoré, 39 martyrdom, 89, 115–​16, 117. See also suicide bombing Marxism, 80–​81, 86, 102–​3, 144–​45, 146 Mawdudi, Abu al-​Ala, 68 Mazzini, Giuseppe, 81 Meaning of Taghout and the Heads of its Categories, The,  150–​51 Medusa, 1–​2, 31, 33, 35–​37, 36f, 39, 40, 50–​52, 154, 171–​73, 172f, 174. See also gorgon mental illness. See madness mermaid,  142–​43 Message to the Tricontinental,  91–​92

216 Index metaphor, 5–​6, 10–​11, 12, 17, 21–​22, 30, 31, 37–​40, 41–​43, 48, 53–​54, 70–​75, 115–​ 16, 125, 127, 131, 132–​33, 136–​38, 139–​40, 142–​43, 146–​47, 148, 150–​51, 156, 157–​59, 164–​65, 176–​78,  182–​83 compound metaphor, 14 metaphor cluster, 147 metaphor of lowliness, 138 metaphorical archetype (see archetype: archetypal metaphor) metaphorical reasoning, 5–​6, 177 metaphorical signifier, 39–​40, 43, 45–​46 Metesky, George, 155 metonymy, 14, 30, 42, 131, 174 Mexico,  111–​12 Michael, Saint, 7–​8 Middle Ages, 5–​6, 8–​9, 28–​29, 45, 70,  180–​81 Milano, Agesilaus, 80–​81 mimicry, 154, 155, 158–​59 mise-​en-​scène, 88–​89, 94–​95, 100, 120, 155. See also performativity Mitchell, William “Billy,” 61 mobilization, 80–​81, 104, 147, 149–​50,  179–​80 mobs. See riots Modi, Narendra, 158 Molochites, 164 mongrel, 142–​43, 180 Monster of Bagram. See Corsetti, Damien monstrosity, 10–​11, 44, 46–​47, 54, 83–​ 85, 156, 174–​75, 179–​82. See also prototype as a modus operandi, 83–​85 morbidity, 84–​85, 93, 100–​1 Moretti, Mario, 86–​87, 94–​95, 97, 102–​3 Moro, Aldo, 86, 95–​98, 100–​1, 143, 146,  154–​55 Morsi, Mohammed, 152 Morucci, Valerio, 147–​48 Mubarak, Hosni, 152 mud people, 139 Mufti of Jerusalem, 64 Muhammad, Prophet, 105–​6, 118,  148–​49 multiculturalism, 71, 142–​43 Mumbai attacks (2008), 72 mummy, 70 Munich Olympics massacre (1972), 105

myth, 8, 21–​22, 28, 63–​64, 132–​33, 139, 140–​41, 158, 164–​65,  170–​71 Naji, Abu Bakr, 109–​11 Napoleon III, Emperor, 81 Nasser, Gamal Abdel, 64, 104 Nechayev, Sergey, 81, 86, 91 Neoplatonism, 137 Netanyahu, Benjamin, 152, 164 Netherlands, 7–​8,  31–​32 New Left groups. See left-​w ing terrorism Nietzsche, Friedrich, 155 Nigeria, 152 Nogaret, François-​Félix,  47–​48 non-​combatants, 4, 135, 163–​64 nonviolence, 130 Norse mythology, 8–​9 Northern Ireland, 7–​8, 59–​63, 128–​29 Loyalists / U ​ nionists, 61–​63, 128–​29 Republicans,  61–​63 Troubles,  59–​63 Northern Irish Unionists, 7–​8 nuclear weapons, 134, 138, 164   Obama, Barack, 152, 174–​75 Ocalan, Abdullah, 152 Odyssey,  27–​28 ogre, 128 Olmert, Ehud, 161–​62 Omar (Mullah), 71 oni, 128 Orientalism, 29, 70–​71, 113–​15 Orlando shooting (2016), 117–​18 Orsini bomb, 57 Orsini, Felice, 81 othering, 14–​15, 20–​21, 23, 29, 42–​43, 44–​45, 54, 64, 67, 70–​71, 105–​7, 113–​16, 126, 130, 133, 136, 138–​39, 143, 149–​50, 156, 158–​59, 179–​80 oxymoron, 37–​39, 42   Paisley, Ian, 61–​63, 128–​29 Pakistan, 71–​73, 152, 158, 174 Palestine / P ​ alestinians, 9–​10, 21, 24, 63, 64–​65, 68–​69, 85, 100, 101, 102–​7, 113, 151, 158, 160–​64. See also Gaza Strip; Israel /​Israelis First Intifadah, 64–​65 framing, 63, 64–​65, 161–​62, 163–​64

Index  217 nationalism /​national movement, 104–​5,  106 mobile war, 105 Palestinian slayer (see Shehada, Rabie) Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), 86, 102–​3,  104–​5 paradox, 37–​39, 42 Peci, Patrizio, 97–​98 Peci, Roberto, 89, 97–​99, 115 performativity, 3, 9–​10, 17–​20, 21, 79, 85, 88–​89, 93–​99, 105–​7, 111–​21, 125, 126–​27, 129, 155–​57, 161, 178,  180–​83 Perseus, 31, 33 Philip II, Emperor, 31–​32 Philippines, 101, 152 Phoenix Park murders (1882), 50–​52,  176–​77 photography, 84–​85, 94–​97, 98–​99, 103, 113–​15, 118–​19, 120, 141, 171–​72 photojournalism,  84–​85 Polaroid camera /​pictures, 84–​85, 94–​ 97, 98–​99,  113–​15 spectacles of destruction, 118–​19 Piazza Fontana bombing (1969), 91 Pisacane, Carlo, 80–​81 Plato, 31 Pliny the Elder, 27–​28 Plundering of the King’s Cellar, The, 37, 38f Polyphemus, 30 polysemy, 9–​10, 14–​15, 146, 150–​51, 181 Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PDFLP), 105 Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), 102–​3, 105, 108 Premadasa, Ranasinghe, 65 Presbitarianism,  61–​63 Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein,  49–​50 Propaganda of the Deed,  79–​83 Protestantism, 61–​63,  128–​29 Proteus,  144–​46 prototype, 3, 10, 23, 48, 49, 54, 79, 113–​15, 156, 179–​80, 181 Proudhon, Pierre-​Joseph, 81 Provisional Irish Republican Army (P-​IRA),  59–​61 Punch (magazine), 50–​52, 61 Putin, Vladimir, 152

Qatar, 2, 72, 74–​75, 106 Qur’an, 19–​20, 100, 111–​12, 126–​27, 128, 131–​32,  148–​50 Qutb, Sayyid, 68   race, 28, 30, 37, 139–​43, 147–​48, 176–​77, 180 mixed-​race individuals, 142–​43, 180 racial framing, 45, 47, 50, 60–​61, 70, 128, 134f, 137–​38, 139–​43. See also stereotype racial terrorism (see white supremacism) radicalization, 71, 90–​91, 108, 142–​43, 182 Rakka,  72–​73 Rama (mythical character), 158 Ramayana, 126–​27, 158 rape, 137, 139, 140–​41, 167 Ravachol (François Claudius Koenigstein), 82 Ravan (mythical character), 158 reason / r​ ationality (in terrorism and counterterrorism), 6, 13–​14, 17–​20, 21–​22, 24, 42–​44, 86–​87, 113, 126, 129–​30, 146, 154, 155, 177, 181–​83 recruitment, 20, 58, 82, 88, 159, 180 Red Army Faction (RAF), 89, 146 Red Brigades, 86–​88, 89, 91–​99, 100–​1, 102–​5, 113–​15, 143–​48, 154–​55, 178. See also left-​wing terrorism; Red Army Faction; revolutionary terrorism decline, 97 links with jihadism, 102–​4 operations,  93–​99 origins and ideology, 86–​88, 91–​93 Red Eagle Brigades. See Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades Reign of terror, 1–​2, 32, 33–​39. See also French revolution religious obscurantism, 72 remediation,  103–​4 remotely piloted aircrafts (RPAs). See drone warfare Renaissance, 30, 31, 40 repertoire, 6–​7, 61, 67–​68, 106, 128, 148,  164–​65 cultural, 106 metaphoric, 148 mythical,  164–​65 symbolic, 67–​68, 128

218 Index reptile. See snake Republic, 31 Research on the Origin of Oriental Despotism and Superstitions, 30 resonance, 9–​10,  15–​17 Revelation, Book of, 7, 28, 126–​27. See also Beast of the Revelation revenge, 93, 105–​6, 155–​56, 159, 166, 167 revolutionary atmosphere, 105, 108 Revolutionary Catechism, 81, 86, 91 revolutionary terrorism, 20–​21, 23–​24, 81, 85–​91, 102, 111–​21, 145–​46, 181–​82. See also anarchist terrorism; jihadism; left-​wing terrorism goals, 87–​88,  90–​91 as a non-​human act, 89 origins, 81 revolutionary trials, 89, 92–​93, 95, 97–​99, 103, 111–​12, 115–​16, 129 right-​wing terrorism. See white supremacism riots, 31, 35–​37, 38f, 39, 65, 132, 140–​41 rite / ​ritual, 18–​19, 115–​16, 125, 127–​28, 129, 131–​32, 139, 141–​42, 154, 158 hunting, 141, 154 (see also lynching) ritual reenactment, 127–​28, 129, 131–​ 32, 141–​42, 158 robbery, 81 Robespierre, Maximilien De, 33–​39 Rocca, Massimo, 58 Rome, 8–​9, 62 Latin literature, 28, 40 Roman empire, 62–​63 Roof, Dylann, 139–​40 Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 137 Rumiyah (magazine), 115, 131, 152 Rumsfeld, Donald, 165–​66 Russia, 54, 81–​82 Sadi Carnot, Marie François, 56–​57 Salafism, 107. See also Islam; Abd el-​ Wahhab, Mohammed ibn Salman, King, 152 Samuel, First Book of, 158, 160 Samurai warriors, 111–​12 San Benedetto del Tronto, 97–​98 Saracens, 29, 45 Sasanians, 29

Satan. See devil Saudi Arabia, 2, 71, 72, 74–​75 savage, 1–​2, 30, 35–​37, 137 savagery, 95–​97,  107–​12 Schleyer, Hanns-​Martin, 89 Schmitt, Carl, 4 Secret Agent, The, 18, 84, 120 securitization, 41. See also framing self-​defense, 79–​80,  165–​66 separatist terrorism. See ethnonationalist terrorism September 11 attacks (2001), 1–​2, 16, 21, 23, 45, 68–​69, 70–​71, 73–​74, 73f, 85–​86, 102, 107, 154, 155, 156–​57, 158–​59, 165–​66, 169, 176. See also War on Terror Serbia, 171 serpent. See snake Shakespeare, William, 30–​31 Shapira, Yitzhak, 64–​65 Sharif, Nawaz, 71 shaytan. See devil Shehada, Rabie, 1, 3, 9–​10, 19–​20, 112–​15,  181–​82 Shelley, Mary, 47–​49, 140–​41 Shenouda III (Coptic Pope), 152 Shi’ism, 118. See also Islam shock and awe, 83–​84, 87–​88, 112 signaling, 159, 165–​66 Sihabahu, King (mythical character), 66 Sikh terrorism, 68 simile, 42, 180–​81 sin, 28, 30 Sinn Féin,  62–​63 Sinai Peninsula, 63 Sita (mythical character), 158 slavery, 139–​43, 153 snake, 8, 31, 33, 35–​37, 39, 40, 54, 72–​73, 176, 177, 179 social death of the victims. See dehumanization social media, 84–​85, 113–​15, 180 Socialism, 54, 58, 79–​82, 143, 144 Proudhonian, 81 Soloveitchik, Joseph Ber, 64 sorcery, 132. See also magic; witchcraft Sossi, Mario, 97 sovereignty, 30, 31, 72, 92–​93, 95 Spain, 54–​55, 57

Index  219 speech act, 4, 19, 41–​42 Spinelli, Giuseppe, 91 Sri Lanka, 9, 10, 65–​68, 89–​90, 128–​29, 132, 158 Black July (1983), 67, 132 civil war, 65–​68 Stanford Prison Experiment, 165–​66 state terrorism, 20–​21, 133–​38, 139, 156 stealth technology, 170–​71, 173 stereotype, 21–​22, 37, 42–​43, 48–​49, 50, 70, 86–​87, 128, 134f, 138, 140. See also racial framing Stevenson, Robert Louis, 57 Stoker, Bram, 9, 54 Strozzi, Pietro, 31 subconscious, 44, 48 sublime, 11–​12, 34 Sudan, 101 Sufism,  152–​53 suicide bombing, 65, 68–​69, 85–​91, 100, 101, 102, 103, 106–​7, 115–​18 goals, 87–​88,  89–​90 in-​group competition /​outbidding, 89–​ 90, 103, 106 profiling,  86–​87 rationality vs. madness, 86–​87, 103 as self-​sacrifice /​self-​immolation, 88, 89 video testaments, 88, 103, 106–​7, 115–​16,  117 supremacist terrorism. See white supremacism supreme emergency, 135–​36 Swiss guards, 37 symbol /​symbolism, 10–​11, 14, 21–​22, 30, 31–​32, 45–​47, 66, 67, 106, 112, 115–​16, 127–​29, 131, 132–​33, 137, 146, 147–​50, 152–​53, 156. See also repertoire; myth performative, 106, 112 religious, 65, 106, 137, 156, 164–​65 sexual, 31 symbolic cognition, 12 symbolic violence, 98–​99 synecdoche,  4–​5 Syria, 1, 69, 72, 102–​3, 106, 116–​17, 119–​21, 152 Syrian Interim Government, 152

Taliban, 71, 118, 165–​66 Talmud,  63–​64 Tamils, 65–​68, 89–​90, 128–​29, 178 Tartars, 29 teratology,  27–​29 terror, 3, 11–​12, 33–​37, 39, 43–​44, 178–​79, 180, 181–​82. See also fear aesthetic value, 34 terror bombing, 135–​36, 156, 162–​63, 171, 174–​75,  178 terrorism assassinations, 59 audience,  15–​17 campaigns, 16 and crime, 4–​5 definition, 3–​6, 178 expressionist,  81–​82 in-​group / ​out-​group,  90–​91 networked / f​ ranchised, 53, 68–​7 0, 72–​7 3, 91, 102–​3 , 109, 117–​1 8,  177 recruitment, 58 strategy, 80, 83, 89–​91 as theatre, 18–​19, 23–​24, 79 unpredictability,  16–​17 urban, 85 waves, 18, 20–​21, 23–​24, 58, 59, 68,  72–​73 terrorizing, 3, 15–​17, 21, 84–​85, 89–​90, 97, 105–​6,  117 Thermidorian Reaction, 35–​39 Thirion, Eugene Romain, 39 Thiry d’Holbach, Paul Henri, Baron, 30, 34 Thomas Aquinas, Saint, 165 Torah, 160 tourism,  110–​11 Tower of Babel, 28 Trinidad and Tobago, 152 Tunisia, 152 Tupamaros,  91–​92 Turkey, 1, 2, 72, 74–​75, 152 tyrannicide, 30. See also assassination tyranny, 30, 31–​32, 33, 34–​35, 37–​39, 48–​49,  150–​52

tactics (in terrorism), 58 taghout, 8, 131–​32, 150–​53. See also many-​ headed monster

Übermensch,  81–​82 Ulster. See Northern Ireland Ulster Volunteer Force, 61

220 Index Umayyads, 105–​6, 149 Umberto I, King, 58 Uncle Sam, 73–​74, 176 unconscious, 3, 11–​12, 43–​44 collective, 11, 12 United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (Goldstone Report), 163 United Nations General Assembly, 72 United States, 2, 24, 53, 68–​69, 71, 73–​ 75, 82, 100, 101–​2, 112, 116–​17, 128, 133–​34, 137–​38, 152, 164–​67, 170–​74,  176–​77 unmanageability (of terrorist-​monsters), 13–​15, 21, 23, 29, 37, 38f, 39–​40, 44, 45–​47, 49–​52, 53, 54–​55, 58, 61, 62, 66, 70–​75, 81, 86, 88, 97, 109, 113–​15, 116–​18, 120–​21, 125–​26, 137, 146, 155, 158–​59, 163–​70, 176–​77,  178–​79 unmanned aerial vehicles. See drone warfare unthinkability (of terrorist-​monsters), 13–​15, 29, 44, 54, 86, 88, 113–​17, 120–​21, 142–​43, 167, 168, 170, 178–​79,  180 urban warfare, 106 Uriarte, Eduardo “Teo,” 61 Utøya massacre (2011), 142–​43   Vaillant, Auguste, 82 vampire, 1, 2–​3, 8–​10, 54, 112–​15, 181–​82. See also Dracula Verloc, Adolf (fictional character), 18, 120 Victorian culture, 9, 18, 113–​15. See also gothic tradition video recording, 84–​85, 89, 97–​99, 100–​1, 103. See also photography Vietnam, 100 Vijaya, Prince (mythical character), 66, 67–​68,  131 violence, 3, 4, 16–​17, 19, 37, 54, 61, 64, 66, 67–​68, 70, 79–​80, 81–​82, 86–​88, 89–​ 91, 93, 97, 98–​99, 105, 126, 127–​28, 129, 130–​33, 139, 141, 143–​44, 146, 147–​48, 155, 157, 160, 161, 167, 170, 174–​75,  178 contingent, 84, 125

as means / e​ nd, 81–​82 overuse, 16–​17, 83–​84, 87–​88, 120 place-​based,  118–​19 political, 3, 10, 15, 16, 17–​18, 21–​22, 27, 46–​47, 54–​56, 57, 58, 61, 64, 79–​80, 83–​85, 86, 91–​92, 125, 127–​28, 130, 131–​32, 133, 142–​43, 144, 145–​46, 148, 157, 178, 180, 181–​82 spectacle,  127–​28 structural,  79–​80 as a tool for radicalization, 108, 110 visual, 93, 100–​1, 103 Virgil, 30, 145 virtue,  34–​35 Voltaire, 34   Wahhabism, 72, 150–​51 Walton, Robert (fictional character),  48–​49 War on Terror, 24, 102, 109, 154, 158–​59, 164–​75, 183. See also counterterrorism; Guantanamo Bay detention camp; September 11 werewolf, 57, 82 Westphalia, Peace of, 31–​32 white supremacism, 24, 109, 132–​33, 139–​43,  180 Wiesel, Elie, 164 wildcat,  35–​37 Wilmington insurrection (1898), 140–​41 witchcraft, 8–​9, 63–​64. See also magic; sorcery Wollstonecraft, Mary, 32–​33, 48 Wollstonecraft Shelley, Mary. See Shelley, Mary World War I, 125, 137 World War II, 24, 84–​85, 128, 133–​38, 169, 176–​77,  178 yakka, 9, 10, 66–​68, 158, 176 Yassin, Sheikh, 149 Yazidis, 152–​53,  180–​81 Yemen, 174   Zarif, Mohammad Javad, 74–​75 Zionism, 64–​65, 68–​69, 106, 161 Zoffany, Johan, 37, 38f,  73–​74 zombie, 70, 125–​26, 142–​43