December 05, 2009

Muslim Student Murders Dissertation Chair

Sudden jihad syndrome or just the crazy? I'll remind my readers that the two are not mutually exclusive categories.

In fact, Aaron over at SOFIR has a pretty interesting typology of the "terrorist continuum" in which he posits that the more rational the terrorist the more likely they will be to need organizational help. At the other end of the spectrum are "lone wolves" who are characterized by a high degree of "internal disquiet".

I've no idea if the grad student/murderer named Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani was motivated by Islamic extremism. I throw it out there because it can't be discounted at this point. Especially given that the victim, Professor Richard T. Antoun, specialized in studying religious fundamentalism, Islamic law, and dispute resolution in Islamic societies.

My experience in grad school suggests two things pointing in opposite directions here. On the one hand grad students are often attractive to doctoral advisers based on common interests. An Islamist being attracted to an anthropology professor who studies political Islam is pretty standard stuff.

On the other hand, there were many times in grad school that I wanted to stab my adviser. Or shoot him. Or blow him up.

In fact, it's surprising this kind of thing doesn't happen more often in grad school.

You'll remember that last year a crazy immigrant from China, who thought the police were doing things such as secretly changing his TV channels and turning on his fans, murdered 13 in Binghamton.

Here are some of the details:

Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani has been charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Binghamton University Professor Richard T. Antoun....

Al-Zahrani, of Main Street, Binghamton, was charged by Binghamton University Police. Al-Zahrani was a cultural anthropology student working on his dissertation, according to the university Web site...

Antoun, who lived on Murray Hill Road in Vestal, was the author of several books, most notably “Understanding Fundamentalism: Christian, Islamic, and Jewish Movements.”

His scholarly interests centered on comparative religion and symbolic systems, the social organization of tradition in Islamic law and ethics, the sociology of dispute with respect to tribal law in the Middle East, local-level politics, and the impact of transnational migration on education, work, and cultural change.”

Our thoughts go out to the family of the victim.

Thanks to someone for pointing me to the Professional Soldiers' forum.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 03:53 PM | Comments |