Perhaps the ringleaders of 9/11, like one of the prime suspects in Madrid and three of the four 7/7 bombers, had a penchant for healthy living. Certainly Atta seemed to be obsessed with bodily appearance. He advised his team of hijackers to shave off their pubic hair and to douse themselves in cologne the night before the attacks, to ready themselves for arrival in paradise. Islamic scholars have pointed out that these stipulations have little grounding in Quranic law. But they do reflect our keep-fit age. Bodybuilders, among others, are known to shave off their body hair in order to make the contours of their bodies look more impressive.
Today's gym culture seems like the perfect vehicle for nurturing the combination of narcissism and loathing of the masses necessary to carry out a terrorist suicide mission. If some of these attackers viewed their own bodies as pure instruments, and everyone else as wasteful and deserving of punishment, they could just as well have come to that conclusion through absorbing the healthy-living agenda of the gym as by reading the Quran. At the gym, Atta, Khan, and the others could focus on perfecting the self, the body, as a pure and righteous thing—and hone their disdain for others.
Jun 2, 2006
The real breeding ground for terrorists