The Psychology of Jihadists & Their Families

The Psychology of Jihadists & Their Families


This section of DiscoverTheNetworks explores the psychology of individual jihadists — the belief system and the thought processes that cause them to engage in suicide missions as expressions of faith. This section also examines how the family members of jihadists offer considerable emotional support and encouragement to those who engage in these acts of murder and self-destruction.

Jihadists are created by a formal and informal educational process that begins in early childhood with messages from parents, teachers, textbooks, clerics, television programs, and the ambient culture. These major influences imbue youngsters with contempt for non-Muslims (“infidels”), and with a yearning to experience the glories of jihad, which, according to the Quran, will earn its participants eternal rewards in Paradise. The Quran contains many verses that stress the importance (and the nobility) of jihad. For example:

  • “But do not think of those that have been slain in God’s cause as dead. Nay, they are alive! With their Sustainer have they their sustenance. They are very happy with the reward they received from Allah (for dying as a shaheed) and they rejoice for the sake of those who have not joined them (i.e., have not yet died for Allah).” (Quran 3:169-70)
  • “Truly Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure” (Quran 61:4).
  • “Allah has purchased the believers, their lives and their goods. For them (in return) is the Garden [of paradise]. They fight in Allah’s Cause, and they slay and are slain; they kill and are killed . . . it [paradise] is the promise of Allah to them.” (Quran 9:111)

The impact of such passages is multiplied if a young person happens to come into contact with recruiters for Islamist and jihadist organizations. Former jihadist Tawfiq Hamid recalls that as a teenager, for instance, he met some members of the terrorist group Jamaah Islamiyah. Their rhetoric influenced him, and as a result: “My hatred toward non-Muslims increased dramatically, and jihadi doctrine became second nature to me.”

Additional Resources:

A Matter of Pride
By Michael Lind and Peter Bergen
Winter 2007

The Psychoanalytic Roots of Islamic Terrorism
By Phyllis Chesler
May 3, 2004

The Terrorists in Their Own Words: Interviews with 35 Incarcerated Middle Eastern Terrorists
By Jerrold Post
Spring 2003

The Childhood Origins of Terrorism
By Lloyd DeMause
November 2001

The Real Roots of Muslim Hatred
By Andrew Bostom
June 3, 2004

Boys of the Taliban
By Jamie Glazov
January 8, 2015

The Lure of Jihadism
By Raymond Ibrahim
February 4, 2010

The Development of a Jihadist’s Mind
By Tawfiq Hamid
April 6, 2007

Are Jihadi Motives Really a Mystery?
By Raymond Ibrahim
January 5, 2018

We Were Brought up to Hate — and We Do
By Nonie Darwish
December 2, 2006

I Was Raised for Jihad
By Nonie Darwish
April 17, 2005

The Psychology Behind Suicide Bombings
By Pierre Rehov
July 15, 2006

The Educated Muslim Terrorist
By Wm. B. Fankboner
January 20, 2010

Inside the Mind of an Islamist
By Phyllis Chesler
February 7, 2011

A Muslim Upbringing and Terrorism
By Jamie Glazov
March 4, 2011

The Islamic Roots of Abdulmutallab’s Suicidal Odyssey
By Jamie Glazov
January 7, 2010

Why the Rich Muslim Boy Became a Terrorist
By Jamie Glazov
January 10, 2010

Islamic Terror and Sexual Mutilation
By Jamie Glazov
February 13, 2009

Women’s Forums on Islamist Websites – Tools For Preparing Women to Carry Out Jihad and Suicide Operations
By D. Hazan
February 1, 2008

Paradise Lost
By Michael Goodwin
November 28, 2006

Virgins of Paradise
By Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
September 25, 2006

“Slaying and Being Slain” for Islam’s Heavenly Whores
By Raymond Ibrahim
August 6, 2020

Islamic Jihad Terrorist Teens See Martyrdom as Career Goal
By Militant Islam Monitor
May 19, 2006

Palestinian Legislative Council Member: A Muslim Mother Should Raise Her Children for Jihad
March 10, 2006

Meet Candidate “Martyr Mom”
By Andrew G. Bostom
January 5, 2006

Al-Jazeera Special on Female Suicide Bomber Hanadi Jaradat 
August 23, 2005

Mother of Three Hamas Terrorists: I Am Willing to Sacrifice My Ten Sons [to Kill Israelis]
January 4, 2006


How to Make a Hamas Hero
January 25, 2009

Palestinian Mother Celebrates Her Son’s Death
By Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
September 21, 2014

Watch Gaza Terrorist React to Video of Her Failed Suicide Bombing Attempt to Kill Israelis
December 20, 2011

© Copyright 2024,