Authors discuss terrorists’ motives

Tiffany Ciesicki

Last night, two authors came together to share and compare their ideas on the drive and motive of terrorists.

Albert Borowitz, founder of the Borowitz collection in the library, spoke about his book Terrorism for Self-Glorification: The Herostratos Syndrome.

“Nobody can tell you how the history of terrorism will end, but we know how it began,” Borowitz said.

In his book, Borowitz links today’s acts of terrorism to the originator of these destructive acts, Herostratos, who burned down one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World for the sake of fame.

The name became a symbol in the quest for lasting fame through violence, Borowitz said. Herostratos and his followers – terrorists throughout history – share a desire for fame and notoriety. Borowitz said even if their name is not remembered, they are satisfied with the celebrity attached to the act.

His book supports the idea that these people commit these acts to make themselves known, to make themselves a part of history.

Borowitz quoted a statement made by the Department of Homeland Security in 2004 that read, “Recent suicide bombers have raised their hands in the air to prevent the destruction of their fingerprints.”

This statement supports the idea that these acts are done to be made notorious and these people want to be considered martyrs.

In his book, Borowitz devoted one chapter to commentaries from people around the world who made a connection between Herostratos and his ideas of eternal fame and the events of Sept.11.

“If we continue to find Herostratos worth writing and thinking about we are in good company,” he said.

Mary Habeck was the second speaker. She shared information from her book Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror.

“My book is an attempt to listen to what the terrorists say and their justifications for carrying out the attacks,” Habeck said.

She links terrorism to Jihadism. Jihadists make up about one percent of the Islamic religion and are an extreme version, she said.

The book states the attack on the United States was not done by Al-Qaida but by individuals who share the same ideology and acted upon their beliefs. Habeck said their fear is of democracy and liberalism.

“If the idea of democracy is planted in the Arab and Islamic world, it can undermine everything they stand for,” she said.

Habeck didn’t seem to show much fear though.

“Those attacking the U.S. are convinced they can take out a superpower,” she said. “If they could get rid of the U.S., they would have. The fact they couldn’t should be encouraging to us all.”

The Borowitz lecture is held every year and features speakers who talk about true crime literature.

Borowitz said his collection in the library focuses on the reflection of real crime in literature. Borowitz said this is the first year he has had the opportunity to speak about his own work during the lecture.

“Through the Borowitz lecture we are able to explore a variety of aspects of the fascinating topic of true crime,” Mark Weber, dean of libraries and media services said.

Contact library reporter Tiffany Ciesicki at [email protected].