The Hindu Lit for Life 2018

Humanising terrorists

We have never written about terror per se. Right from the beginning, we have tried to write about people, trying to understand what they do, how extraordinary their stories are. Unless you find out the psychological reality, domestic reality, you won’t be able to understand their actions,” said Adrian Levy, author of The Exile: The Stunning Inside Story of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Flight, on the last day of The Hindu Lit for Life 2018.

This session titled The Face of Terror’’ featured Levy and S. Hussain Zaidi, author of Dangerous Minds, and was moderated by Mukund Padmanabhan, Editor, The Hindu.

Levy explained how a personal crisis changed things in al Qaeda. He said, “Osama Bin Laden gets his fourth wife, a 17-year-old girl from Yemen, which pitches his family into crisis. It led to the head of security quitting the organisation… It threatened al Qaeda.”

He added, “Knowledge of personalities and individuals… of al-Qaeda tells us more about the organisation than press releases by intelligence agencies.”

Speaking about why he chose to write profiles of homegrown terrorists, Zaidi said, “We [Zaidi and Brijesh Singh, co-author of Dangerous Minds, who is a police officer in Maharashtra ] wanted to understand the terrorists’ mind. Do we go to a psychoanalyst or to police files for this? Going through their back stories helped us find their motivations…”

While Zaidi said that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were important players in funding and training terrorists, Levy named Qatar as one of the important bases right now. “Terror costs nothing these days. Ideas are more problematic. It is the cult of death which is very difficult to address, and very attractive,” Levy said.


Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Aug 6, 2021 9:56:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/humanising-terrorists/article22471735.ece

In This Package
The Hindu Lit For Life 2018 that saw brilliant speakers and engaged audiences
What does it mean to be a woman in India?
The insiduous culture of differentiation in India
Sagarika Ghose and Vaasanthi talk about writing on Indira Gandhi and J. Jayalalithaa respectively
Retirement isn’t an option for author Shobhaa De whose latest book is on being 70
Forging a new, interesting language through art
The function of theatre
There’s more to Hema Malini than just acting
The function of the poet
Dissent and street power: A discussion on on the modern-day attacks on the freedom to dissent in India
A sacred river where superbugs swim: Little has been achieved despite the amount of money and time allocated to the Ganga clean-up project
Stories that keep us from forgetting
In a time of conflict, children have every right to know dark truths
‘I will not say sorry for my writing’: Taslima Nasreen spoke about freedom of expression
Jignesh Mevani on how to crack an election
The problem of corruption in India
How democratic a space is the Internet in the age of online trolls?
Forces that reshape India
You are reading
Humanising terrorists
How is history changing?
‘The truth behind the charges has to be established’
When a brigand and terrorist were killed
How can novelty be restored to the novel?
Pranay Lal, author of Indica, says every stone has a story to tell
Cricket, by and large, is a level playing field today
Late Tamil writer Ashokamitran came back to life in Prasanna Ramaswamy’s documentary
Next Story