Kasab and Shahzad: ‘Brainwashed’ Terrorists?
Charged Terrorists-Kasab and Shahzad
Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks has been finally declared guilty by a special sessions court in Mumbai, of nearly a hundred charges such as causing terror, murder and "waging war against India." Kasab's fate now hangs in a balance between death penalty and a life term in a high security prison in India, depending on the judgment to be announced tomorrow.
Equally hogging world attention today is Pakistan-born citizen of the United States Faisal Shahzad facing 5 terrorism-related charges, including using weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and attempting to kill and maim people in the US. Shahzad has confessed to planting the car bomb in the New York Times Square and receiving explosives training in Pakistan.
Brainwashing for Crime
While debates rage about Kasab's death penalty, Pakistan's role in breeding terrorists and the different approaches to counter terrorist attacks in the days ahead, what seems terrifying is the capacity of the human psyche to unleash terror on unsuspecting people for twisted reasons. A stunned special sessions court heard the testimony given by an eyewitness who said Kasab was "in a joyous mood when he saw passengers at CST die in pain."
While it is widely believed that even today people at a young and impressionable age are brainwashed and trained to carry out terrible crimes in the name of religion, race, ideology and nationality, the extent to which the brainwashing or mind controlling is effective in executing people, is mind blowing. Kasab is a classic witness to the practice of brainwashing—using mind controlling techniques to unethically recruit and program human beings to execute anti social and destructive activities of serious proportions against a targeted group.
Brainwashing or Mind controlling
The term "brainwashing' was first used in 1950 by Edward Hunter, a US journalist and surveillance specialist during the Korean war who explored Chinese brainwashing in detail. Brainwashing or mind control uses a broad range of psychological tactics to pressurize the human mind into accepting a new way of thinking and acting. Traditional brainwashing methods include torture, forceful indoctrination and other harsh ways to break into a human mind and force a different thought process. Most modern brainwashing techniques use 'soft' approaches to manipulate the human mind because torture techniques wouldn't work on young recruits mostly educated in western universities.
In her much acclaimed book published in 2004, Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control, Kathleen Taylor, neuroscientist and physiologist, traces the history of brainwashing and explores the techniques and practice of mind control in different societies. While explaining the neurological basis for reasoning and cognition in the brain, Taylor drives home the point that the self is changeable. 'Brainwashers' exploit this principle. Brainwashed individuals have rigid neurological pathways that render them incapable of rethinking situations and reorganizing these pathways later.
Catch 'em Young
Brainwashing works more effectively on younger people and this explains why all apprehended terrorists are in their twenties or early thirties. Modern day techniques such as challenging an individual's belief system, planting seeds of doubt, isolating the individual and feeding propaganda material while controlling the individual's access to information are proving effective, considering the number of terrorist incidences on the rise.
Acts of terrorism go against all the laws that govern human development while seriously disrupting normal life and affecting health, happiness and wellbeing. While more terrorist plots are unearthed and more terrorists are charged guilty of crime, the world waits with bated breath dreading the next bomb that could be planted anywhere under the sun.