Read more at National Interest. History. A novel idea.
These men were doctors. Men who vow to save lives. Who swear to do no harm. To heal the sick. To revere life. If doctors had become terrorists, was no one immune to the hatred and disillusionment that breeds such destruction? Conventional thinking about terrorism was set on its axis—that it was because of poverty, unemployment, alienated young men; that it was the product of religious zealotry, fueled by radical imams in the madrassas of Pakistan, the pesantras of Indonesia.
In trying to explain terrorism, novelists have an advantage over journalists and academics: they can “look” into the deepest recesses of the mind. We will never know for certain, for instance, what motivated the doctors in the London-Glasgow plot—one of the men died of burns; the other is on trial, and has pled not guilty. Almost by definition a suicide bomber isn’t going to tell us what drove him or her to the ultimate extreme of taking one’s own life, which no religion sanctions. Even the prerecorded videos, with their expressions of a desire for martyrdom, or to go to “paradise” and be with the virgins, still leave the question of why. Why did they want to be martyrs? Why were they willing to die? Novelists can fill in the gaps with the literary license not available to the nonfiction chronicler.