A Twitterscript with Terrorism Expert Scott Atran

Friday, February 4, 2011 - 3:58 pm

A Twitterscript with Terrorism Expert Scott Atran

Scott AtranKrista first heard terrorism expert Scott Atran on the BBC and knew she wanted to book him as a guest. He interviews jihadis to understand what makes them want to live or die for a cause. Through the lens of psychology and culture, he also does extensive field work in both the Arab and Israeli Middle East. In fact, minutes before his interview with Krista, he had an extensive phone conversation with a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and shared his thoughts with us about uncertainty and hope surrounding the uprising in Egypt.
Scott Atran is presidential scholar in sociology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, a visiting professor of Psychology and Public Policy at the University of Michigan, and research director in Anthropology at the National Center for Scientific Research in France. He has briefed Congress and national and homeland security staff at the White House on his research into terrorist groups. His latest book is called Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists.
We live-tweeted highlights of this 90-minute conversation, which we’re aggregating and reposting for those who weren’t able to follow along. Check out our Twitter stream next time at @BeingTweets.

  1. Krista is about to start conversing with Scott Atran – an expert on communicating with, and understanding, terrorists. http://bit.ly/hhb106 1:00 PM Feb 1st
  2. “I’m always interested in those people who are as different from me as possible.” – Scott Atran on his interest in Jihadis 1:17 PM Feb 1st
  3. “If I can understand what moves these people, I can better understand what it means to be human.” – Atran on his interest in terrorists 1:18 PM Feb 1st
  4. “The greatest predictor is if they belong to a soccer club or some other active group of friends.” – Atran on who is a terrorist 1:19 PM Feb 1st
  5. “You too can cut off the head of Goliath with a papercutter.” -Atran on the powerful message which attracts some to the Jihadi movement 1:25 PM Feb 1st
  6. “The young people…are trying to build a way forward that’s… idealistic, that talks to their hopes and dreams and is realizable.” -Atran 1:36 PM Feb 1st
  7. “You really want to know who’s involved in a plot? Find one of the guys…Look at what he eats…and you’ll find the others.” -Atran 1:49 PM Feb 1st
  8. “War…it is a violent attitude toward someone else because their thinking of the world is different than your own.” -Scott Atran 2:03 PM Feb 1st
  9. “The principle of enmity: human beings are most mobilized when we have enemies. Can we lessen conflict without having enemies?” -S. Atran 2:20 PM Feb 1st
  10. “Wars are only won in two ways — you destroy your enemy or you make them your friends.” -Scott Atran 2:22 PM Feb 1st
  11. “I recall Maximilien Robespierre, ‘No one loves armed missionaries.’” -Scott Atran 2:30 PM Feb 1st

About the image: Scott Atran stands in front of Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron (photo courtesy of Scott Atran).

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as chief content officer and executive editor. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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