John Basedow: Terrorist


Spiked Online's Brendan O'Neill, who frequently excogitates on the unexpected subplots of the al Qaeda culture for Reason, examines the report on the London tube bombings and discovers another link among the 9/11, 3/11, and 7/7 attackers. No, it's not that "seven" and "eleven" rhyme with "heaven." It's the terror cells' members' "immersion in gym culture." Did the fitness fanatics find something congenial in "today's preening and narcissistic gym culture that either nurtures terrorists or massages their self-delusions and desires?" After all, unlike a mosque, which emphasizes relationships with others, the gym "allows individuals to focus myopically on themselves. Perhaps it was there, among the weightlifting and rowing machines, that these Western-based terror cells really set their course."

Perhaps the ringleaders of 9/11, like one of the prime suspects in Madrid and three of the four 7/7 bombers, had a penchant for healthy living. Certainly Atta seemed to be obsessed with bodily appearance. He advised his team of hijackers to shave off their pubic hair and to douse themselves in cologne the night before the attacks, to ready themselves for arrival in paradise. Islamic scholars have pointed out that these stipulations have little grounding in Quranic law. But they do reflect our keep-fit age. Bodybuilders, among others, are known to shave off their body hair in order to make the contours of their bodies look more impressive.

Today's gym culture seems like the perfect vehicle for nurturing the combination of narcissism and loathing of the masses necessary to carry out a terrorist suicide mission. If some of these attackers viewed their own bodies as pure instruments, and everyone else as wasteful and deserving of punishment, they could just as well have come to that conclusion through absorbing the healthy-living agenda of the gym as by reading the Quran. At the gym, Atta, Khan, and the others could focus on perfecting the self, the body, as a pure and righteous thing—and hone their disdain for others.

Whole story here.

John Basedow, whose abs are registered as lethal weapons by the FBI, keeps fitness simple here.

Long and tiresome Mary Worth plot about a fat husband and wife whose marriage is on the rocks over the wife's desire to get in shape begins its windup here.