Choosing the radical Islamist occupation 86
The previous chapter introduced the dynamics of the radicalisation process, with illustrations of individual evolutions along probing, centrifying and professionalising. This chapter delves to a greater extent into the motivation behind choosing the Islamist radical occupation, which emerged in the analysis in the form of three major occupational categories – standing, recognition and reward. These should not be simply understood as selective incentives such as, for instance, heroism or group belonging; and not as something specific to Islamist radicals. They are components of the overall motivation or criteria according to which decisions to engage, stay and act orientate, and concretise in specific selective incentives at specific times along the process. Further, these occupational categories are present in other types of occupation as well, so that choosing the radical Islamist occupation is in effect a process during which they are gradually conceived differently from other occupations, a function of different conceptualisations of what is valuable. The fact that standing might be associated with being a mujahid is traced to the fact that, within a certain worldview, heroism is a value, and one associated with the activities involved by being a mujahid, such as defending the global community of Muslims or a particular Muslim community against ‘occupation’. In other groups, standing will concretise into something completely different, such as being a high-ranking politician, for instance, because, in this case, not heroism but power is considered a value worth attaining, and one that involves the ability to influence major decisions in a certain policy area. In yet other groups, such as soldiers for instance, heroism is conceptualised in a similar way to that of the mujahideen – defending a victimised group against an aggressor. This is an example of the same value at the basis of standing, yet concretised differently. At an abstract level, the mujahid, the politician and the soldier all aim at reaching standing, the difference lies in the way in which standing and values are conceived. For the radical Islamist occupation, this change of values is facilitated by the gradual adoption and exclusivising of radical interpretative frameworks (see the following chapter). The three motivational categories should not be seen as a sort of compensation for previous deficiencies or lacks. One would not be looking for respect, for instance, because of previous experiences of lack of respect or discrimination. The argument here is that one looks
for respect in general; the difference in the case of this specific occupation is that respect and what needs to be achieved in order to gain this respect is different from other occupations.