The common bond between serial killers and terrorists is an overwhelming and compulsive desire to kill innocent and defenseless people. The FBI estimates that at any given time, there’s between one or two dozen serial killers roaming the highways and byways of the United States. A comfy thought, especially if you’re the parent of a child driving cross-country, say, to go off to college or a job or for any other reason. A few years ago a serial killer that had murdered at least 9 victims was caught and asked why he felt compelled to kill so wantonly. He replied with words to the effect that when he walked down a street and encountered other people, his natural thoughts and instincts were to bash in their skulls. He said that he couldn’t imagine not feeling that way. (I have to admit I entertain similar thoughts when I’m stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic that goes on for miles.) Extensive research has been done, especially by the FBI, on what creates a serial killer, and 3 primary theories have been identified.
The first theory, which is backed up by some supporting evidence, is that when the fetus is in the womb, due to some biological malfunction, its brain is constantly being bathed in abnormally high dosages of serotonin. Hence, when that fetus becomes a person, he cannot derive pleasure or sexual release in ways most people do. Instead he has to turn to the most extreme form of behavior, which usually involves the capture, then the torture and then slaying of helpless victims who are usually women. (I said “he” because almost all serial killers are men preying on women, but every now and then, a female slips into their ranks.) These men usually lead solitary, low-profile lives, and seldom bother taking the cash or other valuables their victims may have on them when abducted. Their payoff is in sexual sadism and murder.
A second known cause is when the serial killer has been terribly abused as a child, both physically and mentally. If, a child has been deeply abused by beatings or rape, or even years of mental degradation, there’s a good chance that you’ll have a serial killer in the making. Years of torment will lead to uncontrollable anger being built up, and often manifests itself early on when the soon to be serial killer starts taking out his wrath on pets and other small animals in the neighborhood. As an adult, not being able to control his pent-up anger, he can only achieve release of his fury by murdering some unsuspecting victim.
The third known cause is when a deep hatred of other peoples religious beliefs or ethnic origins, usually also taught to them from childhood, leads to blindly killing their perceived enemies. This is the mass-murdering type known as the terrorist. Notice how how terrorism fits hand in glove with serial killing. For terrorists, their fanatical religious and ethnic beliefs become a convenient excuse to go on a murderous rampage against all those they consider “unbelievers.” But like the serial killer, the real objective of the terrorist is the joy in killing itself, while religious fanaticism becomes the smokescreen to make it appear that their murdering ways have some sense of legitimacy. Thus the terrorist is just another serial killer, but on a grander scale.
I was thinking about this when I read the news that the “Lockerbie bomber” had finally succumbed to cancer, 33 months after being released from a Scotland prison for the murder of 259 innocent victims. In December 1988, the head of Libya, Moammar Gadhafi authorized a Libyan terrorist to place a bomb aboard Pan Am flight 103, supposedly because of his hatred of America and Israel. The bomb detonated on December 21, 1988 as the flight entered Scottish airspace, killing all 248 people on the plane and another 11 on the ground in the town of Lockerbie. Gadhafi denied any knowledge of the bombing for years, but eventually admitted to it, and offered monetary compensation to the victim’s families. (Gadhafi was finally caught and killed by his fellow Libyans last year after 42 years of tyrannical and despotic rule.)
The person who put the bomb on the plane was hunted down and caught by British police, and sent to jail in Scotland for life. But along the way he developed prostate cancer, and Scottish authorities arranged to have him released and sent back to Libya on compassionate grounds. They claimed that because of the cancer, he had only 3 months to live. Seems, however, he wasn’t quite that sick, and he hung on for 33 months instead of 3, before dying yesterday. Scottish authorities were roundly condemned, especially by the victim’s families, for the early release. Many are also convinced that other individuals were involved in this act of terrorism, who obviously will never be identified. In any event another serial-killer just went to his grave.
In the summer of 1972, 40 years ago, 11 Israeli athletes competing in the summer Olympics being held in Germany, were first held hostage, and then murdered by Palestinian “terrorists.” The German police were highly inept in their bungled effort to rescue these innocent athletes. Practically, Israel’s entire history since becoming a state in 1948, has been to deal with a constant barrage of terrorism directed against its people. Thousands have been murdered in so-called acts of terror, and today, there is still continued rocket attacks into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Of course, the mother of all terrorist attacks was 9/11 where almost 3000 innocent victims were murdered. It supposedly occurred because Al-qaeda’s fanatical brand of Islam led them into this killing spree.
Of course, it’s not really terrorism. If you have even fanatical differences with other political or religious beliefs, or ethnic cultures, there are plenty of nonviolent ways to express your displeasure. Everything from getting up on a soap box to writing about your disagreements or hatreds as the case may be. When one resorts to violence, its not because of seeing the world differently. It’s not because of some desire to advance some misguided political or religious belief. It’s because of the thrill of killing unsuspecting, innocent people. In the end, the “terrorist” is nothing more than a run-of-the-mill serial killer.