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Inside the Mind of an Islamist: 5 Keys to the Psychology of an Honor Killer

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Posted on February 6 2011 9:26 am
Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at City University of New York. For extended biography visit The Phyllis Chesler Organization.

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5. Is Muzammil Hassan “Crazy” in Western Terms? Is He Culturally “Crazy”? Is he Crazy as a Fox?

Muzzammil is not only a man, he is a male batterer, who is also a Pakistani and Muslim man. What this means is that he has been brought up to believe that he is entitled to whatever he needs, thinks he needs, or wants. Anyone who deprives him of what he needs or wants, is a dangerous “terrorist” enemy, especially if she is a woman—and a woman who wants to leave him exposes his failings to the world.

According to Muzzammil, he and Aasiya made a “contract” which included certain terms, i.e. that she never turn to the police, never threaten divorce, never report him to Child Protective Services. Each time she does so, he is being “killed,” his world is “collapsing,” his pride is wounded, his failure to control his wife has become known. He in no way factors in, acknowledges, relates to the harm he has done to her or to their children.

Indeed, Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable forces him to admit that he was “not in any danger” when he attacked an unarmed woman. And she forces him to admit that he had “killed” his wife. Acidly, and precisely, she notes that “In three-and-a-half days of testimony,” Hassan spent about “two seconds on the actual murder.”

That is because he wanted the judge and jury to hear “his side,” “the whole truth.”  And he thus spent all his time trying to arouse pity, sympathy, understanding for how he had suffered, not how his wife and children may have suffered. He is the only one who exists for him in his own world.

Also, Muzzammil takes no responsibility for his actions, how they affect others. Thus, he referred to the murder as “things happened.” As to the 40 stab wounds which preceded his beheading of her, he responds, dully, disassociated, “If the wounds are there, then I did it, ma’am.”  But he has “no recollection of specific things happening.” All he knows is that when it was all over, “defending himself,” he felt no “remorse,” but only “relief that he managed to escape a (diseased) terrorist.” He says: “I was face to face with evil.”

Muzzammil Syed Hassan is unapologetic, brash, brazen, belligerent, incredibly aggressive. Acting as his own lawyer, he wanted to personally question the judge, the prosecutors, and his own children on the stand. (He did cross-examine his daughter Sonia, who looked down and at the jury the entire time). Muzzammil admitted that he called the district attorney “dumbo,” his wife “Darth Vader,” a “monster,” and an “evil dragon.” He also called the court “voodoo justice” and a “kangaroo court.”

Muzzammil has the mind, heart, and soul of both an overly pampered baby and a domestic terrorist. But his lack of remorse, concern only for his own image, his willingness to do anything, including murder, to punish those who have tarnished his image teaches us all something about the mind of an Islamist jihadist.

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