This bit of insight into Al-Awlaki's psychological motivations is particularly relevant:
....Awlaki, who like so many radical Middle Eastern Muslims wishes to enjoy the West and yet seems to hate the nourishing culture that excites his passions more quickly than Islam can repress them (Awlaki, in the stereotypical fashion of a radical Muslim in the West, had previously run afoul of the law for soliciting prostitutes).
Here we come to the "root" of "root causes" for terrorism: the shame culture of the Middle East which fuels the humiliation and anger of its members at the sight of Western success and externalizes the blame for their own cultural and societal failures and shortcomings. From a Frontpagemag.com article by David Meir-Levi in 2005:
To answer the question: “Why do they hate us?” we need look no further than at the Islamofascist leaders worldwide who are confronted with our success, threatened by our freedom, humiliated to the point of fury and violence due to their culture’s emphasis upon shame vs. honor. Rather than learn from us or work with us, they seek to destroy us.
They cannot admit to their followers or to us that their real motivation is their own shame and fear. Instead, they make up a long list of fictitious misdeeds in order to justify their hatred. Then they teach and preach to their societies, and especially to their young, the lies about why they hate us, and their children grow up believing such lies.
In addition, they are buttressed by Arab and pro-Arab intellectuals and professors in the West who re-write history in order to make us believe that this hatred is new and is a function of the fictional crimes of which we are accused.
In Shame, The Arab Psyche and Islam, I stated:
...one of the ways that those who fear shame protect their fragile self is to subjugate those who he perceives as weaker. By doing so, he can rationalize that he is superior to the subjugated individual. In fact, this is the only way he can maximize his honor. In Arab/Islamic culture, women are one of the primary instruments of achieving honor. Hence the bizarre and distorted attitude that the culture has toward women and the exaggerated means by which "honor" must be maintained. So strong is the cultural pressure, even women buy into the delusion (as eloquently demonstrated by Dymphna in this post)
Honor killings of women are all too common in Arab culture, and importantly are not dissuaded by the tenets of Islam.
Other expressions of the shame culture that are obvious is the rampant psychological projection and refusal to accept responsibility for the atrocities committed in the name of Islam. Not only are we regularly subjected to imams, religious leaders, and leaders of Muslim states stating even now that 9/11 or the London bombings were not committed by Muslims; they also regularly blame the Jews for such acts. In this way they can avoid the shame that taking responsibility for evil.
Additionally, the emphasis by CAIR and other Muslim organizations in demanding that any statement that criticizes or even suggests blame or responsibility by Islam for terror, be retracted or apologized for, is also just a part of the shame-avoidant dance that leads the culture into the blurry realms of delusion.
Finally, it is not surprising that the most murderous thugs espousing religious ideals as they brutally cut off the heads of infidels are hidden behind masks and dare not reveal themselves to the world. I suspect that on some deep level they know that their "pride" in their sick behavior would be more difficult to boast about if they were not anonymous. "If no one knows it is me committing these acts, then I am not shamed," after all.
While psychological health and self-esteem depend to some extent on overcoming shame and progressing to a level where taking responsibility for one's actions and accepting that there is an objective truth out there that is not determined by other people's opinions; both shame and guilt can be important reality checks to an individual--or to a culture.
When a culture determines that the avoidance of shame is necessary no matter what the cost, the result is a culture of fanaticism, bizarre behavior in the name of "honor"; and simultaneously the cultural oppression, subjugation, and humiliation of women and others perceived as "weak" (and therefore "shameful"). It also inevitably results in the projection of one's own unacceptable behavior and shameful feelings onto another individual or an outside group.
As Meir-Levi notes, it is essential that we understand our enemy and discredit the distortions and lies that are used to excuse and justify their barbaric actions. By getting to the root of "root causes" we can begin to discredit the false explanations, that in reality do not explain anything, but only serve to mollify and seduce us into believing somehow our behavior is the cause of the threat.
The root cause of terrorism is very simple. It is the interaction of a backward and aggressively misogynistic Arab culture with a rigidly medieval religion, within which its most sadistic aspects not only thrive, but are enshrined as religious doctrine.
In short, we will have to experience a lot more upscale Awlakis until we admit that radical Islam is at war with us for who we are and what we represent rather than any oppression, poverty, or misery Americans purportedly inflict on the world — and are non-uniformed soldiers in an undeclared war rather than felons or “the other” with understandable grievances.
Once you get out of the Procrustean bed of the Marxist mindset, you can begin to see the reality of human nature a bit more clearly....