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Today in Terrorism

February 29, 2016 | 4-Year-Old Child Beheading in Moscow

On this day in 2016, nanny Gulchekhra Bobokulova decapitated a 4-year-old girl in her care and displayed the severed head at a Moscow metro station.

Mental illness is often cited as an ‘excuse’ for why terrorists do what they do: is it not possible for terrorists to understand their acts even if they do suffer from such afflictions?

MOSCOW, RUSSIA — There has to be no worse way of dying than beheading. We have all seen the videos put out by Islamic State (ISIS) and other terrorist groups, despite the disgusting nature of them. A person (generally a man) is forced to kneel while some coward in a mask stands behind him with a knife, prepared to separate the head of the victim’s body. The poor soul is usually kept awake and aware while this is happening.

To many, an act of this nature is a sign of mental imbalance. How can anyone of ‘sound mind and body’ do something like this? We cannot comprehend the possibility that this crime may come from someone fully in control of his or her faculties.

And yet it can.

Their world stopped in the 7th century

To Islamist extremists the world stopped in the 7th century. That was the era of the advent of Islam, the life of the Prophet Muhammad and his four ‘rightly guided’ Caliphs (i.e. successors). Everything in the world after that has gone down the toilet. This is why they are trying to reconstruct life back to those times.

And what was the form of capital punishment in the 7th century? Why, beheading of course. That Saudi Arabia still practices this barbaric form of execution should really tell you something – scratch that, a LOT – about that nation’s mindset.

On this day in 2016, nanny Gulchekhra Bobokulova decapitated a 4-year-old girl in her care and displayed the severed head at a Moscow metro station.

So no, beheadings are not the product of a diseased mind. They are seen as a divine edict for how to deal with those who offend God. Terrorists, of course, are the only ones who know what God ‘wants’. Hence they hold the knife/sword.

But on occasion there can be an element of mental illness.

4-Year-Old Child Beheading in Moscow

On this day in 2016 – a leap day – a nanny in Moscow decapitated a 4-year-old girl in her care and displayed the severed head at a Moscow metro station. The perpetrator said she was avenging the deaths of Muslims in Russia’s campaign in Syria adding that she had “taken revenge against those who themselves spilled blood”. She also stated:

Putin spilled blood. The planes were bombing. Why are Muslims being killed? They also want to live.

Russian prosecutors believed Gulchekhra Bobokulova, a 38-year-old native of Uzbekistan, had killed the child and set fire to the apartment of the parents before police stopped her at the metro station for a passport check. She then produced the head from a bag she was carrying and, according to some media reports, threatened to detonate an explosive device. Police apparently backed off because of the threat but later said she was not carrying any explosives.

Ms. Bobokulova also shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ when she was arrested. She was scheduled for a psychiatric examination: Russian officials did say that she was suffering from mental health problems.

I have no idea where this all went. Maybe she was indeed mentally ill, maybe she wasn’t. All I am trying to say that is that we need to hesitate before making definitive judgments in this regard before more reliable information is available.

Sometimes a terrorist with a knife is just a terrorist with a knife.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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