Here he is: Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the 27-year-old "mastermind" behind the Paris attacks.
Try as I might I cannot hate him, don't ask me why. (Then again, hatred requires a lot of energy that I rarely have to spare.) But why would a young man choose to kill lots of people?
My first thought was that groups like ISIS found a way to appeal to sociopaths and give them a sense of purpose: The alienation you feel isn't your fault: There's nothing wrong with you, it's all those infidels and their culture that's wrong. Here in the US our sociopaths often become CEOs or bankers. Perhaps ISIS gave Islamic-leaning sociopaths a sense of purpose and meaning?
But looking at the pictures of Abaaoud, I don't get that sense. Look at him beaming and smiling in the photo above, with a father-like Militant cleric at his side. I don't get the feeling that Abaaoud is a sociopath. Rather, he seems like a boy. If he's been devout for a while he may actually be a virgin. Did he go to college?
Part of it may have to do with the notion of building a "caliphate", as ISIS claims to be: God's ordained "really, truly" Islamic nation-state headed by a descendant of the Prophet himself. I guess feeling like you are a badass, dangerous agent in service to a real-world nation state has got to be a bit of a rush. I guess you'd feel a bit like James Bond.
Ah but why would you want to kill people? To kill not just civilians, but women and children too? I just don't understand, but I wish I did. Perhaps as a starry-eyed overgrown boy-man, you really don't have any conception of loss and mortality, certainly not as it affects others. Meanwhile, the only people you feel a sense of connection to happen to be encouraging you to go out and kill people.