Americans have difficulty understanding how people can be driven to such lunacy. Liberals, in particular, are inclined to blame poverty for most of the hatred and violence in the world. During the Cold War, when communist movements were gaining ground in the Third World, liberals reflexively blamed poverty. They underestimated the power of ideas.
Al-Riyashi was not poor and, before her marriage, not particularly religious. She came from a prosperous family and lived comfortably with her husband and two children. There had been some sort of quarrel among her family before the attack, and rumors have circulated that she was actually moved to murder-suicide because she had committed adultery. But these rumors must be placed alongside the undeniable trend in the region. Women are beginning to sign on for jihad in significant numbers, and radical Islamists are deciding that while women may not show their faces in public, they may explode their bodies in order to kill.
Women in other Muslim nations are also succumbing. In Pakistan, mothers of "martyrs" are popular speakers. In Chechnya, a women's group called Black Widows is responsible for more than 165 murders by suicide. In March, an Arabic newspaper in London reported that Al Qaeda is setting up training camps just for women jihadis.
News events are filtered through a press in the Islamic world that is just staggeringly false and propagandistic. Conflicts in Bosnia, Chechnya, Kashmir, Iraq and Israel are presented as evidence of a worldwide anti-Muslim conspiracy. The most vile and idiotic slanders against Jews and Americans are presented as fact. It is the ideas in men's minds -- mad or fantastic though they may be -- that move the world. And it is the battle of ideas that we must fight with every bit as much vigor as we do that on land, sea and air.