Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaeda's No. 2; George Habash of the Palestinian Liberation Organization; Mahmoud Zahar, the Hamas strongman in Gaza -- all trained as doctors, as did at least seven suspects in the failed bomb attacks in Britain.
The public often is shocked to see that doctors -- the world's healers -- can become militants or even terrorist killers.
But some experts believe it is part of a socio-economic trend in which wealthy families highly educate their sons, who sometimes become radical and have the education they need to become leaders.
"People often assume that terrorists are poor, disadvantaged people who are brainwashed or need the money. But the ones who actually perpetrate violence without handlers and manipulation are highly intelligent by necessity," said Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism specialist at the Swedish National Defense College in Stockholm.
"It's only the smart ones who will survive security pressures in a subversive existence. Sometimes they are doctors, a profession that provides a brilliant cover and allows entry to countries like Britain," he said in an interview on Tuesday.
At least five of the eight suspects in the failed terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow, Scotland, were identified as doctors from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and India, while staff at a Glasgow hospital said two others were a doctor and a medical student. The eighth suspect, the wife of one of the doctors, was identified in British media reports as a medical assistant.
"It sends rather a chill down the spine to think that people's values can be so perverted," said Pauline Neville-Jones, former head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, which advises the British government.
"It means obviously that you can't make any assumptions, or have any preconceptions about the kind of people who might become terrorists. It does mean that you widen the net, obviously," she said on BBC-TV.
Newspapers carried headlines such as "Dr. Terror," "Doctor Evil" and "Terror cell in the NHS," the country's National Health Service.
"It's really shocking," said Elaine Paige, an office manager in London. "Given what doctors do in clinics and operating rooms."
French authorities yesterday said that they would close a Paris mosque as part of a clampdown on radical Islam that has yielded over a dozen arrests following the beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. The mosque in a densely populated suburb northeast of Paris had disseminated a video on its Facebook page days before Friday’s gruesome murder, railing against teacher Samuel Paty’s choice of material for a class discussion on freedom of expression, a source close to the investigation said. The French Ministry of the Interior said the mosque in Pantin, which has
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