Intended for healthcare professionals


Mental illness and terrorism

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 13 September 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4869

What is terrorism?

Dear Dr. Saripanidis:

Thanks for your reply. With all due respect, I beg to differ. The mere fact that there are no studies or statistics linking terrorism with malnutrition, dehydration, and addiction proves nothing except that our leaders lack common sense and have overlooked the obvious. Here are some examples:

1) "Biden Promises Foreign Policy Shifts" - NPR Morning Edition - U.S. General David Petraeus states, "First and foremost, our forces and those of our Afghan partners have to strive to secure and serve the population. We have to recognize that the Afghan people are the decisive terrain. A nuanced appreciation of local situations is essential. This requires listening and being respectful of local elders and mullahs. And it also requires, of course, many cups of tea."
2) "Iraq's Best And Brightest Are Among The First Targeted By A Growing Resistance" - Newsweek - "I liked [Faris Assam] the moment I met him. He was a technocrat, not a politician, an engineer whose confidence and competence helped him rise quickly under the occupation administration to be deputy mayor of the Iraqi capital...On Sunday evening, just hours after Assam got back home, he went to a crowded cafe to drink tea, play dominos and smoke a water-pipe with his friends."
3) "Honey, I Love You" - Faik Nasser - "To the ancient people, honey was seen as a symbol of wealth and happiness. It was associated with strength, beauty and longevity. Even the Biblical Promised Land was described as the Land flowing with Milk and Honey."
4) "The Merits of Honey" - Verity, An Islamic Resource - "God Almighty has informed us that there is a special ability in honey to heal and cure diseases."
5) "Middle East Sweet on U.S. Honey" - AgExporter - "In 2000, the United States exported 1,861 tons of honey to the Middle East, a slight increase over the 1,724 tons in sold 1999. That volume accounts for 36 percent of the total U.S. honey sold overseas. Honey is an important staple in Yemen; a survey conducted by the Honey Board found that 30 percent of the respondents eat honey every day. Moreover, 37 percent ate honey two to three times a week. In 2000, Yemen imported 488 tons of the amber fluid from the United States."
6) "Little Iraq" - The New Yorker - "We...drank warm, thick coffee in a fast-food restaurant full of Jordanian families eating fried chicken and drinking Pepsi...I sat with a group of Iraqis who were smoking and drinking sweet tea...I left, my hands full of sweets pressed on me by the Imam."
7) "Coffee Legends" - National Geographic - "Coffee as we know it kicked off in Arabia, where roasted beans were first brewed around A.D. 1000. By the 13th century Muslims were drinking coffee religiously."
8) "Arabian Coffee (Coffee with Grind Cardamom)" - - "If you think Coke is the taste of life, then you certainly haven't tried Arabian Coffee. This kind of coffee is widely spread in the Middle East and more specifically amongst Palestinians. Back home, it is the drink of every occasion..."
9) "Mecca Cola Challenges U.S. Rival" - BBC News - "Mr. Mathlouthi says that two million bottles, each holding 1.5 litres, have already been sold and the demand for advance orders has been phenomenal."
10) "Cola" - The Journal of the American Botanical Council - "[Cola] has been traded [from West Africa] to other countries since at least the fourteenth century and it is used particularly by Islamic people..."
11) "Water-pipe tobacco smoking in Israel" - Harefuah Journal - "Tobacco smoking via a water-pipe (Nargile) is a new phenomena among school children in Israel in recent years."
12) "The Editor's Desk" - Newsweek - "In 1987, Arafat was living in Iraq, in one of Saddam Hussein's villas, and received Chris over a breakfast of cornflakes covered with tea and honey."
13) "The Agent" The New Yorker - "[Abu Jandal] seemed to enjoy drinking tea and lecturing the Americans on the radical Islamist view of history..."
14) "Forcefeeding Peace To The Middle East" - The Toronto Sun - "Most Arab leaders live on a lethal diet of syrup-sweet coffee, cigarettes, fatty food, candy, fear and adrenalin."
15) "Water for Israel tops former ambassador's agenda" - The Jewish News Weekly of North California - "The former Israeli ambassador to England and Australia believes water is the key to self-reliance, peace and stability in the Middle East."
16) "The Agent" - The New Yorker - Soufan walked directly toward [the Yemeni soldiers], carrying a bottle of water as the guns followed him. It was a hundred and ten degrees outside.
“You look thirsty,” Soufan said, in Arabic, to the officer with the walkie-talkie. He handed him the bottle.
“Is it American water?” the officer asked.
Soufan assured him that it was, adding that he had American water for the other soldiers as well. The Yemenis considered the water such a precious commodity that some would not drink it. With this simple act of friendship, the soldiers lowered their weapons.

Competing interests: No competing interests

15 September 2016
Hugh Mann
New York, NY, USA