Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
December 30, 2009

Autumn Leaves

Mutallab photo.jpg
The collection of pictures circulating of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on a school trip to London in ’03 is making it near impossible for the right-wing to hype his danger. This shot, in particular — not exactly giving “this kid” (as Maddow refers to him) the same vibe as a Zacarias Moussaoui (pic) or Richard Reid (pic) — makes the argument for extra-judicial prosecution almost laughable. (Both Moussaoui and Reid, of course, were tried in U.S. courts and are being housed in U.S. prisons.)
The fact most of those pictures show Abdulmutallab as depressed and forlorn also flies in the face of the right-wing stereotype of jihadist as monsters. On the contrary, they actually amplify the core problem underlying Islamic terrorism, which is the vulnerability and susceptibility of so many disillusioned young Muslims.

(photo: Barcroft Media via Getty Images, 2003, London, England)

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