As Scott Atran points out, these kids dream of fighting for some meaningful cause that will make them heroes in their communities. Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri-and Arab satellite television and in some cases their own experiences-have convinced them that fighting against the most powerful country in the world and its allies is the most heroic thing they can do.
No, “The 99” comic books are not going to solve that problem. Their circulation is in the tens of thousands at this point, while bin Laden’s violent message gets out to billions. But comic books are “likely to be a lot more helpful than our bullets and bombs in attracting young people away from jihadi cool,” says Atran. They might even help convince Washington that “knowledge is the true base of power.” But maybe that’s hoping for too much.
What sort of message does this comic book send?
(Update/clarification The image above is not from The 99, it’s from Chuck Dixon’s aborted American Power series. I presented it along with the question of what message it for sarcastic rather illustrative purposes.)