Surprise, surprise. Fritz Gelowicz, the German convert to Islam who, along with several others, planned to kill and maim hundreds in bomb attacks, is a 'troubled' young man, according to the New York Times.
Not evil, not utterly immoral. Troubled.
Among other things, reports the Times, Gelowicz was 'troubled' by problems in his parents' marriage. In the 1961 film The Parent Trap, Haley Mills played twins who scheme to get their divorced parents back together. Gelowicz clearly took the idea of re-igniting the passion between mom and dad rather more literally, and thought that 1,500lbs of hydrogen peroxide and military-grade detonators would do the trick.
In the past Europe's disaffected youth joined the Baader-Meinhof gang or the Red Brigades, and as the epitome of radical chic got to murder, kidnap and bomb their way across Europe wearing dark glasses, and with a Gauloise hanging out of the corner of their mouth. Now they join the Islamists - whose intellectual leaders, such as Sayeed Qtub, are inspired in part by the same Marxist ideology - to indulge their nihilist urges.
Then again, Gelowicz's sociopathy is just as likely to be far-right in its origins as far-left. That's the great thing about radical Islam - whatever's 'troubling' you, be it the perfidious Jew or the bourgeois oppressors, jihad can put the world to rights.
The failed attacks have sparked a round of soul-searching in Germany. The BBC has an interesting round-up of reactions from the German press, of which Stephan Speicher's in Berliner Zeitung is the most clear-headed:
There is no point in denying that Germany is now, without a doubt, part of Islamist terrorism's sphere of action. The country's comparatively careful behaviour in the Middle East appears not to be helping it, so we will just have to learn to live with the threat of terror. At some point, people will die.
Careful doesn't cut it with al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Despite keeping a relatively low profile in Afghanistan, German troops have suffered more than 20 killed. Perhaps the prospect of casualties back home will convince the German goverment that, in the eyes of the Islamists, they're damned if they do and damned in the don't, and so they might as well let the Bundeswehr take off the gloves.