David Rohde writes about the seven months he was held hostage by a group of extremist Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan and conveys this observation about what motivates them:
My captors harbored many delusions about Westerners. But I also saw how some of the consequences of Washington’s antiterrorism policies had galvanized the Taliban. Commanders fixated on the deaths of Afghan, Iraqi and Palestinian civilians in military airstrikes, as well as the American detention of Muslim prisoners who had been held for years without being charged. Apparently, when we drop bombs on Muslim countries — or when Israel attacks Palestinians — that fuels anti-American hatred and militarism among Muslims. The same outcomes occur when we imprison Muslims without charges in places like Guantanamo and Bagram.
One of the most astounding feats in propaganda is how we’ve managed to take people who live in a country which we invade, bomb and occupy — and who fight against us because we’re doing that — and call them “Terrorists,” thereby “justifying” continuing to bomb and occupy their country further (“We have to stay in order to fight the Terrorists: meaning the people who are fighting us because we stay”).