Speckhard herself provided insight into the Islamic doctrine that motivates individual jihadists to sacrifice their lives on behalf of groups like the Islamic State. “The vision of hell in Islam is fiery and horrific, and there is no way – aside from relying on Allah’s compassion – to guarantee on the final day of judgment that one’s good deeds will outweigh the bad – except by dying as a ‘martyr,’” she said. Thus, “desiring to martyr oneself is a story I’ve heard many times from Islamic extremists who fear the everlasting repercussions of their sins.“

For Muslims growing up in Western culture, a strong tension exists between conservative Islam and Western freedoms,” Speckhard added, pointing out that this mindset makes jihad martyrdom particularly attractive.

Read more: New Book Fails to Convict ISIS of Islamic Heresy – Philos Project – 1/23/2017.