Monday, July 11, 2005

The Root Cause

What is the root cause of jihadist terrorism? In a word:


You’ve heard the other theories: failing to alleviate their poverty, supporting Israel, robbing their oil, invading their countries, insulting their religion, corrupting their young, supporting their dictators, installing a democracy, etc. Islamic propaganda is rife with grievances to explain or justify jihadist terrorism. These pap explanations are regurgitated by leftists and the paleo-isolationist-right. However, the overriding factor that trumps them all, the distinctive mindset that is uniquely at play, the essence of the problem that is a prerequisite for what the world has endured these past decades is not hidden or obscure – it is simply Islam.

Let’s take poverty and ignore the fact that the jihadist planners are educated and well financed. Why poverty? Poverty is nothing new. Nor is it unique to Islamic countries. Why poverty? This excuse is standard in leftist mythology. It was common, until a few years ago, to call poverty the root cause of domestic common crime. However, we all get hungry and need to eat. Some of us will chose crime others will chose productive work. The key to that choice is character. Your idea of right and wrong – influenced by the philosophy or the religion that you choose to accept – is the determining factor of the character you create as you go about your life. You’re responsible for choosing a life of crime or becoming a productive citizen.

What’s true about an individual’s character is also true about a culture. The philosophy – religious or secular – that permeates the culture determines how people respond to life’s choices. Philosophy results in distinctive societies; it determines how a country weathers challenges – both natural and man-made. Islam is the overriding religious philosophy for over one billion people. And in it lies the key to understanding their souls.

Founded by a political and military leader, Mohammad, Islam is a supremacist ideology of conquest and rule. In the first century of its existence it conquered most of the known world. To the devout Muslim, their lowly status today is contrary to their self-image rooted in Islamic mythology. It is seen as an injustice for which the world – non-Muslims – must pay. By Allah’s will, Mohammad triumphed and his people conquered the world – Jesus achieved no such feats neither did the Jews. For Muslims being the bottom feeders of the world puts their religion in doubt. If it is not Islam, others are to blame.

The Muslim, according to Islam, should rule the earth. Non-Muslims, if they are allowed to live, must serve and grovel before their Islamic superiors. They must be constantly humiliated to inculcate the subservient character required as a dhmmis or second class citizen of the world. This has been the practice of Islam for most of its 1400 years history. Not all Muslims today stress the original intent of the religion. But some do.

In the last forty years, fuelled by Saudi wealth, an Islamic revival has spread worldwide teaching Muslims the original (salafi) religion. Muslims have once again taken up arms. From every corner of the Islamic world and from new converts within other societies, Muslims fuelled by the rage of their religion have dedicated their lives to the cause of jihad or Holy War.

Is poverty part of the problem? Yes, but not because of the obvious materialistic needs – these, Muslims scoff at – but because of the insult to Allah’s favored people. Is Israel important? Yes, but not because that sliver of land intrinsically matters for the 1 billion Muslims spread from Morocco to Indonesia. For a Muslim, to lose control of any previously conquered areas – Israel, Spain, the Balkans – is to be mistaken about Islam’s destiny. Are we robbing their oil? Look how poor Muslims are worldwide and how rich America is – this is proof to those who see wealth as a gift from Allah instead of the result of productive human effort.

Islam is the determining factor that explains the plight of Muslims, their need to scapegoat, and their violent response. By definition, an essence of anything is that which is central and best organizes the rest. For jihadist violence, Islam is the essence and thus the root cause.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dead on as always, Jason, in this regards. There is a real hypocrisy on the left, where Christian fundamentalism is attacked as evil, but fundamentalist Islam is given a pass on the grounds of cultural relativism. To tout the evils of the Crusades as proof somehow that Christianity has been just as bad as the worst of Islam is a dishonest arguement. The morality of the Crusades was a corruption of the principals of Christianity; there is a reason why the Christian church underwent a division that took a good part of it away from the rule of Rome and the Pope. No where in the bible do we ever read of Jesus Christ getting on horse back, lifting a sword, and demanding death for those who didn't believe in his divinity.

And why are so many on the left silent in regards to blatant, Islamist anti-semitism? More often than speaking about their hatred of Israel as a political state, we hear their utter, racist contempt for "the Jews" as a people. If Christian groups in this country couched their opinions in the same manner, there would be a storm of condemnation from the left. And keep in mind that I am saying this as someone who does not consider himself a Christian and has not much use for most organized religions in general. But we need to keep these things in perspective, and not treat all religions as equal because of political correctness. The strain of Islam that is on the rise today has deliberately chosen to ally itself with savage, anti-humanist barbarism.In my opinion, that's a more clear and present danger than Christians wanting equal time to evolution or public displays of the ten commandments. I may not agree with these things, but I also don't worry about any large groups of Christians wanting to nuke the rest of us for disagreeing. I certainly don't have this same confidence in Islamists.

7/11/05, 7:48 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Of course, that’s getting perspective. I’m not sure why it’s hard for some to see our differences are so minor when it comes to the threat of Islamism. But I think a broad cross-section on the political spectrum can understand this. At least there’s no reason why not. I’m hopeful that people can face the nature of the threat after some of the politically correct inhibitions for some or instinctual ecumenical reflex for others wear thin. And I sense this is starting to happen. I’m getting a broad audience even here in my tiny neck of the woods.

7/11/05, 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I truly don't understand a few things about your reasoning...

- If there are a billion Muslims in the world, and Islam is the root cause of terrorrism, why hasn't there been more terrorist attacks? It would seem that if you reasoning was sound, that all Muslims would be involved in terrorist actions to some extent. Do you really believe that all Muslims are terrorists (seeing that their religion is inherently violent according to you)?

- What would you propose be the solution then, if you see Islam as the root cause of terrorism? Perhaps you see the Ann Coulter route of "invading their countries, killing their leaders and converting them to Christianity"?

7/11/05, 11:19 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

Anonymous said:
"If there are a billion Muslims in the world, and Islam is the root cause of terrorrism, why hasn't there been more terrorist attacks? It would seem that if you reasoning was sound, that all Muslims would be involved in terrorist actions to some extent. Do you really believe that all Muslims are terrorists (seeing that their religion is inherently violent according to you)?

I wouldn't suppose to speak for Jason, but...

Why, aren't there enough terrorist attacks to suit you? Perhaps a few thousand more, eh?

Nice straw man. Jason didn't say "all" Muslims are terrorists.

Islam is inherently violent according to its own history, not according to Jason. He routinely cites references and links where he has gotten his information.

"- What would you propose be the solution then, if you see Islam as the root cause of terrorism? Perhaps you see the Ann Coulter route of "invading their countries, killing their leaders and converting them to Christianity"?"

Before making your cynically ignorant attacks, go educate yourself on the founding of Islam and its history, then come back.

7/12/05, 12:40 AM  
Blogger beakerkin said...


The question is why you have your head in you rear. A religion that divides the planet into the house of war and peace would tend to be more violent then a religion based upon salvation. Key word in that sentence is tend.

7/12/05, 6:17 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Thanks for asking, Ananymous. I wrote a entry about it on March 2 ... here. I make a major distinction between the religion and the sociology. Muslims, a vast demographic group that includes the most violent jihadists to the most secular Turks, are not all terrorists. We all agree with that here. In the link above I discuss that. Also, you might want to read the links under "Articles" - particlarly the 1st and 5th entry. Come back and give us your opinion.

7/12/05, 6:29 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

I have been listening to the audio version of Kenneth Timmerman's "Preachers of Hate: Islam and the War on America." I don't know Timmerman's credentials, but he makes the case that Islam targets Jews and Westerners as the scapegoats for the failures of Islam as a sociological system. Also, he points out that Islam's pathological hatred of the Jews predates the founding of the modern nation of Israel, and he cites several imams and Islamic scholars who have clearly stated that the conflict in Palestine is not about the land itself. Apparently, the Arab media fuels the Islamic hatred of all things not Islamic by presenting falsities.

BTW, your March 2 blog entry is excellent.

7/12/05, 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a recent interview with journalist Charles Sennott, London Bureau Chief for the Boston Globe (Aired, NPR) we find yet another hypothesis. According to Sennott, the radical element in the Middle East may not be so much an expression of Islam as it is a cultural quest for simple revenge. Sennott says that Middle Eastern men who observe Americans killing innocent Iraqis and innocent Afghanis feel compelled to exact “An Eye for An Eye” on the innocent people of western societies. Sennott says that this attitude should be regarded as separate from Islam because the strictures found in Hammurabi’s Law (1750 B.C.) are also contained in the Old Testament and the Qu’ran. Is revenge a Middle Eastern cultural anomaly? While I find the proposition interesting, I am reminded of a frequent saying by one of my former superiors: “The point is interesting, but not at all relevant.” In this case, it may not be relevant to us, but it may very well be relevant to these people who are attacking us in our most vulnerable locations. There are all kinds of explanations for human behavior, but before we attempt to understand the root cause of terrorism, not that such understanding will change either their behavior, or our own, we simply cannot loose sight of our first and foremost duty: the security of our people.

7/12/05, 5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another take on the apparently endless list of grievances that Muslims present could be (and correct me if I'm wrong on this as I'm not an expert on Islam) that Islam presumably forbids violence EXCEPT when Islam is under attack. But when Islam is seen as under attack, then Muslims are called to defend the ummah. This could explain the rampant propoganda which appears to turn everything the infidel does into an attack on Islam - everything from the formation of the state of israel to Christian proselityzing in Muslim countries, to detaining Muslims at Gitmo. Even the defensive measures Britain took to defend itself from Islam got turned around as an attack on Islam, and apparently terminated the 'covenant of security' they had previously enjoyed. Because, you see, Islam doesn't condone violence. Violence is unIslamic - except when Islam is attacked. Thus every infidel action becomes a grievance and a neverending PRETEXT for jihad. The endless "muslims as victims" laundry list allows Muslims to convince themselves that they're taking the moral high ground even as they go on the offensive. (Just a theory of the Muslim mind FWIW).


7/12/05, 7:56 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

My stepfather-in-law, who is a liberal by the way, is convinced that the Muslims believe they are under attack. I told him that Muslims always perceive they are under attack, by dint of the fact that non-Muslims even exist and prosper. You said something very similar with "every infidel action becomes a grievance and a neverending PRETEXT for jihad."

7/12/05, 8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Always on Watch - yes, without a doubt, Muslims appear to so consistently view themselves as under attack that it seems fair to say that they suffer as a group from a bona fide "victim mentality" (VM). It seems to me that too many people in the west overlook the psychodynamics of the VM, instead taking the grievances themselves at face value. (If you've ever personally met someone with a VM, you'll probably be familiar with how mistaken that can be as an approach!) On the other hand, I have tended to adopt a more cynical attitude towards the Muslim VM, as my previous post indicated, viewing it more as a manipulative ruse, as it were, for justifying jihad. That may well be a mistaken approach as well. It may not be nearly as Consciously manipulative as I'm imagining (although the VM is certainly manipulative on some level). I think I'll do some web reading on the psychodynamics of the VM to see if I can clarify what drives it. In some brief readings a few minutes ago, it was apparent to me that unconscious anger plays a huge role (no surprise there). Also, VM is apparently quite common in incest victims, which reminded me of an article I came across some time ago that talked about how rampant incest was in the Muslim world, especially incest towards little boys. Suffice it to say basic psychology is probably not widely grasped in the Muslim world! There appears to be a huge amount of psychopathology (that whole shame/humiliation vs pride/narcissism thing as well). I've seen a few interesting symposiums at frontpagemag trying to explain the psychopathology that underlies the widespread misogyny and honor killings and so on, and I'd like to see more such approaches, especially approaches that might shed light on the extent to which Islam itself is or is not directly contributing to these dynamics and psychopathologies or is perhaps merely INTERACTING with other cultural factors in producing these dynamics.


7/12/05, 9:33 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

I agree that Muslims have a way of twisting the truth to imagine their aggression as a defense. Mohammad set the example as a military leader during his days in Medina. Of the many dozens of battles apparently only the Battle of the Ditch can be labeled defensive with some certainty. Mohammad’s promiscuous usage of the “defense of Islam” is extremely harmful. Such rationalization encourages bad cognitive habits. When I read the false accusation that we are killing Iraqi civilians when today it is the jihadists who are killing the civilians, I can’t help but see these Muslims rationalizing their aggression and savagery. And I connect this to Mohammad’s example since I’ve had arguments with Muslims who spin Mohammad’s behavior just like they spin the jihadists’ behavior.

This is connected to Mustang’s remark about protecting ourselves. Once you unmask the pathetic rationalizations for aggression you, know you have a dangerous enemy. Even in those cases where there is a sliver of plausibility, the out-of-proportion reaction tells you these savages are going to be a problem. And you know you have a dangerous enemy. It's good to remember that bottomline. That ends the investigation and starts the mobilization.

Some effort is required to oppose our own excuse-making enablers. Some effort is needed to help others avoid the trap that says there are “understandable” extenuating circumstances. We may not get everyone to agree on the total picture, but the savagery is obvious – completely unwarranted or grossly out of proportion – in any case it is obvious. Helping others to keep that picture in mind and expressing outrage at any moral equivalence is part of the domestic intellectual battle to wake up our neighbors.

This reminds me of the decades where crime was viewed as a result of poverty that needed to be treated by welfare and rehabilitation. Then, in the late 80s people got fed up and said we want to be safe (lock up the criminals) and we want the culprits punished (and keep them there.) The debate ended – welfare was reduced, jail time was insured and crime decreased in the 90s.

At some point I think we have to get people to say “shove those cheap theories and rationalizations; I see a savage enemy that needs to be defeated.” But now I think we still have to help some people who are getting sucked into the excuse-making industry. To some extent, that requires exposing the nature of another culture, if only to oppose the propaganda. It happened with totalitarianism – people were blinded to Stalin’s threat and Hitler’s threat in the 1930s. Finally the facts spoke for themselves. But some people have a willingness to avoid to unpleasant facts until it is catastrophic. Hopefully, we can expose these truths before “obvious” means something far worse than 9/11.

7/12/05, 9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jason - I agree completely that Muhammed himself set the example for twisting the truth re defense vs. offense. I should have added something to my previous post - namely, that I have little doubt that the top level clerics issuing the fatwas for jihad are cynically and consciously manipulating the truth in listing their "grievances" (as Muhammed himself most certainly did and as UBL is most certainly doing - for naked power motives) but I am more likely to entertain the notion that the lower level jihadi masses themselves who are answering the call to jihad are quite possibly not conscious of this manipulation and may literally suffer from a more "unconscious" victim mentality. Neither case makes the grievances real - I agree with you on that and the west most definitely needs to get over treating them as real - but even if we are well aware that the top level folks are consciously and cynically manipulating the masses, we may still need to understand and deal with what I am assuming to be the more unconscious psychodynamics of the ordinary jihadi recruits. One indication that there might be a distinction between the 2 groups is the fact that the manipulators are never the ones actually blowing themselves up, as far as I can tell. Its always the foot soldiers. If its all just directly and monolithically attributable to "Islam", then why aren't the top level folks blowing themselves up for their 72 virgins? (I wonder how they explain that to their recruits!) Anyway, I don't actually expect an answer to these questions. Just random musings about the Muslim mind....


7/12/05, 10:17 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Some good points, Caroline. That's why I tend to comment on their culture and religious philosophy overall rather than the details of how that culture evolves and who is most guilty. The nature of this culture and its threat to us is the most important fact to face. I don't have all the details but the overall picture is sometime to be alarmed about.

7/12/05, 11:09 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Let me also add the reason I put philosophy & religion before psychology is because when a crises occurs – psychological, economic, or otherwise – we turn to our values and beliefs. It is at those moments that Islam fails the Muslim. Robert Spencer continually reports cases of Muslims who everyone thought were normal and moderate but who are found involved in terrorist plots. He sees a pattern where some crisis brings the Muslim to his religion and in this susceptible state he is vulnerable to the jihadist message. Philosophy and culture are the keys once more as it relates to character and one’s ability to weather a crisis. It's not the only factor but in the long run it is a problem that will rare its ugly head.

7/12/05, 11:23 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Have you read Raphael Patai's book "The Arab Mind"? I believe the book was first published 1972, nearly three decades before 9/11. Some of the info therein might be useful in your research into VM. Some time back, Jason recommended the book to me.

7/13/05, 8:12 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

I find a good analogy in your statement "This reminds me of the decades where crime was viewed as a result of poverty that needed to be treated by welfare and rehabilitation."

7/13/05, 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He {Spencer} sees a pattern where some crisis brings the Muslim to his religion and in this susceptible state he is vulnerable to the jihadist message."

Yes. Ali Sina makes the same point repeatedly. From that perspective, I definitely see your point - Ultimately the psychological causes are unimportant in the face of Islam itself because one can't prevent every single Muslim from undergoing a psychological crisis. It sure would be helpful if our leaders recognized that such crises are likely to be quite common among Muslims growing up in the alien culture of the west. We already have a growing problem with violence among our own apparently alienated western kids (school shootings and so on). This is going to be infinitely worse. I can only hope that its dawning on more and more people that the solution is to strictly limit Muslim immigration to the west. I am heading in the direction of becoming a one-issue voter on that score.

AOW - no I hadn't heard of that book. Thanks for the recommendation.!


7/13/05, 8:27 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Islam divides the world into two parts: Dar Al-Harb and Dar Al-Islam. In so doing, Islam makes Muslims alien in any country which is not Dar Al-Islam. It's the old "us or them" mindset.

Patai's book is available in paperback and in most large library systems.

7/13/05, 9:05 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

I thought you might find this interesting.

Mr Taranto's "Best of the Web Today" is avaliable by free subscription at WSJ's

Best of the Web Today - July 13, 2005

Why Do They Hate Us?
That's the question we've all grown sick and tired of hearing since Sept. 11, 2001. It's not that the query is inherently objectionable; understanding what motivates the enemy is obviously helpful in wartime. But the people who ask this question almost never genuinely seek to understand; rather, they have their own axes to grind against the U.S. or the West, and seek to use the prospect of terror attacks to scare the rest of us into supporting their views. This we have dubbed vicarious terrorism.

Now and then a terrorist actually takes the trouble to explain his motives. London's Daily Telegraph reports on the trial of the man who allegedly (and now confessedly) murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh:

Mohammed Bouyeri, a baby-faced 27-year-old with dual Dutch-Moroccan nationality, broke his vow not to co-operate with the Amsterdam court by admitting shooting and stabbing his victim last November.

"I take complete responsibility for my actions. I acted purely in the name of my religion," he told its three-strong panel of judges.

"I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do the same, exactly the same." . . .

Bouyeri then turned to the victim's mother, Anneke, in the public gallery, and told her he felt nothing for her. Mrs van Gogh watched as he read out from what appeared to be a statement: "I don't feel your pain. I have to admit that I don't have any sympathy for you. I can't feel for you because you're a non-believer."

This had nothing to do with Israeli "occupation" of "Palestinian lands," America's "unilateral invasion" of Iraq, "torture" of prisoners at Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, the widening "income gap," or any of the other litany of complaints that the terror apologists trot out. Islamist terrorism arises from religious fanaticism and hatred, plain and simple.

7/13/05, 8:12 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thanks for the link. I've subscribed.

7/13/05, 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just noticed that today Roger Simon has a link to the Jawa report here:

Jawa report

which addresses the topic of widespread pederasty in Muslim culture. At the bottom there's a link to a Jamie Glazov article in frontpagemag about the link b/w sexual rage and terrorism. I bring this up not as "root cause" but in the context of my comments earlier in the thread about a possible link between victim mentality, suppressed anger and sexual abuse. It is interesting to see this topic get more attention.


7/15/05, 10:49 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Referring back to Jason's blog article here...Today, July 15, 2005, a Washington Post subheadline, in reference to the 7/7 London bombings, reads as follows: "Identities Are Revealed, but Motives Still a Mystery."

When I read this today, during my poolside reading session, I started uttering all kinds of expletives. I'm sure that the lifeguards must've thought I had lost my mind.

But I haven't lost my mind, though the editors of the Washington Post may have. Or are the editors just afraid of Muslim reaction?

Tonight on "The O'Reilly Factor," Dr. Walid Phares clearly stated the motives--Wahhabism and the ideology of jihadism.

7/15/05, 8:22 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...


I've explored the Jawa link you provided. This is an avenue I hadn't earlier explored, but I'm interested now.

The VM you have mentioned is an important key, I believe. Blame Israel, the United States, the Mongol invasion, etc.

Also, the VM helps to explain the willingness to accept jihadism, not merely as a religious expression but also as an act in which one exerts control over one's own destiny.

And I believe you are correct about a possible connection between pederasty (correct term?) and jihadism, or at least the willingness to be a jihadist.

While I can't get away from all those jihad-promoting verses in the Koran as a cause, the VM you've mentioned may indeed exert an influence I've not thought of previously.

7/15/05, 8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AOW: here are 2 other interesting articles on psycho-sexuality-terrorism-Islam connections. Make of them what you will!:

Phyllis Chesler

Murdering Women for Honor

I don't think any of this absolves Islam as the root cause but it does raise interesting questions re the interaction between Islam and already existing tribal customs. Did Islam, being the word of God, merely lock in prevailing 7th century mores vis a vis women? Actually, I read somewhere that pre-Islamic tribal relations between men and women were relatively healthy and that women actually enjoyed some degree of status. To what extent is Muhammed's own apparent sexual perversity, combined with his narcissism (and probable paranoia), directly responsible for all these psychopathological dynamics in Muslim culture? All questions I'm afraid I have no answers to but it certainly makes for some fascinating reading! Who knew that Zarqawi was a mama's boy, for instance!


7/16/05, 10:43 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thank you for the links. I will read those articles.

Of course, what we're exploring doesn't excuse Islam, but it may provide some insights.

7/16/05, 6:13 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Thanks, Caroline and AOW. It's always interesting to get some of the psychological facets of Islamic cultures. I remember reading Glazov’s and Chester’s article when they came out. I find them interesting as they fill-in the picture. I don’t know enough about these details but I keep in mind some of the non-religious aspects of these cultures.

Some other differences that I find interesting are between Arab culture and other Islamic cultures. Even back in the 1970s I remember being impressed with the differences between the Arabs and Iranians that I used to meet. I certainly hope recent reports are correct when they indicate that Iranians have had enough of the theocracy.

Warren has a good link to the statement by van Gogh’s killer. I’ve received e-mail from friends and it’s been in many publications. The Islamists have been saying this for sometime – it’s their religion that motivates them.

Thanks, Mrs. T, I’ll have to stop by and visit.

I’m glad to see my blog has gotten many hits while I took a short vacation where there were no computers.

7/18/05, 10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I understand it all non muslim countries are "The House of the Sword" there for the taking. It originally was a militaristic religion and the promise of paradise surrounded by hooris, becoming a martyr is still there. We are all infidels. They go on that they were the first to use paper after the Chinese, developed algebra, even travelled more than Marco Polo. However what has the moslem world done with that. Their successes were based on military expansion and the Riad. When Europe learned to defend itself they started to go into decline. The typical moslem state had to expand to advance. Look at the Ottoman Empire. Now if Europe is taking advantage of Moslem countries and they hark back to aggression from the crusades to colonialism we can answer back that the crusades were the first time that Europe went back on the offensive. N/African muslims pushed into Europe as far as the Alps. Charlemagne helped to save Christian Europe from Islam and the Iberians had their reconquest. The Europeans knew how to develop what they had learnt from Islamic scholarship. Islam stood still and even destroyed books captured in conquest. It is their own fault.

7/20/05, 5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Landes "The wealth and Poverty of Nations"has some very succint viewpoints on the Muslim world.

7/20/05, 5:07 PM  

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