Trying to explain the inexplicable

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Was the driver of the white truck who mowed down hundreds in Nice mad or bad – that is, entirely evil? It’s the same question that people asked when Anders Behring Breivik shot 69 campers on a island in Norway in July 2011.

Breivik wanted all Muslims deported from Europe. He was not a member of a group. The white van driver was not part of a jihadi cell. Lone wolf killers with obsessive ideas are the hardest to detect by the security forces before they kill. But their mental peculiarities may have brought them to the attention of, first, families, then neighbours, then mental health teams. Should everyone be more alert to danger signs?

Terrorism – violent death promulgated by fanatic believers in a creed – provides territory for the mad to be bad in.

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