Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin
Psychoanalyst & Counter Terrorist Expert

Who were the Hamas ‘Zarqawis’ at Kfar Aza?

On The Beheadings of Jewish Babies

War Blog #18

In order to deepen an understanding of the massacre of beheadings of Jewish children and babies that took place at Kfar Aza we begin here, which will be covered in the next blog posts.

Part I Kfar Aza and the Beheading of Jewish Babies

The Map of the Massacre at Kfar Aza

According to mapping the massacre of October 7, 2023 there were beheadings of children at Kfar Aza. This has also been documented by the following news reports. Cf. and – Photos of babies being burnt, decapitated confirmed. The photos were shown to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his visit to Israel on Thursday. By TZVI JOFFREOCTOBER 12, 2023 16:37Updated: OCTOBER 26, 2023 13:27

A Very Brief History of Beheading in Islam

The subject that I address in these next posts is gruesome and difficult to write about. However, it is mandatory that we face Hamas’s cruelty, its barbaric atrocities head on in memory of those innocent children and babies murdered. We remember the innocent. There was such cruelty done by the Nazis who murdered Jewish babies as well but we must be careful to draw the line between the Shoah and Islam’s unforgiveable Jihad against the Jews, which has been going on for thousands of years. It is mandatory to look at the history in order never to forget, never to be again in denial and above all in order to give cavod i.e. to honor the dead, the innocent Jewish babies who could not speak. May their memory be a blessing.

In order to deal with explaining such abominable bloodshed, I need to address once again Hamas’s psychosis. Just because a wide global Free Palestine screams in support of Hamas does not mean that its consensual validation is sane. Their identification with the aggressor Hamas is full blown and what we witness is pure delusion, insanity’s psychosis writ large by means of the scapegoating of the Jew. It overwhelms and blinds many many ignorant people of what is really going on.

Many civilizations have attempted to destroy the Jews. Hamas’s efforts are no different but they will not be able to prevail because it is psychotic behavior. I do not say this in order to let them off the hook. I am not a lawyer and in court proceedings psychopathology has been used to that end. Nevertheless, this does not mean that we should not try to educate ourselves about this psychotic behavior and who is perpetrating it. There is a precedence for beheading in Islam.

Why Zarqawi?

Abu Musab Zarqawi, who, incidentally, grew up across the street from a graveyard, went on a beheading rampage the day after completing the forty-day mourning period for his mother’s death. She regretted that he didn’t get his high school diploma. He was described as ill-tempered and provoking fights. He also sent letters decorated with flowers to his mother while he was in prison. There was a question that he had raped a woman.

Figuring prominently were the Zarqawi rampage beheadings, which began in May 2004 with the beheading of Nichols Berg. As has been noted, Zarqawi began the beheadings directly after completing forty days of mourning for his mother, who died from cancer. In psychoanalytical terms, his beheading rampage, which held the attention of the global media, was a displaced matricide. He was enraged that he lost his ummi, his power supply upon whom he depended. Prior to his rampage was the tragic beheading of Daniel Pearl of blessed memory in February 2002 by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who was the master mind of the 9/11 attacks.

The Beheader’s Murderous Sadism

What gets activated for the jihadi is his sadism, which is a response to a fantasy of cruelty because of being unconsciously terrified. This provides justification for mobilizing and concretizing their cruelty. The major draw and pull to radicalization for the jihadi is his unspoken sadism. Jihad gives the excuse to activate all his sadistic impulses.

A good example of a jihadi who was radicalized is Jihadi John, who also engaged in serial beheadings reminiscent of Zarqawi. The question remains who were the Zarqawis who committed the atrocious baby beheadings in Kfar Aza? This points to the regression of the group psychosis and only a few carriers of this profound behavior needed to carry out such cruel acts. Hamas will lose because of this – not being able to control their own jihadis. The group will turn on itself as it turns on their own Palestinian people. Moving backwards in time we see that the Hamas beheader executors jihadis took after and emulated Zarqawi, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) who were also carrying out the long-standing tradition of violence which Islam loves to cover up by the claim that it is the religion of peace. Maybe it is better to think of it also as the religion of “pieces” i.e. the production of body parts which will be discussed in the next blogs.

Islam’s Beheading and the Jews

In 627 jihadis in Saudi Arabia beheaded hundreds of Jewish men of the Banu Qurayza tribe. Jews are dhimma in Islam, a subjugated class not equal with Muslims.

Meanwhile a West Bank Palestinian said that Hamas murderers in the rampage looked at Jews as animals. He is not exactly correct. Hamas looks at Jews unconsciously as merely objects, not even animals because it is a projection of their hollowness, they are like murderous zombies on captagon, not even animals. To say that Jews are animals would be to create a false hierarchy of power in which the jihadis are “top dog”, i.e. not submitting. Yet their atrocities show us psychologically they are mentally impoverished, “challenged” due to their psychotic thinking made manifest by their explicit concrete violent nonverbal behavior which is symbolized by the “beheadings.” This is so terrifying that the wider viewing world identifies with their aggression and a rage that exceeds murder itself. The wider public as in the Islamic Masse und Macht get their perverse sadism fulfilled as if watching a snuff film.

Saudi Arabia still permits beheading. However it is not permitted to photograph or film the decapitations though it draws massive crowds.

Other Jihadi Groups

Extremist Salafi jihadist groups such as ISIS and Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad have used beheading as a method of killing captives. Since 2002, ISIS has circulated beheading videos as a form of terror and propaganda. Their actions have been condemned by militant and other terrorist groups, as well as by mainstream Islamic scholars and organizations, who have contrasted Saudi government executions, which conform to standards that minimize pain, with the non-state actors who have “chosen a slow, torturous sawing method to terrorize the Western audience

Hamas knew that beheading would capture an enormous global crowd and so they mounted GoPro cameras and recorded the atrocities.

Teaching Their Children To Behead And The Symbolic Psychosis

The jihadi terrorist organizations are joined in psychosis for destructive purposes. An example would be the way in which the Islamic State has trained its children to undertake beheadings and mass executions. The roots of this kind of group mass psychosis finds its underpinnings in a symbiotic psychosis, which is a “situation which usually happens with children from 2 to 5 years old, where a child is completely emotionally attached to mother, and reacts stressfully if possibility for separation occurs. Some of the symptoms of this situation can be attributed to the separation anxiety disorder; this is also named symbiotic infantile psychosis or symbiotic infantile psychotic syndrome.”

The Reverse Superego – What Is Good Is Bad

Jihadi behavior is predicated on the misuse of vicarious reinforcement, which is similar to the idea of the misuse of the object. Just as jihadis misuse objects they also misuse ideas. They have a reverse superego, meaning what is bad is good and what is good is bad. Jihadis use proxies and scapegoats to purge the fused group of its mounting rage. They have unconsciously set up a communicative circuit through terror bonding. Recruitment of children to the jihadi cause is dependent on this psychological concept. Jihadis use the children as their ghoulish proxies.

The example of having a child execute a victim by beheading while other children watch communicates to them what the group expectations are. The sadomasochism of the violence becomes ingrained in the child participants and observers. The psychotic behavior of beheading becomes normalized as acceptable. This is done through terror. There is no “thinking” about the behavior as they literally attack the “house” of thinking ― the head. This is an example of “thoughts without a thinker.” It is pure imitative, destructive behavior, which is considered to be a lower level of psychological development.

To conclude Part I on The Beheading of Jewish Babies at Kfar Aza

Part I offers a very limited sketch of the historical background of jihad’s beheading against which Hamas promoted, advanced and cruelty descended into hell by means of the beheadings of Jewish babies at Kfar Aza. What can be noted is the regressing into worse and more atrocious beheading behaviors vis à vis its targeted victims. As we move to explore psychological concepts relevant to beheading in the next posts, the devastating tragedy of what happened at Kfar Aza perpetrated by a Hamas’s “Zarqawis” cum “KSMs” is an indicator, that such a regression in psychotic behavior will continue, that is precisely why Hamas must be eliminated at all costs.

I quote Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who offers a poignant caveat concerning October 7:

What Hamas unleashed on October 7—a gleeful massacre of women, children, elderly and mentally ill, filmed by the perpetrators themselves so as to celebrate their perverse achievement with their people and the wider world—was so jarring that it is only natural to seek the comfort of historical examples to make sense of its apparent irrationality and to put Israel’s response in some digestible context. However, in the modern history of the Middle East, especially in the century-old Arab-Israeli arena, none exists. For Arabs, Israelis and the broader region, October 7 truly is a historical dividing point between what came before and what lies ahead.


We don’t yet know the names of the Hamas “Zarqawis” or “KSMs” but we do know that their names should be blotted out from human history just like Haman’s in The Book of Esther.


About the Author
Dr. Kobrin made aliyah in 2010 and is an internationally renowned counterterrorism expert and psychoanalyst holding a PhD in Islamic literature, aljamía 16th c. Author of five books. She has conducted prison interviews, a former military contractor with an academic appointment as external expert at La Universidad de Granada. She is a senior research analyst for The Islamic Theology of Counter Terrorism Center. She also works in citizen diplomacy. In August 2020 she was the first Israeli to be live-streamed from Islamabad.