Nancy’s profile of the Suffolk serial killer

Psychoanalyst Nancy Kubrin, who I met in Cambridge this week, has written to Suffolk police urging them to consider “the uncanny relationship between serial killing and Islamic suicide terrorism.”

This is what she wrote:

I have in draft with an Israeli colleague, Dr Anat Berko, who is a leading criminologist, a scientific theoretical essay raising the question if suicide terrorism can be considered a form of serial killing by proxy with the handler being the pimp and as a crime without victims since there is an exchange – you give me dead infidels. I give you honor and I give your families money despite the fact that the real victims are completely overlooked. In Israeli counter terrorism jargon, the handler is often called the pimp.

“This leads me to the profiling that you are undoubtedly engaged in.
In the U.S. this past July there was an incident of a Pakistani Muslim who was picked up and booked for lewd conduct. He was out on bail when he went on a jihadi killing spree a la the postal worker. He took hostage and then shot one woman to death and injured several others in the Jewish Federation Building in Seattle, Washington.

“Few understand that if an Arab Muslim is exposed and humiliated publicly they will need to seek revenge. It did not surprise me that in the case of Seattle, he sought revenge under the fantasy of jihad. I also think cleansing honor in this particular way may pertain to other Asian cultures as well. This is only a suggestion though I hope it helps.”

This is not to suggest that someone from a Muslim background is the killer, just that Nancy believes there are strong similarities between the reasons why serial killers and terrorists commit such atrocities.

Nancy’s thoughts are endorsed by consultant forensic psychologist Dr Ian Stephen, and criminologist Roger Graef, who both suggest the killer’s warped religious beliefs could be a contributory factor, as well as his experiences with women.

Dr Stephen, who has worked on previous serial killer cases and advised the makers of the TV drama Cracker, suggests the killer may have had a mother who let him down, or been let down by a woman he idolised, or he could have imagined he was on “some kind of Christian mission clearing the world of prostitutes”.

Roger Graef believes that the killer is somebody who was damaged by a woman, who is ashamed of his own impulses, a religious zealot, who feels that “they’re corrupting the whole of mankind”.

Nancy’s theorising is very controversial stuff and perhaps treads new ground for our psychoanalysts, but it seems very relevant when you consider it in the wider context.


  1. Tyger, Bob who?

  2. I’m sure the blog of Bob Piper is turning in it’s grave.

  3. It makes sense to me….

  4. I, too, think that to speculate in this way at this time is unhelpful and even dangerous. You yourself make it clear, Ellee, that no one is saying the killer is a Muslim but you know how people seize on things. It is just as likely to be a “Christian” fundamentalist or someone of no religion at all. Whoever it is, this person hates women – all women. I tend to agree with Heather. I’m sure the police are looking into all sorts of psychiatric profiling and I would rather leave it to their scientists.

  5. Nancy Kobrin

    Michael Newton who is the editor of The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers includes the medieval Assassins who were Ismaeli-Nizari Shiite as serial killers along with the thugs. He also responded to an email in which I asked him if the suicide attach may be considered a form of serial killing by proxy. He believed so and also referenced the Charles Manson Family murders as Manson using cult members as his proxies – the creepy crawlers.

    With regard to the term Muslim – I am referring to only 1 per cent of the entire Ummah which are considered to be jihadis. There are millions of moderate Muslims who would not engage in this kind of behavior. My point here is that profiling can be constrained by linguistic categories which will not allow one to “think outside the proverbial box.”

    Finally, I have never claimed that my theory is “scientific”. I am not a scientist but a Humanist attempting to make meaning out of chaos because as only as the chaos of the attack site be it a serial killing or a suicide attack remains chaotic and unintelligible, the terror which in generated by it will hold us psychologically hostage.

  6. I’m concerned about the presentation of this theory. It seems to make common sense that murders in a variety of forms are carried out by people who suffer from a variety of emotional defects, many of which will be the same. However in the climate of anti-Muslim hysteria which we are seeing at the moment this is dangerous stuff to be publishing.

    Perhaps it is more appropriate to look at the psychological backgrounds of previous serial killers rather than Muslim criminals.

    This seems to me to be an attention-seeking ploy by Nancy Kurbin.

  7. What worries me is how these kind of opinions are presented as “scientific theories” – where is the evidence? Exchange relationships of the type suggested here are the bedrock of society in all regards (I’ll do x in exchange for y). Similarly, the notion that being let down by your mother (or other female) or a negative experience with women is either an identifying factor or even a reason is more psychobabble. Who can’t identify times when they’ve been let down – it is not about the women, but about the man. Regardless of “expert” views on supposed self-image issues, Freudian motivation or other “insight” from these soothsayers – I put my faith in public reports on observations of someone’s behaviour, forensic evidence and dogged police work.

  8. Very thought provoking Ellee.

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