Though completely horrifying, acts of terrorism are not uncommon across the globe, occurring anywhere from poor villages to major cities. In 2017 alone, 1,320 terrorist attacks were conducted around the world with 8,311 fatalities. Some of the most historical attacks on the U.S. include the Unabomber, 9/11, the Boston Marathon Bombing, the Orlando nightclub massacre and the more recent Stoneman Douglas school shooting. In many cases, terrorists receive either a life sentence or a seat on death row, and their stories are broadcasted nationwide for captivated audiences to behold. Whatever the case, these notorious criminals seem to draw the strangest cult followers from the depths of their homes, and the attention they receive is, to say the least, disturbing.
Take Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers. After being incarcerated, a cult following (mostly made up of women) constituted the “Free Jahar” movement. There are deeply concerning photo collages on Tumblr dedicated to Tsarnaev, and many young girls sported T-shirts with his face plastered on it. The same goes for Ted Bundy, a 1970s serial murderer who targeted women. Most recently, Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz has been making headlines from behind bars. According to CBS, Cruz has received fan mail from teenage girls requesting that he reply or become friends with them. Though acts of terror change over time, the strange, inexplicable attraction to these killers remains throughout history.
There are many theories as to why such notoriously dangerous people receive the affections of young people. In an interview with Salon, Sheila Isenberg, author of “Women Who Love Men Who Kill,” said “it’s easier to get a date or get attention from [serial killers] than, say, Brad Pitt … He’s probably reading his letters and responding to them, because it puffs him up and raises his status in his own eyes.” It is possible that these women or men desperately want to be recognized, so they beg for attention from the infamous.
This raises questions: who in their right mind (no matter how desperate they are) would want to be purposely involved with a criminal, especially someone who has taken lives or terrorized innocent people? It is not that hard to find a lonely guy on match.com, is it? Maybe it is the proud feeling of swimming against the current, or maybe a lot of people are just into that sort of thing. However, the unchanging fact that headline-making killers have men and women pining after them is one that is both disturbing and interesting.