American-Born Jihad

January 21, 2010
Op-Ed Contributor

We Americans used to be more than a little smug about the integration of Muslims into U.S. society in contrast to the way Europeans get along — or don’t get along — with Muslims living in Europe. Unlike Western Europe, America did not import large numbers of Muslims from Asia and North Africa to fill labor shortages after World War II.

America never faced the “guest worker” problem with guests who not only never went home, but summoned their relatives to join them as Europe did in the mill towns of England, the banlieues of Paris, and the industrial cities of Germany. Latin America was the source of our immigration problem.

It was said that the immigrants Europe imported were often from such poor and remote regions of their respective countries that they would have had trouble adjusting to Istanbul, Casablanca and Lahore, never mind, Bradford, Clichy-sous-Bois or Kruezberg.

Our Muslims were better educated, better adjusted, and were willing to integrate into American society rather than holing up in ghettos around industrial towns, some refusing to learn the languages of the countries in which they resided, and sending away for their imams and brides. Rather than making up the poorest level of society, American Muslims were mostly middle class. Continue reading

“Jihabees”: Stopping Jihadist-Wannabees

Muslim communities and law enforcement agencies should follow Virginia’s example and work together to stop radicalisation

Wajahat Ali

The arrest of five American Muslims in Pakistan allegedly conspiring to join the terrorist groups Jaysh Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba exposes a troubling phenomenon of domestic radicalisation, but also highlights an evolved, proactive Muslim American community seeking partnership to curb extremism.

The five young, American born, basketball loving, community service volunteers from Virginia allegedly join a growing number of jihadist-wannabes, or “jihabees.” Despite appearing mild mannered, well educated and seemingly assimilated, these “jihabees” are often hijacked by an appealing and delusional narrative extolling the heroism of martyrdom which is promoted by extremists, who successfully use the internet for global recruitment and indoctrination. The justification for their criminality is rationalised by a perverse misunderstanding of their religion which is anchored by a growing resentment towards those state actors committing what they see as anti-Muslim violence and oppression.

Recently, the disturbed army major Nidal Hasan killed 13 fellow soldiers at Fort Hood allegedly retaliating against the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which he often referred to as “war on Islam”.

Furthermore, two US Muslim men were convicted of plotting to aid terrorists by filming landmarks around Washington DC and sending the clips as potential target sites to terrorists abroad.

These isolated examples of imported radicalism nonetheless fuel the latent prejudices of a minority convinced their 4 million Muslim American neighbours represent a treacherous fifth column of stealth jihadists ready to spontaneously ignite. Despite the visible existence of millions of practising American Muslims who belie this stereotype by never engaging in terrorism, let alone felonies or misdemeanors, a study by the Pew Research Centre found that 38% of all Americans say Islam is more likely to encourage violence than other religions. Continue reading