The Global War On You Know Who

"The West is facing a concerted effort by Islamic jihadists, the motives and goals of whom are largely ignored by the Western media, to destroy the West and bring it forcibly into the Islamic world -- and to commit violence to that end even while their overall goal remains out of reach. That effort goes under the general rubric of jihad."
-- Robert Spencer

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Jihad -- Everyone's Doing It!

By now, we've heard of numerous Western "reverts" to Islam -- and noticed that most of them wind up as jihadi radicals. Hasan Akbar, John Walker Lindh, John Allen Muhammad, Adam Gadahn, Ryan Anderson, Muriel Degauque, the list goes on and on.

They seem to have something else in common too: a serious case of anomie. In his 1897 book Suicide, Emile Durkheim found that industrialization in Western Europe was eroding social cohesion, resulting in higher levels of alienation and suicide. Religion played a role too: Protestants, with a weaker support structure, were more prone to suicide than Catholics. I know -- duh -- but this was groundbreaking stuff back then. And it remains a true today; Sid Vicious and Kurt Cobain are GenX's textbook cases.

Now, however, disaffected and mentally unstable young Westerners have somewhere to turn other than drugs and punk rock: Islam. For example, Mumin al-Bayda ("The White Muslim") is a 29-year-old Dutch ex-anarchist named Erik. He explains his conversion after a trip to India, where he where he made friends with a Muslim who sensed his rootlessness, flattered his ego, and made him feel part of a group:
Suddenly my Indian friend exclaims that he regarded me more a Muslim then he regarded many Muslims which where there. Everyone was surprised, when he said that according to him I lived already much like a Moslem. . . . All these talks inspired me enormously, I had been busy for years with the matter of the heart and felt myself at home in an Brotherhood like environment. But then I didn’t realized that. The realization came later. In August/November 2002 I lived and worked in Belgium. All we talked about was business, all we did was business. I felt so homeless, the way of live was so hollow, I felt so empty, so “dirty” those days. In that difficult period I made the decision to take part in the Ramadan.
Adam Gadahn ("Yahiye") tells a similar story:
I had become obsessed with demonic Heavy Metal music, something the rest of my family (as I now realize, rightfully so) was not happy with. My entire life was focused on expanding my music collection. I eschewed personal cleanliness and let my room reach an unbelievable state of disarray. My relationship with my parents became strained, although only intermittently so. I am sorry even as I write this.

Earlier this year, I began to listen to the apocalyptic ramblings of Christian radio's "prophecy experts." Their paranoid espousal of various conspiracy theories, rabid support of Israel and religious Zionism, and fiery preaching about the "Islamic Threat" held for me a strange fascination. Why? Well, I suppose it was simply the need I was feeling to fill that void I had created for myself. . . . I began to look for something else to hold onto.

I discovered that the beliefs and practices of [Islam] fit my personal theology and intellect as well as basic human logic. Islam presents God not as an anthropomorphic being but as an entity beyond human comprehension, transcendent of man, independant and undivided.
Now he's suspected of working with al-Qaeda and wanted by the FBI.

John Walker Lindh, "the American Taliban," was a quiet suburban kid who's now doing 20 years for fighting against US forces in Afghanistan.
What led a "bright and quiet" middle-class child from California to fight against his fellow Americans in a far-off country?

A neighbour quoted by the Washington Post described the Lindhs as a "Birkenstock family... very earnest, very nice, very intellectual." When John was 10, the family moved to Marin County, one of California's wealthiest counties and often caricaturised as "hot-tub haven".

In California he attended what has been described as an elite alternative high school, where students were allowed to shape their own studies.

At some point in his mid teens, John Walker is said to have stopped visiting hip hop internet sites and to have begun exploring Islamic ones instead. His parents believe his interest in Islam may have been sparked by the autobiography of Malcolm X, which he read when he was 16. That same year he told his parents he wanted to convert to Islam and he began attending a mosque.

He studied the Koran, adopted the name Sulayman and started wearing a long white robe and a turban. He also got rid of his collections of hip hop and rap CDs.

In 1998, when his parents were splitting up, John Walker asked them for money to go to Yemen. He said it was the best country to learn the "pure" dialect of Arabic used in the Koran.

After a year in Yemen, he was back in California, studying at a San Francisco mosque. But his friends there say he seemed restless and no longer felt comfortable in the US.

John Walker then told his parents he would enroll at a madrassa in the village of Bannu, in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier province. His teacher, Mufti Mohammad Iltimas said he was a model student. In his conversations with him, he said, John Walker talked about feeling alone in the US and "comfortable and at home" at the madrassa. However, not even at the madrassa did he seem to like socialising, reportedly saying it was a waste of time.
Note that these aren't just garden-variety teenage rebels who get into Marilyn Manson and black nail polish and then clean up their act and go to college. They fit the Columbine profile: they're quiet, they're loners, and they're already known to be wired a little wrong. The fruit of Islam, ripe for the picking.


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