Saturday, December 12, 2009

NYTimes: "New Cases Test Optimism on Extremism by U.S. Muslims"

An interesting article. An extended excerpt:

"As the years passed after Sept. 11, 2001, without another major attack on American soil and with no sign of hidden terrorist cells, many counterterrorism specialists reached a comforting conclusion: Muslims in the United States were not very vulnerable to radicalization.

American Muslims, the reasoning went, were well assimilated in diverse communities with room for advancement. They showed little of the alienation often on display among their European counterparts, let alone attraction to extremist violence.

But with a rash of recent cases in which Americans have been accused of being drawn into terrorist scheming, the rampage at Fort Hood, Tex., last month and now the alarming account of five young Virginia men who went to Pakistan and are suspected of seeking jihad, the notion that the United States has some immunity against homegrown terrorists is coming under new scrutiny....

'The notion of a difference between Europe and United States remains relevant,' Mr. Leiken said. But the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the American operations like drone strikes in Pakistan, are fueling radicalization at home, he said....

'The longer we’ve been in Iraq and Afghanistan,' he said, 'the more some susceptible young men are coming to believe that it’s their duty to take up arms to defend their fellow Muslims....'

'To me, the most interesting thing about the five guys is that it was their parents that went immediately to the F.B.I.,' she said. 'It was members of the American Muslim community that put a stop to whatever those men may have been planning.' "

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