WESTERN MUSLIM JIHADISTS
Lawyer: Arkansas shooting suspect 'brainwashed'
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (CNN) -- The Tennessee man suspected in Monday's attack on a recruitment center in Little Rock, Arkansas, was brainwashed and tortured while imprisoned in Yemen, his lawyer said Thursday.
"My client is a young man, I think, brainwashed," attorney Jim Hensley told CNN. "What else could be explained for a young man who's a true American, plays football, helps his grandmother and mows the lawns of his neighbors? Comes back and then finds himself in this situation? That is not a normal situation in my book."
Abdulhakim Muhammad, formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe, is charged with killing Pvt. William Long, 23, of Conway, Arkansas, and wounding Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula, 18, of Jacksonville, Arkansas.
The 23-year-old convert to Islam has pleaded not guilty. But, according to court records, he told police that he had "political and religious" motives for the shooting.
In September 2007, Muhammad left Tennessee State University in Nashville, where he was studying business, and traveled to Yemen to teach English to children and to learn Arabic.
There, "he felt at peace with these people," even marrying a Yemeni, Hensley said.
But things began to change when his client was detained for a minor visa violation in Yemen and sent to prison, where he was housed with radical Islamic fundamentalists, Hensley said.
In November 2008, Muhammad was arrested in the port city of Aden for overstaying his visa and deported two months later in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy, a Yemeni official said.
There is disagreement about the time he was incarcerated. The lawyer said Muhammad told him he had served four months in prison.
Hensley said Muhammad told him that, during the last two weeks he was held, he was deprived of sleep and food and "was slapped around a little bit," enduring beatings on the backs of his legs.
During Muhammad's time in the prison, an FBI agent visited him not as an ally but as an interrogator, Hensley said.
However, Mohammed AlBasha, a spokesman for the Yemeni Embassy, rejected Hensley's assertion. "It is understood that the process of radicalization can take a number of years, not a couple of weeks," he said. "So, the statement that his lawyer made, that he was brainwashed and tortured for weeks in Yemen, are baseless."
The FBI agent "believed that Carlos was some kind of hardened terrorist hellbent on doing violence to America," Hensley said.
After he was released in January, Muhammad returned to Nashville, Tennessee, where his parents noticed their son was "fidgety, frustrated, can't sit still," Hensley said.
The same FBI agent approached him and threatened to put him under surveillance, "to do everything we can to cause you trouble," Hensley said.
A federal law enforcement source told CNN that the FBI was investigating Muhammad, but FBI spokesmen would not confirm any contact they might have had.
Hensley added that Muhammad's parents told him that, once he returned to Nashville, "he was a different human," one who blamed the United States for the war wounds suffered by some of the children whom he had taught, children without arms or legs.
He also blamed U.S. immigration policy for his inability to bring his bride back to the United States with him, Hensley said.
"A first-year psychology student would be able to see that this young man needed some help, and that wasn't offered him by anyone," Hensley said.
Muhammad eventually moved to Little Rock to help his father's Memphis tour business expand into Arkansas.
Just before the shooting, he was working out of a Hilton hotel in Little Rock in the family business, driving a sightseeing van.
Hensley said he was speaking to the news media because Muhammad had asked him to. "His agenda is different from mine; he wants to be a martyr," the lawyer said.
The case has attracted high-level attention, with President Obama saying Thursday in a written statement that he was "deeply saddened" by the shootings.
Federal agents said Wednesday that they were looking into whether Internet searches of various locations in several other U.S. cities were a sign that Muhammad was seeking "additional targets." The cities investigators included Atlanta, Georgia; Louisville, Kentucky; New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Memphis, Tennessee, where Muhammad grew up.
Hensley told CNN that his client was not the only person who was using the computer.
Muhammad is being held on a state count of capital murder and 16 counts of engaging in a terrorist act by firing into an occupied building.
Secrets of bomber's death tape
It was the video testament that shocked the world. Jason Burke, a leading expert on al-Qaeda, reveals what it tells us about terrorism
Sunday September 4, 2005
The image and the words have now become well known. A young Muslim man, his head swathed in a chequered red keffiyeh, utters the mantra of the modern suicide bomber: 'We are at war and I am a soldier.' He threatens a succession of attacks and explains why violence is necessary.
'Our words have no impact,' he says. 'Therefore I am going to talk to you in a language you understand. Our words are dead until we give them life with our blood.'
In the few days since excerpts from a new al-Qaeda video were broadcast first by the Qatar-based Arabic-language satellite channel, al-Jazeera, and then by TV stations all over the world, the message of Mohammad Sidique Khan, who blew himself up at Edgware Road underground station on 7 July, have been heard by hundreds of millions of people.
For many in Britain, the images, and particularly Khan's flat Yorkshire accent, are shocking. The short video testimony is the culmination of the long series of images, from family snaps to CCTV camera images, that have shown us, with growing focus, the 'homegrown' militant bombers who brought death and destruction to their own land. Now we have an adult British citizen explaining why he is prepared to kill and to die.
For some the images and the words are a visceral shock. They should not be. I have just spent three months making an hour-long BBC documentary on how modern Islamic militants use the media. My research, which took me across the Middle East from the Arabian Gulf to the Mediterranean, from meetings with militants to conversations with London TV executives, taught me much that helps explain the manufacture and the meaning of last week's tape.
Though analysis of the Khan tape continues, early indications are that it was made by al-Qaeda's in-house production team, al-Sahab. Al-Sahab, whose logo appears on the video, is a shifting group of individuals, not a single entity, who, over the last three years, have made a series of increasingly professional videos in different locations.
Video editing and copying facilities have been discovered in raids on militant hide-outs in Pakistan, Iraq and several other Middle Eastern countries. Digital technology means an expert can receive images by email that can be used to compile a tape on a laptop computer of broadcast quality. Nobody actually knows where the tape was filmed or made. In its amorphous structure, as much idea as organisation, al-Sahab resembles al-Qaeda itself.
These tapes have been aimed at a variety of audiences and by no means all have been broadcast. But the more notable, such as Osama bin Laden's 'address to the American people', released on the eve of the 2004 American presidential election, secured massive coverage.
That tape, like most others, was sent to al-Jazeera. The channel is not, as described in yesterday's tabloid press, 'Islamic' but an authentic and popular voice of local people. The militants know that getting material to the station means it will be both broadcast and believed. Many previous tapes have been sent to al-Jazeera's Islamabad bureau. Some have been left with gatekeepers or posted. One sat unopened on a secretary's desk for days before being broadcast. Last week's tape is understood to have been dropped off at al-Jazeera's multi-million pound studios in Doha, the capital of Qatar.
Yesterday, al-Jazeera denied reports that there was further footage of a second 7 July suicide bomber, Shehzad Tanweer, which they had not broadcast, and said that they had not yet received any request from British authorities to view tapes.
The question of how, when and where the various elements that form the tape were spliced together is likely to remain a mystery for some time. The footage of Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's close associate and the main strategist in al-Qaeda, was almost certainly filmed in recent months in the high hills of the Afghan-Pakistani border at a location where there was sufficient time and space to rig a video camera and, for the first time in such a video, arrange proper, if basic, lighting.
But it is very unclear where and when the footage of Khan was taken. Friends of the former school care assistant say that, from the young man's appearance, it was at least six months or a year ago. Some analysts point to the lack of a weapon, merely a pen, as indicating that it was filmed in the UK. However it is unlikely that anyone planning an attack in Britain would risk filming himself in the UK. The film may well have been taken in the western Pakistani cities and villages Khan visited between December and January.
Analysts are also looking at the tape to reveal more about the 7 July plot itself. Some say it indicates close direction by some kind of mastermind overseas; others, including most of the investigators and counter-terrorist officials, say there is no evidence of any such link. The truth is probably that the 7 July cell was autonomous but that the plotters at some stage sought logistical help, guidance or legitimisation from people closer to the al-Qaeda hardcore in southwest Asia.
Though recent al-Qaeda attacks, such as those in Madrid and Casablanca, have shown no connection to bin Laden or anyone close to him, others, such as the Istanbul attacks, have shown tangential links. These connections reflect the situation prior to the 2001 war in Afghanistan when young men from all over the world came to bin Laden in Afghanistan asking for aid with their own plans for attacks. Volunteers without ideas of their own were rejected.
If Khan had a relationship with more senior figures it is likely to have been on that basis. Radicalised and mobilised by 'al-Qaeda the idea' or 'al-Qaeda-ism' in Leeds, Khan would set off to find al-Qaeda, the actual organisation, exploiting both his roots in Pakistan and the UK's well-established support network for Pakistani radical groups, many connected to al-Qaeda, to facilitate meeting the right people. We already know that Khan met a militant from one such outfit shortly after his arrival in Pakistan. It is possible that further videos are being held back for future release.
However, though probably not filmed here, Khan's words are directed at Muslims in the West. Khan makes various points, in clear English devoid of religious rhetoric, reference to the Koran or Islamic history. He explains why civilians are targets, saying that in a democracy everyone bears responsibility for the government's actions. These, in this case, involve 'the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture' of Muslims. He rejects national identity in favour of the ummah, the global community of believers, explaining that the violence will continue as long as the government continues to 'perpetuate atrocities' against 'his Muslim brothers and sisters'. He also makes an important theological point often overlooked by Western observers but deeply relevant to activists who might be considering violence. He says bombs are justified because the ummah is under attack, violent resistance is an obligation on all believers and 'collateral damage' in the form of the death of innocents is thus acceptable. Where the tape is in Arabic, there are English subtitles - a first.
Yet most interesting is the clear influence of al-Zawahiri, who himself was heavily influenced by extremist European left wing revolutionary doctrines. Shortly after 9/11, al-Zawahiri cautioned militants of 'the vanguard' against 'getting killed in silence' and railed against 'the false consciousness' created by the media among the masses that ensured extremists remained a minority. In last week's tape Khan spoke of the 'propaganda machine' which aimed to 'scare the masses into conforming to their power and wealth-obsessed objectives'. And in talking about giving his words 'life with blood' Khan hinted at the influence of earlier secular activists, reformulating the concept of 'propaganda by deed' which guided the anarchist terrorists who struck all over Europe at the end of the 19th century.
This idea guided me as I made the BBC film. I found that, though militants of all stripes had been launching suicide attacks and hoping to publicise their deaths for centuries, the world is now facing an unprecedented challenge. Modern technology means that, instead of merely killing a couple of people, terrorists can use tiny charges from a distance to target mass transit systems and kill hundreds. It also means that their acts, and their deaths, are not witnessed merely by bystanders, as would have been the case with the suicidal assassins of the 12th century, or by the few who read the papers, as with the anarchists of the 19th century, but by hundreds of millions. At the same time modern communications technology means that governments can no longer control what people see - even when it is images of one of their own citizens being brutally executed. The result is that all Khan, al-Zawahiri and al-Qaeda need are some images, a computer and something of sufficient interest to make their statements newsworthy. The audience will then come to them, ready-made.
The Suicide Bombers Among Us
The 7/7 solution to an insoluble conflict
All terrorists, presumably, know the dangers that they run, accepting them as an occupational hazard; given Man’s psychological makeup—or at least the psychological makeup of certain young men—these dangers may act as an attraction, not a deterrent. But only a few terrorists use their own deaths as an integral means of terrorizing others. They seem to be a breed apart, with whom the rest of humanity can have little or nothing in common.
Certainly they sow panic more effectively than other terrorists. Those who leave bombs in public places and then depart, despicable as they are, presumably still have attachments to their own lives, and therefore may be open to dissuasion or negotiation. By contrast, no threat (at first sight) might deter someone who is prepared to extinguish himself to advance his cause, and who considers such self-annihilation while killing as many strangers as possible a duty, an honor, and a merit that will win ample rewards in the hereafter. And Britain has suddenly been forced to acknowledge that it has an unknown number of such people in its midst, some of them home-grown.
The mere contemplation of a suicide bomber’s state of mind is deeply unsettling, even without considering its practical consequences. I have met a would-be suicide bomber who had not yet had the chance to put his thanatological daydream into practice. What could possibly have produced as embittered a mentality as his—what experience of life, what thoughts, what doctrines? What fathomless depths of self-pity led him to the conclusion that only by killing himself and others could he give a noble and transcendent meaning to his existence?
As is by now well known (for the last few years have made us more attentive to Islamic concepts and ways of thinking, irrespective of their intrinsic worth), the term “jihad” has two meanings: inner struggle and holy war. While the political meaning connotes violence, though with such supposed justifications as the defense of Islam and the spread of the faith among the heathen, the personal meaning generally suggests something peaceful and inward-looking. The struggle this kind of jihad entails is spiritual; it is the effort to overcome the internal obstacles—above all, forbidden desires—that prevent the good Muslim from achieving complete submission to God’s will. Commentators have tended to see this type of jihad as harmless or even as beneficial—a kind of self-improvement that leads to decency, respectability, good behavior, and material success.
In Britain, however, these two forms of jihad have coalesced in a most murderous fashion. Those who died in the London bombings were sacrificial victims to the need of four young men to resolve a conflict deep within themselves (and within many young Muslims), and they imagined they could do so only by the most extreme possible interpretation of their ancestral religion.
Young Muslim men in Britain—as in France and elsewhere in the West—have a problem of personal, cultural, and national identity. They are deeply secularized, with little religious faith, even if most will admit to a belief in God. Their interest in Islam is slight. They do not pray or keep Ramadan (except if it brings them some practical advantage, such as the postponement of a court appearance). Their tastes are for the most part those of non-Muslim lower-class young men. They dress indistinguishably from their white and black contemporaries, and affect the same hairstyles and mannerisms, including the vulpine lope of the slums. Gold chains, the heavier the better, and gold front teeth, without dental justification, are symbols of their success in the streets, which is to say of illicit enrichment.
Many young Muslims, unlike the sons of Hindus and Sikhs who immigrated into Britain at the same time as their parents, take drugs, including heroin. They drink, indulge in casual sex, and make nightclubs the focus of their lives. Work and careers are at best a painful necessity, a slow and inferior means of obtaining the money for their distractions.
But if in many respects their tastes and behavior are indistinguishable from those of underclass white males, there are nevertheless clear and important differences. Most obviously, whatever the similarity between them and their white counterparts in their taste for sex, drugs, and rock and roll, they nevertheless do not mix with young white men, even in the neighborhoods devoted to the satisfaction of their tastes. They are in parallel with the whites, rather than intersecting with them.
Another obvious difference is the absence of young Muslim women from the resorts of mass distraction. However similar young Muslim men might be in their tastes to young white men, they would be horrified, and indeed turn extremely violent, if their sisters comported themselves as young white women do. They satisfy their sexual needs with prostitutes and those whom they quite openly call “white sluts.” (Many a young white female patient of mine has described being taunted in this fashion as she walked through a street inhabited by Muslims.) And, of course, they do not have to suffer much sexual frustration in an environment where people decide on sexual liaisons within seconds of acquaintance.
However secular the tastes of the young Muslim men, they strongly wish to maintain the male dominance they have inherited from their parents. A sister who has the temerity to choose a boyfriend for herself, or who even expresses a desire for an independent social life, is likely to suffer a beating, followed by surveillance of Stasi-like thoroughness. The young men instinctively understand that their inherited system of male domination—which provides them, by means of forced marriage, with sexual gratification at home while simultaneously freeing them from domestic chores and allowing them to live completely Westernized lives outside the home, including further sexual adventures into which their wives cannot inquire—is strong but brittle, rather as communism was: it is an all or nothing phenomenon, and every breach must meet swift punishment.
Even if for no other reason, then (and there are in fact other reasons), young Muslim males have a strong motive for maintaining an identity apart. And since people rarely like to admit low motives for their behavior, such as the wish to maintain a self-gratifying dominance, these young Muslims need a more elevated justification for their conduct toward women. They find it, of course, in a residual Islam: not the Islam of onerous duties, rituals, and prohibitions, which interferes so insistently in day-to-day life, but in an Islam of residual feeling, which allows them a sense of moral superiority to everything around them, including women, without in any way cramping their style.
This Islam contains little that is theological, spiritual, or even religious, but it nevertheless exists in the mental economy as what anatomists call a “potential space.” A potential space occurs where two tissues or organs are separated by smooth membranes that are normally close together, but that can be separated by an accumulation of fluid such as pus if infection or inflammation occurs. And, of course, such inflammation readily occurs in the minds of young men who easily believe themselves to be ill-used, and who have been raised on the thin gruel of popular Western culture without an awareness that any other kind of Western culture exists.
The dissatisfactions of young Muslim men in Britain are manifold. Most will experience at some time slighting or downright insulting remarks about them or their group—the word “Paki” is a term of disdainful abuse—and these experiences tend to grow in severity and significance with constant rehearsal in the mind as it seeks an external explanation for its woes. Minor tribulations thus swell into major injustices, which in turn explain the evident failure of Muslims to rise in their adopted land. The French-Iranian researcher Farhad Khosrokhavar, who interviewed 15 French Muslim prisoners convicted of planning terrorist acts, relates in his book, Suicide Bombers: Allah’s New Martyrs, how some of his interviewees had been converted to the terrorist outlook by a single insulting remark—for example, when one of their sisters was called a “dirty Arab” when she explained how she couldn’t leave home on her own as other girls could. Such is the fragility of the modern ego—not of Muslims alone, but of countless people brought up in our modern culture of ineffable self-importance, in which an insult is understood not as an inevitable human annoyance, but as a wound that outweighs all the rest of one’s experience.
The evidence of Muslims’ own eyes and of their own lives, as well as that of statistics, is quite clear: Muslim immigrants and their descendants are more likely to be poor, to live in overcrowded conditions, to be unemployed, to have low levels of educational achievement, and above all to be imprisoned, than other South Asian immigrants and their descendants. The refusal to educate females to their full capacity is a terrible handicap in a society in which, perhaps regrettably, prosperity requires two household incomes. The idea that one is already in possession of the final revealed truth, leading to an inherently superior way of life, inhibits adaptation to a technically more advanced society. Even so, some British Muslims do succeed (the father of one of the London bombers owned two shops, two houses, and drove a new Mercedes)—a fact which their compatriots interpret exactly backward: not that Muslims can succeed, but that generally they can’t, because British society is inimical to Muslims.
In coming to this conclusion, young Muslims would only be adopting the logic that has driven Western social policy for so long: that any difference in economic and social outcome between groups is the result of social injustice and adverse discrimination. The premises of multiculturalism don’t even permit asking whether reasons internal to the groups themselves might account for differences in outcomes.
The BBC peddles this sociological view consistently. In 1997, for example, it stated that Muslims “continue to face discrimination,” as witness the fact that they were three times as likely to be unemployed long-term as West Indians; and this has been its line ever since. If more Muslims than any other group possess no educational qualifications whatsoever, even though the hurdles for winning such qualifications have constantly fallen, it can only be because of discrimination—though a quarter of all medical students in Britain are now of Indian subcontinental descent. It can have nothing whatever to do with the widespread—and illegal—practice of refusing to allow girls to continue at school, which the press scarcely ever mentions, and which the educational authorities rarely if ever investigate. If youth unemployment among Muslims is two and a half times the rate among whites, it can be only because of discrimination—though youth unemployment among Hindus is actually lower than among whites (and this even though many young Hindus complain of being mistaken for Muslims). And so on and so on.
A constant and almost unchallenged emphasis on “social justice,” the negation of which is, of course, “discrimination,” can breed only festering embitterment. Where the definition of justice is entitlement by virtue of group existence rather than reward for individual effort, a radical overhaul of society will appear necessary to achieve such justice. Islamism in Britain is thus not the product of Islam alone: it is the product of the meeting of Islam with a now deeply entrenched native mode of thinking about social problems.
And it is here that the “potential space” of Islamism, with its ready-made diagnosis and prescriptions, opens up and fills with the pus of implacable hatred for many in search of a reason for and a solution to their discontents. According to Islamism, the West can never meet the demands of justice, because it is decadent, materialistic, individualistic, heathen, and democratic rather than theocratic. Only a return to the principles and practices of seventh-century Arabia will resolve all personal and political problems at the same time. This notion is fundamentally no more (and no less) bizarre or stupid than the Marxist notion that captivated so many Western intellectuals throughout the 20th century: that the abolition of private property would lead to final and lasting harmony among men. Both conceptions offer a formula that, rigidly followed, would resolve all human problems.
Of course, the Islamic formula holds no attraction for young women in the West. A recent survey for the French interior ministry found that 83 percent of Muslim converts and reconverts (that is, secularized Muslims who adopted Salafism) in France were men; and from my clinical experience I would bet that the 17 percent of converts who were women converted in the course of a love affair rather than on account of what Edward Gibbon, in another context, called “the evident truth of the doctrine itself.”
The West is a formidable enemy, however, difficult to defeat, for it exists not only in the cities, the infrastructure, and the institutions of Europe and America but in the hearts and minds even of those who oppose it and wish to destroy it. The London bombers were as much products of the West as of Islam; their tastes and their desires were largely Westernized. The bombers dressed no differently from other young men from the slums; and in every culture, appearance is part, at least, of identity. In British inner cities in particular, what you wear is nine-tenths of what you are.
But the Western identity goes far deeper. One of the bombers was a young man of West Indian descent, whose half-sister (in his milieu, full siblings are almost unknown) reports that he was a “normal” boy, impassioned by rap music until the age of 15, when he converted to Islam. It need hardly be pointed out that rap music—full of inchoate rage, hatred, and intemperance—does not instill a balanced or subtle understanding of the world in its listeners. It fills and empties the mind at the same time: fills it with debased notions and empties it of critical faculties. The qualities of mind and character that are attracted to it, and that consider it an art form worthy of time and attention, are not so easily overcome or replaced. Jermaine Lindsay was only 19, four years into his conversion from rap to Islam, when he died—an age at which impulsivity is generally at its greatest, requiring the kind of struggle for self-mastery that rap music is dedicated to undermining. Islam would have taught him to hate and despise what he had been, but he must have been aware that he still was what he had been. To a hatred of the world, his conversion added a self-hatred.
The other bombers had passions for soccer, cricket, and pop music. They gave no indication before their dreadful deeds of religious fanaticism, and their journeys to Pakistan, in retrospect indications of a growing indoctrination by fundamentalism, could have seemed at the time merely family visits. In the meantime, they led highly Westernized lives, availing themselves of all the products of Western ingenuity to which Muslims have contributed nothing for centuries. It is, in fact, literally impossible for modern Muslims to expunge the West from their lives: it enters the fabric of their existence at every turn. Usama bin Ladin himself is utterly dependent upon the West for his weaponry, his communications, his travel, and his funds. He speaks of the West’s having stolen Arabian oil, but of what use would oil have been to the Arabs if it had remained under their sands, as it would have done without the intervention of the West? Without the West, what fortune would bin Ladin’s family have made from what construction in Saudi Arabia?
Muslims who reject the West are therefore engaged in a losing and impossible inner jihad, or struggle, to expunge everything that is not Muslim from their breasts. It can’t be done: for their technological and scientific dependence is necessarily also a cultural one. You can’t believe in a return to seventh-century Arabia as being all-sufficient for human requirements, and at the same time drive around in a brand-new red Mercedes, as one of the London bombers did shortly before his murderous suicide. An awareness of the contradiction must gnaw in even the dullest fundamentalist brain.
Furthermore, fundamentalists must be sufficiently self-aware to know that they will never be willing to forgo the appurtenances of Western life: the taste for them is too deeply implanted in their souls, too deeply a part of what they are as human beings, ever to be eradicated. It is possible to reject isolated aspects of modernity but not modernity itself. Whether they like it or not, Muslim fundamentalists are modern men—modern men trying, impossibly, to be something else.
They therefore have at least a nagging intimation that their chosen utopia is not really a utopia at all: that deep within themselves there exists something that makes it unachievable and even undesirable. How to persuade themselves and others that their lack of faith, their vacillation, is really the strongest possible faith? What more convincing evidence of faith could there be than to die for its sake? How can a person be really attached or attracted to rap music and cricket and Mercedes cars if he is prepared to blow himself up as a means of destroying the society that produces them? Death will be the end of the illicit attachment that he cannot entirely eliminate from his heart.
The two forms of jihad, the inner and the outer, the greater and the lesser, thus coalesce in one apocalyptic action. By means of suicide bombing, the bombers overcome moral impurities and religious doubts within themselves and, supposedly, strike an external blow for the propagation of the faith.
Of course, hatred is the underlying emotion. A man in prison who told me that he wanted to be a suicide bomber was more hate-filled than any man I have ever met. The offspring of a broken marriage between a Muslim man and a female convert, he had followed the trajectory of many young men in his area: sex and drugs and rock and roll, untainted by anything resembling higher culture. Violent and aggressive by nature, intolerant of the slightest frustration to his will and frequently suicidal, he had experienced taunting during his childhood because of his mixed parentage. After a vicious rape for which he went to prison, he converted to a Salafist form of Islam and became convinced that any system of justice that could take the word of a mere woman over his own was irredeemably corrupt.
I noticed one day that his mood had greatly improved; he was communicative and almost jovial, which he had never been before. I asked him what had changed in his life for the better. He had made his decision, he said. Everything was resolved. He was not going to kill himself in an isolated way, as he had previously intended. Suicide was a mortal sin, according to the tenets of the Islamic faith. No, when he got out of prison he would not kill himself; he would make himself a martyr, and be rewarded eternally, by making himself into a bomb and taking as many enemies with him as he could.
Enemies, I asked; what enemies? How could he know that the people he killed at random would be enemies? They were enemies, he said, because they lived happily in our rotten and unjust society. Therefore, by definition, they were enemies—enemies in the objective sense, as Stalin might have put it—and hence were legitimate targets.
I asked him whether he thought that, in order to deter him from his course of action, it would be right for the state to threaten to kill his mother and his brothers and sisters—and to carry out this threat if he carried out his, in order to deter others like him.
The idea appalled him, not because it was yet another example of the wickedness of a Western democratic state, but because he could not conceive of such a state acting in this unprincipled way. In other words, he assumed a high degree of moral restraint on the part of the very organism that he wanted to attack and destroy.
Of course, one of the objects of the bombers, instinctive rather than articulated, might be to undermine this very restraint, both of the state and of the population itself, in order to reveal to the majority of Muslims the true evil nature of the society in which they live, and force them into the camp of the extremists. If so, there is some hope of success: physical attacks on Muslims (or on Hindus and Sikhs ignorantly taken to be Muslims) increased in Britain by six times in the immediate aftermath of the bombings, according to the police. It wouldn’t take many more such bombings, perhaps, to provoke real and serious intercommunal violence on the Indian subcontinental model. Britain teems with aggressive, violent subgroups who would be only too delighted to make pogroms a reality.
Even if there is no such dire an eventuality, the outlook is sufficiently grim and without obvious solution. A highly secularized Muslim population whose men nevertheless wish to maintain their dominance over women and need a justification for doing so; the hurtful experience of disdain or rejection from the surrounding society; the bitter disappointment of a frustrated materialism and a seemingly perpetual inferior status in the economic hierarchy; the extreme insufficiency and unattractiveness of modern popular culture that is without value; the readiness to hand of an ideological and religious solution that is flattering to self-esteem and allegedly all- sufficient, and yet in unavoidable conflict with a large element of each individual’s identity; an oscillation between feelings of inferiority and superiority, between humiliation about that which is Western and that which is non-Western in the self; and the grotesque inflation of the importance of personal existential problems that is typical of modern individualism—all ensure fertile ground for the recruitment of further “martyrs” for years to come.
Surveys suggest that between 6 and 13 percent of British Muslims—that is, between 98,000 and 208,000 people—are sympathetic toward Islamic terrorists and their efforts. Theoretical sympathy expressed in a survey is not the same thing as active support or a wish to emulate the “martyrs” in person, of course. But it is nevertheless a sufficient proportion and absolute number of sympathizers to make suspicion and hostility toward Muslims by the rest of society not entirely irrational, though such suspicion and hostility could easily increase support for extremism. This is the tightrope that the British state and population will now have to walk for the foreseeable future; and the sweet dream of universal cultural compatibility has been replaced, in a single day, by the nightmare of permanent conflict.
Inside the Mind of a Suicide Killer
By Dale Hurd
CBN News Sr. Reporter
CBN.com – (CBN News) - Muslim radicals are trying to kill as many infidels as possible, as well as themselves, to earn a martyr's reward in heaven. But that is not the only reason they kill.
Pierre Rehov, French-Israeli film director of a new documentary, “Suicide Killers,” said, “One thing most of them have in common is they really hate life.”
The documentary shows that they also kill for sex, and because their lives are terrible. Rehov exposes the psychopathology behind Muslim terrorism, and why some Muslim parents are happy to offer their children as martyrs.
“They cannot have a normal relationship with a woman,” Rehov commented. “They cannot go the movies. They don't like to have fun. When they become very extreme like the Taliban in Afghanistan, it's not even allowed [for them] to sing or to laugh.”
And Rehov said the suicide killer's war is against something bigger than the U.S., Israel, or the entire Western world.
“It is a fight between Islam and impurity. Impurity, meaning a lot of things, including some Muslims, including their women. You have to fight what is not pure,” Rehov explained.
Muslims who live in the West, like the bombers in Madrid and in London, must live amidst such impurity in societies that tempt young males with sex.
“Some Muslims are attacking a culture that, in most cases, they hate,” Rehov said. “A culture that brings them naked women on billboards, on television.”
Rehov portrays a Muslim male too young to marry, yet filled with sexual lust -- in a religion that does not allow them any contact with young women now, but promises them an orgy in heaven. It is so real and so enticing that German scholar Dr. Hans-Peter Raddatz has written that some suicide bombers have actually wrapped their genitals in fireproof aluminum foil to protect them from the bomb blast, and preserve them for the next world.
A dash-mounted camera inside a car captures the last minutes of a Saudi suicide bomber. He can be heard mumbling, `God is great,' just before an explosion tears his car to pieces.
By Western standards, the life of a young radical Muslim is frequently miserable. Often at its core is a sense of personal and national humiliation and powerlessness. They see Muslim lands under the boot of Israel and the West. Becoming a bomb offers the ultimate sense of power. And this jihad gives new meaning to the phrase, "Total War."
“Everybody is in the war -- including a two-year-old baby. If it's your own baby, he's a soldier; if it's the enemy's baby, he's a soldier as well, and can be killed,” Rehov said.
For his film, Rehov talked to a Palestinian boy, Husam, who tried to blow himself up when he was in the Intifada.
Husam remarked, “What I did, I wanted to become a martyr. I saw a friend, and I told him what I wanted. He agreed, and I put the belt on…and went to the checkpoint.”
But Husam failed in his mission, and is still disappointed. “This life does not interest me,” he said. “I prefer eternal life. I prefer the life that has been promised in paradise.”
A paradise for men, where what was forbidden on Earth is their reward.
“Like free sex, for instance,” Rehov said. “Kids don't have any possibility, any right to approach young women, young girls, under Islamic rules. In the afterlife, they end up with 72 virgins!”
And make their parents proud.
One mother said, “If I had a hundred (sons), I wouldn't hold them back from Allah.”
“They believe so strongly in the afterlife that they have no doubt about it. I talked to a mother in Gaza who basically was expecting a postcard from her son from heaven,” Rehov said.
A father said, “We brought up our kids, so they'd become martyrs. Nothing can make us change our minds. Nothing will stop us.”
The mother stated, ”It's given him, and our whole family, dignity.”
“We think in terms of 'he's dead so he's gone.' They think he's dead, so he's in a much better place at the highest level, close to God, and they personally see so much reward for that,” Rehov said.
And he said this war against impurity, this struggle against humiliation, and the longing for sexual fulfillment, will recruit millions of more suicide killers against the West.
Rehov explained, ”They are convincing kids who are looking for an identity. They are gaining tens of millions of kids who are willing to do it next time, because those kids believe that becoming a suicide bomber is as good as becoming a fireman, or a policeman, or an engineer.”
“I wanted to be a martyr for God and for homeland. God would have given me happiness in paradise. I would be given 72 virgins. He would have given me rivers of honey. No one can tell you how much you'll get when you are in paradise,” Husam said.
by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
December 6, 2005
Converts to Islam are taking over the terrorist operations previously carried out mainly by Muslim-born immigrants and their children.
This was dramatically illustrated when a Belgian convert to Islam, Muriel Degauque, 38, blew herself up near Baghdad on November 9 in a suicide attack on American troops, becoming the first Christian-born Western woman to kill herself for Islamist purposes. And of the fourteen people arrested because of connections to Degauque, half were converts to Islam. In neighboring Holland, a just published government report specifically worries about radicalized converts.
Islamist terror organizations particularly prize converts. They know the local culture and blend in. They cannot be deported. They can hide their religious affiliation by avoiding mosques, lying low, even drinking alcohol and taking drugs to maintain their cover. One guide counsels would-be suicide bombers going to Iraq to "wear jeans, eat doughnuts, and always carry your Walkman."
Converts who either carried out a terrorist operation or were jailed come from many Western countries. Here is a partial listing. (Converts as yet only suspected, arrested, or indicted will be listed in a separate article at my Web site, www.DanielPipes.org.)
· Australia: British-born Jack Roche, nine years in jail for trying to bomb the Israeli embassy in Canberra.
· France: David Courtailler, four years for abetting terrorists. Pierre Richard Robert, life for planning terrorist attacks in Morocco. Ruddy Teranova, three years for physically attacking a moderate Muslim.
· Germany: Steven Smyrek, seven years for planning a suicide mission for Hezbollah.
· Italy: Domenico Quaranta, twenty years for setting fire to a Milan subway station and trying to attack ancient Greek temples in Agrigento, Sicily.
· Netherlands: Jason Walters, the son of a black American father and a Dutch woman, belonged to the Hofstad Network and threw a hand grenade at police; his trial begins this week.
· United Kingdom: Germaine Lindsay, an immigrant from Jamaica, one of the London transport suicide bombers of July 2005, killing 26. Richard Reid, life for the "shoe bomber" who tried to bring down a Paris-to-Miami flight. Andrew Rowe, fifteen years for planning terrorist attacks.
· United States: Ryan Anderson, life for trying to aid Al Qaeda while serving as a National Guardsman. David Belfield, assassinated a former Iranian diplomat outside Washington and fled to Iran. Clement Rodney Hampton-el, 35 years for helping bomb the World Trade Center in 1993. Mark Fidel Kools, death sentence for "fragging" and killing two of his army officers. John Muhammad, death sentence for his role as the lead "Beltway Sniper." Randall Royer, twenty years for weapons and explosives charges "stemming from the investigation into a militant jihadist network in Northern Virginia." Five members of Jamaat ul Fuqra, a Pakistan-based group suspected of at least thirteen murders in America, jailed for up to 69 years.
Lorenzo Vidino reports in Al Qaeda in Europe (Prometheus) that the authorities find that "dozens of European converts have joined terrorist groups." Nor is the problem restricted to Western converts to Islam.
· In the Philippines, for example, one convert confessed to bombing a ferry in February 2004, killing over 100, and others are linked to an attempt to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Manila. More generally, the government charges that Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah use the Rajah Solaiman Movement, a group of converts, to carry out terror attacks.
· Non-Western converts move to the West and engage in terrorism there. Consider three American cases: Rashid Baz, born a Lebanese Druze, 141 years for murdering a Jewish boy on the Brooklyn Bridge. Wadih el-Hage, born a Lebanese Catholic, life without parole for his work with Osama bin Laden. John Samuel, born an Ethiopian Christian, awaits trial at Guantánamo, accused of entering the United States to terrorize for Al Qaeda.
The growing prominence of converts to terrorism means that such counterterrorism tools as looking for Muslim names or excluding potential terrorists at the border do not suffice. Instead, it is now also critical to know exactly who converts to Islam and to watch converts to see which of them are radicalized.
Even without becoming Muslims, some of the persons named above could have engaged in terrorism. But security in the West, the Philippines, and elsewhere requires coming to terms with a very awkward fact: Conversion to Islam substantially increases the probability of a person's involvement in terrorism.
My column yesterday, "Converts to Terrorism," delved into the issue of converts to Islam who engage in terrorism. Space constraints limited the information I could include, so here, I add to it in three ways: (1) providing names of converts suspected, arrested, or indicted of terrorism but who have not yet either gone into action or been convicted; (2) reviewing the matter of non-terrorist jihadis; and (3) summarizing a French intelligence report on converts to Islam.
(1) Yesterday's list included converts who had either engaged in or been convicted of terrorism. That leaves many other converts who have not yet reached either of those stages, including:
· Australia: David Hicks, accused of joining Lashkar-i Tayyiba. Shane Kent, a red-haired, light-skinned former rock musician who trained in an Afghan terrorist camp, was one of the seventeen terrorist suspects detained in November 2005. Joseph Terrence Thomas, accused of training with and financing Al-Qaeda.
· France: Willie Virgile Brigitte, accused of membership in Al-Qaeda and helping the Taliban murder Afghan leader Ahmed Shah Massoud. Jérôme Courtailler David), arrested with two other French converts, Johann Bonté and Jean-Marc Grandvisir, for a plot to blow up the American embassy in Paris. Lionel Dumont, blamed for several terrorist attacks, including one connected to a Group of Seven summit in 1996. (brother of
· Germany: Michael Christian Ganczarski, held in France for suspected ties to Al-Qaeda and involvement in a bombing in Tunisia in 2002.
· Switzerland: Albert Friedrich Armand Huber, designated a terrorist suspect by the U.S. government.
· United States: Adam Gadahn, sought in connection with "possible terrorist threats" against the United States. Three of four members in the Jam'iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh, accused of planning a terror spree in the Los Angeles area, are converts. Jose Padilla, accused of planning to "make an improvised dirty bomb," or a radiological dispersion device. Three members of an alleged group, Rafiq Sabir, Tarik Shah, and Mahmud Faruq Brent, are accused of pledging an oath to Al-Qaeda. The list of unindicted co-conspirators in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing includes two American Islamist star converts, Siraj Wahhaj and Bilal Phillips, and what appears to a number of lesser ones (Jack Hamrick, John Kinard, Frank Ramos, Kelvin Smith, Richard Smith).
In addition, Charles J. Bishop (original last name: Bishara) was a teenager who drove his small plane into a high-rise Tampa building after writing a suicide note professing admiration for Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 hijackers. It is not established, however, that Bishop converted to Islam.
(2) Many converts engage in jihad in such places as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, and Kashmir, generally acting more like soldiers than terrorists. (Those who go to Iraq or the Palestinian Authority, in contrast, are rank terrorists.) According to Bob Blitzer, who headed the FBI's first Islamic terrorism squad in 1994, "Between 1,000 and 2,000 jihadists left America during the 1990s alone." Some of them were converts.
Better known Americans of this description include John Walker Lindh, sentenced to twenty years for supplying services to and carrying arms for the Taliban; Earnest James Ujaama, two years for conspiring to provide goods and services to the Taliban; several members of the "Portland Seven" (Jeffrey Leon Battle, Patrice Lumumba Ford, October Lewis), up to eighteen years for trying to help the Taliban; and Aukai Collins wrote My Jihad, a book of memoirs. Other jihadi soldiers include Hiram Torres, who died in Afghanistan; Cleven Raphael Holt, who went to fight in Bosnia; and a mysterious young black convert from Atlanta known as Jibreel al-Amreekee, killed fighting the Indian Army in Kashmir. Converts of other nationalities also joined the jihad, such as Thomas Fischer of Germany, who died fighting in Chechnya.
(3) Shortly after the London bombings in July 2005, Le Monde reported on a study of converts by the intelligence service Renseignements généraux (RG) in "Les conversions à l'islam radical inquiètent la police française" (French police worried about conversions to radical Islam). Looking at 1,610 French converts, it found no typical profile of the convert. That said, one-third of them have police records and 10 percent of them converted in prison. Converts are 83 percent male and have a median age of 32 years. The RG study finds that close to 13 percent "converted for socioeconomic reasons," often to improve commercial relations with the Muslim community; nonetheless, more than half of them are unemployed. Tabligh Jamaat and the Wahhabis converted 28 and 23 percent, respectively, of the French to Islam, 44 percent of converts are Islamist, and 3 percent are suspected to "belong to or have gravitated to the violent Islamist movement."
In conclusion, I repeat my yesterday's finding: Conversion to Islam substantially increases the probability of a person's involvement in terrorism.
Female Muslim Suicide
Bomber Struggled With Life
Friday, December 2, 2005
By Sebastian Rotella Los Angeles Times
PARIS -- The first woman European Islamic convert to commit a suicide bombing in Iraq was a former bakery worker from a middle-class Belgian family who joined her husband in an extremist network that sent them to fight and die, authorities said Thursday.
The Belgian woman died Nov. 9 during a car-bomb attack on a U.S. troop convoy. Authorities identified her Thursday as Muriel Degauque, 36, a native of a town near the industrial city of Charleroi in southern Belgium.
Degauque’s father is a retired factory worker, and her mother is a secretary, officials said. Degauque struggled with drug problems in her youth, married a Muslim and converted to Islam in her early 20s, they added. She plunged into fundamentalism several years ago with her second husband, a Moroccan-born extremist identified as Issam Goris.
“This was not a very young woman, but she was fragile psychologically,” said a top Belgian law-enforcement official involved in the investigation, who requested anonymity for security reasons.
Degauque’s mother, Lilliane, learned of her daughter’s death Wednesday as police arrested 14 suspects in four Belgian cities and one near Paris. The mother told journalists she had not been able to reach her daughter by telephone for weeks. She said Goris and her daughter had been obsessive zealots, pressuring relatives to shun television, cigarettes and alcohol and withdrawing into a secretive world.
“She was totally anchored in that religion,” the mother told Le Parisien newspaper. “She lived only for that. She learned Arabic. ... She was very secretive, with a very independent character. I am furious at those who manipulated her.”
Determined to become “martyrs” together, the couple made an odyssey by car from their home in Brussels across Europe through Turkey and into Iraq, U.S. and Belgian investigators said.
After the car-bombing north of Baghdad, which slightly injured one soldier, U.S. troops found Degauque’s passport. Her husband died in a subsequent firefight when Belgian police wiretaps helped lead U.S. troops to a hide-out near the western Iraq city of Fallujah.
Although experts said the suicide attack by a European woman convert to Islam is a first, they predicted it would not be the last.
“You will see pressure coming from the women themselves,” said Marc Sageman, a forensic psychologist at the University at Pennsylvania and former CIA officer. “They are just as dedicated to the cause as the guys are. I argue that not only will it happen again, it’s almost a certainty.”
Degauque’s case represents a logical step in the rise of women, especially converts, on the front lines of extremism. Women usually play support roles as wives or relatives of male militants, who enforce the strict separation of the sexes. But active women “jihadi” extremists have turned up in recent cases in Europe. Several female suspects, including a former Dutch police officer, were arrested last year in an alleged plot to assassinate Dutch political leaders.
Women converts represent an explosive convergence of Western and fundamentalist culture, Sageman said. Militants who abide by fundamentalist guidelines have found religious justification for giving women combat roles.
“Because these guys pattern themselves after the times of the prophet (Muhammad) and his companions, there were some women on the battlefield getting killed at that time,” he said. “If they want an interpretation (in religious texts), they can find it.”
by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
March 14, 2006
[NY Sun title: "The Quiet-Spoken Muslims Who Turn to Terror"]
"Individual Islamists may appear law-abiding and reasonable, but they are part of a totalitarian movement, and as such, all must be considered potential killers." I wrote criticized for them ever since. But an incident on March 3 at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill suggests I did not go far enough. those words days after September 11, 2001, and have been
That was when a just-graduated student named Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, 22, and an Iranian immigrant, drove a sport utility vehicle into a crowded pedestrian zone. He struck nine people but, fortunately, none were severely injured.
Until his would-be murderous rampage, Mr. Taheri-azar, a philosophy and psychology major, had a seemingly normal existence and promising future. In high school, he had been student council president and a member of the National Honor Society. The Los Angeles Times writes that a number of UNC students found him "a serious student, shy but friendly." One fellow student, Brian Copeland, "was impressed with his knowledge of classical Western thought," adding, "He was kind and gentle, rather than aggressive and violent." The university chancellor, James Moeser, called him a good student, if "totally a loner, introverted and into himself."
In fact, no one who knew him said a bad word about him, which is important, for it signals that he is not some low-life, not homicidal, not psychotic, but a conscientious student and amiable person. Which raises the obvious question: Why would a regular person try to kill a random assortment of students? Mr. Taheri-azar's post-arrest remarks offer some clues.
He told the 911 dispatcher that he wanted to "punish the government of the United States for their actions around the world."
He explained to a detective that "people all over the world are being killed in war and now it is the people in the United States' turn to be killed."
He said he acted to "avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world."
He portrayed his actions as "an eye for an eye."
A police affidavit notes that "Taheri-azar repeatedly said that the United States government had been killing his people across the sea and that he decided to attack."
He told a judge, "I'm thankful you're here to give me this trial and to learn more about the will of Allah."
In brief, Mr. Taheri-azar represents the ultimate Islamist nightmare: a seemingly well-adjusted Muslim whose religion inspires him, out of the blue, to murder non-Muslims. Mr. Taheri-azar acknowledged planning his jihad for more than two years, or during his university sojourn. It's not hard to imagine how his ideas developed, given the coherence of Islamist ideology, its immense reach (including a Muslim Student Association at UNC), and its resonance among many Muslims.
Were Mr. Taheri-azar unique in his surreptitious adoption of radical Islam, one could ignore his case, but he fits into a widespread pattern of Muslims who lead quiet lives before turning to terrorism. Their number includes the hijackers responsible for the attacks of September 11, the London transport bombers, and the Intel engineer arrested before he could join the Taliban in Afghanistan, Maher Hawash.
A Saudi living in Houston, Mohammed Ali Alayed, fit the pattern because he stabbed and murdered a Jewish man, Ariel Sellouk, who was his one-time friend. So do some converts to Islam; who suspected a 38-year-old Belgian woman, Muriel Degauque, would turn up in Iraq as a suicide bomber throwing herself against an American military base?
This is what I have dubbed the Sudden Jihad Syndrome, whereby normal-appearing Muslims abruptly become violent. It has the awful but legitimate consequence of casting suspicion on all Muslims. Who knows whence the next jihadi? How can one be confident a law-abiding Muslim will not suddenly erupt in a homicidal rage? Yes, of course, their numbers are very small, but they are disproportionately much higher than among non-Muslims.
This syndrome helps explain the fear of Islam and mistrust of Muslims that polls have shown on the rise since September 11, 2001.
The Muslim response of denouncing these views as bias, as the "new anti-Semitism," or " Islamophobia" is as baseless as accusing anti-Nazis of "Germanophobia" or anti-Communists of "Russophobia." Instead of presenting themselves as victims, Muslims should address this fear by developing a moderate, modern, and good-neighborly version of Islam that rejects radical Islam, jihad, and the subordination of "infidels."
More on the North Carolina Jihadi, Mohammed Taheri-azar
In " Sudden Jihad Syndrome," I looked at the case of Mohammed Taheri-azar's attempt to kill students at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill by driving a rented Jeep Cherokee into a campus plaza on March 3, drawing conclusions about free-lance jihadis who appear out of nowhere and go on a rampage. I did so with just the barebones of information about the perpetrator and will report as more becomes public about his background and his attempted murder spree.
To start with, a local television station made available today a handwritten letter that Taheri-azar wrote on March 10 from prison, responding to its request for an interview, in which he explained his goals in the attack (thanks to PipeLineNews for the digital version):
March 10, 2006
111 Liberty St.
Durham, NC 27701
In the name of Allah, the merciful the compassionate
Dear Ms. Rupinta:
I've included a visitor's application. I left a one page letter for the police in the bedroom of my apartment at 303 Smith Level Rd. A-34 but in brief;
I live with the holy Koran as my constitution for right and wrong and definition of injustice.
The Koran also spelled Quran is a scientific and mathematical miracle so there can be no doubt that it is from a supernatural source, i.e. Allah the creator and controller of all things. Those who follow the Koran, i.e. the truth, are members of one family, as the Koran states. Allah in the Koran gives permission for those who follow Allah to attack those who have waged war against them, with the expectation of eternal paradise in case of martyrdom and/or the living of one's life in obedience of all of Allah's commandments found throughout the Koran's 114 chapters.
I've read all 114 chapters about 20 times since June of 2003 when I started reading the Koran. The U.S. government is responsible for the deaths and torture of countless followers of Allah, my brothers and sisters. My attack on Americans at UNC-CH March 3, was in retaliation for similar attacks orchestrated by the U.S. government on my fellow followers of Allah in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and other Islamic territories. I did not act out of hatred for America but out of love for Allah instead. I live only to serve Allah by obeying all of his commandments of which I am aware by reading and learning the contents of the Koran.
I would be glad to have an on-camera interview.
Comment: That sentence about "I did not act out of hatred for America but out of love for Allah" deserves special pondering.
Then a local newspaper, the Herald Sun, published a second letter from Taheri-Azar:
Mohammad Reza Taheri-Azar
1300 Western Blvd.
Raleigh, NC 27606
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate
Dear Ms. Velliquette;
To get right to the point, I will answer each of your questions:
The Koran, the truth from Allah, the creator of all things, dictates in numerous places, e.g. Chapter "Muhammad," that Allah's followers have permission to attack these who have waged war against them, with eternal paradise as an expected reward so long as Allah's followers abide by all commandments listed throughout the Koran. The fact that the Koran is a scientific and mathematic miracle proves that it is from a supernatural source.
Judging by the U.S. government's continuing invasions and killing of my fellow followers of Allah in Islamic territories in the Middle East, even after the deaths of more than 1,000 U.S. soldiers, I concluded that I didn't want to attack in the Middle East since there would likely be no significant change in the U.S. government's military presence in Islamic territories.
I therefore decided to attack within the U.S. borders, hoping that the U.S. government would understand that my fellow followers of Allah will do everything necessary to defeat our enemies, even giving up a college degree from UNC Chapel Hill, as I did myself.
I have no hatred for anyone. I only act out of love for Allah and I never hesitate to do as Allah has commanded in the Koran, which I have read all 114 chapters of approximately 15 times now, beginning in June 2003.
In response to the 9/11/2001 attacks, I have always believed that the U.S. government should have immediately seeked peace instead of war.
I discussed my plans with no one but Allah when I prayed to him in the days prior to March 3rd.
I turned myself in to assure the world that I wasn't some insane person who went on a killing rampage suddenly.
With Allah's help, I am prepared and will be prepared for a life sentence. I only fear and only respect Allah.
Please see to it that this letter is broadcast throughout the world in its entirety.
(Mar. 14, 2006)
Mar. 16, 2006 update: The News & Observer makes available much additional biographical detail, all of which adds up to Taheri-azar sounding like a normal teenager with no hints of his future career as an ideological murderer.
Taheri-azar, a U.S. citizen, was born in Iran. His parents, Lily and Latif, were married in Tehran in 1972, but divorced in 2003, records show. Mohammed was the middle child with older and younger sisters. … The upper middle class household wasn't overtly religious, friends said. At South Mecklenburg High School, Taheri-Azar wore polo shirts and khakis, did not drink alcohol, ate fast food and played video games. "He was somewhat socially awkward, not to the point that he would shy away from people, but he would never make an effort to go out," said Justin Kirschbrown, a UNC-CH senior and high school classmate who also worked with Taheri-azar at a Best Buy in Charlotte.
He was reserved—"He didn't even cuss," said Sean Cordova, another high school friend—but also stubborn. Taheri-azar was known for making provocative comments in class, just to challenge teachers. "He would dig his heels in even when he was in the wrong," said Phillip Bush, a classmate at South Mecklenburg and UNC. "In high school, you kind of respected it."
Cars revealed a wild side. Taheri-azar claimed to have gotten his license at 12 and talked about driving cars in the Iranian desert, Kirschbrown said. "That was the thing with Mo—you never knew if he was lying," Kirschbrown said last week. A South Mecklenburg yearbook caption labeled him "South's Speedster." In his souped-up Eagle Talon, Taheri-azar would race on Charlotte's highways, often topping 100 mph, friends said. "I think he had the fastest car in school," said Cordova, who remembered watching Taheri-azar lose control in a street race, resulting in two 360-degree turns on a Charlotte highway. Between 2001 and 2003, police ticketed Taheri-azar four times for unnecessary honking, driving down the middle of two lanes of traffic, and failure to obey directions at a police checkpoint. He was last ticketed in June 2003 for traveling at 74 mph in a 45-mph zone along N.C. 54 in Carrboro.
At UNC-CH, Taheri-azar spent time with high school friends at first. He and his first freshman year roommate—a friend from South Mecklenburg—didn't get along, and Taheri-azar moved out in fall 2001. Taheri-azar dropped out the next semester, UNC officials said, but he re-enrolled that summer. He volunteered as an emergency department aide at UNC Hospitals in 2001-2002 and 2004-2005, said Stephanie Crayton, a spokeswoman for UNC Health Care. He did menial chores—stocking medical supplies, fetching wheelchairs and delivering food trays.
In his sophomore year, he was set to move in with another high school acquaintance, Philip Brodsky, but started hanging out with a different group. Brodsky rarely ran into Taheri-azar after that. At one point, out of the blue, Taheri-azar sent e-mail to old friends. "I think the e-mail was like, ‘We haven't talked in a while but we used to be friends. I just wanted to say if I ever did anything to offend you, I'm sorry,' " Brodsky recalled.
Taheri-azar graduated from UNC-CH in December, and apparently had considered graduate school, but at the time of the attack, he was working on Franklin Street in a sub shop.
As for the attack itself:
Police say he plotted the attack for months. About two weeks before, Taheri-azar went shopping for an SUV—a Porsche Cayenne, some of which cost more than $110,000. He strolled into Performance Automall in Chapel Hill. "He just came in and looked at them, ... said he might want to buy one," said Scott Trombley, retail sales manager. In the end, Taheri-azar rented a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
And about Taheri-azar's motives and plans, from a letter he wrote to a News & Observer reporter, received on March 15:
It was fair for me to attack those people because, whether they claim to or not, they support the U.S. government as long as they are in its territory and they are not attacking it to overthrow it, attacking by physical and violent force, to be exact. … If Allah wills, I will plead guilty to all 18 charges currently against me and I expect a life term in prison.
Taheri-azar clamed that the Koran permits him to "to punish the U.S. government, the enemy of my brothers and sisters in religion." He looks forward to using his court proceedings to broadcast his message to the world.
Mar. 24, 2006 update: The letter Mohammed Taheri-azar left in his apartment for police to find on March 3 has now been published in full.
In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate.
To whom it may concern:
I am writing this letter to inform you of my reasons for premeditating and attempting to murder citizens and residents of the United States of America on Friday, March 3, 2006 in the city of Chapel Hill, North Carolina by running them over with my automobile and stabbing them with a knife if the opportunities are presented to me by Allah.
I did intend to use a handgun to murder the citizens and residents of Chapel Hill, North Carolina but the process of receiving a permit for a handgun in this city is highly restricted and out of my reach at the present, most likely due to my foreign nationality.
I am a servant of Allah. I am 22 years of age and I was born in Tehran, Iran. My father, mother and older sister immigrated to the United States in 1985 when I was two years of age and I've lived in the United States ever since.
I attended elementary, middle and high school in North Carolina and I was accepted into the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I began my college career in August 2001 and graduated in December 2005 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and philosophy with Allah's help.
I do not wish to pursue my career as a student any further because I have no desire to amass the impermanent and temporary fame and material wealth this world has to offer. However I made the decision to continue my studies and to graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill so that the world will know that Allah's servants are very intelligent.
Due to the killing of believing men and women under the direction of the United States government, I have decided to take advantage of my presence on United States soil on Friday, March 3, 2006 to take the lives of as many Americans and American sympathizers as I can in order to punish the United States for their immoral actions around the world.
In the Qur'an, Allah states that the believing men and women have permission to murder anyone responsible for the killing of other believing men and women. I know that the Qur'an is a legitimate and authoritative holy scripture since it is completely validated by modern science and also mathematically encoded with the number 19 beyond human ability. After extensive contemplation and reflection, I have made the decision to exercise the right of violent retaliation that Allah has given me to the fullest extent to which I am capable at present.
I have chosen the particular location on the University campus as my target since I know there is a high likelihood that I will kill several people before being killed myself or jailed and sent to prison if Allah wills. Allah's commandments are never to be questioned and all of Allah's commandments must be obeyed. Those who violate Allah's commandments and purposefully follow human fabrication and falsehood as their religion will burn in fire for eternity in accordance with Allah's will.
Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar
Mar. 25, 2006 update: Taheri-Azar's older sister Laila read a statement to the press after the conclusion of his probable cause hearing yesterday. She
described her brother as a "kind, gentle and pure soul," and as someone who loved animals, fishing, camping and race cars. He wouldn't permit people to kill "a spider, a fly, a roach" in his presence. She said Taheri-Azar, a U.S. citizen who was born in Iran, had moved to the United States with his family when he was 2. He speaks no Arabic and only rudimentary Farsi, the native language of most Iranians that is not related to Arabic.
Laila Taheri-Azar said the family condemned her brother's actions and was shocked and saddened by them. She apologized to the victims on behalf of the family. "We beg of you not to rush to judgment," she said, adding that the family was concerned about her brother's state of mind.
A recruiter in every house
June 4, 2006
In March 2004, a 16-year-old Spanish high school dropout helped provide 20 kilos of stolen explosives to Islamic terrorists who used it to bomb commuter trains in Madrid that month, killing 191 people.
In November of the same year, Dutch-born Mohammed Bouyeri shot filmmaker Theo Van Gogh eight times, slit his throat and stabbed him through the chest in an Amsterdam suburb, leaving behind a note in which he threatened to destroy Holland, Europe and the United States.
In July 2005, a group of four young British Muslims attacked the London transit system, killing 52 people in bus and subway bombings. "Until you stop bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people, we will not stop this fight," vowed one in a video testament.
These deadly attacks traumatized Europe. And they were all the more distressing because the perpetrators were young Western men who had not travelled hundreds of kilometres to fight foreign governments but killed their own compatriots in cold blood. People alongside whom they lived, and whose paths they may have crossed in the European cities they call home.
Canada has so far been immune to post-9/11 terror attacks. But yesterday's news of sweeping arrests of suspected Canadian terror recruits, many of whom were tracked through their Internet activity, has sent a chill through a country that has managed to stand aloof from the mayhem that has devastated both the United States and Europe, as well as countries throughout the Middle East and Asia.
"We are seeing ... the emergence of homegrown second- and third-generation terrorists," Canadian Security and Intelligence Service director Jack Hooper told a senate committee last week. He warned of young Canadians who become radicalized and "are virtually indistinguishable from other youth ... (appearing), for all intents and purposes, well assimilated."
Some may shake their heads in disbelief that ordinary Canadian youths would mount a terrorist attack on a Canadian city, in spite of the fact police seized enough chemicals and equipment to make a bomb larger than the one that destroyed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 and killed 168 people.
The vast majority of Muslims would be equally shocked. "As Canadian Muslims, we unequivocally condemn terrorism in all of its forms," Karl Nickner, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Canada, said yesterday. "Canada is our home and we are deeply concerned about the safety of our country."
But those who track international terrorism say that Islamic recruitment of the young and restless is a growing Western phenomenon.
And it is one that has changed dramatically over the past decade as the Internet makes it increasingly easy for anyone with a home computer to connect to militant groups, ideologues, trainers and technical experts who can supply information on the targeting and bombing of victims.
A recent report by the Simon Wiesenthal Center says the number of "terror and hate websites, newsgroups, blogs, chat rooms and online clubs has surged above 6,000, representing a 20 per cent spike over last year."
"The Internet has become a `virtual university' for terrorists, with manuals from how to build a `dirty bomb' and poisons, to tutorials on how to use global-positioning devices or attack a motorcade," the report concluded.
Although international security forces have been baffled by the growth of middle-class recruitment in Western countries, it is well established that access to computers and the Internet is higher in middle-class households than in poor ones, allowing otherwise ordinary young people to make contact with militants they would not normally encounter.
It is no longer necessary for international terrorist recruiters to infiltrate ethnic communities, earmarking likely young men for training. Nor do would-be radicals have to risk arrest by traveling to far-flung training camps, when the information they need to carry out operations is at hand.
A study by the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation showed that since 1999 the number of 8- to 18-year-olds who have a home computer has escalated from 73 per cent to 86 per cent in the United States.
Furthermore, 74 per cent now have Internet access, compared with 47 per cent seven years ago. Consequently, many parents find it difficult to stay in touch with their children's browsing habits.
The shock that parents of the London bombers felt when they discovered their sons were responsible for the death of dozens of people reflects the feeling of many hard-working immigrants whose children appear to be well integrated into their communities, but who become radicalized by the images they see on television and the Internet.
Few will progress beyond letting off steam in ideological blogs. But those who do may plan violent operations in secret, communicating with experienced terrorists by computer.
Others, like some of the British bombers, eventually gravitate to local mosques and meeting places, where recruiters await them with invitations to "study sessions" and training camps. The most promising win deadly assignments at home and abroad.
"I had to come here because such terrible things are happening to the Muslim people," said a teacher in his mid 20s who turned up at a meeting organized by a radical Islamic group in a suburban town in the British Midlands during the 2001 war in Afghanistan.
"They are bombed and attacked by the West. We have to fight them or they will kill us everywhere," he said, adding that he had come to join the battle.
Like many other concerned young people — often the most sensitive, rather than the most violent, in their communities — he toggled between his TV set and his computer, scanning the latest news on Afghan losses.
But as the war in Iraq broke out, the focus shifted to new bombings, shocking images from Abu Ghraib prison, and reports of torture at Guantanamo Bay.
"What we're seeing is a new kind of radicalism that is not practised by people who are poor and oppressed but by the young and middle-class," says Olivier Roy, author of Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah. "They are not going to the streets but to the Internet for their inspiration."
For the agitated, horrifying images that fuel anger are not difficult to find, even in the mainstream media. As the popularity of the war in Iraq declines in America, reports of suspected atrocities are delivered almost daily — the latest the killing of two dozen civilians in Haditha last November by U.S. Marines.
Canada's refusal to join the war in Iraq has made it less vulnerable to the worldwide explosions of outrage that have been directed at the U.S. and Britain. But its involvement in southern Afghanistan, where Taliban fighters are battling to regain control, has put it in the line of fire.
Al Qaeda has warned of reprisals if Canada stays in Afghanistan. And last week, Taliban spokesman Mullah Dadallah said that Canada and other countries that have no history of conflict with Afghanistan should stay away. "Our advice to these countries," he told the al Jazeera network, "is to avoid the heat of battle because we will wreak vengeance upon them one by one."
To impressionable young people, such warnings may be powerful, especially if they feel adrift and powerless in their own country. Turning to religious extremism for solutions is natural, says Palestinian psychiatrist Eyad al Sarraj, who has watched numerous young people join militant groups when their parents are unable or unwilling to fight.
"They identify with the ultimate figure: God," he says. "Why God? Because in contrast to their original father, God cannot be humiliated. He can only be a figure of dignity. God can only be victorious. If you die for God, you don't really die."
Although young middle-class Canadian Muslims are not living under siege, they may still seek an authority figure they can respect, if their parents appear weak or unconcerned with the "life and death" issues they believe are facing Muslims worldwide, say a number of experts.
Second- or third-generation Canadians may be more vulnerable than their older relatives to the pull of radicalism, the experts say, as their parents are absorbed in the struggle to survive and prosper in a new country.
"That has caused an adolescent loss of identity and a search for some kind of stability," says Ronald Crelinsten, a Europe-based senior research associate at the University of Victoria's Centre for Global Research. "If they don't find it in their parents, they turn to an authority figure, somebody who tells them things are black and white."
The messages left by some suicide bombers are dramatic and confused, but they show an unblinking hatred of Western "violence" and mistreatment of Muslims, fuelled by extremist dogma.
However, such anger is often difficult to detect before attacks are mounted. The split between the recruits' routine daily lives and their isolated emotional lives makes it difficult for Western security services and policy makers to detect who is a threat, let alone take action to stop them.
Last week's arrests show that tracking the Internet may yield the most immediate results.
"There is a new form of warfare that we will have to learn how to deal with," says Mary Kaldor, co-director of the London School of Economics' Centre for the Study of Global Governance.
"Up to now, policy makers have not understood the characteristics and treated them like traditional wars. The motivation may be a mixture of identities, such as religion or ethnicity. But the main characteristic is that violence is directed against civilians."
July 9, 2006 — - Adam Gadahn, al Qaeda's English-speaking spokesman who calls himself Azzam al-Amriki, or Adam the America, has become a powerful propaganda tool for the terror organization.
Gadahn resurfaced this week in an al Qaeda video released on the anniversary of the London bombings.
"No sane Muslim should shed tears for them," he said of al Qaeda's Western victims. "And they should blame no one but themselves because they are the ones who started this dirty war."
Gadahn's career as a jihadist seems to be taking off, and his prominent role may signal a change in strategy by al Qaeda as they seek to exploit mistakes by the West and gain new recruits among populations in Europe and the United States. In his last video, Gadahn was filmed without a mask, unlike previous propaganda tapes.
"It shows that they're getting more sophisticated," said Jessica Stern, author of "Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill." "They're getting better at propaganda. That's bad news. The absence of a disguise, to me, shows a new media savvy. It's a transformation in the type of recruit they're aiming at."
Gadahn was last seen in September 2005 when al Qaeda released a video to mark the 9/11 anniversary in which he made threats against Melbourne, Australia, and Los Angeles. Although he is not wanted in connection with any terrorist acts, he is wanted for aiding al Qaeda.
In 2004 former Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller put him and seven others on a "most wanted list" of people plotting terrorist attacks to upset that year's presidential election.
Gadahn's militancy and hatred of his native country and culture makes many people wonder how a man raised in California became one of the FBI's most wanted terrorists?
Raised on this goat farm near Orange County, he was born Adam Pearlman in 1978. His Jewish father changed the family name to Gadahn when he converted to Christianity.
As a teenager, family members say Adam struggled and turned first to heavy metal music, then to Islam.
Haitham Bundakji, an elder at the Orange County mosque where Gadahn studied his new faith, recalled how the young convert fell in with a group of other men at the mosque who may have been affiliated with al Qaeda.
"He was more to himself than anything else, and he was shy," Bundakji said. "We thought they were studying the Koran, which is our scripture, and things of that nature, and learning about Islam. That's what we thought originally."
Stern, who interviewed many young terrorists for her book, said she found that all felt wronged or humiliated in some way and were searching for an identity.
"Extremist religion provides that," she said. "Everything black and white, either with us or against us. It's very comforting because you don't have to ask yourself, 'Why is my life not living up my expectations?' You can just blame it all on some injustice. That's exactly what he's speaking to."
Gadahn left for Pakistan in 1998. He may have crossed paths with fellow Californian John Walker Lindh, who also joined al Qaeda but was captured by American forces. His family says they had no clue he'd become involved in al Qaeda.
"I am surprised as everyone else," said his father, Philip Gadahn. "Even when he was keeping in touch with us, he would send us a card every six months when he was traveling around."
Now, the only messages from Gadahn are vehemently anti-American statements that encourage violence.
"We love nothing better than the heat of battle, the echo of explosions and slitting the throats of infidels," Gadahn said. "If it's hard to imagine that any compassionate person could see pictures, just pictures of what the crusaders did to those children, and not want to go on a shooting spree at the Marines housing facilities at Camp Pendleton."
Stern said the problem is that Gadahn actually sounds somewhat reasonable. He is speaking about horrible acts that may or may not have been committed by American troops in Iraq, such as the alleged murder of 24 people in Haditha and the alleged premeditated rape of Iraqi woman and the killings of her and her family.
"This is our worst nightmare in a way, because incidents like that play right into the hands of people like this, who will use it as an opportunity to draw new recruits to the jihadi cause," Stern said.
ABC News' Kate Snow contributed to this report.
ABC News Internet Ventures
Muslim Converts: Why Do They Choose Extremism?
By Mohammed Al Shafey
Saturday 19 August 2006
London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The discovery of an alleged plot to bomb ten UK transatlantic flights last week and the revelation that three recent converts to Islam planned to use liquid explosives has once again placed British Muslims under the spotlight.
Twenty-three suspects have been arrested so far, including five who live in Buckinghamshire, three of whom recently converted to Islam.
Abdul Waheed, 21, was arrested at a house in High Wycombe. He changed his name from Don Stewart-Whyte six months ago, after converting to Islam, through two of his friends, who have also been arrested.
Scotland Yard is currently analyzing what drove these British citizens to espouse terrorism and join a Pakistani cell, whose members are, for the majority, originally from Kashmir. Britain’s police fears that new converts joining extremist Islamist groups are difficult to apprehend, as they are British-born and can travel freely in Europe and North America.
Among those who have embraced a radical form of Islam is Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan origin, who was the only person in US custody convicted of taking part in the September 11 attacks, currently serving a life sentence in a Colorado high security prison.
The police in Britain fear that new converts might seek to follow in the footsteps of Richard Reid, a British citizen and the so-called “shoe-bomber”, who converted to Islam whilst in prison, and David Hicks “the Australian Taliban”, currently detained in Guantanamo Bay. Reid planned to bomb a transatlantic flight using an explosive device hidden in his shoes in December 2001. He is serving a life sentence.
Security sources believe that Moussaoui and Reid were introduced to radical Islam whilst attending mosques in London, notably Finsbury Park mosque in north London.
Nicholas Luke, 24, who converted to Islam in 2006, said his father, a university professor, looked at him with contempt after he was given the news of his son’s conversion and said, “There is a Muslim now in our house.’
In an article published in the New York Times, Nicholas, who changed his name to Mahdi, said extremist organizations such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir and Al Muhajiroun were active amongst new converts at Leeds University and sought to recruit them.
After becoming Abdul Waheed, Stewart-Whyte’s life changed drastically. The son of a Conservative politician made new friends, grew a beard and married a Moroccan woman, all in the space of six months.
One of the leading recent converts to Islam is Yahya Burt, a researcher at the Center for Islamic Studies at the University of Leicester, the son of Lord John Burt, a former Director-General of the BBC. He told Asharq Al Awsat, “Many converts are landowners, famous personalities and rich people.”
For many British, Burt is a Malcolm X figure. He told Asharq Al Awsat on Thursday that the number of converts to Islam is estimated at 16,000, 40% of whom are black.
Considered one of the faces of moderate British Islam, Yahya said, “There are many stars in British society who have converted to Islam but fear discussing the changes that occurred in their lives because this might have a negative impact on their work or relationship to society.”
Other Muslims converts include Yvonne Ridley, the British journalist who was held captive by the Taliban and converted upon her release in 2001. The internationally renowned singer Cat Stevens also converted to Islam in 1977 after a near-death experience and changed his name to Yusuf Islam.
On the other hand, Asharq Al Awsat met Abu Abdullah al Turki, who converted to Islam and espoused fundamentalist ideology, becoming Abu Hamza’s successor at the helm of “Ansar al Shariaa” group in Britain. He remains faithful to his Egyptian teacher, the former Imam at Finsbury Park mosque who is now in Belmarsh prison. Ten years ago, Islam transported him “from darkness to light,” he told Asharq Al Awsat.
The British national refused to reveal his name at birth. Despite living in Britain for many years, he described the country as “the Land of war” or “the Land of Kufr,"(disbelief).
The 42-year-old of Turkish-Cypriot origin was born in Peckham, in southeast London. A former gold trader and shop owner, he now spends his time spreading fundamentalist ideas. He first started attending religious classes under a prominent convert to Islam, a Jamaican called Sheikh Faisal, the first imam to be detained by the police in Britain and sentenced to seven years behind bars for inciting to kill Jews, Hindus and American citizens. However, it was not until he met Abu Hamza al Masri that his ideas crystallized. “I was attracted by his courage and audacity and his fluent Arabic and English,” he said of the Finsbury Park Mosque imam.
Abu Abdullah firmly believes that Shariaa law will be applied in Britain, even if it takes two hundred years. He denied being arrested by the police adding that he advises new converts to Islam to be rational and not to give anyone a chance to exploit them in matters they might be condemned for. He said that clashes with the police were about to become rivers of blood when the Finsbury Park Mosque was raided, but he asked his followers to be rational and to entrust their matters to the authorities. He emphasized that he has nothing to hide from the police “but God has given me the acumen and experience so that I do not fall into the hands of the police.”
He expressed his regret that that his group had lost control of the mosque in north London which used to be considered the epicenter of fundamentalist Muslims across Britain, in favor of a more moderate Muslim group. “Ansar al Shariaa does not have an exclusive mosque or pulpit from which to preach in Britain but salvation is coming.”
“We are not a group in the common sense of the term as we do not have an emir, in the Shariaa sense, and we have not declared our support to anyone. We do not have military or political wings. We are solely a peaceful preaching group that calls on people to correct Islam and to disprove the suspicions cast against it.”
Wearing a long tunic and a turban, Abu Abdullah said, “I only have regard for God and I don’t care about the stares of the non-believers.”
Before becoming a practicing Muslim, Abu Abdullah used to listen to famous Turkish singers and pop music, which he now shuns, choosing instead to listen only to recitations of the Quran and Islamic songs, which remind Muslims of their glorious history.
“It hurts me what is happening to Muslims around the world from massacres, tragedies and oppression in Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan. I feel that Muslims are the victims in conflict zones across the world.”
As for the Irish fundamentalist Khalid Kelly, the former leader of al Muhajiroun in Ireland, he converted to Islam during a spell in a Saudi jail, in 2000, charged with producing and selling alcoholic drinks, which are illegal in the kingdom. “It’s unbelievable to think that someone can change from Islam to extremism in six months,” he told Asharq Al Awsat.
Commenting on the transformation of Stewart-Whyte into Abdul Waheed in six months and his alleged role in the plot to bomb transatlantic jetliners, Kelly said, “Six months is not enough to teach him the five basic tenants of Islam and prayer. How can one person become, 6 months after converting to Islam, an alleged terrorist, as the media is claiming? This is closer to a ready-made scenario by the British police.” "Extremists and terrorists don’t trust us white people who convert to Islam until six years have passed, at least.”
He told Asharq Al Awsat of his own experience traveling to Pakistan after huge parts of the country suffered terrible destruction following a deadly earthquake in October 2005. He then planned to travel to Afghanistan but many in Peshawar warned him that, because of the color of his skin and appearance, the Taliban might detain him and ask for a ransom or kill him if they believe he is an American spy.
Born Terence Edward Kelly, he told Asharq Al Awsat how he lost his job at one of London’s major hospitals, St Thomas’, after rumors were circulated about him being “the Taliban nurse”.
He also said he was still in touch with his sheikh and former teacher, Omar Bakri Mohammed, the firebrand preacher who left London for Beirut, following the July 7 attacks on the subway system.
Describing his journey from skepticism to belief, or as he called it “from darkness to light,” Kelly said, “the journey started with the illegal production of alcoholic drinks in Saudi Arabia whilst I was working as a nurse at the King Faisal hospital.” He converted to Islam whilst in jail in Riyadh.
Speaking to Asharq Al Awsat on Wednesday, he said he used to hate Islam and especially the sound of the call to prayer. Nowadays, after his life changed radically, he prays at an east London mosque and enjoys spending time with his five-month old son Osama, from his marriage to a Pakistani Muslim.
“Before Islam, I didn’t know the meaning of love. (Muslim love = death for infidels) I used to be like other British young men, drinking and going out, but when I read the Quran in 2000, whilst in jail, I felt a huge surge of compassion and sympathy. I feel now that what led me to Islam was God’s mercy and sympathy. It’s something bigger than myself and I can’t explain it with words.”
Some people believe that converts to Islam whose former lives were extreme are more likely to become fundamentalists after espousing the new religion. However, experts in European Islam note that a tumultuous life does not necessary lead people to become extremists and indicate that several complex elements are at play, perhaps most importantly the presence of extremist preachers who prey on recent converts and lead them astray.
U.S. Accuses Six Men of Plotting to Attack Fort Dix
By David Voreacos and Chris Dolmetsch
May 8, 2007 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. authorities arrested six men identified as ``Islamic radicals'' on charges of plotting to kill American soldiers at the Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey.
The men were arrested last night and charged with conspiring to use machine guns and other weapons in a planned attack that was thwarted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They scouted military bases, trained with weapons and discussed killing soldiers, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Camden, New Jersey.
``There is no evidence that they received direction from an international terrorism organization,'' White House spokesman Tony Snow said today. ``There is no direct evidence of a foreign terrorist plot.''
The arrests followed a 15-month undercover investigation by the FBI that began after an individual went to a retail store seeking to make a copy of a DVD depicting 10 young men shooting assault weapons while shouting ``God is Great'' in Arabic, according to a complaint filed yesterday in Camden.
On Jan. 31, 2006, a store official notified the FBI about the DVD, the complaint said. Federal agents used two informants to record meetings and phone calls with the suspects as they weighed attacks on several military bases before settling on Fort Dix, the complaint said. The base, in central New Jersey, is located about 20 miles from the state capital in Trenton.
Four of the suspects were born in the former Yugoslavia, one is from Jordan and another from Turkey, according to Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie.
The six men are scheduled for an initial appearance today in Camden federal court. Christie will hold a news conference at 2:30 p.m. in Camden.
One of the FBI informants, identified in the complaint as CW-1, developed a relationship with Mohamad Shnewer, one of the accused men, federal authorities said. Shnewer gave the informant a DVD with ``various jihadist images,'' according to the complaint.
Shnewer told the informant to review two other video files stored on his laptop computer, including ``what appears to be the last will and testament of at least two of the hijackers'' involved in the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the complaint said.
Another video showed ``images of Osama bin Laden and other Islamic extremists making various speeches in which the speakers call the viewer to join the jihadist movement,'' court papers said.
Besides Shnewer, the complaint identifies the suspects as Serdar Tatar, Dritan Duka, Eljvir Duka, Shain Duka, and Agron Abdullahu. The alleged conspirators believed that Abdullahu was a sniper in Kosovo and that CW-1 had experience in the Egyptian military, the complaint said.
Shnewer showed the other informant, CW-2, ``a number of videos'' on his laptop that ``depicted armed attacks on and the killing of United States military personnel,'' the complaint said.
At meetings with CW-1 in early August, Shnewer said that he, Tatar and the three Dukas were part of a group planning to attack a U.S. military base, specifically Fort Dix, and a nearby naval base, the complaint said.
Schnewer said six or seven jihadists could kill at least 100 soldiers by using rocket-propelled grenades or other weapons, and that they could train in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, according to court papers.
`Not Afraid to Die'
``Shnewer also said that he and others in the group had saved money to pay for the weapons and that they were not afraid to die,'' the complaint said.
A few days later, CW-2 asked Shnewer ``what made him think of Fort Dix as a target,'' the complaint said. Shnewer replied: ``My intent is to hit a heavy concentration of soldiers.''
In mid-August 2006, Shnewer and CW-1 scouted the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey and the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the complaint said.
The informants recorded many conversations with the Dukas as they discussed plans to buy rocket-powered grenades and machine guns, the complaint said. Tatar told CW-1 that he would get a map of Fort Dix from his father's pizzeria near the facility.
The Duka brothers rented a house in Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania, and traveled there in early February with Abdullahu to practice firing the weapons, the complaint said.
`Kill American Soldiers'
CW-2 met with Dritan and Shain Duka on March 10, when the informant asked about Tatar, the complaint said.
``Shain Duka explained that Tatar wanted to join the U.S. Army so that he could kill U.S. soldiers from the `inside,''' the complaint said. ``When CW-2 asked about Tatar again, Dritan Duka remarked, `He had only one mind, how to kill American soldiers.'''
The Dukas later said that, ``rather than waging jihad overseas, they could do so in the United States,'' the complaint said.
The case is USA v. Dritan Duka, 07-m-2046, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Camden).
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