There is a problem affecting the world, and despite many years of trying by many nations, this problem is growing at an alarming pace. The problem is jihadism. Jihad, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary, is “a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty; also: a personal struggle in devotion to Islam especially involving spiritual discipline.”
First, let’s look at some recent jihad events.
Boston, 15 April 2013 – Two brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev used a two homemade bombs to kill three people and injure an estimated 264 others near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Tamerlan was shot several times when police caught up with them and Dzhokhar ran over him in his escape in a stolen vehicle. Dzhokhar was apprehended on 19 April.
Denver, 10 September 2014 – Colorado teenager Shannon Conley was arrested for support of ISIS. She pled guilty of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. She was arrested attempting to fly to Turkey with the intent of going to Syria to help ISIS.
Oklahoma City, 26 September 2014 – A recent convert to Islam, Alexander Nolen, who had been fired from his job took retribution, using Islam as his excuse. He asked Colleen Hufford if she wanted to convert to Islam. When she said no, he stabbed her repeatedly and then severed her head. He went on to attack Traci Johnson who survived only because one of the business’s managers, an off-duty sheriff’s deputy, shot Nolen, ending the attack.
This is only a sampling of events that have happened in the US by Americans attempting to engage in jihad.
This morning a local Colorado Springs TV station ran a CBS piece in which academic researchers report that there is a greater threat in Europe from homegrown terror than there is in America. These academics are pointing to the acceptance by Americans of other cultures and the distance of the US from the Middle East as reasons for this low likelihood. This CBS report quotes some interesting statistics.
A 2011 poll of Muslim Americans by the Pew Research Center found that 70 percent of Muslim Americans held negative views of al Qaeda in 2011, compared to 58 percent in 2007. Just five percent indicated favorable or somewhat favorable views of al Qaeda.
That is a very encouraging statistic until you put actual numbers into the equation. Data pulled from the 2010 census reveals that there were 2.6 million Muslims living in the US. That figure is over twice the number living in the US in the 2000 census. If only five percent of the Muslims living here in 2010 have a favorable view of al Qaeda, that means that 130,000 Muslims in America have a favorable view of al Qaeda. Conventional wisdom says that those who have a favorable view of al Qaeda also have a favorable view of jihad. Percentage-wise five percent sounds pretty good. However, looking at 130,000 individuals, the view changes a bit.
A friend of mine forwarded an article out of the World Tribune.com that was published on 9 January 2015. The report titled “Special Report: Ready or not, the Paris jihad has begun, and will widen” outlines the lives of the Paris jihadists, Cherif and Said Kouachi. Both were born in Paris of French-Algerian parents. They grew up in the French welfare system and became radicalized in the French-Algerian section of Paris. The most telling paragraph of the article is:
The Kouachi brothers are French. They are France-born second/third-generation Muslim-Maghrebis who were nurtured and educated by the French welfare state. During the attack, they spoke with no accent. They pronounced the names of the key people in the Charlie Hebdo correctly as they worked their way through the offices to find and execute them. They also knew Paris traffic patterns and back roads very well as demonstrated by their successful escape. The Kouachi brothers are thus the real face of the up-and-coming younger generation of West European Islam.
This is telling because of who the Kouachi brothers were. They were French. They were home-grown.
The likelihood of the same happening in the US is no less just because we are 3000 miles farther from the Middle East than France is. As illustrated in the three examples above, citizens of any country can be radicalized. Muslim recruiters are hard at work all over the West targeting teens and young adults to go to the Middle East to train and fight as reported by the International Business Times this morning in the article, “ISIS Recruiting Westerners: How the ‘Islamic State’ Goes after Non-Muslims and Recent Converts in the West.” Once they have proven their loyalty to ISIS or al Qaeda, these new American fighters are prime subjects for importation back into the US to carry out jihad.
To conclude that we are safe from jihad-motivated crimes here on American soil, in our cities, while at work or at home, and to look at those crimes done in the name of Allah as isolated, unusual events is a perfect example of the ostrich syndrome. Am I saying that these attacks will take place tomorrow, next week, or next year? I have no idea but I am sure that there are many law enforcement and intelligence agents working that very problem.
Can the average citizen be prepared in the event of the inconceivable? The answer is yes. Resolve to be aware of your surroundings. Keep up with current events and trends. Train yourself to recognize evil for what it is. Be trained and carry a sidearm where legal and appropriate. In the Oklahoma City example the only thing that stopped the attacker was a responsibly armed citizen.
For information about advanced training options, contact Falcon Personal Security.