In early November 2009, a Muslim US Army major killed 13 soldiers at Fort Hood and the United States, like so many other Western Nations, was served with a stark reminder of some unpleasant facts.
Many Western Nations, particularly the English speaking ones, have a long and successful tradition of incorporating newcomers from different backgrounds into their own communities. The process hasn’t been perfect, but the ‘melting pots’ of such different cities as New York, Winnipeg, Sydney, London and Amsterdam took people from many nations and traditions and turned them into Americans, Canadians, Australians, Britons or Dutchmen.
The world faced some horrific experiences of widespread racial and ideological violence during the first half of the 20th Century. Murderous tyrannies emerged in that time and over 160 million people died from 1914, when World War I began, to the death of Stalin in 1953. Perhaps it was realized that the English-speaking world was best able to weather the storms that raged from 1914 to 1953, and its standards, such as they were, were seen as a good model to imitate. Since then, particularly in the western world, there has been a sustained effort to inculcate tolerance and openness in our societies.
Judo’s adherents learn to use opponent’s strength against them. When an attacker shoves a ‘Judoka’, the martial artist uses the attacker’s own strength to arrange a throw that sends the aggressor sprawling on the floor. It is not an uncommon strategy in other fields of human endeavour and nature, as always, provides similar examples. Think of an animal trapped in the coils of a boa constrictor or someone mired in quicksand; pointless struggle only brings the end faster.
“Heads I win, tails you lose.”
Terrorism in the traditional Marxist revolutionary model brings a similar dilemma. As Maurice Tugwell, the founder of the Mackenzie Institute and one of the British Army’s more experienced soldiers in confronting revolutionary warfare, pointed out; the terrorist offers the society he attacks a choice of “Heads I win, tails you lose.” An attacked society can try to ignore the terrorism, in which case the violence will become even more provocative, or their authorities crack can down hard outside of the law, sometimes losing their moral advantage while weakening their own democratic institutions and traditions.
In the last 40 years, Western nations have encouraged an atmosphere of tolerance and have instructed their citizens not to discriminate against those with different beliefs and of different races. Results have been mixed, but the ugliness of the first half of the 20th Century has not resurfaced. While opportunistic demagogues have occasionally stoked tensions, lynching and pogroms have not been seen, nor have forced evacuations of minorities. The instruments of genocide and mass murder have been entirely absent from western society. Some grievances are often contrived and while we like to imagine all of our citizens are equally law-abiding, criminality is not uniform. Even in those minorities with an above-average disposition towards lawless behaviour, most live and work quietly.
The Western society that emerged in the late 20th Century was far from perfect, but by the standards of the experience of the vast majority of mankind in most times and places, we have been exceptionally tolerant, fair, prosperous and just. Now, these strengths are being used against us.
In most of humanity, tolerance demands small lies and social fictions. In any educational setting or sodality, members normally overlook small faults among each other. Polite society sometimes requires not stating the obvious about each other and small aggravations are usually ignored for the greater harmony. The social peace that Westerners have enjoyed for several decades was achieved through the use of similar tactics writ large. Unfortunately, we overlooked some of Islams’s fundamental elements when Muslims started to settle among us.
A long explanation of the flaws and weaknesses in Islam will not follow here. They have been explored elsewhere and readers may wish to consult Ibn Warriq, Nonie Darwish, Hirsi Ali, or Irshad Manji for themselves or read the works of Bernard Lewis, Robert Spencer, Bat Ye’or or Daniel Pipes. As for the remarkably poor ability of most Muslim societies to provide prosperity and freedom for their own members, the objective Arab intellectuals who detailed the Arab World’s failings in a series of devastating reports for the UN can speak for themselves.
The United States, Canada and Australia, and to a lesser extent, Britain and Holland, have a long record of successful assimilation and adaptation for many new arrivals. Other Western European nations were unused to receiving immigrants before the Post War Era, although almost all of them have some small experience predating modern times. However, at no time have the most successful nations of immigrants ever had to face the direct countervailing influence on assimilation processes that attends Muslims.
The Saudi-based Dawa, the parallel Tablighi Jamaat organization and radicalized Shiite clerics from Iran have been striving to inhibit that necessary degree of cultural assimilation that would eventually let Muslims adapt successfully to life in the West.
In most immigrant communities, it can be assumed that the group has assimilated when children are as likely to marry outside of their ethno-cultural group as they are within it. Usually it is the grandchildren of immigrants that reach this stage. In Islam, however, a woman that marries a non-Muslim is an apostate and will probably face ostracism — if not death.
Newcomers to a society might not accept its legal institutions and framework at first and that was what allowed the Italian Mafia and Irish criminal gangs to feed on their communities in the early 20th Century. However, with time and exposure, crime rates do come down. The Dawa and Tablighi Jamaat, however, are pushing hard on every possible front for the inclusion of Sharia Law… believing that their religion’s legal traditions are pre-eminent and naturally superior to any man-made law in the West. This doesn’t encourage a respect for our laws and systems.
The traditional immigrant narrative is to work hard, fit in and make things better for your children. While remembrance of traumas and/or resentments are often brought with them, they are seldom, if ever, directed against their new society. Contrast this with the narrative directed from the Dawa and other sources inside the Islamic world.
‘Home grown’ Jihadis
Varying Muslim narratives exist to tell their young, particularly those unsure of their own identity, that they will never fit in but there is no blame placed where they might have any personal failings and/or inadequacies. Instead, they are told that Western Nations, and particularly the US and Israel, hate Islam and would destroy it. Personal failings and inadequacies are not assigned blame in their narrative and they are told “Brother, they are keeping us down and fear the perfection of our religion, because they are decadent and weak. You can be strong, you can be the future.”
Narratives tell the cowardly that they can be heroes, the failed that they can achieve glory, and the weak that they can be strong. Every radical ideology has its version of the narrative but the Islamic one is especially pernicious. This is how we get ‘home grown’ Jihadis and they have increased in numbers for almost 20 years.
This is how Ahmed Ressam, a petty crook from Algeria, became an al Qaeda member in Montreal. This is how a confused criminal like Richard Reid converted to Islam and tried to blow up an airliner with explosive impregnated in his shoe. This is how Momin Khwarja, a software designer from Ottawa, started designing detonators for truck bombs. This is how 15 year old Omar Khadr ended up in combat with our allies in Afghanistan.
Throughout Western Europe, the United States, Australia and Canada, the mechanisms that inhibit young Muslims from adapting to life in the West have helped them to self-radicalize and then to train and indoctrinate themselves. All the modern paraphernalia of communication have been harnessed to provide access to materials and to occasionally facilitate networking between the self-radicalized who are in different nations.
The Dawa, Tablighi Jamaat, and militant Shiia clergy contain individuals who occasionally link up some of these ‘Home-Growns’ with training and coaching in rural Pakistan, remote corners of Somalia, or in Hizbollah cantonments in Lebanon.
Since Islamic terrorism first came to Western notice with the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing and the Bojinka plot to simultaneously blow-up over a dozen airliners, the ‘Home-Growns’ have been integral partners with the trained cadres of militant Sunnis and Shiias. ‘Home-Growns‘ delivered the truck bomb that should have brought down one of the WTC towers in 1993, and became increasingly obvious in France as Algerian Fundamentalists tried to widen their conflict in the early 1990s.
They are still coming!
It has been eight years since the 9/11 bombings startled the world. Of over 200 home-grown plots throughout the Western World since then, only three have successfully delivered mass casualties. These were the 1994 Madrid bombings, the 7/7 London subway bombings, and Major Hassan’s 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood. Our public and news media have grown almost fatigued about the continuing plots and attempts.
Failure does not discourage the ‘Home-Growns.’
‘Home-Growns’ are belittled and trivialized, often by their own community. It seems almost automatic whenever more arrests occur that a message is delivered about how they were disenfranchised and marginalized youths. There is never a word about how they marginalized themselves deliberately. Canadians might be aware of the coverage of the “Toronto 18.” Because they are often depicted as poor, naive youths who were only posturing, the threat they posed seems somehow diminished. Terrorists are not born fully fledged and sinister; they all start as naïve amateurs.
In contrast to the Marxist urban guerilla of yesteryear who were content with simple Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs, Home-Growns are ambitious. They work to kill large numbers of people with their first actions. The “Toronto 18” would have killed hundreds of Canadians in downtown Toronto had their plans achieved fruition. The aspiring 2007 Haymarket bombers (Kafeel Ahmed who was working on his PhD in engineering and Dr. Bilal Abdullah was a surgeon) would have incinerated a nightclub packed with hundreds of young Britons if they had only got their detonator to work properly in their first attempt at terrorism.
Poor bumblers can still kill enormous numbers of people.
The Western World’s defences are weakening. Public fatigue with terrorism is settling in and people pay less attention to the threat. This means that urgency and the resources spent for counter-terrorism measures are diminishing. The strategists who helped form the Jihadist movement knew this would happen eventually. Moreover, that broad network of ‘activists’ and apologists for the movement has been acting in concert with the West’s own left-wing ‘progressives’ to restrain the efficiency of our defences.
One effect is that Jihadists keep getting closer and closer to actually delivering their attacks before being detected. The Haymarket bombers did deliver their attack and hundreds of club goers were spared only by a technical malfunction. Major Hasan was broadcasting danger signals and nobody did anything until he opened fire. Young men from the Somali community in North America are now slipping away to join the Jihad and we only learn of it when they die abroad…
Would-be Jihadists are often slow learners and given their predilection to adopt such a fallacious set of beliefs, it is clear that they are not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier; yet they still learn. They often learn from details described at every terrorist’s trial nd their ability to operate without triggering the attention of police and security agencies is improving.
We will likely continue to get less notice about future attacks and surprise is inevitable.
The terrorist proposition of “Heads I win, Tails you lose” is not inevitable. However, it is clear that the defences adopted by the Western World to inhibit racial tensions and murderous ideological warfare, are being systemically undermined. We had better start thinking about the consequences and weighing the alternatives before our defences collapse completely.