Why some Western men find the lifestyle of the jihadist so captivating.
According to a recent ABC report, “As many as three dozen criminals who converted to Islam in American prisons have moved to Yemen where they could pose a ‘significant threat’ to attack the U.S., according to a report on al-Qaeda from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. … Also of concern to U.S. officials, the Senate staff found, is a group of ‘nearly 10 non-Yemeni Americans who traveled to Yemen, converted to Islam, became fundamentalists, and married Yemeni women so they could remain in the country.’ … An American official described them as ‘blond-haired, blue-eyed types’ who fit the profile of Americans who al-Qaeda has sought to recruit for terror missions.”
These, of course, are not the first Americans — black, white, or in between — to convert to Islam and join the jihad: John Walker Lindh wound up fighting fellow Americans alongside Taliban forces in Afghanistan; Adam Gadahn became a major character in al-Qaeda’s propaganda machine; Gregory Patterson, Levar Washington, and Kevin James plotted terror strikes against the U.S.; Christopher Paul and Jose Padilla conspired to use weapons of mass destruction.
Then there are the countless European converts, such as the British “shoe-bomber,” Richard Reid, who attempted to achieve “martyrdom” by detonating explosives in his shoes while aboard a passenger aircraft; the late Germaine Lindsay, who did achieve “martyrdom” by killing himself and 56 of his fellow citizens and injuring over 700, in the London bombings of 2005; and Abu Abdullah, the native Briton-turned-fiery-Islamist-preacher who makes no secret of his vitriolic hatred of the West (all, of course, while enjoying that unique Western liberty, freedom of speech).
What causes such men, born and raised in the West, often from Christian backgrounds, to abandon their heritage, embrace Islam, and become radicalized to the point that they conspire to kill their fellow countrymen?
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