If an Islamic jihadist in Kansas had gotten his way, jihad would have struck again in America on Friday. Instead, Terry Lee Loewen, an avionics technician at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport, was arrested that morning as he tried to drive a van that he thought was full of high explosives onto the tarmac at that airport, where he was planning to trigger it, causing what he hoped would be (as he put it in a letter to his wife) “maximum carnage + death.”
Loewen wanted this to be yet another jihad mass murder attack on American soil, in which he would be, as he wrote in the same letter, “martyred in the path of Allah.” In this and other statements, Loewen made his motivations absolutely clear.
He said that he wanted to “commit an act of violent jihad on behalf of al Qaeda” against the United States, even though he himself is an American: like many other converts to Islam who turn to jihad, his conversion signaled his rejection of his nation and people as Infidel, and his loyalty given instead to the supranational Islamic umma.
Loewen also freely acknowledged that he would be classified as an Islamic “extremist”: “Let me preface the bottom line by saying I have become ‘radicalized’ in the strongest sense of the word, and I don’t feel Allah wants me any other way.”
In the same vein, he expressed frustration with Muslims who didn’t see the jihad imperative as he did: “I don’t understand how you can read the Qur’an and the sunnah of the Prophet (saw) and not understand that jihad and the implementation of Sharia is absolutely demanded of all the Muslim Ummah. I feel so guilt-ridden sometimes for knowing what’s required of me but yet doing little or nothing to make it happen. I love my Muslim brothers and sisters, whether they agree with me or not, it’s just hard to deal with the denial that some of them appear to be going through.”
Some of his statements suggested that he had come into some conflict with those “Muslim brothers and sisters”: “As time goes on I care less and less about what other people think of me, or my views on Islam. I have been studying subjects like jihad, martyrdom operations, and Sharia Law… I believe the Muslim who is labeled ‘a radical fundamentalist’ is closer to Allah … than the ones labeled ‘moderates’. Just my opinion; if I’m off base, please set me straight.”
Apparently, no one did. He continued looking for “someone who is active in jihad and could use an occasional influx of ‘help’ ... I just hate the kaffar government and those who are following it to the Hellfire, and the sooner it and its followers get there, the better.”
Yet amid all these absolutely clear statements there are some curious anomalies. The Wall Street Journal reported that Terry Loewen’s adult son, Damien, “said he didn’t know about any turn toward Islam by his father.” But the Wichita Eagle, in a story on the would-be jihadi’s ex-wife, Sarah Loewen, says that “Damien told her that his dad had become a Muslim.” Is this just a reporting error by the Journal or the Eagle, or is Damien Loewen or someone else trying to cover for Terry Loewen, or for some other person?
In any case, in that Wichita Eagle story Sarah Loewen says that Terry was a gentle, happy guy, a good father who had loving parents and a normal childhood. “I would have never ever thought he would do anything this horrible,” Sarah Loewen says, and the story sheds little light on what on earth could have happened to Terry Loewen to move him to try to do this horrible thing. While his conversion to Islam is mentioned, the idea that Islamic teaching could have had something to do with his turn to violence and terror is never entertained; to think such thoughts would be the modern-day thoughtcrime known as “Islamophobia.”
Indeed, law enforcement officials seemed anxious to dispel any impression that Loewen’s attempt at mass murder and mayhem had anything remotely to do with anything genuinely Islamic. Kansas U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said that there was “no indication that the defendant was involved or working with any member of any religious community in Wichita.”
Hussam Madi, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Wichita, confirmed this: “We don’t even know who he is at all. We haven’t seen him here. This is the first time that we’ve heard of him.” He said that he had asked around at other Wichita-area mosques and no one knew of him in the others, either – leaving the lingering unanswered question of who were the moderate “Muslim brothers and sisters” with whom Loewen had expressed frustration.
Having thus excused the local Muslim community from any connection to or responsibility for Loewen’s actions, Madi added: “We haven’t had any backlash. Hopefully, we don’t.” He thus deftly shifted the focus to the Muslim community of Wichita as potential victims of “Islamophobic” attacks, and avoided having to answer any potentially uncomfortable questions about where Loewen got his ideas about jihad.
But the larger question remains: where did Loewen get his views of Islam (“the Internet,” we’re told), and what is the relation of his understanding of Islam to what we're told is the genuine article? Why do so many Muslims continue to misunderstand Islam in this way? What is the imam of the Wichita mosque, or any mosque, doing to make sure that no more Muslims come under the sway of this lethal understanding of Islam that he ostensibly rejects?
These questions will not be answered. Instead, the familiar obfuscation and denial is already obscuring them. The Wichita Eagle noted in an editorial Sunday that Grissom “and FBI Special Agent in Charge Mike Kaste made the important point that Loewen’s alleged actions in no way should reflect on any religious group. Too many continue to forget that those who plan or carry out terrorist acts in the name of Islam have twisted that faith to unrecognizable extremes.”
How do Grissom and Kaste know that Islamic jihadists have twisted Islam? They almost certainly don’t know that in any direct way: it is unlikely that either has ever opened a Qur’an, or taken any time to study Islam. They just know that Islam’s fundamentally peaceful nature is unquestionable government dogma.
But their assertion raises more questions than it answers. Why does Islam so easily lend itself to this kind of “twisting,” so that there are armed Islamic jihad groups waging jihad warfare in the name of Islam in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Nigeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and elsewhere? Why do all these armed Islamic groups claim that they are following Islam authentically? Why do they all cite the canonical sources of Islamic faith, the Qur’an and Sunnah, to justify their actions and make recruits among peaceful Muslims?
And again, what are Islamic groups in Wichita or anywhere else doing to prevent their faith from being “twisted” to “unrecognizable extremes”? What programs do mosques in the U.S. have in place to keep people like Terry Loewen from misunderstanding Islam as having something to do with causing “maximum carnage” among unbelievers?
These questions cannot even be asked in today’s politically correct culture. Even to raise them would be “Islamophobic.” Because of that, one lesson is clear from Terry Loewen’s attempted mass murder: there will be more Terry Loewens.
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