You've heard the narrative from the Beltway punditry: Our Muslims are better assimilated than Muslims in Europe. Our Muslims are more Westernized, less radicalized.
Well, it's a false narrative.
We are seeing the horns of a Muslim insurgency in this country. We are being Europeanized. And we need a counterinsurgency plan not just in Afghanistan but right here at home.
While our leaders are too politically correct to even think about such a thing, they are starting to at least recognize the problem.
Even President Obama, who still won't utter the M word, notes the rise in "extremists within our borders." So does his Homeland Security chief, who just months earlier fixated on white militia groups as the main domestic terror threat.
"We are seeing young Americans who are inspired by al-Qaida and radical ideology," echoed DHS secretary Janet Napolitano, while still failing to name the source of that ideology. "Home-based terrorism is here."
And for the first time, a senior Justice Department official has gone on record saying the U.S. is turning into Europe, with Muslim citizens becoming more and more hostile toward the government, and plotting and carrying out more acts of homegrown terrorism.
"If there was ever a subconscious belief in the counterterrorism community that our society is different from Europe and therefore we don't have to worry about problems like they've had, the activities in Minneapolis demonstrate we can't think that way," said Patrick Rowan, who led Justice's national-security division when the government first started investigating the case of the 20 young Somali-American men who quit college and gave up promising careers in Minneapolis to join al-Qaida's jihad in Somalia.
The FBI fears the recruits -- who have U.S. passports -- may use their terror training to come back and attack their own country. One of them already carried out a suicide bombing, becoming the first American to do so.
"We should all be on guard," said Ralph Boelter who heads the FBI's Minneapolis field office.
As we dig in deeper in Afghanistan, hostility among our own Muslim population will only grow deeper. And as we import more refugees from Muslim countries, demands for Shariah (think: Taliban) law will only grow shriller. Consider that:
* A new Gallup poll finds American Muslims are most likely to report feeling anger compared with the overall population -- making even more of them ripe for radicalization.
* 2009 is shaping up to be most dangerous year in domestic terror since 9/11, a grave national security issue overlooked by a national media obsessed with boys trapped (or not) in balloons and golfers trapped in bimbo bunkers.
* In the past 12 months alone, there have been more than 75 arrests in the U.S. and abroad of homegrown terrorists including the Fort Hood shooter -- all of them Muslim, almost all U.S. citizens.
* The FBI says Muslim groups have declared war on law enforcement over mosque surveillance and undercover informants -- and we just saw the first mosques seized and the first shootout between a Muslim cleric and agents in Detroit.
* USA Today reports six Muslim "honor killings" in America over the past two years.
"Radicalization is clearly happening in the U.S.," said NYPD intelligence unit chief Mitch Silber. "In years past, you couldn't say that about the U.S. You could say it about Europe."
The secularity of the American Muslim community is a myth. In fact, a larger share of American Muslims (80%) say their religion is an important part of their daily lives than British Muslims (70%), according to a recent Gallup poll. And our Muslims are nearly as militant in their faith as Iranians.
The same survey finds a disturbing percentage of American Muslim youth -- 26% -- are seething with anger compared with the national average among respondents aged 18 to 29.
These findings dovetail with a 2007 Pew Research poll finding an alarming 26% -- or roughly 100,000 -- of U.S. Muslims aged 18 to 29 condone suicide bombings against non-Muslim "civilian targets." That roughly tracks the 35% of young Muslim Brits who told Pew the same thing after some of them bombed the London subway.
Clearly, young Muslim Americans are as prone to radicalization as their European counterparts.
Take Tarek Mehanna, a 27-year-old American from Boston recently arrested on terror charges. Court records show his jihad cell, which allegedly planned to attack a shopping mall, justified suicide attacks against fellow American civilians "because they paid taxes to support the [U.S.] government, and because they were Kufar (non-believers)."
The group traveled to Pakistan to train with Lashkar-e-Taiba, the al-Qaida subcontractor blamed for last year's bloodbath in Mumbai, India.
LeT also attracted a top official at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a terrorist front group posing as a civil-rights group. Ismail Royer -- who worked under CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper at its national headquarters in Washington -- is now serving 20 years in the pen. Prosecutors say he trained at LeT camps in Pakistan to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and recruited other Muslims in the D.C. suburbs to join the
Confidential CAIR board meeting minutes first revealed in my new book, "Muslim Mafia," show Hooper has been tasked as point man to get Royer out of prison, and has worked closely with the convict's family and lawyers.
Hooper hired an accused terrorist, andthen after he confessed to related charges and was convicted, Hooper treated him as a hero. Even now, as prosecutors call Royer an "inveterate liar" who refuses to cooperate in other terror cases as promised -- CAIR's communications director is doing everything he can to put this dangerous criminal back on the streets.
Royer is no different from the accused jihadist in Boston. Both want to kill Americans.
Only difference: Hooper's protege worked as a spokesman and civil-rights coordinator at CAIR headquarters.
We don't need CAIR's brand of civil rights, something the FBI, which recently cut off ties to it, finally understands.
Royer was ringleader of the so-called Virginia Jihad Network, which the feds thought they'd broken up. But now there's a new group of Virginia jihadists: five young Muslim men arrested in Pakistan for trying to do the same thing -- train to kill U.S. troops. All five are U.S. citizens, and include a dental student described as "cool, and all-American."
How do Muslims raised in America become so radicalized?
They're steeped in the anti-American hate of mosques and national front groups (like CAIR, ISNA and the Muslim Students Association) controlled by the radical Muslim Brotherhood and funded by the Saudis. Through sermons and Saudi literature and the media, they teach them that America is the enemy.
This is the jihad factory, fueled by jihadi websites, churning out homegrown terrorists. And the FBI is only now trying to dismantle it.
Arrests of homegrown Muslim terrorists are averaging more than six a month. They are threatening both hard targets, such as military bases, and soft targets, such as hotels and shopping malls. That's an alarming up-tempo in terrorist activity, belying official spin the problem is confined to a small minority of the Muslim community. The home-based jihad threat is much larger than the administration suggests.
"There are people living among us, in our communities around the U.S., that are honing their skills to carry out acts of murder and mayhem," warned senior FBI official Owen Harris.
He like other government officials can't publicly say what kind of "people" would be doing such treacherous things.
But make no mistake, he's referring to Islamic fanatics. While they may be spread out over different cities -- Raleigh, N.C., Boston, New York, Minneapolis, Denver, Washington, Chicago, even sleepy Killeen, Texas -- and while they may have different ethnicities -- Arab, South Asian, Eastern European, Hispanic, white -- they all share a common bond in jihad. While we may call them Americans, they do not. They hate their country and want to destroy it.
Most don't look like wild-eyed traitors. Some even appear patriotic.
Witness American citizen Daood Gilani. A Chicago businessman, he changed his name in 2005 to David Headley.
But he was trying to fit in for all the wrong reasons. He wanted to escape notice as a Muslim and allow for easy transit through immigration on terror missions to Pakistan, where he attended training camps run by LeT.
Federal prosecutors this month charged Headley with, among other things, conspiracy to murder Americans.
Then there's Hazam Ali Ahmed, who for years has run a neighborhood convenience store in Knoxville, Tenn.
Authorities last week found two guns inside his store, and say he planned to carry out a terrorist attack at a shopping mall.
"He referred to jihad," the FBI said in court documents charging the 35-year-old Muslim. "And stated that he was connected to al-Qaida."
Meanwhile, more and more Muslims in America are trying to assert Islamic rights under Shariah law, a medieval monument to human-rights abuses practiced by the Taliban and Saudis.
Right now in this country, we are seeing a spike in "honor killings" -- murders of women by relatives who claim the victim brought shame to the family -- something normally seen in Muslim countries. America is now averaging one every four months. And we will see more.
The latest victim is a 20-year-old Arizona girl who died last month after her father, an Iraqi immigrant, ran her and her boyfriend's mother over in a parking lot. He admits the attack was intentional, explaining his daughter brought shame to the family by living with a man.
Lest anyone think such murders are confined to Muslim immigrants, a New York TV executive earlier this year sawed off his wife's head in a suspected honor killing.
And there appears to be broad support and acceptance of this barbaric ritual in mainstream Islamic circles in America.
One of the most popular fatwah banks in the U.S. -- maintained by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America -- does not condemn honor killings. It only discourages men from doing it themselves.
"Imams implement the Shariah punishments," decrees AMJA. And execution is not the "unvarying" punishment for fornicating daughters or sisters, it adds. They can also be punished by "lashing." (The sentence for adulterous women, however, is always "stoning.")
"Would it be permissible for a brother to kill his sister if he saw her committing zina (pre-marital sex)?" a Muslim living in America asked AMJA's scholars in 2007.
In any other culture, the answer would be an emphatic, resounding: "No, not ever. It's immoral and against the law, and you'd be prosecuted for first-degree murder." But in the subculture of radical Islam co-existing in the shadows of the most advanced country in the world, the answer from AMJA was: "It depends."
Another false narrative says our Muslims demonstrate a "fierce loyalty to America," as Obama just claimed in Oslo without offering any concrete examples. Apparently he's giving them credit just for choosing to live here.
He needs to get out more. He can start by driving across the Potomac to Alexandria and Falls Church, Va. FBI agents and detectives who have worked counterterror cases and entered Muslim homes in those Washington suburbs, know better.
Inside, they've seen home computers with Osama bin Laden screen savers. They've seen refrigerators with children's drawings depicting Jews and Christians as pigs and apes and hateful anti-Jewish and anti-Christian
They've seen the throngs of Muslims rallying around terrorist defendants at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, even after they've confessed to crimes. They've heard respect Muslim leaders bash U.S. prosecutors as "Zionists."
They also know that the Skyline Towers, a luxury apartment complex housing thousands of Muslims in Falls Church, erupted into cheers after the Twin Towers collapsed on 9/11. We're not talking about Gaza or the West Bank. This was just minutes from the Pentagon.
Authorities have made so many trips to the high-rise complex to investigate tenants that they've dubbed it "Taliban Towers."
Just up the street is the still-bustling 9/11 mosque, Dar al-Hijrah, where the hijackers, the Fort Hood shooter and a shockingly long rap sheet of other terrorists have worshipped.
The vast majority of Americans have no idea, but the very capital of our nation is a breeding ground for terrorists. In fact, the Washington area is Ground Zero of the anti-American insurgency being carried out by radicalized American Muslims in plain view of our government.
Yet it's doing next to nothing about it, still deluded by the notion it can win "hearts and minds" by cow-towing to ISNA and other radical Brotherhood fronts, who simply use outreach events as an opportunity to gather intelligence and tip off targets of terror probes.
As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq drag on, we are going to see a much broader participation in jihad by Muslims. Not just Muslims living overseas, but those living here, inside America.
Will we talk honestly about this problem? Or will we turn a blind eye -- and continue to be blindsided, like those 42 brave Americans in Texas?
Are we going to defuse this religious powder keg? Or are we going to continue to commit politically correct suicide?
Pauk Sperry, a Hoover Institution media fellow, is author of "Infiltration" and co-author of the new book, "Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America." Email: [email protected]