[Editor’s note: Make sure to read Daniel Greenfield’s masterpiece contributions in Jamie Glazov’s new book: Barack Obama’s True Legacy: How He Transformed America.]
Cole James Bridges went to a high school in Clarkesville, Tennessee and worked at a Papa Johns pizza place near Akron, Ohio before joining the United States Army. Mateo Ventura was a high school student in Wakefield, Massachusetts.
Within a week of each other in June 2023, Bridges pled guilty to plotting to help ISIS kill American soldiers, while Ventura was arrested for trying to provide aid to the Islamic State.
Bridges and Ventura, 20 and 18 years old, like Trevor Bickford, 19, of Maine, who was hit with federal charges this year for attacking NYPD police officers with a machete in Times Square, and Xavier Pelkey, 18, also of Maine, who pled guilty in April after trying to recruit two underage teens for a terrorist attack in Chicago, show the rate at which ordinary American teens are converting to Islam and plotting terrorist attacks.
While we made everyone take their shoes off at the airport and labored to win hearts and minds in Afghanistan and Iraq, Islamic terrorists won the hearts and minds of our children.
Our national security establishment feverishly imagined vast Al Qaeda attack plots while ignoring the real attack. An attack so deep and so wounding that it is far more devastating than September 11. It was an attack aided and abetted by the government, our cultural establishment and entertainment industries which urged Americans to learn about and embrace Islam.
Teenagers like Bridges, Ventura, Bickford, Pelkey and many others did. While Muslim immigrants still make up a significant percentage of Islamic terror plots, they increasingly come from American teenagers who converted to Islam. And, unlike past Muslim terror converts who followed a familiar path from drug dealing to prison to terrorism, these are our boys.
Except they’re not ours anymore.
Bridges lyrically spoke of the Islamic terrorists of ISIS as “brothers who have been fighting to establish a khilafah” or caliphate, and “have inspired me a lot, they’re (sic) love for Allah.”
Ventura wanted to fight a “war on kuffar” or non-Muslims.
Bickford carried an Islamic text and had underlined the words, “fight in the Name of Allah and in the Cause of Allah. Fight against those who do not believe in Allah. Wage a holy war.” He wrote in his journal that he wanted a traditional Muslim burial and did not want to be buried “in the land of the kuffar”. If he died while killing Americans, he did not want to be laid to rest in America.
Pelkey, who changed his name to Abdullah, wrote that he wanted to “burst thru the door of Jihad in america and strike fear in the hearts of these kafirun nothing pisses these american kuffar off and scares em more than a term they use ‘homegrown terrorist.’”
Their plans for Islamic mass murder, Bridges wanted to attack the 9/11 memorial, Pelkey was going to burst into a synagogue separate the adults from the children, and then kill the adults, have received what little attention a broken country has to spare for the kind of story that people don’t even pay attention to anymore. We are so busy fighting each other that we hardly even look up when the next generation converts to Islam and signs up with Al Qaeda or ISIS.
Americans used to associate Islamic converts with black nationalist groups, but this is no longer the case. Latinos, like Bridges (raised by a stepfather, his mother’s last name was Gonzalez), are the fastest growing population of converts, but a quarter of converts to Islam are white.
In the UK, young white Muslim converts like 19-year-old Matthew King, whose mother turned him in after an attack plot on British soldiers, or Lewis Ludlow, who changed his name to Ali Hussain and pled guilty to scouting out targets like St Paul’s Cathedral and Madame Tussauds, are also becoming more commonplace.
There are certain common denominators among Muslim converts as there are among school shooters. Bickford was being raised by a stepfather while Ventura had been bullied in school. Bickford’s father had died of a drug overdose, and Pelkey was living with his mother and an autistic younger brother.
Like most cults, the new mosque recruits are lost and looking for somewhere to belong. Missing fathers and a general sense of alienation are a common theme. America no longer provides a sense of identity and even institutions like the U.S. Army don’t offer any real purpose. Falling through the spreading cracks of an imploding culture, they join gangs, movements and Islam.
What too few Americans understood after the September 11 attacks was that this was a culture war. Foreign Muslim terrorists could kill us by the thousands and perhaps even one day the hundreds of thousands, but even at expanding immigration rates it would take generations for them to demographically conquer us. Unlike Europe, America has a more robust birth rate, in part because of migration from south of the border. We would have to conquer ourselves.
The Bush administration responded to 9/11 with an ambitious effort to democratize the Muslim world, unaware and uncaring of the Muslim world’s parallel effort to Islamize America. The withdrawal from Afghanistan, like the failure of the Arab Spring and the rise of ISIS, collapsed the project to democratize the Muslim world. But the Islamization of America is succeeding.
What does Islam offer that we don’t? Patriarchy for fatherless boys, the illusion of belonging to a global Islamic Ummah, the promise of a system of moral order with the creation of the Caliphate, and the escape from a culture that no longer stands for much except comic book movies and politics.
Pop culture and politics have become the religions of a declining nation. In the midst of the culture war, many Americans from both sides have developed hostility and contempt for their own country. Others retreat to imaginary pop culture universes to debate the ins and outs of their devotion to Marvel, Star Wars or Taylor Swift with the intensity once reserved for theology.
Americans are becoming less patriotic and religious and the falloff is most pronounced among the young. It is no coincidence that Islamic recruitment of American teens is booming in areas where traditional organized religion is declining. Is it surprising that Maine, the third least religious state where barely a quarter described themselves as Christians, produced two Islamic terror converts? A decade ago, only 34% of people in the state believed religion was very important. But just because people abandon traditional churches, doesn’t mean that teenagers and twenty-somethings will give up on religion. They will find people who really believe.
And the Jihad really believes.
We are not just losing the military and demographic wars, but the even more important cultural war. America’s political and cultural establishment embraced Islam. And this is the result.
All the episodes of ‘24’ envisioning complicated plots of mass murder were off the mark. What happened instead was that the plotters got on planes, landed and moved here. They set up mosques and schools, they became reporters, executives and members of congress. Like their leftist allies, they fought the war from the inside and we did not so much lose as surrender.
A generation of young men, born after 9/11 and the end of the War on Terror, were urged to learn about Islam, the way they’re encouraged to learn about sex changes. Some castrated themselves and pretended to be women, others joined ISIS instead.
When life looks senseless and meaningless, each day filled with mechanical routines and hollow entertainments, the human soul needs to reach for something that promises more.
America is not becoming irreligious, it is losing its religions and finding new gods. Some of those gods tell their followers to kill the infidels, attack the 9/11 memorial and kill until America is Islamic.
As we take off our shoes at the airport, a new generation is losing its soul.