first published on January 5, 2016 by Josh
Home-grown radical extremism is not going anywhere, anytime soon. Why does it exist, how does it happen, and what can we do to stop it?
In a guest submission from former Royal Marine Commando Emile Ghessen, who is an independent journalist covering the Islamic State, we get a good look at home-grown, radical extremism. What are the causes, why does it happen, and how do we stop it?
It’s easy to understand why young Muslim men in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia can be easily radicalized. The real question we need to stop and ask ourselves however is, how are young Muslim individuals being radicalized in the first world?
Contrary to popular belief, radicalization into terrorism is not solely a product of poverty. It’s a combination of factors such as, brainwashing, lack of employment, mental illness, lower standards of education, and more commonly among home-grown terrorists, the Internet. Most home-grown radicals are employed and have no signs of mental illness. I even went to the same school as Mohammed ‘Jihadi John’ Emwazi. I received the same education, and had the same teachers as him. Clearly education was not a factor in his conversion to Islamic extremism. So where does it happen?
For starters we can look to the internet. The Internet acts as an enabler for the process of radicalization. This virtual network of extremism provides a safe haven for these wannabe jihadists to share information, and propaganda. It also provides an outlet for individuals within jihadi organizations to push their agenda on a younger Islamic culture.
When I spoke with young Muslim males between the ages of 18 and 26, I asked them why they feel Muslim men in the first world are becoming radicalized. They all responded in the same fashion, and that was the fact they did not believe in the way the western world is handling foreign policy in the Middle East. This makes sense, but it also seems like it could be an excuse. An excuse that allows misfits from society to find a sense of belonging. Why do these third generation migrants have such resentment for the west, but not their parents or grandparents who moved them there?
The Charlie Hebdo shooting in January of 2015, was conducted by French citizens. The Paris attacks in November, were carried out by citizens of France and Belgium. The 7/7 bombers on the London Underground, also completed by citizens native to the country attacked. These are but a small sample of a larger problem of Islamic radicalization in the first world. Where is this coming from?
In a videotape broadcasted by Al Jazeera on 1 September, 2005, Mohammad Sidique Khan, one of the 7/7 bombers, describes his motivation.
“I and thousands like me are forsaking everything for what we believe. Our drive and motivation doesn’t come from tangible commodities that this world has to offer. Our religion is Islam, obedience to the one God, and following the footsteps of the final prophet messenger. Your democratically elected governments continuously perpetuate atrocities against my people across the world. Your support of them makes you directly responsible, just as I am directly responsible for protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters. Until we feel security you will be our targets, and until you stop your bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people we will stop this fight. We are at war and I am a soldier. Now you too will taste the reality of the situation.”
From the horse’s mouth, he was radicalized due to the UK’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. He wanted revenge for his Muslim brothers and sisters, but was that all?
In 2014 a 13 minute video titled: There is no life without Jihad was released. In it three British radicals attempt to explain their motivation for joining ISIS. One man, Abu Bara al- Hindi, said fighting for the militant group was “a cure to depression.” The man seemed like a lost sheep, who was isolated from his friends, and family. In turn I think he turned to religion to find a sense of belonging, and ended up in what can only be described as a religious gang, where he was appreciated and understood through common hatred.
Extremists that travel to Iraq or Syria, and those who communicate over the Internet with terrorist groups, find some sort of brotherhood in this sinister world of extremism. The false promise of a shortcut to paradise when martyred, and many virgins as a reward reels these young, potential jihadists in. These misfits and loners from society get sucked into this misconception of Islam.
As more potential extremist attacks from home-grown terrorists are foiled by intelligence services around the world, there is no end in sight for individuals converting to radical Islam. The problem is not going to fix itself, so how do we combat this growing threat?
I feel that there is a greater responsibility required within Muslim communities to stem this radicalization of their youth. They should no longer be able to use excuses, or push the blame on governments and societies. Muslim communities must remain accountable, in order to prevent the extremism growing within their youth, or else these type of attacks will never end.
Thousands of first world Muslim men and women have joined the ranks of terror organizations, and these individuals are not radicalized over-night. So I find it strange that anytime one of these attacks happens, the family members speak as if they had no idea what their loved ones were up to. Accountability is the answer, and Muslim communities who have fled 8th century Sharia Law for democracy and freedom, must guide those individuals who groups like the Islamic State appeal to.