The current issue of The Economist has a report on Muslim terrorists titled "The Enemy Within." It may not be newsy enough for some GetReligion readers, but the analysis is worth the read. The anonymous author weighs into the home grown vs. foreign debate thus: "In an age of globalized ideologies, globalized communications and porous borders, there is no real distinction between domestic and foreign threats." The report explains that even if all of the London bombers turn out to be homegrown citizens of the U.K., it is still
clear that the bombers had access to sophisticated explosives, not easily available in suburban Yorkshire; and, more important, that they were influenced by ideas, images and interpretations of Islam that would continue to circulate electronically, even if every extremist who tried to enter Britain were intercepted.
Consequently, the job of terrorist-hunters in the U.K. and the rest of Europe is to "trace how disaffected people from their own tranquil suburbs form connections with ideological mentors, and ultimately terrorist sponsors, who live overseas, and how those godfathers find recruits in western countries."
The real shocker in the piece -- and a claim that is just begging for refutation -- is the assertion that not only are the terrorists homegrown, but
To a surprising extent, the onus is on individual zealots (or groups of them) to find mentors. Al-Qaeda does not actively seek recruits for the jihadist cause, partly because that would attract the attention of the security services and partly because, ever since the destruction of its bases in Afghanistan, it has -- in the view of well placed British observers -- been too loosely organized to recruit systematically.
Rather, from looking at several cases, the author finds a surprising "type" that tends toward terrorism in Western countries:
Frequently, a young Muslim man falls out of mainstream society, becoming alienated both from his parents and from the "stuffy" Islamic culture in which he was brought up. He may become more devout, but the reverse is more likely. He turns to drink, drugs and petty crime before seeing a "solution" to his problems -- and the world's -- in radical Islam.