The picture isn’t entirely rosy. A small minority can do horrible things if radicalized and indeed, the Obama administration agrees that homegrown terrorism is on the rise. The director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter, said in September 2010 that the number of plots against the American homeland “have surpassed the number and pace of attacks during any year since 9/11.” Likewise, Attorney General Eric Holder said, “You didn’t have to worry about this [homegrown terrorism] two years ago — about individuals, about Americans — to the extent that we now do.”
In the 2007 Pew survey, five percent of Muslim-American respondents had a favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of al-Qaeda, with another 10 percent viewing it “somewhat unfavorably.” One-fourth did not give an opinion. Of those below 30 years old, one-fourth felt that suicide bombings can sometimes be justified. Seven percent viewed al-Qaeda favorably, and another 16 percent saw them “somewhat unfavorably.” This is a minority, but it is a dangerous minority, and the homegrown extremism trend indicates it is becoming increasingly radicalized.
Keep in mind that al-Qaeda viciously attacked the U.S. on 9/11 and has killed many Muslims. Furthermore, only 40 percent of Muslim-Americans believe that Arabs carried out the attacks, indicating support for conspiracy theories claiming the terrorist group is a Mossad and/or CIA front. It is disturbing to think of how high support for Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood must be, given their more careful political strategy and relative restraint when compared to al-Qaeda.
The survey finds that a strong obstacle to Islamism in the Muslim-American community is the 65 percent of adults who came from other countries. It states, “Native-born Muslims express overwhelming support for the notion that mosques should express their views on social and political matters. By contrast, a large majority of foreign-born Muslims — many of whom are from countries where religion and politics are often closely intertwined — say that mosques should be kept out of political matters.”
Nearly half of Muslim-Americans oppose mixing the mosque and politics, and this is largely due to Muslims who have experienced Sharia-based governance and know what it entails. This same dynamic is likely why the Muslim Brotherhood fronts have failed to get the Muslim-American community behind them.
It is encouraging to know that Muslim foreigners can act as a bulwark against extremism among Muslims born in the country, but what will happen as more and more Muslims are born in America and less are from overseas? The Muslim Brotherhood fronts may have failed among the current generation, but that doesn’t mean they’ll also lose the next one.