By Erick Stakelbeck
Published by Regnery Publishing (May 2, 2011)
Review by Patrick Poole
As a counter-terrorism consultant, it is both frustrating and infuriating to listen to media figures and talking-heads discuss domestic Islamic terrorism. Anytime a Muslim is caught trying to kill Americans on American soil, these figures rush to tell us that these would-be terrorists are not known to have any connection to international terrorist groups, and therefore we shouldn’t be worried. But as we found out from the cases of Army Major Nidal Hasan and Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, both were actually in communication with foreign terrorist organizations. (Hasan was emailing al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula chief Anwar al-Awlaki, and Shahzad had been commissioned by the Pakistani Taliban).
The message from the media: if a terrorist act isn’t connected to international terrorists, it really isn’t terrorism, but rather “violent extremism” or a “man-caused disaster.”
Another narrative floated by the establishment media in such circumstances: the so-called “lone wolf” jihadist is impossible to diagnose beforehand, and therefore the causes of such are random and ultimately unknowable.
The fact is that these “lone wolf” jihadists have rarely acted alone. We now know about the radicalization process — there are typically a whole host of actors and support networks pushing individuals through the radicalization pipeline. While these individuals and organizations may not have been directly involved in planning a terrorist attack, their participation in terms of indoctrinating would-be jihadists and providing religious justification for acts of violence is essential to the process.
The involvement of these support networks is almost never investigated by law enforcement or the establishment media. One of the few media figures on the terrorism beat who actually gets the problem is CBN News terrorism correspondent and Fox News terrorism analyst Erick Stakelbeck.
In his new book — The Terrorist Next Door: How the Government is Deceiving You about the Islamist Threat — Stakelbeck takes the reader on his journey through the world of Islamic terrorism. He recounts his experience interviewing al-Qaeda terrorist leaders (notably none of whom are living in caves, but in tony London suburbs), and his conversation with Noman Benotman, a former al-Qaeda operative and associate of Osama bin Laden. Stakelbeck has explored the shadowy world of how the international terrorist organization operates.
And he isn’t afraid to go into the belly of the beast: witness his investigation into a network of dozens of Islamic compounds scattered in rural areas across the U.S. The compounds are controlled by a terror-tied Pakistani cleric who has been videotaped conducting terrorist training sessions with his followers on bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations.
Stakelbeck also explores the bizarre and counterproductive policy of the U.S. government — time and again, they turn to those responsible for radicalizing American Muslims for advice on dealing with the radicalization problem.
One such example he cites is the case of Yasir Qadhi, who was invited by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to speak at a conference on the topic of radicalization. Not only had Qadhi complained about being on the U.S. government’s terror watch list, his associated media company IlmQuest sold audio CD sets of al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Qadhi was also an instructor in a two-week course hosted by his own organization — and attended by underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Qadhi also gave a sermon attacking “the hoax of the Holocaust.”
When other establishment media outlets interview Qadhi, such as CNN, do you think they make any mention of Qadhi’s extremist background or Saudi Wahhabi religious training?
Stakelbeck broke the story of terror associate Louay Safi — who was captured on federal wiretaps talking with Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian and was named an unindicted co-conspirator in his terrorism trial — speaking on Islam to troops departing for Afghanistan at Fort Hood just weeks after Major Hasan’s shooting spree there that killed thirteen. Following the Fort Hood massacre, Safi had attributed the cause of the incident to “Islamophobia,” saying that “the extremist ideology response for violent outbursts is often rooted in the systematic demonization of marginalized groups.” After Stakelbeck’s report appeared, Safi was suspended as a military subcontractor.