Terror 'Defector' Stories Hyped by Media Collapse Underneath the 'Deradicalization' Narrative
The "deradicalization" narrative -- along with a whole industry of academics pursuing large cash grants from governments looking to set up such programs -- is built upon the premise that the right set of information and conditions can turn terrorists not only away from violence, but even into respectable and productive citizens.
More often than not, it seems, reality demonstrates the premise's naivety.
In my previous article, I looked at the current case of Brooklyn native Mohimanul Alam Bhuiya, a former ISIS fighter who defected from the group and is now being enlisted by the Justice Department to help "deradicalize" other terror recruits. Having already pleaded guilty to his crimes, he is looking for reduced sentencing in exchange for his assistance.
I noted that many "deradicalization" programs established by Western governments have been fraught with repeated and embarrassing failures. But these programs have failed in the Muslim world, too -- including in Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population of any country, and Saudi Arabia, which arguably has the most global influence. If Muslim countries can't figure out how to craft effective Islamic "deradicalization" programs, what hope do Western countries have?
Two recent high-profile cases of former terrorists turned defectors touted by the international media represented the promise of "deradicalization" programs, but delivered the predictable failure that seems the dominant pattern with such efforts.
The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda Recruiter Turned "Deradicalizer" Jesse Morton
Last August, national and international media organizations were abuzz with the news that former al-Qaeda recruiter Jesse Morton -- aka Younus Abdullah Muhammed -- was given early release from his 12-year federal prison sentence. Morton was to take an academic research position at George Washington University's Program on Extremism:
Morton was not your average "material support for terrorism" jihadist wannabe. Not only was he in direct communications with senior al-Qaeda leaders overseas, but -- as one of the leaders of the New York-based Revolution Muslim network -- he was responsible for recruiting an eye-popping number of now-convicted domestic terror supporters:
As the FBI press release published at the time of his conviction on terror charges states, he openly supported the 9/11 attacks and the November 2009 massacre at Fort Hood by Major Nidal Hasan. He also directed his supporters to commit violence against Jewish organizations and the creators of the South Park TV program.