Is Islam the Solution for Wayward Youth?

If young Muslims in Western countries who get involved in juvenile crimes stop what they’re doing and become observant in Islam, authorities should breathe a sigh of relief, no? That’s what Australian authorities encouraged recently.

Things didn’t work out quite the way they had hoped.

A young Muslim named Raban Alou, according to the Daily Mail Australia, “had been in trouble with the law as a teenager, for drug use, robbery and armed robbery.” But then he turned to his religion, and Australian officials were pleased: “[A] January 2015 report by the Department of Juvenile Justice” actually “praised Alou for ‘getting more involved in his religion, stopping his cannabis use and disassociating himself from his negative peer group.’”

However, Raban Alou wasn’t really reforming. He was just channeling his criminality in a different direction -- one that the Department of Juvenile Justice had not anticipated.

In October 2015, less than a year after that department had happily noted that he had become a more observant Muslim, Raban Alou “helped 15-year-old Farhad Jabar shoot police accountant Mr. Cheng outside the New South Wales Police Headquarters in Parramatta.”

This wasn’t just some random shooting. Alou supported the Islamic State, and frequently praised the group’s violent jihad activities in a WhatsApp group.

Regarding Australian soldiers, he wrote: “Omg. May Allah curse them all and destroy them to pieces.” He rejoiced in the Islamic State’s bloodlust: “Beheading in France, 25 dead in suicide bomb by IS in shia Kuwait mosque and 37 dead at Tunisia beach. It’s going off. Lol.” After viewing footage of the shooting of Cheng, Alou praised Jabar: “Ah brother you’re a soldier, Oh my god Allahu Akbar, that’s beautiful footage bro, that’s beautiful footage. You actually see it all happen, you see where he is last standing, that’s where he drops.”

Nonetheless, Alou’s turn to jihad murder is unlikely to stop the Department of Juvenile Justice from assuming that Islam is an unalloyed force for good in the next young Muslim juvenile offender’s life. And it’s not just Australia’s Department of Juvenile Justice -- authorities all over the West universally assume this. If Raban Alou had been anywhere in Europe or North America, officials would likely have figured that his growing more observant in Islam would mean that he would become a good, solid citizen.

Those officials consistently ignore the fact that jihadis are virtually all deeply observant Muslims. There has been a good deal of misinformation about this, with Islamic apologists claiming that they’re actually ignorant of Islam or non-observant, but there is little, if any, evidence to back this claim. A few years ago, some Islamic State jihadis ordered some basic books on Islam from Amazon -- that is just about the sole evidence adduced to show that jihadis are not knowledgeable and devout Muslims. On the other side is a mountain of evidence -- the Islamic State mandated hours of Qur’an study every day, and countless jihadis became more observant in Islam before they turned to jihad violence.