They were mainly raised without fathers, fathered children themselves out of wedlock and with whom they did not—could not—live, used or sold crack and cocaine, spent years in jail where they ultimately converted to Islam. All four were of African descent: three were born in America, one was born in Haiti. One man is on psychiatric medication either for schizophrenia or for bipolar disorder. Contrary to yesterday’s initial media coverage, no one’s parents ever lived in Afghanistan and no one had family ties to Arabs. See Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here.
Two men, including the ringleader, grew up in Brooklyn, New York, (my hometown); one man grew up in Newburgh, New York where all four men attended a mosque, (Masjid Al-Ikhlas), which is currently headed by a former African-American convict and himself a prison convert to Islam, Imam Salahuddin Muhammed.
Radical Muslim prison chaplain, Warith Deen Umar, a Sunni Muslim, who allegedly made life dangerously difficult for Shi’a Muslims in prison, recruited Imam Mohammed to prison chaplaincy work. Umar was quoted as saying that prisons “were the perfect recruitment and training ground for radicalism and the Islamic religion.” Umar was subsequently fired after he praised the Islamic attacks on 9/11. Muhammed, who himself served twelve years in prison for robbery, was recruited by the Newburgh Mosque to replace Umar as its spiritual leader.
What is wrong with this picture? Is there anything “right” with it? Is there anything we can do to “right” this picture?
Why has America been so foolishly complacent about—nay, even complicit–in the recruitment of jailed African-American men by radical Islamists? Perhaps, for a variety of reasons, this particular prison population may already have been brainwashed to hate Jews, Israel, and America. `
Why has America failed to understand that, just as Islamists routinely prey upon the poor, the disenfranchised, the marginalized, the vulnerable–and on women and children in Muslim countries–to become human bombs, that Islamists will surely, inevitably, prey upon their counterparts in America?
Why has America refused to draw some obvious conclusions about radical Islam (and many reputable folk insist that all Islam, if you read and understand the holy books, is radical): Namely, that radical Islamists are violent criminals and that like is drawn to like. Turning Islamist chaplains loose in an American prison is far more dangerous to us all than is allowing the proverbial fox into the hen house.
Ah, and now I must address the most delicate matter of all. The abandonment of some sons by some African-American fathers; and the special vulnerability claimed by and for some African-American sons when they are abandoned—given that racism, poverty, and a ghetto culture of violent crime, self-pity, rage, and greed is waiting to lure and trap them. And no, I am not forgetting that African-American women continue to have children without fathers in tow and that some African-American girls are also weakened by paternal abandonment. However, either girls seem to deal with it differently or studies do not focus upon them; ‘tis a subject for another day.
Wait a minute now, before everyone jumps on some bandwagon to blame men, women, whites, blacks, the slave trade, the genocide committed against native-Indians, the American government’s invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, European colonialism, or the Jews, Israel, Zionism, or global warming for any of this.
Clearly, this is a very complex matter and involves slave-era family patterns, “village” style extended family parenting vs nuclear monogomous style family parenting, realities of unemployment, different kinds of parenting, etc. One study, published in 1999, showed that African-American fathers who did not live with their children tended to visit them quite frequently.
Also, please realize that there are many intact, father-headed families of all races that have been destroyed by paternal alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, incest, wife-beating and child abuse. And I mean “destroyed,” even if no one ended up in jail, but rather, “only” ended up killing themselves, becoming prostitutes, or grew up to marry batterers, become batterers, etc.
And, most important, there are many families of all races headed by mothers-only where children positively flourish.
President Obama is, himself, a son whose black African father abandoned him and whose single white mother, together with her parents, raised him very successfully. Perhaps for this reason or, despite his outward success, Obama knows something about the pain of being paternally abandoned; thus, he has been very vocal about, even critical, of black fathers who do not remain at home to raise their children. He has even been criticized for his critique of black fathers.
I am with the President on this. Children of African descent are living in America, not in Africa, South America, or the Caribbean. Given the realities of racism–and the many ways of playing the “race card;” as well as the realities of both poverty and public education, all children are dependent on parents and relatives to instill in them work habits, values, ethics. Grandmothers, aunts, uncles, older siblings, may all be part of the “village,” but so should fathers.
Think of it this way: The Bronx Four are, apparently, all fatherless sons. Their leader, James “Abdul Rahman” Cromitie, may have functioned as a father-figure to the other three men who are anywhere from 12 to 17 years younger than Cromitie. More: The conversion to Islam, under father-figure indoctrinators, promised them a much longed for intense family and bonding experience; “family” as a total, protective institution. Paradoxically, inevitably, conversion to Islam also glorified, and even supplied a “religious” reason for their rage, bitterness, criminal aggression, and hatred of Jews and of the American military.
Many Islamist recruiters supply what is psychologically missing and yearned for: A (temporarily, illusory, and manipulatively) loving and attentive father or mother. In a large, polygamous family, a fathers’ attention, (even negative attention), is at a premium; and, in a culture that overly values sons and despises daughters, a mothers’ love, even the illusion of a mothers’ love, is at a premium for girls. These factors have figured in important psychological ways in the recruitment of human bombs in Islamic countries and territories.
Also, please recall the ”Beltway” sniper shooting spree perpetrated by D.C. based 41 year-old, John Allen Muhammad, a member of the Nation of Islam. Ten people were killed and six were wounded. Muhammad’s shooter, his little sidekick, was a 17 year-old son-figure, Lee Boyd Malvo aka John Lee Malvo, whom he’d obviously brainwashed.
Folks: This is big, real big.
What must be done? For starters, America might consider 1) Modifying our drug laws for marijuana, (but not for crack, cocaine, or heroin), in order to reduce the number of prison inmates in an already overcrowded system; 2) Outlawing, even criminalizing all radical Islamic indoctrination in American prisons and de-programming those prisoners who have already been indoctrinated; 3) Hiring some truly peaceful Muslims: Sufi Muslims, to do this work; 4) And while we’re at it, we had better be radically rethinking and actively reforming our prison system.