The Islamist State’s chief propagandist is believed to be a wealthy American. His name is Ahmad Abousamra, he is 32 years old, and he is the son of a Boston doctor. He is young and he is not poor, and he is not ignorant. He is also not unacquainted with western notions of individual freedom. He just rejects them.
He was born and raised in France and his formal education does not have Islamist overtones at all. He attended Xaverian Brothers Catholic high school and Northeastern University, where he made the dean’s list.
He is but one of thousands of westerners who are now fighting for ISIS — including 3,000 Europeans.
The number of Europeans joining Islamist fighters in Syria and Iraq has risen to more than 3,000, the EU’s anti-terrorism chief has told the BBC.
Gilles de Kerchove also warned that Western air strikes would increase the risk of retaliatory attacks in Europe.
US-led forces have launched more than 200 air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq since August and on Monday began targeting IS in Syria.
The UK parliament is due to vote on possible air strikes in Iraq on Friday.
IS – also known as Isil or Isis – has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months.
Mr de Kerchove said the number of 3,000 included all those who have been to the region, including those who have returned and those who have been killed there.
That’s about one-tenth of the total fighting force that the Islamic State is now believed to have in the field — western-raised Muslims who can freely travel to and from the battlefield, while journalist Stephen Hayes gets tagged on the terrorism watch list.
How did we get here? Let’s explore that question on the next page.
Undoubtedly many of the 3,000 Europeans who are fighting for ISIS are people like Abousamra. They are second-and third-generation children of immigrants from Islamic countries. They grew up in the west but rather than appreciate our freedoms, they have turned on us because of their perception that we are decadent and godless, or Christian and Jewish and therefore infidels worthy of death. They see our freedom and raise oppressive sharia in response.
They attend mosque in the U.S. and the west, where they hear radical imams espouse jihad. They reject western ideals because they prefer to be right with Allah rather than be free.
In Abousamra’s case, he apparently heard exhortations to jihad in this Cambridge, MA mosque.
Law enforcement officials say the mosque has attracted a number of known terrorists and accused extremists, among them the accused Boston Marathon bombers and “Lady al Qaeda,” — too many for law enforcement to ignore.
“At some stage we have to accept reality, which is a number of people who have taken up arms against Americans either here in Boston or abroad with ISIS have an affiliation with that mosque, and so the mosque will come under scrutiny to determine what is going on and whether as importantly, there aren’t others affiliated with the mosque who might be planning ill will,” said Juliette Kayyem, CNN national security analyst and former Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary.
At least 10 suspected or convicted terrorists have prayed at the mosque, a number confirmed by a federal law enforcement official, court documents and the mosque itself.
The west’s suicidal immigration policies are enabling this. We fail to understand the culture we are importing.
All these years after 9-11 and after the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re missing a fundamental truth about the nature of the fight. That is: While this war has been compared both to World War II’s fight against Nazism and the Cold War against communism, it is fundamentally different. It’s not, really, a war against an ideology per se. Or not just an ideology. It’s an ideology with a full religious zeal.
We’re dealing with an ideology that is built inside a religion. So reform the religion, right?
Not so fast. In the jihadists’ point of view, the religion does need to be reformed. And they are the reformation.
They are the ones who are bringing Islam back to its roots, reforming and reviving it, restoring it back to what Muhammad intended. They see and reject our freedoms as fundamentally halal. They see our freedoms as an affront, an attack, on Islam. The Koran gives examples of what to do when one perceives that he is “defending Islam.”
They also see their fellow non-jihadist Muslims — the vast majority — as decadent, compromised, dead in their faith.
We’re not dealing with an army of Davids, but we’re dealing with a movement that sees itself as an army of Martin Luthers with scimitars and suicide vests. And now, an embryonic state anchored atop a lake of oil.
Try dissuading them with Koranic chapter and verse. It won’t work. They know the text better than you do, and they can use our own political correctness and our guilt trips to weaken us with slick, western-style propaganda.
Our government isn’t even really interested in dissuading them. In Hasan’s case, the Obama government still considers his act of jihad “workplace violence,” and so far the FBI is handling the Oklahoma beheading in the same way.
It would be unusual, to say the least, for a man to react to getting fired by beheading a former co-worker and attacking another, only stopping when he was shot.
That the government that has met more than once with the Muslim Brotherhood, is reticent to describe anything as jihad, should not surprise.