American Jihadis are not a product of Islam. Their emergence is connected to issues of gender and a growing acceptance of violence in America.
The recent arrest in Yemen of Somali-American Sharif Mobley, accused of being a member of an Al Qaeda affiliated group, raises the question: Why are young American men abandoning this country’s promise and opportunities to pursue jihad in foreign countries with groups rooted in anti-Americanism?
From concerned citizens to journalists to think tank panels to Capitol Hill, everyone seems to think that the key to understanding “why” these men have turned against America lies in the pathology of Islam. But they’re missing something big.
Reporters offer blow-by-blow accounts of these men’s religious observance, dwelling on which mosques they attended, which imams they heeded, what clothing they wore, and which verses of the Koran they cited.
Security experts tend to see only a threat of Islamicization and the incompatibility of Islam with American values.
Even Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who killed his fellow soldiers at a time when violent crime and suicide in the military are both on the rise, is cited regularly as an example of home-grown terror with little to no mention of other contributing factors.
By focusing on religion, the discussion about the radicalization of Muslim American youth ignores the more salient factors: gender and an American acceptance of violence.
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