TITLE

Fair Game

AUTHOR(S)
Leiken, Robert S.
PUB. DATE
April 2004
SOURCE
New Republic;4/26/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 15, p15
SOURCE TYPE
Periodical
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Each year, thousands of people become Muslims, and, while the vast majority join for reasons having little to do with politics, Al Qaeda has begun to single out the small minority who are susceptible to the violent philosophy perpetrated by the religion's radical fringe. Despite the high-profile instances of American converts to radical Islam who then joined Al Qaeda, it is European converts who pose the greater threat. Because of the number of individuals turning to Islam in Europe, and because of the stronger Al Qaeda infrastructure there, Western Europe, it seems, has become fertile ground for a new type of Al Qaeda terrorist--one specifically recruited to evade post-September 11 security. Of course, it is a great leap from conversion to terrorism. But, while it's not clear what prompts a Muslim convert to turn to Al Qaeda, it's possible that a small minority of European converts are attracted to the self-advertised anti-imperialism of Islam's more radical strains. Whatever the reason, several European converts to Islam have played a role in Al Qaeda activities. Three of the nine Britons detained in Guantanamo Bay after being captured fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan are Catholics who converted to Islam. British mosques have been, and still are, a locus of radical activity. The use of converts is a sign of Al Qaeda's changing tactics--a shift from using first-generation immigrants (usually aliens from the Middle East, like those in the Hamburg cell who participated in the September 11 attacks) to using natives of the country to be attacked (as was done in the 2003 attacks on Riyadh, Casablanca, and Istanbul).
ACCESSION #
12860696

 

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