Saturday, December 12, 2009

Northern Virginia "5" (arrested in Pakistan) shows that younger American, as well as European, men can be drawn to radical ideology

The recent arrests in Pakistan of northern Virginia men Waqar Khan, Ramy Zamzam, Umar Chaudhry, Ahmad Minni, and Amman Yamer has led to numerous media reports suggesting that sometimes young American men, while generally more assimilated than comparable men in Europe, still are attracted to radical ideology, often from what they find on “foreign” websites. Bruce Bawer had examined this problem a few years ago with his book "While Europe Slept", a book by a gay conservative who had lived in Amdsterdam and journaled what was happening around the time of 9/11.

The role of the Internet in hosting “propaganda” has long been a concern ever since 9/11 (the steganography concern) , and this time Facebook figured into the bust of the five as the FBI tracked the case down with Pakistan.

Brian Ross of ABC News has a typical report here.

Colbert L. King has a perspective on the situation on p A15 of the Washington Post today, link here. There is a concern that young men, particularly those with some difficulties in social competition, will get drawn to absolutist ideology found online. She makes this amazing statement. “The men who pulled off the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were motivated by something apart from greed, lust or a thirst for power. Their malice sprang from a belief that the world in which they lived could not be reconciled with the wider world around them.” Others have simply characterized this fanaticism as simply directed a “infidels” and a world that is either “us or them” in which there is only one version of “the Law” for everyone allowed to exist (sound like the 1930s?). But absolute virtue has always been a seductive trap for some, going back to the writings of Sayyid Qtub.

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