HopeTracker| In today’s second major feature on jihad and terrorists, Foreign Policy magazine’s Peter Bergen writes: The Terrorists Among Us.
I can’t explain the choice of high-impact Obamas visual in the article, which does not play into Muslim stereotyping. The Obama visual comes from their trip to Ft. Hood to meet with the families. In fact, the words of Peter Bergen, who will soon testify before Congress on terrorism, seemingly reflect a fair perspective on the future of terrorist attacks in America.
Nevertheless, the attack on Ft. Hood has rattled more than a few military and foreign policy insiders, as revealed by today’s WSJ opinion piece: Major Hasan and Holy War.
According to an as yet unpublished count by New York University’s Center on Law & Security, 25 American citizens or residents have been charged with traveling to an overseas training camp or war zone since 9/11: Two who trained with the Taliban, seven who trained with al Qaeda, 10 who trained with the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, four with the Somali al Qaeda affiliate, Al Shabab, and three who trained with some unspecified jihadist outfit in Pakistan. (The actual number of Americans who have traveled overseas for jihad since 9/11 is significantly more than 25, as not everyone who does so ends up being charged or convicted of a crime.)
On the subject of Al Shabab recruiting terrorists from Minnesota, this MPR public radio report says that at least 20 have returned Somalia to join their jihad. At least three have died, including one who authorities believe is the first American suicide bombers. Three others have pleaded guilty in the US to terror-related charges, as of late August 2009.
Peter Bergen concludes that the opportunities for radical Islam to gain root in America are significantly less than in Europe. The “American Dream” has generally worked well for Muslims in the United States, who are both better-educated and wealthier than the average American. More than a third of Muslim Americans have a graduate degree or better, compared with less than 10 percent of the population as a whole.
Bergen does discuss the possibility (probability) of small-scale terrorist attacks in America, like the shootings at Ft. Hood or perhaps the scale of the 1993 bombing of the WTC or Oklahoma City. The Weather Underground and Black Panthers are precedents for a militant jihadism that provides a similar outlet for the rage of young men with its false promises of a total explication of the world, which is grafted on to a profound hatred for the West, in particular, the United States.
More Reading about Somalia as an Islamic hotbed for radical jihadism:
The US has played a crucial role in Somalia, supplying 40% of total food aid into the country.