From Zachary Constantino in FrontPage comes more confirmation of something I have written about several times: jihadists are generally not poor and desperate, but relatively affluent and well-educated. And this is true even of Muslims in America.
The spread of Islamist radicalism in the United States, where demographic surveys indicate that 66% of American Muslims earn over $50,000 per year, confirms this thesis.[v] Moreover, the top ten Muslim occupations in America include engineering, medicine, and corporate management.[vi] Daniel Pipes, a scholar of Islam, notes, “In socioeconomic terms, certainly, Muslims can find little fault with America. They boast among the highest rates of education of any group in the country””a whopping 52 percent appear to hold graduate degrees””and this translates into a pattern of prestigious and remunerative employment.”[vii]
However, in keeping with Krueger and Maleckova, this progress has hardly insulated America’s Muslim community from extremism. In 1999, at a forum sponsored by the State Department, Sheikh Mohammed Hisham Kabbani, a courageous Sufi cleric and opponent of Wahhabi Islam, argued that 80 percent of all mosques and Muslim charities in the United States had come under the influence of radical Islamic agents.
For this statement, Sheikh Kabbani endured severe criticism and even a death threat.[viii] Other Muslim scholars, like Khalid Duran and Tashbih Sayyed have also received death threats for their criticisms of Islamist radicalism. Sayyed warns, “Militant Islamist organizations in the US have created the perception that they are the sole voices of Muslims in the US, making their opposition [to] US efforts to eradicate fascist and totalitarian Islamist regimes a popular Muslim trait.”[ix]
Other troubling examples of the affluence of American-based Islamic militancy:
“¢ Socially advantaged Americans join the jihadist ranks. Consider the case of former Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh. According to The New York Times, Lindh grew up in an “old, moneyed Marin County suburb” and his father is a “corporate-lawyer.”[x] The Boston Globe described the place of Lindh’s upbringing as a “comfortable home” located in a county prominent as “an address for millionaires.”[xi] Like Lindh, Mike Hawash, recently sentenced to seven years in prison on “charges of conspiring to wage war against the United States”[xii] enjoyed affluence as a software engineer for Intel.[xiii]
“¢ Jihadists have set up sophisticated networks. The Washington Times explains “The terrorist organization Hamas invested millions of dollars during the past decade in real-estate projects nationwide, including in suburban Maryland, as part of a scheme to raise cash to fund acts of terrorism.”[xiv] The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement testifies that BMI Leasing, Inc., BMI Real Estate Development and others “conducted financial transaction with persons who were or are now Specially Designated Terrorists or Specially Designated Global Terrorists, including Yassin Kadi, Mousa Abu Marzook and Mohammad Salah.”[xv]
Americans who turn to militant Islam as a way of life are not looking to improve their socioeconomic status but for identity, meaning, solidarity, and solutions in a utopian moral order. To win the war on terrorism requires doing combat against the real enemies of the West — the jihadists, the networks that support their cause, and sympathetic regimes — and not non-existent “root causes.”