According to a remarkable article by Scott Macleod in the April 4 issue of Time Magazine, the suicide bomber who carried off the worst atrocity in Iraq since the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime was a 32-year-old Jordanian who had lived for two years in California.
Ra”ed Mansour al-Banna was born in Jordan in 1973 and grew up in a religious, economically prosperous merchant family. He studied law at the university, graduating in 1996, and then started his own law practice in the Jordanian capital of Amman. After three years, he gave it up and in 1999 he worked a half year without pay for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Amman, helping Iraqis who fled Saddam Hussein’s tyranny.
In 2001, sometime before 9/11, Banna received a visa and moved to the United States, where he apparently lived in California for nearly two years, moving from one unskilled job to another — factory worker, bus driver, and pizza maker. According to his father, Ra”ed even worked “in one of the Californian airports.” If Ra”ed did not make it economically, he seemed to fit in well, traveling to such destinations as the Golden Gate Bridge and the World Trade Center, growing his hair long, and taking up American popular music….
Ra”ed al-Banna’s biography inspires several observations:
(1) When it comes to Islamist terrorists, appearances often deceive. That Banna was said to “love life in America,” be “not very religious,” and be interested in “building a future for himself” obviously indicated nothing about his real thinking and purposes. The same pattern recurs in the biographies of many other jihadis.
(2) Moving to the West often spurs Muslims to despise the West more than they did before they got there. This appears to be what happened with Banna.
(3) Taking up the Islamist cause, even to the point of sacrificing one’s life for it, usually happens in a discreet manner, quite unobservable even to a person’s closest relatives.
In brief, Banna’s evolution confirms the point I have made repeatedly about the regrettable but urgent need to keep an eye on all potential Islamists and jihadis, which is to say Muslims.
Read it all. Important links in the original.