Why do converts to Islam turn to violent jihad? Because they are misled by jihadists, or because they approach the Qur’an and Hadith without cultural baggage, and see its demands clearly? The Western world assumes the former. But on what evidence? Is this a safe assumption? Might not this matter bear investigation by authorities? Or would that violate multiculturalist dogma? “In Philippines, watchful eye on converts: Most are peaceful, but some former Christians help Islamic terrorists, slipping by police,” from the Christian Science Monitor, with thanks to Nicolei:
MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Four years ago, Joey Ledesma went home and told his mother, a devout Roman Catholic, that he had “returned” to Islam.
Her reaction was shock and anger; they argued and fought. In the room where he prayed, she stuck pictures of the Virgin Mary to the wall facing Mecca. A cousin asked him, “Why are you acting so crazy? You’re one of us.”
Mr. Ledesma, who now calls himself Yousuf, has since separated from his Catholic wife after a tug-of-war over the religious upbringing of their young son.
As his family ties frayed, Ledesma found a stronger sense of community and purpose at the mosque. In particular, he bonded with other converts, known as ‘Balik Islam,’ or returnees to Islam. Their shared belief is that Filipinos were originally Muslims before Spanish colonizers imposed Catholicism, so they are returning to their faith.
Lesdesma is one of an estimated 200,000 Filipinos who have converted to Islam since the 1970s, joining about 4 million Muslims from the southern Philippines who are ethnically different from the heavily Christianized areas. At first, their numbers were too small to attract much notice from authorities. That is, until Philippine security forces began focusing on the role of Muslim converts in extremist violence.
What they found was a disturbing pattern: Islamic insurgents were using cells of militant converts as terrorist operatives to strike targets in Manila. Police say a detained Balik Islam militant has confessed to planting a bomb on a ferry that killed more than 100 people in February 2004. Other detainees are linked to a foiled truck bombing in Manila that targeted the US Embassy, say officials.
Investigators say that Islamic converts can evade ethnic profiling by police, opening up a new front for groups like Abu Sayyaf that are being squeezed by US-aided military offensives in the south. “This tactical alliance [between southern insurgents and Islamic converts] will emerge to challenge the government in new ways,” warns Rodolfo Mendoza, a senior police official who tracks Islamic militants.
Read it all.