Why does this surprise them? Because they haven’t learned the lessons of Maher Hawash, or Fawaz Damra, or Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar. What are those lessons? In Hawash’s case, it is either that sleeper cells do exist, or that even aside from them Muslims can be convinced that their path to Paradise is through violence — as Muhammad said, “Paradise is under the shade of swords.” Sometimes the change from peaceful Muslim to mujahid can come by means of a moment of personal crisis. Taheri-azar, on the other hand, was convinced of that, by his own account, by reading the Qur’an; he apparently required no group affiliation. And the lesson of Damra is that some moderates” are just dissemblers.
Which of these is applicable in this case? I don’t know. But if I were the British investigators, these would be the avenues I’d be pursuing in my investigation. There is no need for head-scratching puzzlment over this transformation. One need only discover how they came by the jihad ideology, and then the transformation becomes a matter of inevitability.
“Agencies ‘startled by speed of conversion from citizen to killer,'” from Financial Times, with thanks to Mackie:
The police and security services were startled by the speed with which citizens turned to violent extremism that was manifested in the July 7 attacks in London, a parliamentary committee said yesterday.
They also appear to have underestimated the risks posed by home-grown terrorism, the intelligence and security committee said.
As expected, it said in a report that the security services had not been negligent in failing to follow leads that might have prevented the attacks on the transport system that killed 56 people including the four bombers.
But it expressed concern that the development of the home-grown terrorist threat and the radicalisation of citizens “were not fully understood or applied to strategic thinking” by the counter-terrorism services.
You can say that again. As long as they have to believe in the great unicorn of the Vast Majority of Loyal Muslims, they will never be able to understand how this ideology can spring up anywhere — in places such as Taheri-azar’s Chapel Hill flat, as he quietly read his Qur’an.