In FrontPage this morning I discuss the “self-recruited, self-trained, and self-executing” jihadists to which FBI director Robert Mueller recently referred (news links in the original):
The day after seven people were arrested in Miami for trying to raise an “Islamic Army” to wage jihad by mounting terror attacks against the Sears Tower in Chicago and other landmarks, FBI Director Robert Mueller pointed to a new kind of jihad terror threat: “These extremists,” he said, “are self-recruited, self-trained, and self-executing. They answer not to a particular leader but to an ideology. In short, they operate under the radar. And that makes their detection that much more difficult.”
The Miami plotters were a case in point. According to the Justice Department, they were charged with “conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, namely al Qaeda; conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists; conspiracy to maliciously damage and destroy by means of an explosive; and conspiring to levy war against the government of the United States.” But they weren’t a sleeper cell of Al-Qaeda operatives; rather, they “allegedly attempted to obtain the support of al Qaeda to achieve their goals and discussed this desire with an individual cooperating with law enforcement who posed as a member of al Qaeda. Believing they were dealing with that terrorist group, in March 2006, Batiste and other defendants pledged an oath of allegiance to al Qaeda and allegedly supported a plan to destroy FBI buildings in the United States by taking photos of the FBI Building in North Miami Beach, Florida, and other federal buildings in Miami-Dade County.”
The plotters were evidently members of the Moorish Science Temple, a bizarre precursor to the Nation of Islam that amalgamates elements of Christianity and Islam. While the Council on American Islamic Relations has asked the media to refrain from calling the group members Muslims, clearly it was the Islamic elements of the group’s strange theology that led them to begin terror plotting. According to the Telegraph, “the basic tenet of Moorish Science is that all black people are born as Muslims and are descended from the Moors, a nomadic North African tribe.” To be sure, the Islam that the Moorish Temple has envisioned has only the most glancing resemblance to orthodox Sunni Islam, but the connection is nevertheless real: the father of the accused ringleader of the plot, Narseal Batiste, has said that his son, according to AP, “was determined to study the Quran despite his urging to remain with Christianity.” And their attempt to make contact with Al-Qaeda makes their allegiances and self-identification abundantly clear.
Others recently have also operated below the radar, apparently motivated only by the same ideology that seems to have been the primary impetus of the Sears Tower plot. Initial news stories about Michael Ford, the man who opened fire in a Safeway warehouse, killing one person and injuring five, reported that his mother and sister had ascribed the killings to Ford’s frustration over his treatment as a Muslim: according to the Denver’s ABC 7 News, “Ford’s mother and sister told a local TV reporter that Ford was a kind, caring person, who wouldn’t hurt anyone but that he said he was being teased at work because he’s a Muslim and he couldn’t take it anymore.” However, in later stories family members had changed their story: “Family members said Ford didn’t appear to be especially religious, despite some claims made in the media that co-workers had made fun of his Muslim faith. Bobby Ford said he’d never even seen his brother pray, and another brother said he knew he read the Quran, but it didn’t appear to be a huge part of his life.”
Still, the “claims in the media” were entirely plausible, particularly given the fact that there are precedents. Last March, Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, rented an SUV and drove it through a crowded part of the campus, intentionally trying to hit people and wounding nine. In a series of letters to the student newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel, he explained that he acted in obedience to Qur’anic dictates: “Allah demands of believers to retaliate violently against persons responsible for attacking them or their fellow Believers around the world. ([Qur’an] 2:178-179, 5:45, 8:72, 9:38, 9:71, 42:39-42, 49:10)”¦.Due to my religious motivation for the attack, I feel no remorse and am proud to have carried it out in service of and in obedience of Allah”¦.Considering that I injured several people both physically and psychologically, who were also American taxpayers, I feel that I succeeded in obeying Allah’s commandment to fight against the enemies of His followers.”
This is the ideology to which Mueller was referring. And he is right: there is no way to spot a Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar or a Michael Ford (if he was indeed motivated by Islamic rage) in advance. Anyone can read the Qur’an the way Taheri-azar did, and come to the conclusions he came to. But in part this is because American Muslim advocacy groups, for all their self-proclaimed moderation, have done little or nothing to combat the spread of the jihad ideology in American mosques. One might reasonably expect, if they really abhor that ideology as a twisting of Islamic principles as much as they say they do, that they would have developed and implemented comprehensive programs within American mosques to make sure that that ideology does not proliferate within them, and that they would have made it abundantly clear that that ideology is unwelcome and its adherents expelled and reported.
If they did this, Mueller and his colleagues would have a fighting chance to begin to make headway against this ideology. That they have not done so, and have not been called to account by government and law enforcement officials, as well as by the media, for not doing so, is an increasingly serious and glaring omission.