The question asked in this headline is never answered in the article. The AP can’t bring itself to consider the possibility that Moeed Abdul Salam read the Qur’an and Sunnah and was “radicalized” in that way. “Why did boarding school graduate join al-Qaida?,” by Chris Brummitt and Gene Johnson for AP, January 18 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Moeed Abdul Salam didn’t descend into radical Islam for lack of other options. He grew up in a well-off Texas household, attended a pricey boarding school and graduated from one of the state’s most respected universities.
What? But doesn’t poverty cause terrorism? Isn’t that what the learned analysts always tell us? Was Moeed Abdul Salam simply a Misunderstander of Islam?
But the most unlikely thing about his recruitment was his family: Two generations had spent years promoting interfaith harmony and combating Muslim stereotypes in their hometown and even on national television.
Salam rejected his relatives’ moderate faith and comfortable life, choosing instead a path that led him to work for al-Qaida. His odyssey ended late last year in a middle-of-the-night explosion in Pakistan. The 37-year-old father of four was dead after paramilitary troops stormed his apartment.
His Nov. 19 death went largely unnoticed in the U.S. and rated only limited attention in Pakistan. But the circumstances threatened to overshadow the work of an American family devoted to religious understanding.
And his mysterious evolution presented a reminder of the attraction Pakistan still holds for Islamic militants, especially well-educated Westerners whose Internet and language skills make them useful converts for jihad….
It is not clear to what extent Salam’s family knew of his radicalism, but on his Facebook page the month before he died, he posted an image of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American al-Qaida leader who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, beside a burning American flag.
He had also recently linked to a document praising al-Awlaki martyrdom and to a message urging Muslims to rejoice “in this time when you see the mujahideen all over the world victorious.”
After his death, the Global Islamic Media Forum, a propaganda group for al-Qaida and its allies, hailed Salam as a martyr, explaining in an online posting that he had overseen a unit that produced propaganda in Urdu and other South Asian languages….
The family, originally from Pakistan, immigrated to the U.S. decades ago. Salam’s father was a pilot for a Saudi airline, and the family eventually settled in the Dallas suburb of Plano. Their cream-colored brick home, assessed at nearly $400,000, stands on a corner lot in a quiet, upper-class neighborhood….
Salam went on to study history at the University of Texas at Austin and graduated in 1996. His Facebook profile indicated he moved to Saudi Arabia by 2003 and began working as a translator, writer and editor for websites about Islam….
Back in the United States, Salam’s mother is a prominent resident of Plano, where she is co-chairwoman of a city advisory group called the Plano Multicultural Outreach Roundtable, as well as a former president of the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation….
Salam’s brother, Monem Salam, has traveled the country speaking about Islam, seeking to correct misconceptions following the 9/11 attacks. He works for Saturna Capital, where he manages funds that invest according to Islamic principles “” for example, in companies that do not profit from alcohol or pork. He recently moved from the company’s Bellingham, Wash., headquarters to head its office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
After the 2001 attacks, he and his wife made a public-television documentary about his efforts as a Muslim man to obtain a pilot’s license. They also wrote a column for The Bellingham Herald newspaper that answered readers’ questions about Islam….
Officers said they pushed through the flimsy door, and Salam killed himself with a grenade when he realized he was surrounded.
The Islamic media group and the al-Qaida contact in Karachi disputed that account, saying Salam was killed by the troops….
Neighbor Syed Mohammad Farooq was woken by an explosion. Minutes later, one of the troops asked him to go inside the apartment and see what had happened, he said.
“He was lying on the floor with blood pooling around him. One of his arms had been blown off. I couldn’t look for long. He was moaning and seemed to be reciting verses from the Koran,” he said. “I could hear the children crying, but I couldn’t see them.”
Hours later, Salam’s wife and father-in-law, a lawyer in the city, came to collect the children from the apartment in Gulistane Jauhar, a middle-class area of Karachi, Farooq said. On the night he died, Salam led evening prayers at the small mosque on the ground floor of the apartment building.
“His Koranic recitation was very good,” said Karim Baloch, who prayed behind him that night. “It was like that of an Arab.”