D I S C R I M I N A T I O N    &    N A T I O N A L    S E C U R I T Y    I N I T I A T I V E    --    B L O G
  DNSI Home - http://pluralism.org/affiliates/kaur_sidhu/
  Pluralism Project - http://www.pluralism.org
  Harvard University - http://www.harvard.edu

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Europe worried by trend of radical Muslim converts

What could drive two German men called Fritz and Daniel to convert to Islam and then, according to prosecutors, embark on a massive bomb plot on home soil?

News of the alleged plot this week has shocked Germans but comes as little surprise to security professionals familiar with a string of cases around the world in which new Muslim converts have embraced the ideology of al Qaeda.

They range from British "shoe bomber" Richard Reid to "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, jailed in 2002 for fighting alongside the Afghan militia, and Australian David Hicks, the first man convicted of supporting terrorism by a U.S. military court at Guantanamo Bay.

Many analysts believe converts are prone to become extremists as they strain to prove their new-found commitment. Lacking any deep cultural grounding in Islam, they may be more vulnerable to brainwashing with distorted versions of the faith.

"They want to demonstrate in the ranks of militant Islamists that they are professionals dealing with terror and fighting the unbelievers," said Rolf Tophoven, head of Germany's Institute for Terrorism Research and Security Policy.

A Dutch study of 242 Islamist militants arrested in Europe found 14, or 5.8 per cent, were converts. "Converts are new believers, they want to over-compensate their failure to acknowledge God in the past, they are over-eager to become hardcore members," said Edwin Bakker, the report's author.

The two Germans, whose full names have not been made public, were arrested along with a Turkish man on Tuesday in connection with an alleged plot to blow up U.S.-linked targets in Germany.

Authorities said they had stockpiled 730 kg of hydrogen peroxide solution — a chemical used in suicide attacks in London in 2005 — and scouted out sites frequented by Americans such as discos, bars and airports.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told Bild newspaper there was "no simple explanation" for the phenomenon of militant converts.

"One would think that someone who grows up here and enjoys the great advantages of our free society is immune. But some are susceptible. These are dangerous, fanatical people with high criminal energy. That worries me a great deal," he said.

Experts say the vast majority of people who convert to Islam do so for legitimate spiritual reasons, drawn by a universal faith that transcends national and racial barriers and provides a new identity, including the choice of a Muslim name.

But case studies show a small minority of converts embrace violent Islamism as an outlet for their alienation and frustration, exploiting the religion as a weapon for attacking society and challenging the existing world order.

M.J. Gohel, security analyst at the Asia-Pacific Foundation in London, said attracting converts was part of a deliberate al-Qaeda strategy.

"These individuals have the advantages of being impossible to profile by security services, and with western passports they can travel easily under visa waiver schemes," he said.

"The ideal al-Qaeda recruit would be a blue-eyed blonde with an European Union or American passport, who can easily slip through any security radar as he or she would not fit into the current conventional profiling systems."

Al-Qaeda also draws propaganda value from converts like California-born Adam Gadahn, known as Azzam the American, who has warned of further attacks on the West in a number of videotaped messages on behalf of Osama bin Laden's network.

At least two converts are believed to have gone on to become senior al-Qaeda operatives.

Briton Dhiren Barot, a Hindu by birth, was convicted last year of planning attacks in the United States and Britain using a variety of means including a radiation-laced "dirty bomb."

Christian Ganczarski, a German suspected of involvement in a 2002 bombing in Tunisia, converted at 20 before launching a jihadist career in which investigators believe he became a close associate of Mr. bin Laden's.

And not all militant converts are men. Muriel Degauque, 38, a fair-haired, white Catholic-born woman from Belgium, blew herself up in a botched suicide attack in Iraq in November 2005. [Link]

Labels: ,

DNSI     direct link     0 comments   Email post: 

Post a Comment

<< Home

About DNSI

The Discrimination & National Security Initiative (DNSI) is a research entity that examines the mistreatment of minority communities during times of military action or national crisis.

More Info:
DNSI Home Page

The Blog

Why a Blog?
The purpose of this web-log is to offer news and commentary in a fluid, dynamic format while our more substantive reports are forthcoming.

Recent Posts
Sikhs Feel New TSA Hat Check Is Degrading
SALDEF to Meet with TSA Administrator Friday Morni...
TSA Policy Out of Control - Sikh's Turban Removed ...
NY Times: An Unorthodox Cabby on a Path Less Trave...
BBC: Mosque targeted in urine attack
Of Kirpans and Jilbabs... A Minority Report
Connecticut Publication Defends TSA Policy
Australia: Call for Bill of Rights to balance terr...
Ireland: Turban row dismissed by Indian group

04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005
05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005
06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005
07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005
08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005
09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005
10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005
11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005
12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006
01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006
02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006
03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006
04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006
05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006
06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006
07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006
08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006
09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006
10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006
11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006
12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007
01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007
02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007
03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007
04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007
05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007
06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007
07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007
08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007
09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007
10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007
11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007
12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008
01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008
02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008
03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008
04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008
05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008
06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008
07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008
08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008
09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008
10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008
11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008
12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009
01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009


Religious Diversity News-Pluralism Project

Into the Whirlwind
Human Rights in India
Ethnic Confusion Britain
Anil Kalhan
Sepia Mutiny

Feeds, etc.

(c) 2005 Discrimination & National Security Initiative 1531 Cambridge Street Cambridge, MA 02138