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Sunday, September 25, 2005

European Jihadists

By Marc Schulman, American Future

This week’s TIME magazine has a lengthy article on what it calls “Generation Jihad” — restive, rootless young Muslims who have spent their lives in Europe but now find themselves alienated from their societies and the policies of their governments.

    A 2004 estimate by the intelligence unit of French police found that about 150 of the country’s indexed 1,600 mosques and prayer halls were under the control of extremist elements.

    A study of 1,160 recent French converts to Islam found that 23% identified themselves as Salafists — a sect sometimes associated with violent extremism.

    In the Netherlands, the Dutch intelligence service says it believes as many as 20 different hard-line Islamic groups may be operating in the country.

    In London, authorities say that as many as 3,000 veterans of al-Qaeda training camps over the years were born or based in Britain.

TIME interviewed Sajid Sharif, a 37-year-old, second-generation Muslim with secular parents. Sharif is neither poor nor uneducated. He went to college and he’s a civil engineer. He’s also the head of the Savior Sect, a group that claims several hundred supporters and seeks to unite all Muslims worldwide under the sharia. Revealingly, he told the magazine that it was not until he was a university student in Britain that he embraced Islam. “I wanted some inner discipline,” he said. Islam provided him with the “tranquillity” he sought. At least openly, he doesn’t support terrorism. He thinks that the July 7 attacks were retaliation for Britain’s support of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. TIME doesn’t say whether he thinks this justified the bombings.

Thirty-year-old Zaheer Khan recounted a similar story. He, too, was a college student when he was drawn to radical Islam. The Wahhabi and Salafist recruiters, he said, “would tell you that things like taking out car insurance are against Islamic principles, or voting–this is haram, forbidden.

There’s nothing new under the sun. Back in the 1930s, a group of Oxford University students pledged that under no circumstances would they fight to save England. And, of course, college campuses were the recruiting grounds for many a Communist spy. Today, some American institutions of “higher” learning (San Francisco State comes to mind) are hotbeds of anti-Americanism and support for Palestinian terror. Education can cure the world’s ills only if the right people are doing the educating. They’re not.

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