How Terrorists Recruit Westerners « The Washington Independent
Counterterrorism experts and analysts have worried for years about the appeal of jihad to Muslims in the West, particularly in Europe, which has a complicated relationship with assimilation and frequently treats Muslims as second-class citizens. The Los Angeles Times has an excellent story about why the worry is real, as it tracks the appeal to Western Muslims of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), the Pakistani terrorist group with ties to Al Qaeda and, perhaps, the Mumbai attacks.
The story deals with the one known case of this happening: Aabid Khan, a radicalized Britain who joined LET before his June 2006 arrest at Manchester Airport with terrorist propaganda and maps of New York and Washington. Citing just the one example is not to fault Times reporter Sebastian Rotella, since it’s not like there are a host of easily-accessible examples here, only to place the piece in context.
Here’s how counterterrorism expert Evan Kohlmann assesses Khan’s case:
“These camps are ideal for people who speak English,” said Evan Kohlmann, an independent U.S. investigator who was a paid consultant for the prosecution team in the Khan case and was integral to building the case against him.
“Newbie militants can make real contacts. They perceive that Lashkar-e-Taiba . . . are below the radar. They are less likely to attract negative attention. It’s an easier ladder rung to reach. Lashkar is seen as a rung to get to Al Qaeda.”
Kohlmann’s talking about extremist camps in Pakistan. But as you’ll see in the piece — really, read the whole thing — his radicalization coalesces on the internet. “You dont know how much fury i have towards these american dogs,” he would write. None of us, I think it’s fair to say, would dispute an American’s right to type such a thing, no matter how we feel about the content of the message. But it points to the real tension between privacy and security. Two of Khan’s online American interlocutors were picked up and charged with terrorism-related offenses. Were they terrorists, or just dudes who did nothing more dangerous than IM with extremists?