Can Islamic Extremism Grow on American Soil?

November 16, 2007 11:45 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The head of Britain’s domestic intelligence agency talks of thousands of young men radicalized on U.K. territory; analysts ask what makes America safe from the proliferation of U.S.-born terrorists.

30-Second Summary

On Nov. 5, U.K. intelligence chief Jonathan Evans, director general of MI5, warned that his agency had identified 2,000 individuals in Britain who pose a national security threat. He added that the real number could be twice as high.

The July 7, 2005, attacks in London that claimed 52 lives were conducted by 4 suicide bombers, and all but one of them was born in Britain. So, should America be more concerned about homegrown terrorists?

An August 2007 study by the New York City Police Department concluded that “unassimilated Muslims in the United States are vulnerable to extremism, but less so than their European counterparts.”

That would appear to be the consensus. According to The Christian Science Monitor, “The nation’s history of inclusion has helped to defuse sparks of Islamist extremism.”

In other words, immigrants like it in the States, so they don’t rebel. It is an opinion shared by a Time magazine article titled “The American Exception.”

However, political philosopher Francis Fukuyama finds a more complex explanation for the difference between European and U.S. Muslim communities.

In his estimation, European societies differ from America in that they lack a strong sense of identity—indeed they take pride in its absence. Consequently, these countries are neither able to provide a sense of belonging to resident cultures nor to defend their own liberal values from alien influences.

Fukuyama concludes that to resist radical Islam, these nations “will need to uncover those positive virtues that define what it means to be a member of the wider society. If they do not, they may be overwhelmed by people who are more sure about who they are.”

Headline Links: U.K. terror threat and LAPD plans to map Muslim communities

MI5: Al-Qaeda recruiting U.K. children for terror
LAPD’s Muslim mapping plan killed

Background: Attacks and plots in the United States and Britain

Opinion & Analysis: Domestically produces radicals

Muslim extremism in Britain
Muslim extremism in the United States
Global extremism

Reference Material: U.K. census data


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