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The "Acting Alone" Myth
Perhaps none of the generally-accepted conventional wisdom items on the recent jihadist attacks is as dangerous as the constantly-repeated refrain that the individuals "acted alone." While the acts may have been carried out by individuals, they are all part and parcel of the broader Islamist movement to recreate the caliphate as Allah's kingdom on earth. There are push and pull factors and actors that part of a coherent whole that work with these individuals to make their actions possible.

There are catalyzing agents, such as Anwar al-Aulaqi, who seems to have had a direct hand in galvanizing the primary actors in both the Ft. Hood massacre and the Christmas airline attack. And there are individuals who seek to be galvanized.

Loneliness and alienation seem to push certain people toward seeking a spiritual experience, and certainly not solely in Islam. But one of the great structures looking for such individuals is the Muslim Brotherhood and its many, many institutions.

As the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report (free subscription required) reports, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who has been charged with attempting to blow up a U.S. airliner, was president of the campus Islamic Society, but the group says he never expressed any extremist views…..The British Federation of Student Islamic Societies confirms Abdulmutallab led its UCL chapter between 2006 and 2007, but it insists it heard nothing to suggest he supported illegal acts. In fact, a spokesman says, during his tenure the society worked to forge closer ties with student groups of all faiths and no faith.

But wait. The Islamic Society is part of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies in the U.K. and Ireland (FOSIS), founded in 1962 and described as an umbrella grouping of most major university Islamic societies in the U.K.

What is the Brotherhood's basic message, as written by its founder and chief ideologue? That the world is in a state of darkness and utter sin, and the more uncomfortable and alienated one is, the closer the individual is to finding the truth in Islam.

So, you have lonely, alienated and unhappy people, in effect being told that their alienation is a sign that they are close to Allah and on their way to salvation. What is required of them? To use whatever means available to attack the current system perpetrated by infidels, and bring about a new, Islamic world.

Not everyone who joins the Brotherhood ends up committing acts of terrorism. But it is certainly one of the key gateways to radicalization, and one that provides a community and support structure for those who do.

Al Aulaqi had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood (working at Brotherhood-dominated mosques in Virginia and elsewhere), and so does Malik Nadal Hasan. This is not coincidence. As many noted after 9/11, every major violent Islamist leader, from Osama bin Laden to Mohammed Atta to Kahlid Sheik Mohammed passed through the Brotherhood on their way to greater radicalization.

And who is the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States, according to trial documents made public during the Holy Land Foundation trial? CAIR and the rest of the organizations that pretend to speak on behalf of the Muslim community in the United States. The same groups that repeatedly and consistently pass themselves off as voices of moderation and reason with the ability to fight radicalization and extremism. Their record is not one that points in that direction.

One cannot say every attack is an isolated incident. Each one, whether directly connected to other actors or not on the surface is a part of a much larger and coherent movement that seeks, ultimately, to destroy the non-Muslim world, including any Muslims who don't agree with their fundamentalist theology. So let's stop talking about the attacks this way, and instead focus on the apparatus that pushes the actors to radicalization and justifies it for them.

That is not a single individual act, but a collective act of jihad carried out one individual at a time. There will be more in the new year, so it is not in our best interest to examine each tree in the forest as an isolated tree, but look at the eco-systems that create the environment in which the trees flourish.
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