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It is Not Social Isolation that Drives Radicalization, But the Mosques
As the Western world again debates the roots of Islamist attacks on Britain and the United States, the question often posed is "Why do they hate us?" The conventional wisdom is that alienated youth, suffering prejudice and unemployment, migrate to suicide bombings to help redress the grievious injuries suffered by uncaring European societies that offer them no way out. Also mentioned are the broader political issues of Palestine, Iraq and recently, Hezbollah.

But the real answer is not so simple or so trite. There are certainly push factors: undoubtedly Northern Africans, Pakistanis and others suffer prejudice and social isolation. Many are angry at geopolitical issues.

The quetions is why the isolation, and that leads to the pull factors, which are just as strong and perhaps more important. The primary pull factor resides in a small number of easily identifiable and identified mosques. Most of the religious institutions are part of the Muslim Brotherhood network. For a more formal look at this, see my paper for the International Strategy and Assessment Center.

What is taught in these mosques, to young people already feeling aggrieved, is not new. They are told that assimilation is wrong and that the more alienated one feels, the closer one is to Allah. Western civilization is degenerate, filthy and full of sin. Rejection of the non-Muslim society in which one lives is a duty, and alienation and hatred a sign of favor from Allah.

Those who are open to this teaching are often then offered special classes and other teaching and opportunities to expand on this concept.

Much of the social isolation surrounding those in these mosques, particularly the UK and the Netherlands, is self imposed. Why integrate or seek to accomodate yourself to the world you live in when alienation is a mark of piety and devotion? How far of a step is it from that to the next logical conclusion? True piety is demonstrated by attacking the oppressive infidel who persecutes Muslims worldwide.

It is time to stop seeing suicide bombers as somehow innocent victims driven by acts of injustice to seek retribution in societies where they are abused. Every society has the stain of prejudice, and it is never right or pretty. But few who feel that way are told that their alienation is Allah's will and that destroying the societies that may have wronged them is the divinely-approved solution.

This teaching is part of a strategy, outlined by the Brotherhood in its own writings, with the aim of establishing the Muslim caliphate across Europe and the rest of the world. This ideology and theology of hatred and alienation is not taught by a few isolated and repudiated imams. It is the core teaching of a major component of political Islam, and shared by wahhabi Islamists and Salafists.

Listening to commentators on cable television since the UK plot was uncovered, it is striking how little the pull factors are discussed, rather than solely the easy to identify push factors that make the killers appear to be victims. The enemy has a pretty clear plan and a solid message. We cannot even define who the enemy is.
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