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An excellent article in The Washington Post today examines Western converts to radical Salafism who rose to become significant operational figures in European al Qaida cells. Noteworthy are two aspects:

1. The blending of Islamist radical political objectives with criminal network objectives by these Western converts.

2. The prominence of the psychological motivation for the converts:

“Pascal Mailhos, director of the French national police intelligence agency, said in an interview with Le Monde newspaper in November that there were about 5,000 Muslims in France who had adopted extremist beliefs. Of those, about 400 are converts, he said.

“The phenomenon is on the rise, and we are very alarmed,” Mailhos said. “The process is often very quick and offers these dysfunctional young adults a new way of organizing their lives.”

WaPo quotes Oliver Roy as well.

2 Responses to “”

  1. collounsbury Says:

    Interesting article, almost missed this.

    It is inevitable, rather like the old romantic hard Left quasi anarchist terrorists.

    Perhaps the most important question is the issue of “orientation” of “new Muslims” – too many converts I have met are the sort that lap up the jihadi Salafiste “true Islam” rot. Typical “convertitus” one sees regardless of the religion.

    Of course this is not something unknown to the specialists. You may recall on my blog I noted the convert friend of mine arrested in Mosque while in my fine little country – right after London. Among the questions asked by security forces was “when” he converted and some questions on theology. As it happens my amigo is far from Salafi so….

    But you have to know the questions.

    There was a German convert I got into arguments with, more Muslim than Muslim type, who was advising women visiting Marrakech to wear the hidjab out of respect. Bloody Salafi idiocy.

  2. mark Says:

    Hey Col,

    This my third attempt on two differnt computers to reply. Not a good IT day today.

    You are correct about the “new convert” phenomena spanning religions – it seems to be the hard edged versions that are growing – Salafism, Hindu extremism, Millenarian Evangelical Christianity, Opus Dei/neo-Tridentine Catholicism – The Fundamentalism Project did a good job tracking them though I haven’t checked them in a few years.

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