Op-Ed: "The Seductive Beat of the Militant, Islamic Drum" by H.D.S. Greenway

June 13, 2006

Source: The Boston Globe


On June 13, 2006 The Boston Globe ran an opinion piece by columnist H.D.S. Greenway in response to the recent arrests of 17 Canadian men on charges of plotting terrorism. Greenway writes, "Canadians today, are horrified that some of their citizens apparently do not accept the values of a liberal democracy... There has arisen in recent years a phenomenon of home-grown youths in Western countries, who, susceptible to the seductive beat of the militant, Islamic drum, are finding romance and adventure in the jihadi cause. Fred Halliday of the London School of Economics, who analyzes terrorism, talks of a new generation of alienated, transnational youths, all connected to the Internet, who listen to the same music, wear the same clothes, and, in some cases, get pulled into the same terrorist chat rooms. Muslim youths, who perceive injustices and humiliations in the Muslim world, are won over to extremism, similar to how idealistic youths were recruited into the Communist Party. 'They want to change the world,' Halliday said, and they are attracted to the secrecy and the cult-like training camps that terrorists provide -- not unlike the militia groups of white racists in the United States. Seduction by Internet has been around since the '90s, says Jessica Stern, a terrorism specialist at Harvard University. The neo-Nazi, William Pierce, used to say he got a higher quality of recruit online than elsewhere. 'Instead of hanging out on street corners,' says Stern, much of today's youth hangs out on the Internet. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi perfected communicating terrorism via the Internet, according to Stern. He used videos, including beheadings, 'to great effect,' with young people even mimicking the beheadings. The whole jihadi culture has become fad-like, sexy, and cool, Stern says, 'a virulent idea, but a very attractive, bad idea, and some are very vulnerable to infection.' To many impressionable youths, Osama bin Laden is the new Che Guevara. It might be laughable if it didn't have such deadly implications. It is a phenomenon that is not going to stay north of the border [in Canada], and, unless these impressionable youths can be inoculated from jihadi seduction, the fire next time may come from the boys next door."