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The Wall Street Journal Ponders The Homegrown Jihad Problem

There are two opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal that reflect an increasing willingness on the part of mainstream publications to discuss Islam. One is by Daniel Henniger published on Friday and the other is by Reuel Marc Gerecht published yesterday in which he excoriates the FBI as being worse in the political correctness department than the French internal-security service, the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST).

Writes Gerecht (with thanks to James S.):

For the FBI, religion remains a much too sensitive subject, much more so than the threatening ideologies of yesteryear. Imagine if Maj. Hasan had been an officer during the Cold War, regularly expressing his sympathy for the Soviet Union and American criminality against the working man. Imagine him writing to a KGB front organization espousing socialist solidarity. The major would have been surrounded by counterintelligence officers.

A law-enforcement agency par excellence, the FBI reflects American legal ethics. Because the FBI is always thinking about criminal prosecutions and admissible evidence, its intelligence-collecting inevitably gets defined by its judicial procedures. Good counterintelligence curiosity—that must come into play before any crime is committed—is at odds with a G-man's raison d'être. And much more so than local police departments—which are grounded to the unpleasantness of daily life—it is highly susceptible to politically correct behavior.

Powerfully intertwined in all of this is liberal America's reluctance to discuss Islam, Islamic militancy, jihadism, or anything that might be construed as invidious to Muslims. The Obama administration obviously doesn't want to get tagged with an Islamist terrorist strike in the U.S.—the first since 9/11. The Muslim-sensitive 9/11 Commission Report, which unambiguously named the enemy as "Islamist terrorism," now seems distinctly passé.

The comments section on Gerecht piece is especially lively - 279 comments so far. Henninger likewise focuses on the homegrown jihad threat:

If it accomplished nothing else, the Obama administration's announcement last Friday to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in lower Manhattan blew the Nidal Hasan murders out of the news. The KSM fiasco deserves all the attention it gets. What Hasan represents, however, is a more immediate concern.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is an old-school jihadi. They sit in far-off redoubts, assembling terror teams of foreign nationals who now must figure out how to get themselves and their plot inside the U.S. Not impossible, but harder than before 9/11.

Hasan is new school. He is what's known as a homegrown terrorist. Virtually all the Islamic terrorist plots thwarted in the U.S. in recent years were homegrown, not designed from afar by a KSM.

Najibullah Zazi, the Colorado airport-shuttle driver arrested in New York this September and charged with conspiring to detonate bombs, came to the U.S. in 1999.

The Fort Dix Six, convicted in December of conspiring to attack U.S. military personnel, were mainly ethnic Albanians whose family came to New Jersey in the 1980s.

Zakaria Amara, the leader of the Toronto 18, who were planning to blow up skyscrapers in Canada, was born in a Toronto suburb.

How do individuals sitting in Colorado, New Jersey, Toronto or Texas suddenly transform into mass murderers for jihad? Most of the time, they become radicalized by spending vast amounts of time viewing violent Islamic Web sites run from abroad.

Two years ago, Lawrence Sanchez of the New York City Police Department's intelligence division told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that the Internet is "the most significant factor in the radicalization that is occurring in America." Mr. Sanchez described this process as "self-imposed brainwashing."

In New York Times reporter David Rohde's account of his captivity by the Taliban, he wrote that "watching jihadi videos" was his guards' favorite pastime. He describes them as "little more than grimly repetitive snuff films" of executions.

If you sit in the United States and watch this stuff 'round the clock—self-brainwashing—it is fully protected activity. It qualifies as "speech," protected by the panoply of First Amendment law. These protections exist nowhere else in the world.

The biggest controversy surrounding Maj. Hasan is that the Army knew about his radical Islamic sympathies, from the Walter Reed lecture and the monitored emails to the English-speaking, American-born Yemeni imam Anwar Awlaki.

The argument is that the Army should have mustered him out of the service and thereby avoided the 13 murders. Really? After kicking him out of the Army, there was no probable cause for authorities to surveil a civilian Nidal Hasan. In time he as easily could have killed 13 Americans in a suburban Texas mall...

Ah, there's the rub.


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