September 11, 2011


The Waning Appeal of Radical Sheik: a review of THE MISSING MARTYRS: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists By Charles Kurzman (BERNARD HAYKEL, 9/11/11, NY Times Book Review)

In "The Missing Martyrs," Charles Kurzman suggests that even before Osama bin Laden was killed, his movement had failed utterly. Al Qaeda's ideological trademark is to exhort ordinary Muslims to engage in individual acts of violence against those deemed enemies of Islam, specifically Americans, Jews and the infidel rulers of Muslim-­majority states. And yet very few such attacks have occurred in the United States since Sept. 11, and certainly none comparable to the devastating events of that day. To emphasize just how surprising this is, Kurzman cites a 2006 online manual for aspiring jihadists that lists 14 "simple tools" that "are easy to use and available for anyone who wants to fight the occupying enemy" -- they include "running over someone with a car" and "setting fire to homes or rooms at sleep time." Kurzman, a sociologist who has written widely about Islamic reform movements, asks: "If terrorist methods are as widely available as automobiles, why are there so few Islamist terrorists? In light of the death and devastation that terrorists have wrought, the question may seem absurd. But if there are more than a billion Muslims in the world, many of whom supposedly hate the West and desire martyrdom, why don't we see terrorist attacks everywhere, every day?"

Kurzman's answer is that Al Qaeda and its violent kin have failed so dismally simply because they have been unable to attract large numbers of recruits to their cause.

...consider what a disaster their "success" was for them.

Posted by at September 11, 2011 5:19 AM

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