Why Muslims ‘Become Radicalized’ Is No Mystery

By Dr. Norman Berdichevsky

Our media and government have essentially promoted an ignorance of what motivates Muslims to undertake violent acts preferring to focus on their individual problems of being marginalized in Western societies and subject to discrimination, estrangement due to their inability to integrate or be successful.

The look of benign puzzlement on the face of Attorney General Holder, when asked about the common factor of “Radical Islam” in the behavior and attempted acts of terrorism by those individuals apprehended and questioned over the three years of the Obama administration, reveals a profound avoidance of following the dictum if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.

No, for Obama and Holder, for The New York Times and for a large majority of those who pretend to be journalists not only in the United States, but in practically all Western societies including paradoxically, those like Spain and the U.K. that have already suffered atrocious acts of wanton terrorism, the guilty are those who act from a variety of motives.

On August 5, 2010, even Holder was obliged to use the impermissible T-word (i.e. TERRORISM) in his boasting of the indictments of 14 Americans of Somali origin who had created a “a deadly pipeline that has routed funding and fighters to al-Shabab from cities across the United States,”.

Holder said. “We are seeing an increasing number of individuals — including U.S. citizens — who have become captivated by extremist ideology and have taken steps to carry out terrorist objectives, either at home or abroad.”

President Obama, Holder and our entire State Department nevertheless prefer to be willfully ignorant, even deaf, dumb and blind to what motivated practically all the terrorist acts committed by Jihadi directed Muslims directed against innocent civilians from dozens countries of all cultural political types as well as against fellow Muslims.

No matter how long the call remains unheard, lies passive, it is always there as part of one thousand four hundred years of violent expansion, it may be LATENT BUT it is always LETHAL.

This is not “radical” but the standard, mainstream Islam that is inherently political and subject to the manipulation of demagogues, both “secular” and religious throughout history. A leader such as Saddam Hussein came to power through the Ba’ath political movement in Iraq devoted to “secular” Arab nationalism but when unable to fully mobilize public support for his failed policies, resorted to reforming his regime to make it appear more in line with traditional Islam, imprinting the first principle of Islam (There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet) on the country’s flag and putting his portrait on the currency in the image of Saladin.

Jihad, this Sixth Pillar of Islam is not a “marginal” or “perverted interpretation” practiced by a tiny minority. It may lay dormant for generations but has the power overnight to transform tens of millions of Muslims around the globe into a mob craving blood, and “revenge” for what they perceive to be an affront to their dignity and sacred beliefs

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the assassin of twelve soldiers, one civilian and the wounding of more than forty others at Ft. Hood, Texas on Nov.6, 2009 was not joking. Newspapers all over the United States carried headlines on the order of ‘Army authorities searching for a motive in the massacre‘, and ‘Obama finds crime Incomprehensible‘.

Both the Army and the U.S. President bear complicity for the deaths of these soldiers, killed at the safest location imaginable, yet many observers referred to the crime as “incomprehensible”, although Malik had been cited numerous times for extremist Islamist statements, sympathy with Al-Qaeda and his own personal calling card as a “soldier of Allah.”

On May 13, 2010 the following exchange occurred at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee:

Rep. Lamar Smith (R.,Texas): Do you feel that these individuals might have been incited to take the actions that they did because of radical Islam?

Dr. Norman Berdichevsky

Attorney General Eric Holder: There are a variety of reasons why I think people have taken these actions. . . .

Smith: Okay, but radical Islam could have been one of the reasons?

Holder: There are a variety of reasons why people……—

Smith: But was radical Islam one of them?

Holder: There are a variety of reasons why people do these things. Some of them are potentially religious-based.

For Faisal Shahzad, the attempted Pakistani (and American citizen) the Times Square bomber, sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, and the countless others, it is a wholly vain endeavor to search for some “factor” that somehow “radicalized” them apart from Islam.

Just as the many millions of Muslims who participated in the anti-Danish demonstrations following the publication of a few cartoons, there is only one factor they all hold in common – the trigger pushing them “over the line” is the ever-present allegiance to Islam which means the blind obedience to those in power able to manipulate them by resorting to the appeal of JIHAD .


Nobody among our leading journalists, politicians, television commentators and pundits and certainly not the President or the Attorney General or the many congressmen and others who had inquired about our policies vis a vis the “Muslim World” have dared ask or tried to answer the following question about their view that Islam is a noble religion and only a tiny minority can be classified as “radical Islamists”…..

Question: Can you name ANY widely regarded, respected, prominent Muslim cleric or the religious authorities in any Muslim religious institution enjoying government support in a Muslim majority state ANYWHERE who has unconditionally condemned either the numerous murderous attacks carried out in the name of JIHAD against innocent non-Muslim civilians; or the wholly reprehensible malicious attacks against Denmark; or the death threats (Salman Rushdie) as well as actual assassination attempts (against the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard by an axe-wielding Somali now in prison in Denmark); and murders carried out against writers, intellectuals, film producers and politicians (Pym Fortuyn and Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands)?

Those few brave and lonely individuals who are indeed moderates hoping to reform Islam such as  Irshad Manji and M. Zuhid Jasser of the Center for Islamic Pluralism and former Muslims like Ibn Warraq and Walid Shoebat, and notably women in exile such as Nonie Darwish, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, and Talima Nasrin who are all straws in the wind with no support for help or outreach of any kind from the U.S. government because it knows that these individuals are a tiny fraction of all those who support Al-Qaeda or the Taliban worldwide.

The Specious Freedom of Religion Argument and the Constitution

Obama and all the scores of academics and ultra-liberal no nothings among inane/insane politicians such as Mayor Bloomberg and radio/television “journalists” who have defended the Ground Zero Mosque Proposal cling to their view of the Constitution that Islam must be treated with tolerance “as any other religion”.

They cannot acknowledge the truth and prefer to remain willfully deaf, dumb and blind by regarding the current dispute and lash out against all those who oppose it and therefore MUST be guilty of Islamophobia, and worse, bigotry of every sort that includes racism, homophobia, greed, and of course, INTOLERANCE and IGNORANCE.

The truth is that the shoe is on the other foot. Not one of these paragons of virtue who claim sophistication and Ivy League degrees can even explain that the American Constitution does NOT ABSOLUTELY guarantee Freedom of Religion and that both Federal and State Law have taken action against the practices (not the beliefs) and consequences of dangerous and immoral behavior.

Brigham Young

This was the issue that forced the confrontation of the government against Brigham Young and the elders of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) to alter their “religion” and accept that American law and citizenship were not congruent with plural marriage or the exploitation of young teenage girls. The Utah territory would not have entered the Union without this confrontation when state power forced a “religion” to change its practices.

The same has been true in many Appalachian states, especially Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas, West Virginia and North Carolina where state authorities forbade the practice of the so called serpent churches among several Pentecostal denominations after the deaths of numerous individuals handing venomous snakes. The states forced churches and church members to accept that the state had a priority to protect individuals from reckless behavior and protect human life in spite of the claims of “religious freedom.”

Had the government moved earlier, the absurd and grotesque suicidal deaths of   more than 900 people, most of whom were American citizens, might have been prevented. These naïve followers of the Reverend James Jones ended their lives in the greatest act of mass suicide in American history. This occurred on Oct. 18, 1978 in Georgetown, capital of Guyana. His “Peoples Temple” was a Church – i.e. a Religion, whom these same Leftwing and Liberal advocates of tolerance for Islam believe is protected by the Constitution ABSOLUTELY without any qualifications.

His “religion” led to the greatest SINGLE LOSS of AMERICAN CIVILIAN LIFE IN A NON-NATURAL DISASTER BEFORE 9/11. The fact that it happened in Guyana was due to the real fear of Jones that he would not be able to continue his church in the United States because he knew that his cult was not permitted ABSOLUTELY by the Constitution to practice acts that could endanger human life.

Yet, the self- appointed Liberal, Tolerant Intellectuals who are shedding tears over the possible need to move the Islamic “Cultural Center/mosque” from Ground Zero have undoubtedly never read any part of the Koran or any part of the Sira and Sunnah or done any research on the use of Jihad to expand the Dar al-Islam, yet stridently label anyone as a bigot or intolerant who has, and is aware of the potential danger.

The existing partially-free press in Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, Pakistan and Egypt and the Arabic press in Great Britain admitted in numerous editorials that the conflict in Iraq following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein has not been a civil war but that jihadi terrorists convinced that theirs is the pure form of Islam have flocked there from as far away as Indonesia and Chechnia to sow death, destruction and mayhem to intimidate all those who oppose the extremist Islamist view of the world.

The editorial in the April 15th, 2007 issue of the London based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, the leading Arabic International Daily Newspaper, repeated essentially the same message and had this to say:

“To make the picture clearer… This religious war has nothing to do even with the major issues, slogans related to which are raised in the terrorists’ literature itself, like Palestine, Iraq, the U.S., etc. These are people who want martyrdom, that is, they want to fight war, anywhere in the world, and for any cause that has a religious angle.”

They are not fighting for money, public reform, or for… the environment, and they are not nationalists, pan-Arabists, or communists… They are not jokers, hippies, or oppositionists. They are seekers of martyrdom, meaning that they are in a hurry to go to Paradise. They are not interested in the life of this world, and they want to take with them to the grave the greatest number of people possible.

I know that this is an issue that is difficult for the Westerner to understand. It is also difficult for many of the Muslims themselves to accept this, and they always try to justify it with issues that they consider legitimate and comprehensible. But the truth is that these terrorists want death for the sake of Allah…

That is, even if the Americans left Iraq tonight, and the Jews fled Palestine, and extremist religious governments were established in Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt – this would not satisfy them… They want Paradise, and for this they will travel to the ends of the earth, to the North Pole and the South Pole, “to fight the infidels.”

It is incumbent on all of us to make certain that no connection whatsoever exists between this view of Islam and any request to establish a mosque anywhere. The credo of the Muslim Brothers for which there is no possibility of misinterpreting states that “Allah is our goal, the Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, struggle is our way and death in the path of Allah is our highest aspiration”.

Mawdudi, who founded the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami (Muslim Block) in 1942, argued that the ultimate goal of the Jihadi movement is to destroy all those regimes that are opposed to the precepts of Islam and replace them with a world-wide government based on Islamic principles.

The message of Jihadist Islam is clear – to strike anywhere anytime. It reads “Yesterday  Israel, Today Denmark (or Britain, or America or Switzerland or Spain), Tomorrow the World!”


Norman Berdichevsky is a native New Yorker who lives in Orlando, Florida. He holds a Ph.D. in human geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1974) and is the author of The Danish-German Border Dispute (Academica Press, 2002), Nations, Language and Citizenship (McFarland & Co., Inc., 2004), Spanish Vignettes; An Offbeat Look into Spain’s Culture, Society & History (Santana Books, Malaga, Spain. 2004), An Introduction to Danish Culture (MacFarland, 2011) and The Left is Seldom Right (New English Review Press, 2011). He is the author of more than 200 articles and book reviews that have appeared in a variety of American, British, Danish, Israeli and Spanish periodicals such as World Affairs, Journal of Cultural Geography, Ecumene, Ariel, Ethnicity, The World & I, Contemporary Review, German Life, Israel Affairs, and Midstream. He is also a professional translator from Hebrew and Danish to English and his website is here.


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