FLASHBACK: 26 percent of young US Muslims okay with suicide bombings

DC NEWSBlake Neff

The ongoing debate over the Obama administration’s plan to welcome tens of thousands of Syrians into the U.S. has heavily revolved around the danger that Syrian refugees may end up turning to terrorism in the future. As such, it’s worth remembering a survey of Muslims from several years ago which found widespread support for suicide terrorism, even among Muslims in Western countries.

In 2007, Pew Research Center took an in-depth look at the attitudes of American Muslims and how they compared with the rest of the world. Notably, the survey asked respondents whether it was ever acceptable to make suicide attacks on civilians for the purposes of defending Islam.

Fortunately, Pew found the vast majority of American Muslims were opposed to suicide attacks. Unfortunately, there was still a substantial group of Muslims who disagreed, and that group was disproportionately clustered among those most likely to be involved in terrorist plots.

Among American Muslims (surveyed on page 53 of the report), 8 percent told Pew that suicide attacks on civilians in defense of Islam were often or sometimes justified. Another 5 percent said such attacks were rarely justified, and 78 percent said they never were. In other words, 13 percent of American Muslims, nearly one in seven, conceded that suicide bombings against civilians could be morally acceptable. With about 3 million Muslims in the United States, even 13 percent amounts to nearly 400,000 people.

The numbers were even more worrisome elsewhere. Among French Muslims, 35 percent said suicide attacks could potentially be acceptable, as did 24 percent of British Muslims. In the Islamic world itself, the numbers were far higher. In Jordan, Nigeria, and Egypt, a majority of respondents were willing to admit suicide attacks to defend Islam could be justified.

Support for suicide bombings was particularly high among young Muslims. In the U.S. a full 26 percent of Muslims aged 18-29 admitted they could see justifications for suicide bombing, nearly triple the rate of older Muslims. Similar degrees of extremism were visible in the other Western countries Pew interviewed Muslims in. In France, an astonishing 42 percent of young Muslims said suicide attacks could be justified.

Young Muslims were more radical in other ways as well in Pew’s survey. They were more likely to have a favorable view of Al Qaeda, and were also more likely to believe conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks.

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