While new facts about the Boston Marathon bombing may yet emerge, what we already know is enough to qualify it definitively as a terrorist act perpetrated by people motivated by a radical interpretation of Islam. To most people, this is sufficient proof that American soil has yet again become the target of Islamist terrorism. While this fact has certainly disappointed assorted cognoscenti in the mainstream media who fervently hoped that the perpetrators would turn out to be right-wing extremists, it is no longer easy to contest it.
Instead, a new narrative has taken hold among the bien-pensants and their army of terror “experts”: the myth of the self-radicalized lone-wolf terrorist. The members of this species, we’re told by USA Today, do not appear to be “engaged terrorists,” nor are they “part of a widespread organized terror plot.” Rather, they “fit the pattern seen in Europe of disaffected young men” who self-radicalized on the Internet. However, fear not: It is still possible that “the brothers were right-wing terrorists,” according to unnamed experts, and a learned scholar from the University of Leicester tells us they may have “had some connection with a neo-Nazi group.”
The message this epic nonsense conveys is that these disaffected young men do not present much of a threat since they’re not involved with al-Qaeda and, therefore, with “engaged terrorism,” whatever that means. Even if true, this would be cold comfort to the victims of the Boston massacre. But not only is it patently false, it represents an insidious and craven apologetic for the mayhem radical Islam has wreaked and will continue to wreak in America.
So let us briefly look at the mythical self-radicalized lone-wolf terrorist. There have been 19 documented foiled terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11. The vast majority of the suspects were born and raised in America and radicalized here long before some of them sought training and assistance from foreign jihadists. Nor were they radicalized on the Internet. In virtually every case, they embraced Islamism in American mosques and Islamic centers under the control of radical Wahhabi, salafi, or Muslim Brotherhood imams, some of whom turned out to be wannabe jihadists themselves. This unfortunate reality is neither a coincidence nor an aberration.
For despite the fact that most American Muslims are well integrated and economically successful, much of the Muslim establishment in this country has been controlled by radical Islamists ever since the Muslim Brotherhood made its first appearance in America with the founding of the Muslim Student Association in 1963. Virtually all Islamic organizations in existence in America since then — including the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the North American Islamic Trust, the Muslim American Society, the Council of American-Islamic Relations, and countless others — are derivatives from the MSA and continue to propagate the radical ideology of the Ikhwan (as the Muslim Brotherhood sometimes calls itself) and its Saudi paymasters.
So where do the Tsarnaev brothers fit in into this? They came to the United States ten years ago, so even the older Tamerlan was probably too young to have brought his Islamism with him. We now know that the Tsarnaevs frequented the Islamic Society of Boston, which, we also know, was founded by Mr. Abdurahman Alamoudi, a Muslim Brother. Mr. Alamoudi, once a pillar of the Muslim community in America, is currently serving a 23-year sentence in a federal penitentiary for terror-related activities. The ISB mosque and the affiliated Islamic Cultural Center are managed by the Muslim American Society, which, according to U.S. officials, is the American subsidiary of the Muslim Brotherhood; advocacy of jihad and martyrdom have made an appearance on the MAS website more than once.
The ISB has also been known to invite speakers such as the U.S.-born Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, a notorious anti-Semite who, in one recorded sermon, gently reminded his audience that Christians and Jews are a “spiritually filthy substance” whose lives and property are of no value. Though we do not know what else may be going on behind closed doors at the ISB, it is unlikely that a prospective jihadist would find the Internet preferable to such inspiring sermons.
The myth of the self-radicalized lone wolf, hollow as it is, unfortunately has staying power because it faithfully reflects the Obama administration’s mantra that the only terrorist enemy we have is al-Qaeda, and it is in headlong retreat. It will take more than another Boston massacre for Americans to realize that homegrown Islamist terrorism is a clear and present danger, and it will take a different administration to start doing something about it.
— Alex Alexiev is a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center (IASC) in Washington, D.C. His most recent book, The Wages of Extremism: Radical Islam’s Threat to the West and the Muslim World, is available from the Hudson Institute.