The Corner

National Security & Defense

Western-Born Muslim Terrorists Are Not Supposed to Exist

The man who killed 22 British concertgoers on Monday is reportedly Manchester native Salman Abedi, whose parents had come over from Libya as refugees. Abedi joins a long line of Muslim terrorists who were born and bred in Western Europe or the United States. Although some commentators insist there is no immigration issue here because of Abedi’s British birth, Western-born Muslim terrorists are actually the most conspicuous failure of high-immigration globalism.

For supporters of mass immigration on both sides of the Atlantic, the way to address Muslim terrorism is to forget the “Muslim” part and focus on the “terrorism” part. Carefully vet incoming immigrants to ensure they have no ties to terrorist groups, then let immersion in Western culture remove any latent sympathy for radicalism. Unfortunately, terrorism committed by Western-born Muslims discredits that approach. Such terrorists could never have been “vetted,” since they are not immigrants, and assimilation has obviously not worked for them. In fact, they are so disaffected, so alienated from Western culture, that they wish to kill their fellow citizens.

The immigration scholar Peter Skerry has observed that “assimilation is not a simple linear progression, but one that moves back and forth across the generations.” As the West accepts more Muslim immigrants, how much risk will we face from a “de-assimilated” second generation? That is a question that many would prefer not to confront. It would require acknowledging that Muslim immigration per se has fostered a small but dangerous Islamic terrorist movement within the West itself. It would also require acknowledging that the world’s peoples are not interchangeable parts that can be scattered around the globe without long-term consequences. For that reason, Western-born Muslim terrorists are like a glitch in the Matrix — a dose of reality that immigration advocates cannot explain away.

Jason Richwine is a public-policy analyst and a contributor to National Review Online.

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