New York: With the surfacing of a string of terrorism cases in which American Muslims were involved, US counterterrorism experts have been forced to change their earlier perception that Muslims in the United States were not very vulnerable to radicalisation.
During the lull following the 9/11, it was thought that American Muslims were well assimilated in diverse communities, and hence, they showed little extremist capabilities unlike their European counterparts.
But recent cases - including the Fort Hood rampage, the alarming account of five young Virginia men who went to Pakistan and are suspected of seeking jihad and David Coleman Headley accused of last year’s Mumbai terror attacks – are causing concern among American counterterrorism experts, the New York Times reports.
“These events certainly call the consensus into question. The notion of a difference between Europe and United States remains relevant,” said Robert S Leiken, who studies terrorism at the Nixon Centre in Washington.
But the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the American operations like drone strikes in Pakistan, are fuelling radicalisation at home, he added.
“Just the length of US involvement in these countries is provoking more Muslim Americans to react,” he added.
Concerned with the recent cases, some Muslim organisations in the United States have renewed pledges to campaign against extremist thinking.
“Among leaders, there’s a recognition that there’s a challenge within our community that needs to be addressed,” said Alejandro J Beutel, government liaison at the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington.
Beutel, a Muslim convert from New Jersey, said the council started a grass-roots counter-radicalisation effort in 2005, but acknowledged, “for a while it was on the back burner.” He said, “Now we’re going to revive it.”