Why would Albanian-speaking Muslim refugees from the Balkans try to murder American soldiers? After all, the United States — not bin Laden's rag-tag jihadists — saved Bosnia and Kosovo? And we did that by bombing the capital of a Christian European nation.
But then, why did a mixed-up Albanian Muslim in Salt Lake City, one Sulejman Talovic, go on a shopping-mall shooting spree? Five innocents were killed in the attack before the murderer himself was shot and killed.
And why, after pouring billions of dollars into Afghanistan, did poor, mixed-up Omeed Aziz Popal, an Afghan Muslim, try to run over several innocents in San Francisco near a Jewish center in September 2006?
Or, for that matter, why did an angry Muslim Pakistani gun down Jews in Seattle?
Or, again, why earlier last year, did a 22-year-old Iranian-American Muslim drive his sport utility vehicle into a crowded pedestrian zone at the University of North Carolina?
The Phenomenon of al Qaedism
About a year after 9/11, I made use of a word "al Qaedism" in a National Review Online essay to describe such seemingly isolated terrorists, both amateurs and the more organized, both the deranged and the more focused. At that time we were all discussing the careers of those like John Williams, John Walker Lindh, Jose Padilla, or Richard Reid (or rather John Mohammed, Abdul Hamid, Abdullah al-Muhajir, or Abdel Rahim).
Yet, both then and now, we waste our time wondering whether such terrorists are al Qaeda-controlled or not. The question is academic. It matters little whether they were explicitly ordered to kill by central terrorist command (they probably were not) or were inspired by CDs, the Internet, or the local mullah.
The point is simply that, for purposes of harming America, lone-wolf jihadists need only to feel the same rage and perceived grievances — al Andalus, Israel, Iraq, Chechnya, Kashmir, etc. — as their pin-up heroes like bin Laden or Zawahiri.
But, again, why do these residents in our midst, who have voluntarily come to America, and some of whom have had America itself spend billions abroad on their brethren, wish to kill us?
Such questions are nonsensical. The aggrieved Islamist, whether born here or abroad, lives in a world of emotion, never reason, in which pride, envy, and a sense of inferiority always trump logic.
When, as an individual or collectively, he constructs someone or something culpable for his own — or his people's — sense of failure, then a primordial urge to lash out follows. His mind returns to the seventh-century never-never land of scimitars and sharia law mixed in with rote chanting of "Allah Akbar!" while his body and material appetites are stranded in our cosmos of Baywatch reruns and professors on the BBC and CNN whining on about the dangers of Islamaphobia. What, then, are the catalysts for the al Qaedist that turn him from hothouse anti-Americanism to deadly violence?
The Creation of an Al Qaedist
The first is the goad of radical Islamic indoctrination through globalized communications. A nut in New Jersey can feel as close to a Wahhabi megaphone in Jeddah as a Bedouin just a desert away. Fiery sermons of hate-filled imams on the West Bank (now they employ Mickey Mouse as a prop), or videos of Americans losing limbs in Iraq, or sit-coms from Iran depicting Satanic Americans and Jews, are as cheaply disseminated as they are cheaply produced.
To the degree that capital for such Goebbels-like hatred is required — opening radical mosques, printing propaganda, funding madrassas — we should remember that, with recent oil-price spikes, there are annually another $500 billion floating around the Middle East from Shiite Iran to the Sunni Gulf monarchies.
Second is the nature of the assumed grievance that goes unexamined and unchallenged by Westerners. Instead, we seek with the logic and reason of the 21st century to sort out why they hate us — a phenomenon well known to crybaby Islamists who can produce new complaints as fast as the old ones are shot down.
So sympathetic Western observers must damn Israel for not giving up all of the West Bank (never asking why Cyprus, the Kuriles, or Tibet have not fostered suicide bombers).
Or is it our presence in Iraq (as if it predated 9/11)? Or is it that we have demonized poor Muslims (as if we have not saved the starving, enslaved, and targeted in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Somalia, or subsidized the failed in Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine; or as if the Chechen-killing Russians or Muslim-burning Hindus are as targeted as we are).
Always we forget that the jihadist mind is of the 7th century, nursed on illusions of ancient grandeur lost to purported Zionism, capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism.