While most of us are focused on the immigrants pouring into this country, disturbing new reports have revealed that it is actually their children who are proving to be the most fruitful recruiting ground for radical jihad in the U.S.
According to the Washington Times, at least half of the deadly terrorist attacks in the U.S. in the last decade have been carried out by the children of immigrants. The most recent attack in Orlando, which killed 49 people, was of course carried out by Omar Mateen, the son of immigrants from Afghanistan.
Mateen joined a group of second generation immigrants-turned-terrorists that includes Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the San Bernardino, California, terrorists who was the son of Pakistanis; Nadir Soofi, one of two men who attacked a drawing competition in Garland, Texas, last year and whose father was from Pakistan; and then-Maj. Nidal Hassan, the son of Palestinian immigrants whose shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 set off the modern round of deadly lone-wolf attacks.
Other attackers were people brought to the U.S. as young children, meaning they grew up here but were besieged by questions of identity.
“Historically, the ‘high stress’ generation for American immigrants has been second generation,” said former CIA Director Michael V. Hayden. “Mom and Pop can rely on the culture of where they came from. Their grandchildren will be (more or less) thoroughly American. The generation in between, though, is anchored neither in the old or in the new. They often are searching for self or identity beyond self.”
This poses the difficult question of how to keep the children of immigrants from abandoning the precepts of their adopted home. Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump eluded to this on Monday.
“The bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here. That is a fact, and it’s a fact we need to talk about,” Mr. Trump said in a speech in New Hampshire.
Trump went on to say that immigrants from Afghanistan, where Mateen’s parents hail from, overwhelmingly “support oppressive Sharia law.” He then revised his Muslim ban, saying it would apply only to travelers from regions connected to terrorism. Trump would do away with the ban when the U.S. has a better idea of who is coming and what values they hold.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, also talked about this problem on Monday.
“While the vast majority of Muslims are law-abiding and peaceful, we must face the uncomfortable reality that not only are immigrants from Muslim-majority countries coming to the United States, radicalizing, and attempting to engage in acts of terrorism, such as in Boston and Chattanooga; but also, their first-generation American children are susceptible to the toxic radicalization of terrorist organizations,” Sessions said.
Hedieh Mirahmadi, president of the World Organization for Resource Development and Education and an authority on countering violent extremism, said that in the end it’s up to the parents to make sure their children aren’t radicalized. She said that “if you don’t teach your child Islam someone else will.”
Though parents are typically culturally Muslim, it is their children who end up being more religiously devoted and seek out instruction online, where they are ripe for recruitment.
“There’s a responsibility for immigrant families to realize that their children may be learning religion online and there may be deviant interpretations online they may be subjected to,” she said.
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