Defining Non-Violent: The Spread Of Extremism
The bulk of this story can be found via The New York Times and at Rusty’s site, you’ll want to read both. But below the headlines rests the real challenge for a freedom loving democracy fighting terrorism, especially in the Internet age.
The degree to which North Carolina-based Samir Khan is directly involved in supporting terrorism can be debated and the outcome of a formal trial would be far from assured. And then there’s the mostly un-addressed issue of how he got his start.
From the assembled excerpts below, you can trace his increasingly extremist ideology from groups purported to be non-violent – groups that enjoy First Amendment protections. The challenge of monitoring so-called political groups based upon extreme religious dogma when they clearly have the potential to ultimately produce dangerous extremists to some degree, is a serious challenge for America today.
He has grown up in middle-class America and wrestles with his worried parents about his religious fervor.
His early postings, beginning in 2003, promoted strengthening Islam in North America through nonviolent confrontations. But with the escalating war in Iraq, bloodshed became a recurrent theme.
Born in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, Mr. Khan was 7 when his family moved to New York City and settled into the Queens neighborhood of Maspeth.
He mirrored his teenage peers, from their slang to their baggy pants, until August 2001 when, at age 15, he said, he attended a weeklong summer camp at a mosque in Queens, which was sponsored by a fundamentalist but nonviolent group now known as the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA).
“They were teaching things about religion and brotherhood that captivated me,” Mr. Khan said. He said he went back to school knowing “what I wanted to do with my life: be a firm Muslim, a strong Muslim, a practicing Muslim.”
He also befriended members of the Islamic Thinkers Society, a tiny group that promotes radical, nonviolent Islam by leafleting in Times Square and Jackson Heights, Queens.
After moving with his family to North Carolina in 2004, Mr. Khan said, he attended a community college for three years and earned money selling various products, including kitchen knives.
But he began spending chunks of his days on the blog he created in late 2005, “Inshallahshaheed,” which translates as “a martyr soon if God wills.” The Internet traffic counter Alexa.com, which rarely is able to measure the popularity of blogs because they do not have enough readers, ranked his among the top one percent of one hundred million Internet sites in the world.