Profiles of nine residents of Northern Virginia charged with aiding the Islamic State were recently obtained from a law enforcement intelligence report by The Washington Times.
The profiles paint a disturbing picture of a group of people who, on the outside appear to be integrated young adults, while in actuality, are supporting a brutal terrorist group intent on taking away every basic freedom enjoyed in America.
Most of those charged are between their late teenage years and early twenties, with the exception of one 36-year old, who was employed as a Metro police officer. (He is accused of stockpiling weapons at his house and advising others as to how to avoid detection by law enforcement. He eventually travelled to Libya.)
Four graduated from a local high school (one was an honor student) and two were attending community college (one was working at the same time at Starbucks and another for a local bank).
Another who worked for two banks and for a hotel travelled to Syria to become a jihadi but changed his mind and was able to escape. One served as a combat engineer in the Virginia National Guard and worked for with consulting firms. (He pleaded guilty to trying to buy weapons to execute a Fort Hood-Style attack as well as meeting with members of the Islamic State in Africa.)
One even joined the Army (but was discharged after four months).
“Local police are in a particularly difficult situation,” said Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer and researcher on Islamism who lives in Northern Virginia, speaking to The Washington Times. “They face a severe challenge by Islamists operating in the shadows of our open society. These mostly young male Muslims become radicalized either by Islamist imams at some of the thousands of mosques across America, at school, or over the ever-present internet sites that spew anti-West, anti-Christian hatred.”
Maginnis spoke of society’s obsession with political correctness which hampers the job of law enforcement as well as the backlash on social media against the police. “Given our open society, detached parents and politically correct schools, local police in Northern Virginia understandably hesitate to rigorously pursue young Islamist wannabes,” he said.
Yet, the question remains: Why is this ideology so attractive to the many who have been susceptible to radicalization? What is it about their existing value system that allows them to make such a seemingly easy transition to sanctioning torture, beheading, rape, sex slavery and the conquering of entire nations?
A commonality in those that become radicalized – besides the fact that they rarely come from deprivation or poverty — is the fact that they are convinced on an ideological level that they are being true to their religion.
If anything is clear from these cases, it is the fact that Muslim theologians who do not adhere to this extremist ideology must make their voices heard – not just in academic settings, but through social media, videos and other platforms that will be as equally attractive to young Muslims and converts who seem to be seeking a higher meaning to their lives than the success that has already come to them through the material world.