Converts to Islam are being singled out by Al Qaeda as potential weapons in carrying out terrorism, reports the New Republic magazine (April 26).
Of the 212 individuals implicated in major terrorist attacks around the world since the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, 18 were converts. But now the use of native born (often women and light-skinned) converts for terrorist purposes in order to evade post-September 11 security has increased enough to worry European investigators. A French convert, David Courtailler, allegedly has ties to a suspect in the Madrid bombings and to a group assisting terrorists in Belgium.
According to French Islam expert Olivier Roy, a new breed of “protest converts” are emerging in Europe who embrace Islam “to stick it to their parents, [to] their principal. They convert in the same way people in the 1970s went to Bolivia or Vietnam [as part] of a very European tradition of identifying with a Third World cause.”
That does not mean that most of such converts turn to terrorism, but a few may be attracted to the anti-imperialist message of radical Islam. Such converts “want to show other Muslims their worth. They want to go further than anyone else. They are full of rage and they want to prove themselves,”according to French intelligence official.
Osama bin Laden’s now jailed chief of operations, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, regularly deployed Europeans to in order to elude post-September 11 roundups. In France, surveillance is focusing on radical converts, often young people, with family and adolescent problems.