Extremist literature from Saudi Arabia that encourages hatred and mistreatment of gays, Christians and Jews is sold at one quarter of UK mosques, according to a late October survey released by the Policy Exchange, a London think tank. Days later, the head of Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency revealed that more than 2,000 people were involved in an “al-Qaeda brand” of terrorist activities inside the UK, thanks to a permissive preaching environment and lax laws. Is this happening in U.S. mosques, too?
It’s happening here, but to a lesser extent. According to one FBI agent interviewed in Ronald Kessler’s new book The Terrorist Watch, about one in ten of the United States’ 2,000 mosques are believed to preach hatred. That number was higher before 9/11, however, as radicals now seek to evade U.S. intelligence agencies.
But the problem extends beyond mosques. Islamic schools play a role, too. According to scholar Daniel Pipes, a Saudi textbook at the Islamic Saudi Academy of Alexandria, VA, teaches first graders that, “all religions, other than Islam, are false, including that of the Jews [and] Christians,” while books used by New York City’s Muslims schools include, “sweeping condemnations of Jews and Christians.”
A new report issued by the New York Police Department indicates that radical Islam continues to have an appeal among Manhattan’s Muslims, often through “informal groups or clusters of young men…usually associated with a particular venue – community center, non-governmental organization, university group, housing project, café or even a particular mosque.” NYPD also noted the, “growing trend of Salafi-based radicalization that has permeated some Muslim student associations (MSA’s).”
This environment has undoubtedly impacted America’s Muslims. According to a Pew Research Poll, roughly one-quarter of young Muslims (ages 18-29) in the United States believe that suicide bombing is justified under certain circumstances.
Could radical Islam in America grow to be as bad as it is in the UK? Unfortunately, the extent to which radical Islam has penetrated the United States is not known. The aforementioned reports, along with scores of others, provide only a thumbnail sketch of the problem.
Moderate Muslims must voluntarily come to U.S. authorities with reports of extremist activities, networks and institutions. Until they consistently and voluntarily do so, our picture of Muslim extremism at home will remain hazy, at best.
Jonathan Schanzer is director of policy at the Jewish Policy Center, and editor of inFocus Quarterly.