I stand beside myself as I read the news. Again, brothers, sisters, cousins, parents and friends of terror suspects remain silent while their loved ones execute (or attempt to execute) acts of terrorism.
As reported in the New York Post regarding “Jihadi John” now known as Mohammed Emwazi, “The mother of Jihadi John knew instantly in August that he was the ISIS butcher in the James Foley execution video — but kept her mouth shut as he went on to slaughter at least five more Western hostages, a report said Monday.” ~New York Post
How long has our governments been trying to discover who he is while his family concealed his identity? Why did they remain silent knowing it was their son and knowing what their son was doing?
Was it a misguided sense of family loyalty? Uncertainty? Victim mentality that leads to mistrust of the government?
Who knows, but I have a hard time believing that the parents were uncertain that it was their son.
I wouldn’t attempt to speak on behalf of this family. What I can say from years of personal experience is that immigrant (and sometimes 2nd generation) Muslim families in the west face a lot of struggles while assimilating. Even families that have lived in the west for decades still carry on the “old ways” of thinking from back home, oftentimes mistakenly believing it to be the “Islamic way”. In my experience working with and knowing many Muslim immigrants, family loyalty is no more particular to these types of families than western families but can be more acute. It often is multilayered with family, culture, tribal, national and religious components. It is to such a level that even when it is clear that a loved one is in the wrong, they will refuse to expose them regardless of how guilty.
Many of us Muslims (not all) in the west tend to carry around a shroud of victimization as well, especially when grouped into micro communities in their host country that tend only to interact with their own people or rarely interact with indigenous westerners.
Conspiracy theories are often rampant in the communities telling of stories that make already vulnerable immigrant minorities more fearful of their adopted or host government. I dealt with two of these groups in the USA that have made significant inroads into recruiting the minds of many immigrant Muslims, a group called, “LaRouche PAC” and a second called, “Democracy Now!“. LaRousche newspapers found their way into the Mosques handed out by recruiters who would stalk Friday Prayers at the edges of the property when the Mosque had the highest volume of people. Whenever an “anti-west or anti-USA” theme involving Muslims arose in the mainstream media, it was these groups that swooped in for stories to reinforce the fear of western government and their law enforcement agencies. I was featured twice by Democracy Now!, both times when they wanted a disparaging story against the US government.
The same anti-government sentiment is often reinforced in the Muslim community in many western countries.
Ayesha, from the Midlands, is now in her early 20s…
“In some of the sermons we were encouraged that we shouldn’t identify ourselves as British,” she said.
Ayesha said she was told to view Britain as a “kuffar [non-Muslim] nation” that had killed many Muslims and was “our enemy”.
“You don’t trust the state, you don’t trust the police, you don’t send your children to state schools,” she said.
I understand that the relatives of aspiring jihadi’s do not ever think of their loved ones as capable of doing such things as “Jihadi John” or even lesser terrorist activity. However, the warning signs are there and often overlooked, purposefully or not, I can’t say in every case. Certainly, in the case of “Jihadi John” the situation not only advanced beyond mere warning signs and the parents saw him on a Da’ish video.
But, what the heck is the matter with people? Maybe it is a culture difference between east and west, but if that were me, I’d be down at the local police department offering whatever evidence I needed to, if not just to try to rule him out!
Maybe in the case of “Jihadi John” the information may not have helped. However, maybe it would have! As far as I am concerned, once the parents figured out it was their son, they had an Islamic and civic duty to approach law enforcement with the information. Remaining silent not only makes them culpable civilly but also Islamically.
We Muslims need to get serious about working on the issue of radicalization in our communities and much more than mere words in a sermon during friday prayers. Since, 9/11 I have seen our communities stick our heads in the sand with ideas like, “it won’t happen to me”, “let someone else deal with it”, “it’s someone else’s fault terrorism is such an issue today”, “my kid would never do that”, the excuses are endless.
We cannot afford to be reactionary anymore only speaking up when something happens to us and even then often blaming the wrong people. We have to get away from silly conspiracy theories and recognize when both Muslims and non-Muslims are taking advantage of us in our doctrine and politics.
The process of radicalization can be subtle. It has it’s base in things we all can agree with and can affect people with the best integrity among us. It’s nothing new or particular to Islam as Christian and Jewish cults have for thousands of years employed the same brainwashing tactics to turn people. It was responsible for many waves of Crusades. Good people can be turned and made to make life changing mistakes, even your loved ones. Don’t let mistrust of your government or police agencies prevent you from discovering if your loved one is being groomed by other people with illicit intent. You will not only be saving their lives but perhaps any of those people whose lives may have been affected by their actions.
If anyone thinks that they or their relatives are going to travel to the middle east, join a Jihad to establish “Justice in the Land”, and not murder innocent people and even fellow Muslims has got another thing coming.
I’ll leave you with the words of Allah.
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah , even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” ~Qur’an 4:135