From non-religious families to ISIS

It turns out that 80% of the French citizens who joined ISIS come from non-religious families.  These converts to Islam and jihadism describe it in terms of religious liberation, a putting away of meaningless materialism to find personal meaning and transcendent purpose.  Can it be that human beings have an innate need for transcendence, and that suppressing and denying the religious impulse causes it to break out in extreme, violent, and twisted forms?

Ross Douthat discusses the phenomenon in the New York Times. [Read more…]

Terrorist targeted Wichita airport

A white, non-Arabic American who converted to Islam by reading jihadist sites on the internet was planning a suicide car bomb attack on the airport where he worked in Wichita, Kansas.  Fortunately, his co-conspirator was an FBI agent.

I’m scheduled to fly into that airport later this week!  Last time I was on an airplane, I flew into San Francisco a few hours after it was attacked. [Read more…]

Whether a criminal converts to Islam or Christianity

James Holmes, who dressed up like the Joker and killed 12 people at the Batman movie (and who faces the death penalty if he is convicted), has converted to Islam.  Robert Spencer explores what that means as opposed to a conversion to Christianity:

The debate over James Holmes’s sanity has raged hotly ever since he murdered twelve people and wounded 58 in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, in July 2012. But now the controversy can be laid to rest: Holmes is sane. The clearest indication of his sanity came last week, when the Daily Mail reported that he had converted to Islam.

The Mail reported that Holmes is apparently quite devout: he has grown a lavish beard, eats only halal food, prays the obligatory five daily prayers, and studies the Qur’an for hours every day.

Holmes’s conversion reveals that instead of being unaware of what he did, or utterly remorseless, as one might expect of a psychotic or a sociopath, the murders must trouble him a great deal. For it is souls that are troubled — intellectually, morally, spiritually, psychologically — who cast about for some solution to what troubles them, and often find it in religious conversion.

But it is what Holmes converted to that is significant. [Read more…]


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