The Magazine

Self-Radicalization Chic

The preposterous theory du jour.

May 20, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 34 • By MICHAEL LEDEEN
Widget tooltip
Audio version Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

But the ideas often matter a lot. The ideas, in fact, give meaning to the terrorists’ lives. Read Bernard-Henri Lévy’s biography of the man who organized the kidnapping and beheading of Daniel Pearl, for example. Omar Sheik was a well-educated Briton with Pakistani roots who came from a good family, went to good schools, and was moving steadily up the ladder. One day he went into a radical mosque, and became a convert to the ideology of jihadism. His life acquired greater meaning, and killing a Jew fulfilled him.

Omar Sheik didn’t radicalize himself, any more than McVeigh, the Tsarnaev brothers, Major Nidal, and Faisal Shahzad. They were all recruited, and all were converts. To deny that, as the president and so many self-declared experts maintain, obscures the motives of terrorists and thereby adds significantly to our peril.

Michael Ledeen is the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and author, most recently, of Virgil’s Golden Egg and Other Neapolitan Miracles.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers