What does being 'radicalized' really mean?

The word Photo: AP

CHARLOTTEApril 29, 2013 – The most popular buzzword since the Boston bombings is “radicalized.”  But exactly what does that word mean?

According to media accounts, the Tsarnaev brothers who carried out the attacks in Boston were “radicalized” in a relatively recent time frame. Using such a term requires considerably more clarification than simply using it as a means to explain global terrorism, however.

The latest name in the on-going investigation into the marathon mayhem is someone named “Misha” who has been identified as the person responsible for converting the older brother, Tamerlan, into a radical Islamist.

Further details regarding Misha, however, show that he is allegedly an Armenian who himself converted from Christianity to Islam. Which means that the seemingly endless search progresses, because now we must find out who converted Misha.

Except we really do not need to know who converted Misha.

In our over-reaching attempts to segment Islam into two categories, radical and moderate, we are not being honest about the sources of global terror. While there are radical and moderate Muslims, Islam itself cannot be divided into those two categories. The very nature of Islam in its purest form is radical and those who follow the teachings of the prophet to the letter are called “radicals.” In truth, they are not actually radicals. Instead, they are simply practicing the faith as the Prophet Muhammad and, later, Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab taught it.

Therefore, by definition, if you follow the tenets of Islam to the letter as written in the Koran and the Hadith, you are a radical Muslim.

Does that mean there are no moderate, peaceful Muslims? Of course not. Most Muslims are not terrorists or have a propensity for violence. On the other hand, the failure to recognize the inherent venomous nature of the faith is to deny the reality of its ideology.

When a person such as Tamerlan Tsarnaev crosses the line and makes the decision to become an Islamist, he does not become totally dedicated alone. Simply reading passages from the Koran or studying articles about bomb making in an Al-Qaeda magazine are not nearly explicit enough to completely indoctrinate someone.

Which is why it is misleading to believe that the brothers Tsarnaev, and others like them, have the ability to act individually to perpetuate an attack like the one in Boston. Though the seeds of radical thought may be planted through personal reading and interaction, the complexities of the hatred runs much deeper. That requires an intense indoctrination from outside sources who have virtually become brainwashed by their beliefs.

It should not have been a surprise when the news broke last week that the pressure cooker bombs in Boston were more sophisticated than those described in the Inspire magazine article. To detonate the bombs after the brothers were out of their range and to make them explode within seconds of each other is not a technique conducted by amateurs.

Other skills had to be involved, and that, as well as the philosophical lessons of Islamic terror had to be taught extensively.

Initially, indications by the media were that the new information about a sophisticated detonator brought a new element into the story. Such an apparatus meant that Tamerlan did, indeed, receive outside training which also meant that it was now an international problem rather than the work of  home-grown fundamentalists.

That is true, but what should not be overlooked is the Insight article itself. It does not matter whether it is possible to make a pressure cooker bomb in your kitchen. What is significant is that such material is readily available as a source of inspiration for future would-be terrorists. The fact that potential terrorists do not possess the skills themselves is not as important as the fact that reading such radical ideology is perceived as “cool” by impressionable readers.

For many children growing up in the Middle East, the indoctrination toward radicalism begins at a young age. For others, such as the Tsarnaev brothers, it can evolve slowly over time. Either way, there must be a catalyst that breeds the contempt necessary to carry out the violence and hatred against innocent people.

Islam is the culprit. Moderate Muslims must stop defending the religion and recognize the magnitude of the problem. It is time to step up and speak out.

Being “radicalized” requires far more effort than simply buying a pressure cooker and some nails and building a bomb. 

Contact Bob at  <ahref=”https://plus.google.com/#110562793209908234170/?rel=author”>Google+</a>

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in CharlotteNCTaylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to SwitzerlandFrance and Italy for groups of 12 or more.

Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.

As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 71 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.





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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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