The San Bernardino shooter who killed 14 Americans is yet another name on the growing list of U.S.-born children of Muslim migrants who grew up to embrace violent jihad.
Before Syed Rizwan Farook, the most notorious example was Anwar al Awlaki, born in New Mexico in 1971 to accomplished, professional-class Yemeni parents. He subsequently embraced the violent commandments of Islam, complete with its many calls for attacks on kaffirs, or non-Muslims. His career as a jihadi advisor, recruiter and cheerleader ended when he was killed by a U.S. missile in Yemen in September 2011.
Another example is Nidal Malik Hasan, the Virginia-born son of Arab migrants, who murdered 13 Americans in Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009. That attack was downplayed by federal officials as “workplace violence,” even though Hasan had described himself as a “Soldier of Allah” on his U.S. Army business cards.
According to Robert Spencer, the problem of home-grown jihadis is getting worse because the U.S. government does nothing to make Muslim immigrants integrate into the United States’ culture and laws. The best-selling author and the operator of the website, jihadwatch.org adds, “that’s the elephant in the room — there are no efforts made to inculcate any kind of loyalty to American values among any immigrants, much less Muslim immigrants.”
The problem is worse among Muslims, because Muslim culture and religion is hostile to integration, Spencer says. “Islamic law announces itself as a superior model for society and government [so] you’ve got no [community-driven] reason for Muslims to integrate or adopt American values, because their way is better,” he said.
That’s a recipe for disaster whenever Muslims realize the gap between their claims and reality, he said. “They start blaming others, they say ‘Its the Jews or ‘Islamphobes’ that are keeping me down,’ because they never blame their faults or their responsibility,” eventually causing some to become jihadis, he said.
In August 2015, the FBI arrested the U.S.-born son of a supposedly moderate Imam as he began his journey to join ISIS in Syria. Mohammad Oda Dakhlalla was accompanied by his young, university-educated American wife, who was a convert to Islam. “That is the quintessential example of the risks involved because the father is supposed to be a moderate and we’re supposed to think the son subscribes to an [violent] Islam completely different from the father… [but] there is no evidence of a rift between father and son,” Spencer said.
In October 2014, two U.S.-born teenage girls were nabbed by the FBI as they began their journey to Syria.
The left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center lists at least five additional U.S.-born jihadis, or would-be jihadis, at its site, including James Elshafay who tried to detonate a bomb in 2004, Ehsanul Sadequee, Tarek Mehanna, Walli Mujahidh [his family name comes from the Arab term for ‘Holy Warrior’], and Naser Jason Abdo, who planned to attack Fort Hood in 2011.
The problem of migrants’ jihadi children is not confined to the U.S.
Three of the four Muslims who murdered 52 of their British countrymen in 2005 were born in the increasingly diverse United Kingdom. The fourth migrated in from Jamaica at age five. More than 700 British jihadis, including many born in the UK, have joined, or tried to join, jihadis groups, according to the BBC.
At least two of the seven or nine Muslims who murdered 130 people in France this November were born in France to Muslim immigrant parents. Another French-born jihadi murdered five people in a prior wave of jihad attacks in January, 2015.
Also, young migrant children of migrants sometimes turn jihadi once they immerse themselves in the Koran when attending American mosques.
The most obvious example is Boston-bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was eight when he arrived in the United States in 2002. Eleven years later, amid much financial, emotional and social support from Americans, he and his brother used home-made bombs to kill three people in central Boston, and then murdered a cop while he trying to escape after the police posted his picture. His older brother was 18 when he was welcomed into the United States, nine years before he launched the bomb plot.
Several U.S.-born Somalis have also been drawn back into the jihads of their ancestors’ country.
Many of the jihadis in the United States are officially described as beneficiaries of U.S. laws that welcome large-scale immigration from chaotic and broken cultures. But few of the reports reveal their age when they arrived as immigrants.