Caroline Glick

This week we learned that Nazareth is an al-Qaida hub. Sheikh Nazem Abu Salim Sahfe, the Israeli imam of the Shihab al-Din mosque in the city, was indicted on Sunday for promoting and recruiting for global jihad and calling on his followers to harm non-Muslims.

Among the other plots born of Sahfe's sermons was the murder of cab driver Yefim Weinstein last November. Sahfe's followers also plotted to assassinate Pope Benedict XVI during his trip to Israel last year. They torched Christian tour buses. They abducted and stabbed a pizza delivery man. Two of his disciples were arrested in Kenya en route to joining al-Qaida forces in Somalia.

With his indictment, Sahfe joins a growing list of jihadists born and bred in Israel and in free societies around the world who have rejected their societies and embraced the cause of Islamic global domination. The most prominent member of this group today is the American-born al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki.

US authorities describe Awlaki as the world's most dangerous man. His jihadist track record is staggering. It seems that there has been no major attack in the US or Britain - including the September 11 attacks and the July 7 attacks in London - in which Awlaki has not played a role.

Sahfe and Awlaki, like nearly all the prominent jihadists in the West, are men of privilege. Their personal histories are a refutation of the popular Western tale that jihad is born of frustration, poverty and ignorance. Both men, like almost every prominent Western jihadist, are university graduates.

So, too, their stories belie the Western fantasy that adherence to the cause of jihad is spawned by poverty. These men and their colleagues are the sons of wealthy or comfortable middle class families. They have never known privation.

Armed with their material comforts, university degrees and native knowledge of the ways of democracy and the habits of freedom, these men chose to become jihadists. They chose submission to Islam over liberal democratic rights because that is what they prefer. They are idealists.

This means that all the standard Western pabulums about the need to expand welfare benefits for Muslims or abstain from enforcing the laws against their communities, or give mosques immunity from surveillance and closure, or seek to co-opt jihadist leaders by treating them like credible Muslim voices, are wrong and counterproductive. These programs do not neutralize their supremacist intentions or actions. They embolden the Western Islamic supremacists by signaling to them that they are winning. Their Western societies are no match for them.


Caroline Glick

Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.

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