What would motivate two young Muslims to blow up innocent men, women, and children? What did America do to deserve such an outpouring of irrational, blind hatred? In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, it is clear that most Americans still do not understand the ideology of radical Islam.
Bill O’Reilly noted that America had been very kind to the Tsarnaev family, wondering how they could have paid back our generosity with such barbaric acts of terror. America is a great, open-hearted country that welcomed this immigrant family and made the American dream accessible to them. Now they kill and maim our people?
More than two decades ago, Daniel Coleman, an American intelligence agent, wondered what it was that fueled the fires of an obscure Islamic radical named Osama bin Laden. Reading one of bin Laden’s writings, Coleman observed that “one of the striking features of the document was that time seemed to have stopped a thousand years ago. There was now and there was then, but there was nothing in between. It was as if the Crusades were still going on in bin Laden’s universe. The intensity of the anger was also difficult for Coleman to grasp. What did we do to him? he wondered” (as recounted by Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower).
As Coleman was to learn, and as all of America should have learned by now, in the eyes of radical Muslims, America has done much to deserve their wrath.
First, America’s wars in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan are considered to be Western intrusions into the Muslim world, power-grabbing moves aimed at world domination, sometimes motivated by greed (= oil), always motivated by a sense of the superiority of American democracy.
What we view as wars of liberation at the cost of precious American lives, they view as acts of exploitation, as murderous incursions that are wiping out hundreds of thousands, if not millions of their people. (I am not supporting these views; I am simply stating how radical Muslims view us.)
How many Iraqi and Afghani citizens have been killed by American bombs? they would ask. How many innocent Muslim men, women, and children have been slaughtered? They will now inflict that same terror on us, not by dropping bombs on us from the air (since they don’t have the capability of doing so), but by planting bombs on our busy city streets.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.