If we believe the spin of Associated Press headline writers, there's little cause for concern about a new Pew poll of American Muslims. "Most U.S. Muslims reject suicide bombings," the AP headline writer blithely reports.
But the details of the poll show that the always-downplayed tiny minority of jihadi sympathizers in America is cause for big concern.
The poll found that while 80 percent of U.S. Muslims believe suicide bombings of civilians to defend Islam cannot be justified, fully 13 percent said they can be justified, at least rarely. One in four younger American Muslims find suicide bombings in defense of Islam "acceptable at least in some circumstances."
About 29 percent of those surveyed had either favorable views about al Qaeda or did not express an opinion. Yes, they either gave al Qaeda thumbs-up or had no opinion about the terrorist group responsible for slaughtering nearly 3,000 of their fellow Americans on 9/11 and responsible for a global bloodbath from Bali to Britain, the Middle East, and beyond.
A third of those polled believe the invasion of Afghanistan to take out al Qaeda training camps after 9/11 was wrong. In addition, only 40 percent of all American Muslims believe Arab men carried about the 9/11 attacks -- joining Charlie Sheen, Rosie O'Donnell and the inside-job conspiracy-mongers. The poll focused particular concern on jihadi sympathy among young Muslims and black Muslims:
"Muslim Americans reject Islamic extremism by larger margins than do Muslim minorities in Western European countries. However, there is somewhat more acceptance of Islamic extremism in some segments of the U.S. Muslim public than others. Fewer native-born African American Muslims than others completely condemn al Qaeda. In addition, younger Muslims in the U.S. are much more likely than older Muslim Americans to say that suicide bombing in the defense of Islam can be at least sometimes justified."
"It is a hair-raising number," Radwan Masmoudi, president of the Washington-based Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, told the AP. Indeed. The numbers should be a wake-up call, not another excuse for the mainstream media to downplay the threat of homegrown jihad.
The poll comes on the heels of the Fort Dix jihadi terror bust involving young, American-raised Muslims and the conviction this week of Muslim doctor Rafiq Abdus Sabir -- born in Harlem, based in Florida -- who had pledged loyalty to al Qaeda and vowed to treat injured al Qaeda fighters so they could return to Iraq to kill Americans. A Brooklyn bookstore owner and a Washington, D.C., cab driver also pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison in the case. The tiny minority of jihadi sympathizers aren't just sitting around stewing harmlessly about their beliefs. They are recruiting, proselytizing, plotting and growing.
I'm reminded of a similar poll conducted in Indonesia last fall. One in 10 Indonesian Muslims was found to support bombings in defense of Islam. They took the news a little more seriously in "moderate" Indonesia. One in 10 in Indonesia, you see, equals 19 million Muslims for violent jihad. That's just Indonesia.
Recent polling in Britain found that 13 percent of British Muslims believe the London subway bombers are righteous "martyrs," and 7 percent approve of suicide bombing attacks on civilians in Britain in some circumstances.
Now, add that to the 16 percent of French Muslims, 16 percent of Spanish Muslims, 7 percent of German Muslims, 28 percent of Egyptian Muslims, 14 percent of Pakistani Muslims, and 46 percent of Nigerian Muslims who told Pew last summer that "violence against civilian targets in order to defend Islam" can be justified "often/sometimes."
A few fringe jihadists here, a few fringe jihadists there, and soon you're talking about bloody real numbers.