Yesterday, two women in Queens were caught planning to remotely detonate a bomb at some kind of military or government facility. The two were both American citizens who had been talking to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
What was striking was one of the conspirators’ statement that she saw a limited future for herself: “I might get old here…or I’m going to be in solitary confinement…I’m going to be killed in the street – that is your future in America”.
The cliché image of the security image facing the United States, Canada, and Europe is of a disenfranchised member of society, usually an immigrant who hasn’t been able to thrive in the society as expected. In France, the Muslim minority is separated from the rest of Paris in the banlieues; in London, the Muslim minority makes up entire neighborhoods.
In 2005, the Council on Foreign Relations compares the Muslim minority in Europe to Latinos in the United States, and finds that while Latinos in the US are a jumble of different cultures and ethnicities under one racial banner, Muslims in western Europe are more likely to be immigrating from a single source, such as Pakistanis gathering in the United Kingdom and Algerians gathering in France.
In the ten years since the Council on Foreign Relations published this article, the same ethnic divisions and tensions remain, and they are only magnified by the Internet. Youtube and forms of social media are creating a new nation of radical Islam that can’t be reasoned with by moderate Muslims or secular forces. ISIS has been especially adept at using social media to spread its cause, so much so that two women in the United States began to plot and make plans to become citizens of the Islamic State.
Of these two women, clearly there was a sense, despite the United States’ integration, that the United States was not providing, or perhaps was withholding, opportunity for these women and their communities. Their rejection of the American dream has manifested in a very real threat to the country’s security.