Before there was the Islamic State, before YouTube videos that seduce Europe’s Muslims to join in the jihad, before Twitter and Tumblr and the many tools of recruitment on the Internet, there was the local mosque.
There still is.
With all the emphasis now on ISIS and its various affiliates, and on the dangers they pose against the West, we have largely forgotten the forces that were radicalizing Muslim youth in Europe long before ISIS came along. Worse, we have failed to notice they still do. And yet these largely Saudi-backed, Salafist institutions – mosques and schools and Islamic community centers – arguably pose the greatest threat to Western culture, both in terms of their potential for inspiring terrorism and the sociopolitical influence they exert.
Concerns about Salafist groups and their unwavering impact in Europe have reemerged of late, the result of numerous investigations into ties between European mosques and terror financing organizations. Added to this is a growing unrest within the European Muslim community as it struggles with its own identity and future. In the process, counterterrorism experts and government officials have increasingly been forced to acknowledge that “bombing the hell out of ISIS,” as the U.S. president-elect has sworn to do, won’t be enough to solve the problem.
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