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These cases have sent intelligence analysts scurrying for answers.
The American suspects come from different backgrounds and socioeconomic strata, but they share much in common with Europe’s militants: they tend to be highly motivated, even gifted people who were reared in the West with one foot in the Muslim world.
Trumpeters in gold-tasseled coats tipped their horns to the sky, heralding the arrival of teenage demigods.
The star quarterback and his teammates came first in the parade, followed by the homecoming queen and her court.
Others may see them as rigid or zealous, but they envision themselves as deeply principled, possessing what Robert Pape, a professor at the University of Chicago, calls “an altruism gone wildly wrong.” While their religious piety varies, they are most often bonded by a politically driven anger that has deepened as America’s war against terrorism endures its ninth year.
The presence of Western troops in Afghanistan and Iraq has brought those conflicts closer for many Muslims in America.
Law-enforcement officials theorized that Muslims in the United States — by comparison with many of their European counterparts — were upwardly mobile, socially integrated and therefore less susceptible to radicalization.But it is Hammami who has put a contemporary face on the Shabab’s medieval tactics.In a recent propaganda video viewed by thousands on You Tube, he is shown leading a platoon of gun-toting rebels as a soundtrack of jihadi rap plays in the background.In an e-mail message in December, Hammami responded to questions, submitted to him through an intermediary, about his personal evolution and political views.“We espouse the same creed and methodology of Al Qaeda,” he wrote.
With help from Al Qaeda, they have managed to turn Somalia into an ever more popular destination for jihadis from around the world.