Somehow I missed this City Journal piece by Theodore Dalrymple, one of my favorite Brits, reflecting on an anti-terror bust in Germany. Those arrested weren’t just native-born Muslims but converts, good Germans all, from affluent and well-educated families. Dalrymple observes that this was the typical background of German Marxist terrorists 30 years ago: Islam, he thinks, is the new Marxism.
The man believed to be the leader of the little group, Fritz G., the son of a doctor and an engineer, was himself a student of engineering, of mediocre attainment. He grew up in Ulm, where a quarter of the population is now Muslim, and at the time of his parents’ divorce, when he was 15, he began to frequent the Islamic Information Center of Ulm, and also the comically named Multikultihaus in the neighboring town of Neu-Ulm, where young men of jihadist views, including Mohammed Atta, had long congregated. In 2004, he was spotted at the Ulm Islamic center, selling a journal called Think in the Islamic Way. In December of that year, the police found propaganda in favor of Osama bin Laden in his car. In 2006, he went to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.
His fellow conspirator, Daniel S., came from a well-off family and converted early in life to radical Islam. He traveled to Egypt to learn Arabic, and then returned to Germany, where he sometimes irritated his neighbors by praying loudly in Arabic three times a day.
All this suggests that Islam is fast becoming the Marxism of our times. Had Fritz G. and Daniel S. grown up a generation earlier, they would have become members of the Baader-Meinhof Gang rather than Islamic extremists. The dictatorship of the proletariat, it seems, has given way before the establishment of the Caliphate as the transcendent answer to some German youths’ personal angst.
The notion of anti-Western terror planned in a Multikultihaus would be too pat for fiction. However, the reality of young, affluent, well-educated persons plotting murder against their own kind is, unfortunately, not just a German malady. The West may be best, but it seems to breed a kind of ideological antibody in its own populations. We are not immune. And the line between ideology, which is constitutionally protected, and murder, which is not, gets thinner all the time.