How Did A Long Island Boy Join the Jihad?

Bryant Neal “Ibrahim” Vinas, a convert to Islam from Long Island, has been charged with participating in an attack on an American military base in Afghanistan and giving information about the New York City subway system to Al-Qaeda operatives. On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported that his “unlikely odyssey from Long Island, N.Y., to Al Qaeda’s innermost circle of commanders in Pakistan was achieved without any help in the U.S. from the well-oiled ‘jihadist pipeline’ that has guided so many militants from Europe and other countries.”

So how, then, did Vinas get to Pakistan and Al-Qaeda? The Times quoted an unnamed intelligence official: “From what we can tell,” he explained, “the contacts he made were his own. He was self-recruited; he was yearning to become a Muslim jihad fighter. He made his own path.”

But why was “yearning to become a Muslim jihad fighter” in the first place? The Times doesn’t show any curiosity about that at all. Christopher Holton of the Center for Security Policy asks: “How did he get to the point at which he was willing to go to Southwest Asia to join the ranks of the terrorist organization which attacked America within earshot of his middle class home? It is very important to determine how he became attracted to Islam in the first place — where he found Islam and who took part in his conversion. But the media has no curiosity about these aspects of this terrorist at all.”

The mainstream media showed the same lack of interest when another American Muslim convert, Abdulhakim Muhammad (formerly Carlos Bledsoe), murdered Private William Long and gravely wounded Private Quinton Ezeagwula outside the Army-Navy Career Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, in June. There was virtually no media interest in how exactly the freshly-minted Muhammad came to believe that shooting Infidels was in keeping with the tenets of his new religion, and what the implications of that belief might be for law enforcement and the Muslim community in America.

Yet if law enforcement officials want to prevent the creation of more people like Vinas and Bledsoe, that is the key question. For Islamic jihadists from Indonesia to Nigeria, as well as in Europe and North America, consistently point to elements of Islamic belief as the motivation and justification for their actions.

In March 2009, five Muslims accused of helping plot the 9/11 attacks wrote an “Islamic Response to the Government’s Nine Accusations.” In it they quote the Koran to justify their jihad war against American Infidels. Osama bin Laden’s communiqués have also quoted the Koran copiously. In his 1996 “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places,” he quotes seven Koran verses, including the notorious “Verse of the Sword”: “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them” (9:5).

The idea that the Koran commands Muslims to do violence to unbelievers runs from the very top of the international jihadist movement down to the rank and file. In January 2006, a gang of Muslims in Paris kidnapped, tortured, and murdered Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Jew. During Halimi’s ordeal, his captors called his family, demanding half a million euros in ransom money and reciting Koran verses. And on March 3, 2006, twenty-two-year-old student Mohammed Taheri-azar drove an SUV into a crowd on the Carolina campus, injuring nine. Taheri-azar later declared: “I live with the holy Koran as my constitution for right and wrong and definition of justice….Allah gives permission in the Koran for the followers of Allah to attack those who have raged [sic] war against them…” Later he sent a detailed exposition of the Koran’s teachings on warfare to the Carolina campus newspaper.

Vinas and Bledsoe, apparently, read the same Koran and were inspired in a similar way. But that was a matter of no concern to the Los Angeles Times and its fellow media giants, just as even law enforcement officials have passed over the question of how Islamic texts and teachings motivate jihadists with little interest. And that indifference only ensures that we have not seen the last of people like Bryant “Ibrahim” Vinas.