The Horrors of Honor Violence: Terrorism At Home

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
June 18, 2018

She was a 15-year-old student at San Antonio’s Taft High School with a soft smile and dark eyes. Like most girls her age in Texas, she favored blue jeans. Unlike most girls her age in Texas, in 2017 she was promised in marriage to a man 10 years her senior, who would pay her parents $20,000 to take her as his wife.

But the Iraqi-born Maarib Al Hishmawi had no intention of marrying so young, least of all to a man so much older and whom she hardly even knew. She refused.

Her parents, who had moved to the United States from their native Iraq two years prior, were furious. They “choked her almost to the point of unconsciousness,” said Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar. They beat her with broomsticks. Her mother, 33-year-old Hamdiya Sabah Al Hismawi, threw hot oil on her body.

Maarib escaped, running away from home in January. Claiming they feared she’d been kidnapped, her parents called in local police and the FBI to help track her down. But even from the start, Salazar told CBS News, it was clear to him that “this wasn’t an ordinary missing persons case.” When police found her in an undisclosed location some weeks later, Maarib explained her story. She and her five brothers were taken in by Child Protective Services and her parents immediately taken into custody. Her father blamed Maarib for his arrest.

This is not just a story about domestic abuse. It is a story about cultural mores, institutionalized violence against women and girls (and occasionally young men) in the name of family honor. And it happens to thousands of them every year, not just in places like Afghanistan and Somalia and Iraq, but in America, England, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, France, and elsewhere across the Western world.

Honor violence, according to Phyllis Chesler, the author of A Family Conspiracy: Honor Killings and several studies on the subject, is a form of “tribal violence.” It differs from domestic abuse in that honor violence involves “carefully planned conspiracies and may be perpetrated by multiple family-of-origin members.” Honor violence also differs from domestic abuse in aim: rather than violence directed at a woman’s immediate behavior, such as coming home late, or failing to serve a perfect meal, honor-based violence aims to punish women who “are seen to be acting too ‘western’ or who have relationships or friendships which transgress gender, caste, ethnic or religious distinctions,” according to a 2008 CIVITAS report. “Women’s behavior which is viewed as ‘unacceptable’ by families and communities can include having a boyfriend of different race, religion, caste or wearing ‘western style clothing and listening to ‘western’ music.”

Such violence is also not limited to Muslims, says Jordanian journalist Rana Husseini, author of Murder in the Name of Honor. “While some Muslims do murder in the name of honor – and sometimes claim justification through the teachings of Islam – Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and others also maintain traditions and religious justifications that attempt to legitimize honor killings,” she writes.

Weapons of choice often differ from non-honor-related abuse, involving acid attacks, burning, or hot oil as with Al Hishmawi. Many rights organizations, including the Ayaan Hirsi Ali (AHA) Foundation, also consider forced marriage and female circumcision, or FGM, to be forms of honor violence.

While Chesler’s work focuses on honor killing and not honor violence in general, her observations about the nature of honor killings applies as well to honor violence. “Brothers, uncles, fathers, and other male relatives usually commit the murder, although mothers have also been known to collaborate in the murders of their daughters; sometimes, they are even hands-on perpetrator,” she said in a recent e-mail. By contrast, “Batterers who murder in the West are usually acting in an unplanned and spontaneous way. They alone are the perpetrators. Their own families do not assist them nor does the victim’s family of origin.” Moreover, she adds, “In the West, batterers and wife killers are not celebrated—they are shunned. If possible, they are also prosecuted.” Yet those who commit honor killings and honor violence, she said, “are viewed as heroes who have saved their family’s honor. Thus, they feel no shame or remorse.”

Indeed, even the victims may feel they “deserve” their fates, or at least show understanding of their abusers. When 19-year-old Aiya Altameemi was spotted talking to a boy near their home in Phoenix, Ariz., her mother and sister padlocked her to a bed so she could not escape and then beat her severely. Officials handling the case learned later that Altameemi’s father also once held a kitchen knife to her throat and her mother burned her with a hot spoon when she refused an arranged marriage. Yet at their trial, Aiya wailed that she wanted her mother back, and later defended her to reporters. “We are Muslim,” she said. “Our culture says no talking to boys.”

While growing attention to the phenomenon of honor killings has led to greater oversight by most Western governments, many of which now recognize such murders as a distinct category, honor violence remains largely overlooked and misunderstood. Too often it is grouped with domestic violence, which ignores the true and most insidious nature of the threat. Those facing honor violence have nowhere to run – not their mothers, their sisters, their imams. Consequently, treating the problem of honor violence is far more complicated than handling domestic abuse, or simply putting the husband or other family in prison.

What’s more, Western countries are only now starting to recognize the magnitude of the problem, said Amanda Parker, senior director of the AHA Foundation, an organization that fights honor violence, female genital mutilation and forced marriage. “Across the board, when you see the data being collected in each of the countries, the consensus from experts is that the estimates are low because these are crimes that are not reported, are kept under wraps within families and then there is a judgment call among those who are collecting the data,” she said in a recent phone conversation. “Are they going to actually define it as ‘honor violence’?”

Even official estimates can vary widely. In the Netherlands, the only country with a special police force dedicated to honor crimes, officials registered 452 incidents in 2015. But police receive approximately 3,000 reports of honor-related violence each year, claims criminologist Janine Janssen of the National Expertise Center for Honor Related Violence and author of the Dutch handbook Focus on Honor. According to Dutch newspaper the Volkskrant, 80 percent of these incidents take place in Turkish-Dutch families, 20 percent in Dutch-Moroccan, and 10 percent in Iraqi, Afghan, and Kurdish homes. Others occur in families with roots in the Balkans, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, and in Hindu families from Suriname.

These numbers seem relatively consistent Europe-wide. In the UK, for instance, the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organization (IKWRO) registered 2,823 incidents in 2011, a 57 percent increase over 2010. It is not clear whether the increase in reported assaults is due to an actual rise in the number of incidents, increased bravery among victims in reporting, or better awareness of the problem by law enforcement itself.

And in Sweden, where in 2016 a man cut off his wife’s nose and upper lip before stabbing her 66 times in her home, 97 people were serving time for honor-related crimes, according to a 2017 State Department report. A separate 2007 report estimated that 1,500-2,000 women “had been subjected to honor-related violence” that year alone, exclusively among Muslim immigrant families. The State Department report quotes cabinet minister Nyamko Sabuni, a Congolese immigrant, as saying that honor violence against women had reached “urgent proportions.”

None of these figures, however, seem to reflect the problem of FGM, which is at least as urgent in the West. “Forced marriage and female genital mutilation are acts of violence in that they are acts of physical or emotional force that are intended to preserve or improve the family honor,” said an Honor Violence Study Report produced by the Maryland-based research outlet WESTAT. The numbers are shocking. The State Department report cites data showing 53,000 victims in France, most of whom were “recent immigrants from sub-Saharan African countries.” In Germany, the numbers are similar, at an estimated 48,000 victims, with about 9,000 adolescent girls at risk; and in the Netherlands, an estimated 29,000 have suffered FGM, with 40 to 50 young girls are still at risk each year according to a 2013 report.

Although FGM is illegal in all of these countries, prosecution is sporadic. “Despite having legislation in place since 1985, the United Kingdom has failed to prosecute any perpetrators of FGM,” the AHA Foundation noted, this while the country recorded 5,391 incidents in 2016-2017. Moreover, “only 26 states in the US specifically ban FGM,” the foundation reported last month, yet more than 110,000 women and girls at risk live in the 24 states that do not. Worse: according to Amanda Parker, “The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than half a million women and girls are at risk of FGM in the US.” And if that’s just for FGM, she says, “the numbers facing honor violence have to be giant.”

Parker and others are also concerned that recent immigration crackdowns in the United States may make the matter worse, as immigrant women and girls become more fearful of seeking help. And the lack of training among law enforcement makes it difficult to prosecute honor crimes when women do report them. “The main thing is that those who are best-placed to count these incidents are really law enforcement, and they aren’t sure what they’re looking at when they see it,” she says. Training, as has been done in the Netherlands, is therefore crucial. “If there were a box they could tick that said ‘reclaiming family honor,’ that would work,” notes Parker, “but we are very far from that at this point.”

Still, she and other activists against honor violence remain hopeful. “As slowly as things are moving,” says Parker, “they are actually moving.”

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands. Follow her at @radicalstates.

Emerging Islamist Political Clout Accelerates Europe’s Self-Islamization

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
April 17, 2018

Forget the beheading videos, the ISIS propaganda on social media, even the terrorist attacks themselves. Europe, sayscounterterrorism expert Afshin Ellian, is Islamizing itself, and in the process, the Western values on which its democracies are built are increasingly put at risk.

Take, for instance, Belgium’s ISLAM Party, which now hopes to participate in the country’s October local elections in 28 regions. (Its name serves as an acronym for “Integrité, Solidarité, Liberté, Authenticité, Moralité.)

Its ultimate aim: transforming Belgium into an Islamic state. Items high on its agenda include separating men and women on public transportation, and the incorporation of sharia law – as long as this does not conflict with current laws –according to the party’s founder, Redouane Ahrouch. His own behavior, however, suggests that his respect for “current laws” and mores has its bounds: He reportedly refuses to shake hands with women, and in 2003, he received a six-month sentence for beating and threatening his wife. Currently, the Islam Party has two elected representatives in office – one in Anderlecht, the other in Molenbeek – both regions that happen to be known as hotbeds of extremism.

Or consider DENK, Holland’s pro-Islam party founded in 2015 by Turkish-Dutch politicians Selçuk Ozturk and Tunahan Kuzu. The party platform, which supports boycotts and sanctions against Israel, also discourages assimilation, calling instead for “mutual acceptance” of multiple cultures. Non-Muslims, for instance, would apparently be required to “accept” the Muslim extremist father who beats his daughter for refusing an arranged marriage, or for becoming too “Westernized” for his taste. It’s his culture, after all.

DENK also calls for a “racism police force” to monitor allegedly racist comments and actions. Those found guilty would be placed in a government “racism register,” and banned from government jobs and other employment.

So far, such pro-Islamist views have served the party well. In local Dutch elections last month, DENK (which means “think” in Dutch) gained three seats in Rotterdam, totaling four seats among 45 total and edging out Geert Wilders’ far-right Partij voor de Vrijheid(PVV), which fell from three seats to one. In Amsterdam, which also has 45 seats, a full 50 percent of Dutch-Moroccans and about two-thirds of Dutch-Turks gave the party a three-seat win in its first election there, as well. Many of these voters, according to post-election analyses, moved to DENK from the center-left Labor Party (PvdA), clearly feeling more at home with a more overtly pro-Muslim politic.

Similarly, France’s Union of Muslim Democrats (UDMF) has taken a number of voters from the Green Party by promising to defend Muslims. UDMF’s online program statement condemns burqa and headscarf bans. What’s more, in its pretense of supporting what it calls the “sweet dream of Democracy, Union and Human Rights,” the party loudly (though rightly) condemns “anti-Muslim speeches” that “lead the most psychologically fragile people to commit acts of unprecedented violence.” Examples of such “unprecedented violence” follow: a German white supremacist, who killed an Egyptian woman wearing a veil in 2009, and the stabbing of a French Muslim in Vaucluse. “Heavy weapons attacks have exploded in Europe since the beginning of the year against Muslim places of worship,” the statement reads.

What the party statement does not mention anywhere are the attacks by Muslims in Paris and Nice that together killed 240 people between January 2015 and July 2016; the attack by a Muslim extremist on a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012; and the kidnapping and heinous torture of Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Jew, in 2006. These are among other acts of “unprecedented violence” by Islamists.

UDMF also calls for protection of the family and its “essential role in the education of children,” while citing Article 14 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child which calls for respecting “the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.” From here, the party demands the “right and duty of parents….to guide the child in the exercise of the above-mentioned right.” Implied here is the demand that parents be allowed to treat their children as they see fit according to their religious beliefs – including to beat daughters who refuse an arranged marriage, becoming “too Westernized,” and so on.

Most disturbing are the large numbers of Muslims who have all flocked to parties like DENK and UDMF throughout Europe. Rather than moving towards more secular, traditionally democratic political movements, Europe’s Muslims are apparently increasingly distancing themselves from the “European” side of their identity and identifying more with Islam and the Muslim community. And this, too, is part of Europe’s “self-Islamizing,” the result of taking too unsure a hand, too ambivalent a position, on the issue of assimilation.

Indeed, as Ellian points out, European institutions have enabled this cultural separation. Photographs taken last November during a meeting of the Muslim student union at Amsterdam’s Vrije Universiteit revealed that men and women sat on opposite sides of the auditorium aisle. Such events are common, according to journalist Carel Brendel, who first reported on the incident. “Yet the administrations [of these schools] do little or nothing about it, despite the fact that their own rules forbid” such gender separation,” he told the Investigative Project. Brendel has also exposed links between the Amsterdam police and Abdelilah el-Amrani, a Muslim Brotherhood-connected imam invited by the police department to lead last year’s annual Iftar dinner marking the end of a day’s fast during Ramadan. El-Amrani, Brendel said, also oversees a group of interconnected organizations, including an Islamic school that came under investigation last year for having separate entrances for boys and girls.

Worth noting about the event, according to Brendel, is that no other government body sponsors a religious ceremony. Nor does any Dutch government agency, let alone the police, host a Passover Seder or observe any other religious event with the public.

In addition, and perhaps more alarming, a spokesperson for the Rotterdam police posted to Twitter that day that “police will be difficult to reach tonight, due to various Iftar meals.” City security and the safety of citizens, in other words, was being compromised in the name of a religious celebration.

Elsewhere, other signs of self-Islamization can be found in the rise of other Muslim parties in Austria as well as a failed effort in Sweden; a proposed ban on the British press against identifying terrorists as Muslim; the proliferation of sharia courts in the UK; and the repeated efforts by some Canadian officials to legalize sharia – a debate that recently has been revived.

While all of this involves political movements, it stands as a reminder of what the ideology behind the “war on terrorism” is really all about: an attack against our culture. We need to do better at protecting it.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands. Follow her at @radicalstates.

 

Sophisticated Australian Airplane Bombing Plot a Warning To the West

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
August 3, 2017

Australia’s arrest Saturday of four men suspected of plotting a terrorist attack on a commercial airliner signals more than a resurgent terror threat to airplanes. Because the alleged weapon involved smuggling explosives and poison gasses in a standard kitchen utensil – a meat grinder or mincer – it demonstrates, too, the rapidly increasing sophistication of these plots and the development of new means of attack.

It also exposes what international intelligence agencies, but few others, have known for some time: in a recent ranking of countries where radical Islam is a significant security threat, Australia stands in third place.

This may surprise most people, who think of Australia as a land of laid-back surfers and cuddly koalas, but a different side of Australia has emerged in recent years – one where radical Islam is rising. And it’s not just among immigrant populations; there, as elsewhere, converts also play a large role. The large percentage of Australian Muslims who have joined the Islamic State also has been little noticed. With an estimated 476,000 Muslims among 24.13 million Australians, the country has one of the highest per capita rates of Muslims who have made hijrah, or the journey to the caliphate. The ratio is about on par with France.

According to a BBC report, the majority of Australia’s radicals were born in that country. Sixty percent of them are of Lebanese heritage – another distinction from European ISIS members, most of whom appear to come from Northern Africa. And a 2010 reportfrom Monash University’s Global Terrorism Research Centre noted that, unlike other jihadists in the West, radical Muslims in Australia tend to be married (77 percent, as opposed to 38 percent in the UK).

The four men arrested in conjunction with the latest plot all were Lebanese-Australian, according to the Daily Mail. Khaled and Mahmoud Khayat, alleged to be father and son, are believed to be related to a senior ISIS figure; Khaled and Abdul Merhi are said to be related to Ahmed Merhi, who has been in Syria since 2014 and is a popular ISIS recruiter. According to the Australian, while Ahmed Merhi’s mother is Lebanese and a practicing Muslim, his Syrian father Faraj claims to have abandoned religion.

Abdul Merhi was released Monday without charges. According to press reports, despite extensive questioning, officials found no evidence he was involved.

Although the remaining three suspects have yet to be formally charged as of this writing, investigators claim that they were well on their way to developing a plot to smuggle either explosives or toxic gasses onto a Dubai-bound Emirates flight in the hollow base of the mincer. Other reports suggest that they had already tried and failed to board the Emirates flight, which carried as many as 500 passengers and crew, and were therefore targeting a domestic flight. The plot was first noticed by British intelligence officials, who alerted their Australian counterparts.

If indeed the jihadists had planned to use a toxic gas, some experts believe it might have been acetone peroxide, or TATP – familiarly known as “Mother of Satan.” The gas, which begins as a white powder that does not show up on standard airport tests, must be packed under high pressure. According to Australian news web site news.com.au, the materials “could be placed in a grinder so it was opaque through an X-ray machine and appeared innocuous upon visual inspection.”

“Mother of Satan” gas was used in the 2016 Brussels attacks and was found in the backpack of Salman Abedi, who blew himself up at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England this past May. It can easily be made at home using standard acetone and hydrogen peroxide.

Although this plot was particularly sophisticated, it was far from Australia’s first brush with Islamist terrorism. Indeed, 15 plots were foiled between 2014 and 2016. In 2016, ISIS’s online magazine exhorted followers to “scorch Australia with terror.” Not that Islamist radicals needed much urging: Just in 2014, 18-year-old Numan Haiderstabbed two counterterrorism officials outside of Melbourne, and Iranian-born Man Haron Monis held 18 people hostage, killing two, at the Lindt Café in Sydney. Several other ISIS-inspired stabbings, hostage-takings, and one shooting have occurred since last year. Other attacks have since been intercepted, including more than one plan to kidnap non-Muslims en masse and stage public beheadings.

But this particular plot has implications that reach far beyond Australia. The clever attempt to hide the explosive material in an everyday object – one that can be facilely passed through security systems – is one easily copied by others, and for which we have no existing protections. It is also the first effort by an Australian terrorist to stage an attack on this scale – both in terms of the number of potential victims and in scope, moving beyond Australian borders.

Together, they make frighteningly clear that even as the Islamic State’s territory withers, the global reach and power of jihadism is still growing stronger.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands. Follow her at @radicalstates

Lessons from Europe’s Immigrant Wave: Douglas Murray Cautions America

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
July 24, 2017

Douglas Murray has long voiced his concern about the growing influence of Muslim culture on the West. The associate editor of Britain’s Spectator, a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal, and the founder of the Centre for Social Cohesion, a think tank on radical Islam, he has built an international reputation for his opposition to the demographic changes of the West and the threats to its traditions. In his latest book, The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam(Bloomsbury, 2017), he attacks all of these subjects as they relate to the current crisis of migration from the Middle East.

It is a controversial book, particularly for Americans and Jews, but one which also makes important arguments against the multiculturalist ideal. That ideal, which once led much of domestic policy across Europe and the United States, has proven not only a failure, but a threat to the values and national security of Western civilization.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism recently spoke with Murray about his book and the concerns that drove him to write it.

Abigail R. Esman: As an American, a Jew, and an immigrant myself to the Netherlands, there are aspects of your arguments against immigration and asylum that are troublesome to me. I come from a country where we are all immigrants, or our parents or grandparents were likely immigrants. You talk for instance of families where “neither parent speaks English as a first language,” yet my husband is Australian and I am American and neither of us speaks Dutch as a first language. So naturally, I come at these arguments with some concern. Are you saying, basically, close the borders?

Douglas K . Murray: It’s only for me to diagnose what’s happening – to see the truth about what is going on. Policy makers will make their own decisions. I have obviously broad views on it, which is that I think you can’t continue at the rate we have now, and I think you have to be choosy about the people you bring in. But you are right, and there are two groups of people who have had trouble with some of the basic things in this book: one is people of Jewish background, and others who come from nations of immigrants, like America. But Britain isn’t a nation of immigrants – we have been a static society with all the benefits and ills that this brings. And I think it is dishonest to say it is the same thing. I realize people who are predominantly Jewish have a particular sensitivity to it, but I think that that’s a particular issue. And why do we say one migration is just like the other It’s like saying because two vehicles went down the same road they are the same vehicle.

ARE: How is it different?

DKM: In the UK, when Jewish migration happened more than a century ago, the main thing was integration, integration into the society, wanting desperately to be part of British society. Why do synagogues in the UK have a portrait of the Queen? And after services, they often sing the British national anthem. It’s very moving. It’s an effort to demonstrate this is what we are and this is what we want to be. You’d be hard pressed to find a mosque with a picture of the queen who sing the anthem.

ARE: That element of integration is crucial, I agree. In America, in fact, immigrants in the past and often even today are eager to give their children Anglicized names: “Michael,” not “Moishe,” “Henry,” not “Heinrich.” Yet you do not see the name changes in Muslims these days. Why do you think that is?

DKM: Because there is less of a feeling to integrate. They want to stay with the country they’ve left but not deal with its economics. Some people find it flattering – that people want to move to your country – they say well, it shows what a wonderful place we are. No, it shows that your economics work better.

ARE: You also write about Muslim enclaves in Europe where “the women all wear some form of head covering and life goes on much as it would if the people were in Turkey or Morocco.” How is that different than, say, Chinatowns, or Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in America and say, Belgium, where women wear wigs and men have peyas, or sidelocks?

DKM: The example of Chinatown-like places is a good comparison. These are places that are mini-Chinas, they are enjoyed and liked by people because they are a different place. Well, if people want to have a mini-Bangladesh, that’s one vision of a society. It’s not the vision we were sold in Europe. It was not meant to be the case that portions of our cities were meant to become totally different places. In the 1950s the British and other European authorities said we have to bring people into our countries and we will get a benefit in labor. But if they had said that the downside is that large portions of the area would be unrecognizable to their inhabitants, there would have been an outcry.

And the issue of them being different from Hasidic communities – you’re right, they are similar. You can go to Stamford Hill in North London and see most of the men in hats and so on and that’s because that’s an enclave that wants to keep to itself. That raises questions: one, people don’t mind that, for several reasons – one is the recognition that Orthodox men don’t cause troubles. We don’t have cases of Orthodox men going out and cutting off people’s heads. If four Jewish men from Stamford Hill had blown up buses some years back there would be concern about these enclaves.

And also those enclaves are not growing. If it was the case that these enclaves were becoming areas where all the city was hat-wearing Orthodox Jews, then people would say wait, what is that? You can applaud that or abhor it, but it’s important to mention.it.

ARE: In the Netherlands, which has some of the toughest immigration policies in the world, people from certain countries are required to take “citizenship” courses before they can even enter Dutch borders. They have to learn the language, they have to learn about Dutch values, and that no, you can’t throw stones at Jews and gay people and that gay marriage is legal and women wear short dresses. Would you recommend other countries take on the Dutch policy of citizenship courses?

DKM: I make this point in the book. You say we could have done more and better, but the fundamental thing is that none of it was ever expected in the first place. No one ever thought that we would be in the situation we are now in. We didn’t expect them to stay. That’s a very big misunderstanding. Why wouldyou ask people to become Dutch citizens if you expect them to go home in five years? Why if you only expect them to stay in Britain for only 10 years? But then we realized they would stay and then we said, “we have to let them practice their own culture.” But for us to have acted as you suggest we would have had to know [at the time].

So yes, I think it’s a bare minimum for Europe to have the Dutch policy, even at this very late stage. I’m of the inclination that this is too little too late, but I wish everyone luck with it.

ARE: What about Yazidi women, Syrian Christians?

DKM: Again, it comes down to the Jewish question – because people think that every refugee is like a Jew from Nazi Germany. But if you were to think of a group that was facing an attempt to wipe them off the face of the earth then yes, you’d have the Yazidis. But there are people on all sides of the Syrian civil war, which are a minority of people coming to Europe – these are people fleeing sectarian conflict, but none of them are fleeing an effort to wipe them out as a people. So the lazy view, and it is quite often pushed by Jewish groups which I think is a mistake – is to suggest that it is similar to Nazi Germany. And I wish more care were taken in this.

ARE: Is this in your mind a way of stopping radical Islam? Because so many of the radicalized Muslims are actually converts. How would it help?

DKM: We know that people who convert to anything tend to be fundamentalist. But the important thing is, if you were pliable to be converted, available to be converted, then it raises the question of what kind of Islam do we have in these countries? If it were people finding Sufism, rather than hardcore Salafism, maybe it would be different. I have a friend who is a Muslim who was on a trip some years ago who told me the story of introducing a Muslim woman to one of the senior clerics at Al-Azhar and she wouldn’t shake his hand. He asked her why not. She said, “Because I’m Muslim.” So he asked her how long she’d been a Muslim, and she said “Six years.” He said, “I’ve been a Muslim for eight decades.” And then he turned and said to his friend in Arabic, “What kind of Muslims are you making in Britain?”

ARE: One thing the American Muslim community seems to have over its European brethren is its successful integration into society. Yet at the same time, some of the worst of the radicals are in fact American-born. We have people like Linda Sarsour, who wears the mantle of feminism, but who is really a Trojan horse for the Islamists. She has said things like “Our number one and top priority is to protect and defend our community. It is not to assimilate and lease any other people in authority.” What are the dangers of that kind of message?

DKM: I once spent an evening with Linda Sarsour. She is a very unpleasant, very radical girl. Filled with hate. I was the one having to defend America to Americans in an American audience against an American opponent. What she told that night was all lies, which you would tell either because you are dumb, which she isn’t, or because you want to spread propaganda, which she does.

I just think she is of a type. There are various sides to the issue that are important. There’s an “us” question and a “them” question. The “them” question is, what do people like that believe, what are they doing and how vile are they? But in a way, the “us” question is bigger. Why do we let them do this? What is wrong with America at this time in its history that an obvious demagogue like her can end up leading a feminist march [the 2017 Women’s March]? That’s an illness of America. She’s just a symptom of that.

ARE: And similarly, the Rushdie affair was effective in quashing further expression and criticism related to Islam. And Charlie Hebdo took that to an extreme. We haven’t had anything that severe, but there were the South Park threats and the attempted attack on the Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland. You blame European politicians and media for failing to recognize that those who were shouting “fire” were in fact the arsonists. This seems to be a global challenge – that any criticism or critique of Islam gets shouted down as inherently bigoted. In the U.S., the Southern Poverty Law Center places Maajid Nawaz on a list of “anti-Muslim extremists” for criticizing some tenets of the faith and advocating modernization and reform. In Europe the facts are very pessimism-causing. At the same time, though, there was certainly support for Charlie Hebdo, though you seem to deny it in your book, after the shootings. What’s the proper response to that form of a heckler’s veto?

DKM: I agree with the point. The only ways to reject the assassin’s veto is for civil society to be stronger on the question, for governments to ensure that people deemed to have ‘blasphemed’ are protected (as in the case of Rushdie) and that those who incite violence against them (such as Cat Stevens during the Rushdie affair) are the ones who find themselves on the receiving end of prosecutions. That and – obviously – ensuring that blasphemy laws aren’t allowed in through the back door via new ‘hate speech’ laws and the like.

ARE: In the chapter on multiculturalism, you describe interest groups which “were thrown up that claimed to represent and speak for all manner of identity groups.” These self-appointed voices then become the go-to groups for government. To keep the money flowing, they make the problems facing their community appear worse than they really are.” Is that a universal behavior for interest groups? We certainly see that in the U.S. with CAIR and ISNA.

DKM: Every group is vulnerable to that. With every human rights achievement, there are always some people left on the barricades. And the ones who linger on the barricades linger on without any home to go to. And you get these people who are stranded after it’s over and they have to hustle as if everything was as bad as it once was. Sometimes they are telling the truth; sometimes they wave a warning flag, but for the moment it seems particularly in America every group is claiming that this is basically 1938. It’s a tendency of every commune or group that wants awareness raised.

But it’s true, it’s especially prevalent of Muslim groups because if you keep claiming that you are the victim, then you never have to sort out your own house. And the groups that come to Europe and America, they never have to get their house in order if they spend all their time claiming they are victims of genocide and persecution and so on. And this is a familiar story.

ARE: So what would be your lesson, then, for America, especially in a book which clearly is about Europe?

DKM: Well, it is about Europe, certainly, but it’s connected to the debate America is now beginning to have. The first is to be careful with immigration. We’ve all had the same misunderstanding, the same thought that our societies are vast, immovable, unchanging things to which you could keep bringing people of every imaginable stripe and the results will always be the same. And I think that is just not the case, depending on the people who are in them. So we must take care with what kind of immigration we encourage, and at what pace, and that is something America should be thinking of, as everyone else should.

But America will have a harder time with this, because everyone in America has this vulnerability we don’t have in Europe, which is that we are all migrants. And you have the sense of ‘who am I to keep anyone out?’

ARE: I don’t think that’s the American view. I think it’s more that we all became part of this fabric, and we expect that the new immigrants will, too. But not all of them do.

DM: The whole thing actually seems to be unraveling, more than in Europe. In Europe, we don’t like to think in terms of racial terms. But all anyone in America talks about is race.

ARE: I don’t think so….

DKM: Maybe; but your vision of original sin in America seems to have become all so overwhelming. Your leading cultural figures, like Ta-Nehisi Coates, have this image of America born in terrible sin. The Atlantic’s front cover recently was all about slavery. You would get the impression that slavery only ended about 12 months ago. You are going over and over this in America – this endless sense of original sin. You are discussing reparations for slavery in 2017. You’d be hard-pressed to find publications in the UK calling for reparations to our past. Find me a mainstream publication that runs such a thing in Europe, even of WWII reparations.

So it’s symptomatic of something badly wrong at the structure of the public discussion.

ARE: Which suggests that we should do what?

DKM: What you have to listen out for is very straightforward: are the people raising such issues raising them because they want America to improve, or because they want America to end? I think this is a very central issue. Are you speaking as a critic, or as an enemy of the society in question? If you think the society can do no good, then you are speaking as an enemy. If you think there are things that have been done, that are wrong, that should be righted, campaign for them, speak out for them. Sometimes if you’re lucky you can get a posthumous rectification. But it sounds to me like a lot of this talk is from people who hate America. They don’t want to improve it. They want to end it.

So the lesson is – be careful about immigration. Be choosy. And another is a pretty straightforward one which is to work on the people who are there not to fall into the victim narratives of their special interest groups. And to focus on the “we.” I’ve always felt more optimistic for America in this regard, for the same reason I feel more optimistic than others do about France: because I think there is a very specific identity there, which it is possible to become a part of. I think it’s something other Western European countries, have not accomplished in the same way. So basically to strengthen their own identity.

ARE: Do you consider yourself a pessimist?

DKM: I think in Europe the facts are very pessimism-causing. I think it would be a strange person who would look at 12,000 people landing in Lampedusa, all young men, all without jobs, all without futures, and think, ‘That’s going to go really well. These are going to be just like the Jews of Vienna. These are going to be the receptacles of our culture.’ I don’t see it happening.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands. Follow her at @radicalstates

Converts and Jihad

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
July 17, 2017

Muslim converts have long been especially valued by recruiters for Islamist terror groups. “Their ability to operate freely in Europe, Asia, and North America without arousing the suspicion of security authorities,” a 2006 study said, making them especially useful in executing plots. In addition, the study claims, “They are among the most aggressive of Islamist activists.”

More than a decade later, ISIS recruiters continue to seek out new converts. Most of this activity takes place online, according to former radical turned counterterrorism professional Mubin Shaikh, who particularly blames social media. “The volume and speed of information communication – I think what that does is overwhelm young people,” he says. “They exist in a paradigm where kids who get bullied online go and kill themselves. Or it will be the crazy antics they do in videos where they do something extremely dangerous and often it gets them killed. I put this kind of ISIS recruitment in that category of youth being overwhelmed.”

Compound that with the allure of a counterculture identity that, as he notes, has always been cool. “For them, it’s a completely exotic thing.”

Women are especially vulnerable, Shaikh says. “ISIS opened the door to women. Al Qaeda gave them no role. But ISIS said, ‘you can be part of this great project called the Caliphate.'”

He describes one particularly powerful video made by such a young woman, the Belgian Laura Passoni, after she had gone to the Islamic State and managed to return. “This white girl, she’s in love with this guy, she breaks up with him, she’s on the rebound. She hooks up with this one guy and they go on a cruise and they end up in ISIS territory. This is what they do.”

Recruiters also monitor chat rooms. “They see who makes these comments, then they go on and talk to them. It’s the same as child sex predators,” he says. “Exactly the same.”

And because women suffering a broken heart or looking for romance are especially vulnerable, male recruiters often infiltrate dating sites, luring women with promises of the exquisite jewelry they will receive from the handsome husbands they will meet when they arrive at the Caliphate. Passoni’s seducer, for instance, tempted her with visions of a life in a luxurious villa and the horses she would own. “He sold me a dream I would have everything I wanted in Syria,” she recalls in the video.

But it isn’t just women, of course. A young non-Muslim man might marry a Muslim girl and be recruited through the community, as was the case with Omar Shafik Hammami, an American born to an Irish-American mother and Muslim father and was raised Southern Baptist. He converted in college, moved to Canada and married a Somali immigrant before traveling to Somalia to join in the jihad there.

“I actually saw him in a Somali mosque [in Toronto],” Shaikh recalls. “I thought, ‘who is that white guy?’ He had married into the community and then got dragged into Al Shabaab. That’s how it works. They get into the network and the network drags them into something else. So it’s not just Twitter,” he adds, referring to the frequently-cited concern about Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites where recruiting takes place. “It could be wherever.”

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands. Follow her at @radicalstates

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The Identity Crisis Fueling European Muslim Radicalization

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
June 7, 2017

When tanks entered the streets of Istanbul and Ankara last summer in an attempt to overthrow the Turkish government, people swarmed the streets to fight them off. At the urging of their president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, they pushed back against the coup, some waving Turkish flags, others waving guns. “What else would you do?” A friend in Istanbul asked me some months later. “When your government and your country are attacked, you fight back. It’s to be expected.”

Less expected, however, were the crowds of Turkish-Europeans who also took to the streets in cities like Rotterdam, where dozens demonstrated on the city’s Erasmus Bridge, waving Turkish flags and, in some cases, crying out “Allahu Akbar.” For many non-Turkish Europeans, the action felt almost threatening: Were these people Turkish or European? Could they reasonably be both? Or did they represent a fifth column, aiming to overtake Europe from within?

In Holland, members of Leefbaar Rotterdam (Livable Rotterdam), the populist political party founded by the late Pim Fortuyn, determined to address the issue head-on. They held a public panel discussion last week to debate the question of who these demonstrators were: traitors? Dual citizens with torn allegiances? Could they be true to both their Turkish heritage and to the Dutch culture in which they were born and raised?

Left unspoken were the more pressing questions, the ones the non-Turks really meant: do Dutch Turks identify more with the Islamist policies and values of Erdogan and his regime, or with the secular Enlightenment, the democratic culture of the West? What, after all, to think of the fact that the vast majority of European Turks voted for Erdogan in the November 2015 elections, and again voted against democracy in Turkey’s April 16 referendum, which gave him virtually limitless powers until 2029?

While this particular debate took place in Rotterdam, once the home of the Renaissance humanist Erasmus, these questions have hovered over all of Europe since the 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid and, even more, the 2005 attacks in London – and not only about the Turks, but about Muslim immigrants in general.

With Europe facing a near-continual onslaught of Islamist terrorist attacks often perpetrated by homegrown extremists, those questions feel more urgent than ever.

But both the issue and its urgency are far more complex than a matter of allegiance. For many second- and third-generation immigrant youth, especially those from Turkey and Morocco, it is also a matter of identity. As dark-skinned immigrants with names like Fatima and Mohammed, they are often discriminated against in their home countries. The values of their families and their religious leaders do not always mesh with the values of their communities and governments. But when they visit their cousins and grandparents in Anatolia and rural Morocco, they find they don’t fit in there, either.

Many counterterrorism experts maintain that this situation makes Muslim European youth especially vulnerable to radicalization and recruitment by terror groups. As Belgian-Palestinian jihad expert Montasser AIDe’emeh has noted of Belgian Moroccan extremists such as the Paris and Brussels attackers, “The Islamic State is giving them what the Belgian government can’t give them – identity, structure. They don’t feel Moroccan or Belgian. They don’t feel part of either society.” And speaking to PBS’s Judy Woodruff, Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, observed that “the cause [of radicalization] is ultimately a conflict of identity. It is about second- or third-generation descendants of Muslim immigrants no longer feeling at home in their parents’ or grandparents’ culture, at the same time not being accepted into European societies.”

If this is true, then what to make of the Turkish-European dual citizens choosing, as most have, to support Erdogan’s Islamist policies while living in the liberal West? Are they integrated, assimilated, into the cultures in which they live, as most insisted during the Rotterdam debate? Or are they rather true to the norms of a Turkey that is becoming increasingly religious, turning increasingly eastward, and to a president who is gradually unraveling the secular Western vision of the republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk?

At the same time, does waving the Turkish flag when the country is attacked mean they are not actually Dutch? Should Dutch Jews not fly the flag of Israel, or Dutch-Americans have left their stars and stripes at home after 9/11?

“It’s more than just flags,” Ebru Umar, a Dutch-Turkish journalist who moderated last week’s event, explained in an e-mail. “The flags symbolize who they are…. They claim to be soldiers of Erdogan.” Hence, she said, “the people [demonstrating] on the [Erasmus] bridge were and are seen as not integrated. Ask them and they’ll answer they are integrated. And [yet] they tell you of course they adore Erdogan.” Indeed, she noted, they even stated it at the debate: “‘You can’t ask a child whom they love more: mum or dad.'”

It is a false equivalency, however. This is not about loving one parent more than another, but about accepting one of two opposing sets of values: those of secular democracies, or those of Islamist theocracies. There is no combining the two. There is no compromise.

Which is what makes these questions so very critical right now – not just for the Dutch, but for all Europeans, as they confront a complex, existential dilemma. Should they continue to alienate the growing population of young Muslims, and should those same young Muslims continue to resist assimilation, they will together be laying out the welcome mat for recruiters for jihad. But should Europe instead accept the Islamist leanings of those same Muslim youth, it will soon discover there was a fifth column after all – a movement to Islamize the West. And it will have succeeded.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands. Follow her at @radicalstates.

A Muslim Woman’s Fight Against Radical Islam

farhana-qaziby Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
February 23, 2017

If one were to find a single question that defines the geo-politics of our age, it might well be the question Farhana Qazi has been asking herself for almost 20 years: why do so many Muslims kill in the name of their religion?

If she has not found all the answers, Qazi has done much to facilitate our understanding of the issues, primarily as they relate to Muslim women and the rise in women extremists. A Muslim herself, she has worked largely behind the scenes: at the Counter-Terrorism Center in Washington, D.C.; at the Rand Corporation think tank; as an instructor on terrorism for the U.S. military; and as an author. Her work has taken her back to her native Pakistan, where she has immersed herself in the lives of Muslim extremist women, met with the mothers of suicide bombers, come to know women who have endured imprisonment, and shared stories with women who, in her words, “have tried to break the barriers of patriarchy and patrilineal traditions.”

Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Qazi came to America with her mother at the age of 1, joining her father who was already working in Tennessee. Soon after, the family moved to Austin, Texas, which Qazi considers her hometown. Her work since then, both in the service of her country and as a beacon for moderate Muslims seeking to reconcile their beliefs with the violent extremism facing the world, has received lavish praise and numerous awards. She is now working on a book that examines why Muslims turn violent, and the ways in which recent political events contribute to violent extremism.

She told us her story in a recent interview, and shared her crucial insights on radical Islam, women terrorists, and where we stand now in the face of the radical Islamist threat.

Abigail R. Esman: Why did your family move to the U.S., and how old were you at the time?

Farhana Qazi: My father came to the U.S. because it was his dream since he was a child. He admired Western values and later, he worked with American clients when he was a young accountant in Lahore, Pakistan. He came to the U.S. (to the rolling hills of Tennessee to pursue an MBA), and thanks to Al Gore, my father was allowed to stay in this country to work after his student visa expired. Gore wrote a letter on my father’s behalf. I was a year old when I moved here with my mother. I barely remember my birth city, Lahore – the cultural nerve of Pakistan. I lived in a small town in Tenn. before moving to the capital city of Austin, Texas, my childhood home.

ARE: How important was religion to you growing up?

FQ: My parents were born Muslim but their practice was liberal, almost secular. My father is an intellectual and philosopher who admires all religions; he values the Ten Commandments that came from Moses. He idolizes the principles of Buddhism and he believes in the Christian concept of charity. My father has raised me to be a “humanist” rather than a Muslim. I embraced Sunni Islam later in life

ARE: Many women in Pakistan face oppression, forced marriage, and family violence. How do you explain the freedom you have had in your life?

FQ: I am blessed to be an American Muslim woman. My father often tells me he came to the U.S. for me; because I am a girl from a middle-class family in Pakistan who would not have had the same opportunities in life had I lived in a country with patriarchal norms, age-old customs, and traditions, most of which deny girls and women their basic rights in Islam. Culture trumps religion in Pakistan. But it’s not true in America, where I can practice faith openly or privately. Because I am free in America, I chose a male-dominated field – in the 1990s, counter-terrorism work was dominated and dictated by men mostly. Often, I was the only female speaker at international conferences and addressed why Muslims kill in the name of my religion. Now, there are more women in the CT field, but at the time, I was not only female, American, but also Muslim – the combination of the three made me stand alone, which is a blessing in disguise. I welcome the opportunity (and attention) for speaking on a subject that I understood. And that’s how my father raised me: to be a bridge between the East and the West. To learn from both worlds, both cultures and to close the gap of misunderstanding.

ARE: Was having that freedom part of what has guided you in your work?

FQ: Yes, my unique cultural and linguistic background made me marketable for the intelligence community. There were no female Muslims in the Counter-Terrorism Center. I believe I was hired to help the Center understand the extremists’ narrative, rhetoric, and recruitment patterns. Later, upon leaving the Center, I joined the RAND Corp as a policy analyst-researcher and traveled to the Muslim world to engage local communities. Because I understand both cultures, I have been able to speak to women who might have not been accessible to other American men or women. When I trained the U.S. forces as a senior instructor, I received the highest honor – the 21st Century Leader Award from The National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP) in 2012 for my service as an American Muslim woman – when I was presented with the award, I was told that because I knew how to serve the U.S. government as a woman and Muslim is the reason why I was chosen for the award.

ARE: You in fact began working in the area of counterterrorism and issues surrounding the lives of Muslim women very early in your career. What motivated this?

FQ: My mother is a war hero to me. She joined the Pakistani Army when she was barely 20 years old to fight for Kashmir. In the 1960s, Pakistan was at war with India for the second time to fight for the valley of Kashmir. My mama, barely five feet tall and a petite frame, volunteered for the Army and trained at Qaddafi stadium in Lahore, holding a British .303 rifle which was taller than she was. She often told me, “I wanted to prove to my country that women can fight, too.” She was raised in a country at a time when women and girls had few career choices and were often bound by familial responsibilities. But not my mother, who dreamed of being a politician had she not married my father and then settled in the U.S.

ARE: Mostly, you’ve focused your work on women.

FQ: I’d say my work focuses on understanding radical Islam and the divisions in the Muslim world today – a broken mass of billions blinded by age-old customs, traditions, and patriarchal norms steeped in ancient cultures. I’m trying to understand the way that Islam has been destroyed by splinter groups, religious fanatics, and hardline conservatives, issuing fatwas that oppose women’s rights. I’ve come to learn has that while terrorists claim to empower women, the reality is that women are cannon fodder or a ‘riding wave of terrorists’ success.’ In the end, women don’t matter, which begs the question: why do they join?

ARE: Then for many years you worked at Rand. What did you do there?

FQ: Research on Al Qaeda networks and the female suicide trend that began to capture headlines in the conflict in Iraq. I was the first to predict that there would be a series of bombings by women – I wrote my first op-ed on the subject in The Baltimore Sun, predicting more attacks. Women were an anomaly so no one paid attention, until females strapped on the bomb. And then a Newsweek piece caught the attention of multi-national forces in Iraq and the U.S. embassy. Suddenly, we began to pay attention to a trend that would continue to this day, though I have been saying this for the past 17 years: women are deadly, too.

ARE: And the Counter-Terrorism Center.

FQ: I was the first American Muslim girl to be hired. I was 25 years old.

ARE: How serious is the problem of Muslim women extremists right now? Is it a threat that is growing?

FQ: This is an ongoing threat that is shielded by men. We don’t hear of attacks by women because it is unreported. For example, I know from my U.S. military contacts that there were a number of Afghan women strapping on the bomb and I am writing about this in a chapter for my next book on female terrorists, but that phenomenon was not reported. Because we don’t hear of it in the news doesn’t mean it’s not happening. The real concern is women who support extremist men – women have done this since the Afghan jihad. Women write in jihadi magazines. Women raise their children to be terrorists. And women stand by their radical men. This is nothing new.

ARE: Are Muslim women in the West generally more or less likely to radicalize than their counterparts in the Islamic world?

FQ: Western women have different challenges; the main concern for a Muslim girl or woman in the West has to do with identity. Often, girls who join ISIS are trapped between two opposing cultures and societies – the life at home and their life outside the home (at school, for example).

One of my chapters in my new book is called “The Denver Girls” – I remember visiting with the community that was affected by the three East African girls who boarded a plane to join ISIS but were brought back home (the father of one of the girls reported his daughter missing). A Sudanese woman I interviewed told me that ISIS empowers our girls, and I can see why. Because many Muslim girls living in the West are still bound by cultural (read controlled) rules and have little freedom outside of their home environment; they aren’t allowed to ‘hang out’ with Western friends and these girls certainly don’t have the same opportunities as their brothers or male cousins. In these cases, girls look for alternatives, which terrorism provides.

Further, I believe the teachings of Islam (which I live by: peace, compassion and mercy) are not preached or taught at home. When Muslims have spiritual pride and believe that God’s love is only for the select few, then this teaching restricts children in many ways: they are unable to cope in a Western society and compelled to stay within their own communities, which makes girls more vulnerable to extremist recruitment and makes them feel they do not belong.

ARE: What are some of the major reasons you’ve found that explain the phenomenon of female Muslim terrorists?

FQ: No two Muslim female terrorists are alike. And while the motives will vary, I do believe that patterns don’t lie. Contextual clues are important indicators for violence, and by context, this would include a girl’s home (private) and public life; her exposure to violence or trauma or abuse; her access to violent messaging online and the time she spends reading and engaging with violent individuals in the digital space; a personal tragedy (did she lose someone to violence?); and much more. I’ve learned that there is no “aha” moment or trigger point but a sequence of triggers and “aha” moments that lead to the path of violence.

ARE: Based on your expertise, what do you think of Trump’s “Muslim ban” or travel ban?

FQ: The travel ban may have the adverse effect. I believe in protecting our country from external threats. What worries me is that the threat is already here. If we look back at attacks or attempted attacks over the past decade, radical Muslims have been living in our midst. [Orlando shooter] Omar Mateen, [San Bernardino killers] Syed and Tashfeen Farook, [Chattanooga shooter] Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, [Fort Hood shooter] Nidal M. Hassan, and more. Many of these terrorists were not from the countries listed in the travel ban. What we need is greater civic involvement and community policing.

ARE: Have you experienced threats of any kind in relation to your work?

FQ: I have been warned to change careers and not talk about Muslim terrorists. But to do that would be to ignore the realities of our time. As a devout Muslim woman, who still believes in Islam’s core message of peace, I have to acknowledge that there are Muslims who kill in the name of Islam, manipulating the faith for political or personal reasons. And these individuals, male or female, need to be stopped and countered by Muslims, too.

ARE: In the now-infamous words of Mitch McConnell, “she persisted.” Why do you persist?

FQ: My father taught me the word “persistence’ when I was a young girl in Texas. He often said, “every challenge is an opportunity,” which made the word “persist’ a positive term in my mind. To persist is to succeed and to succeed is to make a difference. I live by the maxim: lead a life of service – and the only way to do that is to persist.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands. Follow her at @radicalstates.