Why the Attraction to Jihad?

…on the part of significant numbers of young people in Britain, America, and other Western countries?

Read these depressingly thought-provoking posts from Matt Lewis (“The dangers of our passionless American life”) and Elizabeth Scalia (“Do the rapes of Rotherham tell a tale of conquest?”)

Although the Matt Lewis article refers specifically to “angry young MEN fleeing the steady comforts of the West for the violent jihad of the Mideast”, this phenomenon is by no means limited to the male sex.  See  Phyllis Chesler on Jihad Brides:

We live in dangerously unsettling times and, at such times, women especially seek out those men who may appear the strongest in terms of their ability to protect their women. If so, what might this tell us about the relationship between certain Western men and such women? And what might this tell us about the cultural literacy, self-worth, and rationality of such Western women?

Also, I again recommend Arthur Koestler’s 1950 novel The Age of Longing, which is basically about the West’s loss of civilizational self-confidence.  I reviewed it here:   Sleeping with the Enemy.

30 thoughts on “Why the Attraction to Jihad?”

  1. The major problem in fighting ISIS is that when you put a large, well-equipped, fighting unit on the ground the ISIS guys all disappear and hide. They refuse to fight. They prefer ambushes, IEDs, and sneaky stuff.

    So we should create your basic well-equipped fighting unit – but made up of women only. Send them to Iraq or Syria. Call it “heels on the ground”. Proclaim that ISIS is too cowardly to fight an all woman unit. Problem solved. The ISIS and Al Qaeda jihadis will fight.

  2. These people may have been born in Britain but they are not British or even European. They are Middle Easterners. Being born in Britain does not change that.

  3. Jim…”These people may have been born in Britain but they are not British or even European. They are Middle Easterners. Being born in Britain does not change that.”

    Most Jihadists and Jihad Brides from Western countries are of Middle Eastern and/or Muslim background, but by no means all. See for example this:


    See also this, from a British woman who is herself Muslim:

    “Since 9/11, vast numbers of educated, privileged middle-class white women have converted to Islam, often the most restricted forms with tediously long rulebooks. Surveys suggest they are the fastest growing group of converts in the West. Here they include women at investment banks, TV stations, universities and in the NHS.

    Four years ago, when the trend first became clear, Dr Haifa Jawad, of Birmingham University, said: “The women were reacting to the moral uncertainties of the Western world. Many convert out of conviction and not because they are in love.”

    Mostyn-Owen says her husband is “untainted by the jaded confusion of western urban life”. Such images of contamination and purity are often used to explain the decisions. Three such converts told me last year their nun-like apparel makes them feel less objectified and they feel “cleansed”.”


    Note also that Tony Blair’s sister-in-law has converted to Islam:


    Of course, not everyone who converts to Islam will become a Jihadist or Jihad sympathized; quite the contrary. But…especially if it is true that these coverts tend to favor “the most restricted forms” of Islam, some non-negligible percentage of them will do so.

  4. (continuing response to Jim)….Also, the fact that someone is of Middle Eastern origin should not mean that they cannot become truly British. In America, for example, almost all American Germans, and the vast majority of American Japanese, remained loyal to this country during WWII.

    Claire Berlinski argued in her book Menace in Europe, which I reviewed recently, that Britain has done a far worse job at assimilating Middle Eastern immigrants than has the US. Reasons cited were the UK’s more-comprehensive welfare state, lesser economic dynamism, remnants of the old class system, and an immigration policy explicitly designed to bring in low-skilled low-cost labor.

  5. There seem to be different groups of people who are attracted to jihad.

    One group is drawn from unassimilated Muslim immigrants.

    Another group appears to be drawn from westerners, mainly young, some Muslim, who are spiritually and/or intellectually adrift and may be attracted to the structure, certainty and intense purpose of jihadist Islam. Perhaps the people in this group are similar to many other young people who become religious in more conventional ways.

    There is also an obvious subgroup of western women who are attracted to Arab/Middle Eastern men and perhaps also to the clearly defined traditional sex roles of traditional Islamic societies.

    However, these groups, with the exception of unassimilated Muslim immigrants in parts of Britain and Europe, are all small minorities in their societies.

  6. “Surveys suggest they are the fastest growing group of converts in the West. Here they include women at investment banks, TV stations, universities and in the NHS.”

    A friend of mine, a professor of anatomy and surgery in London, told me he sees young female medical students of British background converting to Islam and cannot understand it.

    David, France has done as bad a job of assimilating Muslim immigrants and has quite a different culture but it also has a very weak economy.

    “an immigration policy explicitly designed to bring in low-skilled low-cost labor.”

    We are doing the same thing but the Mexican and Central American gangs and less dangerous to the society as a whole than the Muslim jihadis. Major Hassan being a good example of the worst results with Muslims.

  7. Mike K…by “British background,” can I assume he means ethnically British, as opposed to, say, the daughter of a Pakistani family that has been the the UK for 50 years?

  8. Grey Eagle…the all-woman fighting unit might be a very effective approach to bringing the ISIS creatures out to fight….but it would require some creativity and some decisiveness, neither of which is not likely to occur with the current administration.

    My impression is that there have been some fairly large groupings of ISIS forces, which could have be targeted by serious air strikes and resulted in killing large numbers of jihadis. They may be more dispersed now, but air strikes can keep them from assembling and attacking in force.

  9. Yes, no middle eastern background.

    Something for jim to chew on

    Last week JW reported that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is working in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources confirmed to JW that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued. Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat.

  10. People in general, and young people especially, are attracted toward a confident and clear-cut intellectual and moral structure.

    The west no longer has either.

    Intellectually and morally, our culture has been eaten away from within by the collectivist termites who have spent a century and more attacking and undermining every founding principle that western enlightenment civilization was built on.

    We have been a house divided against itself in so many areas of our cultural life, and with such a chasm between the opposing sides, that I truly believe we are in a position similar to that of the 1850’s.

    By attempting to be all things to all people, we have become nothing to anyone looking for a solid anchor upon which to attach their minds and hearts.

    Our house must not only be cleaned, but fumigated.

  11. And, yes, Sgt Mom, Hoffer is invaluable. It’s not surprising that the clearest exposition of this situation comes from a longshoreman, and not a post-modern academic.

  12. They used to turn Communist, now they go Muzzie. Same difference totalitarian death cults both of them.

    BTW, we can do a lot of damage to ISIS from the air, because they have fighting in larger units. We can counter their decapitation porn with some gun camera videos.

  13. David Foster – German Americans and Japanese Americans are genetically quite different from Middle Easterners. German Americans are genetically very close to Americans of English descent. The Japanese are a very high IQ group (approx 107-108). The immigrants who came to the US tended to be drawn more from the lower classes in Japan and so probably average a lower IQ than native Japanese but they are still quite successful in the US economy.

    Middle Eastern groups tend to average IQ’s around 90. 90 is around the average world IQ but in Western societies Middle Eastern immigrants tend to do poorly and so come to resent the larger society. Also they have enormous cultural differences with Weterners and a long historical tradition of conflict with Western societies. Allowing them to emigrate in large numbers to the West is madness.

  14. Mike K. Getting our troops out of places like Afghanistan and sending them to the US- Mexican border would greatly increase US security. For a tiny fraction of the effort and expense we have expended in useless wars in the Middle East we could completely seal off the US – Mexican border. I’m worried a lot more about losing El Paso than “losing” Donetsk.

  15. “Getting our troops out of places like Afghanistan and sending them to the US- Mexican border would greatly increase US security.”

    Jim, you have stumbled on a serious topic. Getting our troops out of Afghanistan is going to be a tough job, especially for the last battalion or two. I have been opposed to the Afghan adventure since nation building became its focus. Iraq was worth a try. Afghanistan was not.

    US troops on the Mexican border would be almost useless unless ISIS and the cartels try to invade. The Border Patrol should be allowed to enforce our existing laws. That would work.

    This is from my own blog in 2009.

  16. I wouldn’t want to be the last US soldier to die in Afghanistan. For that matter I wouldn’t want to be the first.

  17. Johnny Walker Lindh’s choice hinted of who (among Westerners) might find a culture most of us think of as bonkers (or, as my least religious friend repeatedly says, Satanic) appealing. That was 2001. Confused boys (and girls) going through puberty in post-modern, post-gendered America might find a rigid, rule-oriented (Hebraic rather than Hellenic perhaps – but in a form I can’t imagine Arnold could imagine) a reasonable alternative.

  18. Jim, the Arab Christians that have immigrated here seem to have been successful. lots of them in prominent positions in politics, entertainment, and business. More than anything else, the Muslim immigrants are hindered by a truly dysfunctional religious outlook.

  19. Ginny…”At the admissions end, it’s common knowledge that Harvard selects at most 10 percent (some say 5 percent) of its students on the basis of academic merit. … The rest are selected “holistically,” based also on participation in athletics, the arts, charity, activism, travel, and, we inferred (Not in front of the children!), race, donations, and legacy status (since anything can be hidden behind the holistic fig leaf).”

    I’ve read that there are young women in Britain’s alcohol-fueled culture who convert to Islam in a desperate attempt to find a set of constraints on their own behavior.

  20. Jim Wooten – I suspect that past Middle Eastern migration to the US came from groups (such as Armenians and Maronites) not very representative of the general Middle Eastern population. There are a lot of different ethnic groups in the Middle East but the psychometric data on most of them is not very encouraging. A lot of these groups have average intelligence not much better than US blacks.

    I agree though that to the extent they are Moslim this creates an additional obstacle to assimilation into US society particularly given the long historical conflict between the West and Islam. Putting large populations of Westerners and Middle Eastern Moslims together is like putting two scorpions in a bottle.

  21. With 53 warships, 1700 canons, and 20,000 troops, yes, William did just waltz right as if invited to a garden party, but it’s easy to see why.

    And, of course, we all know how silly it is to suggest a scenario involving a hostile nation attacking the US in the 1940s. No one would ever cross an ocean to do it let alone just offshore. You’re right, never could happen

  22. Grurray – William of Orange was invited in by Parliament and faced no significant opposition.

    ISIS has no capability to pull off a Pearl Harbor which turned out to be a disaster for Japan anyway.

  23. Pearl Harbor killed 2008 people. 9/11 killed 3000 people.

    What do you think would happen to the US economy and social structure following 10 attacks of 9/11 (or greater) scale in a 6-month period?

  24. “ISIS has no capability to pull off a Pearl Harbor ”

    If course not. They have no navy except for container ships which are incompetently screened before entering US harbors. A couple of dirty bombs or nukes would raise hell. Real hell, unlike Pearl Harbor which was a strategic mistake by Japan which had real strategic aims, unlike ISIS.

  25. “I fear that very soon we will have an in-earnest game of cowboys and Muslims.”

    Yup, with leftists on one side. Guess which one.

    It still amazes me, and I guess it shouldn’t knowing what I know, that the political left which is hysterical about gay marriage and LGBT rights and sexual liberation and the right of females to avoid “triggers” like Hirsi Ali and Lesbian obesity chooses the Muslims.

    They choose the side that will kill all those in the protected classes. Well, maybe they’ll sell the lesbians as sex slaves.

  26. Every now and then I wonder about all that ammunition the administration has bought up, and those F&F weapons, and that California Congressman that was busted for arms trafficking, wonder where all that stuff is, and all that weaponry that was “leftover” in Iraq, and that drone that went down in Iran, the one they didn’t want to go after…

  27. Someone needs to look at the murder of American citizens by Mexicans, not only deliberate murder but deaths due to drunk driving and other causes. While Islamofascists are a known entity, illegals are getting a pass due to political correctness. This has to stop. The Remembrance Project attempts to shed light on this, but it isn’t enough. The borders MUST be patrolled effectively.

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