After a brutal firefight Monday morning, police officers in Linden, New Jersey, shot and arrested Ahmad Khan Rahami for detonating improvised explosive devices in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan and along the Jersey Shore two days earlier.
The media and political response was predictable. Willful naifs wondered aloud what on earth might have motivated Mr. Rahami. Suspect’s Motive Unclear In New York, New Jersey Bombings, reads an embarrassing NPR headline.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s surrogates say it proves only he can save us by cracking down mercillessly on immigration from the Middle East and North Africa.
A lot of us find this exasperating. A person has to be willfully obtuse at this point to not see that Rahami was motivated by radical Islam. It is also obvious to some of us (but clearly not all of us) that Rahami is an extreme outlier in the American Muslim community.
As many as a million Muslims live in the New York City area. If Rahami were even remotely mainstream, Manhattan would look like Aleppo.
I’ve interviewed hundreds of Muslims all over the world and interacted with thousands. I would not be alive if a large percentage of them were even remotely like Ahmad Khan Rahami. At the same time, we wouldn’t have to go through this polarized ritual on a regular basis if radical Islamist terrorism wasn’t a deadly serious problem.
Most Westerners only see or hear about Muslims after the likes of Rahami, Rizwan Farook, Omar Mateen, the Tsarnaev brothers, Major Nidal Hasan, Mohammad Atta, Osama bin Laden and other ISIS- and Al Qaeda-affiliated psychopaths murder innocents by the dozens, hundreds or even thousands. Hardly anyone else—least of all moderate Muslims—gets any coverage or attention whatsoever, and some of those who do, such as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, are falsely described as moderate when they’re not.
So I asked Gökhan Balaban, an authentic moderate Muslim I know via email correspondence, if he’d like to have a public conversation with me about all this.
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