Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Go Ahead, Profile Away ...

... and see how far it gets you: going by this story, that won't be very far at all.

ST.-PIERRE-EN-FAUCIGNY, France — The Courtailler brothers grew up in this medieval Alpine town, children of a butcher who went broke, who divorced his wife and moved to a job in a meatpacking plant far away. Two of the three brothers, David and Jérôme, educated in Catholic schools, foundered in drugs until they found religion: Islam.

Within five years of David's initial conversion at a mosque in the British seaside resort of Brighton in 1996, the brothers embraced many of the leading lights of Europe's Islamic terror network. David, 28, is now in jail, and in late June, Jérôme, 29, turned himself in to the police in the Netherlands, days after he was convicted by a court there of belonging to an international terrorist group.

The Courtaillers are part of a growing group of people who found a home in Islam and then veered into extremism, raising concerns among antiterrorism officials on both sides of the Atlantic that the new recruits could provide foreign-born Islamic militants with invisibility and cover, by escaping the scrutiny often reserved for young men of Arab descent.

A handful of Westerners have already been arrested on terrorism charges. Their experiences, the authorities fear, could foreshadow a deepening problem.

"Converts will be used for striking more and more by jihadist circles," said Jean-Luc Marret, a terrorism expert at the Strategic Research Foundation, in Paris. "They have been used in the past for proselytism, logistics or support, and they are operationally useful now."

Islam is Europe's fastest-growing religion, and many experts say that while there are no reliable statistics, they believe that the number of converts has grown since Sept. 11, 2001, in many ways because of the campaign against terrorism.

Antoine Sfeir, a French scholar who is writing a book on the trend, said a small number of converts, many of them disaffected and often troubled young people, saw the current wave of Islamic terrorism as "a kind of combat against the rich, powerful, by the poor men of the planet."
Gee, you mean those terrorists aren't quite as dumb as we assumed they'd be? I'm absolutely shocked, shocked to discover that people who could have successfully pulled off such audacious attacks as those on America, Indonesia and Spain might actually have foreseen the possibility that we'd reach for the cheap and easy "fix" of profiling and begun to plan accordingly - shocked, I tell you! Why, these rascals might even start recruiting white men of Australian and American origin next, and at some point the use of female suicide bombers might even suggest itself to their inventive little minds ...