Just a day after her death, family and acquaintances gave extraordinary accounts of a young woman with a ‘bad reputation’ who was known for her love of alcohol and cigarettes rather than devotion to Islam.
Her brother Youssouf Ait Boulahcen said that she had had no interest in religion, never read the Koran and had only started wearing a Muslim veil a month ago.
This is pretty much the same pattern we saw here in Chattanooga last summer with Mohammad Abdulazeez, the electrical engineer who shot up the unarmed (!) military recruiting centres. Abdulazeez was facing drunk driving and drug possession charges, his family had problems and he had lost his job. People attribute his action to his mosque, but that’s not quite true: Islam in Chattanooga is as respectibility-obsessed as its Christian counterpart has been in the past. What I think happened was that he realised that he was about to shame his family and himself with his actions. He goes online and sees jihadi websites extol the virtues of killing for Islam, the eternal rewards for doing same, etc., and decides to recover his and his family’s honour by killing and dying for Allah. But he ends up shaming his family and his mosque even further.
Thinking about engineering students in the 1970’s should make a person think about one in particular. The scion of a successful family, he wandered about his native region as a student, visiting various places of sin on the way (sangria at the Mexican restaurant was about as far as most of us got in that.) At one point, this engineering student had a religious experience that changed his life and catapulted him in a trajectory that ended up crediting him with a well-publicised “engineering” feat: the destruction of two of the world’s tallest buildings. The student, of course, is Osama bin Laden, and the buildings were the World Trade Centre, destroyed on 9/11. The religion is Wahhabi Islam.
So, if you’re looking for the next jihadi in your midst, perhaps you should look in the bar and not the mosque.
In the interest of completeness, I have known many people who have turned from a life of drinking and partying to Jesus Christ, but not one of them have gone out and blown things and people up unless they joined the military.