Advertisement

The appeal of Islamic radicalism

Advertisement

Story highlights

Ken Ballen: The alleged Boston Marathon bombers were influenced by Islamic ideology

Ballen: The Tsarnaev brothers fit the profile of many young men who turn to radicalism

He says young men who convert to Islamic extremism often have deep personal crisis

Ballen: Ideas drive the radical Islamist movement; ideas can also defeat it

Editor’s Note: Ken Ballen, a former federal prosecutor, is president and founder of Terror Free Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization that investigates the causes of extremism. He is the author of “Terrorists in Love: True Life Stories of Islamic Radicals.”

CNN —  

There are many unanswered questions about the motivations of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. But it is becoming increasingly clear that they were inspired by faith in a radical Islamist ideology. Dzhokhar has told investigators that, among other things, he and his brother wanted to defend Islam, while Tamerlan’s social media accounts are replete with clips by extremist clerics.

As the investigation continues to unravel the seeming paradox of how two apparently normal young men could commit acts of violence, classmates, neighbors and relatives of those who knew them have expressed surprise and disbelief.

I have interviewed over the past seven years more than a hundred radical extremists, including numerous al Qaeda and Taliban members, and it appears the Tsarnaev brothers fit the profile of many young men who turn to radicalism.