The Chechnyan-born Tsarnaev brothers in Boston seemed like decent, admirable young men. What turned them into ruthless murderers of women, children and other defenseless strangers?
Apparently they were perverted by crazed preachings of online clerics who say God will reward zealots who slaughter innocent people.
It's almost too preposterous to believe -- yet a remarkable number of suicide bombers around the world sacrifice their lives to commit mass murder, often with a belief that a paradise of virgin nymphs awaits them. The devout young men who perpetrated America's historic Sept. 11 tragedy were classic examples. Only fanatics think God wants murder.
How can the U.S. Muslim community prevent idealistic sons from being sucked into deadly radicalism, somewhat like being pulled into a dangerous cult?
One reformer opposing fanaticism is Dr. Faheem Younus, a medical professor at the University of Maryland and founder of the Muslimerican Web site. He was a leader of U.S. Muslim youth groups, helping them adopt 50 highways as litter-pickers, holding numerous blood drives and the like. He was given a Presidential Service Award by Barack Obama. He teaches that "there should be no conflict between our pledge to the Holy Quran and our pledge to the flag of the United States."
A Pakistan native, Dr. Younus wrote last week that he, too, once was an alienated young Muslim immigrant, just like Boston's Tsarnaev brothers:
"But there was a key difference: I was taught from childhood that jihad in these times means a personal struggle, not a holy war. I belong to an organized and educated worldwide Muslim community that professes 'Love for all. Hatred for none.'"
Dr. Younus warned: "A plethora of online clerics -- who typically want someone else's son to earn paradise by setting off explosives -- live to recruit young, disillusioned Muslim men."
Meanwhile, a different Islamic immigrant reformer, Amir Nasr from Qatar, wrote last week that he was indoctrinated by narrow fundamentalism as a youth, but he finally broke free "from the dark, stinking and suffocating dungeons of religious dogmatism and intolerance" that produce zealot murderers. He voices his tolerance message through the Internet. He's the author of My ...@m: How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind and Doubt Freed My Soul.
All Americans should shun prejudice that makes young immigrants feel ostracized -- and all Islamic groups should underscore Dr. Younus's superb message: Love for all. Hatred for none.