The scene is becoming too familiar: A young man is arrested for intending to harm innocent people. He may proclaim he’s an Islamic soldier, he may say he wants to be a martyr, or he may have planned a trip overseas with the apparent intent of shooting at American soldiers.
Such descriptions jibe with a number of recent arrests: of Faisal Shahzad, the failed Times Square bomber from Connecticut who pleaded guilty June 21; of the five American men from Virginia who have been sentenced in Pakistan to 10 years in prison for conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks; and of Najibullah Zazi, the former airport shuttle-bus driver from Colorado who pleaded guilty to involvement in a bomb plot against the New York subway system – a plot that apparently had the involvement of a high-level Al Qaeda operative.
Are these simply anomalies, bad apples within the greater law-abiding Muslim population in the United States? Or do they indicate that something more sinister needs to be confronted within this population so that the idea of killing innocent people does not become a misguided act of martyrdom?