Jonathan Kay: Jihad’s amateur hour

I think Jon Kay has it right:

In at least one case, the 9/11 masterminds apparently recruited, and then rejected, a jihadi because they lost confidence in his terrorist tradecraft: This was Zacarias Moussaoui, often referred to as “the 20th hijacker,” who reportedly met with KSM in Afghanistan in 2000. Examine Moussaoui’s methods, and you find that he was an infinitely more dangerous, methodical and sound-minded killer than Zehaf-Bibeau.

There’s the fact that lies at the heart of my optimism: Today’s most deadly domestic terrorists do not even rise to the level of yesterday’s al-Qaeda rejects. Just because we use the same broad term — terrorist — to cover both species of killer, doesn’t mean that the threat they pose is comparable within even several orders of magnitude.

AA Flight 11 hijacker-pilot Mohammed Atta stares out at the world from photos like a sort of robotic jihadi Terminator. He did not give fiery public speeches, or offer lurid manifestos, or seek social approval. All he wanted to do was kill and die. And it seems highly unlikely that the lone wolves who try to follow his example will — even taken collectively — ever inflict a significant fraction of the death and destruction meted out on September 11, 2001.

Jonathan Kay: Jihad’s amateur hour

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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