An expert on national security challenges stereotypes of Islamic militancy and the threat it poses.
Leiken (Why Nicaragua Vanished, 2003, etc.) analyzes social policies affecting Muslim immigrant communities in France, the U.K. and Germany, and how these have affected recruitment to Islamic jihadist organizations. Rejecting a one-size-fits-all categorization of Islam, he suggests that it is the “postmigrant” second-generation of young men who provide potential recruits for terrorist organizations in Europe and the United States, especially as they face a crisis of identity in a time of economic stagnation. The author draws the conclusion that the apparently socially repressive policies adopted by the French have proven to be most successful in dealing with a possible threat of terrorism, while the British face a serious problem. Migrants from Algeria are encouraged to view themselves as French and are expected to assimilate French culture. Leiken believes that the 2005 street riots were fueled by economic conditions rather than ideology. In contrast, the terrorist attack on the British subway system was ideologically motivated. The author attributes the rise of Islamic terrorism in the U.K. to British multiculturism. Leaders in Muslim communities received generous government subsidies and were expected to act as mediators for the Muslim population, which was not encouraged to assimilate. Migrant laborers generally maintain close ties to their native communities, which their children lack, leaving them vulnerable to terrorist recruitment. By offering apprenticeship programs and vocational training, Germans provided them a road to economic, if not social, integration and an alternative to radicalism. Leiken provides a historical, ethnic and socioeconomic context that identifies important differences as opposed to empty generalities.
Both well written and researched—a valuable contribution to an ongoing discussion.