Timothy Noah contines his eight-part series at Slate. Part III is called ” the_Melting_Pot_Theory” and basically says that one reason for a lack of attacks is that American Muslims have not been as receptive to Al-Qaeda:
The relative dearth of Islamist radicalism in the United States is at least as much a function of American demographics as it is of American exceptionalism. Muslims simply loom smaller in the U.S. population than they do in the populations of many Western European countries. …..Somewhere between one-quarter to one-half of U.S. Muslims are African-American. Historically, American-born black Muslims have felt little kinship with Arab and foreign-born Muslims, and while al-Qaida has sought to recruit black Muslims, “there’s no sign” they’ve met with any success, according to Laurence. (Arabs make up less than half of 1 percent of the U.S. population, and a majority of them are Christian, mostly from Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt.) Among foreign-born Muslims in the United States, nearly one-quarter are Shiite—many of them refugees from the 1979 Iranian revolution—and therefore harbor little sympathy for al-Qaida’s Sunni following. Europe’s Muslim population, by contrast, is overwhelmingly Sunni, hailing typically in France from Algeria and Morocco; in Germany from Turkey; and in the United Kingdom from Pakistan and the subcontinent.
This might be true but I’m not sure how relevant it is to Al Qaeda. It misses a major point: Al-Qaeda is best thought of as primarily an Arab organization. We can’t think of it as a generic or broader Muslim organization but only people of that religion from parts of the world that feel the strongest sense of grievance with the US. There’s a reason that Indonesian Muslims haven’t joined groups such as Al-Qaeda — they aren’t very angry with the US. The Israeli-Palestine conflict, the number one issue of public interest in places such as Egypt has much less traction outside of the Arab world and less traction in parts of the Arab world that are furthest from Palestine, such as Morocco.
Part IV Noah blames on the Burden_of_Succes_Theory.
According to this theory, the 9/11 attacks were so stunning a success that they left al-Qaida’s leadership struggling to conceive and carry out an even more fearsome and destructive plan against the United States. In his 2006 book The One Percent Doctrine, journalist Ron Suskind attributes to the U.S. intelligence community the suspicion that “Al Qaeda wouldn’t want to act unless it could top the World Trade Center and the Pentagon with something even more devastating, creating an upward arc of rising and terrible expectation as to what, then, would follow.”
Sounds plausible but I’m not sure how much this is on the minds of Al-Qaeda leaders. In my reading of the Arabic sources this does not strike me as a motive that’s heavily preoccupying them nor have I heard this mentioned in my conversations with Arab commenators.
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