The Jihad Next Door
In her disturbing new book, The Jihad Next Door (PublicAffairs), NPR correspondent Dina Temple-Raston details the steps that led up to the men's imprisonment. Alienated and underemployed, the thoroughly Americanized young men were easy marks when a charismatic recruiter showed up at their local mosque and convinced them that, as good Muslims, they should go to Afghanistan to prepare for holy war. But as soon as they reached Asia, the men realized that they had zero interest in waging jihad against their fellow Americans.All returned home, but an anonymous tip alerted the authorities to the nature of their trip, and they were jailed even though they'd done nothing besides have a miserable vacation. The chain of events that doomed the hapless men might seem like a comedy of errors if the consequences weren't so serious, not only for the Lackawanna six but for our democracy, and for a legal system that seems to have forgotten that all of us—regardless of where our parents were born—are innocent until proven guilty.