malk.hasanMajor Nidal Malik Hasan, killed 13 people at Fort Hood Army Base in Texas in 2009. He was born and raised in Virginia. Hasan was an Army Medical Corp officer at the time of his attack. He was raised as a Muslim together with his two younger brothers, attending high school in Arlington and then Roanoke, Va. Hassan and his brothers helped their parents run the family’s restaurant in Roanoke.

Mohammed Sidique Khan, the leader of the suicide attackers who bombed the London transit system in 2005  was a teacher at a primary school in the northern city of Leeds who taught children with developmental problems. He was 30 years old and the father of a baby daughter born one day earlier while he was present with his wife as she delivered. Fifty-two people were killed (including Khan) in the bombing of the London transit system and over 700 were wounded. Colleagues and acquaintances described Khan as a gentle, kind man.

Faisal Shahzad was a Pakistani-American citizen Faisal Shahzad and familywho was arrested for the attempted May 1, 2010, Times Square car bombing. Shahzad is the youngest and fourth child of a wealthy, well-educated family living in north-western Pakistan. Shahzad is married and the father of two young children, both born in the United States. Since 1997, he lived mostly in the United States, attending college on extended visas, and earning an undergraduate degree and MBA at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.  The New York Times news article describing Shahzad’s radicalization included this quote: “But precisely what combination of influences — political, religious and personal — drove Mr. Shahzad to violence remains a mystery, even to those close to him.”

Antonio Martinez was 21-years-old and a recent Muslim convert when he was arrested in December, 2010, and charged him with plotting to blow up a military recruitment center in Catonsville, MD. The article reporting on Martinez (also known by his Muslim name, Muhammad Hussain) described a recent trend among Latinos that concerned Homeland Security officials:

There is Jose Padilla, the former Chicago native who pleaded guilty to training with al-Qaida; or Daniel Maldonado, a Latino-American who was one of the first U.S. citizens to join an al-Qaida affiliate group in Somalia. Officials also point to Bryant Neal Vinas, a Latino from Long  Island who found himself in al-Qaida’s inner circle a couple of years ago. He talked to the group’s leadership about how to attack the Long Island Rail Road and, according to officials close to the case, “has been a gold mine of information about al-Qaida ever since.”

Nineteen-year-old, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, “suspect #2,” attended the prestigious Cambridge Rindge and Latin school, Cambridge, Mass., where he participated on the wrestling team. In May 2011, his senior year, he was awarded a $2,500 scholarship from the city to pursue higher education. At the time of the bombing, he was a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. According to a recent article from CNN, Dzhokhar was on the Dartmouth campus every day after the bombing on Monday, attending classes, working out in the gym, and attending dorm parties while all of Boston was on lockdown. Dzhokhar was described as non-religious by his contemporaries. He was known to his acquaintances as a guy who loved soccer. He is reported to have brushed off invitations to join the Muslim Student Association on campus. Its president, Ahmad Nassri, was quoted as saying: “I was trying to pull him into the group,” Nassri said. “He didn’t really want it. I think he attended one meeting. He defined himself as a Muslim but if you asked him if he was religious he would say, ‘No.'”

I could go on, and on.  The “larger question” that the authorities, and the media, and the experts will be discussing for months on end, is how could a 19 year-old young man, most of his life spent in the U.S.A., be the willing perpetrator in the Boston Marathon massacre?

The common thread in each of these cases is Islam. However, the answer to the larger question is whether or not those asking the question will allow themselves to answer the question with a religion — Islam.

Jesus come quickly.

Jack Smith