WHAT makes a Muslim in Britain or America wake up and decide that he is no longer a Briton or American but an Islamic “soldier” fighting a holy war against the infidel? Part of it must be pull: the lure of jihadism. Part is presumably push: a feeling that he no longer belongs to the place where he lives. Either way, the results can be lethal. A chilling feature of the suicide video left by Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the band that killed more than 50 people in London in July, 2005, was the homely Yorkshire accent in which he told his countrymen that “your” government is at war with “my people”.
For a while America seemed less vulnerable than Europe to home-grown jihadism. The Pew Research Centre reported three years ago that most Muslim Americans were “largely assimilated, happy with their lives… and decidedly American in their outlook, values and attitudes.” Since then it has become clear that American Muslims can be converted to terrorism too. Nidal Malik Hassan, born in America and an army major, killed 13 of his comrades in a shooting spree at Fort Hood. Faisal Shahzad, a legal immigrant, tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square. But something about America—the fact that it is a nation of immigrants, perhaps, or its greater religiosity, or the separation of church and state, or the opportunities to rise—still seems to make it an easier place than Europe for Muslims to feel accepted and at home.