ISSN 2330-717X

Who Radicalized The Boulder Gunman? – OpEd


By Dalia Al-Aqidi*

When a gunman killed 10 people, one of them a police officer, in a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, the American people were understandably impatient to find out who the killer was and what motivated him. As video footage emerged of police escorting the shooter from the scene in handcuffs, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the leg, the mainstream media quickly leapt on the fact that he was a white male.

Social media was flooded with comments about the dangers of white supremacy (which are not in dispute), but also claims that the gunman was probably a supporter of former US President Donald Trump. This racist and divisive narrative continued until the next day, when the shooter was identified as Ahmad Al-Aliwi Alissa, 21, a Syrian native who came to the US with his family as a child, and who lived in a Denver suburb. This left the mainstream media and the US far left struggling to change their twisted narrative, after the whole world had seen how they tried to widen the fissure in American society.

Ahmad’s brother Ali, 34, said Ahmad had been bullied in high school by classmates who made fun of his name and religion. By 2014, Ahmad had become paranoid, believing he was constantly being followed, chased, and hacked because of his religion, racism, and false rumors.

On March 23, the day after the shooting, Facebook removed access to the accounts of both Ahmad and his father Moustafa. However, several posts were captured and circulated on social media.

Ahmad’s family believe he is mentally ill, and his defense lawyer has asked for an evaluation of his mental health. Nevertheless, there is also evidence that he has been radicalized by Islamist organizations using ideology to achieve political gains. His father’s social media accounts

suggest that Moustafa is very fond of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood, and he openly expresses anti-US and anti-Israel views. “Israel is the ruler of the US and Trump was created by the Zionists,” Moustafa posted in March 2019. He adds that, as an Israeli agent, Trump obeys his masters’ orders. Other statements suggest that the father is a misogynist who supports polygamy.

In a Facebook post in March 2019, Ahmad said the 51 Muslims who died when a gunman opened fire that month in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, were not victims of a single shooter, but “victims of the entire Islamophobia industry that vilified them.”

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy, said the social media posts of both father and son appeared to be right out of the Islamist propaganda textbook. “The shooting may be another in a long list of instances where Islamist groups radicalize vulnerable, disgruntled and mentally ill individuals to commit acts of violence,” he said.

Such attacks put moderate Arabs and Muslims in the US in a dark corner, struggling between their own peaceful way of life and the political agenda of radical Islamism. While several Islamist entities flourish on American soil under the pretext of freedom of religion and human rights, inspired by “woke” culture and supported by “progressives,” the vast majority of moderate Muslims have no serious support to stand against the radicals who are the real enemy of Muslims around the world.

Only American Muslims themselves can defeat Islamist extremism, erase this horrible picture and be part of the solution — instead of being silent because they lack understanding, support, and media platforms.

• Dalia Al-Aqidi is senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy. Twitter: @DaliaAlAqidi

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Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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