Lifestyle & Belief

What Triggers Someone to Embrace Muslim Extremism?

britishsoldier_knifed_flowers_islam-e1369421243401.jpg

britishsoldier_knifed_flowers_islam

The two main suspects in the gruesome killing of British soldier Lee Rigby are Nigerian and at least one was raised by devout Christians. Michael Adebolajo, 28, converted to Islam and embraced a particular brand of extremism. He is known to have attended meetings of the extremist group Al-Muhajiroun, which is now banned in Britain. What attracted Adebolajo to Islamic extremism?

Player utilities

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Usama Hasan has a few ideas. Hasan embraced Muslim extremism as a confused teenager in 1980s Britain. He was torn between two worlds: The conservative Salafist Muslim culture of his parents and the liberal British society he was growing up in.

Hasas says that void was filled by a Muslim group.

"A charismatic preacher taught that your most important identity was as a Muslim," Hasan says, "And there was a global war going on between Muslims and the rest. And therefore we must be united and fight back and carry out jihad against non-believers."

After fighting with the Mujuhadeen in Afghanistan and eventually being courted by al-Qaeda, Hasan abandoned extremism and started working to prevent it through the Quilliam Foundation.

Host Marco Werman speaks with Hasan about his own attraction to extremism and what he recognizes in the suspects involved in the killing of Lee Rigby.