Last month, the attack on the Canadian parliament was perpetrated by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a recent Muslim convert while in New York, Zale Thompson, another convert, attacked NYPD officers with an axe. Earlier, in May 2013, two British Muslim converts, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, were convicted of the brutal slaying of Lee Rigby, an off-duty soldier in southeast London.
The motivations behind these acts were personal, and differed from individual to individual. However, what is common is the embrace of a world view that legitimizes acts of extreme violence to achieve objectives that are premised on religious grounds. Was this the result of the convert’s misinterpretation/misunderstanding of religious texts? Or was the convert influenced by radical individuals close to him/her (radical influencers)? Or did violent extremist groups simply appeal to the psyche of the convert?