Hawai`i Free Press has republished our February, 2007 article and the full text of Dr Curtis’ study >>> HERE.
Dr Thom Curtis gave the August address to the Conservative Forum for Hawaii on the topic of “Home-Grown Terrorism” on Sunday, 22 August.
(Curtis is the Chair of the UH Hilo Sociology Department, he also led a student-run study of Native Hawaiian attitudes towards the Sovereignty movement. The 2006 study, which was published in the print edition of Hawai`i Free Press, showed that many Native Hawaiians felt intimidated into silence by thuggish sovereignty activists. His speech at the Conservative Forum of Hawaii dealt exclusively with Islamist terrorism, but….)
After his speech, the meeting was disrupted by many Hawaiian Sovereignty proponents who dominated the session with loud and acrimonious statements and prevented the usual civil discussion expected of the topic.
President Walter Moe began the meeting by greeting the 100 or so in attendance, and declared the objective of the Forum was to present conservative ideas and bring people together for discussion and exchange of ideas. Following the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, this opening tone was disrupted even at the beginning, when the acknowledged presence of several persons who are candidates for public office was given, which was greeted by scattered “boos” from a few in the audience.
Dr. Curtis then gave his talk, accompanied by a power-point presentation of his recent research in to the nature of home-grown terrorism. He began with his personal account of the 9-11 attack on the Twin Towers of New York. Although that attack was carried out by foreigners, since then there was a steady stream of terrorist acts and attempts, both in the United States as well as in other western countries, perpetrated by violent terrorists who actually originated in the west and were not foreigners. First mentioned was John Walker Lindh, a 20-year-old American from Marin County California, who was captured while fighting against Americans with the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. He had converted to Islam while in California, attended mosque there and then gone to a madrassa in Pakistan for further study and then Afghanistan where he received training at Al-Farouq, a training camp associated with Al-Qaeda. He converted to violent jihad.
There were many others. Dr. Curtis went through a list of 2 dozen or so, including the 5-11 bombers of the commuter trains in Madrid that killed 191 and wounded 1800. Every member of that group was a citizen of either Spain or a western country, who had converted to violent jihad. Similarly, the entire group of London transport bombers were all British citizens, having been raised in the United Kingdom with childhoods similar to other English children, and again had converted to violent jihad.
Dr Curtis’s list included bombers of an English-speaking café in Israel done by two UK citizens who had traveled there from England for that purpose; Adam Pearlman, the son of a Jewish musician from California who had converted to violent jihad and was now putting out monthly propaganda after being recruited by the administrative section of Al Qaeda; US Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan who shot dead 13 and wounded 30 at Fort Hood; the “Lackawanna Six” group of Yemeni-Americans in New York who attended Al Qaeda training camps and planned violent jihad; the “Portland Seven” Oregonians attempted to join Al Qaeda forces for violent jihad, and many many others. There were many examples form America, England, and other European countries. Not just isolated examples, there was a pattern of such that seemed to reflect deliberate attempts to recruit home-grown terrorists throughout the western world, and the effect was in the hundreds.
Dr. Curtis pointed out that although much research and effort had been focused on foreign terrorists, little had been done on “home-grown” terrorists.
His research established several common elements:
All had grown up in very western areas, with typical western neighborhoods and experiences shared by typical western children. At some point, however, all of them had undergone a religious conversion within their western countries. They would attend mosque, but then other elements inside the mosque furthered their conversion to violent jihad. From there they went on to other training and then usually returned home to plot their actual terrorist acts. Sometimes these were coordinated plans, others were more individual. Dr. Curtis was developing an extensive data base on these home-grown terrorists, and research was ongoing. He was tracking over 150 such persons. In nearly every case, the central element seemed to be the religious conversion to violent jihad, in rebuttal to those who attributed social or political or economic factors as cuases.
Dr. Curtis felt that the only way to get warning of these sorts of attitudes and plans would be by informers, or by penetration undercover of the mosques themselves, which presented special problems to implement. The west continued to be at risk for further such persons and violent acts.
The question and answer period then followed:
Initial questions were put asking why Dr Curtis had nothing to say on the terrorist act of the US government in denying Roger Christ bail for his marijuana related arrest, which was greeted by some applause.
Dr. Curtis replied his research was in another area.
Then questions were put as to why Dr. Curtis had not researched Christian terrorists, or right wing terrorists, which was greeted with some applause in the asking. Dr. Curtis replied that there were extensive data bases going back 20+ years on those areas, but that his area of research was new ground.
One profanity-laced questioner was admonished to clean up his language at this point. One questioner raised the point that these violent terrorists all seemed to have a nihilistic element in their beliefs, to which Dr. Curtis also acknowledged.
Shortly after, a series of apparent Hawaiian Sovereignty supporters dominated the discourse very loudly, with growing audible anger. One asked why he did not include several western figures from Hawaiian history as terrorists.
Another stood and rubbed an American flag on display, and shouted “this is terrorism”, indicating the US flag.
Another ranted for several minutes how she had spent 40 years working for Hawaiian Sovereignty and never come across any supporter advocating violence. She claimed only peaceful civil disobedience as her methods, in the spirit of Ghandi and with aloha, and accused Dr. Curtis of being an Agent Provocateur who was seeking more money for his research by actually encouraging violence in the Hawaiian Sovereignty movement. She said his even talking on the subject was insulting. Dr. Curtis requested that she please not shout at him.
At this point, President Walter Moe took the microphone, and asked for a change in tone, and more aloha. He was greeted with taunts that he had no right to use the word, and that he was abusing the word “aloha”. Mr. Moe kindly allowed all who wanted to speak to have a chance to talk, but the same tone continued and effective question and answer of Dr Curtis was minimal from there on.