Before two young men left Britain last year to wage jihad in Syria, they bought two books that speak volumes about the modern jihadist movement, writes Mehdi Hasan at the New Statesman. Yusuf Sarwar and Mohammed Ahmed, who recently pleaded guilty to terror charges, ordered Islam for Dummies and Koran for Dummies from Amazon. No joke. It is yet more proof that Islam isn't to blame for what's happening in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere. These men claim to be defending their faith, but "religious fervor isn't what motivates most of them," writes Hasan.
Instead, they're "berks"—think pathetic, bored, unemployed young men looking for thrills and glory, and jihad fills the void. Martyrs they are not. In fact, Britain's spy service found a few years back that many involved in terrorism aren't religious in the least, their sloganeering to the contrary. "If we want to tackle jihadism, we need to stop exaggerating the threat these young men pose and giving them the oxygen of publicity they crave, and start highlighting how so many of them lead decidedly un-Islamic lives," writes Hasan. Click for his full column. (Read more jihad stories.)