This Saturday's Toronto Star has a lengthy feature article (`Jihadist generation' by Isabel Teotonio and Jessica Leeder, June 10, 2006) about some of the suspects arrested in the recent anti-terrorism sweep. The article tries to answer the question: "How could middle class, ordinary young men — most of them born and raised here — find themselves accused of such a terrible crime?"
Obviously, this is an important issue. While Muslim terrorism is a very serious problem, most Muslims don't become terrorists. So, what motivates those who do? If Islam alone were the cause, there would be many more terrorists than there are. That said, you can't simply dismiss the connection between Islam and terrorism. The fanatics who flew the planes into the World Trade Center did it in the name of Allah.
Some students of Islam, for example Daniel Pipes, make a distinction between traditional Islam and a politicized version of the faith he calls "Islamism". Pipes discusses the differences between the two in an essay: Distinguishing between Islam and Islamism Historian Martin Kramer has written a lengthy article about what name to give Muslim radicals: Coming to Terms: Fundamentalists or Islamists? When people like Stephen Harper and Stockwell Day say the terrorists are motivated by a violent political ideology rather than faith, they have in mind Islamism.
However, Robert Spencer who runs the Jihad Watch and Dhimmi Watch websites argues that mainstream Islamic theology provides a justification for terrorism in the concept of jihad. See his essay: Why Jihadwatch? I'm not sure what Spencer thinks specifically about Islamism as opposed to Islam. I imagine the answer can be found somewhere on one of his websites.
I don't know what motivates some Muslims to commit terrorism. It's possible if the international situation were different, Muslim immigration wouldn't be such a problem. However, since we live in a time where Islamic terrorism is a particular concern, it seems foolish to allow a large Muslim minority to establish itself here. Unfortunately, Ottawa has already opened Pandora's box. Barring a tectonic shift in Canadian politics, the Muslims who are already here aren't going anywhere and their rights must be respected. Canada should do everything it can to integrate Muslims, but as a sovereign country, we don't have to let any more in. There should be an immediate moratorium on Muslim immigration and if singling out one group is unpalatable, then we need a complete moratorium on all immigration. I don't care if the Toronto Star disagrees.