Former Reason national correspondent Mike Lynch sends along this piece from the Wall Street Journal about a "new breed of Islamic warrior" who were likely responsible for the Madrid train bombings. One characteristic: They're worse than the old breed. On the up side, they show a willingness to let women participate in armed struggle against the infidels. On the down side, they pointedly take advantage of Western traditions of tolerance and civil liberties.
These Islamist warriors—schooled in the North African doctrine known as Takfir wal Hijra and trained by Afghan veterans of al Qaeda—think, recruit and operate differently from traditional Islamist networks. For Europe, that makes the threat particularly acute. The Takfir movement is strongest in Morocco and Algeria, the primary sources of Muslim immigration to Western Europe. Takfiri theorists openly advocate using immigration as a Trojan horse to expand jihad, or holy war….
As Osama bin Laden's control over terror networks has been disrupted, new radicals operate at the fringes of his movement. Many of his core beliefs, especially his anti-American animus, are being superceded by broader interpretations of global jihad. Instead of just apostate Muslim regimes or U.S. interests, jihad is being expanded to include virtually everyone outside the sect. That leads many antiterror specialists to say the Madrid bombings may represent a change for Islamic terrorism. "This is al Qaeda 2.0," says Jonathan Schanzer, a terrorism specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy….
Unlike previous generations of radical Islamists, who attracted police attention by their long beards, public proselytizing and orthodox postures, the newer generation of holy warrior blends in better. They are encouraged to lead a double life in the ultimate pursuit of jihad, according a German intelligence report.
"Outwardly they pretend to lead a modern lifestyle," says terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp. "But deep inside they adhere to a pure medieval strain of Islam." Many Takfiris shave their beards and avoid mosques for security reasons. "Recruits conceal their true beliefs until the time is right," Dr. Ranstorp says….
Groups inspired by the Takfiris also show a willingness to recruit women for armed jihad. Most Islamist groups, which adhere to strict Quranic interpretations, shun involvement of women. Naima Oulad, a Moroccan woman, was jailed last week on suspicion she played a supporting role in the Madrid attacks. Ms. Oulad is the first woman jailed after more than 60 arrests related to Islamic terrorism in Spain in the past three years….
Takfiri ideology originated in a similarly named sect in Egypt in the 1970s and burst into notoriety with the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. The doctrine spread during the Afghan war in the 1980s and was brought back to North Africa by veteran mujahedeen who preached to young people.
Although Takfiris espouse a hard-line interpretation of Islam, the ideology is popular because it encourages followers to reconfirm their faith by breaking its own rules. That flexibility, coupled with their seemingly deeper integration into Western life, makes it harder for police to detect them. It also gives Takfiris an ability to choose soft, civilian targets that will have the biggest political impact in each country….
Not sure this link will work for non-WSJ subbers, but it's worth reading in full here.