How Olivier Roy understands Western-bred Jihadists:
The main motivation is not religious. Most of the guys, they were normal, they were not especially religious. One of them who went to Tehran became religious. It is not the process of Islamicization, through going to mosque, through studying the Koran. They go for action, they take the al Qaeda thing because if you do that in name of Al Qaeda, you will have a far hotter act than if you do that in the name of something else. They are disconnected in fact from the Muslim community. Many security officials thought the best way to spot these guys was to use the local Muslim communities to control the radical mosques, to engage mainstream imams to ask for help. And most of them comply with that, they want to help but they can’t comply because they guys are not part of these communities. They are loners.
With the Western ones, there may be some strange fusion of loner Internet Jihadism with simple fame-seeking testosterone. But the idea that religious zeal is not behind this seems to me perversely blind.
Roy’s second point, however, is a vital one. This is not about mainstream Islam. It is not about tradition or Muslim communities as we have long known them, especially in America. It is about the fusion of the most extreme and violent versions of Islam (a religion whose founder committed violence), with global Internet culture, and the lost, desperate souls of modernity.
With such an easily available, literally explosive combination, it amazes me, in many ways, that we have not seen more of this before.