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There is no justification for terrorist violence, what so ever. Still, one needs to keep in mind that there’s some level of alienation that leads a person to become a terrorist.  Motivations get stranger if that person is an American, a European, or both. By saying this, I don’t mean “They were not hugged enough as children.” That’s often employed as a cliche, anyway. It’s alienation of a deeper sort, one that’s almost a wound on one’s psyche. Take, for instance, the case of Jason Walters. He was born to an African-American father and a Dutch woman. He lived in Amersfoort, and The Washington Post, in 2004, ran his story:

Jason Walters was the consummate outsider, his neighbors recalled, the loner who never quite fit in, the one the other kids liked to bully at school. He was the son of a black American father and a Dutch woman, and had few friends. He was pro-American, they said, perhaps because of his father.

Suddenly last month, Walters, 19, was arrested after a violent hours-long standoff with police, in one of a series of raids on suspected Muslim terrorist cells following the Nov. 2 assassination of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an alleged Muslim extremist.

There are some more interesting facets deeper into the article:

The Walters family lived on de Graafdreef for nearly 10 years. The neighbors remembered Walters’s American father, whom they called Carl, as a friendly man who worked at Soesterberg Air Force Base before it closed down. Carl Walters then went to work in a paint factory, neighbors said.

Carl Walters and his Dutch wife, Ingrid, divorced several years ago, the neighbors said, leaving her, the two boys and their two younger sisters in the small house. Ingrid Walters worked part time at a center for asylum seekers in Leusden, a village north of town, where she was remembered by her former boss as “a nice person — well-spoken, polite, well-dressed.”

Jason Walters’s high school yearbook, from the Meridiaan secondary school in Amersfoort, shows his as the only black face in his class.

So, lets think about this for a moment. Walters was bi-racial, in a country were Turks are one of the largest ethnic minorities. You do not see a sizable community of people of African descent in Holland, like one normally would in the United Kingdom or the United States. So, he’s isolated there. In all likelihood, Walters was probably a duel national. If not in citizenship, then in cultural upbringing. There’s two ways to not fit in — not completely “Dutch” by some standards, and he likely hasn’t seen a whole lot of the USA either. However, the sizable “American Community” to which he might have been a part of, Soesterberg Air Force Base, shut down the middle 1990s’ wave of base closures. That’s likely why he ended up with a Dutch Education. Depending on what his father did on base, he likely could have been eligible to go to the DODDS school there. (As a note: that’s where I graduated, and where my father worked as a principal). If not, he’s parents might have been able to afford the tuition to send him to school there, which a number of dual-national families opted for. Still, even if he did, he would have spent a large amount of time behind a barbwire fence and surrounded by military uniforms — which would have likely alienated him from the Dutch side of his heritage.

At any rate, there’s a sense of alienation that overseas and military brats — what some call “Third Culture Kids” — feel. For some, the isolation and lonliness leads them to embrace and adopt a culture very hard, or at least go out of their way to create their own. For some American teens, that means wrapping themselves up in patriotism more than their stateside counterparts would. Honestly, the average teenager in Ocean County, New Jersey, doesn’t spend a whole lot of time dwelling on what it “means” to be an American. Living in another country, however, forces you to think about it a lot. But to third culture kids, it’s all the identity they think they have sometimes. On the other hand, it could possibly lead to a wholesale rejection or serious critique of a culture that they feel they only have tenuous ties to. And that’s where Jason Walters comes in. All of this is largely conjecture on my part, but his embrace of radical Islam likely stems not from the tenets of the religions itself, but his own cultural confusion and a an unquenchable thirst to fit in somewhere.


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