In The Weekly Standard dated May 14, I published an article titled “The Balkan Front” in which I described my recent visit to Europe and discussions with Turkish, Kurdish, Albanian, and Bosnian Muslims about the resurgence of radical Islam in the eastern Mediterranean countries.
The story, its background, and its relevance became, in my view, imperative to Americans, with news of the arrest of six members of an alleged radical-Islamist conspiracy to attack U.S. service personnel at Fort Dix, New Jersey. The two ringleaders in the plot were Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, aged 22, from Jordan, and Serdar Tatar, 23, who was born in Turkey.
Stephen Schwartz is the Executive Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism in Washington, DC and author of the bestselling The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role In Terrorism (Doubleday).
He was born in 1948, and has pursued a long literary and journalistic career, having published seven books on modern political history, with special attention to extremism. He was a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle for 10 years and was secretary of the Northern California Newspaper Guild, AFL-CIO.
In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, his extensive and authoritative writings on the phenomenon of Wahhabism established him as one of the leading global experts on Islam, its internal divisions, and its relations with other faiths.
He began a serious examination of Islam in 1990, when he first visited Yugoslavia. Researching the history of Jews in the Balkans – for articles published in the Jewish Forward and other periodicals – he developed close relations with Balkan Islamic intellectual, religious and political leaders. His writings in Balkan Jews were collected in the 2005 volume Sarajevo Rose: A Balkan Jewish Notebook (Saqi/Palgrave Macmillan).