Here are some leads I wish there were time for me to work on; as there is not, I offer them for others to take up:
Terrorism in blue vs. red states: The United States is split fairly evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Given how much more inclined Republicans are to take steps to fight terrorism, is there quantitative evidence to suggest that the terrorists gravitate to the Democratic-dominated states to carry out operations?
Letters of marque for the twenty-first century: For many centuries, governments lacking the means to hunt down pirates provided "letters of marque" to private ship owners, commissioning them to take down the pirates and take a portion of the profits. (Click here for some examples.) The concept is known as privateering; it was written in the U.S. Constitution ("The Congress shall have Power … To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal"), where it remains in force to the present. Should this idea be revived in the age of Al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorists? June 26, 2005 update: Douglas R. Burgess Jr. takes a stab at this topic in "The Dread Pirate Bin Laden: How thinking of terrorists as pirates can help win the war on terror," Legal Affairs, July-August 2005.
Islamist organizations and individuals in the West: A profusion of radical Islamic institutions have grown up in North American and Western Europe since the 1960s, and especially since about 1990. Trouble is, most of them are unknown in terms of personnel, ideology, track record, and intentions. The same applies to prominent Islamist personalities. I personally have made a specialty of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, with quick forays to study other organizations (such as the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, the Muslim American Society, and the Progressive Muslim Union). I watch individuals such as Jamal al-Amin and Khaled Abou El Fadl. But vastly more research is needed. As I have done previously, I again urge anyone with time on his hands and a desire to defeat terror to sharpen the pencils and boot up the computer.
Analyze Islamic holy books vis-à-vis Zionism: The Qur'an contains many proto-Zionist sentiments (see, for example, this collection) but what do they amount to? An in-depth analysis of the Qur'an, the Hadith, and other authoritative writings is much needed.
A full-length study of UNRWA: It's a truism that Jerusalem stands at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but I say that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and the so-called Palestinian refugee problem stand at its fetid core. An in-depth study of UNRWA's evil doings would be a step toward the conflict's resolution. (February 22, 2005) June 10, 2011 update: A second study, a more subtle one, concerns the psychological impact that the refugee status has on 2nd, 3rd, and succeeding generations of "Palestine refugees." How much does this designation distort their lives and affect their politics?
Is the Hatay problem solved? As I ask in a weblog entry of this title, how could so major an accord as one between the Turkish and Syrian governments take place on December 22, 2004, with almost no one noticing it? Was such an accord really signed ?
Paintball and jihad: "The connection between paintball and jihad is one an enterprising researcher might look into," I noted in a comment at "Islamist Paintball, Anyone?" I sketch some of the connections there between this unlikely duo, but the topic deserves in-depth scrutiny.
Muslims response to life in the West: During the cold war, there was an adage along the lines of, "If you want communists, send your students to Paris; but if you want capitalists, send them to Moscow." Is there validity to this still today? I dealt obliquely with this question today at "Is Knowing British Tax Laws Proof against Radical Islam?" but the topic deserves direct treatment. From Sayyid Qutb's time in Greeley, Colorado, onward, what has been the cumulative impact of Muslims spending time in the West? Has it more often turned them into liberals or Islamists? My hunch is the latter. (March 9, 2005)
One of Lodi, California's five mosques.
One of Lodi, California's five mosques.
Western jihadis: European and American Islamists have for about two decades been going off to wage jihad in places like Afghanistan, Chechnya, Israel, and Iraq. Who are these individuals socio-economically, psychologically, religiously, ideologically? What sort of recruiting did they go through? What happens to those who return home? Some of this group – like Aukai Collins in My Jihad: : One American's Journey Through the World of Usama Bin Laden--as a Covert Operative for the American Government – have written up their experiences, but the topic remains obscure. (July 20, 2005) Aug. 3, 2010 update: A 535-page study by London's Centre for Social Cohesion, Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections, answers many of these questions. See my report on it today at "Britain's New Export: Islamist Carnage."
How many apologies? It would be interesting to note what percentage of time the Islamists manage to extract an apology from the politicians, journalists, academics, and others who go afoul their strictures. For example, members of the U.S. House of Representatives they have targeted have include Cass Ballenger, Peter King, Mark Kirk, and Tom Tancredo, all Republicans, none of whom have so far taken back their comments. (Nov. 27, 2005)
Zones Urbaines Sensibles, or Sensitive Urban Zones: These are the 751 areas of France, listed by the government down to the precise streets, where some 5 million people live and where the state no longer exerts effective control. I glancingly referred to the ZUS today at "The 751 No-Go Zones of France"; they deserve intensive study. (Nov. 14, 2006)
The dynamic of romance between Muslim men and non-Muslim women: A page on this website, "Advice to Non-Muslim Women against Marrying Muslim Men," has 11,000 comments on it, mostly from non-Muslim women relating their experiences with Muslim men. A reading of just some comments reveals clear patterns that could become the basis for an interesting and potentially important study. Topics for exploration include the sweet but pushy ways of the men, women unused to such attention being attracted despite themselves, the men revealing another side with the passage of time, and the women's reluctant but necessary breaking of ties. The large body of information offers both statistical and rhetorical insights into this issue. (March 5, 2013)
Israel's high standing among Americans: How is that, despite Israel's miserable press coverage, an overwhelmingly biased academy , and an Executive Branch history of hostility (think of the State Department) - how does the Jewish state continue to rate so high in American public esteem? (A Gallup Poll out today finds 64 percent of adults favor Israel over the Palestinians and only 12 percent the reverse, a 5-to-1 ratio.) This question is not only interesting in the abstract – an example of the masses ignoring elite opinion – but it has major implications for understanding what changes could jeopardize Israel's future esteem. (March 15, 2013)