Only Hard Choices for Parents Whose Children Flirt With Terror

Hoping for an intervention, Sal Shafi cooperated with the government when his son showed warning signs of radicalization. A year later, his son was in handcuffs, facing 20 years in prison.

Comments: 248

  1. I can't even begin to imagine the agony of families such as this. Thank heavens I will never have to make that choice, and therefore I would never condemn the parent who did or did not choose to make it.

  2. It is difficult, but the father did the right thing even if it means his son spends 20 years in prison. It was his son who made the choices that will determine if and for how long her does time, not the father. As far as I am concerned, if Adam were to have committed a terrorist act down the line and his father had not reported him tothe authorities, he should be charged with facilitating the activities of a terrorist.

  3. Then you are part of the problem my friend. By not condemning a parent who chose NOT to turn his terrorist son in, you are sending a message that someones precious little boy is more important than the lives and welfare of innocents. The dad did the right thing. Period. Anything else is sponsoring terrorism. Let's not allow our bleeding hearts to get in the way of common sense.

  4. Absolutely!

  5. I feel the father's pain but after killings in San Bernardino I don't think I can blame agency for.being cautious. I just don't get these youths who live comfortable life -in this case what is the agency to do?
    I am sure they have evidence of his violent intentions. ..

  6. Your version of caution is 20 years in prison for thinking of a crime. If America is different than the U.S.S.R, this cannot stand.

  7. Not exactly, Mark. The maximum penalty is 20 years. Adam will go through due process to see if he violated laws relevant to supporting terrorists. Exactly the opposite of the USSR.

  8. If they do not have evidence, the court will discharge him. Courts responsibly do that every day of the week. We do not quite yet have fascist government that fascists are seeking. If you do not want fascist government, vote for responsible government. If you do not do so, then you will see real pain.

  9. I think it was Ronald Reagan who said the scariest words were We're the govt. and we're here to help. Never truer words spoken. OJ Simpson was right, Deny Deny Deny.

  10. Matt, you are defending O.J.? This parent did try to help but he had a very misguided and ill son. What is society to do? Give this kid a break because he had a nice father? This is why Muslims need to stay within a country that they feel more like others. They don't assimilate well, no matter how hard they try. Why should we continue to bring Syrian refugees to westernized nations? Rather, western nations should collectively send money and create "safe places' so they aren't completely out of their culture or displaced. I feel for this father but both the father and our government did the right thing.

  11. Well I guess the Police, Fire Departments, Sewer Systems, Electrical Grid, Airports, Military, NASA, Food Research and Safety, CDC, Educational System, Financial System, Research Hospitals, Interstate Highways and Healthcare System - including SSI and Medicare are all a big problem.

    The real problem was not so much that Ronald Reagan said something in a mocking, dismissive tone in his stump speech, it's that so many people cannot think it through 40 years later to understand just how simplistic and corrosive his little laugh line it was.

  12. I look at all the so called Christians who have fallen for the violent rhetoric of Trump and Cruz and ask myself, how do they convince themselves that theirs are true American values?

  13. "His message now to parents of troubled or confused children? “Don’t even think about going to the government.”"

    So it would be better to let your child kill people? How does this differ from other families whose children (or adult children) are killers or criminals?

  14. >>“Don’t even think about going to the government.”
    >>So it would be better to let your child kill people?

    Maybe he just means "Instead of going to the government, I wish I had sent him to a cult de-programmer / confiscated his passport and locked him in his room / done some other thing to stop him."

  15. You hit it right on the head. Thanks.

  16. I think the question posed by this article is whether or not there is a middle way. It's far more likely that a parent with a child that is becoming radicalize will seek help if they know they will not be dooming their children to years in prison. If that were the case they would be far less likely to hide their children's problems from the authorities making all of us safer.

  17. Why doesn't the Muslim community step up to the plate to address the problem? Surely they have the resources in this country to build and run an effective program to deter young people from becoming radicalized - and to deprogram those who need it.

    This is not the job of US law enforcement. If the Muslim community offered such a program, one which was demonstrably successful, the FBI would not have to dabble in social work.

    Parents like Mr. Shafi who find themselves in such a difficult situation should be able to turn to a trustworthy and reliably effective program - one which does not depend on US government law enforcement agencies.

    The Muslim community needs to take responsibility for this.

  18. In reply to Binx Bolling, your point is well taken. There are programs in individual communities to address this problem.

    I am wondering why you didn't call for the same program in white communities, given the prevalence of mass shootings by white males.

  19. Are you willing to blame Christian churches for Timothy McVeigh?

  20. As a Christian, am I responsible for preventing Americans who were raised by Christian parents to join ISIS? How about Christian parents whose children go on a shooting rampage, killing children in their school?
    The majority of ISIS recruits have never read the Koran, and only know a perverted few slogans taught by equally irreligious leaders.
    This father, a secular Muslim, "stepped up to the plate". The way the FBI handled it will certainly prevent other "Muslim" parents to contact law enforcement. Why is there no diversion program, including mental health, for 20 year olds?
    My heart breaks for Adam's family. His father is like any other parent - sometimes we are put in a position by our children in which there is just no "good" choice. I hope his family will eventually heal from this ordeal.

  21. Fathers like Mr. Shafi are our best hope for peace and freedom.

  22. Uh, no. He's our worst hope - His message now to parents of troubled or confused children? “Don’t even think about going to the government.”

  23. I admit to having hugely mixed feelings about this case. Who wants kids desperate to join a terrorist cause free to do so? Yet, 20 years for the crime of what? It's not clear here - giving a bit of money, promising to come join in? What about innocent before proven guilty and destroying their lives at such a young age when their mental ability to judge morality is still forming? It eerily reminds me of the Aaron Swartz case, the admirable, brilliant "hactivist" who was threatened with multiple felony counts and 35 years of jail for WHAT? Making a political statement via downloading volumes of scientific research, which he had every right to do if it were for his own use (he never "used" it or sold it for anything). And then committed suicide - perhaps due to the legal battle placing him and his family facing financial ruin. I wonder if that is this young man's future as well. We do seem to need some more sanity in dealing with young, ideologically driven minds than simply threatening to take their whole lives away from them (and them from their families). It is all so heartbreaking.

  24. Adam was probably convicted under the statute for material support of terrorism, which is incredibly broad. All one needs to do is offer one's support to a terrorist organization, even if the nature of that support is an inchoate future promise to do something.

  25. According to the article, the case is at trail. He hasn't been sentenced to 20 years or even convicted. Lots of people face 20 year sentences if convicted for much more run of the mill charges than terrorism, the nome owner committing insurance fraud, the town clerk embezzling the tax receipts and so on. It sounds like a good measure of defense lawyering was written into this article, but in the wake of some terrible incident, the public outcry is always about why law enforcement didn't prevent it.

  26. That is enough for me! Actually, just contacting a known terrorist organization is enough for me to agree with a person being jailed. This isn't a joke or a game any longer. If you promise to do something for me...I believe you and I expect you to carry out your promise.

  27. I feel safer with Adam Shafir in jail. His father would do just as well grieving for having raised a son who embraced terrorism instead of grieving for having reported that son. Just because Adam is young does not mean he is not dangerous. The tragedy is that of a family not knowing what they did wrong to raise a would-be terrorist. His attraction to terrorist groups was not just due to the influence of bad people; he embraced and chose to join terrorists. We are actually told very little about the son in this article, only about the father. This is similar to other cases of families that have no idea their child is about to commit violence and where others remark that they never saw it coming. Here, the family saw all the signs of imminent violence by their son and did the only thing they could to prevent complicity with it.

  28. Don't be so quick to blame parents whose situation you know next to nothing about. Do you honestly believe that it only takes good parenting to prevent a child from taking a wrong turn? Are you even a parent yourself? Try visiting any number of support groups for families whose children got into trouble, then re-think this merciless conclusion of yours.

  29. Thank you Rac. The son was on his way to becoming a killing jihadist. I'm sorry for the father but not really. He did the right thing. Perhaps allowing your kids to go to radical places, with radical people trying to turn them is not good parenting.

  30. Like the vast majority of parents, I'm sure that the Shafis did their best to raise a good son. Yet he became radicalized. And some kids become drug addicts. While parent behavior undoubtedly plays a role in kids' development it is a bit too simplistic to assume that it caused terrorist tendencies.

  31. Adam Shafi is in prison because his father didn't listen to legal advice. An attorney told him not to contact law enforcement but he did so anyway. This program is a P.R./entrapment scam and Muslims ought to know that. Never, never, never contact law enforcement. Unless you want to end up with a long prison term.
    Parents like Mr. Shafi should also let their children leave the country. As much as it may pain them. There isn't anything they can do to stop them and contacting law enforcement here means they will end up like this young man.

  32. If I had any thought that my child was becoming a terrorist I would have to call some type of law enforcement. Can only imagine how a parent feels when their child goes out and takes the lives of many and can imagine how much worse they feel if they had thought the child may do just that. Better for the child to be in prison than dead.

  33. Brilliant!!! Let parents allow their radicalized child to leave the country to further develop their radical beliefs and put them into practice. Mr. Shafi made a painful decision and did the right thing!

  34. Agree with you, jacrane. Mr. Shafi has lost his son for a long time but he could have lost his son while his son was murdering a planeload of people. I expect if this worst-case scenario occurred, he would feel terrible guilt every day for the rest of his life, knowing he could have prevented the murder of many people.

  35. Mr. Shafi absolutely did the right thing. He knew one of the consequences for Adam would be incarceration, and it is Adam's decisions, not his Dad's, that got him in trouble. If Adam could not intuitively know that supporting or even sympathising with known terrorist organizations is wrong, despite extensive contact with Federal agents and his Dad's efforts, then he was committed to his cause beyond hope. Maybe a girlfriend's calming influence could have helped - I don't hear anything about that possibility.

  36. People who are being drawn to Islamic terrorism are not necessarily religious and can easily avoid indications they are considering that path. The government should try to develop programs and so might Muslim communities, but these are band-aids. The deeper sources of recruitment are specific to each country. In France, for example, it's the marginalization of the Muslim community. In Tunisia, it's the lack of job opportunities for education youth. In the U.S. Muslims are well-integrated and thus far radicalization has been minimal. However, there are three potential factors that may offset that. The first is the Islamophobia generated by politicians and the media, which is probably making even affluent Muslim youth feel a growing lack of acceptance by peers and concerns about future employers. The second is American foreign policy, which has sided with Middle East despots and, autocratic regimes. In the latter category are the Saudis, who are adherents of the Wahhabist form of Islam which fuels Al-Qaeda and Islamic State. Finally, America's complicity with Israeli colonialism and never-ending expansion and concomitant ethnic cleansing. Among all the current presidential aspirants Sanders is the only one who is even willing to acknowledge that the settlements, forever ruled illegal by international law, should not exist.

    There are going to be more stories like those involving Sal Shafi if these deeper sources of the problem are not addressed.

  37. Milton Mankoff wrote of "Islamophobia generated by politicians and the media".

    I submit the Islamophobia is caused by Muslims who blow up planes / trains / automobiles / ships / buildings / hotels / concert halls / shopping centers and on and on.

    Do all Muslims commit terrorist attacks? No. But the rise in Islamophobia can be tracked by the rise in terroristic attacks.

    Some politicians count terroristic attacks beginning AFTER 9/11/2001, to make the numbers appear if we don't know that 3000 Americans died on that awful day.

    All news media report on terrorist attacks around the world. That's their job: to report the news.

    Don't blame politicians or news media: blame those who cause the problems. Until you identify the problems, you cannot begin to find solutions.

  38. The best choice is to raise your child with no religion. You will avoid having to make these particular hard choices if you encourage critical thinking, meaningful connection and obligation to your fellow citizens and gratitude for this life here and now. These Muslim terrorists don't get their ideas from nowhere. This is a spectrum problem (moderate parents, terrorist children) and at the root of it is Islam. Free your minds from pathological fairy tales so your children don't suffer and become killers. I feel bad for this father, though. That photo is devastating.

  39. Ever heard of the Baader-Meinhof gang? Your don't have be be religious to be a terrorist. And the worst mass murders of the 20th century were committed by atheists--Stalin and Hitler.

  40. It sounds like in this case the parents did raise their children with essentially no religion, unless you consider “don’t do bad things” to be a religion.

  41. This article said that Mr. Shafi's religion basically consisted of the attitude, "Do good things." He as not heavily involved in institutional religion. Neither were the parents of several recent terrorists. Parents sometimes watch their children become pulled into conservative or fundamentalist religion when the parents themselves are not particularly religiously inclined.

    In this case, the "ideas" seemed to be greatly influenced by media coverage of the Syrian conflict and refugees.

  42. In a way, this attachment to an outside stabilizing group, however radical, is similar to the lure of "communes" felt in the early seventies by the disillusioned young, who missed the 1960's or who had abandoned a family home for many reasons: wanderlust, parental divorce or neglect, overprotectiveness. When I joined the "Moonies," the Unification Church, in 1973, this trend had become nationally visible thru the concept of "deprogramming" (cf. Patty Hearst), counseling and temporary confinement. I really think that if the motivation of young people like Adam was seen as a) an attachment disorder not associated with the specific Islamist context and b) treated in an organized, "interventionist" way by an established deprogramming system, there could be much more success in preserving family unity.

  43. This, a thousand times over. Mr. Shafi's expressed regret in talking to the government, and his recommendation that other parents not follow in his footsteps, is the nail in the coffin of our anti-terrorism efforts. What bin Laden intended has borne very bitter fruit and most of us don't even recognize it: our mindless fear and kneejerk reactions are the very capitulation to terror that he was aiming for.

  44. I think this is a view that reduces politics to psychology. There are real issues of oppression and injustice and lack of opportunity in the world and because some people respond to them in horrific ways does not mean the political issues themselves are irrelevant in understanding the response. I don't want to single this comment out, because so many others seem to avoid the role of governments, including our own, in the deeper sources of the problem. I am also struck by how many people think the Muslim communities are responsible for fully solving problems that they did not in any way fully create. I might ask the American Jewish community, who actually has a nuanced view of the current Israeli situation, to take responsibility and denounce AIPAC and the big PAC men, Adelson (Rubio then Trump) and Saban (Clinton) who poison our rational discussion of America's blind support if Israel, which plays a role in Muslin radicalization and endangers Jews as well as non-Jews everywhere. Or the Christian community, to denounce the right wing fundamentalist Christians who support Israeli expansion to fulfill a biblical prophecy about the Second Coming.

  45. I agree that modern religions need to actively support reasoning and the separation of church and state.We cannot solve these problems solely with prison. But a certain percentage the population seems to like rigid, conservative religions.
    . We already have so called charter schools teaching that science is bad, evolution is false and so forth. The Catholic church is purchasing hospitals to enforce no choice, no contraception, etc.
    My ideal would be to do away with religion, make all their properties except the physical church taxable, and make it mandatory to teach reasoning, science,in all schools.

  46. Tragic! This father tried to do the right thing,that the government told him to do and now he has to live with the consequences for the rest of his life. He has no reason to feel that his son's actions are his fault. The young man was depressed and needed help. Parents hope for the best but don't always know what to do to help their children No one can judge him. His take away,"Don't turn to the government," is the only obvious one that he can make. The U.S. government grievously let this honest citizen down. I am not a supporter of Islam, in fact, I am Jewish, and I feel for this man.

  47. The father didn't try to do the right thing, he did the right thing. Like many hard choices, both had consequences. Adam made the wrong choice and now lives where he belongs. Seems the system actually worked pretty well for a change. I am sympathetic to the family who lost their son but seems the loss was inevitable if Adam continued to have his way.

  48. I feel terrible for the parents who believed the government (FBI). This reach out program by the agency was so poorly executed that it has done more harm than good. The program has been reduced to reporting someone with gun in hand or a revenge tip. This very obvious outcome is inexcusable and I hope an official is reprimanded This is a resourceful parent, I can only imagine the outcome for less fortunate families. There is an opportunity to intervene, understand and prevent these young people from being radicalized. Unfortunately the FBI has blown their chance to be part of it.

  49. Ruby Tuesday states the reach-out program " has done more harm than good". What if Adam Shafi (or someone else's son or daughter) had been wearing a bomb vest on a plane and your son or daughter was on the plane when it exploded? Or in the shopping mall or the concert hall?

    Mr. Shafi has lost his son for a long time. What if he had lost his son while his son was murdering a planeload of people? Would he feel better knowing he had not turned his son in? I submit that he would feel worse, much worse.......feeling guilt every day for the rest of his life.

  50. This guy was already radicalized, it was too late to prevent it. Luckily, we have prevented another terror attack, maybe even one on our shores. The parents seem pretty clueless. Your son disappears and says he is in Turkey. How did he get there, who did he contact, etc. Check his phone and computer, I bet he was in contact with or was watching jihadi videos for quite some time.

  51. Religion is an endless source of trouble, which is why the original states would not ratify the Constitution until it was amended to ban all legislation that gives respect to faith-based beliefs.

  52. Contrary to what an earlier comment put forth the constitution didn't ban all legislation that gives respect to faith, all it did was say that all people would have the right to worship as they please (or not worship,if that was their choice).

  53. The Constitution/Bill of Rights does give respect to faith-based beliefs. It just does not endorse them.

  54. Its wrong to conflate all religions and label them as "an endless source of trouble" because the tenets of *one* religion, Islam, exhort 'believers' to kill 'infidels'.

  55. Muslim parents need help; turning one's children over to law enforcement cannot be easy. The best help they can get from the US government is a program that returns every Saudi financed mullah, and shuts down every Saudi financed mosque. Yes, the young impressionable kids with nascent anger and self-loathing will find messages of hate online and on youtube. But we need to begin somewhere.

    There is no appropriate analogy here, but imagine if US financed radical preachers to open churches all across Saudi Arabia, and informed the flock that it was their divine duty to keep women in chains, and kill all infidels. The Saudis would never allow it. For good reason. So, why are we allowing them to do just that - here?

    This cannot be done at a local level. The radicalization, and the message of hatred, "we are good, they are infidels" is occurring first in the mosque where families and friends go with their young impressionable ones - and legitimize the message.

    Muslims - like everyone else - have a right to exist in a free society in which our government does not coddle, and allow a foreign government to finance sedition within our borders. Let's call Saudis for what they are: financiers of sedition in the US. This must stop.

    I get that Mr. Shafi is hurting badly; but cooperating with law enforcement is the best way to go. Otherwise, everyone gets hurt because no one acted when necessary.


  56. All roads dont lead to Saudi Arabia. Daeesh are recruiting from Saudi too. The ideology that creates these groups is a khawarij mentality. The khawarij were a group ,who in early Islamic history, rebelled against their leaders. They rebelled and part of their actions included killing innocents.
    One of the biggest red flags of "radicalization" is to hate Saudi Arabia.
    Every single terror group hate Saudi Arabia for a variety of reasons. Saudi Arabia do not have a perfect state but they do not have an imperfect one either .
    We are not in chains. Muslim women are not the world's new oppressed. We dont need to be your new world project.
    I have never heard one Imam in my mosques call to kill " infidels ". Your rhetoric is exactly the type that fuels confusion.

  57. Shah, are you being truthful? What does every Friday prayer's begin with - except the call for destruction of infidels? Where do the women sit in your mosque that you claim to speak for? With you, in a secondary room?

    You are in chains. Moral and intellectual chains. Your denial is exactly the kind that has kept 90% of the good, decent Muslims on the planet in chains; at the mercy of nihilists.

    Regarding your concern for the Saudis. Again, you are either in denial or are untruthful. All roads don't lead to any one place, but too many lead to moneyed interests in Saudi and Emirates; the government (massive royal family) and Sheiks. It has begat mosques and a belligerent, strident population that continually demands a special status. Enough already.

    Sorry, no one, not you, nor anyone is that special. I see no reason at all for any accommodation from me to you. Your behavior is offending me, my beliefs about America as a land of the free where women choose to do what they want (and yes, wear what they want).

    Just know this; I am no Trump supporter. And you are not my project. But please know that I am plenty fed up of the terrorism, violence, arson, angry youth, and seeing women being treated as second class citizens. I am not living in your caliphate, you are living in my free society that values all kinds of freedom. And yes, this country is more precious to me than all religions. Adapt, learn, and fall in love - like the rest of us have.

  58. Kalidan, you are right that the government should have a program to return Saudi-financed mullahs and shut down Saudi-financed mosques.

    However, this will never happen because the U.S. government is in bed with the Saudis. And why is that? Because of Americans' insatiable greed for oil. No American politician would risk voters' ire by doing anything that would stop the flow of oil.

    So ultimately, all those who drive humongous gas-guzzling vehicles and go jetting around the world are, with their demand for oil, contributing to the rise of radical Islam.

  59. I think the lesson should be, don't contact the police until you have evidence your son is actually fighting in Syria, or planning an attack here. This Father made the mistake of contacting the FBI way too early, when what he really wanted was counseling, not law enforcement.
    Other, non-Muslims, have made similar mistakes. A couple years ago, a man was arguing with his son who then took the father's truck and drove off. Hoping to teach his son a lesson, the father called the police. The police chased the teenager and ended up killing him.

  60. Indeed. It doesn't help parents making this choice that the material support for terrorism charge is so broad. If one is concerned that his child has been radicalized, then the child is probably convictable.

  61. What a maddening situation. It reveals that a young man, who resides in a good stable home, absent of poverty and with every opportunity can fall into the clutches of jihad. How does this happen? What is the allure? Is terrorism some kind of social drug addiction? That is, people think they can play with drugs and then walk away. They soon find out that they can't and the drugs become their masters.

    Does terrorism work the same way? People from really great homes become drug addicts. Maybe it doesn't matter what kind of home life a person has. Once one samples the drug of the terror culture, they become hooked. We call it radicalized.

    I have read that it can only take about two weeks for a person to become radicalized to jihad. Ditto for drugs. There must be some kind of addictive response going on for this to happen.

    How do we treat drug abuse? Jail. Doesn't work. Jail doesn't cure an addiction. How do we treat jihad? Jail. It appears that many who embrace terror became radicalized in jail. Again, as with drugs, society has developed no treatment programs to combat radical jihad.

    If I am correct, then the world has a serious problem with the spreading of jihad. It's a global epidemic of societal decay that can strike anyone anywhere.

    There is something that lies very deep in the human psyche that jihad activates. The families can't combat it, the government has no treatment, and people keep
    getting sucked into it.

  62. The "something that lies very deep" in the human psyche is what religion taps into. Keep this religion away from the young like you would drugs. Religion has a narcotic effect on the frontal lobe. The sleep of reason produces monsters.

  63. The first thing we me all must do is stop obsessing over the idea thare is a single solution. This notion, like the endless search for the single cause, is a favorite with government, the news media and the public at large. But complex problems tend to demand complex solutions, and we need to develop every tool, from the gentle to the draconian, if we are to have any chance of succeeding.

  64. Yes it is something deep in the human psyche : a desire for meaning. It seems to me that these young men want to be part of something they see as heroic and therefore meaningful. They want to be part of something larger than themselves. They see muslims suffering in the world and their sense right and wrong is triggered. They may sincerely think they are being "righteous". Clearly these urges need to be channeled in some more positive outlet. That will be the hard part.

  65. Mr. Shafi did the right thing; if not, tens of others could be casualties as well as his child. His son has already been brainwashed and unable to bring him back to sanity. At least in isolation, the boy can either fight his 'ideological demons or pursue his recalcitrance as a true jihadist. Those are the two roads for these madness. Seeking legal redress doesn't formulate any relieve and a majority of those released from Gitmo had returned to jihardism. Even the best re-conditioning systems cannot change what has evolved into a personal bucket wish list. I'd prefer to equate such obsession as a severe addiction with psychopathic and/or sociopathic tendencies.

  66. Did you not read the end of the article that the father is suffering and says he wished he hadn't called the government? His son is now in jail for 20 years and when he is released he will be just as angry as when he went in. How is that a solution? The solution lies with helping people stay out of jail not putting them in jail! The solution lies with over population. There are too many people in this world and this is creating what we all know exists today, violence. There are too few people of wealth and means helping others and far too many people in poverty with no hope of anything for their future. There is way too much government corruption regardless of how many people there are so I don't know how to stop that including in the US. Humans have been killing each other and wiping out entire populations as long as we have been on this planet. Do you really think putting a young man in jail for 20 years is the answer?

  67. What we think Sal Shafi should do depend on where our moral lies. No doubt the FBI has yet to have better solution than locking Shafi's son up in jail for 20 years, but is that worse than the son killing people -- 10, 20, 30... -- men, women and children, then get caught and go to jail for 20 years, or killing as suicide bomber?

    Once somebody is radicalized to kill, there is no perfect solution, short of de-radicalizing them back. But that is no easy task, is it? One which the Muslim community themselves are clueless to do. Heck, in fact the Muslim community are clueless on how to prevent the radicalization in the first place. May be this is something the Muslims can prioritize on rather than just reacting to being profiled negatively?

    So let's not be too quick to judge, either way. Perhaps the law enforcement and the Muslim community can cooperate to set up intervention programs that preclude restraint outside of the jail system (like Baker Act) for trouble young people like this before they commit any terrorist acts.

  68. "...the Muslim community..." here we go again blaming terror on the Muslims when we all know that mostly men (any type) are terrorizing people in the world all the time with marital abuse, their guns and knives, the criminal police force beating and hurting innocent people or not, rape on college campus and other places, child molestation, robbery, kidnapping. Come on this is not just a Muslim thing! Why don't we focus on how to help all these men! Most women are not violent until the men give them the ideas!

  69. I am guessing the point of this article is... that there is little chance of more cooperation if this is the result.

  70. The world is replete with people and organizations extremely well versed in the art of persuasion. In fact, a large part of our economy is based on persuading people to do something they normally would not do.
    During the 70's I watched as several of my friends were recruited into religious cults. I once even attended a recruitment session for a cult know as EST. (Erhard Seminars/Sensitivity Training). I found their efforts to own you so off-putting I left before the first session was over.
    Religious cults often have a life and death hold on their disciples. Many young people find the real western religion, Consumerism, to be vapid and unfulfilling. Then of course there is the subtle pressure of bigotry the children of immigrants seem to be far more sensitive to than their parents.
    It is my opinion that the war on terrorism, like the war on drugs, will go on for decades and will never be won, if the only response we're capable of is punishment. Remember, the Romans punished the Christians in every manner they could think of and we all know how that turned out.

  71. Failure to debunk belief in magic and life after death is the greatest idiocy in American public education.

  72. I thought you were going to talk about the brainwashing of the American public, who still believe that 9/11 was carried out by a group of arabs in a cave. This country reeks more terror on anyone else than any other country in history, and we do it by attacking ourselves, blaming others, and then starting wars. Which is why the civilized world shakes its head at us.

  73. I truly fear that more and more policies and actions done in the name of national security do nothing more than terrorize our own people.

  74. This article leaves much to be desired. Was Adam born in the USA? If not how long has he lived here? It fails to explore the troubling decline in "melting pot americanism" One cannot deny the existence of enclaves in america. China town, little italy etc... However during WWII Germans, Italians, many first and second generation fought for this country. They were americans first and italians and germans, second. If you are unwilling to to accept this basic law of americana then you are a threat to the very existence of this country.
    There is scant detail in the article about this. There is no real discussion as to the mental state of this young man. There is no real discussion about the many knuckleheads out there who say disturbing things but have no means to commit bad acts. He said he wanted to kill american soldiers. Bad stuff indeed but is he mentally unstable or did he take affirmative steps or otherwise act to accomplish said goal? Again the article is thin in this regard. We all want security but we need freedom too. Those that would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither.

  75. I think the lesson should be, don't contact the police until you have evidence your son is actually fighting in Syria, or planning an attack here. This Father made the mistake of contacting the FBI way too early, when what he really wanted was counseling, not law enforcement.
    Other, non-Muslims, have made similar mistakes. A couple years ago, a man was arguing with his son who then took the father's truck and drove off. Hoping to teach his son a lesson, the father called the police. The police chased the teenager and ended up killing him. That father has regrets similar to this one.

  76. Yes, parents should contact the authorities. By doing so, it was revealed that he had been radicalized and could do real damage here or abroad. Once again, the parents have no idea what their kids are capable. i.e. Columbine, etc. Past the point of counseling or other means. The risks are too great. Too easy to fake being "cured" and then (with our easy access to killing weapons) to take out people. I think this process worked the way it should have. Parents lose the right to isolate their children from prosecution when their children are dangerous.

  77. Mr. Shafi suspicions regarding Adam's potential violence against innocent people is well founded. A depressed (lifeless, empty, apathetic) 21 yr old (unemployed? attending college?) who occasionally "makes sandwiches" at a shelter, who becomes devoutly religious, who shockingly vanishes from a family vacation in Cairo, Egypt to sojourn to Turkey (other visits to follow), who, in his own words, yearns to "spill gallons of blood" for Allah as well as murder American soldiers, whose father strongly suspects Adam has been recruited, not only deserves our government's attention, but demands it. Thank you, Mr. Shafi.

  78. Sometimes mental illness and emotional distress in teens and young adults can manifest in destructive and self-destructive ideologies or behaviors: gangs, shootings, fundamentalism ... or flirting with terrorists. The more we as a society can help parents try to redirect or heal their kids, the more families will feel safe telling law enforcement about their troubled kids, and the safer we all will be. I know we don't have that now, and I feel for these families, struggling to figure out the right thing to do for their kids and society.

  79. Oh, pluuease, stop blaming mental illness for every single ailment under the sun.

  80. I empathise with the father and, were I in his position, would hope for an unintrusive intervention, but the reality is a Saudi style luxury deprogramming program is unrealistic and unjustified. Why did the son have a sleeping bag as a comforter, some sort of preparation for impending hardship?

  81. Anyone who ignorres or protects a child who is involved in terrorism is also guilty. If you suspect your child is involved, report them. Otherwise, you are not much of an American, parent, or human being. To allow for the possiblity that your child might mass murder says a lot about what a lousy human being you might be. Those who plan mass murder should have a trial, and then be quickly executed. Their parents should be closely investigated. It they knew what was happening, they should be prosectued also. If they are new to the country, they should have their citizenship revolked and be deported.

  82. "Should have a trial and then be quickly executed"

    Excellent. We no longer have time for the middle bit - you know, the what's it called thingy - oh yeah, a 'verdict'. Let's just give 'em a good fair trial then hang 'em high.

  83. The conclusion of the father Shafi at the end is correct - there is no law and order solution of this problem, very much like a drug addiction. We need recognized institutions separate from police to work on these cases like the drug addiction rehabitation program. Time has come to start few of those specialized institutions with psychologists, religious teachers of Islam, ex-terrorists, exmilitary personnel, lawyers, ... to reorient these young children back to the compassion and love in their religion and accept the nonviolence means of social protest. I am sure Mr Shafi's work will ultimately bring goodness to the society and one day we all appreciate his sucrifice and contribution.

  84. These are the same choices parents face when confronted with any kind of delinquency their children get involved in, whether it is drug addiction, prostitution or crime. There is only so much parents can do to help. Ultimately Mr. Adam Shafi is an adult, and as an adult, there are consequences to your choices. The reason Mr. Sal Shafi's story pulls our heartstrings is because he seems exactly like us, an honest, upright, well-educated citizen who built his life and looked after his family through his hard work. But the point is, that makes Mr. Adam Shafi's actions even worse, because it only shows that despite all the advantages he had, he was prepared to throw it all away for some toxic ideology and he did not care what consequences it had on his family and those close to him.

  85. The question we should ask ourselves as a society looking for its safety and security is justice was served? because they're fundamentally intertwined.
    The policy of encouraging relatives to come forward and cooperate with the authority should have a kind of reward otherwise is doomed to failure as proven by the advice of the father not to talk to the authority and the lawyer.

  86. The tone of this article is far too sympathetic to the father's change of heart about his decision. Early in the article comes a line about him 'believing he was doing the right thing' by talking to the FBI, as if there were any doubt… Of course he was doing the right thing!! What he did was incredibly courageous and set a great example. It's a shame that he is now actively dissuading other parents in similar situations from doing the same. And it's a shame that this article, as written, stands a cautionary tale to other parents, implicitly suggesting that they should remain silent to protect their aspiring terrorist children. As painful as it must be for him to know he played a role in putting his son in jail for 20 years, at least his son has not been killed in Syria after spilling 'gallons of blood' as he had hoped to do.

    The article paints both the father and the son as victims and the government as being somehow villainous. As far as I can tell, the only way in which the government remotely failed in this case was by allowing Adam to go home for a few days before after his last attempt to go to Turkey before actually arresting him.

  87. What do you think about the reader who compared this situation to the coal ceo blankenship getting just a misdemeanor and one year for 29 deaths. I guess the difference is "business" for the CEO, and in america workers are just fungible goods.

  88. The Huston plan under Nixon was our generation´s intervention program. Underage informers were sent into meetings of antiwar protesters to argue for violent protests, and then turned up as prosecutorial witnesses in criminal conspiracy cases. It´s happening again, where prosecutors seek draconian penalties for what should be protected speech.

    American Muslims are understandably distraught at our invasion of Iraq, the resulting destablisation of Syrian and refugee crisis, and our practical support for the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Not to mention the killing of Houthis with whom we have no bone to pick, except that they are Shi´ites who our Saudi masters despise.

    The message is, that the FBI is not your friend.

  89. One could take your hypothesis and extrapolate it to argue, for instance, that African Americans should be radicalising and preparing to wage war against America for the havoc we have wreaked upon subsaharan Africa through our support of dictators and Obama's drone bombing runs that kill thousands of innocent women and children. They do not. Similarly, Ukrainian Americans could argue that the Obama orchestrated coup in Ukraine and installation of a fascist government there that kills innocent people merits radicalisation and a fight against America. They do not. As the European experience continues to show, it is the homegrown Muslim community that is vulnerable to taking up arms against their adopted country. Religion, whether a distorted interpretation of it or not, is the issue.

  90. There are two reasons your analogies do not hold: we have yet to bomb Ukraine, and most Ukrainian Americans probably support Obama´s policy there, and the government you refer to as fascist. But the charges that Adam Shafi face, are due entirely to his speech. Speech that should be permitted under the First Amendment. It remains to be seen whether the conversations he had, were privileged, or were even the result of entrapment. One can argue whether the Obama administration has misused its power to stifle dissent, but that Nixon misused it, was a major reason he faced impeachment and had to resign. Giving this power to a President Trump or Cruz is a gamble we can ill afford as a free country.

  91. So, the coal CEO Blankenship got 1 year in prison for causing 29 deaths and this young man gets 20 years for... what? Bad intent? Possible future crime (with no planning or ability to cause harm from details in the article)

    Does the punishment fit the crime?

    There definitely need to be programs to tackle radicalization. It's money well spent. Parents need to have faith that a viable future for the kids can arise as a result of the intervention. And, it keeps citizens safe by raising concerns about, and monitoring, a potential problem early on.

  92. I'm also wondering, given tha apparently watching news coverage of the Syrian conflict and refugees, whether each news program could be followed by a list of humanitarian groups working for/with refugees, or balanced with stories of those helping refugees. The point would be to give impressionable young people a channel for their emotional response that would be constructive and not destructive.

  93. "There definitely need to be programs to tackle radicalization. It's money well spent."
    How about sharply limiting the immigration of groups that are so very prone to terrorist activity and spend our money helping those who have spent their lives living here and paying taxes here. A costly new social program of questionable efficacy to deal with immigrants recklessly permitted in is absurd--especially given the backlog of hundreds of thousands seeking green cards who pose a near-zero security threat..

  94. There is a context found here and in Times coverage and media discussion generally, that is more important than the specifics of this or many similar and related news stories:

    There ought to be zero tolerance in Western societies for Islamist radicalization. This is not radicalization to right- or left-wing ideologies. This is transformation of youth into terrorists. What methods work better is fair for discussion, but the rest -- the wringing hands, the apologism, the feeling for the poor parents, the blaming of society, racism, Islamophobia, inadequate opportunities and consequent "alienation" of Islam youth -- is just blather, as the nonsense that the West's coldheartedness will only create more terrorists. Adam Shafi will be tried not for his confusion or depression or anything other than for terrorist crime he may have committed.

    What creates terrorists is terrorist ideology -- in this case, theology -- employed by existing terrorist institutions and individuals, who prey upon us all, and, in particular, prey upon the young and the impressionable. While the concept of "total war" that treats armies and civilians alike was rightly consigned to the garbage heap of history by the West post-WW2, Western society needs to resurrect a new form of total war. that is civilian-sparing, against Islamism -- which seeks to conquer and destroy "infidels" everywhere and which includes terrorism as a means.

  95. This is the failed mentality of the drug wars. Unable to bring down the cartels, we have instead ruined thousands of young lives over minor drug purchases.
    Focus on eradicating ISIS and especially on interrupting their communications with youth - privacy rights be damned, because this is indeed an emergency - and subject vulnerable youth caught up in misguided sympathies to special mandatory programs of the sort that cult-brainwashed kids sometimes must undergo. Engage the Muslim community in that, go ahead and surveil it to keep it clean, and fund it - that's a good idea that has been promised, and never followed up on.

  96. so your solution is to bomb Brussels; The former head of the CIA and the NSA said that crack downs per say only play to and reinforce the Islamist rhetoric and generate more recruits. I doubt if he is a bleeding heart liberal. If you want total war it has to be carried out on the economic and psychological battlefield.

  97. Your characterization of Islamic people is a gross stereotype perpetuated by those who are abysmally ignorant about Islam, the true Quran and the differences imbued in the violent Hadith that were later additions. In my opinion, you Dennis resemble the bullies of Germany in the 1930s, willing to broadly accuse humble, innocent people who have not a bit of brutishness in their hearts. There are many wonderful, kind, helpful, civic-minded Islamic people all over the world.

    As a veteran of the Vietnam War, as someone who has seen the devastation of war and those who pound the drums of savage war, to you I say, "J'accuse...!"

  98. Im sorry but I am glad Adam is in prison. The father had to make a choice and he made it. His choice was to knowingly let another terrorist lose on our soil, or not. He chose not. I applaud the father. 20 years isn't that much time for a terrorist. Had he been more indoctrinated, trained well and armed, we would all be discussing a different topic this morning. As far as advising parents not to go to the government...I believe the father should be watched and perhaps jailed as well. This isn't a game...
    Were the positions reversed, I would take whatever steps necessary to eliminate the threat caused by my son, up to and including turning him in or sending the swat teams in to arrest him. Unfortunately when your child is brainwashed by terrorists, it is almost too late to "fix" them.
    I feel like the father did the right thing. Rather your son be locked up for 20 than have blood of innocents on his hands. As far as an intervention goes...I feel that a lifetime of talking with your children,explaining current events to them and helping them with a way of seeing that is healthy to us all is imperative. The father saw it coming...he knew and waited a bit too long. His advise to parents should say "call the cops as soon as you suspect ANY type of brainwashing."
    I realize that it is easy for me to sit here, with my 4 sons not in prison and rant about this guy. I feel sorry for the dad, not the son. Sometimes you get a bad apple.

  99. I feel for this father and for other parents who worry that their children may be radicalizing. They need a place to turn to for help. If religious communities and the government could offer support to these families and work to undo the appeal of jihadi rhetoric, it seems like this would be far better than locking people up for twenty years. So many of these terrorists were radicalized in prison. And how is spending 20 years in solitary confinement for thoughts (not acts) of terrorism going to make one more sympathetic to the U.S. government?

  100. Any parent who uses the unquestioned influence they have over the developing minds and beliefs of their children to teach them to turn off their most human of all capabilities, their ability to assess reality and apply reason, should not be too surprised when their children are taken in by cult leaders who take advantage of their children’s inability to question and ability to blindly believe.

  101. Islamic extremism is a cult, it hypnotizes the individual into foolish adventurism, foolish religious promises and hate. It must be stopped.

  102. Your comment applies equally to all forms of religious extremism.

  103. What would be helpful -- to me, at least -- would be an explanation as to just what the catalyst is for such a fine young man's/woman's radical change in mindset?
    What is the trigger that abruptly resets their minds, transforming them from good students, fine sons/daughters, devout, caring individuals/citizens who take their faiths seriously, to viewing terrorism as the only solution?
    Can it not be written about or discussed in a great publication like the NYT? Or does merely discussing the foibles of a religion (and every religion has at least a few) in print or in a documentary risk retribution or excoriation of the writer or publication or documentary or reader for even suggesting such a thing?

  104. For those wondering how a young person can get sucked into ISIS, see a superb NYT video on a young Sunday school teacher in Montana who was recruited over the Internet.

    ISIS offers community, adventure, and purpose in life. It also distorts reality in the Middle East. The young woman believes that ISIS is bringing stability to the middle east, and that their actions are greatly exaggerated.

  105. Washington, not Wyoming. Come on, it's not that hard! Each state is the size of a middle eastern country. One could understand an easterner making this mistake, but a westerner from Southern California?

  106. Community adventure? Like beheading people and drowning others in steel cages? Like treating women as chattel and refusing to let children play?

    No, you have to be disturbed or dillusional to want to join those terrorists. But whatever you are, there is no place for you here in America except prison.

  107. Very sad that a father, Sal Shafi turned his son in and did the right thing but in return he lost his beloved son, Adam Shafi. albeit radicalized but potentially being capable of turned around. What attracts a handful of young American and European Muslims to jump into Jihad or gradually go to the other side is what needs to be researched? More importantly how can draw to radicalization be stopped in its track. A very well to do highly placed father in Nigeria could not prevent his son from becoming the under wear bomber but he showed signs of behaving differently than his siblings and the father informed the police but not before his disappearance. Where is the money coming from to support terrorists that is a trillion dollar question that the FBI needs to probe and while they are doing that they need to monitor the content of the material that contributes to radicalization. Also try to find out how countries with large Muslim populations like India and Indonesia are able to manage to keep their countries free from influences that manipulate young minds so that the agony of fathers like Sal Safi does not keep repeating itself.

  108. Parents have a hard time understanding that, despite their best efforts, their children can be broken and in need of repair. Ignoring serious problems, which so many choose to do, is like driving a car with failing brakes. Someday, someone is going to get hurt. Family values makes for a catchy political slogan, but human progress and happiness over countless millennia has always been based on choices, not accidents of birth. Our culture honors that by protecting the communications between a husband and wife but not a parent and child. Otherwise, it's back to the proverbial cave for us all.

  109. The parent did the right thing although that is probably little comfort to him today. I can only imagine the sleepless nights he has suffered worrying if there was a better way but most of the time there isn't. The time to talk to our children , as Muslim parents, is as soon as they have understanding of the world and the evils within it. Teach them what Islam is. The truth. Islam doesn't support these terror organizations in spirit or doctrine. Islam doesn't tell our children to kill wantonly. It doesnt teach us to kill innocents. The biggest problem that immigrant parents face is lack of understanding of what Islam teaches in these issues. They are affected by their emotionaly connections to what's happening in the Muslim lands. They have family and friends who have been harmed by oppressive regimes and welcome these renegade groups believing they are fighting for their freedom but this is never the case. They exchange one oppresor for a greater more malevolent one.
    What a cruel exchange.
    In my community, we have been told to report anything suspicious to the authorities. It is not a popular request but we do it.
    Sometimes a parents love is not enough.

  110. It's a horrible position to be in, especially when a great many non-Muslim Americans deeply question the morality and efficacy of our many violent interventions in ME affairs. Muslim children are growing up in a world so morally and socially complicated that I can't pretend to fathom it fully. Teach your children when they come of age to understand that warmongers deserve warmongers and that there are rarely virtuous sides to take once blood starts flowing - it only seems that way from the war-blinded perspective of either side. You have all my compassion, and sympathy. I hope you and your children can be patient and wise.

  111. Is it feasible that we begin attempting to understand that jihadists do what they do because they believe in what they read in the Koran? Two engineers at a nuclear power planting Belgium quit their jobs and go to Syria for jihad. They are educated, have jobs that pay well, yet they undertake training for war, because the Koran tells them to do so. Why can we not realize this?

  112. Islam doesn't teach its children 'to kill wantonly'? It doesn't 'teach us to kill innocents'?

    Why doesn't it teach you not to kill at all? To ISIS there is no 'innocent' non-Muslim. To radical Muslims killing non-Muslims isn't a wanton act at all.

  113. Americans should take a long at Trevor Phillips' article in this weekend's TIMES of London re surveys of British Muslims that, surprise, reveal that they actually do NOT share western secular values, especially in the social areas of women's emancipation, homosexuality, abortion, etc. Phillips has warned before that Muslims do note integrate "like the rest of us" and that Britain, and Europe, must do a "more muscular" job of integration. A recent article in and a report by an American journalist who spent time in Molenbeek, Paris's banlieus, and neighborhoods in East London, and places like Bradford and Dewsbury, made no bones about what they found: small foreign countries dominated by conservative Islam that are like, as the reporter said, "colonial outposts of IS."

    As people make it clear that they do feel a profound need for cultural identity, the left, the media, and the EU keep feeding the narrative that cultural identity is something no civilized person subscribes to because all cultures are equal, except for ethnic minorities, in which case, in a spot of massive hypocrisy, they should not be subjected "cultural imperialism". Hence, as minority cultures are lauded, when the Dutch vote against creeping EU imperialism, jeers at white tribalism by sneering in its headline that "Little Englanders Take Comfort From Dutch Vote".

    The AfD in Germany just hit a record high in German polls, up to 14%, while the SPD took a record dive. Wonder why?

  114. Wait. They "actually do NOT share western secular values, especially in the social areas of women's emancipation, homosexuality, abortion, etc"?
    Neither does my neighbor, actually. He's a drag, but no one wants to deport him, and he has a flag on his porch and undoubtedly thinks he's a better patriot than I am.
    This article is about a tragic moral dilemma, not the evil of all Muslims - in fact, very pointedly not.

  115. I completely agree, but suggest that the difference is even more fundamental; that rather than being brought up in a pluralist democratic legal system, Muslim children are indoctrinated into submission to religious law and authority.

    Some time ago I attended a friend's naturalization and was greatly moved [indeed surprised] at the outward expressions of pride, including tears of joy, in becoming an American citizen.

    Things rarely go well when a group of people adopt a country for convenience rather than with the intent of becoming part of its fabric,

  116. I take your point, Confetti, but here may be the difference. Do you think your neighbor would cut off your head, or set off a bomb in a subway?

  117. Religion has a way to destroy good people. Being brought up, under the strict religious supervision of my father, prayers at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I went to church every single Sunday, every Wednesday night was forced to attend bible classes I the village, often was told by some minister to ring door bells for money contributions, of course attended a Christian high school with bible studies and prayers at the beginning and end of the day, and at age 17 had to make the church commitment to be a Christian (whatever that means). As soon as I left home for college I dropped all that and focused on what life is all about. Never went to church again except for funerals, including my Dad's who committed suicide from great loneliness after my Mom died. Religion, by far the most poisonous invention of man-kind, certainly including right now the many varieties of the Muslim perspectives.

  118. Amen!

  119. The best part of the whole "religious" concept is how obvious it is. The power of indoctrination from an early age is awesome. I tell my religious friends - none of whom actually practice what Jesus taught -- that they really are only good students. They learned well from their parents. If they were born in Pakistan that would be Muslim; India, Hindu; Thailand; Buddhist; Salt Lake City, Mormon; and on and on. It would be funny if it wasn't so unhealthy.

  120. I couldn't have said it better myself. Religion (of any variety) is a toxin and a tool used to manipulate the masses while hiding behind a shield of absolutism.

  121. In my therapy office I see plenty of kids disaffected for a variety of reasons. Often they yearn for more than money and the material. A common denominator is that they lack a strong identification with family, religion and ethnic group, the traditional anchors. They seem to be floating around with no strong sense of who they are or a sense of purpose or goals for their lives. These radical movements may be filling a void.

    These traditional identities can cut both ways. They can be sources of hatred and division and racism and xenophobia, but they can also bring out the best in human beings. It all depends. (CS Lewis famously said that what kept him from Christianity so long was....Christians.). Parents dispense with ethnic and especially religious identification at their peril, but especially at the peril of their offspring.

    My close friends who like me were raised in reasonable Catholic households were not susceptible to the Hari Krishna folks and the various cults of the 60s. Or even to sex and drugs writ large. (We were very susceptible to rock n roll.) I've seen many kids raised with what some would call cafeteria Catholicism to good effect. Same with Judaism.

    I have a manuscript on this subject on my blog It is titled: Thinking About Raising Your Kids Without Religion? Think Again.

  122. I was brought up as an atheist and felt no void that made me turn to crime or terrorism. Religion brings about most "peril" in the world. Ridiculous advice to suggest kids need to believe in imaginary beings to give them a sense of identity. Religion is the problem, not the solution.

  123. Observing parents who act with a moral/ ethical compass helps most children acquire values, whether or not the parents espouse a religion. The problem is that very strong ethnic identification, like strong religious identification, has let to antagonism, distrust, alienation - and war. A lot of US citizens of us got away from ethnic ghettos before we learned that people are people.

    This young man seems to have had a profound sense of right and wrong; which primed him for involvement in acts to harm others, all closely tied to a religious view.

  124. My sister and I were raised in a household with no religion, in the 60's and 70's. We both have strong morals, values, neither of us have ever been arrested, both of us are successful and seen as role models in our communities, both of us give back to our communities. Neither of us sees anything missing in our lives because we did not fall for a religion.

    It was really easy to grow up this way. Follow the Golden Rule. Treat others as you would want to be treated. No need for some magical sky fairy.

  125. I admire and feel pity for Sal Shafi as a father but do think his son was a danger to others either overseas or in the US. With Islamic terrorists killing so many around the world, how can the FBI be lenient and give him the benefit of the doubt?

  126. The Obama administration wants Americans to believe we are safer in America because Muslims often report other Muslims who they know to be radicalized to the authorities. But here we have a father who is essentially telling all who will listen not to go to the authorities. I can certainly understand the father's remorse but left to his own devices his son may just as easily ended up dead after taking other innocents with him. Unfortunately the son will now go to prison where the muslim inmate community will have another disciple.

  127. This is so sad. It reminds me of parents whose children become drug addicts. They live in constant fear that their children will commit a crime, kill someone while DUI, hurt himself, or end up in prison where he is sure to be raped, and ruined. Unfamiliar with what road there is to de-radicalization, it seems like a possibility. In the meantime, we have to protect those in danger from people like Adam.

  128. The fact is that Mr. Shafi's rejection of going to the government is precisely what feeds into today's anti-Muslim rhetoric being espoused by Trump and others. As poorly as the FBI is currently responding to these parental warnings/suspicions of their children's behavior, Mr. Shafi's actions must be acknowledged positively by Muslims and everyone. The potential from the alternative is unacceptable.

  129. “Don’t even think about going to the government." I guess it would be better to hope that he didn't kill innocent people, ala' San Bernadino. If that didn't work out, Shafi could just explain to the survivors that his son was really a good person, just a little miss-guided. This is a phenomena that is unique to Islam and the solution must come from Islam, since these extremists don't put any stock in non-secular codes of civility. Until then, the attacks will continue...

  130. NOT unique to Islam; all parents think that way.

  131. Nothing here talks about what this son did for a living. He was living at home and volunteering for the poor through his mosque. How did he get the money for trips to Turkey?
    The only 'flirting' going on here was when to actually jump the border into Syria or carry out actions here. I agree with those who say that parents in this situation should just let them go but would add that the U.S government should be far more careful about letting them come back.
    And peaceful Muslims who love this country need to step up and cure the cancer within or they will not find much empathy.

  132. You sound tough, with a complete lack of understanding about how difficult it is to be 20 - 24 , male, and not seeing a clear path, job, or inspiration for the future. Few young men know what they want to do with the next 50 years of their lives at that age. Do you know how many college students still have undeclared majors at age 20, when Adam was feeding the homeless? No matter the economic situation, most young people don't know what they want "to be when they grow up" until their brains fully mature at around age 26. Sad that this boy could not connect his charitable works with his role in life. Read the article again, and understand the loss of direction is not just limited to young Muslims. Many comments here seem to ignore the son's sympathy for the suffering of the refugees and others who are in horrible circumstances. He would definitely have benefitted from counseling and guidance. He could have become someone who made difference in a good way, if not for his frustration with the ills of the situations in Mideast.
    He talked about joining a group but did not DO anything to harm anyone. He could have been talking about spilling his own blood to save lives.

  133. Since when does traveling to Turkey, talking about wanting to spill gallons of American blood, killing American soldiers, and wanting to die fighting with NF, then trying for a second time to go to Turkey, constitute mere "flirting" with terrorism? As a parent, I understand the father's guilt for turning his child in, however, how would he have felt when his adult son ultimately hurt innocent Americans or others? He left the country twice to go to Syria, he didn't just post crazy things on Facebook. This case is more proof that homegrown terrorists are not the disenfranchised, marginalised, uneducated people that Obama insists they are. This young man is the son of a Silicon Valley executive. Like other homegrown terrorists, he is a second generation, privileged American citizen who became more religious than his parents ever were, and hates the US for oppressing his fellow Muslims in lands he has never known. All that privilege, yet he still identifies more with his faith than as an American who has the right to vote if he's unhappy with the current direction of American foreign policy. Something is terribly, terribly wrong with this picture.

  134. Lots of Americans identify with their faith more than then as an American, it's just that faith is Christianity or Judaism.

  135. Mr. Shafi did not "destroy" his son. Adam did that himself. He kept his son alive even if in prison. How would he have felt when his son became a murderer and died as a suicide bomber?

  136. I completely sympathize with Mr. Shafi. Though for entirely different reasons I, too, had to turn my own son into authorities in order to save him from himself. Once inside the criminal justice system, however, and later the penal system, any notion of help with his drug problem and rehabilitation into a contributing citizen, became a pipe dream.

    What we Americans seem to do better than any other country, is punish people who break the law. We simplify everything into black and white; friend or foe, if—then.

  137. As parents, it's damn if you do, and damn if you don't. I hear their pain. If you don't report the child and let the government step in first, the result could be even worse if the child turns to ISIS. It's a choice between a rock and a very hard place, and it's the helplessness that drives these parents. If they had been able to talk some sense into their child, if the child had listened to the parents and their advice, they would not have been talking to the government in the first place. It's thus unreasonable for these parents to turn around and blame the government for heavy-handedness since they would have turned their own kids around, if they had been able to but couldn't. It's all too easy to blame the government for being the bogeyma, but the other option is to wait until kiddo left for Syria and be killed, or worse still, wait until kiddo picked up some guns or knife to behead someone on camera before they (or the government) act. These parents don't need to look much further than all those young men in Europe (France, Belgium, and beyond) in the terrorist attacks. If anything, and if they really need to find a bogeyman to blame for all these happening to their kids, they should blame terrorist groups like ISIS that have hijacked their faith and brainwashed their kids into maiming and killing.

  138. The failure to report a felony is in most states a felony.

    That aside, the article does not tell us what the father did raising the man to assimilate him. Did the family fly the US flag on the 4th of July to honor the country that had made them wealthy? Did the father have to take the young man to Egypt when he should have been home attending college?

    Tell the whole story, please.

  139. That's a ridiculous argument. I never fly an American flag at our home. Does that make me unAmerican or less American than a family who does? No. What in the world does flying the flag have to do with anything?

  140. I know many US Muslims and they are all as American as Apple pie, 4th of July, baseball, camping, you name it.

  141. A friend's son is having some serious issues but because he's white and american he's able to post his hatred right on his Facebook page for the entire world to witness. His profile picture is overlaid with a Rebel Flag and his cover photo is of him and his friends, shirtless and posed with their big pickup trucks and American flags and Confederate flags. Assault weapons and alcohol are proudly featured. A bonfire blazes illuminating the night. Down in the lower left of the shot, almost too small to be noticed is a young boy, maybe four, proudly holding his rebel flag.
    "It's just a phase. It's only a rebel flag." says his mother.

  142. Thomas Payne - Thank you for this. These are indeed manifestations of the same symptoms. Hatred, fear, disillusionment with the establishment.

    Young people seek the radical for empowerment. The only solution I can see is to not make them feel disempowered in the first place.

    I don't understand why the son of your friend is not under investigation. His hatred is no less corrosive than the young man in this story.

  143. The father should take comfort in the fact that it is only 20 years. There's still hope of this man having a life afterward. It seems to me the only other solution at this point was to wait until he ended up dead and likely having killed many others.

  144. There's no question but that the government should provide intervention services, probably administered by social services entities, and not law enforcement, to give parents an alternative to "calling the FBI." But, at the same time, there must be an understanding that if the individuals in question are showing signs of preparing for violence, then law enforcement will be involved.

    Perhaps there can be leniency, but there must be trials in courts of law, and once there is a conviction, punishment. Parents in this incredibly difficult situation perhaps will understand that the punishment and consequences, once there is violence, would be far more severe.

    And there must be active involvement of the mainstream Moslem community, who must actively assist in early interventional programs, and work to convince people on the road to radicalization that violence and jihad are not part of the Moslem religion.

  145. "Don’t even think about going to the government" Mr. Shafi says. I guess the thinking is that it is better a score or so of Americans die than that a jihadi-minded son pay for his crimes. This is a mindset of too many parents (not just Muslims) when it comes to their children committing crimes.

  146. James, the boy hasn't done anything. Not yet at least. Talking about whatever is not a crime.

  147. But what, exactly, were his 'crimes'? The worst thing he did, at least according to the article, was to go to Turkey without telling his parents. I live in hope that this, along with the numerous other convictions like it, may bring back a return to the principles of freedom of speech and association enshrined in the Constitution. I would expect imprisonment because one might commit a crime, or because one met and talked to the wrong sort of people, to occur in a country which had already adopted Sharia law, not here.

  148. Yes it is called conspiracy.

  149. Better to visit your son in prison on a conspiracy conviction rather than a mass murder conviction.

  150. What a mess. What a tragedy. No resource for help short of jail? Muslims are NOT the only source of terrorism in this country. Kids with guns shooting school mates, people in church, fellow students in college or young misguided men blowing up buildings or threatening people are also terrorists. Groups whose hatred is based on race, religion or politics are terrorists. What a mess. We live in a place where fear of each other is rampant. Will the rich take away all means of self-reliance and support by raising the cost of medicine, health care, food, housing? Are the poor demanding support which will take away my money that I want to use for my own goals of an expansive palatial life. Are law-enforcement personnel too bigoted to be fair? Is our government so much in the pocket of the rich they no longer serve 99% of us? Are we now so divided in this country we can no longer cooperate toward any goal that would otherwise benefit all of us? So it would seem. Where is compassion? Where is empathy? These are principles that are implied in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence and supposedly all religions but seemingly no longer practiced to too great a degree in this country. Horrors like the one described in this article make news because they are not the norm but there are far too many such instances and far too much silence in reaction to them or more frightening too much approval. What happen to the Shafi family is patently wrong.

  151. Excellent article, strongly suggesting the potential value of a program of the sort Mr Shafi was seeking for his son. The article also shows that, if the FBI is, as a reader comments, "not your friend", they are also not the enemy. To judge from what we see in the article, they seem to function (well) as a government agency whose agents may not, in this case, have the range of alternatives that would enable better responses to situations such as the Shafi family's. A program of the sort suggested in the article (and found elsewhere in the world) would require a lot of work and new training for agents, but it would at least be non-hammer-like tool in the toolbox, so everything and everybody wouldn't have to look like the proverbial nail. The loss of faith on the elder Mr Shafi's part is a strong reason for instituting such a program, even if it is only of limited use.

  152. I'm grateful to parents like Mr. Shafi who have made this incredibly difficult, but ultimately necessary, choice. He probably saved many lives, including his son's. To ease the burden for others like him, let's pass a law that reduces punishment by some significant amount for those whose parents or friends raise the flag.

  153. Absolutely NOT! Why should a budding terrorist get a break because their parent said something. As sorry as I feel for the parent., his conduct should not dimish the punishment his son receives. He is a danger to innocents and his father's actions doesn't make him any less so.

  154. What a waste. Teenagers say ridiculous things when they think they're not being heard. What is an acceptable false positive rate for these incarcerations? What if 99/100 Adams end up in Turkey, and support Muslim refugees, and not their murderers? Are we willing to put those 100 kids away, for a collective 2,000 years, to prevent one kid from dying in Syria?

  155. The man's son is 22, not a teenager.

    And the waste is the fault of Adam, who was willing to waste his own life by choosing to join a group of murderers, choosing to become a murderer.

  156. Fair enough, he's a few years older, but my point stands. How do you know he would have made the choice to become a murderer? We don't lock people up for suggesting that they might join a gang.

  157. Not at all hard to feel the pull of what could be for terrorists. If you were in a country where the political leaders sided against the masses, all the while giving lip service to them, lying about what they were doing while taking bribes from entities with huge financial resources, then they may be inclined to act out in a violent way. Anyone feeling like there is no hope for their position in life to change, may be inclined to do something that levels the playing field and that is gorilla warfare. Anyone care to chime in?

  158. I agree. People without hope are capable of horrific things.

  159. How does gorilla (sic) warfare level the playing field?

  160. Yes, comeonman, I'll chime in. If you are in despair over the government's corruption, why would you kill those "masses" the twisted leaders are "siding against"? These recruits are not killing corrupted officials. They are killing the man, the woman, and the child on the street. Gorilla warfare? You are insulting gorillas. This is all too human and all too horrific. So, no excuses. None.

  161. I sympathize with the father's plight, but his message now to parents of troubled or confused children that they shouldn't even think about going to the government. Is like a parent who loses a son in wartime telling other parents not to encouraging their children to enlist in the military because they might die serving the country.

    He should also ask himself would he be happier if his son blew himself up in a US airport then serving prison time.

  162. I have no sympathy for this father. He shouldn't blame the US government for imprisoning his son, he should blame his son for deliberately choosing the path of terrorism.

  163. He deserves sympathy. He did a difficult and selfless thing to protect the innocent. His response to the government might not be totally rational, but considering all he has been through, I think that's understandable. This is a heroic thing this man did. He is entitled to our sympathy.

  164. It is greatly disappointing to se how vengeful people is this country can be. And you Ms. Robertson are a perfect example. But uncountable other examples abound in our society every day.

  165. We have had a lot of teens recruited by ISIS in Canada but there is now an anti-radicalization program in place which is meant to help parents save their children and keep society safe. These policies in the U.S. will only lead to more teens getting irreversibly sucked into groups like ISIS because the parents will be too afraid to report them to the authorities. Here detained youth are counseled by imams and mental health workers in an effort to undo the brainwashing and bring them back into society when it is deemed safe to do so.

  166. I'm confused on how Imams who teach the Koran and its "us versus them" concepts are point men in undoing the brainwashing. They appear to be the source.

  167. This is exactly the kind of man (he was 22, not 16) I want locked up, and for a lot more than 20 years.

  168. But for what? Thinking? Traveling? Those are not crimes.

  169. Thinking? No. Attempting to travel to join a terrorist group- yes. Adam was convicted on one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. That is a crime and rightly so and the punishment is 20 years imprisonment. Adam was an adult and I'm glad that he's in prison and unable to ''spill blood''. Islam is a religion in which according to the koran, the only sure-fire way to get to Paradise is to ''spill the blood of infidels''. If you aren't a Sunni Muslim- this means you.

  170. I feel for the father, who has suffered before this arrest and now must feel guilt that his son is now in the maw of the criminal justice system.

    But I don't feel sorry for the kid. Active supporters (recruiters, funders and recruits) of terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda belong in jail.

  171. There are close to 900 active hate groups and close to 1000 anti-government groups in the United States. [Per the Southern Poverty Law Center]. Those numbers do not include Islamic terrorist groups. Should all our homegrown supporters of domestic terrorism be locked up too?

  172. Not the same. We are in a war of ideas with hate groups, a violent war with the other.

  173. I feel for Mr. Shafi, who sees that his actions led to his son being imprisoned for 20 years. And yet, as I read this, I kept thinking that Adam was well on his way to committing an act of terrorism. Would Mr. Shafi's intervention have worked? Are we as a society willing to experiment to find out? No easy answers here.

  174. It appears that a lot of people have been terrified out of their minds, which of course is the goal of ISIS and their ilk. We are no linger a free country when we lock people up not for a criminal act, but for the suspicion that they might commit one.

  175. Sadly, Mr. Shafi learned the hard way what parents in low-income neighborhoods have known all along. Instead of joining cooperative parents in finding solutions that will keep the children alive and out of jail, contacting the authorities will more likely create another nightmare. This is also the case for domestic violence victims. Women are afraid of contacting the authorities because that call can result in the children being removed from the home, instead of the abuser being removed. The people that most need law enforcement assistance are the ones most reluctant to make that call. That is more a statement about law enforcement than about the victims, when people have to think hard about calling the authorities.

  176. What is missing in an otherwise fine article is this: What role (or lack of) did the family's Masjid and Imam play in this story?

  177. The basic tenets of Islam support the type of Islamic terrorism we keep seeing, especially in Europe, where disturbing percentages of Muslims voice support for terrorist acts. We can either admit this truth, or we can keep lying to ourselves with articles that keep acting as though the terrorists' motives are somehow mysterious.

  178. It is no different than why some Americans are criminals and some are not. We all live in the same culture, but most of us are not criminals. Same with Muslims: Most are not terrorists.

    Or shall we admit that there is something inherently wrong with American culture when so many people kill others?

  179. Yes. I'm currently reading a book by Mark A. Gabriel, who left Islam because it's history was "an ocean of blood."

    We keep lying to ourselves about Islam because we don't want to offend Muslims. It's called 'political correctness."

  180. "Though civil libertarians — and some F.B.I. agents — are skeptical of what they see as blurring the line between social work and law enforcement......."

    Law enforcement and social work should never have a sharp line between them. In fact, it seems obvious they should be well integrated if prevention and building an overall better society is the goal. If, of course, that is the goal. My heart goes out to Mr. Shafi and his entire family.

  181. Working in the criminal justice field, I see the potential benefits of intervention particularly when there is no such thing as expungement in the federal system and most state's systems. The result is that rehabilitation as a result of (or in spite of) probation or prison ultimately brings with it the label of "felon" which - after limiting opportunities- then begins to erode the rehabilitated person's new found self-esteem and (lawful) purpose so that the person finds his/her way back to the thoughts and behaviors that started the descent. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure unless we are talking about dollars. In such case, those selling the cure make way more money than they would selling the prevention. Wait, I'm becoming radicalized?

  182. Heartfelt empathy for Adam's dad. I can't imagine the sorrow. I understand that there is possibly so much more to the case which we can't get a flavor for in a short article. Those facts obviously swayed a jury. That being said I'd like to make a few observations about Adam. He seems like a person motivated by compassion and anger at injustice. He cried for victims of war and fed the homeless. He determined in his mind that he wanted to fight the enemy, a similar impulse of many young men I know. It's interesting that the group he was admiring is targeting the exact same enemy as the U.S. He's statement about spilling blood is alarming but the context might change minds. Was he talking about targeting civilians or going to fight on the battlefield? All this to say that maybe some of this young people have purer motives than we thing and they need strong voices of guidance and ways to effect change that they truly believe will make a difference.

  183. "His message now to parents of troubled or confused children? “Don’t even think about going to the government.”

    And that's why we do need a different and better way to deal with these kids who are in the process of being radicalized. Otherwise help from the Muslim community on which we depend will dry up or be much reduced. Making a father choose between possibly seeing his son radicalized or risking spending 20 years in prison before he's actually done anything is not much of a choice.
    We need to provide a third way.

  184. You need a solution??? We have millions of potentially motivated refuges fleeing their own countries in terror...We have no place to put them in the west... But the Western countries have hundreds and hundred of military camps thru-out these areas... Not only send them there but also separate the masses into those who can be trained for combat, those who can contribute to the new war effort, farming for food, sewing uniforms, making bullets, driving six-by army trucks, fly drones...? Put the troops on trucks, tanks, pulling artllery, into vast armies that will send the MONSTERS fleeing for their lives and drawing the youths into the war effort for a just cause instead of blowing them selves up for some thing to do !!! Then our bombs will accomplish some thing and instead of having tp with draw our troops these can stay, repair their lives, homes and countries while maybe thinking about Democracy, while we fly back home and take all our troops around the world back home with us. We can then make Trump and Cruz Generals so the rest of the world will be too scared to oppose us; appoint Obama to the Supreme court (after a proper rest) to scare the Republicans to not dare run for public office state, county or city and maybe we can also think about equality and Democracy again being GREAT

  185. It appears that young Muslim men see going off to jihad is a romantic adventure. Once in a strange violent group reality sets in and many have second thoughts. Perhaps reformed jihadists could travel and talk to the Muslim community about their experience and help curtail the young from going a terror group.

  186. Police work involves a lot of "social work." The police (some) actually helped citizens and were not tied to a quota of daily arrests. But the new incarceration rate and prison for profit has changed that.

  187. Heartbreaking story. If you want to ensure your children never become radicalized, teach them ethics and forego religion. Trying to make sense of religion requires one to suspend reason and once you suspend reason (19 virgins anyone?) all bets are off. It's not just Islam. I left the church in my late teens. I couldn't get my head around the hocus pocus -- the magical acts. I like being ethical solely for the benefit of the society I live in. I don't behave in order to please some "God," I behave to please my neighbor. I may not like him, but I know he is real.

  188. You are obviously too young to remember communism--a totally god-free ethical system that inspired terrorism and other forms of mass murder. Religion is not the essential factor, nor is poverty. Fremont is a a highly affluent community. There are no easy answers to this problem.

  189. Was it Voltaire who said something about believing absurdities and committing atrocities? I firmly believe that being forced to accept fantasies, myths, and opinions as facts, at a young age and as a condition of one's place in the family and larger community, establishes a potentially deadly ground -- no matter which religion does it.

  190. What real example of communism are you referring to? I remember fascist states pretending to practice communism, but that's hardly the same thing. And present-day nations with the least religious populations appear to have the moral edge on the more religious ones, if we are using actual compassionate treatment of people as a standard.

  191. How many parents are now going to report their children to the government now?

    So many of these disillusioned young people come from families who have largely assimilated into our culture, "don't do bad things", the extent of the practicing dogma. Young people are looking for something larger than themselves to believe in. Religion, drugs, rebellion, radicalization fills the void. By all means, intervene. Take them away from the danger of harming other people, but do something else besides throwing them in prison which will only further their radicalization.

    They have been programmed at a crucial time in their life. There has to be at least an attempt made to deprogram them. If we can't stomach the idea that we should be that kind to young people like this, then let the motivation come from a sense of our own self preservation. We have already discovered that throwing vast numbers of the disaffected into jail is counter productive. How is this helping?

  192. Excellent point, especially in a society where incarceration is designed to punish, not to reform and rehabilitate (cf. Germany).

  193. Unfortunately, what's reported here may well stop other worried parents from notifying authorities, as Mr. Shafi did. I hope not as law enforcement is not set up to do "interventions" but, rather, to enforce the law - so I'm unsure what Mr. Shafi expected to happen, but he's clearly feeling overwhelming guilt.

    I can only ask him to consider what could have happened had his son committed a bad act and people were hurt or killed. He did the right thing, albeit naively, and I hope he has some peace knowing that, at least, his son is alive versus the end result of some irrational act of martyrdom.

    Hard choices? Indeed, for any father. But there is no question he did what was right for society and, ultimately, his son.

  194. I don't mean to sound cynical, but I wouldn't be surprised that pretty soon AMA would classify the weak-minded, impressionable people who succumb to radical religious belief as yet another "disorder" or "syndrome." Afterall, wouldn't it be nice to blame it on "mental illness" for someone who turn to religious belief to justify their terrorist acts? Isn't it much easier to say, it's not my son who did it because he's just sick, he has "mental issues" and then he can go free, if only there's some magic pills that can "cure" him into thinking straight away. I'm getting really tired of arguments like these.

  195. Yeah, and people with mental illnesses "get really tired" of their suffering. Not that budding terrorists are necessarily mentally ill. I sense another agenda in these comments.

  196. This heartbreaking and frightening story illustrates many points.

    Radicalization is contagious and spreads like an infection.( A meme, spread from mind to mind, accelerated by global communication.) Susceptibility to this infection is unpredictable using common sense metrics like "a good home". The "Natural History" (course of the untreated illness) is not known making it impossible to predict if the individual will act on the constructive impulses manifested e.g. sandwiches for the homeless, or the destructive impulses e.g. spilling gallons of blood. There is no established treatment or prevention.

    Answering these questions is not the job of the FBI. Local entities are unlikely to have the resources to tackle a problem that is this complex. It seems like the scientific/epidemiological tools of the CDC would have a lot to offer in the analysis of this "infection" that threatens civilization.

  197. The attacks on religion are a red herring...what is really missing from this young man's life is a sense of community and purpose, which we all innately desire but the secular western "religion" of consumerism and self-absorption cannot provide. Both religion and secular belief can fulfill this desire in positive and negative ways.

  198. I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss religion as a minor player in this tragedy, nor the western secularism that also gave him affluence, choice and dignity.
    I do consider the effects of dark Internet communities and a lack of critical thinking skill on the part of this young man to understand this outcome.

  199. You're wrong on that count, that this young man lacks "community and purpose." He found his, in the community of ISIS and the purpose of establishing a caliphate. He grew up in US, and purposely rejects the community and purpose in the western society. So much for that.

  200. The point of this article is there are no good options for parents who suspect their children are being radicalized. Report them to the authorities, and they are slapped with 20 years; don't, and they may become the next marathon bomber, die in Syria, or if female, married to an ISIS fighter.

    Radicalization is mental illness, clearly. Treatment must be developed, in concert with the Muslim community, to deprogram converts. To be sure, this raises civil liberty concerns. The de-programmers who broke people's attachment to the Moonies, did so outside the law. They held their captives against their will for days, until the job was done, which is kidnapping, But given the clear danger of Islamism, legal provision must be made.

  201. You could say the same things about other's beliefs, from radical Christianity to radical Capitalism, which less directly, kills thousands or more every year. Who is to decide? And the other thing, those kids have more choices than going to Syria, or becoming violent, and they might chose to exercise them, especially given more information. I doubt it is as clear cut as going to Syria or 20-years in jail.

  202. My heart goes out to Mr. Shafi, who only wanted to help his son like any father would. Adam appeared to lose his way, but it's possible he could have been helped, as his father pleaded for the government to do. Adam could have been a great example of how the government can help the parents of children that might be radicalized. Instead, they only made it more likely that others will decide not to come forward with information about suspicions they may have about their own family members.

  203. Had the father done nothing, it's likely that his son would have died in Syria or Iraq or in a police shoot-out at home or would have been discovered and prosecuted without his father's help. He simply cannot protect his son.

  204. In my view, there is no need to write a column that poses a problem for young people.
    As humans, even with little or no parenting, we know the basic difference between right and wrong. All the other arguments are put on.

  205. Proof that ISIS (or Trump) can attract the unsuspecting is evident in some of the comments here. When people are searching for truth and meaning, there will always be a charlatan or a demagogue who will promise to make everything great again if only you stop thinking and follow them.

    What this article shows is that we are all like that. Even in smart, rich America, we offer no "right" alternative to "wrong."

  206. I am struck that this father was so "protective" that he had tracking software installed on his children's phones. There are so many ways this is a bad idea. It's disrespectful of the children, it treats them like animals, it is very controlling, it is arrogant, it is powerful, it is a misuse of the technology, it is definitely not parenting. I am also struck by the fact that Adam is over 18...well over. Nevertheless, the father called the American Embassy when told that Adam had gone to Turkey. Note to father: Adam is over 18, an thus an adult. Adam's being right about "you wouldn't have let me go" is a very sad statement..because he shouldn't have had to ask. Adam is allowed by his majority to go whereever he wants, without parental approval. It occurs to me that Mr. Shafi's error was not in calling the FBI, but in trying to raise an obedient adult rather than and independent and well-functioning one.

  207. I've got news for you--you are being tracked all the time on a modern cell phone.

    Do you feel disrespected, treated like an animal, controlled by an arrogant, powerful government that is misusing the technology, and definitely not to protect you? Welcome to the other 321,000,000 of us--in the USA alone. Now, what will you do about it?

  208. maybe the alternative would have been the father explaining to the grieving families of Adams victims why he didn't drop a dime on his radicalized son before he had blood on his hands.

  209. How did this father "miuse" the tehcnology? What do you think those programs are for? Adam was not 22 when this started, and probably not when he went to Turkey. Do you have children over 16 or are you a 20-something? This man has 5 children and sounds like a stand-up citizen and excellent father, only too trusting of the government.

  210. How's it a hard decision at all. This man did the right thing, unlike many other cowardly individuals. If you know someone is planning to commit mass murder, you stop them, regardless of who it is.

  211. The difficulty lies in deciding what constitutes "planning." And in determining whether helping to relieve the misery of refugees in Turkey, which may be motivated by religious feelings (or not), constitutes supporting terrorists.

    It may be correct for the FBI to err on the side of caution, but we should be aware that mistakes will be made if we don't have, fund, and follow good procedures.

    And many who read this article and find themselves in similar situations will come to the opposite conclusion: Work it out with the family member and protect them from going to jail for thought and private speech that has not become action. "Our son is stupid but not criminal. How's it a hard decision at all?"

    I, for one, would find it gut-wrenching.

  212. Muslim parents find their kids drawn to ISIS wanting to kill Americans on a large organized scale....the rest of us can easily find our kids with guns or weapons willing to kill Americans on a smaller scale....more localized and personalized crime. Neither set willingly wants to pull the trigger on their kids by calling them into the authorities. Muslim parents have more pressure to contact the FBI....whereas if we find our son with a gun in his drawer, it wouldn't dawn on us to do the same

  213. I feel sorry for the parent but the government should have left the son go but made sure he never came back.

    These young men (and women) who join Al Queda one ISIS aren't going to summer camp they know what they are joining. I have no sympathy for them.

  214. Yes it is sad that this young man faces 20 years in prison. However, he is alive and no other people have been killed as a result of his actions.

  215. Pardon my paranoia but please be aware that this comment section is a likely target by over zealous law enforcement agencies.

    The point of the article is that you cannot trust the judgment of government agents. The paranoid and suspicious environment they work within can easily lead to poor judgment calls.

    Bonne chance!

  216. Exactly Michael. And individual agents enhance their own careers at the expense of the arrestees.

  217. Sal, you did the right thing. As hard as it is to know that your son is suffering in solitary confinement, think about what could have happened if you hadn't intervened. If he carried out a terrorist attack, he could have died in the process and if not, would end up in jail anyway. He would end up in the same situation. I believe that your actions kept your son from becoming a murderer. How would you feel if you didn't stop him and he went on to commit a terrorist act, killing many innocent people? That would be a heavier burden. Thank you for doing the right thing. Don't give up hope. We need to find a way to keep kids from becoming radicalized and to de-radicalize them. In the meantime, we can't take the risk that they will do something they'll regret.

  218. heartbreaking decisions like Mr. Shafi's to notify the authorities of his son's political leanings must have a more gradient, thoughtful response by law enforcement. how many times did I as a teenager cook up dramatic schemes in my head? I hope the son gets the care and counseling he needs.

  219. The Western world is adopting Eastern crime fighting ideology. Legalism, a school of thought accredited to ancient Chinese philosopher, Han Fei, promotes over punishing crimes to deter others from committing the crime. It is by far the most effective method of social control, however it is an antithesis of the Eighth Amendment. How did the Western World allowed such weak forces like religious radicalization to pose such a big threat? Is Islamic radicals such a big threat as to force us to compromise our founding ideals?

  220. Did Adam Shari actually contact terrorist groups or was he contacted by terrorist groups? Did he purchase any weapons? I don't know about Caucasian in the US. I am originally from China. I grew up knowing something you just can't say. It seems 2nd generation immigrants are losing touch.

  221. Good question! If the govt can't prove he contacted terrs, I shd think he'd be acquitted. I hope he is. & I hope the govt keeps a close watch on him afterward.

  222. More articles like this--refreshingly profound; about Americans with no name recognition--and fewer about megalomaniacs such as Donald Trump, please!

  223. It is mind-boggling that someone living with all the benefits provided by America would turn to psychopaths as mentors and feel more of a connection with random Syrians than with his own countrymen (and women). No doubt he needs to be re-educated. Prison is most likely not the best option. Perhaps a mental institution would be more appropriate. Perhaps giving parents the option to have children committed would be a softer first step that the FBI could offer. Doctors could then utilize a special regimen of drugs and counseling to turn these boys back (or else keep them detained if they don't).

  224. What an incredibly brave, admirable man. He tried everything he could to help his son and help his country. He even wanted to set up a program for such difficult situations. Such strength and integrity are rare.
    I wish the very best for Mr. Shafi, his son, and his whole family.
    Thank you for sharing.

  225. Mr. Shafi, apparently, doesn't realize that he saved his son's life and probably the lives of an unknown number of innocent people. His regrets at having done so are unfortunate, if not shameful.

    When someone is attracted to the obscenity that is radical Islam, this is little room for negotiation and little hope for redemption.

  226. I applaud Mr. Shafi's courage informing the government of his son's activities although I realize what intense pain such a decision must have been personally to him and his family. I wish more family members came forward like this, especially people like the mother of the Belgium/France terrorists. Sometimes parents and family need to make sacrifices for the greater good of society and not get swayed by parental love. I am not saying this will not be horribly painful and hard and extremely difficult, but it will prevent great societal harm which these radicalized young people in their mistaken views of Islam are doing. In the long run, actions like Mr. Shafi will protect Islam from being hijacked by these radicalized terrorists who say they are acting in the name of their religion.

  227. In the end, this parent has decided that, should he choose again, he would choose to shield his son rather than going to the government (again). That says a lot about what his own community at large would do.

  228. Would Mr. Shafi feel any better if his son actually went to Syria and was killed, or injured or captured? Or if he chose to become a suicide bomber and killed and injured many other people along with himself?

  229. There was one line in this article, almost a throwaway, easy to overlook, which described Adam Sahfi's tearful response to media images and stories about the conflict in Syria. He had a longstanding interest in the homeless and refugees. If what he said about wanting to spill blood is true, then the difference between his work with the homeless and his supposed radicalization would seem to lie largely with the media and how it influenced his emotions. We don't see constant images of the homeless, ill and uninsured, or desperately poor in the media, daily, over and over.

    I don't mean to say there should be no coverage of any of these people. In fact, I think awareness of their plight is vital for understanding, for charity, for political awareness and voting. But there is not only a media bias towards foreign wars vs. conditions in our own neighborhoods, but also perhaps something about the kind of coverage or the commentary (what news source was Adam relying on?) that made the difference for this young man.

  230. "The process has shaken Mr. Shafi’s faith, both in his decisions as a parent and in his government". We've all heard of Apple's defiance of the FBI's request for access to the terrorist's cell phone. So might the values of the private corporation with the world's biggest capitalization - Apple, HQd in Silicon Valley - affect the relationship between a Silicon Valley executive of 62 and his now working-age son? It’s a provocative question, but my experience compels me to consider it.
    Corporate executive life places huge strain on families. Everyone has difficulty reconciling typical organizational values with personal ones. Because the Shafi case is so heart-wrenching and points to so much of what, in my opinion, desperately needs adjusting in westernized and westernizing societies, I think it worth setting out here the 8 values I work at advancing in both the personal and the work segments of my life. These values work for me and they now work also for three companies I have coached. Additional values suited to the circumstances of each particular home and each particular ‘workplace’ are needed, but the following eight have proven to work in enhancing life in both: Honesty, Verbal Integrity, Empathy, Accuracy, Clarity, Courage, Discretion, Coherence. Of course, I’m still working at them and of course my clients are too. But no one in my circle now disagrees with the definitions we’ve collaboratively worked out for each of the 8, nor with the benefits of aspiring to keep them

  231. I agree with the desire to develop a way to counter the brainwashing with some community based program. My question is, what will this 22 year old learn in jail? Who will he pay attention to in there? And, is there a parallel to parents struggling to keep their children away from serious drugs? Can one learn from the other?

  232. My heart aches for Sal Shafi, his wife and daughter. As a father, I can only imagine the struggle between his moral conscience and his love for his son. As painful as the choice may have been, Mr Shafi made the morally correct decision.

    Try as we might, we can only guide our children, but at some point, they become adults and make their own choices. In the case of Adam Shafi, his choice to support the barbarians who murder innocents in the name of some cleric's interpretation of god's will speaks for itself.

    Adam Shafi needs to be locked away for the safety of innocents as well as for the future of Muslims who wish to live in peace with their fellow men. The gravest threat to Muslims today are their own religious fanatics who believe they have the duty to enslave, to oppress, to mutilate and to kill those who do not conform to their nilistic and soul less dogma.

    Sal Shafi did the right thing as a moral human being. That doesn't undo the pain, but it does earn him the gratitude of thinking people who actually care.

  233. Mr. Sal Shari would, I suspect, feel much greater remorse if Adam were to have "spilled gallons of blood."

  234. An intervention group should be set up by the mosques. Perhaps the mosques could set up ways to help the refugees. The FBI cannot be expected to do anything except law enforcement.
    People should be allowed to go to IS if they want to. But, we should make it clear that anyone who has gone to Syria will be stripped of their US citizenship and cannot come back. Another approach would be to revoke the passport of anyone trying to reach Syria.

  235. There are 3 people who made mistakes.

    1) The Kid; Made the mistake of going over to a known gateway zone, without properly informing anyone of his exact intentions, and on his own, not with a legitimate, or making a legitimate, organization, to do what he wanted to accomplish while there.

    2) The Father; by taking a laid back position during a time period where there are silenced calls to reforms of Islam. He needed to step up and involve himself more in his son's interests and concerns, and by involved, I mean participating with his son in some of the local activities that were taking place. He would have known better, and had been in a position to know to direct his son to a better way of going over to Turkey to see the refugees.

    3) The Government; Though I agree that some jail time is necessary, I wholly disagree with the term of the sentence. He should not be spending 20 years in prison, but I could see 6 months with chance of parole with good behaviour in 2 months. It needs to be impressed strongly on the boy that to go un-escorted to such places is a very bad idea, yes.

    Never say "Don't go to the government!", instead, you should be making sure that the "de-radicalization program" actually gets put in place, and you do need to go to the government and lobby in order to put it in place.

  236. It depends on what the kid actually did. Pure thought crimes are still unconstitutional in America.

  237. There is a comment by a commenter (Shah) which caught my eye. "Teach them what Islam is. The Truth." Therein lies your problem. Do non muslims who never come in contact with Islam ever go to go to Syria to kill infidels and non believers? Never. The issue is that there is enough justification for violent Jihad in Islam. We need to start believing that people willing to die for an ideology probably do so because the ideology does indeed legitimize terrorism. Muslims believe that their Prophet created a golden age and was a model citizen for humanity. With this belief in place what is a young impressionable mind to do when he reads about all the military exploits of the Prophet. There is a list of military expeditions of the Prophet on wikipedia (link below). The list is so long that just to scroll through the entire list takes a few minutes. There are stories of entire tribes captured and every adult executed and the women taken as sex slaves. Or a poet assassinated for mocking the Prophet. These are exactly the things ISIS is trying to recreate in all honesty.
    Here is the related article:

  238. For most of Christianity's existence, non-believers have been killed in the name of the Lord, based on Scripture. The divergence between the two religions is based more on economics than anything - more recent Judeo-Christian societies have had economies that share the wealth and there are usually opportunities for the poor and down-trodden. However, in much of the Muslim world, there is hopelessness and powerlessness in many of the unemployed young men, which can lead to radicalization. If Christianity was the dominant religion in the Arab world, they would still be killing people in the name of the Lord based on scripture.

  239. " There are stories of entire tribes captured and every adult executed and the women taken as sex slaves."

    If Islam has the goal of a world wide Caliphate they should keep in mind that the non-Islamic world has more than enough nuclear weapons to wipe Islam off the face of the earth

  240. A 22 year old is not a "child" and law enforcement is not the "enemy."

    As a culture we have long gone down the road of excusing every criminal action by a youth as merely the unfortunate product of their social environment, and relieving them of any individual responsibility for their actions. It's society that's really to blame, not the "child!"

    Likewise, the drumbeat of propaganda has been to villainize law enforcement out of all proportion to any real and systemtic problem. Discussing real systemic problem, i.e., 3% of the African-American male population being responsible for over 50% of all murders and almost 60% of all violent crime, on the other hand, is verboten.

    The police is not our enemy, and no one older than 18 years old is not a child (unless they have a medical problem). If we do not straighten out our perspective, we'll be reaping the whirlwind sooner rather than later.

  241. your first sentence summed it nicely

  242. I disagree with much of this comment. A 22 year old is legally an adult, but the vast majority are still far from completely matured abd still benefit from things like parental assistance and guidance.

  243. We need an intensive intervention program for young people who have been swayed by terrorists, before it is too late. Mr Shafi should not be feeling as if he betrayed his son by doing the right thing and turning him in. But our government, while trying to keep us safe, should also not be giving up on him. So long as a recruit is still just a recruit, and hasn't engaged in any attacks, I do believe they are worth trying to salvage. Think of it as an intensive intervention similar to what is used to remove people from cults, with serious consequences if it fails.

  244. As a parent, I feel the agony of Mr. Shafi's guilt and horror. But I wonder, how would he feel if his son had become a suicide bomber and killed hundreds of innocent adults and children because he had not gone to the authorities. Clearly he would have been far more pained to know he might have averted such an atrocity if only he'd have reported it to the government. It is a no-win situation and I sympathize with Mr. Shafi's loss of his son. He made the right decision. Adam Shafi was clearly on the path to murdering people and no one was going to deter him from his goals of "spilled blood for Allah." I am gravely sorry for Adam as he is young and had his whole life ahead of him. He made a terrible choice and now must face the consequences. One lost son does not make up for the sons and daughters and mother and fathers and children who have died because of terrorism.

  245. I see a pattern here. Criminalization of Immigrant youth and African American youth. Could it be that the racism and isolation these youngsters face in schools and their communities be a factor in causing the mental disorders that skew them in their youth? America is a melting pot of all the cultures in the world , yet the mainstream American society prefers to keep all these people on the fringes. I know many Chrsitian immigrants who are active in their churches for many years, and yet not welcomed by the mainstream Americans who are fellow church leaders and members beyond a polite smile or hello. So we can imagine what children of different faiths and cultures are facing in schools.

  246. Sorry, but your theory cannot be substantiated with facts. This kid has a wealthy family with all the advantages of the 1%. Most of those radicalized fit the same description - privileged, educated, and loved.

  247. Mr. Shafi - You did the right thing. Your son will be out in 10 years or less, and he will be alive. The path he was on would have led to his death, and likely the death of many others as well.

  248. This article does not tell us much about the son and the unfolding of the events. I understand that the story is about the father, but knowing what happened and the timeline would help us understand better. The father reported Adam's disappearance in August 2014. Adam was interrogated by the FBI and his phone under surveillance for almost a year (he was arrested in June 2015). Although he knew that he was investigated, it did not deter him at all. Had this just been an juvenile infatuation with jihad, it would be reasonable to assume that Adam should have been scared enough to stop. In fact, he continued with his plans. This was not just a brief phase in his life. I think the father did the right thing and it took enormous courage to do it; however, the FBI did not act in a rushed way in this case. Adam had almost a year to walk back from his mistakes. I understand that the father didn't know how to stop his son (as an adult Adam could not be committed for an "intervention"), except talking to his son and hoping that he'd change back to be his old self, once scared enough. But that did not work. Also, the article should make it clear that 20 years in the maximum sentence; most likely Adam will be sentenced to a much lower time, as his actions have not resulted in anyone's direct harm. But assisting a terrorist organization is a crime-as it should be- and Adam had been plenty of warnings. But I feel for the choice the father had to make. It was the right one.