After reporting first-hand on the 1998 embassy bombing in Nairobi, Andrea became intrigued by Islam, a religion she knew little about. She studied informally with Muslim leaders in Kenya, Egypt and Sudan, and what started as a journalistic interest gradually became a personal conviction. Just before leaving Africa for good in the fall of 1999, she formally embraced Islam while in Zimbabwe.
This is, to put it kindly, strange. And this is not to pick on Andrea Useem -- her story pales beside the bizarre journey of Yvonne Ridley, who converted to Islam after a fairly awful experience at the hands of the Taliban. These women are not alone: since the present campaign of Islamist terror began -- dated from 1979 or 1998, depending upon whom you ask -- there has been heightened interest in Islam, and consequently, a growing cadre of persons who convert to Islam. This is wholly counterintuitive from a moral standpoint: having come to examine a faith as a consequence of that faith's bloody commandments -- in Islam's case, the doctrine of jihad -- the embrace of that faith can only take place as a result of moral abdication. The convert must either assent to the commandment, or willfully ignore it. Whatever is done, the initial act of terror, slaughter, murder, etc., thus wins -- not only are unbelievers killed, converts are made. In this light, we must ask: is violence truly the most effective proselytization of all?