Like many people around the world since 9/11, I too have wondered what it is that inspires Muslims to become such utterly bloodthirsty terrorists. At first, I would insist that the problem lay with Islamic extremists, the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia in particular. When people challenged me on this, arguing that the problem was the moral backwardness inherent in Islam itself, I would dismiss their accusations on the grounds that I personally knew practicing Muslims who were as peaceful and inoffensive as any people on the planet. That latter bit I still know to be true, but the former part of my reasoning – namely, that the decency of some Muslims exonerated Islam itself – is not an opinion that I have the energy or the inclination to defend anymore.
He goes on to relay a personal story from 1974 that says a lot.