A mosque in Canada was deliberately set on fire Saturday, Ontario police say. In Oregon, anti-Muslim protesters held a rally outside the Portland Rizwan Mosque, one of them with a shirt that said “Proud to be an infidel. Islam is a LIE.” In Florida, the Islamic Center of St. Petersburg received a bomb threat over voicemail: “We are tired of your [expletive] and I [expletive] personally have a militia that is going to come down to your Islamic Society of Pinellas County and firebomb you and shoot whoever is there in the head,” the caller said, according to News 13.
And in France, while politicians stressed national unity, local news outlets reported several incidents of mosques, kebab restaurants and halal butcher shops being vandalized with hate messages. A tribute in Lille for the victims of the attacks was This is precisely what ISIS was aiming for — to provoke communities to commit actions against Muslims,” said Arie Kruglanski, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland who studies how people become terrorists. “Then ISIS will be able to say, ‘I told you so. These are your enemies, and the enemies of Islam.'”
The moments following a terrorist attack are often filled with acts of reprisal. In the six months following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, anti-Muslim violence and mosque vandalism more than quadrupled compared to the same period in 2014, according to the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, a watchdog group.
Extremist groups feed off of alienation, some counterterrorism experts say, and Islamist militants deliberately aim to make Muslims in the West feel isolated and turn against their own communities.
According to this line of thinking, acts of terrorism widen the cultural divide by provoking hate crimes against Muslims in the West. This strategy gained traction in the early 2000s after al-Qaeda was sent into hiding by Western military action. Abu Musab al-Suri, an influential jihadi thinker whom the Wall Street Journal called “the new mastermind of jihad,” argued for a distributed network of terrorist cells recruited