One in four younger Muslims in the United States say suicide bombings to defend their religion are acceptable at least in some circumstances
While nearly 80 percent of U.S. Muslims say suicide bombings of civilians to defend Islam cannot be justified, 13 percent say they can be, at least rarely.
That sentiment is strongest among those younger than 30. Two percent of them say it can often be justified, 13 percent say sometimes and 11 percent say rarely.
"It is a hair-raising number," said Radwan Masmoudi, president of the Washington-based Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, which promotes the compatibility of Islam with democracy.
Andrew Kohut, Pew director, called support for the attacks "one of the few trouble spots" in the survey. The question did not specify where a suicide attack might occur, who might carry it out or what was meant by using a bombing to "defend Islam."
Masmoudi said most supporters of the attacks likely assumed the context was a fight against occupation — a term Muslims often use to describe the conflict with Israel.
U.S. Muslims have growing Internet and television access to extreme ideologies, he said, adding: "People, especially younger people, are susceptible to these ideas."
Federal officials have warned that the U.S. must be on guard against homegrown terrorism, as the British suffered with the London transit bombings of 2005.
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