Islam researcher lectures about War on Terror at Maryville Coll.

Islam researcher lectures about War on Terror at Maryville College

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Harrison Akins, an expert on terror, spoke about differences in Islam between tribal and traditional followers. Harrison Akins, an expert on terror, spoke about differences in Islam between tribal and traditional followers.
"I can see how the Chechens were frustrated with their societies and how they could be motivated to do the bombings in Boston," Callicutt explained. "I can see how the Chechens were frustrated with their societies and how they could be motivated to do the bombings in Boston," Callicutt explained.

By JESSA LEWIS
6 News Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) - After last week's bombing of the Boston Marathon, much of the country's focus has returned to terrorism.

An East Tennessee expert on terrorism returned to his hometown Wednesday to talk to students about the War on Terror.

Harrison Akins graduated from Maryville High School and went on to become a research fellow at American University.

Akins worked as a researcher for the book The Thistle and the Drone: How America's War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam.

The book, written by Akbar Ahmed, highlights case studies of several tribes of Islam from around the world.

Akins says his interest in Islam started with the attacks on 9/11.

"I was filled with anger, confusion, and I wasn't entirely sure what was happening, what happened, where it will lead. But I did know that somehow this world of Islam and it's something you should probably be aware of and know about if they're going to be attacking us," Akins said.

Wednesday's lecture at Maryville College focused on the difference between tribal Islam and traditional Islam, and what tribal Islam has to do with the War on Terror and the Boston bombings.

Akins defined Islamic tribes as those who claim to be descended from the Prophet and also still abide by tribal law.

Followers of traditional Islam he defined as those who adhere to the five tenets of the religion.

Akins said by definition, Chechens practice tribal Islam.

"There are lots of different issues going on with the Boston bombers, and it's too soon, honestly, to see what was going on in their own minds," Akins explained.

Akins said one of those issues comes from Chechen history, and several conflicts with Russia beginning in the 1940s.

"Every family in Chechnya has been affected by this violence with Russia," said Akins. "They've lost somebody, their wife, their mother, their daughter has been raped, in front of them at times, and they're striking back."

Akins said it's likely not just an issue stemming back to Chechnya.

"There are also issues about the Muslim community in the United States. Real or perceived attacks on Islam, Islamaphobia, misunderstanding of the Islamic faith in the United States all contribute to a sense of disillusionment for much of the young Muslims in this country," Akins added.

Students who went to the lecture said it helped them understand more about the War on Terror and the attacks in Boston.

"You still see elements of the revenge aspect of tribal living and just the average American, I guess it just depends on how old they are, doesn't know that much about Chechnya. I've just recently read about it," said Maryville College sophomore Daniel Pieratt.

Maryville College senior Kayla Callicutt attended the lecture as part of the research for her thesis.

"I can see how the Chechens were frustrated with their societies and how they could be motivated to do the bombings in Boston," Callicutt explained.

The Thistle and the Drone is the third book by Ahmed about the War on Terror.

Akins also spoke at UT on Wednesday.

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