I don't know of many (or any) terrorism groups which did not go through a radicalization process in a mosque. They might reject those mosques later, but the mosques play a big role in the first stages of radicalization and terrorism.
American commentator and Islam expert Reza Aslan says that Europe has mistakenly focused on mosques as hotbeds of radicalism and terror plans. Muslims who are attracted to a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, on the contrary, often turn away from the mosques and imams who most often represent traditional Islam which isn't violent.
Aslan, a Muslim, says the mistake in Europe is that people try to find the source to radicalism in the mosque. But radicalism exists outside the mosque, which represent the traditional and more conservative Islam, which is wrongly seen as violent. But young people, who are inspired by Islamists, don't go to the mosque. On the contrary, they own seek imams and their own groups.
He elaborates that the message of Islamists is directed to 15-25 year olds, especially in Europe, and the message is: Don't go to the mosque and don't listen to your parents.
Aslan: Young Muslims in Europe can be convinced of this, since their traditional connection to the family and religion isn't as strong as in the Muslim world. Many of these young people feel that the mosque is for the older generation, who don't understand the problems the youth struggle with every day. The radical Islamist ideology gives a very easily understandable answer to those problems, which can easily be read on the Internet.
Jakob Ilum, head of the preventative division of the Danish security service (PET) also thinks that there's too much focus in Denmark on mosques as hotbeds for terror.
Ilum: I don't think that we in PET have an exaggerated focus on mosques in our dialog and preventative initiatives. But when militant Islam uses religious expression it's important to understand that religion doesn't have meaning only in radicalizing but also in un-radicalizing purposes. Militant Islam is to a large extent a reaction against the dominating and peaceful version of Islam, and therefore the true radicalizing process typically doesn't take place in mosques. This is also the reason we now extend the dialog and involve more people - also non-religious representatives.
PET is currently building two so-called dialog based forums - an imam-forum and an ethnic forum, which was set up by PET and has been in contact with them since 2004. The circle of imams and other people from the Muslim communities expands it.
Nadeem Irani, analyst at the Danish Institute for Military Studies, deals with militant Islam. He also thinks that in Denmark there's a misunderstood notion of mosques as terror nests.
Irani: Naturally there are extreme imams in Europe and maybe less moderate Danish mosques, who can influence the youth, but radicalization happens outside the mosque, where young people are attracted by individual circumstances, about which it's very difficult to generalize. It starts with them feeling humiliated and it unites them in small study groups, where they find political interpretations on conflicts with a religious view
Source: Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish)