Thursday, December 17, 2009

Washington Post Editorial, 12/16/09

FIVE YOUNG MEN from Northern Virginia are captured in Pakistan attempting to join in jihad. A U.S. permanent resident in Denver is arrested for trying to carry out a terror strike in New York. A Muslim convert living in North Carolina is accused of plotting an attack on military personnel at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va. An Illinois man and would-be mujahid is apprehended after a failed attempt to blow up a federal building in the state capital of Springfield.

Home-grown Islamic extremism was once thought to be the province of countries in Europe, Africa or South Asia, triggered by segregation, deprivation of educational or economic opportunities, or a domestic climate where extremist views are tolerated. We now know that the United States is not immune. In the past 12 months, the Department of Justice has identified a dozen cases of U.S. Muslims accused of terrorist activity or seeking terrorism training overseas. This pattern must be taken seriously and addressed.

The vast majority of American Muslims are law-abiding, upstanding citizens who vehemently shun the violence embraced by the radical and dangerous few. In many ways, American Muslims have the most to lose when extremists carry out their warped plans, and they suffer most when they are unjustly lumped in with the radicals…

The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim Public Affairs Council are preparing to use the Internet and other new technologies to reach American Muslims to debunk radical interpretations of the Koran promulgated by extremists. The U.S. government, too, should step up outreach to American Muslims. (More)


Glenn Greenwald,, 12/14/09

There is clearly a concerted effort by the Government to claim loudly that the threat posed by radicalized American Muslims is increasing…

At least from all appearances, these claims are being made exclusively on the basis of a handful of recent episodes involving American Muslims accused of having links to Al Qaeda and/or the Taliban. There is no data whatsoever offered to corroborate the claim of a "trend." Given the obvious dangers inherent in trumpeting threats from internal sources -- as well as the motives the Government generally has in disseminating such warnings and the motive it specifically has when escalating a war -- far more than a few anecdotes ought to be required before any of this is believed.

What's most striking about these "warnings" is that they virtually never examine the reasons why this would be happening. Why, after all this time, would American Muslims suddenly be more willing to engage in violence against the U.S.? To his credit, Scott Shane devoted several paragraphs of his NYT article to addressing this question, and what he finds is both highly significant and highly unsurprising:

[T]he continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the American operations like drone strikes in Pakistan, are fueling radicalization at home, [terrorism expert Robert Leiken] said. "Just the length of U.S. involvement in these countries is provoking more Muslim Americans to react," Mr. Leiken said…

The evidence proving this causation is now so overwhelming as to be undeniable. Waging wars, occupying, and dropping bombs in Muslim countries is the single most counter-productive step that can be taken to combat Islamic extremism (indefinitely imprisoning them without charges is a close second). It's akin to advising a lung cancer patient to triple the quantity of cigarettes he smokes each day. Yet we continue to do it over and over, and then point to the harms we cause as reasons we need to continue doing it. Our "counter-terrorism" campaign basically consists of three steps repeated endlessly:

  1. Interfere in or otherwise act aggressively in the Muslim world.
  2. Provoke increased anti-American sentiment and fuel terrorism as a result of Step 1.
  3. Point to the increased anti-American sentiment and terrorism as a reason we need to escalate our interference and aggression in the Muslim world. Return to Step 1.

The coordinated campaign to hype the alleged "growing domestic Muslim threat" at exactly the time we are escalating our conventional war in Afghanistan and our covert Predator war in Pakistan is a perfect illustration of this process. Basically, what Shane's article reveals is the shocking truth that waging war and otherwise interfering in Muslim countries for more a full decade radicalizes Muslims and drives some of them to want to return the violence. Who would have guessed? (More)


Spencer S. Hsu and Carrie Johnson, Washington Post, 12/17/09

The Department of Homeland Security improperly gathered intelligence on the Nation of Islam for eight months in 2007 when the leader of the black Muslim group, Louis Farrakhan, was in poor health and appeared to be yielding power, according to government documents released Wednesday. (More)


BY CINDY CARCAMO, Orange County Register, 12/16/09

MISSION VIEJO - Citizenship officials are reaching out to the Muslim community in Orange County this month, partnering up with various Muslim organizations to hold informational sessions in Anaheim and Mission Viejo.

The Anaheim event was held Tuesday and another is scheduled for Saturday at the Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center in Mission Viejo.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services staff will be on hand to discuss the steps needed for the naturalization process and provide information about eligibility and residency requirements.

The session is part of a larger agency initiative to help immigrants better understand the naturalization process.

While the sessions are open to the general public, the agency reached out in particular to the Muslim community in the county, said Mariana Gitomer, spokeswoman with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

"For these particular sessions we've been distributing flyers at Arab markets and media and all of those entities that can reach that community," she said. "We always partner with different community groups and stakeholders and they're just one of them."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations of the Greater Los Angeles Area said they have been working with agency officials to quell the fear and possible confusion connected with immigration services, said Affad Shakih, civil rights manager for the organization.

"It's about getting the community educated and able to naturalize and become U.S. citizens," Shakih said. "The majority of the Muslim population is here legally...wanting to legalize and wanting to become U.S. citizens so they can participate in American society."

Shakih's group was a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in 2007 against the government agency. The lawsuit -- accusing the agency of creating unnecessarily lengthy delays in gaining U.S. citizenship -- was eventually settled in a deal that allows hundred to gain citizenship. (More)


Nick Schou, OC Weekly, 12/15/09

Yesterday, the California Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released its annual hate crime report, "The Status of Muslim Civil Rights, California 2009." (More)


Benjamin Sarlin, The Daily Beast, 12/16/09

A Minnesota attorney is using virulent attacks on Islam in an attempt to unseat one of just two Muslims in Congress. Benjamin Sarlin talks to Rep. Keith Ellison and his challenger about a campaign that’s raising eyebrows. (More)

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