Archive for FBI

Neo-Nazi who Was Defended by Robert Spencer Arrested by the FBI

Posted in Feature, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2012 by loonwatch

In May of 2010, Douglas Story‘s vehicle was photographed containing anti-Islam slogans and neo-Nazi symbols:

Is this the back of some neo-nazi’s truck, or the cover of Robert Spencer’s next book?

CAIR filed a complaint with the Virginia Department of Transportation about the “license plate of Douglas Story” claiming that the numbers “14″ and “88″ were symbolic neo-Nazi code.

As Loonwatch contributor Rousseau reported at the time,

CAIR picked up on this loony truck driver’s mural and then apparently noticed his license plate number, which read “14CV88.” Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of CAIR, argued that this number was code for neo-Nazi white supremacist ideas; Hooper explained: “…Among neo-Nazis, 88 refers to ‘Heil Hitler,’ because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. White supremacists sometimes use the number 14 as shorthand for the 14-word motto, ‘We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.’”

Story denied being a neo-Nazi, saying instead that the numbers on his license plate referred to his favorite NASCAR racers. This turned out to be a lie…more anti-Muslim so-called taqiyyah if you will.

CAIR was correct that Story was a White Supremacist. The Washington Post’s Brigid Schulte reported just a couple of days later that Douglas Story’s Facebook page was replete with white supremacist associations:

Arguing that his license plate was purely about NASCAR and had nothing to do with race, Story told me that he had a Jewish sister-in-law and had attended his niece’s bat mitzvah. He denied being anti-Semitic.

But here’s how he describes himself on Facebook:

“100% WHITE MAN, 100% ARYAN, 100% PRO-LIFE (Children are innocent), 100% PRO DEATH PENALTY (Criminal Scum aren’t innocent).
Over the past 28 years; I, like David Duke, have had an Awakening.”

Note to self: In these days of social media, Twitter and personal oversharing on the web, always check Facebook…

When I called Story to ask about the Facebook page, he continued to maintain that his license plate message had nothing to with racism. He stuck by his NASCAR story. “Southern white men. Southern white sport. What else needs to be said?” he said.

Story acknowledged that he thinks of himself as 100 percent Aryan. “Aryan is a Sanskrit word that means noble,” he said, “no matter what spin the liberal media tries to put on it as being a racist, hate word.”

He said he is an admirer of David Duke, who, he said was “reamed by the media because of his Klan affiliations.” “I am a white nationalist,” Story said. “I am in favor of the whites having their own homeland.” When I asked him where that homeland would be, he said he didn’t know. “The Pacific Northwest maybe. Alaska. Denmark. Greenland. Iceland.”

I asked if he really thought that the Holocaust was a hoax. “I don’t know what to think,” he said.

Rather than condemn Story, Spencer offered this initial defense,

Hamas-linked CAIR smears anti-jihad Virginia driver as Neo-Nazi

…CAIR’s whole story was false in the first place: the driver in question, Douglas Story, is not a neo-Nazi at all, but a racing fan. The alleged code numbers for neo-Nazi slogans were actually favorite race car drivers’ numbers.

Will Honest Ibe Hooper apologize to Douglas Story? Come on, Ibe! It would be the decent thing to do!

Spencer also argued the entire episode was a ploy by CAIR to link “anti-jihadists” like Spencer to neo-Nazi white supremacists,

The implication of the story, of course, was that anti-jihadists are neo-Nazis — which, despite the febrile fantasies of libelblogger Charles Johnson and his cohort, CAIR’s amiable stomach-stapled beekeeper Honest Ibe Hooper, flies in the face of the facts…

Spencer never apologized for being so horribly wrong about his “anti-Jihadist” buddy being a White Supremacist. Instead he posted a one sentence update saying, “The Washington Post has uncovered evidence that Douglas Story is indeed a white supremacist racist. In that case, he deserves whatever he gets from the DMV.”

In a new twist to this story, yesterday, Douglas Story was arrested by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force “after allegedly receiving a fully automatic AK-47 from an undercover agent.”

A Manassas man accused of being a white supremacist was arrested Wednesday by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force after allegedly receiving a fully automatic AK-47 from an undercover agent.

Court records show Douglas Howard Story, 48, of the Manassas area, allegedly provided a semi-automatic AK-47, along with $120, to an undercover law enforcement agent with the intent that it be modified to become fully automatic. He then allegedly received the modified weapon from an undercover agent and was subsequently arrested, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride and FBI  Assistant Director for the Washington Field Office announced Story’s arrest Wednesday.  He has been charged with a violation of the National Firearms Act – a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Manassas Patch, 30 May 2012

See also Inside NoVa, 31 May 2012

I’m not a fan of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, as they have been deeply involved in abusing constitutional rights, through profiling, secret surveillance and entrapment activities. Story’s arrest however does, once again, bring to surface the fact that the so-called “anti-Jihad/counter-jihad” movement is filled with neo-Nazis, fascists, and racists of one stripe or another.

It is also another opportunity to point out Spencer’s hypocrisy. He asked Ibrahim Hooper to apologize for “defaming” Douglas Story, but cannot and will not bring himself to apologize for supporting a “White supremacist” and defaming Ibrahim Hooper.

Robert Spencer will you finally apologize for defending a neo-Nazi “White Supremacist” even after the above image of his car, replete with neo-Nazi symbolism, the Confederate flag, and anti-Islam propaganda were evident? Do you, Spencer, agree with the neo-Nazi Story that “all we need to know about Islam we learned on 9/11?”

Something tells me Spencer’s apologies and answer will not be forthcoming.

Wilfredo Amr Ruiz: ‘We Are Not at War With Islam’

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2012 by loonwatch

Wildredo Amr Ruiz

Wilfredo Amr Ruiz

Is the oft-repeated phrase by both presidents George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama, “We are not at war with Islam” just hollow political-speak?

Wilfredo A Ruiz discusses:

Wilfredo Amr Ruiz: ‘We Are Not at War With Islam’

Former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama have persistently affirmed: “We are not at war with Islam,” trying to assure 1.7 billion Muslims that the military actions of the so-called “war against terrorism” do not constitute belligerence against Islam or Muslims. This incessant message of denial is hard to swallow by many sectors of our society, and the world at large, since the United States has engaged in multiple wars of occupation in Muslim countries including Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, it conducts routine military incursions and bombardment campaigns on Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and other Muslim countries.
Furthermore, thousands of Muslim citizens around the world are subjected to arrest without formal accusations or due process of law. Incarcerations and even torture takes place at a network of international secret prisons and “black hole” locations operated or accessed by the CIA and other intelligence agencies.Unfortunately, in the American political arena there is also the perception that the government security and intelligence agencies and military apparatus are at war with Islam and Muslims.
They substantiate this notion with continuous discriminatory and prejudiced policies affecting American Muslims and their institutions. Let us take, for example, the harsh experience New York Muslims are undergoing with the NYPD. They are subject to widespread and ongoing espionage policies from their own police department, which include the opening of dossiers based on ethnic and religious profiling.
This openly unconstitutional practice is not based on suspiciousness of them committing crimes or being engaged in an ongoing criminal enterprise. Rather, the information recorded documents the restaurants they frequent, the books they check out, and even the times and places where they conduct their daily prayers.Evidently, the constant Islamophobic discourses have resonated to the military branches, resulting in the offering of multiple training courses with discriminatory, bigoted and offensive materials.
Some of these academic materials recently discovered are taught at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., in which mainstream Muslim persons and organizations are characterized as radical, violent extremists. The course even calls for treating the Muslim civilian population the way the Japanese were dealt with at Hiroshima, with nuclear attacks on the holy cities of Mecca and Medina and wiping out civilians.
It promotes a total war on Islam affirming that there is no such thing as moderate Islam. The military training course participants are encouraged to think of themselves as a “resistance movement to Islam.” Other various training courses with xenophobic and bigoted content offered to the FBI have also been exposed. These are not isolated and unique classes, but multiple trainings held at numerous venues to hundreds of military officers and intelligence agents that are responsible for the safety and security of our nation.
Notwithstanding the military and FBI’s promises to review their courses and purge the training curriculums of Islamophobic materials, we need ask ourselves: How many other courses (most of them classified as “Secret”) have been offered and, perhaps, are still being offered in these highly secured and secret agencies without public exposure?
The sad reality is that our nation has institutionalized vigilance based on stereotypical ethnic and religious profiling. Let us just examine for a moment the recent incident at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, where an 18-month-old toddler, a daughter of American parents of Middle Eastern descent, was ordered off a plane by Jet Blue Airline’s officials who claimed she was on the TSA’s “no fly” list: a list obviously fed with the names of people selected based on ethnic and religious profiling. The toddler case is not the only one of its kind, as another 500 American citizens are also in these puzzling and sinister lists in the absence of due process. The lists are not only ineffective, but openly unconstitutional because individuals are included without notification or being told why they are on the list and without the chance to rebut the basis of their inclusion.

What will our political leaders do to try to erase the idea that the Nation is engaged in a war against Islam and Muslims? The major challenge they confront in this task is that the more time elapses, the more discrimination, oppression, persecution and injustices cements against American Muslims and their institutions.

President Obama still has the option and opportunity to rise to the occasion and confront this most delicate situation at the level it merits. He might, perhaps, start cleaning and straightening the Executive Branch from head to toe. The president should take steps that truly guarantee the elimination of racial and religious profiling exercised by law enforcement agencies and should swiftly end all the futile wars on Muslim countries once and for all. Perhaps, he should follow the Executive Order he signed back on Jan. 22, 2009, mandating the “Closure of Detention Facilities at Guantanamo” and the “Immediate Review of All Guantanamo Detentions.” Only such decisive actions will sustain the hollowed presidential words: “We are not at war with Islam.”

 Follow Wilfredo Amr Ruiz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AnalistaInter

US Government Targets Yonas Fikre in Poorly Disguised Attempt at Retaliation

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2012 by loonwatch

Yonas Fikre accused the FBI of involvement in his torture in the UAE after he refused to become an informant for the FBI.

US Charges Yonas Fikre, American Who Claimed Torture, With Conspiracy

by Nick Baumann (Mother Jones)

Last month, Mother Jones broke the story of Yonas Fikre. An American Muslim now living in Sweden, Fikre claims he was tortured in the United Arab Emirates at the US government’s request after refusing to become an informant for the FBI. On Tuesday, less than three weeks after Fikre’s allegations were made public, the Justice Department charged Fikre, his brother Dawit Woldehawariat, and a third man, Abrehaile Haile, with conspiring to hide $75,000 worth of money transfers to the UAE and Sudan from the government, all in violation of federal reporting requirements for large international financial transactions. Woldehawariat, Fikre’s brother, was also charged with failing to file a tax return in 2009 and 2010.

There are no allegations of terrorism associated with the charges.

Gadeir Abbas, a lawyer with the Council on American-Islamic Relations who has been working with Fikre, told Mother Jones on Wednesday that the federal charges were retaliation for Fikre’s refusal to cooperate with the FBI. “It is disappointing but not surprising that the FBI is retaliating against Yonas by filing specious charges against him after they promised to make his life difficult after he refused to become their informant,” Abbas wrote in an email. “While FBI agents lied to Yonas about many things, in this case, it seems that they have kept their word.”

Thomas Nelson, Fikre’s Portland, Oregon-based lawyer, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Tuesday that he was unaware of the charges against his client. But Abbas said he’s been in touch with Nelson since then and the two are working together to decide what to do next.

Here’s the charging document:

Mother Jones: American Muslim Alleges FBI Had a Hand in His Torture

Posted in Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2012 by loonwatch

FikreJustin Norman/Flickr

We are no longer shocked at crimes and excesses committed by those in authority, we have become complacent and either accept such things as a daily part of life, an aberration or even something praiseworthy.

Below we have another US Muslim alleging that the FBI had a hand in his torture:

MOTHER JONES EXCLUSIVE: Yonas Fikre believes the US government played a role in his hellish three-month detention in the United Arab Emirates.

By Nick Baumann

UPDATE: Fikre’s lawyers have written a letter to the Justice Department about his allegations and released a video of him talking about his ordeal.

Last June, while Yonas Fikre was visiting the United Arab Emirates, the Muslim American from Portland, Oregon was suddenly arrested and detained by Emirati security forces. For the next three months, Fikre claims, he was repeatedly interrogated and tortured. Fikre says he was beaten on the soles of his feet, kicked and punched, and held in stress positions while interrogators demanded he “cooperate” and barked questions that were eerily similar to those posed to him not long before by FBI agents and other American officials who had requested a meeting with him.

Fikre had been visiting family in Khartoum, Sudan, when, in April 2010, the officials got in touch with him. He agreed to meet with them, but ultimately balked at cooperating with FBI questioning without a lawyer present and he rebuffed a request to become an informant. Pressing him to cooperate, the agents told him he was on the no-fly list and could not return home unless he aided the bureau, Fikre says. The following week he received an email from one of the US officials; it arrived from a State Department address: “Thanks for meeting with us last week in Sudan. While we hope to get your side of the issues we keep hearing about, the choice is yours to make. The time to help yourself is now.”

“When Yonas [first] asked whether the FBI was behind his detention, he was beaten for asking the question,” says his lawyer. “Toward the end, the interrogator indicated that indeed the FBI had been involved.”

Fikre made his way to the UAE the following year, where, he and his lawyer allege, he was detained at the request of the US government. They say his treatment is part of a pattern of “proxy” detentions of US Muslims orchestrated by the the US government. Now, Fikre’s Portland-based lawyer, Thomas Nelson, plans to file suit against the Obama administration for its alleged complicity in Fikre’s torture.

“There was explicit cooperation; we certainly will allege that in the complaint,” says Nelson, a well known terrorism defense attorney. “When Yonas [first] asked whether the FBI was behind his detention, he was beaten for asking the question. Toward the end, the interrogator indicated that indeed the FBI had been involved. Yonas understood this as indicating that the FBI continued to [want] him to work for/with them.” Nelson, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Council on American Islamic Relations are assembling a high-powered legal team to handle Fikre’s case in the United States.

Fikre’s story echoes those of Naji HamdanAmir MeshalSharif MobleyGulet Mohamed, and Yusuf and Yahya Wehelie. All are American Muslim men who, while traveling abroad, claim they were detained, interrogated, and (in some cases) abused by local security forces; the men claim they were arrested at the behest of federal law enforcement authorities, alleging the US government used this process to circumvent their legal rights as American citizens.

As Mother Jones reported in its September/October 2011 issue, the FBI has acknowledged that it tips off local security forces on the names of Americans traveling overseas that the bureau suspects of involvement in terrorism, and that these individuals are sometimes detained and questioned. The FBI also admits that its agents sometimes “interview or witness an interview” of Americans detained by foreign governments in terrorism cases. And as several FBI officials told me on condition of anonymity, the bureau has for years used its elite cadre of international agents (known as legal attachés, or legats) to coordinate the overseas detention and interrogation by foreign security services of American terrorism suspects. Sometimes, that entails cooperating with local security forces that are accustomed to abusing prisoners. (FBI officials have told Mother Jones that foreign security forces are asked to refrain from abusing American detainees.)

It’s difficult to confirm US involvement in the detentions of Fikre or other alleged proxy detainees—indeed, plausible deniability is part of the appeal of the program. But what’s clear is that Fikre was on the FBI’s radar well before his detention in the UAE. (The FBI declined to comment on his case, as did the State Department.) Fikre, whose only previous brush with the legal system came when he sued a restaurant for having ham in its clam chowder, may have drawn the FBI’s interest because of his association with Portland’s Masjed-as-Saber mosque, where he was a youth basketball coach.

The mosque has been a focus of FBI scrutiny ever since the October 2002 case of the “Portland Seven,” in which seven Muslims from the Portland area were charged with trying to go to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban in the wake of 9/11. (Six are now in jail; the seventh was killed in Pakistan.) Masjed-as-Saber was in the news again in 2010 when Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year-old Somali American who sometimes worshipped there, was charged with trying to detonate a fake car bomb provided by an undercover FBI agent.

More recently, three other men who attended Fikre’s mosque—Mustafa ElogbiMichael Migliore, and Jamal Tarhuni—have found themselves on the no-fly list after traveling abroad. (The government’s use of the no-fly list to prevent American terrorist suspects from returning home after traveling overseas is currently the subject of a major ACLU lawsuit.)

Fikre’s case “really does make a mockery of the FBI’s use of watchlisting as a means of protecting the US,” says Gadeir Abbas, a staff attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations. ”It’s not a means of protecting America—it’s a tool the FBI uses to put people in vulnerable positions.”

It “really does make a mockery of the FBI’s use of watchlisting as a means of protecting the US.”

Fikre, who is currently living in Sweden and believes that it would be unsafe for him to return to the United States, has given a series of videotaped interviews detailing his ordeal. His presence in Sweden beyond the three-month window allowed for tourist visas suggests that he has applied for permanent status there, and local media have so far refrained from reporting on the story for fear of affecting his case to stay in the country.

In the interviews, Fikre describes a series of events that are similar to the 2008 case of Naji Hamdan, a Lebanese American auto-parts dealer from Los Angeles who was then living in the UAE. Like Hamdan, Fikre claims he was detained in the UAE, tortured (including with stress positions and beatings on the soles of his feet, so as to not show marks), and asked about his activities in the United States. Like Hamdan, Fikre believed a western interrogator was present in the room at some points during his detention, because when he could peek out under his blindfold (“after being kicked/punched and falling over,” Nelson says) he occasionally saw western slacks and shoes. “In those occasions there was a fair amount of whispering,” Nelson added.

The similarities between the two cases were so striking that Michael Kaufman and Laboni Hoq, lawyers who are representing Hamdan in his separate case against the government, initially thought that Fikre had simply parroted Hamdan’s story. But once they heard more, they decided “the backstory of why the government was interested in him was reasonable and something that didn’t sound fabricated,” Kaufman said. “It seemed like a long way to go for a lie,” Hoq added.

A key difference between Hamdan’s and Fikre’s stories is that Hamdan eventually confessed—under torture, he now emphasizes—to being a member of several terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda. He ultimately spent 11 months in UAE custody before being deported to Lebanon, where he now runs a children’s clothing store. Despite an extensive FBI investigation, he was never charged in the United States.

Fikre, his lawyer says, “never confessed to anything”—”thankfully.”

“The FBI does this stuff because they can get away with it,” Nelson says. “But the bureau has totally destroyed any relationship it had with the Muslim community in Portland.”

Nick Baumann covers national politics and civil liberties issues for Mother Jones’ DC Bureau. For more of his stories, click here.

UPDATE, Wednesday, 1:00 p.m. EST: Fikre’s lawyers have released a video of him talking about his ordeal (they’ve also written a letter to the Justice Department). You can watch the video here:

Documents Reveal FBI Spied On Peaceful Muslims

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2012 by loonwatch

Documents Reveal FBI Spied On Peaceful Muslims

By Josh Israel Newly released FBI documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, suggest that the bureau illegally spied on the religious practices of Muslim Americans, under the guise of community outreach. An FBI spokesman defended the information gathering as “within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity, whether investigation or liaison, including activities designed to strengthen relationships in various communities.” The ACLU explains:

The FBI’s targeting of American Muslim religious organizations for secret intelligence gathering raises grave constitutional concerns because it is an affront to religious liberty and equal protection of the law. The bureau’s use of outreach meetings to gather intelligence also undermines the trust and mutual understanding necessary to effective law enforcement. Additionally, the FBI’s retention of information gathered through “mosque outreach” in its intelligence files violates federal Privacy Act prohibitions against the maintenance of records about individuals’ First Amendment-protected activity.

But this would hardly be the first time the FBI spied on peaceful Americans. Here are just a few recent examples:

  • Iraq War Opponents — A 2002 FBI memo showed the bureau investigated gatherings of the Thomas Merton Center for Peace & Justice, as the pacifist group leafleted against the Iraq War.
  • Environmentalists — The FBI improperly investigated two planned Greenpeace corporate protests, a three-year inquiry extending long after the protests were over.
  • Animal Rights Supporters — The bureau also improperly investigated People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.This intelligence, while not useful for public safety, was at least better than the virtual restaurant reviews gathered by the New York Police Department’s spying operation.A 2010 Inspector General’s report lambasted the FBI for equating nonviolent protests with terrorism and for “false and misleading statements to the public and to Congress.”Of course, these groups are in good company. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself was spied on regularly by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. The COINTELPRO investigations into whether the civil rights leader might be a Communist including tapped phone conversations, bugs at his house, and even a 1964 infamous poison-pen letter warning him he would be exposed as a fraud. But nearly 50 years later, it seems perhaps the FBI should have learned from its mistakes.

Why you shouldn’t tell American border guards you’re in Islamic Studies

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2012 by loonwatch

Why you shouldn’t tell American border guards you’re in Islamic Studies

by ANDREANNE STEWART

On May 1, 2010, Pascal Abidor was riding an Amtrak train from Montreal to New York. His parents live in Brooklyn, and he was on his way to visit them. The school year at McGill had just ended, and he felt relieved and calm as the train rolled south towards America.

At about 11 a.m., the train arrived at the U.S. border and made a routine stop. A team of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers boarded the train and advanced through each car, questioning passengers. Pascal had made this trip countless times before, so when a customs officer approached him, he didn’t give it a second thought.

But Pascal had never met Officer Tulip.

After looking over Pascal’s U.S. passport and customs declaration, Officer Tulip asked two simple questions: Where do you live, and why?

Pascal answered that he lived in Canada. He lived in Canada because that’s where he was pursuing a PhD in Islamic Studies.

Next, she asked him where he had traveled in the previous year, and he answered Jordan and Lebanon. He showed her his French passport (he’s a dual citizen) with the “Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan” stamp, and the Lebanese stamp with the little cedar tree on top.

That didn’t help. Officer Tulip immediately told him to grab his things and follow her to the train’s cafe car. Pascal gathered his luggage, but Officer Tulip carried the bag containing his laptop. At the time, he thought she was just being helpful.

In the cafe car, they were joined by five or six more CBP officers. Pascal sat across from Officer Tulip as she took out his laptop, turned it on, and asked him to enter his password, which he did.

As she scrolled through the contents of his computer, Pascal could only see her reaction. Officer Tulip signaled to her colleagues and pointed at something on the screen. She then turned to Pascal and demanded an explanation.

Pascal was now surrounded by half a dozen suspicious American border police, staring at photos – on his laptop – of Hamas and Hezbollah rallies.

Where had he gotten “this stuff,” Officer Tulip asked. Pascal explained that his PhD research is on the Shiites of modern Lebanon. This was not, in her books, a good answer. Finally, the officers told Pascal that he would have to leave the train with them.

“Take me off the train, I’ll walk back to Montreal,” Pascal offered. Given what he would go through in the next few hours, Pascal might well have preferred the walk.

Instead, he was frisked, with particular vigor around his genitals. Then he was handcuffed. Pascal winced.

As they led him off the train, the officers draped a coat over his bound wrists. They claimed it was to spare him the embarrassment of a perp walk. But as Pascal walked past the train’s windows, he tried to show the passengers that he was cuffed. He hadn’t done anything wrong, and he wanted witnesses.

Pascal was then loaded into the back of a van. Oddly, as one of the officers tried to close the van’s side door, it fell clean off. It could have been a moment of levity in a grim situation. But Pascal didn’t dare laugh.

The Detention Cell

When they arrived at the Champlain Port of Entry, Pascal was put in a five-by-ten foot cell with cinder block walls and a steel-reinforced door. He was told to wait. He stayed in the cell for about an hour. Officers came in at random intervals to ask him questions.

“I thought I was going to throw up,” he said. “I thought I was going to be sent to Guantanamo Bay.”

Pascal was then removed from the cell and brought to an interrogation room, complete with florescent lighting and a two-way mirror. He sat across from two CBP officers – Officer Tulip and a man named Officer Sweet – while another officer sat at the end of the table, seemingly in case Pascal got violent.

“They thought I was straight-up dangerous,” Pascal said.

Then the real interrogation began, an hour and a half of intensive questioning. Where was he born? Where were his parents born? What religion was he raised with? Had he ever been to a rally in the Middle East? Had he heard any anti-American statements in the Middle East? Had he ever seen an American flag burned? Had he ever been to a mosque? But the questions always came back to the same point – why Islamic Studies?

“I want to be an academic – this is just what I happen to be an academic in,” Pascal told them.

His answers seemed to fall on deaf ears. The interrogation continued. It was the same questions, over and over. They were looking for him to make a mistake.

They soon fell into a good-cop, bad-cop routine.

“He thought I was cool,” Pascal said of Officer Sweet. Officer Tulip, on the other hand, “thought I was the most evil person. She thought I was a movie villain or something.”

They claimed Pascal’s dual citizenship made him untraceable. They suggested he was attractive “to both sides.” Pascal was baffled. Both sides of what?

Finally, after about three hours in detention, he was released. But there was a catch – the CBP was keeping his laptop and hard drive.

Pascal was enraged. While he had been waiting in the cell, Pascal had given some thought to what he would say to the officers once he was free. Now, with his anger compounded by the loss of his computer, Pascal delivered a blistering speech, directed at his arch-nemesis, Officer Tulip.

“I ripped into her,” he said. “She just stood there, [then] walked away.”

When an FBI agent came up to him and attempted to apologize, Pascal stopped him mid-sentence. “I don’t want to hear your apology,” he told the agent.

Before he left, he was given his camera and his two cell phones. There was a scratch on the back of one of the phones, as if someone had tried to open it.

Taking Legal Action

After being released from detention, Pascal hitched a ride on the next bus with an open seat that came through the checkpoint. He arrived in New York at midnight. That night, he had trouble sleeping, as he would have for the next week or so.

The next morning, he sat down and wrote eleven single-spaced pages detailing exactly what had happened to him. The day after that, he began making phone calls to state senators and advocacy organizations in the hope of finding someone who would help him. Lots of them were interested in his case, including Anthony Weiner, the former New York Congressman.

Finally, Pascal settled on the ACLU. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is the oldest and largest civil liberties organization in the United States. Free speech cases are its bread and butter. And they told Pascal that his right to free speech, protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution, had been violated.

Two days after his first phone call with the ACLU, Pascal was in downtown Manhattan, sitting in a meeting with a team of lawyers. The first thing they did was to write a letter to the CBP demanding that they return Pascal’s laptop. The day after the letter was sent, Pascal got a call from the CBP asking him where they should overnight his belongings.

But at this point, the damage was done. When the laptop arrived in the mail, the seam between the keyboard and the outer case that led to the internal hard drive appeared to have widened. The warranty seal on his external hard drive had been broken open, too. The government had already searched, and, they later conceded, made copies of Pascal’s electronic life.

Pascal and the ACLU were incensed. His laptop contained intimate personal information: chat logs with his girlfriend, university transcripts, his tax returns.

The problem was, everything Homeland Security had done was completely by the book.

 

The Policy

In August 2009, the Department of Homeland Security enacted a policy that allows for the search and seizure of electronic devices at the border without reasonable suspicion. Under the policy, the DHS can detain any electronic device indefinitely, and copy and share the information it contains. Between October 1, 2008 and June 2, 2010, more than 6,500 people had their electronic devices searched at U.S. border stops.

It was under this policy that Pascal’s laptop and hard drive were searched and detained.

Upon the enactment of the policy, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano stated that, “keeping Americans safe in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully screen materials entering the United States. The new directives announced today strike the balance between respecting the civil liberties and privacy of all travelers, while ensuring DHS can take the lawful actions necessary to secure our borders.”

The policy makes a point of specifying that, “at no point during a border search of electronic devices is it necessary to ask the traveler for consent to search.”

This struck the ACLU as deeply unconstitutional. So they and Pascal decided to sue Janet Napolitano, Director of Homeland Security, to challenge the constitutionality of the policy.

In September 2010, they filed their “complaint” against Napolitano, the legal document that kicks off a lawsuit. The ACLU argued that the DHS policy violates the First and Fourth Amendments, which guarantee free speech and protection against unreasonable search and seizure respectively.

The U.S. government tried to get the case thrown out, arguing that while Pascal’s story was true, the government’s actions had not broken any laws.

On the question of the Fourth Amendment, the government effectively said that just about any kind of search is legal at the border, in the name of national sovereignty.

“Searches made at the border, pursuant to the long standing right of the sovereign to protect itself by stopping and examining persons and property crossing into this country, are reasonable simply by virtue of the fact that they occur at the border,” the government wrote in its Motion to Dismiss, the legal maneuver for getting a case thrown out.

With regard to the First Amendment, the Motion to Dismiss stated that, “an otherwise valid search under the Fourth Amendment, does not violate the First Amendment rights of an individual – even a completely innocent individual – simply because the search uncovers expressive material.”

In other words, a border search is a border search is a border search.

And it’s true that all travelers are subject to a routine search at the border, whether or not there’s suspicion of wrongdoing.

But while the U.S. government argues that the search of laptops should be considered a part of these routine searches, the ACLU says these searches are more invasive and therefore must be held to a higher standard.

“It is different to go through someone’s shoes and contact solution, than to go through all the documents on their computer,” said Catherine Crump, one of Pascal’s ACLU lawyers.

Last July, Pascal and his ACLU lawyers went to a courtroom in Brooklyn to argue against throwing out their case. The judge has still not come to a decision.

Meanwhile, the DHS policy remains on the books. Laptops and cell phones continue to be detained and searched without reasonable suspicion at the U.S. border.

Pascal, for his part, hasn’t had a normal border-crossing since that May 1 morning. “Now, every time I cross the border, I get harassed,” he said.

In December 2010, he was crossing the border with his father. The border guards began interrogating him in unusual ways. “They refused to believe my dad was my dad,” he said. “If you saw my dad, you could not believe we were not related.”

The guards then searched the car top to bottom, and made the Abidors wait at the checkpoint for two hours.

“This is about lowering the threshold of what is acceptable to us,” Pascal said of his treatment at the hands of the CBP. “You can’t have rights and then selectively apply them.”

Mother Jones: Wondering If Your “Jihadist” Friend Is With the FBI?

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2012 by loonwatch

Shahed Hussain is still trying to entrap people, there are many more like him out there (H/T: BA):

Wondering If Your “Jihadist” Friend Is With the FBI?

By Hamed Aleaziz (Mother Jones)

Shahed Hussain, a long-time FBI terrorism informant Mother Jones profiled last year, has surfaced again—but this time, Google appears to have foiled his effort to identify a new target. Khalifah al-Akili, a 34-year-old Pittsburgh man, says he was approached by Hussain and another informant in January. Al Akili told the Albany Times-Union that after Hussain “repeatedly made attempts to get close” to him, he googled them. He found Trevor Aaronson’s August 2011 Mother Jonesexpose about the FBI’s massive network of undercover terrorism informants and confronted Hussain on the phone. After al-Akili explicitly asked if he was an informant, Hussain hung up the phone. Now al-Akili awaits trial on a gun charge (but no terrorism charges).

Al-Akili says became suspicious of Hussain because he was friendly, dropping in at al-Akili’s house and, after al-Akili lied that he had a sick family member, dropping off a get-well card.

Hussain’s involvement in two previous FBI counterterrorism cases led to convictions: James Cromitie, a 45-year-old former Walmart stocker from Newburgh, New York, was sentenced to 25 years in the headline-making Bronx synagogue plot. Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain of Albany, New York, an imam and pizza shop owner respectively, were each sentenced to 15 years for, among other charges, conspiracy to provide support to a terrorist organization with which Hussain claimed to have connections.

Hussain became an informant in 2002 after the FBI caught him helping people cheat on DMV tests. For his work in the Cromitie case, Hussain earned almost $100,000. Mother Jones contributor Trevor Aaronsoninvestigated the FBI’s informant-led cases, including those involving Hussain, for more than a year; he found that in a number of cases, “the government provides the plot, the means, and the opportunity.”

Even with the publicity surrounding the Cromitie and Aref cases, Hussain seems to have utilized a tried and true formula in his conversations with al-Akili—claiming he was in the import business, knew people in a terrorist group, and wanted to talk jihad. “He said to me: ‘My people are involved in the jihad, I lived on the border of Afghanistan,’ trying basically to entice me. I said, ‘May Allah give peace to those people.’ He just continued to want to try to take the conversation in that direction…The people he entrapped were either extremely naive or stupid.”

In previous cases, Hussain has admitted that he would often initiate conversations about jihad when seeking out new targets. At Cromitie’s trial, Hussain described his approach: “I was finding people who would be harmful, and radicals, and identify them for the FBI.”  Aaronson’s article includes this conversation from 2008, when Hussain told Cromitie he was a part of a Pakistani terror group:

“Do you think you are a better recruiter or a better action man?” Hussain asked.

“I’m both,” Cromitie said.

“My people would be very happy to know that, brother. Honestly.”

“Who’s your people?” Cromitie asked.

“[Pakistani terror group] Jaish-e-Mohammad.”

Though there are no terror charges in the al-Akili case, the FBI says it discovered ”jihadist literature and books on U.S. military tactics,” at al-Akili’s house. The FBI claims that al-Akili was recorded talking about the fact “that he was developing somebody to possibly strap a bomb on himself” and according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the FBI maintains that al-Akili “expressed sympathy for the Afghan resistance movement in a 2005 conversation with a man he knew in prison.”

Al-Akili himself says this type of thing has happened before. “This is not the first situation that I’ve had involving the FBI attempting to entrap me…I stand out here in Pittsburgh because I do follow a more traditional role of Islam. They feel I pose a threat. I’ve never, ever said that I would do anything against America nor do I hold these beliefs,” he told theTimes Union.

The ex-FBI Informant with a Change of Heart: ‘There is no real hunt. It’s fixed’

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2012 by loonwatch

Craig Monteilh

Craig Monteilh

The ex-FBI informant with a change of heart: ‘There is no real hunt. It’s fixed’

 in Irvine, California

Craig Monteilh describes how he pretended to be a radical Muslim in order to root out potential threats, shining a light on some of the bureau’s more ethically murky practices

Craig Monteilh says he did not balk when his FBI handlers gave him the OK to have sex with the Muslim women his undercover operation was targeting. Nor, at the time, did he shy away from recording their pillow talk.

“They said, if it would enhance the intelligence, go ahead and have sex. So I did,” Monteilh told the Guardian as he described his year as a confidential FBI informant sent on a secret mission to infiltrate southern Californian mosques.

It is an astonishing admission that goes that goes to the heart of the intelligence surveillance of Muslim communities in America in the years after 9/11. While police and FBI leaders have insisted they are acting to defend America from a terrorist attack, civil liberties groups have insisted they have repeatedly gone too far and treated an entire religious group as suspicious.

Monteilh was involved in one of the most controversial tactics: the use of “confidential informants” in so-called entrapment cases. This is when suspects carry out or plot fake terrorist “attacks” at the request or under the close supervision of an FBI undercover operation using secret informants. Often those informants have serious criminal records or are supplied with a financial motivation to net suspects.

In the case of the Newburgh Four – where four men were convicted for a fake terror attack on Jewish targets in the Bronx – a confidential informant offered $250,000, a free holiday and a car to one suspect for help with the attack.

In the case of the Fort Dix Five, which involved a fake plan to attack a New Jersey military base, one informant’s criminal past included attempted murder, while another admitted in court at least two of the suspects later jailed for life had not known of any plot.

Such actions have led Muslim civil rights groups to wonder if their communities are being unfairly targeted in a spying game that is rigged against them. Monteilh says that is exactly what happens. “The way the FBI conducts their operations, It is all about entrapment … I know the game, I know the dynamics of it. It’s such a joke, a real joke. There is no real hunt. It’s fixed,” he said.

But Monteilh has regrets now about his involvement in a scheme called Operation Flex. Sitting in the kitchen of his modest home in Irvine, near Los Angeles, Monteilh said the FBI should publicly apologise for his fruitless quest to root out Islamic radicals in Orange County, though he does not hold out much hope that will happen. “They don’t have the humility to admit a mistake,” he said.

Monteilh’s story sounds like something out of a pulp thriller. Under the supervision of two FBI agents the muscle-bound fitness instructor created a fictitious French-Syrian altar ego, called Farouk Aziz. In this disguise in 2006 Monteilh started hanging around mosques in Orange County – the long stretch of suburbia south of LA – and pretended to convert to Islam.

He was tasked with befriending Muslims and blanket recording their conversations. All this information was then fed back to the FBI who told Monteilh to act like a radical himself to lure out Islamist sympathizers.

Yet, far from succeeding, Monteilh eventually so unnerved Orange County’s Muslim community that that they got a restraining order against him. In an ironic twist, they also reported Monteilh to the FBI: unaware he was in fact working undercover for the agency.

Monteilh does not look like a spy. He is massively well built, but soft-spoken and friendly. He is 49 but looks younger. He lives in a small rented home in Irvine that blends into the suburban sprawl of southernCalifornia. Yet Monteilh knows the spying game intimately well.

By his own account Monteilh got into undercover work after meeting a group of off-duty cops working out in a gym. Monteilh told them he had spent time in prison in Chino, serving time for passing fraudulent checks.

It is a criminal past he explains by saying he was traumatised by a nasty divorce. “It was a bad time in my life,” he said. He and the cops got to talking about the criminals Monteilh had met while in Chino. The information was so useful that Monteilh says he began to work on undercover drug and organised crime cases.

Eventually he asked to work on counter-terrorism and was passed on to two FBI handlers, called Kevin Armstrong and Paul Allen. These two agents had a mission and an alias ready-made for him.

Posing as Farouk Aziz he would infiltrate local mosques and Islamic groups around Orange County. “Paul Allen said: ‘Craig, you are going to be our computer worm. Our guy that gives us the real pulse of the Muslim community in America’,” Monteilh said.

The operation began simply enough. Monteilh started hanging out at mosques, posing as Aziz, and explaining he wanted to learn more about religion. In July, 2006, at the Islamic Center of Irvine, he converted to Islam.

Monteilh also began attending other mosques, including the Orange County Islamic Foundation. Monteilh began circulating endlessly from mosque to mosque, spending long days in prayer or reading books or just hanging out in order to get as many people as possible to talk to him.

“Slowly I began to wear the robes, the hat, the scarf and they saw me slowly transform and growing a beard. At that point, about three or four months later, [my FBI handlers] said: ‘OK, now start to ask questions’.”

Those questions were aimed at rooting out radicals. Monteilh would talk of his curiosity over the concepts of jihad and what Muslims should do about injustices in the world, especially where it pertained to American foreign policy.

He talked of access to weapons, a possible desire to be a martyr and inquired after like-minded souls. It was all aimed at trapping people in condemning statements. “The skill is that I am going to get you to say something. I am cornering you to say “jihad”,” he said.

Of course, the chats were recorded.

In scenes out of a James Bond movie, Monteilh said he sometimes wore a secret video recorder sewn into his shirt. At other times he activated an audio recorder on his key rings.

Monteilh left his keys in offices and rooms in the mosques that he attended in the hope of recording conversations that took place when he was not here. He did it so often that he earned a reputation with other worshippers for being careless with his keys. The recordings were passed back to his FBI handlers at least once a week.

He also met with them every two months at a hotel room in nearby Anaheim for a more intense debriefing. Monteilh says he was grilled on specific individuals and asked to view charts showing networks of relationships among Orange County’s Muslim population.

He said the FBI had two basic aims. Firstly, they aimed to uncover potential militants. Secondly, they could also use any information Monteilh discovered – like an affair or someone being gay – to turn targeted people into becoming FBI informants themselves.

None of it seemed to unnerve his FBI bosses, not even when he carried out a suggestion to begin seducing Muslim women and recording them.

At one hotel meeting, agent Kevin Armstrong explained the FBI attitude towards the immense breadth of Operation Flex – and any concerns over civil rights – by saying simply: “Kevin is God.”

Monteilh’s own attitude evolved into something very similar. “I was untouchable. I am a felon, I am on probation and the police cannot arrest me. How empowering is that? It is very empowering. You began to have a certain arrogance about it. It is almost taunting. They told me: ‘You are an untouchable’,” he said.

But it was not always easy. “I started at 4am. I ended at 9.30pm. Really, it was a lot of work … Farouk took over. Craig did not exist,” he said. But it was also well paid: at the peak of Operation Flex, Monteilh was earning more than $11,000 a month.

But he was wrong about being untouchable.

Far from uncovering radical terror networks, Monteilh ended up traumatising the community he was sent into. Instead of embracing calls for jihad or his questions about suicide bombers or his claims to have access to weapons, Monteilh was instead reported to the FBI as a potentially dangerous extremist.

A restraining order was also taken out against him in June 2007, asking him to stay away from the Islamic Center of Irvine. Operation Flex was a bust and Monteilh had to kill off his life as Farouk Aziz.

But the story did not end there. In circumstances that remain murky Monteilh then sued the FBI over his treatment, claiming that they abandoned him once the operation was over.

He also ended up in jail after Irvine police prosecuted him for defrauding two women, including a former girlfriend, as part of an illegal trade in human growth hormone at fitness clubs. (Monteilh claims those actions were carried out as part of another secret string operation for which he was forced to carry the can.)

What is not in doubt is that Monteilh’s identity later became public. In 2009 the FBI brought a case against Ahmad Niazi, an Afghan immigrant in Orange County.

The evidence included secret recordings and even calling Osama bin Laden “an angel”. That was Monteilh’s work and he outed himself to the press to the shock of the very Muslims he had been spying on who now realised that Farouk Aziz – the radical they had reported to the FBI two years earlier – had in fact been an undercover FBI operative.

Now Monteilh says he set Niazi up and the FBI was trying to blackmail the Afghani into being an informant. “I built the whole relationship with Niazi. Through my coercion we talked about jihad a lot,” he said. The FBI’s charges against Niazi were indeed later dropped.

Now Monteilh has joined an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the FBI. Amazingly, after first befriending Muslim leaders in Orange County as Farouk Aziz, then betraying them as Craig Monteilh, he has now joined forces with them again to campaign for their civil liberties.

That has now put Monteilh’s testimony about his year undercover is at the heart of a fresh legal effort to prove that the FBI operation in Orange County unfairly targeted a vulnerable Muslim community, trampling on civil rights in the name of national security.

The FBI did not respond to a request from the Guardian for comment.

It is not the first time Monteilh has shifted his stance. In the ACLU case Monteilh is now posing as the sorrowful informant who saw the error of his ways.

But in previous court papers filed against the Irvine Police and the FBI, Monteilh’s lawyers portrayed him as the loyal intelligence asset who did sterling work tackling the forces of Islamic radicalism and was let down by his superiors.

In those papers Monteilh complained that FBI agents did not act speedily enough on a tip he gave them about a possible sighting of bomb-making materials. Now Monteilh says that tip was not credible.

Either way it does add up to a story that shifts with the telling. But that fact alone goes to the heart of the FBI’s use of such confidential informants in investigating Muslim communities.

FBI operatives with profiles similar to Monteilh’s – of a lengthy criminal record, desire for cash and a flexibility with the truth – have led to high profile cases of alleged entrapment that have shocked civil rights groups across America.

In most cases the informants have won their prosecutions and simply disappeared. Monteilh is the only one speaking out. But whatever the reality of his year undercover, Monteilh is almost certainly right about one impact of Operation Flex and the exposure of his undercover activities: “Because of this the Muslim community will never trust the FBI again.”

Fearmonger Does Little to Improve Conversation on Terrorism

Posted in Loon People, Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2012 by loonwatch

Fearmonger does little to improve conversation on terrorism

by John L. Smith

For Steve Emerson, the danger is very clear and very present: A surprising number of American officials and institutions are in the tank to Islamic extremists and their handmaidens.

Emerson accuses the Obama administration of being infiltrated by radical followers of Islam inside our own country and throughout the world.

That’s right. Infiltrated.

Emerson, the executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, spent an hour last week with the Review-Journal editorial board and was accompanied by Elliot Karp, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas. In the short time Emerson spent at the newspaper, he managed to indict a number of law enforcement institutions and officers as patsies for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic extremists in our midst.

For one, there’s the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Emerson said the FBI is so focused not offending Islamist and Arabic groups with allegiances to Hamas and Hezbollah that it’s getting in the way of anti-terrorism investigations.

“The agents on the ground understand exactly what’s going on,” Emerson says cryptically of the bureau’s political atmosphere. When asked to elaborate, he replies, “I have to protect my sources.”

Forgive me, but I thought the FBI was doing a pretty good job on the terrorism front. Turns out they’re falling down on the job.

It’s OK, though. Emerson has confidence in his own ability to spot the terrorists among us. He brags that his sources are “sometimes even better than the bureau.”

He adds that his field intelligence was superior to the FBI’s in part because “informants are more likely to work for us.”

That’s not all. He also has the sneaking suspicion that a talk he was scheduled to give to a group of CIA operatives was derailed by the Obama administration. Who knew President Barack Obama had enough hours in the day to dispatch CIA Director David Petraeus to teach Emerson a lesson?

Then there’s Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. In 2010, Baca was honored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has been linked to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. CAIR also actively challenges Muslim stereotypes and presents the Islamic side of issues.

“He believes CAIR is a wonderful organization,” Emerson says sarcastically. ” … I’m not calling him evil, or fundamentally stupid, but he is in bed with the bad guys.”

Obviously, Emerson isn’t shy about pointing fingers. Nor is he simply a sign-waving conspiracy theorist. His allies on the right consider him a Cassandra who warns us about the dangers of Islamic extremism at home and abroad, and especially as it affects Israel. He pens op-ed pieces in major newspapers, is often quoted on television and radio talk shows, is cheered on the speaking circuit, and has a loyal following on his website. He is a leading firebrand from the school of thought that goes something like, “Not all Muslims are plotting terrorist acts, just most of them.”

He claims he is the victim of “a fatwa by NPR” largely because National Public Radio officials don’t invite him on their programs these days. But you can still catch plenty of Emerson’s opinions in a variety of media and networks.

Lest you think he’s just a right-wing extremist out to frighten people, Emerson repeats often that his work is dangerous and he has received many threats. He says things like “I’ve got to look over my shoulder every day,” and “If I had a wife and kids, I couldn’t do this.”

Certainly not. He made it sound a little dangerous just sitting in the room with him.

That’s Emerson’s problem whether you believe he’s full of facts or fudge. His hyperbolic rhetoric plays well on the fundraising circuit, but it does nothing to forward the understanding of complex issues.

The Middle East is a political tinderbox. There’s heated talk of possible U.S. and Israeli military intervention in Iran to halt its development of nuclear technology.

At the risk of becoming part of a vast conspiracy to silence Steve Emerson, that complex conversation isn’t improved by his shouts of conspiracy at the highest levels of our government.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Email him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith.

Peter King Defends NYPD Monitoring, Plans More Hearings on Islam

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2012 by loonwatch

This should come to no surprise that Peter King will defend the NYPD monitoring. He must be really proud.

Peter King Defends NYPD Monitoring, Plans More Hearings on Islam

by George Zornick

Appearing on WCBS in New York this morning, Representative Peter King offered a strong defense of NYPD’s spying on mosques and Muslim businesses and student groups in several states. Criticism of the recently revealed program has intensified in recent days, but King said he was proud of the police department.

“[Police Commissioner] Ray Kelly and the NYPD should get a medal for what they are doing,” he said. “This is good police work. If you are going after radical Muslims you don’t go to Ben’s Kosher Deli.”

This is perhaps not surprising coming from the man who held highly controversial Capitol Hill hearings into Muslim Americans last year, which many people saw as essentially profiling by public relations; his colleague, Representative Keith Ellison invoked the specter of Joe McCarthy in criticizing King’s efforts and said they served to “vilify” Muslims.

But, alas, King announced last week that he would hold more hearings into domestic radicalization among Muslim Americans in the coming year. “The series of radicalization hearings I convened last March has been very productive,” King said in a statement. “I will definitely continue the hearings in 2012.”

This is a good time to flag a recent study by Charles Kurzman, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina and member of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. His comprehensive examination of crime statistics found that terrorism-related incidents by Muslim Americans has declined markedly, and that Muslim-Americans represent “a minuscule threat to public safety.” He wrote:

The limited scale of Muslim-American terrorism in 2011 runs counter to the fears that many Americans shared in the days and months after 9/11, that domestic Muslim American terrorism would escalate. The spike in terrorism cases in 2009 renewed these concerns, as have repeated warnings from U.S. government officials about a possible surge in homegrown Islamic terrorism. The predicted surge has not materialized.

Repeated alerts by government officials maybe issued as a precaution, even when the underlying threat is uncertain. Officials may be concerned about how they would look if an attack did take place and subsequent investigations showed that officials had failed to warn the public. But a byproduct of these alerts is a sense of heightened tension that is out of proportion to the actual number of terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11.

If King calls Kurzman to testify at his hearings I’ll eat my hat, but it’s possible Democrats on the committee could arrange for his appearance. He would provide a substantive counterweight to King’s typically anecdote-driven hysteria. Last week the FBI foiled a plot in which a Moroccan man wanted to bomb the US Capitol—you can bet King will give that episode a prominent role at his hearings.

Someone Called the FBI on NYPD Officers Pretending to Be Muslim Students

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2012 by loonwatch

Someone Called the FBI on NYPD Officers Pretending to Be Muslim Students

When the New York Police Department was doing some spying on Muslim students outside the city (that’s a thing it does, we learned from the Associated Press on Monday), an apartment officers used to spy on Rutgers students got a visit from the FBI on a report that it was a terrorist cell itself. This is the kind of reporting that won the AP a Polk award Monday for its series on the NYPD spying on Muslims. Not only did the department go well outside its jurisdiction to “get a better handle on what was occurring at” Muslim Student Associations, as spokesman Paul Browne told the AP, it did so in a pretty Keystone Kops manner at times:

Police also were interested in the Muslim student group at Rutgers, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. In 2009, undercover NYPD officers had a safe house in an apartment not far from campus. The operation was blown when the building superintendent stumbled upon the safe house and, thinking it was some sort of a terrorist cell, called the police emerency dispatcher.

The FBI responded and determined that monitoring Rutgers students was one of the operation’s objectives, current and former federal officials said.

Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments or send an email to the author atamartin@theatlantic.com. You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.

FBI Once Again Foils Its Own Islamic Terrorist Plot

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2012 by loonwatch
Amine El Khalifi

The New York Times recently published an article about how exaggerated the threat of Islamic terrorism is.  I pointed out in my own article that in fact the NYT article understated how truly overstated that threat is: in the last half decade, Muslim terrorists have killed a whopping zero civilians in the United States and Europe.

As the war drums beat against yet another Muslim country, the grave and looming threat of Islamic terrorism must be waved before the American public.  And so, Joe Sixpack must never be allowed to realize that he has a higher chance of being struck and killed by lightning–or being killed by a peanut–than being killed by those scary looking Moozlums.  Instead, the threat must be continually drummed up in order to justify America’s multiple wars in the Muslim world.

Enter the FBI.  This organization, tasked with stopping Islamic terrorism in the United States, will serve the purpose of reminding American citizens that they must be afraid–very, very afraid–of the dark threat of Muslim terrorists.

Spencer Ackerman and others have been diligently exposing and documenting the anti-Muslim bias of the FBI.  Not only does the FBI train using anti-Muslim materials, it has been spying on American Muslim communities and even training local police in the art of doing so.

Worse yet, the FBI has been engineering its own Islamic terror plots: the set-up has been repeated numerous times.  First, they find an impressionable young Muslim male angry at U.S. foreign policy, and then, using undercover FBI agents posing as Al-Qaeda, goad him into committing acts of terrorism, only to foil the ginned-up plot at the very last minute.  They then arrest the young Muslim would-be terrorist and announce to the nation that the FBI has successfully thwarted yet another Islamic terror plot.  What is largely ignored by the media is that the plot, from start to finish, was orchestrated by the FBI.

Glenn Greenwald spoke of this long ago in an article, The FBI successfully thwarts its own Terrorist plot:

The FBI is obviously quite pleased with itself over its arrest of a 19-year-old Somali-American, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who — with months of encouragement, support and money from the FBI’s own undercover agents — allegedly attempted to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon.  Media accounts are almost uniformly trumpeting this event exactly as the FBI describes it.  Loyalists of both parties are doing the same, with Democratic Party commentators proclaiming that this proves how great and effective Democrats are at stopping The Evil Terrorists, while right-wing polemicists point to this arrest as yet more proof that those menacing Muslims sure are violent and dangerous.

[T]he FBI — as they’ve done many times in the past — found some very young, impressionable, disaffected, hapless, aimless, inept loner; created a plot it then persuaded/manipulated/entrapped him to join, essentially turning him into a Terrorist; and then patted itself on the back once it arrested him for having thwarted a “Terrorist plot” which, from start to finish, was entirely the FBI’s own concoction.  Having stopped a plot which it itself manufactured, the FBI then publicly touts — and an uncritical media amplifies — its “success” to the world, thus proving both that domestic Terrorism from Muslims is a serious threat and the Government’s vast surveillance powers — current and future new ones — are necessary.

Such terrorist plots also “prove” the need to bomb, invade, and occupy the Moozlums Over There–we are told that it’s the only way to Keep Us Safe  from Islamic terrorism.

The familiar pattern repeats itself today, as The Washington Post reports:

Federal authorities on Friday arrested a 29-year-old Moroccan man in an alleged plot to carry out a suicide bombing at the U.S. Capitol, the latest in a series of terrorism-related arrests resulting from undercover sting operations.

For more than a year, Amine El Khalifi, of Alexandria, considered attacking targets including a synagogue, an Alexandria building with military offices and a Washington restaurant frequented by military officials, authorities said. When arrested a few blocks from the Capitol around lunchtime on Friday, he was carrying what he believed to be a loaded automatic weapon and a suicide vest ready for detonation.

The gun and vest were provided not by al-Qaeda, as Khalifi had been told, but by undercover FBI agents who rendered them inoperable, authorities said.

ABC 7 notes in passing:

The public nor any members of Congress were ever in danger, police say. Capitol Police say they worked closely with the FBI throughout the entire operation, during which the suspect was closely monitored.

Even though “[t]he public nor any members of Congress were ever in danger”, this same terrorist plot will be used as another proof that Islamic terrorism is a grave danger to Americans.  Indeed, Assistant Attorney General Monaco concluded: “Today’s case underscores the continuing threat we face from homegrown violent extremists.”

Greenwald had written of the 19-year old Somali terrorist arrested in 2010:

Finally, there is, as usual, no discussion whatsoever in media accounts of motive.  There are several statements attributed to Mohamud by the Affidavit that should be repellent to any decent person, including complete apathy — even delight — at the prospect that this bomb would kill innocent people, including children.  What would drive a 19-year-old American citizen — living in the U.S. since the age of 3 — to that level of sociopathic indifference?   He explained it himself in several passages quoted by the FBI, and — if it weren’t for the virtual media blackout of this issue — this line of reasoning would be extremely familiar to Americans by now (para. 45):

Undercover FBI Agent:  You know there’s gonna be a lot of children there?

Mohamud:  Yeah, I know, that’s what I’m looking for.

Undercover FBI Agent:  For kids?

Mohamud:  No, just for, in general a huge mass that will, like for them you know to be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays.  And then for later to be saying, this was them for you to refrain from killing our children, women . . . . so when they hear all these families were killed in such a city, they’ll say you know what your actions, you know they will stop, you know. And it’s not fair that they should do that to people and not feeling it.

And here’s what he allegedly said in a video he made shortly before he thought he would be detonating the bomb (para. 80):

We hear the same exact thing over and over and over from accused Terrorists — that they are attempting to carry out plots in retaliation for past and ongoing American violence against Muslim civilians and to deter such future acts.  Here we find one of the great mysteries in American political culture:  that the U.S. Government dispatches its military all over the world — invading, occupying, and bombing multiple Muslim countries — torturing them, imprisoning them without charges, shooting them up at checkpoints, sending remote-controlled drones to explode their homes, imposing sanctions that starve hundreds of thousands of children to death  — and Americans are then baffled when some Muslims — an amazingly small percentage — harbor anger and vengeance toward them and want to return the violence.   And here we also find the greatest myth in American political discourse:  that engaging in all of that military aggression somehow constitutes Staying Safe and combating Terrorism — rather than doing more than any single other cause to provoke, sustain and fuel Terrorism.

Once again, our Muslim would-be terrorist’s motivations revolve around his anger over U.S. military actions in the Muslim world.  The ABC report notes–once again something that is only mentioned in passing (with very little no critical analysis):

In January 2011, he first met with an undercover agent and stated the “war on terror” was a “war on Muslims,” court records show.

Why on earth would Amine El Khalifi or another Muslim from that part of the world think that the U.S. is waging a “war on Muslims”?  It is so utterly baffling to me.  I mean, why would any Muslim think that?  Is it just because the U.S. is bombing, invading, and occupying multiple Muslim countries?  It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that the U.S. and its stalwart ally Israel have bombed Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Iran, Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Tunisia, right?

Also of interest is the fact that Amine El Khalifi, at least initially, didn’t want to kill American civilians.  The ABC report says:

El Khalifi told undercover agents that he originally wanted to target a building in Alexandria that contained U.S. Military personal but later changed that plan because he found out the building had non-military civilians.

He then discussed killing U.S. generals and would research where they lived, according to court documents, that added he introduced the idea of targeting a restaurant in D.C. that military officials would frequent.

Were the undercover FBI agents responsible for convincing him to attack civilians instead?  In the end, El Khalifi’s target was the U.S. Capitol, federal employees he believed were responsible for ordering and orchestrating the “war on Muslims.”

It is interesting that even a Muslim would-be terrorist like Amine El Khalifi expressed a dislike for attacking American civilians, even though the United States bombs and kills Muslim civilians with impunity, without a second thought or national discussion, and on an order of magnitude that El Khalifi could never even imagine to have done himself.  Indeed, as Foreign Policy Magazine calculated:

[T]he United States has killed nearly 30 Muslims for every American lost. The real ratio is probably much higher, and a reasonable upper bound for Muslim fatalities (based mostly on higher estimates of “excess deaths” in Iraq due to the sanctions regime and the post-2003 occupation) is well over one million, equivalent to over 100 Muslim fatalities for every American lost.

It goes without saying that Amine El Khalifi’s actions are morally repugnant.  But, to put this into perspective: whereas El Khalife had said he “would be happy killing 30 people”, the United States has killed “well over one million” Muslim civilians.  As George Orwell wrote:

Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them. There is almost no kind of outrage—torture, imprisonment without trial, assassination, the bombing of civilians—which does not change its moral color when it is committed by ‘our’ side. The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.

*  *  *  *  *

The FBI needs to engineer and then thwart these terrorist threats because there is not enough real “Islamic terrorism” in the United States to justify the War on Terror.  Such FBI-generated terror scares enable not just the stripping away of civil liberties at home, but more importantly, serve to justify America’s wars abroad.  There is a need for Americans to fear being attacked by Muslims in order for them to go along with waging wars of aggression against various Muslim countries.

The media has been beating the drums of war against yet another Muslim country: Iran.  Glenn Greenwald has dubbed CNN’s Erin Burnett the “worst of the worst” in this regard.  (Greenwald’s article and his earlier piece on the subject are must reads.)  Burnett’s reporting on the issue is nothing short of war propaganda.  In it, she warns of “Iran’s threat to the United States in the United States–right here at home.”  Her report asks: “Is Iran planning an attack in America?”

Without any evidence whatsoever, Burnett looms: “[On a] much more real and frightening scale, Iran could attack the United States in a much more fearsome way…Iran’s next target could be here in the nation’s largest city.”  Egypt could attack the United States; South Africa could attack the United States; Canada could attack the United States; does that mean we bomb any of these countries?  Martians could attack the United States–let’s nuke Mars before they get a chance to do that!

American hawks are clearly looking for a smoking gun–an attack on U.S. soil that could justify launching a war against Iran.  There are so few real Muslim terrorists, as Prof. Charles Kurzman argues in his book The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists, that the FBI needs to generate Muslim terror plots.

There is another related point I’d like to address here: Erin Burnett had on her show the fervently anti-Muslim bigot Peter King, who led the congressional hearings against Muslims.  Rep. King warned of the grave Iranian threat and made the case for war against Iran.

From time to time, a few readers have complained that our site, which is designed to expose Islamophobia, has turned “too political”–that we talk about America’s foreign policy too much instead of simply documenting the Islamophobia of the nation’s leading anti-Muslim loons.  I take the full “blame” for this: the Erin Burnett segment shows how intrinsically connected Islamophobia and America’s wars are.  Peter King, a classic anti-Muslim loon, is on a “respectable” news channel–CNN–to discuss why we need to attack another Muslim country.  America’s war cheerleaders and Islamophobes work hand-in-hand.

There is an undeniable link between Islamophobia and American foreign policy: indeed, it is the latter which gave birth to the former, and the former that feeds the latter.  Quite simply, America’s wars are Islamophobic in and of themselves.  Documenting Islampohobia without mentioning the wars would be like talking about American racism against blacks in the 1800′s without ever mentioning the institution of slavery.

*  *  *  *  *

Lastly, I’d like to comment on the ever evolving threat of Islamic terrorism.  First, we were told that Afghanistan was the epicenter of Islamic terrorism.  Then, it was Iraq.  Then, Barack Obama reminded us that it was in fact Afghanistan after all.  Then, the “experts” started saying that “everyone knows that Pakistan is the center of Islamic terrorism.”  For some time, Syria and Yemen were also considered candidates for this title.  And remember when even many anti-war liberals would (ignorantly) argue that in reality it is Saudi Arabia that is the source of Islamic terror (because most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi)?  Now, it seems Iran is back at the top of the list.

The target of American belligerence keeps changing from one Muslim country to another–it’s a Madlibs with the blank reading “name a Muslim country”:  so far, fourteen different Muslim countries have been used to fill in the blank (Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Iran, Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Tunisia).  But why on earth would Amine El Khalifi or other Muslims come up with the absolutely crazy idea that America is at “war with Muslims”!?

Each time the threat changes and a new Muslim country is named the “center of Islamic terrorism” (everyone knows XYZ country is the real source of Islamic terrorism!), few stop to think or ask “wait, wasn’t it ABC country, not XYZ, that was the ‘epicenter of Islamic terrorism’?”  Most Americans acknowledge the War on Iraq was a “mistake” (that’s what it’s called when Western countries commit war crimes–these are “mistakes”–like how failing to stop at a stop sign for a full three seconds is a “mistake”–everyone makes mistakes!–hundreds of thousands of Muslim civilians die and this is called a “mistake”).  Even though the exact same process unfolds against Iran as it did against Iraq just a few short years ago, Americans continue to impress the world with their goldfish-like memories, with a majority of Americans supporting a military strike on Iran.

We will be told that it is all the media’s fault, and yes, the media has the lion’s share of the blame.  But, isn’t there something to be said of the jingoist, nativist, and belligerent attitude that is prevalent among us Americans in general?  One can convince our fellow Americans to bomb just about any country on earth–certainly a Muslim-sounding country.  And yet, at the same time, we are told how warlike those Moozlums over there are.

One thing is for certain: while we Americans continue to expand our knowledge of geography by targeting and bombing various Muslim countries –Muslims in the Muslim world are unified in their belief that it is the United States and Israel that are the greatest threats to their safety and world peace.  It is, I think, difficult to argue otherwise.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Spencer Ackerman: FBI Purges Hundreds of Terrorism Documents in Islamophobia Probe

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on February 15, 2012 by loonwatch

FBI_Islamophobia

The Islamophobic anti-Muslim hysteria that pervades the FBI is being covered up:

FBI Purges Hundreds of Terrorism Documents in Islamophobia Probe

by Spencer Ackerman (Wired.com)

An internal FBI investigation into its counterterrorism training has purged hundreds of bureau documents of instructional material about Muslims, some of which characterized them as prone to violence or terrorism.

The bureau disclosed initial findings from its months-long review during a meeting at FBI headquarters on Wednesday with several Arab and Muslim advocacy groups, attended by Director Robert Mueller. So far, the inquiry has uncovered and purged over 700 pages of documentation from approximately 300 presentations given to agents since 9/11 — some of which were similar to briefings published by Danger Room last year describing “mainstream” Muslims as “violent.” And more disclosures may be forthcoming, as the FBI continues its inquiry and responds to Freedom of Information Act requests for the documents themselves.

FBI spokesman Christopher Allen confirms to Danger Room that the bureau found some of the documents to be objectionable because they were inaccurate or over-broad, others because they were offensive. Allen explains that the documents represent “less than 1 percent” of over 160,000 documents reviewed by the inquiry, which was prompted by a Danger Room investigation in September. The FBI purged documents according to four criteria: “factual errors”; “poor taste”; employment of “stereotypes” about Arabs or Muslims; or presenting information that “lacked precision.”

Danger Room uncovered several such documents in the fall, including some instructing FBI counterterrorism agents that “mainstream” Muslims sympathized with terrorists; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult” leader; and that the more “devout” a Muslim was, the more likely he would be to commit a violent act. Some documents even purported to graph the correlation. The FBI initially said the instruction occurred “one time only.” But when Danger Room uncovered additional anti-Islam materials — in briefings that compared Islam to the Death Star; in books on the shelves of the FBI training library at Quantico; and in pages hosted on internal FBI websites — the bureau began an extensive internal review.

Salam al-Marayati, the executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, attended the FBI meeting. He came away worried that the volume of anti-Muslim training documents hands al-Qaida an unnecessary win.

“People will report criminal activity to the authorities, that’s been proven time and again,” Marayati tells Danger Room. “But if we are giving propaganda to al-Qaida, resuscitating this dying ideology that al-Qaida is promoting, by continually exposing anti-Muslim propaganda published by the government, that undermines our pluralism, which is the best defense against any transnational ideological threat.”

 

Others think that the FBI can’t stop at purging internal documents. “It’s a bit hard to avoid the conclusion there isn’t a problem of culture in the [FBI] training division,” says Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab-American Institute, whose subordinates also attended the meeting. “It’s one that appears to have some built-in biases when it comes to the Arab-American and Muslim-American communities.” Allen declined to respond.

But the FBI isn’t finished. The bureau plans to publish a “touchstone document” in the coming weeks that explains its criteria to ensure new anti-Islam documents won’t enter counterterrorism training in the future. Similarly, the Justice Department plans on March 21 to release “Cultural Competency” guidelines for dealing with Arab and Muslim communities on counterterrorism, according to Xochitl Hinojosa, a department spokeswoman.

Several civil-rights advocates said they appreciated Mueller’s personal attention. The Wednesday meeting had been scheduled by the FBI’s public-affairs arm, whose deputy assistant director, Jeff Mazanec, briefed the groups for about 40 minutes before Mueller unexpectedly joined.

“Director Mueller acknowledged the seriousness of our concerns and expressed a commitment to maintaining contact with the inter-religious community,” says Rev. C. Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance, another attendee at the meeting. Mueller “seemed to understand the hurt and pain as well as the fear, engendered by the offensive, inappropriate and insensitive materials.”

But the worst may not have passed. Allen acknowledged that the internal review, assisted by the Army’s counterterrorism specialists at West Point, hasn’t yet concluded. Several additional organizations have filed Freedom of Information Act requests for the specific offending documents; attendees came away with the impression that their disclosure will be ugly.

The White House ordered a government-wide review of counterterrorism training late last year. A Pentagon document responding to the order cited Danger Room’s series as an impetus for the effort.

Berry says she could “see the seriousness with which [the FBI] has approached this.” But she calls the problem a “systemic” one, with urgent implications for U.S. domestic counterterrorism — a concern voiced by Attorney General Eric Holder as well.

“They’ve never owned this problem. It’s not a problem of outside contractors,” she tells Danger Room. “They’re producing these kind of documents that inhibit our counterterrorism efforts. We need our communities engaged, and these have done nothing but alienate us.”

New York Times Article Understates How Overstated Islamic Terrorism Threat Really Is

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2012 by loonwatch

The New York Times recently reported on a study that showed how exaggerated the threat of “Islamic” terrorism is–how “Radical Muslim Americans Pose Little Threat.”  The article is a good one, but in fact, it doesn’t adequately convey how truly minuscule the threat is.  I’ll reproduce the article below and then briefly recount why Americans (and Europeans) shouldn’t fear Islamic terrorism at all:

Radical U.S. Muslims Little Threat, Study Says

WASHINGTON — A feared wave of homegrown terrorism by radicalized Muslim Americans has not materialized, with plots and arrests dropping sharply over the two years since an unusual peak in 2009, according to a new study by a North Carolina research group.

The study, to be released on Wednesday, found that 20 Muslim Americans were charged in violent plots or attacks in 2011, down from 26 in 2010 and a spike of 47 in 2009.

Charles Kurzman, the author of the report for the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, called terrorism by Muslim Americans “a minuscule threat to public safety.” Of about 14,000 murders in the United States last year, not a single one resulted from Islamic extremism, said Mr. Kurzman, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina.

The report also found that no single ethnic group predominated among Muslims charged in terrorism cases last year — six were of Arab ancestry, five were white, three were African-American and two were Iranian, Mr. Kurzman said. That pattern of ethnic diversity has held for those arrested since Sept. 11, 2001, he said.

Forty percent of those charged in 2011 were converts to Islam, Mr. Kurzman found, slightly higher than the 35 percent of those charged since the 2001 attacks. His new report is based on the continuation of research he conducted for a book he published last year, “The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists.”

The decline in cases since 2009 has come as a relief to law enforcement and counterterrorism officials. In that year, the authorities were surprised by a series of terrorist plots or attacks, including the killing of 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., by an Army psychiatrist who had embraced radical Islam, Maj. Nidal Hasan.

The upsurge in domestic plots two years ago prompted some scholars of violent extremism to question the conventional wisdom that Muslims in the United States, with higher levels of education and income than the average American, were not susceptible to the message of Al Qaeda.

Concerns grew after the May 2010 arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen, for trying to blow up a sport utility vehicle in Times Square. Mr. Shahzad had worked as a financial analyst and seemed thoroughly assimilated. In a dramatic courtroom speech after pleading guilty, he blamed American military action in Muslim countries for his militancy.

The string of cases fueled wide and often contentious discussion of the danger of radicalization among American Muslims, including Congressional hearings led by Representative Peter T. King, a Long Island Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

But the number of cases declined, returning to the rough average of about 20 Muslim Americans accused of extremist violence per year that has prevailed since the 2001 attacks, with 193 people in that category over the decade. By Mr. Kurzman’s count, 462 other Muslim Americans have been charged since 2001 for nonviolent crimes in support of terrorism, including financing and making false statements.

The 2011 cases include just one actual series of attacks, which caused no injuries, involving rifle shots fired late at night at military buildings in Northern Virginia. A former Marine Corps reservist, Yonathan Melaku, pleaded guilty in the case last month in an agreement that calls for a 25-year prison sentence.

Other plots unearthed by law enforcement last year and listed in Mr. Kurzman’s report included a suspected Iranian plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, a scheme to attack a Shiite mosque in Michigan and another to blow up synagogues, churches and the Empire State Building.

“Fortunately, very few of these people are competent and very few get to the stage of preparing an attack without coming to the attention of the authorities,” Mr. Kurzman said.

Here are some key points that the article could have included to have truly conveyed how absolutely minuscule the threat of Islamic terrorism is to Americans (and Europeans):

1.  According to the FBI’s own database (available from 1980-2005), less than 6% of terrorist attacks in America were committed by Muslims.

2.  Europol has been documenting terrorism for the last half decade.  Their annual terrorism reports show that less than 1% of terrorism in Europe involves Muslims.

3.  Since 9/11–which was over a decade ago–zero U.S. civilians have been killed by Islamic terrorists.

4.  Similarly, zero European civilians have been killed by Islamic terrorists in the last half decade.  In fact, the only injuries incurred from Islamic terrorism were to a security guard who “was slightly wounded.”  Perhaps the “anti-jihadist” blogosphere should find this one security guard and give him a medal of honor and declare him a martyr for the cause.

Putting this into perspective, you as an American have a much greater chance of being struck or even killed by lightning than being killed by an Islamic terrorist.  Using conservative estimates, at least 300 Americans are struck by lightning every year, and of them, 67 die–way higher than the whopping zero Americans that die every year from Islamic terrorists.

Another way to think of this is that you as an American have a much higher chance of dying from a peanut than an Islamic terrorist: at least 120 Americans die from an allergic reaction to peanuts every year.  Should we wage a War on Peanuts?

The NYT article also fails to mention that many of those people arrested on charges of Islamic terrorism were in fact goaded into terrorism by the FBI, which has a habit of using entrapment as a means to orchestrate–and then foil–its own terrorist plots.  (See Glenn Greenwald’s article: The FBI Thwarts Its Own Terrorist Plot.)  That could explain why the number of arrests for Islamic terrorism do not match up with actual attacks and casualties.

Dr. Charles Kurzman is quoted in the article as saying of the would-be Islamic terrorists: “Fortunately, very few of these people are competent and very few get to the stage of preparing an attack without coming to the attention of the authorities.”  But, it’s not just that they happen to come to the attention of the authorities in the nick of time: it’s the fact that the authorities are the ones who fed them the idea of being terrorists in the first place.  That’s why so “few get to the stage of preparing an attack,” since they are being monitored even before the thought comes to their mind.

Even more worrisome is the fact that the vast majority of Muslims arrested on terrorism-related offenses have been accused of, as the article says, “non-violent crimes in support of terrorism, including financing and making false statements.”  Many of these arrests have been widely criticized by civil rights groups because six-degrees of association are used to incriminate American Muslims.

One other interesting aside: the NYT article mentions the Fort Hood Shooting, which was labeled as an act of Terrorism.  The shooter, Major Nidal Hasan, was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and the Army’s prosecutor is seeking the death penalty.  Hasan’s victims were all soldiers (aside from one, who was part of the U.S. Army Reserves).

Meanwhile, Staff Sargent Frank Wuterich was responsible for butchering 24 Iraqi civilians in what is called the Haditha Massacre: under his command, American soldiers systematically exterminated Muslim civilians, killing them execution-style.  This has been corroborated by eyewitness account, forensic and photographic evidence.  Yet, not only did the Army prosecutor not seek the death penalty for this war crime, but instead charged him with “involuntary manslaughter” and sought a maximum penalty of 90 days in the brig.  Even this Lindsay Lohan-style punishment was dropped in a plea bargain, with Wuterich let off with zero jail time and just a pay cut and demotion.  He didn’t even get fired.  Imagine walking into your job and shooting another employee and not getting fired!

Eight U.S. soldiers were charged for the Haditha Massacre.  Charges were dropped for six of them, and the seventh was acquitted.  Only one, Frank Wuterich, was held to account and all he got was a slap on the wrist: a pay cut and demotion.  Meanwhile, when it comes to acts of Islamic terrorism, it’s not just the perpetrators who are sought out and punished, but rather, their financiers, their supposed financiers, those who “harbored” them, those who made “false statements”, those who even gave them a pair of socks to wear or ponchos and raincoats to use, etc. etc.  Whole religions, nations, and civilizations are blamed for such acts.  Countries are bombed because they are held to be responsible.  But, the United States government could not find any responsibility or guilt in the men who actually held guns in their hands as they blasted a couple dozen Iraqi civilians–men, women, and children–to death.

Haditha Massacre

Imagine the comparison between these two men: Hasan is a Muslim and is therefore a Terrorist, even though he only acted against soldiers.  Meanwhile, nobody in the media (or anywhere for that matter) has called Wuterich a Terrorist, even though he slaughtered civilians.  Wuterich committed this act of terrorism ”negligent dereliction of duty” (that’s the euphemism we use to refer to the butchering of 24 Muslim civilians) as a retaliation for the killing of an American soldier (a soldier who was on Iraqi soil and part of an occupying force) by an IED.  If Hasan had killed 24 American civilians in Meriden, Connecticut (Wuterich’s home city) in retaliation for the death of a Muslim civilian from a U.S. drone strike, would anybody be calling this anything other than Terrorism?  Had that been the case, the right-wing and the media would be on a continuous spin cycle talking about how Evil and Dangerous those Moozlums are.   Muslims would be bending over backwards issuing apology after apology and uttering the mandatory serial condemnations of Terrorism.

A friend emailed me a comment made on Facebook by someone in the U.S. military, who said (in defense of Frank Wuterich):

Is it hard for me to believe that a human being lost his mind at the sight of the man fighting to his left being blown to pieces? No. It absolutely is not.

Why is it then so hard for you to believe that a human being lost his mind at the sight of seeing his entire family, neighborhood, village, and country being blown to bits by Americans (or Israelis)?  That he would then want to retaliate by killing Americans (or Israelis) just as Wuterich took his vengeance out on Iraqi civilians?  Palestinians have had their entire villages wiped off the face of the earth, yet I do not think this person (or the average American) would be so forgiving when that Palestinian would then take it out on Israelis.

Nidal Hasan, a Muslim, killed 13 soldiers on a U.S. military base, whom he specifically targeted because they were about to be dispatched to join an occupation force in Iraq and Afghanistan, two Muslim countries that have been savaged by the United States.   Meanwhile, Frank Wuterich was part of an occupying force and killed 24 Muslim civilians–civilians in a country that was occupied and savaged by the United States.  The former is an act of Terrorism; the latter is “negligent dereliction of duty.”  If you’re a Muslim, then it’s Terrorism; if you’re fighting Muslims, then at most it’s “negligent dereliction of duty.”

This is, as Glenn Greenwald always says, the true definition of the word “Terrorist”:

It means:  anyone — especially of the Muslim religion and/or Arab nationality — who fights against the United States and its allies or tries to impede their will.  That’s what “Terrorism” is; that’s all it means.

I’ve been inspired by an image I saw here to create this image to properly depict the situation:

Wuterich killed 24 Iraqi civilians in retaliation for one U.S. soldier being killed (a soldier, mind you, who was part of an occupying force on Iraqi soil).  Why are we so amazed at how primitive and backwards those Muslims are when they get angry about the over one million civilians we have killed of theirs?

Hasan’s act of violence is troublesome from a moral point of view because it occurred on U.S. soil, but Greenwald points to an example that occurred on Iraqi soil: this is the case of Faruq Khalil Muhammad Isa, an Iraqi born man who was officially accused of “Terrorism” for “the Murder of Five American Soldiers” on Iraqi soil.  Greenwald notes:

Isa is charged with “providing material support to a terrorist conspiracy” because he allegedly supported a 2008 attack on a U.S. military base in Mosul that killed 5 American soldiers. In other words, if the U.S. invades and occupies your country, and you respond by fighting back against the invading army — the ultimate definition of a “military, not civilian target” — then you are a . . . Terrorist.

Putting that in graphic form, we have:

Were the civilians of Haditha not “terrorized” by Frank Wuterich and his men?  Wasn’t that exactly the point of the massacre: to terrorize the Iraqi population to the point where they would no longer resist American soldiers?  Were the Muslim civilians killed in Haditha any less in a state of terror–terrorized–than the soldiers on the Fort Hood base?

One last point: the NYT’s article fails to make the logical conclusion: it’s not enough to say that the threat of Islamic terrorism is overblown.  Rather, the real question is why it is so: it’s to justify our many wars in the Muslim world and our occupations of their lands.  It’s war propaganda.

Addendum I:  

I would like to apologize for comparing Lindsay Lohan to Frank Wuterich: prosecutors sought much longer jail sentences on her than him, and she spent more time in jail than he did.  Does anyone want to create a side-by-side image comparison of Lohan and Wuterich?  I’ll update the article and put it up if it’s worthy enough.

Update I:

Here’s another “fun” graphic I just created:

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

FBI Betrayed Us: Iowa Muslims

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2012 by loonwatch
Arvinder Singh, who has been attending Des Moines mosques over the past seven years, was revealed to be an FBI informant.
Arvinder Singh, who has been attending Des Moines mosques over the past seven years, was revealed to be an FBI informant.

FBI Betrayed Us: Iowa Muslims

IOWA – The Muslim community in Iowa is frustrated and angry over FBI’s sending informants into mosques to spy on worshippers, seething with a sense of betrayal that has undermined trust between American Muslims and security agencies.

“That was really surprising, very sad that somebody would come or the FBI or Homeland Security would send somebody here to pretend to be Muslim and try to find out what goes on here,” Dr. Hamed Baig, president of the Islamic Center of Des Moines, told CNN on Friday, February 3.

“I feel there is no need for that.”

In Des Moines, Iowa, a small yet diverse Muslim community is divided into four mosques from Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, among other nations.

Frustration among members of the Muslim community began after 42 year-old Arvinder Singh, who has been attending their mosques over the past seven years, was revealed to be an FBI informant.

Charged with “selling or transferring precursor substances for an unlawful purpose” in March of 2002, Singh said he was approached by FBI officers who told him, “‘You look Middle Eastern, and we need your help for the war against terror.’”

Singh, currently in Hardin County Jail in Iowa, where he’s been awaiting deportation, said the FBI came to him with a simple tradeoff:  We’ll help you get your citizenship if you help us get some terrorists.

Having no information about Islam, Indian-born Singh was surprised to be approached by FBI agents.

“I was surprised. I said, ‘Me? I have no idea about this’ And they said ‘We’ll train you. You’ll get used to it. We’ll make you go and do some work for us.’”

Later on, he assumed a Muslim identity, Rafik Alvi, and went into the mosques pretending to be interested in converting.

He says sometimes the FBI gave him pictures of persons of interest and he would confirm that they were at the mosque.  On a few occasions, Singh says he taped his conversations with congregants.

“They wanted me to go investigate some people in the area,” Singh told CNN in a jailhouse interview.

“See what they’re doing, who they’re meeting. Who’s their family member, who’s attending them, what they are talking about. That kind of work.”

Anger 

The mosque infiltration has angered Iowa Muslim community, saying that the FBI just took a step backwards in building trust with the Muslims in his community.

“To know that somebody made an intrusive entry into the masjid for purpose other than prayer, or other than socializing or taking care of anybody who is in need makes me very much nervous and embarrassed, too, that I belong to a community where we have a member who has come for some other purpose,” Anis Rehman, executive board treasurer of the Islamic Center of Des Moines and a college professor, told CNN.

“But later when we saw that he was not actually a member but a pretender then it made me more angry,” Rehman said.

Rehman says the idea of a FBI informant in their tiny mosque is not only offensive but baffling.

“I find that to send an impostor into our community which is so small where not only we know each other but (where) the law enforcement agents can perhaps pick each one of us by name and by family, I don’t think that the incident [on] 9/11 could warrant such action in a small community like ours.”

Since 9/11, Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.

FBI tactic of sending informants into mosques have deteriorated relations with the US Muslim community over the past few years.

In 2009, Muslim groups threatened to suspend all contacts with the FBI over sending informants into mosques.

US Muslims are particularly wary of the FBI’s history of targeting members of their community.

Basim Bakri, another Iowa Muslim, noted that if Singh’s claims are true, the FBI has just destroyed any chances of building trust with the Muslims in his community.

“I think the FBI owe[s] us an apology because they did violate our civil rights,” Bakri said.

“It wasn’t right at all, it wasn’t right from the beginning and they have no right to do that.”

Mosque in Fairfax County Vandalized

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on February 1, 2012 by loonwatch
A mosque in Fairfax County suffered thousands of dollars in damage. News4's Megan McGrath has the story.
A mosque in Fairfax County suffered thousands of dollars in damage. News4’s Megan McGrath has the story.

$60,000 in damage! An attack on any religious establishment is an attack on all religious establishments.

Mosque in Fairfax County Vandalized

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By Megan McGrath

Construction crews should be putting the finishing touches on the Mubarak Blessed Mosque in Chantilly. Instead, they are repairing the work of vandals.

Sometime between Sunday evening and 6 a.m. Monday morning, the mosque was pelted with stones and masonry blocks. Nearly all the custom made windows and glass doors on the first floor were shattered.  Damage has been estimated at $60,000.

Investigators found beer and liquor bottles in the woods behind the mosque, and they believe teenagers may be responsible.

“It is very sad,” said the mosque’s general secretary, Usman Ghumman.  “But at the same time, our community is very resilient.  We have asked our community members to fervently pray that we are able to overcome this hurdle.”

Mubarak Blessed Mosque has been under construction for a year, and was scheduled to open in just weeks.

Jerrold Foltz, pastor at the Wellspring United Church of Christ, said acts like this are an affront to area’s entire religious community.  “Its an insult to the whole religious establishment,” Foltz said, “whether its a church or a mosque or a synagogue.”

Investigators say there is no evidence that it is a hate crime – nothing was taken and no graffiti was left behind.  However, because of the extent of the damage, those responsible face felony charges.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has asked the FBI to investigate the possibility of a bias motive in the incident.

Ohio: ‘Suspicious’ Arson Leaves Students in Cold

Posted in Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2012 by loonwatch

The home of Mohamed Soltan and Ahmed Mahmoud was set on fire on the morning of Martin King Jr. Day. Soltan said the crime was hate oriented.

The home of Mohamed Soltan and Ahmed Mahmoud was set on fire on the morning of Martin King Jr. Day. Soltan said the crime was hate oriented.

We reported on this story almost two weeks ago, and now the facts are out:  it was an arson attack.

‘Suspicious’ arson leaves students in cold

“One second I’m comfortable in bed, and the next second I’m running out of the house in the freezing cold, running for my life,” recalls Mohamed Soltan.

Soltan, a sixth-year in economics at Ohio State, and his roommate Ahmed Mahmoud, a third-year in finance, were victims of arson in their Hilliard home on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The FBI, along with the Hilliard Division of Police, have yet to identify the culprit of the arson that caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs.

On Jan. 16, Norwich Township Fire Department responded to a 911 call made by Soltan at about 5:30 a.m.

Mahmoud, the first of the two to discover the fire, said although he did hear what he described as a “loud banging noise,” it was not until the smoke detectors went off that he realized the house was on fire.

“I immediately ran into Mohamed’s room and woke him up. That’s when we realized the situation and what’s going on, and we got out of the house,” Mahmoud said. “At first, I figured it was Mohamed moving around. I was laying in bed and all of a sudden the smoke detectors went off.”

Soltan said he was in a deep sleep, and it wasn’t until Mahmoud woke him up that he became aware of his surroundings.

“I’m a very heavy sleeper, and I remember Ahmed coming into my room shouting ‘Soltan, Soltan, there’s a fire’,” Soltansaid.

Both men said they did not actually see the fire, but they were surrounded by thick clouds of smoke as they made their way out of the burning house.

Soltan calls the arson a hate crime, saying there was no way the fire was an accident.

“We don’t use the fireplace; I make sure that (when) I cook, I turn everything off, so there is no way this could’ve been anything else but a hate crime,” Soltan said. “So for someone to purposefully set the house on fire while people are sleeping at five in the morning, there is no other explanation for it that these people are attempting to kill my friend and I.”

Doug Francis, chief of police for the city of Hilliard, said the origins of the fire seemed “suspicious,” due to the lack of burn patterns, the fire’s point of origin and the use of flammable materials.

“Our investigations show that there was in fact an accelerant utilized in the home, and they ruled out any natural cause of the fire, and so with utilizing their tools, they determined it was an arson,” Francis said.

Francis said the FBI and the Norwich Township Fire Department are also involved in the investigation.

Francis contacted the FBI because there have been previous reports of Soltan’s home and car being painted with anti-Arab and anti-Muslim slurs.

“We immediately brought in the FBI simply because if we did determine it was in fact an arson, we also wanted to look at it as a potential hate crime,” Francis said.

Francis also said in order to determine the arson as a hate crime, the individual responsible for the fire must be captured.

Despite media reports saying the motive behind the arson was to target the 24-year-old’s father, Salah Soltan, who is said to be a controversial Muslim scholar, Mohamed Soltan said his father’s opinions and views are “irrelevant.”

“My father’s views are 4,000 miles away,” Mohamed Soltan said.

Eric Manske, fire marshal at Norwich Township Fire Department, said the fire originated at the “back half of the house.”

Francis called the arson a form of “ethnic intimidation,” and said the case is “very unique” because Hilliard has never experienced cases of hate crime in the past.

“Not only has it destroyed a home, but it has provided a lot of fear in the victim and that’s what happens with these ethnic intimidation and hate crime issues,” Francis said.

Jennifer Nimer, legal director for the Ohio chapter of The Council on American-Islamic Relations, said she has called the FBI to report the arson as a hate crime.

Nimer also said there is only one hate crime incident she’s come across in her seven years with CAIR that was as “drastic” as Mahmoud and Mohamed Soltan’s case.

“A couple of years ago a woman that was sprayed in the face with pepper spray, that’s probably the most egregious incident other than this one that I’ve come across since I’ve been working here,” Nimer said.

>> Continue reading: ‘Suspicious’ arson leaves students in cold

On the Outlandish Claim That “There is No Islamophobia”

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by loonwatch

The FBI released hate crime statistics for the year of 2010, which showed that anti-Semitic crimes topped the list of religiously motivated hate crimes.  Islamophobes have latched on to this fact to claim that “there is no Islamophobia.”  For example, Robert Spencer of JihadWatch asked: ”What do you have to say about the fact that FBI statistics show that there is no ‘Islamophobia’?”

The American Muslim’s Sheila Musaji published a response to this argument, pointing out that it’s a non-sequitur: it does not follow that “there is no Islamophobia” just because there were more anti-Semitic hate crimes reported than anti-Muslim ones.  This would be like arguing that “there is no anti-Semitism” because there were more anti-black hate crimes reported than anti-Semitic ones.

In fact, Musaji points out that there was a 50% increase in the number of reported anti-Muslim hate crimes.  Any reasonable person would think this trend to be concerning and ask: what is causing this steep rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes?

There is another issue here: it’s a well-known fact that ethnic minorities are less likely to report hate crimes.  One of the common reasons cited for this is that such minority groups tend to distrust police and authorities–which is certainly the case for Arabs and Muslims, who have every reason to feel this way.

Islamophobia penetrates law enforcement and government on all levels, starting from the police: the Washington Monthly had a very eyeopening article on the subject: How We Train Our Cops to Fear Islam.

The FBI, the governmental institution responsible for monitoring hate crimes, is itself brimming with Islamophobia (see here, here, here, here, here, and here).  Many Muslims in America don’t trust the FBI, and wouldn’t report hate crimes to them, for fear of being accused of something themselves.

This is exactly what happened to a female Muslim student at the University of Bridgeport who reported to authorities that a man was sexually harassing her; not only was the man not investigated, but the female Muslim student herself ended up being investigated by the FBI after the accused molester called her a terrorist.  That’s how vulnerable Muslims are in this country: accuse them of being a terrorist and the FBI will come knocking at their door.

The chain of anti-Muslim bigotry goes even higher to the Department of Homeland Security.  The House Committee on Homeland Security is led by the fervently anti-Muslim Congressman Peter King.  It is Muslims, not Jews or people of any other religion, who are subjected to such hearings.  If King had suggested holding anti-Jewish hearings, the comparisons to Nazi Germany would be quickly invoked (rightfully so) and the Congressman’s career would come to a swift end (again, rightfully so).  Yet, when this bigotry is leveled against Muslims, the reaction is far more mild.

This brings me to my second (and main) point: it is Muslims, not Jews or people of any other faith, who are the number one victims of institutionalized bigotry in America.  This is something more pernicious than lone-wolf hate crimes, because the effects of it are more far-reaching.

It is Muslims, not people of any other religious faith, that were (and continue to be) detained by the hundreds–without trial or charge–and holed away in the hell-hole known as Guantanamo Bay detention camp.  This, even though it was known by the government that “the vast majority of detainees at Guantanamo were innocent.”  Most Americans fail to realize the gravity of this injustice, and continue to believe–like mindless sheep–that the Gitmo prisoners are “the worst of the worst” and are evil Magneto-style villains.  People of the future will be horrified that any sane person would think that this is necessary:

Who but the sickest and most deranged person could think this is OK?

Can you imagine the outcry had it been a Jewish person who had been imprisoned like so by our government?  Even the idea is considered ludicrous.

Gitmo is just the tip of the iceberg.  Thousands of Muslims have been imprisoned in Bagram (“the Other Guantanamo”) and there are probably tens of thousands Muslims that have been detained by the United States, without trial or charge, around the world.  They are subjected to typical American forms of torture:  solitary confinement (considered by human rights experts to be one of the worst forms of torture) and sexual harassment (including sodomy, rape, and having their testicles electrocuted).  Mentally deranged guards routinely used dogs to torture the inmates.

Yes, it is Muslims who are the victims of these horrific crimes.

These abuses are carried out because the institution that is supposed to protect American citizens (including American Muslims)–the U.S. Armed Forces–has instead been, in the words of the hawkish Jeffrey Goldberg, ”waging a three-decade war for domination of the Middle East.”  Quite predictably, the U.S. Armed Forces as an institution is rife with Islamophobia.

It is Muslim civilians who are being incinerated by our bombs, missiles, and drones.  Over the course of the last two decades, the United States has directly or indirectly caused the deaths of over a million Muslims.  America is dropping bombs on multiple Muslim countries (the list just keeps getting longer and longer); Americans feel comfortable dropping bombs on countries they can’t even locate on a map.  These are Islamophobic wars that kill way more people than hate crimes do.

It is Muslims, not Jews or people of any other religion, who are the victims of civil liberty assaults and Endless War.  Glenn Greenwald writes:

[W]ho are the prime victims of America’s posture of Endless War? Overwhelmingly, the victims are racial, ethnic and religious minorities: specifically, Muslims (both American Muslims and foreign nationals).  And that is a major factor in why these abuses flourish: because those who dominate American political debates perceive, more or less accurately, that they are not directly endangered (at least for now) by this assault on core freedoms and Endless War…

To see how central a role this sort of selfish provincialism plays in shaping political priorities, just compare (a) the general indifference to Endless War and the massive civil liberties assaults… (ones largely confined to Muslims) to (b) the intense outrage and media orgy generated when a much milder form of invasiveness — TSA searches — affected Americans of all backgrounds. The success of Endless War and civil liberties attacks depends on ensuring that the prime victims, at least in the first instance, are marginalized and easily demonizable minorities.

It is Muslims who are the victims of such governmental abuses:

Assassination of U.S. citizens; Indefinite detention; Arbitrary justice; Warrantless searches; Secret evidence; War crimes; Secret court; Immunity from judicial review; Continual monitoring of citizens; and Extraordinary renditions.

It is absolutely crass to argue that there is more anti-Semitism in America than Islamophobia. There would be nothing less acceptable in our country than anti-Jewish Congressional hearings.  One could simply not imagine imprisoning hundreds of Jews–without trial or charge–in Guantanamo Bay.  If the United States caused the death of over a million Jews, people would be calling this the next Holocaust.  Such things are simply unthinkable, except when Muslims are the intended victims.

Certainly, lone-wolf hate crimes are worrisome, and Jews are one of the most targeted groups in this regard.  This is a serious concern that needs to be addressed–as does the fact that there has been such a steep rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes.  But, we shouldn’t ignore institutionalized bigotry in America, which is even more worrisome.  Muslims are the most vulnerable minority in this regard: they are the absolute lowest on the totem pole and get the dubious distinction of being the number one victims in this regard.

Lastly, it is very morbid the way the anti-Muslim cyber-world is pitting the Jewish community against the Muslim one.  This is not a competition or game.  Hate crimes are not points or goals.  Jews, Muslims, and people of all faiths (or no faith at all) should unite together to fight bigotry and intolerance.  After all, Jews are well aware of the tactics that were once primarily used against them but are now used against Muslims: it may be a different minority, but it’s the same message.

*  *  *  *  *

I encourage everyone to read Sheila Musaji’s take on the subject.  It was her article that prompted me to weigh in on this issue.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Muslim College Student Reports Sexual Harassment, Gets Reported To FBI For Terrorism And Expelled

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by loonwatch

University of Bridgeport

(H/T: Believing Atheist)

Muslim College Student Reports Sexual Harassment, Gets Reported To FBI For Terrorism And Expelled

By Tanya Somanader (ThinkProgress)

In 2008, African-American Muslim student Balayla Ahmad enrolled in Connecticut’s University of Bridgeport with hopes of becoming a chiropractor. Instead, she became of a victim of sexual harassment. Distressed by the repeated sexual advances and “graphic offensive comments” of a male student, Ahmad reported the harassment and “fears for her safety” to multiple teachers, who urged her to say nothing, and finally the university’s president and dean. The dean told Ahmad, “My hands are tied. What do you suggest I do?”

Rather than having her claims addressed, Ahmad received allegations of her own. Learning of her report, Ahmad’s harasser decided to falsely accuse her of terrorism to the FBI. And rather than fully investigate what was happening, the University of Bridgeport just expelled Ahmad altogether:

After reporting the sexual harassment in April 2009, Ahmad said she was approached by two university security directors who told her someone had made allegations against her and they threatened to call the FBI and have her arrested.

Later, two FBI agents knocked on Ahmad’s apartment door, questioned her and left a business card, according to the lawsuit. She said she learned that her harasser or his associates had fabricated a story falsely accusing her of being a terrorist in apparent retaliation for having made a sexual harassment complaint against him.

“Ahmad was racially profiled and discriminated against because of her race, color and ethnic identity as an African American Muslim and labeled a terrorist based on false accusations provided by the harasser and adopted without adequate investigation by the university,” the lawsuit states.

Ahmad asked that the university provide her with an off-site proctor for her exams, but she said the university told her in April 2009 that her sexual harassment complaint had been closed and that she was being referred to a disciplinary committee. In June, she said the university dismissed her.

Ahmad filed a lawsuit against the university last week for failing to investigate her claims, instead showing “deliberate indifference” to her plight. The lawsuit claims that the college even “recklessly disseminated false accusations by the harasser that they had good reason to believe were unreliable and threatened her with arrest by the FBI.”

Ahmad’s lawyer, Bradford Conover noted that because Ahmad regularly wears the hijab, she was easily targeted for her religion. “[B]ecause of that, she ended up getting targeted based on some reckless accusations against her,” Conover said. “They never investigated it. Had they done so, they would have discovered the accusations against her were false and she had been subject to sexual harassment.”

Ohio: Arson at Islamic Scholar’s Former Home & Muslim Inmates Settle Meal Preparation Suit

Posted in Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2012 by loonwatch

Two stories coming out of Ohio related to Islamophobia. The first is still being investigated for a possible hate crime, and the second story shows that even within the prison system there is a double standard when it comes to Muslims.

Authorities investigate arson at Islamic scholar’s former home

By  Randy Ludlow

A deliberately set fire at the Hilliard home of the son of a controversial Islamic scholar is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

The arson fire heavily damaged a house at 4907 Britton Farms Dr. once occupied by Salah Soltan, but now the home of his 24-year-old son, Mohamed, authorities said.

The younger Soltan and a friend escaped the fire without injury after it was reported to Norwich Township firefighters at 5:24 a.m. Monday.

Firefighters arrived to find flames coming from the rear of the $290,000 house, which sustained extensive damage, said Fire Chief Dave Long.

The house was painted with anti-Islamic slurs a couple of months ago, authorities said.

The elder Soltan, who now lives abroad, is a native of Egypt and formerly was a professor at Cairo University and president of Islamic American University in suburban Detroit.

Some conservative critics have accused Soltan of being sympathetic to terrorist causes. He has said while he supports Palestinian rights, he condemns terrorism as a violation of Islamic law.

The Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations yesterday called on the FBI to assist in the investigation of the motive behind the fire.

The FBI is working with Hilliard police in investigating the circumstances of the fire, said Special Agent Harry Trombitas, spokesman for the Columbus field office.

Hilliard police called in state fire marshal investigators yesterday to assist in the probe and determined it was arson.

*******************************************************************

Ohio Muslim inmates settle meal preparation suit

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, AP Legal Affairs Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A Muslim death row inmate has settled a lawsuit that accused the Ohio prison system of denying him meals prepared according to Islamic law while providing kosher meals to Jewish prisoners.

Ohio had previously decided to remove all pork products from prison menus in response to the lawsuit, though inmates weren’t seeking a ban on pork.

Details of the settlement announced Wednesday afternoon weren’t released. Neither the inmate’s lawyer or the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction would comment.

The state argued as recently as last month that providing the meals, known as halal, could bankrupt the state’s food service system because thousands of inmates have declared themselves Muslim.

Attorneys for Abdul Awkal (ab-DUHL’ AW’-kuhl) and a second inmate argued that the state was exaggerating the cost.