Op-Eds

  • The FBI keeps arresting hapless Jihadi fanboys and calling them ISIS recruits

    Opinions March 24, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: New Republic. Since 9/11 the FBI has repeatedly used informants to manufacture plots for targets who would never have been capable of carrying them out on their own. “Of 508 defendants prosecuted in federal terrorism-related cases in the decade after 9/11, 243 were involved with an FBI informant, while 158 were the targets of sting operations,” writes Trevor Aaronson, a journalist who has studied the FBI’s use of informants. As the enemy du jour has shifted from Al Qaeda to ISIS, the practice still appears to be common in FBI terrorism arrests. . . . Beyond questionable investigative tactics, the drumbeat over homegrown extremists obscures, rather than clarifies, the threat they pose. The likelihood of Al Qaeda or ISIS launching a massive attack inside the United States is “infinitesimal,” according to the Washington Post, yet a recent poll found 86 percent of Americans now see ISIS as a threat to U.S. security. That perception, however, is based largely on a myth. The Triangle Center’s report states that publicly available information does “not indicate widespread recruitment of Muslim-Americans by transnational terrorist organizations to engage in attacks in the United States, or sophisticated planning by the handful of individuals who have self-radicalized.”

     
  • Surprise! Another Christian terrorist

    Opinions March 24, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Daily Beast. Did you hear about the man who entered New Orleans’ airport with explosives and a machete? No? Well, you would have if he’d been Muslim.

     
  • When we celebrate Muslims for opposing terrorism, we do them no favors

    Opinions March 17, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Washington Post. “The only time we see and hear about Muslims is when they resort to bloodshed, or when they defy those who resort to bloodshed. This suggests that even a lot of Muslims have internalized that something is inherently wrong with their belief system. The reality, of course, is that most Muslims are neither heroes nor extremists. Like most human beings, the majority of Muslims are quite boring. . . . The task at hand is not to produce a counter-narrative, for that will always remain reactionary, it’s to expand the narrative. We should be pushing for media portrayals that humanize Muslims, allowing them the white privilege of being a complete individual. The hero vs. villain dichotomy erases the millions of stories in the middle, implying that diversity within Islam is nonexistent.

     
  • Three questions you should ask when you hear about a ‘foiled terrorist plot’

    Source: Vice. Law enforcement officials of all kinds have been tripping over each other to comment on the omnipresent danger of terrorism and, in passing, to justify the sprawling and expensive security state that exists today in America. But for those cases that do involve Muslims in America, always touted with great fanfare as “disrupted terrorist plots,” there is a simple test that anyone can apply from the safety and comfort of their own home to decide if they should take what the government is dishing with a grain of salt. 1. Was there an informant or undercover agent actively involved? 2. Does the defendant suffer from any mental health issues, dysfunctions, or deficiencies? 3. Would the defendant have undertaken whatever they are accused of if not for the government’s involvement?

     
  • The murder of Ahmed Al-Jumaili in Texas should be a front-page story

    Opinions March 10, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Vox. In the quiet moments before Ahmed Al-Jumaili died, he and his wife stepped out of her family’s apartment, in a small complex in a suburb of Dallas, to photograph the first snowfall he’d ever seen. . . . As they lingered, what residents would later describe to police as two to four men, moving on foot, entered the small complex. One or more of the men raised a rifle and shot Al-Jumaili. . . . Al-Jumaili’s killing has received strikingly little attention, other than a few mostly brief media reports, and the statements of faith leaders in Dallas hinting at a climate of hostility toward Muslims there. This is a silence that has accompanied the recent wave of hostility against Muslims in America. . . . The onus of responsibility lies with the larger mainstream that neither promotes nor resists Islamophobia, that immediately classifies the murder of three Muslim-American students as a “parking dispute” and doesn’t bother to even acknowledge the dead-of-night murder of Al-Jumaili. The absence of concern for or even knowledge about the rising wave of anti-Muslim hatred, deliberately or not, enables it to proceed.

     
  • Colson: U.S. Muslims correctly nervous about hate

    Opinions March 5, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Aspen Times. I just can’t seem to shake my concern that the rising rate of ill-informed, if not outright stupid, anti-Muslim sentiment around the world and in the U.S. is something we should be very worried about. I regularly get an email blast from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) with news on such matters as hate mail, screaming of insults and other indications that Neanderthals are stalking anyone who professes a belief in the Quran and all things Islam, and it’s a scary thing, I’ve got to say.

     
  • Why does the FBI have to manufacture its own plots if terrorism and ISIS are such grave threats?

    Op-Eds, Opinions February 26, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Intercept. One can, if one really wishes, debate whether the FBI should be engaging in such behavior. For reasons I and many others have repeatedly argued, these cases are unjust in the extreme: a form of pre-emptory prosecution where vulnerable individuals are targeted and manipulated not for any criminal acts they have committed but rather for the bad political views they have expressed. They end up sending young people to prison for decades for “crimes” which even their sentencing judges acknowledge they never would have seriously considered, let alone committed, in the absence of FBI trickery. . . Threats that are real, and substantial, do not need to be manufactured and concocted. Indeed, as the blogger Digby, citing Juan Cole, recently showed, run-of-the-mill “lone wolf” gun violence is so much of a greater threat to Americans than “domestic terror” by every statistical metric that it’s almost impossible to overstate the disparity.

     
  • Director Lyric Cabral talks exposing FBI counter-terrorism strategy in Sundance-winning doc ‘(T)ERROR’

    Blogs February 25, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Shadow and Act. This marks the first time a counterterrorism operation has been captured on screen, in real time, and it’s thrilling, stuff. It’s also, for lack of a better word, terrifying. . . . To date, 500 people have been charged with terrorism related crimes since 9/11, 30% of those cases involving an informant-driven sting operation. As an example of how these sting operations operate, “(T)ERROR” is a sobering portrait of a system that may be in dire need of reform and regulation in order to actually work. In the end, there are many questions, but one definitive answer: both sides of the coin, both the Saeeds and the Khalifahs, are essentially disposable pawns in an increasingly complex and convoluted war on terror.

     
  • What is “Islamic”? A Muslim response to ISIS and The Atlantic

    Source: Muslim Matters. Graeme Wood’s “What ISIS Really Wants,” published in the March 2015 edition of The Atlantic, has quickly become the most widely read article on the militant group. Indeed, it is becoming the most read article ever published by The Atlantic. Popular as it is, Wood’s essay is deeply flawed and alarmingly tone-deaf – dangerously so. . . . By characterizing ISIS as Islamic, Wood and Haykel in effect, if not intent, attribute cruel beheadings, wanton massacre, and all other manner of savagery to Islam. . . .Of course, their attributions are factually incorrect and conceptually confused as we will discuss below. But their mistakes are especially egregious given the current climate of anti-Muslim bigotry. In light of the recent hate crimes directed towards the American and European Muslim communities, Wood’s piece is tantamount to shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theatre and, therefore, deserves a thorough rebuttal, if nothing else.

     
  • The Atlantic ignores Muslim intellectuals, defines “true Islam” as ISIS

    Opinions February 20, 2015 at 1 comment

    Source: The Intercept. Despite what its many critics (including President Obama) will tell you, the Islamic State is indeed Islamic, and actually very Islamic, according to ISIS itself — and also according to The Atlantic, which endorsed the group’s narrative in a widely circulated essay published this week entitled “What ISIS Really Wants.” In the piece, author Graeme Wood makes the case that the militant group — whose actions have sparked protests and widespread revulsion around the world — represents a highly authentic version of Islam. . . . While the author notes that the overwhelming majority of Muslims do not share the views of Islamic State, and indeed see the group as un-Islamic, he denies that their version of the religion is more genuine. . . . While Wood is correct to push back against the flawed notion that Islamic State has absolutely no relation to Islam, he neglects to engage the predominant view that the group embodies one of the heretical versions of the religion that have cropped up periodically throughout history. The end result is a 10,000-word exercise in confirmation bias. If the Islamic State is indeed, as Wood claims, “very Islamic,” his essay makes an unconvincing case of it to anyone familiar with the historical and religious context in which the group has arisen.