For years, American Muslim groups have partnered
arm-in-arm with the FBI, working to help root out
extremists and protect American national security. But the New York
that this could be changing. Muslim groups complain that the FBI has grown increasingly
aggressive and antagonistic, utilizing tactics--such as infiltrating
mosques--that alienate Muslims, making future support less likely. Is
the once strong relationship between American Muslim groups and law
enforcement officials in trouble?
- Turning Allies Into Antagonists Spencer Ackerman warns that FBI officials "depend on close community relations in order to distinguish between
real threats and overblown fears. Much like how the best
counterinsurgency practices in Iraq and Afghanistan depend on enabling
a community to basically police itself, American Muslim leaders will
either be partners in the effort -- or, if treated as a bunch of targets
of suspicion themselves,
through intensified surveillance and arm-twisting to inform, they could
withhold cooperation to everyone's detriment." Ackerman condemns the
"destructive behavior," writing, "Treat entire communities like an
undifferentiated threat and they'll react accordingly."
Don't Abuse Muslims For Intel The American Prospect's Adam Serwer laments, "As I've said before, a positive relationship between American Muslim
communities and law enforcement is a crucial national security issue.
But if Muslims are viewed by law enforcement merely as potential
terrorists, informants, or -- as the article put it -- part of a
terrorism 'early warning system' rather than American citizens who are
entitled to the same rights and protections as everyone else, then
establishing and maintaining that relationship will ultimately prove
- Why Muslim Groups And FBI Must Partner The Guardian's Wajahat Ali notes
the case of Virginia-based Muslim-Americans who, when they discovered
their sons had fled to join militants in Pakistan, consulted with a
prominent Muslim group that promptly informed U.S. law enforcement.
"[T]he Virginia Muslim community's private and public response to the
arrest of five of their young people marks a decisive change of
proactive engagement with law enforcement resulting from mutual trust
and open communication." He writes:
Muslim American communities, law enforcement, and those who espouse
prejudicial rhetoric nurtured by fear should reframe their reactionary
narratives, which often paint one another as villains and enemies. This
recent example illustrates that law enforcement agencies and Muslim
American communities can no longer live in culturally isolated cocoons.
Both parties are civic agents and citizens of the same country who must
have respectful interaction to yield the greatest chance at curbing
extremism and dissolving mutual mistrust.
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