But first, both Muslim Americans and law enforcement have to
change the way they interact.
The stigma on Muslim Americans worsened in 2009. The latest
including arrests of the Newburgh Four in New York, Michael
Illinois, and Hossam Smadi in Texas; then the Fort Hood, Texas,
massacre by Nidal Malik Hasan; and most recently the arrest in
Pakistan of five young Muslim men from Virginia attempting to
militant group there have only added to difficulties.
Each of these events was unique. The first three involved the
questionable use of FBI informants, one case involved a man going
a violent rampage, and another involved youth seeking violent
Yet, at a time when terrorism remains a challenge to US national
security, these events feed into the false and dangerous fear
Muslim Americans cannot be trusted.
America can't afford that.
The US must identify and apprehend terrorists while avoiding the
alienation of its mainstream Muslim communities. And it is
that tactics used by law enforcement agencies to achieve the
goal do not undermine the second, as it is not only contrary to
values of a free and democratic society, it creates
In the current climate of fear, it's difficult to gain trust. In
order to heal relations between Muslim American communities and
enforcement, and create a more effective barrier against
both sides need to revise their respective approaches to
Many Muslims Americans are concerned by news that paid FBI
informants, including ex-con men such as Craig Monteilh in
California and Shahed Hussain in New York, have been targeting
impressionable Muslim Americans to incite and then entrap them.
Muslim community is also concerned by reports that law
agents are coercing Muslim Americans to serve as informants in
exchange for immigration ease.
This should matter to all Americans, because fearful communities
less willing to talk to law enforcement - and we need all the
we can get from Muslim Americans. After years of building trust
local law enforcement, the Pakistani community in Lodi, Calif.,
trying repair relations that were tattered by the highly
use of an FBI informant in a counterterrorism investigation just
after Sept. 11.
Muslims themselves have helped authorities in two recent cases.
Virginia men in Pakistan were detained and the Detroit-bound
bomber was flagged because family members bravely stepped forward
tell law enforcement about suspicious activity.
However, fear within communities can cut off the goodwill and
sources of information needed to prevent another attack.The Texas
arrest of Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year-old charged with
attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, is a case in
Normally, individuals with extremist views would be identified by
local community members and religious leaders would intervene to
conduct an ideological detox. No such intervention took place
those doing the intervention were worried that they, too, would
become subjects of an investigation.
Enforcement actions running afoul of the Constitution - such as
the surveillance of individuals without a legal standard of
"reasonable suspicion" and the questionable use of informants -
must be investigated and policies allowing it to occur must be