By Ahmed Tharwat
On 18 February 2015, the White House hosted the summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). The purpose of the summit according to a statement issued by the White House was, “to highlight domestic and international efforts to prevent violent extremists and their supporters from radicalising, recruiting, or inspiring individuals or groups in the United States”.
Muslim community leaders were invited (some say “subpoenaed”) to show their cooperation with what the Department of Justice calls “community outreach programmes”. Some Muslim leaders feared that the US Department of Justice and law enforcement agencies would fund and use community outreach programmes as a cover that would allow the FBI to spy on the Muslim community in their schools, Mosques and elsewhere. “We are concerned that those groups that receive funding will be seen as agents of law enforcement,” said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR in Minnesota.
Independent American news outlet, The Intercept, obtained a document marked “For Official Use Only”, which shows “a rating system – part of a wider strategy for Countering Violent Extremism, which calls for local community and religious leaders to work together with law enforcement and other government agencies to prevent people from being radicalised.”
As Lori Saroya, a civil rights activist, mentioned in an email: “I feel for the parents whose kid is going to get reported to the DOJ’s ‘Community Resilience Team’ and end up on the federal watch list over tribal and personal disputes. I feel for the parents who will have to tell their kids not to grow beards or attend the mosque because those are both documented FBI indicators for radicalisation in the Muslim community.”
The rating system, part of a 36-page document dated May 2014 and titled “Countering Violent Extremism: A Guide for Practitioners and Analysts”, suggests that police, social workers and educators rate individuals on a scale of one to five in categories such as: “Expressions of Hopelessness, Futility,” “Talk of Harming Self or Others”, and “Connection to Group Identity (Race, Nationality, Religion, Ethnicity)”.
According to the document: “The ranking system is supposed to alert government officials to individuals at risk of turning to radical violence, and to families or communities at risk of incubating extremist ideologies.”
Measuring terrorist tendency in Muslims is a fancy only a colonial mind can muster. Those subjects aren’t capable of handling freedom in America and we need to help them out to identify their vices. This is not the first time our law enforcement has used bizarre techniques to identify terrorist aptitude in the Muslims communities. Foreign Policy magazine, reported that the FBI uses the “falafel terrorist index”, where they monitor the consumption of falafel in a community heavily populated by Muslims as an indication of terrorist activities.
Jeff Stein reports: “Like Hansel and Gretel hoping to follow their bread crumbs out of the forest, the FBI sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco-area grocery stores in 2005 and 2006, hoping that sales records of Middle Eastern food would lead to Iranian terrorists. The idea was that a spike in, say, falafel sales, combined with other data would lead to Iranian secret agents in the south San Francisco-San Jose area.”
Why this is focusing only on Muslims in America it has never been explained. Huffington Post brook a story about FBI agent infiltration of a mosque in the Los Angeles area, Craig Monteilh was known as Farouk Al-Aziz, a French Syrian looking to reconnect to his Islamic roots.
“But behind the devout facade and convincing knowledge of Islam, Monteilh was spying for the FBI, which instructed him to go as far as sleeping with Muslim women to gain information,” confessed the former FBI agent.
This hyper-reaction of our law enforcement was revealed after the Star Tribune reported that the FBI is investigating information that members of the Somali community from the Twin Cities are fighting in the Syrian civil war. However, it was reported that there are an estimated 2,000 Americans who travelled to Israel and are fighting in the IDF, and actually two of them lost their lives – a 24-year-old from Southern California and a 21-year-old from Texas. Their families said they both had a passion for Israel. How ironic.
No scrutiny by our law enforcements for those Jewish Jihadists or rating system deigns specifically to measure Jewish violent extremists.
The document never talked about the role that our foreign policy and military invasions of Muslim-majority countries played in recruiting terrorists and so called radical Islamists. Before the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, 80% of terrorist attacks on Americans worldwide were committed by non-Muslims. Now that number different.
But up until today, most terrorist attacks in the US are committed by non-Muslims. Muslims are at the receiving end of terror activities; they have been killed, had their mosques and community centres burned, their women harassed out of courtrooms, removed from public transportation, bullied in school and on the streets. I have never understood that if people believe Muslim men are always doing most of the terrorist attacks, why are Muslim women the ones who get the brunt of Islamophobia in this country. It is such patriarchal behaviour from those who champion women’s rights and the liberation of Muslims women around the world.
Those culturally based measuring tools are nothing but a Frankenstein science, and Islamophobia in disguise that has spun out of control since 9/11. Identifying potential terrorists in early age is commendable, but as young as 4-years-old? What happened in France and the UK where they started similar CVE outreach programmes?
This trend is troubling. First, most kids are acting like “terrorists” during their teenage years and second, and as we all know by now, the biggest terrorist in American schools is math, not Muslims!!
Ahmed Tharwat is host and producer of the Arab American TV show BelAhdan, a show with an accent for those without one. It airs on public TV Mondays, 10.30pm. He blogs at Notes from America www.ahmediatv.com and can be followed on Facebook and Twitterat ahmediaTV