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- Neo-con extermists push internment for American Muslims (FCN, 02-18-2005)
- The Devil and Daniel Pipes (In These Times, 09-08-2003)
- Anti terror laws produce new crisis for Black leadership (FCN, 12-25-2001)
LOS ANGELES (FinalCall.com) – The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) recently scrapped a plan to map Southern California Muslims and their communities through its counter-terrorism bureau. National civil liberties groups and Muslim organizations protested the plan as extreme racial profiling.
But despite the death of the LAPD plan, observers warn there is still plenty of reason to fear targeting of Islamic communities, especially in light of a federal “homegrown terrorism” bill in Congress. Civil liberties advocates also warn that the bill is another attempt to curb rights Americans enjoy.
Activists fear LAPD’s Muslim “mapping project” was an early glimpse at how the U.S. law enforcement plans target Islamic groups through the “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007” (H.R. 1955).
Sponsored and introduced by Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) on April 19, and passed in the House by a vote of 404 to six on Oct. 23, it would establish a National Commission to study the causes of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism and propose recommendations and legislative strategies for curbing these threats. It would also study the social, criminal, political, psychological and economic roots of the problem.
“My own district in California has not been spared from the threat of home grown terrorism. An episode there offers a chilling illustration of the type of domestic threat we face,” said Rep. Harman.
“In the spring of 2005, four men–three U.S. citizens and one Pakistani national residing legally in this country–finalized plans for a series of gas station robberies intended to finance terrorist attacks around Los Angeles. Their kill targets were U.S. military bases and recruiting stations, the Israeli Consulate, synagogues filled with worshippers on Jewish holy days, and the El Al ticket counter at LAX,” she said.
Rep. Harman said a “militant prison gang ‘Assembly of Authentic Islam,’” was connected to one alleged plot. She also points to police allegations that men, whose apartment contained jihadist literature, committed a spree of gas station robberies.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and a Black congressman from Mississippi, said the legislation is vital to protect against “would-be terrorists” living right next door.
“Today, one of the most frequently visited English language web sites that preaches hate, violence and radicalized views of Islam is operated by a 21-year-old U.S. citizen from the comfort of his parents’ home in North Carolina. Some may say these incidents are isolated cases, but I believe that they are indicative of a growing trend of homegrown terrorism in this country,” said Rep. Thompson during Oct. 23 debates on the bill.
In testimony from the Senate’s Oct. 30 local law enforcement hearing, which featured four major city police departments, nearly all references to the threat of domestic terrorism focused on Islamic groups. The four police departments that provided testimony were Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Kansas City.
LAPD shared its Muslim mapping project plans as part of testimony in support of the bill.
NYPD testimony focused on five alleged plots, which they said were tied to Islamic extremists. Kansas City officials cited the same five cases in Lackawanna, N.Y., Portland, Ore., Northern Virginia and New York City’s Herald Square subway as worthy of study to understand the roots of international terrorism.
Miami police pointed to traffic stops that uncovered six incidents in which suspects allegedly planned to harm others. Timothy McVeigh was cited as an example. Four of the other five cases involved Muslims, according to Senate testimony.
The initial April 19 hearing, held on the 12th anniversary of the Oklahoma City federal building bombing by McVeigh, cited the horrific incident that killed 168 people, injuring 800 more. But little mention was made of domestic terror wrought by white nationalist groups, with an avowed mission to violently overthrow the U.S. government; radical animal rights groups, or right-wing bombings of abortion clinics.
“While this is good that police have retracted its position, this is not a time to celebrate, to us, because the fact of the matter is that the community is under siege and the damage that has been done, continues to be irreparable,” asserted Hamid Khan, executive director of the South Asian Network, based in California.
“We don’t need this law nor the Patriot Act. This is really Congress giving the executive branch, once again, the extraordinary powers of intervention,” said Imam Mahdi Bray of the Muslim American Foundation, in Washington. D.C.
“And, actually, despite the fact that the Democrats claim they would try to rein this president in because of the politicalization of national security, that in an election year they (Democrats) are willing to put the rights of Muslims and American citizens on the altar of political expediency, primarily to give the appearance that they are keeping America safe,” said Imam Bray.
Imam Bray said he feels doubly profiled as a Black man and a Muslim.
Dedon Kamathi, a Los Angeles-based political scientist, warns Blacks need to be concerned about the homegrown terrorism bill. Black have historically suffered from terrorism sanctioned by the U.S. government, he observed.
“With the rise of young people with the Jena 6 protest and major demonstrations against police brutality and racist symbols like the hangman’s noose, it’s an attempt to intimidate young people from political activism. As we see the rebirth of the student and youth and challenges to racist, repressive legislation, we’re seeing the discriminatory application of laws, especially against young Black males,” he warned.
Much of the youth’s political activism regarding Jena 6 occurred by use of the internet, H.R. 1955 has noted the internet as a vehicle for “radicalization.”
Mr. Kamathi, who is also host/producer of “Freedom Now,” a weekly radio talk show heard on KPFK/90.7-FM in Los Angeles, believes an explosion of student and youth activism is coming as young people drift away from the negative media portrayal of Black youth.
“The U.S. is increasingly getting fearful that the internationalism of worldwide people will be a threat to the U.S. economic military and political hegemony, which is being challenged, not only by third world and Islamic world rise, but to their connectedness with Pan-Africanism in the United States,” he added.
The bill, awaiting a vote in the Senate would cost some $22 million over the next five years to implement.
Several years ago, the ACLU warned against continued assaults on constitutional rights. “It is of the utmost importance that African-American leaders oppose America’s disregard for the rule of law and impress upon our community the potentially disastrous implications of a government the refuses to abide by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” warned Laura W. Murphy.
“The threat to our liberty is great. The government has used terrorist attacks to gain permanent new powers that go far beyond fighting and protecting us from terrorism,” she wrote in the foreward to a 2003 report titled “A New Era of Discrimination? Why African Americans Should Be Alarmed About the Ashcroft Terrorism Laws.”
The radicalization legislation follows charges from right wingers that America should beware of an Islamic fifth column, and the ties Muslims have with their home countries were given as reasons for the bill. It comes on the heels of the Patriot Act, executive orders and other legislation expanding governmental powers of surveillance, arrest and detention.
“Singling out individuals for investigation, surveillance, and data-gathering based on their religion constitutes religious profiling that is just as unlawful, ill-advised, and deeply offensive as racial profiling,” wrote the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Council on American Islamic Relations, Islamic Shura Council and the Muslim Advocates in a letter that helped doom the mapping project.
H.R. 1955 defines homegrown terrorism in part as the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States. It identifies violent radicalization as the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.
Lee Rogers of Rogue Government, an Internet and radio news engine, labeled the bill “one of the most blatant attacks against the Constitution yet,” which actually defines thought crimes as homegrown terrorism.
“Unlike previous anti-terror legislation, this bill specifically targets the civilian population of the United States and uses vague language to define homegrown terrorism,” he said.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, of the Nation of Islam, has repeatedly warned the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction. With the stroke of a president’s pen, these orders would suspend the constitution and bill of rights, he said.
The Minister has consistently voiced his conviction that the Bush administration is targeting Islam at home and abroad.
Nathaniel Ali, co-founder of the National Association of Brothers and Sisters In & Out of Prison, said the case of Black men in Miami accused of terrorism represents the U.S. government’s typical harassment and set up of organizations, which have no part in terrorizing or murdering people.
The seven Black men were identified as Muslims in early news reports and later reidentified as members of the Seas of David, an organization that studied religion and martial arts. They were arrested by FBI and charged with plotting to blow up the Sears Towers in Chicago and various FBI offices. Police found no bomb-making materials or weapons at the arrest scene, and the FBI admitted to planting an infiltrator within the group.
“The whole idea is that they do the infiltrating, instigating, the acts that they will be charging all Muslims with. The FBI agent was directing them in what to do and how to do it and the reason for their arrests is because the FBI actually brainwashed them and orchestrated the entire scenario,” Mr. Ali stated.