Making “Islam” synonymous with “terrorism”

Written by Glenn Greenwald
Wednesday, Dec 30, 2009 13:31 EST

Making “Islam” synonymous with “terrorism”

By Glenn Greenwald

(updated below)

No matter how many times you see it, the capacity for people to believe what they want to believe, rather than what is actually true, is astounding — and those who want to depict Islam as the ultimate evil seem to grant themselves special license to live that way:

From Jeffrey Weiss, Politics Daily, today: “And we’re still left with a terrible problem for a free and multicultural society: Even though 99.999 percent of Muslims abhor attacks on innocent civilians on moral and theological grounds, 100 percent of attempted terrorist attacks on the U.S. (and, with the exception of the Basques in Spain, terrorists attacks on all Western nations) since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing have been committed by people claiming to act in the name of Islam.”

Compare that claim to reality:

1998: Dozens die in Omagh bombing:  At least 27 people are feared dead in the worst paramilitary bombing since the start of the Northern Ireland conflict three decades ago  The blast in the market town of Omagh, County Tyrone, at around 1500 BST on Saturday, left more than 100 people injured or maimed” — BBC.

September 21, 2000:  A rocket attack on MI6 headquarters in London is believed to be the work of dissident Irish republicans” — BBC.

“In a series of court documents that were at turns chilling and bizarre, federal investigators said U.S. Army microbiologist Bruce E. Ivins misled government agents investigating the 2001 anthrax mailings, sent emails with language closely matching the handwritten letters sent to victims and had access to the strain of anthrax used in the crime. The Federal Bureau of Investigation says the evidence, including hundreds of pages of unsealed documents, proves that Dr. Ivins was the sole person responsible for the 2001 anthrax mailings . . . The most compelling evidence points at Dr. Ivins and his laboratory at the U.S. Army biodefense facility at Fort Detrick, Md.” — Wall St. Journal, August 7, 2008.

“Olympic bombing suspect Eric Robert Rudolph — wanted in attacks that killed two people and injured more than 100 in the Southeast — was arrested early Saturday in western North Carolina and faces a Monday morning court date. Rudolph has been charged in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, Georgia; 1997 bombings at a gay nightclub and a clinic that performed abortions in the Atlanta area; and a bombing at a clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1998” — CNN, May 31, 2003.

U.S.-born Jewish terrorist suspected of series of attacks over past 12 years: The authorities have arrested a resident of the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel for suspected murder and a role in a string of murder plots, according to details of an investigation revealed Sunday after a gag order was lifted. Yaakov (Jack) Tytell, who was arrested last month, is suspected of involvement in the murder of two Palestinians and the rigging of a bomb that seriously injured a boy from a Messianic Jewish family in Ariel. . . . Some of his actions were allegedly motivated by hatred for gays and lesbians” – Haaretz, November 3, 2009.

“The Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday charged alleged Jewish terrorist Yaakov (Jack) Teitel with two murders, three attempted murders and other acts of violence. “It was a pleasure and an honor to serve my God,” said Teitel at the Jerusalem courthouse. “I have no regret and no doubt that God is pleased” — Haaretz, December 11, 2009.

“Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated at a peace rally Saturday night in Tel Aviv’s Kings Square, a top aide confirmed. He was reportedly shot in the arm and back by a Jewish man in his mid-20s who is allegedly affiliated with right-wing extremist groups. . . . Amir confessed to the assassination and reportedly told investigators, ‘I acted alone on God’s orders and I have no regrets‘.” — CNN, November 4, 1995.

The chairman of the Jewish Defense League and a member of the extremist organization are accused of a bombing scheme aimed at the office of an Arab-American congressman and a prominent Los Angeles mosque. JDL chairman Irv Rubin, 56, and Earl Krugel, 59, were held without bail Wednesday after being charged with the failed bombing plot.  Authorities said the two men held a series of meetings in October to plan the bombing of the King Fahd Mosque and the San Clemente office of freshman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif” — Fox News, December 13, 2001.

“Professor Zeev Sternhell knows as much as anyone about the current threat from Jewish terrorism. His right leg is recovering from shrapnel caused when a bomb, believed to have been the work of right-wing Jewish extremists, exploded outside the front door of his Jerusalem apartment last week. While Arab-Jewish violence is common, the attack on the 73-year-old historian has shocked public opinion in Israel because all the evidence points to it being intra-Jewish. ‘I consider it an act of Jewish terrorism,’ he said in an interview from the modest apartment where the bomb exploded” — Telegraph, October 3, 2008.

“A doctor who performed abortions was shot to death by a sniper in his western New York home Friday night in an attack denounced as ‘terrorism’ by the state’s governor.  ‘It’s beyond a tragedy. It’s really an act of terrorism and, in my mind, a cold-blooded assassination,’ Gov. George Pataki said of the murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian.’ — CNN, October 22, 1998.

“A white supremacist suspected of targeting blacks, Jews and Asians in a deadly Independence Day weekend drive-by shooting rampage from Chicago to Bloomington, Indiana, died after a high-speed chase in Salem, Illinois on Sunday night, police said Monday” — CNN, July 5, 1999.

Mountaineer Militia leader Floyd Looker, convicted in an alleged plot to blow up an FBI fingerprint complex, was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison Friday” — Ocala Star-Ledger, October 11, 1996.

I could spend all day listing more of the same.  And that’s using the narrowest definition possible of “terrorism” — i.e., excluding any state-sponsored terrorist acts.  We’re currently at various forms of war in five different Muslim countries, so it’s not surprising that some of the violence directed at us is from Muslims.   But to claim that “100 percent of attempted terrorist attacks on the U.S. (and [other than Spain], terrorists attacks on all Western nations)” since 1995 are by “people claiming to act in the name of Islam” is so blatantly, demonstrably, obviously false that you really have to wonder about a person who would utter such a thing.  And while most don’t veer quite as deep into the falsehood department as Weiss did, one would get the sense from listening to our standard political discourse that “Terrorism” and “Islamic-inspired Terrorism” are synonymous.  It’s the kind of myth-based demonization that is as familiar as it is false, dangerous and repugnant.

UPDATE:  To his credit, Weiss has added an update noting the false nature of his claim.

Nigeria:No Al-Qaeda in Country – Islamic Scholars

Nigeria:No Al-Qaeda in Country – Islamic Scholars

Abbas Jimoh

29 Dec. 2009

Some Islamic scholars in Nigeria yesterday dismissed allegations that Al Qaeda exists in Nigeria following the alleged attempt by 23 year-old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, to bomb a United States passenger plane on Christmas day.

The scholars, who spoke to Daily Trust in separate interviews, said Nigerians are not terrorists, even as they urged the relevant security agencies to investigate the matter dispassionately.

Malam Abdulfattah Adeyemi, an Abuja-based Islamic Scholar, said, “I want to say confidently that there is no connection between the accused and any religious group in Nigeria. We are a nation that is focused. We are at the phase of rebranding and trying to move the nation forward.”

On Farouk Umaru Mutallab’s involvement, Adeyemi said: “We cannot say for sure what is responsible for the problem, but I will suggest that the matter should be thoroughly investigated and people should avoid passing comments that will bring disgrace to the nation and should equally refrained from wrongfully pointing accusing fingers to anyone when investigations have not been carried out or concluded.”

Dr Taofik Abdulazeez, the Imam of University of Abuja said Nigerians should take the news with extreme caution and asked the authorities not to rush into actions without sufficient information.

He said, “There may be a connection between extreme economic prosperity of some people and extreme poverty of some and certain tendency such as violence and other tendencies such as this may not be located among the poor. The care for our children and concern for them should be viewed with extreme caution and extreme care and monitoring so as to be able to stem certain tendencies that may have dear consequences to the lives and well- being of our families and the security of the nation.”

Other Islamic groups including Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, (NSCIA), Association of Muslims in Nigeria (AMIN), and Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN) among others have equally condemned the act and called for full investigation.

DPD inquiry into FBI shooting ready by Jan. 31

DPD inquiry into FBI shooting ready by Jan. 31

Published: Wednesday, December 30, 2009

By Sean Delaney, Press & Guide Newspapers

DEARBORN — A local police chief is defending his decision to withhold the release of an autopsy report on Detroit Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was killed Oct. 28 in a gunfight with the FBI at a Dearborn warehouse.

“While I understand the emotions surrounding the case and the sensitivity of the information, I’m standing by my decision,” Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said Monday.

Haddad told the Press & Guide he asked the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office to delay releasing the report until after the Dearborn Police Department has completed its investigation into the Islamic leader’s shooting, despite concerns from several civil rights groups about a possible cover-up of facts surrounding Abdullah’s death.

“If I thought there was something in the report that people didn’t already know, I’d release it,” he said. “We’re not hiding anything. We just want to make sure that there are no gaps in the information. Once the case is closed, we will disclose everything.”

He said the inquiry into Abdullah’s death could be concluded by Jan. 31.

But the department’s refusal to release the information immediately has several civil rights groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) concerned about a potential cover-up.

“If the autopsy is being suppressed to media and advocates, this would be very disturbing indeed and will raise even more suspicion in regards to the shooting of the imam,” said CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid. “Transparency would be the best measure for restoring public confidence in the process.”

Walid and other civil rights leaders have called for an independent investigation into the imam’s death, citing concerns about whether excessive force was used during the Oct. 28 raid at a warehouse in Dearborn, where agents attempted to arrest Abdullah on charges that included conspiracy to sell stolen goods and illegal possession and sale of firearms.

FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said Abdullah refused to surrender, fired a weapon and was killed by gunfire from agents. Authorities also conducted raids elsewhere to try to round up 10 followers named in a federal complaint.

The 43-page complaint described Abdullah as an extremist who believed the FBI bombed New York’s World Trade Center in 1993 and the Oklahoma City federal building two years later. Abdullah beat children with sticks at his Detroit mosque, the complaint claimed, and was trained with his followers in the use of firearms, martial arts and swords.

Yet many in the Islamic community did not see Abdullah in the same light. In a statement released Nov. 2, the National Lawyers Guild said, “All reports from local residents and community leaders indicate that Imam Abdullah and (members of his mosque) were dedicated to improving the community, feeding hungry neighborhood residents and helping young people in need, even letting many sleep in the mosque during inclement weather.”

But the FBI says Abdullah, also known as Christopher Thomas, was an imam, or prayer leader, of a radical group named Ummah whose primary mission is to establish an Islamic state within the United States.

That Islamic state, investigators said, would be ruled by Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, who is serving a life sentence for killing two Georgia police officers. Al-Amin, a veteran of the black power movement, started the group after he converted to Islam in prison.

The FBI penetrated the group with the help of confidential informants who recorded conversations with Abdullah. A year ago, the FBI hatched an undercover operation in which Abdullah and others believed they were selling stolen goods worth more than $5,000.

Abdullah received at least 20 percent of any profit and claimed the “Prophet Muhammad said that it is okay to participate in theft; as long as that person prays, they are in a good state,” FBI agent Gary Leone wrote in an affidavit filed with the complaint.

The affidavit also said bombs, guns and even the recipe for TNT were among Abdullah’s regular topics with his allies. Group members and former members said they were “willing to do anything Abdullah instructs and/or preaches, even including criminal conduct and acts of violence,” the FBI agent wrote.

But that description doesn’t match what Walid said he knew of Abdullah.

“He would open up the mosque to homeless people. He used to run a soup kitchen and feed indigent people,” Walid said. “I knew nothing of him that was related to any nefarious or criminal behavior.”

Walid said the county has yet to responded to a request from his organization requesting a copy of the autopsy report once it’s completed. He said the report could help answer some of the questions that have been on people’s minds since the shooting, including how many times Abdullah was shot, whether he suffered dog bites and whether he was handcuffed after he was shot.

“The unfortunate and perhaps unintended consequence is that the failure to release the autopsy report and the very exorbitant amount for the (autopsy photos) is raising in the minds of some people in the community that there’s a potential cover-up,” he said.

But Haddad continues to deny the allegations. He told the Press & Guide that the information could be released as early as Jan. 31.

“We’ve been assured that the investigation will be wrapped up by then,” he said. “I hope that’s the case.”

Privacy Isn’t the Price for Security

Opinion: Privacy Isn’t the Price for Security

(Dec. 29) – There is no doubt that the events aboard an airliner heading for Detroit on Christmas Day sent a collective chill down the spines of travelers everywhere. The attempted attack on that plane could easily have ended tragically, and we’re all grateful it didn’t. In the aftermath, it’s necessary for political leaders to find out what went wrong and what more can be done to protect our nation against terrorism.

But while it’s important to react quickly, it’s also important to react wisely and to adopt procedures that will be both truly effective and the least invasive to Americans’ privacy.

After the 9/11 attacks, many policies – from the overly broad Patriot Act to indefinite detention to misguided airline security measures – that, unfortunately, succeeded in neither increasing our safety nor honoring our values were quickly adopted. We should learn from that experience and in circumstances like this one insist on security measures that are actually effective rather than ones that just make us feel better.

For example, much talk this week has centered on airport security measures such as full-body-scanning technology, with speculation that such machines might have detected the hidden bomb material. But the effectiveness of such technology is far from clear. Experts have suggested that plastic explosives can be hidden from body scanners, and terrorists have proved adept in evading the post-9/11 security measures we’ve implemented. Al-Qaida has already launched attacks with explosives hidden in body cavities, which these machines cannot detect.

Meanwhile, this new technology presents serious threats to personal privacy. Body scanners produce strikingly graphic images, creating pictures of virtually naked bodies that reveal not only sexual organs but also intimate medical details such as colostomy bags and mastectomy scars. That degree of examination crosses the line and amounts to a significant – and for some people humiliating – assault on personal privacy to which travelers in a free country should not be subjected.

Other talk this week has been about terrorist watch lists, with some arguing that there should be more people, not fewer, on the lists. But to be effective, no-fly lists should be focused on true terrorists who pose a genuine threat to flight safety. Right now, the lists are bloated and unmanageable, keeping innocent travelers off their flights (remember Cat Stevens and Nelson Mandela?). This distracts from true terrorist threats while, as the recent event demonstrates, failing to identify true threats.

Instead, the government must find a better way to stop terrorist attacks than intrusive body scanners of questionable value and ineffective watch lists. Hindsight is always 20/20, but in several recent cases there appears to have been evidence that should have triggered more timely and detailed investigations, but that evidence was either lost in the vast seas of information now being collected under loosened surveillance laws, or was simply not shared effectively or acted upon properly.

We should invest our security resources in investigations based upon reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing so we can more effectively identify and stop attackers before they get to any airport. We must also hold our law enforcement and intelligence agencies accountable to ensure that the vast powers they’ve been given over the past nine years are being used effectively and responsibly.

Profiling and electronically strip searching the innocent doesn’t help find terrorists, it only wastes security resources. While we must work fervently to provide the best security possible, we must recognize that our constitutional freedoms are what we are ultimately trying to protect.

Americans can’t afford to be complacent about giving up civil liberties, especially to ineffective policies that don’t make us safer. Providing for security and liberty is not a zero-sum game. In America we should strive to be both safe and free.
Michael German is ACLU policy counsel and a former FBI agent.

On Al-Jazeera today discussing Al-Qaeda, racial profiling

Our comments condemning Al-Qaeda are scheduled to shown on Al-Jazeera (Arabic) today at 11 AM Eastern time and will be playing throughout the day.

Television coverage of our condemnations & concerns of racial profiling:


WDIV Channel 4

WXYZ Channel 7

TV 20

Also see Detroit Free Press story Area Muslims: Don’t link us with Al-Qaeda:

Walid said the failed attempt to blow up Flight 253 from Amsterdam as it landed in Detroit is not “jihad,” or “striving in the cause of God.” Instead, attacks are “irhab,” or “terrorism,” and “hirabah,” or “unlawful warfare,” according to Islam’s holy book, the Quran, he said.

“To our fellow Americans, we ask you not to paint all Muslims with a broad brush,” Walid said. “We condemn this type of injustice.”

Walid’s group is launching its own jihad, an online endeavor to provide legitimate information to young, uneducated Muslims who might fall prey to Internet rhetoric from religious extremists. He expects the online presence to launch by spring.

Also see Detroit News story Yemenis, Muslims fear backlash:

“People in the community are just frustrated,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of Michigan’s Council on American-Islamic Relations.

He said that misinformation about Islam abounds after such incidents. Walid said that the vast majority of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world do not support al-Qaida, and, in fact, make up most of the terrorist group’s casualties in places such as Pakistan and Iraq.

“Killing and targeting civilians is unacceptable in Islam,” he said.

He offered a distinction between Islamic concepts, condemning the incident as “irhab” (terrorism) and “hirabah” (unlawful warfare), and denying that the act constituted true “jihad,” or work on behalf of God.

“These people are not engaged in legitimate jihad, and we should not embolden them further by calling them ‘jihadis,’ ” Walid said.