Arab and Muslim Engagement
U.S. Attorneys Speak Out on Arab and Muslim Engagement
The effects of Omer Abdi Mohamed’s actions and the Operation Rhino investigation have caused a ripple effect in the Somali-American diaspora and greater Minnesota community. Parents worry about their children’s Internet activity and their vulnerability to recruiters. Innocent Somali students feel the racist backlash at school, as their peers taunt them and call them “terrorists” or other offensive names. And some in the community grow wary of law enforcement, thinking that the FBI is “spying” on them in their mosques and homes.
Those of us in law enforcement know all too well that terrorists continue to target the United States. We have seen the dangerous consequences take hold in places like Fort Hood and Times Square, and even reach here in Ohio, where our office and the FBI prosecuted a home-grown terror cell plotting to kill Americans abroad. Preventing these kinds of attacks is our top priority.
I have been privileged in recent months to meet with members of the Arab, Muslim, and Sikh communities. We discussed issues important to us all — families, the economy, safety, and security. As a law enforcement official, it pained me to hear about hate crimes, businesses that suffered, and bullying of children at school. The fear and sense of isolation among many in these communities is real and justified. They worry for themselves, and even more for their children. This needs to change.
When we meet with the Muslim, Arab and Sikh communities in our district, we send the message that the Justice Department's fight against terrorism has not dimmed our commitment to protect civil liberties. In this regard, President Barack Obama's reminder that America is not at war with Islam and that Osama bin Laden was a mass murderer of innocent Muslims, spoke volumes.
While we must repel attempts by foreign terrorists to radicalize Americans, vilifying Islam will not make America safer. Indeed, suggesting that most American Muslims are less loyal than their countrymen is not only inaccurate, but also adds an air of legitimacy to violent extremism of another kind: directed not by American Muslims, but at them.
As part of my job, I have also seen the backlash of the 9-11 attacks against citizens who are Muslim and Arab Americans. They have been the victims of threats and terrorism hoaxes since September 12, 2001. While our region, with its diverse population, is generally respectful of different cultures, some in our community blame and fear all Muslim and Arab Americans because of the acts of 19 hijackers. But vilifying Islam and those who observe it will not make America safer.
I write this piece as an American and as United States Attorney – and to fulfill a promise I readily made to our friends and neighbors in our local Arab-Muslim community. I can proudly say that the citizens here in Southeast Louisiana have displayed the best of the American spirit in the tolerant, highly diverse gumbo of cultures which is quintessentially reflective of America as a whole.
Face of terrorism is multi-hued:|
Focusing on just one group blinds us from seeing other threats
The diversity of the terrorist threat makes a single-minded focus on Muslim radicalization shortsighted and incomplete. It ignores the reality that the vast majority of Muslims who live in the United States are proud Americans, modeling the core values on which this nation was built and as offended by threats to our safety and freedom as any other citizen. If we are to truly meet the terrorist threat, we must understand its complexity and resist the temptation to oversimplify and compartmentalize the problem based on ill-informed stereotypes.