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For years many of us have been saying that the Muslim leaders in the US must actively speak out against terrorism. We have also heard of Muslim leaders who profess to oppose terrorism and insist that they do not harbor recruits or recruiters of terrorism.
Imagine my disappointment as I learn that mosques may not be screening for jihadis. According to Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch, who has been tracking mosques who report to the authorities, “…mosques are not putting jihadis out, or making it clear that they are unwelcome, or, for the most part, reporting them to authorities when they learn of what they’re doing.”
In contrast, a counterterrorism program in Dearborn led by its Police Chief Ron Haddad, has shown success in identifying potential terrorists:
In a city where nearly a third of the approximately 95,000 residents are Arab-American or of Arab descent, Haddad’s department has a deep network of contacts in the community and makes regular visits to Dearborn’s 38 schools and its many mosques. He sponsors a program called “Stepping Up,” which includes an annual awards ceremony (the next is April 12) for residents reporting crime. At least twice in the past several years, fearing influence from ISIL or online propaganda on their children, Haddad says, Muslim fathers have turned in their own sons. In another case, it was students at a largely Muslim high school calling about a troubled peer.
The FBI also began rolling out a secret informant program in key cities to see how well the program will work. Unfortunately groups, Muslim and non-Muslim, have emerged that challenge the FBI’s efforts to identify potential terrorists.
Most recently the WSJ reported on Dr. Dale Broome in San Bernardino who, after the terror attack, wrote up a pledge that could be signed by Muslim leaders, that “among other things, committed Muslim leaders to ‘implement a program to monitor members of my mosque who may be planning, recruiting or participating in such criminal activity.’ They would also be asked to report any suspicious individuals to authorities and encourage their congregations to do the same.”
Dr. Broome asked a local Muslim, Dr. Mohammad Hossain, who had lived in the U.S. for 40 years, if he would sign the pledge. Dr. Hossain asked that Dr. Broome submit the pledge to the interfaith council to which both men belonged. Dr. Hossain refused to sign the pledge, as did everyone on the council, except Dr. Broome. Dr. Hossain said, according to WSJ, that terrorism was a political not religious act that was carried out by a tiny minority on the fringes of Islam. It wasn’t his responsibility to combat the fear of Islam by signing pledges or reporting suspects.
So we have those who are actively fighting the recruitment of Islamist terrorists, such as communities like Dearborn along with the FBI, and those, including Muslims and their communities’ supporters, who feel that Muslims and mosques should not be singled out by those within their community, or those outside.
These circumstances raise a number of questions: is the larger Muslim community prepared to fight Islamist terrorism or not? How do we support the FBI in its efforts to identify potential terrorists without their limiting the civil rights of others? Can we trust that the Muslim communities who say they wish to help are doing so?