The special agent in charge of FBI's Washington Field Office has participated in a new initiative called the Promising Practices Guide: Developing Partnerships Between Law Enforcement and American Muslim, Arab, and Sikh Communities. This is a worrisome development because that guide's adoption could significantly impede the war on terror.
Funded by the Soros and Whiting foundations and created at Northeastern University, the guide presents its goal as shaping "a basic curriculum for future law enforcement and community training activities." At first glance, this sounds promising, as it offers ways to take advantage of Arab, Muslim and Sikh unique "linguistic skills, information, and cultural insights" to develop new counterterrorism initiatives.
But the guide's authors, Deborah A. Ramirez, Sasha Cohen O'Connell and Rabia Zafar, quickly alert the reader as to their true agenda. "The most dangerous threats in this war" they write, "are rooted in the successful propagation of anger and fear directed at unfamiliar cultures and people." The most dangerous threat, they say, is not the very real violence of Islamist terror but the alleged bias of American authorities against some minority populations. The guide might present itself as an aide to counterterrorism but its real purpose is to deflect attention from national security to the privileging of select communities.
In this spirit, and ignoring the fact that those who are making war on America act explicitly in the name of Islam, the Promising Practices Guide renounces any approach to law enforcement that focuses on "religion or national origin." Islamic charities, a known source of terrorist funding, should not be given special scrutiny lest "this creates an impression of unjust, religious, and/or national origin-based targeting." Nor apparently should those suspected of plotting terrorism be detained for lesser crimes such as immigration violations or firearms offenses, as to the community, "these may appear to be 'pretext' investigations." Using the guide's logic, no one should be singled out, not even would-be terrorists, not even for questioning.
The guide grants Arab and Muslim concerns a higher priority than standard law enforcement practices. For example, the routine rotation of law enforcement personnel is said to obstruct a sense of belonging; Salam Al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council complained that "Once you know somebody [within law enforcement], they move [on]." The guide's authors accept that constant rotations reduce the chance of corruption but nonetheless advocate that these communities be excepted and allowed to develop cozy relations with law enforcement.
The authors sympathetically relate that some community organizations (including a branch of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee) refused to cooperate with them due to a skepticism about operational-level discussions with law enforcement. They were convinced instead that the root of the problem lies elsewhere – in "unjust legislation from the highest levels of government and the American public's acceptance of racial profiling." To address this type of concern, the guide recommends that police efforts move away from a traditional focus on making arrests and toward developing community partnerships that consist of explaining immigration law and airport security policy.
Rather than concentrate on leads to protect the country from terrorism, the "best and brightest" in law enforcement should be recruited to work on community outreach initiatives. This special consideration flows from many reasons, including a supposed view of law enforcement by Arabs and Muslims as "an extension of U.S. policies or actions that concern them, such as the current war in Iraq and U.S. foreign policy in Israel."
And the C.A.T. Eyes training program – adopted by law enforcement to "assist local communities to fight against domestic terrorism and racial profiling" – was (horrors!) developed in part by an Israeli police officer. C.A.T. Eyes may emphasize that it "educates people on the indicators of terrorism not race or religion," but for the guide's authors, the "general negative reaction members of the Muslim and Arab communities" to any training based on "Israeli perceptions, intelligence, or notions of policing" could be reason enough to scuttle the program.
The guide stoops to promoting non-existent problems to establish unfairness by law enforcement. It cites, for example, two cases from 2002. In Florida, a supposedly Jewish perpetrator of an attempted bombing of mosques and Islamic centers was charged with weapons possession and "conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Muslims;" while in Los Angeles, Arabs and Muslims are supposedly "under the impression" that a Muslim killer of two individuals at the El Al airport counter was charged with terrorism. Wrong: the El Al perpetrator was shot dead on the spot – and so was never charged with any crime; more than that, law enforcement actually stated that "there's nothing to indicate terrorism" in the LAX case and proposed that a work dispute might have been the cause of the violence. So the guide provides an unreasonable error in perception, then puts the onus on law enforcement to correct such misperceptions.
Instead of crafting a genuine counterterrorism initiative, this George Soros-funded guide promises to help terrorists in the United States avoid arrest. The FBI's Washington Field Office should reconsider its cooperation with the Promising Practices Guide and other law enforcement agencies should shun it.
Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum; Sharon Chadha is the co-author of Middle East Politics (forthcoming) .