It's time to worry when the Federal Bureau of Investigation, America's national police agency, consistently cannot figure out who's friend and who's foe in the war on terror. The bureau's record of honoring the wrong American Muslims captures this

It's time to worry when the Federal Bureau of Investigation, America's national police agency, consistently cannot figure out who's friend and who's foe in the war on terror.

The bureau's record of honoring the wrong American Muslims captures this problem.

Marwan Kreidie, FBI favorite.

A few weeks ago, the bureau did it again, honoring Marwan Kreidie, a Philadelphia activist, with its Community Leadership Award for his being "very helpful to the FBI office," and specifically for his efforts "in identifying, preventing and disrupting acts of terrorism." Celebrating Kreidie raises deep concerns about the FBI's continuing inability to understand the war it is fighting.

First, Kreidie has repeatedly damned counterterrorist measures and to my knowledge has never approved a single one. He

  • Condemned interviewing about 5,000 male noncitizens who had arrived on temporary visas from countries hosting active terrorist cells as indicative of "sloppy police work" and "ridiculous."
  • Was "appalled" by measures requiring some arriving foreigners to provide fingerprints, photographs, and details about their travel plans. "For me as an American citizen, it's frightening."
  • Furiously compared the Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS), "a national system for concerned workers to report suspicious activity." to the notorious Stasi secret police in East Germany.
  • Opposed the USA PATRIOT Act, saying that it created an "open season" on Arabs and Muslims.
  • Indignantly renounced the government's offer to reward "reliable and useful" information about terrorists with a fast track to American citizenship: "It's bribery and it's disgusting."
  • Decried the focus on deporting illegal aliens in the United States from Arab and Muslim countries – the source of nearly all the terrorism in the United States – as "biased."
  • Denounced FBI interviews of Iraqi immigrants, saying it had "zero" chances of turning up useful information.

More broadly, Kreidie rejects law-enforcement counterterrorist efforts as "massive intrusions on civil liberties" that "enraged" Arab and Muslim Americans. He even characterized anti-terrorism efforts as "unconstitutional."

Second, Kreidie viciously attacks the Bush administration. He condemned what he called the "assaults on human rights mounted by President Bush and his Attorney General, John Ashcroft." He accused President George W. Bush of "a litany of anti-Arab and Muslim actions." He on one occasion referred to the attorney general (who, among his other jobs, oversees the FBI) as "that lunatic Ashcroft."

Third, Kreidie denies American Muslims have anything to do with terrorism. "Nobody in my community supports Osama," he has announced, thereby in advance exonerating Muslims of connections to Al-Qaeda and making one wonder how much help he can provide the FBI. After the U.S. president personally signed the papers to close down the Holy Land Foundation, an Islamic "charity," and the treasury secretary described it as an organization that "exists to raise money in the United States to promote terror," Kreidie insisted on the foundation being a legitimate charitable organization. When the Pennsylvania state treasurer, Barbara Hafer, suspected that $210,000 stolen by individuals with Arabic names could be connected to terrorism, Kreidie jumped on her statement as baseless and inflammatory.

Summing up his whole outlook, Kreidie has said that for American Arabs and Muslims, working with the FBI is "a waste of time."

How, then, did this anti-counterterrorism, anti-Bush, anti-Ashcroft, anti-FBI figure exactly help in "identifying, preventing and disrupting acts of terrorism"? Presented with this record of Kreidie's remarks, the Philadelphia FBI office declined to comment.

When a leading law enforcement agency like the FBI is so politically exposed that it rewards those who attack it, winning the war on terror appears increasingly remote. The police need to do their work and not hobble themselves by honoring their opponents.

July 6, 2004 update: Kriedie has some strange and alarming views on other topics too, which did not fit in the main article for reasons of space.

(1) The Philadelphia School District was teaching children a poem by a Palestinian, Mahmoud Darwish, which included the blood-thirsty phrase, "if I were to become hungry, I shall eat the flesh of my usurper," a clear reference to Israelis. Kreidie pooh-poohed objections to this horrific passage, saying they were "blown out of proportion." He found this not to be "a call for violence" but "a plea by a poet who's talking about the land that they lost."

(2) The Philadelphia Inquirer paraphrased Kriedie the day after Saddam Hussein was captured dismissing this stunning event and instead moaning that "the underlying cause of the Iraqi resistance" was not Saddam Hussein "but the American invasion and occupation of Iraq and U.S. participation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

(3) He wrongly predicted that "if a lot of American kids start coming back in body bags" from Iraq, Arab Americans would suffer a backlash.

Oct. 6, 2004 update: For breaking news on Marwan Kreidie, see "Another FBI Award for Marwan Kreidie?"