FBI Sowing 'Anger and Fear' Among Muslims
It's been six weeks since Malik Nadal Hasan, a radical Muslim, massacred 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas, after months of suspect behavior left unaddressed by colleagues evidently reluctant to speak out. The front page of Friday's Times dealt with what the paper sees as the real problem - too much focus on Muslims as potential terrorists: "Muslims Say F.B.I. Tactics Sow Anger and Fear."
Reporter Paul Vitello was melodramatic:
The anxiety and anger have been building all year. In March, a national coalition of Islamic organizations warned that it would cease cooperating with the F.B.I. unless the agency stopped infiltrating mosques and using "agents provocateurs to trap unsuspecting Muslim youth."
In September, a cleric in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, sued the government, claiming that the F.B.I. had threatened to scuttle his application for a green card unless he agreed to spy on relatives overseas - echoing similar claims made in recent court cases in California, Florida and Massachusetts.
And last month, after an imam in Queens was charged with aiding what the authorities called a bomb-making plot, a group of South Asian Muslims there began compiling a database of complaints about their brushes with counterterrorism investigators.
Since the terror attacks of 2001, the F.B.I. and Muslim and Arab-American leaders across the country have worked to build a relationship of trust, sharing information both to fight terrorism and to protect the interests of mosques and communities.
Vitello addressed a total of eight words to the Fort Hood shootings without even naming Hasan:
There is little doubt that a spate of recent cases - from the alleged bomb plot by a former Manhattan coffee vendor, Najibullah Zazi, to the shootings at Fort Hood, in Texas - has heightened Americans' concerns about homegrown terrorism. Muslim leaders have promised to redouble efforts to combat extremism in their ranks.
Yet they also worry about the fallout for the vast numbers of the innocent. Some Muslims, Ms. Mattson said, have canceled trips abroad to avoid arousing suspicion. People are wary of whom they speak to. Community groups say it is harder to find volunteers. Many Muslim charities are hobbled.
And some law enforcement experts warn of a farther-reaching consequence: the loss of a critical early-warning system against domestic terrorism.
But by most accounts, the unraveling of ties between the F.B.I. and Muslim-Americans began two years ago, with the F.B.I.'s decision to stop sharing information with the nation's most prominent Muslim civil rights organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The F.B.I. said it was motivated by council executives' failure to answer questions about links with the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The executives denied any such connection, and accused the F.B.I. of staining the council's reputation without due process.
In June, the American Civil Liberties Union made a similar complaint about Justice Department decisions to shut down six Muslim charities without filing charges. The moves, which froze billions of dollars in assets, have instilled among Muslims "a pervasive fear that they may be arrested, prosecuted, targeted for law enforcement interviews" if they give to any Islamic charity, the A.C.L.U. said.
The Times might call CAIR a "civil rights organization," but as Daniel Pipes and Sharon Chadha noted in the Spring 2006 Middle East Quarterly, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer in 2003 accused the group of having "ties to terrorism," and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said CAIR was "unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect."
Andrew McCarthy wrote much more about CAIR in a 2007 story at National Review Online, details that have historically been almost completely absent from Times coverage of the group.