December 28, 2005
New revelations that federal officials are checking mosques for radiation levels has the Council on American Islamic Relations in an uproar. CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper fumed: “This creates the appearance that Muslims are targeted simply for being Muslims. I don’t think this is the message the government wants to send at this time.” A CAIR statement claimed that the monitoring “could lead to the perception that we are no longer a nation ruled by law, but instead one in which fear trumps constitutional rights. All Americans should be concerned about the apparent trend toward a two-tiered system of justice, with full rights for most citizens, and another diminished set of rights for Muslims.”
Indeed, the mainstream media has made much of potential Constitutional issues, trumpeting the fact that the radiation monitoring has been done without search warrants -- even though no actual searches have been carried out. Also, Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse maintained that “FBI agents do not intrude across any constitutionally protected areas without the proper legal authority,” and that it does not monitor groups in general but only acts on specific information. Is there any such information in this case? Roehrkasse spoke of official concern with “a growing body of sensitive reporting that continues to show al-Qaida has a clear intention to obtain and ultimately use chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear” weapons.
This has been public knowledge for years. Not long after 9/11, Americans discovered plans for constructing nuclear weapons in a former Al-Qaeda safe house in Kabul. A 2003 CIA report stated that jihad terrorists “have a wide variety of potential agents and delivery means to choose from for chemical, biological and radiological or nuclear (CBRN) attacks.” Other reports have claimed that Osama bin Laden himself met with Pakistani nuclear scientists; that Al-Qaeda has already obtained nuclear material on the Russian black market, and that jihadists already having brought those nukes into the United States. Others asserted that Al-Qaeda was planning to smuggle nuclear material into the U.S. from Mexico. But even if none of that is true, there is no doubt that jihadists are working in that direction. Ramzi bin al-Shibh, one of the masterminds of 9/11, has declared that “in killing Americans…Muslims should not exceed four million non-combatants, or render more than ten million of them homeless.”
But of course, no Muslims who believe that four million Americans should be murdered are actually on American soil, right? Unfortunately, we have no way to know this for sure. Political correctness and unproven assumptions have kept the media and even law enforcement officials from asking the hard questions they should ask of Muslim leaders in the U.S. Absurdities consequently abound. One police official lamented: “We’ll come back from a Kumbayah meeting with a local mosque and realize that these guys who just agreed to help us are in our terror files!” The most notorious example of this phenomenon may be former Cleveland Muslim leader Fawaz Damra, who signed the Fiqh Council of North America’s condemnation of terrorism and now faces deportation for failing to disclose his ties to terrorist groups. Damra, widely respected as a moderate voice up until his arrest, was never expelled from his communities in Brooklyn or Cleveland (or evidently even reprimanded) despite having said at a 1989 Islamic conference that “the first principle is that terrorism, and terrorism alone, is the path to liberation.”
The core problem is that peaceful American Muslims have not moved to expose, expel, or separate themselves from those who hold such sentiments. There is no wall of separation in the American Muslim community between Muslims who accept American pluralism and just want to live ordinary lives and those who hold to the same ideology of jihad and the destruction or subjugation of infidels to which Osama bin Laden has dedicated his life. There is no easy or reliable way to distinguish a Muslim who may be working to launch a chemical or nuclear strike in the U.S. from one who abhors the very idea. Do the Muslims who hope to perpetrate such violence operate or at least congregate in mosques? Yes, they do. Sahim Alwan, a onetime leader of the Yemeni community in Lackawanna, New York and president of the mosque there, has the distinction of being the first American to attend an Al Qaeda training camp. Maher Hawash’s transition from secular Intel exec to jihadist was accompanied by an increase in his Islamic fervor and frequent mosque attendance.
This doesn’t mean that every Muslim in the United States is secretly plotting a nuclear strike. But with all the evidence that Al-Qaeda is making every effort to launch such an attack, would it really be wise to risk everything on the assumption that none are? Hooper’s outrage over unequal treatment supposedly being accorded to Muslims founders on the fact that it is only Muslim groups that have declared their desire to launch a nuclear strike against the United States. We would be foolish -- suicidally so -- not to take all necessary steps to protect ourselves accordingly. If Hooper were genuinely concerned about the unfair targeting of Muslims, he could direct the efforts of his organization to making concerted efforts to work with law enforcement officials to identify and apprehend jihadists in the United States, and to turn Muslims in America away from the jihad ideology. The fact that he does nothing toward either of these ends, and instead raises false Constitutional specters against genuine efforts to protect this country from a catastrophic attack, speaks volumes. There is no Constitutional right to harbor radioactive material. This monitoring should continue.
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Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of five books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). He is also an Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation.