Thursday, November 08, 2012

8-Nov-12: Nearly a hundred terrorists were stopped in time by US authorities in the past 3 years. What do most of them have in common?

TIME Magazine presumably views this differently
from the way we do
Two and a half weeks ago, a serious report on the war against terrorists was issued by the United States Senate Intelligence Committee. A press release issued on October 23 quotes the committee's chair, Senator Dianne Feinstein, saying the report was principally
"a list of 95 individuals arrested inside the United States since January 2009 on terrorism-related charges as part of more than 50 different investigations... The data were compiled by Senate Intelligence Committee staff based on publicly available information from the FBI, the Congressional Research Service and media reports... “The arrest of Quazi Nafis last week is a reminder that the terrorist threat remains real, and the Intelligence Community—particularly the FBI—has answered the call to keep the homeland safe... I commend these agencies for their record and for remaining focused on preventing terrorist attacks.”
We found the report, entitled "Terrorist Arrests and Plots Stopped in the United States 2009-2012", by chance today. On reviewing it, we felt some of the important information in it was getting lost because of the confusing way it was laid out and presented. So we took the text and turned it into an easier-to-read document based on a table structure. We put our version of it online [here, PDF] for people interested to absorb what the Committee uncovered.

We have searched for media reporting of the Senate report and are surprised by how it got almost none, anywhere. This is odd because there is a striking aspect to it. 

The report names the 95 intended perpetrators of terrorist acts in the United States over the last three years who were caught and stopped by alert authorities before serious harm was done. And by the way, it omits the names of three jihadist terrorists whose murderous efforts were not prevented by the FBI. The three are Major Nidal Hasan (the”Fort Hood shooter" who killed 13), Abdulhakim Muhammed, the “Little Rock recruiting center shooter”, and Umar Farouk  Abdulmutallab (the “underwear bomber”).

Out of a total of 95, the report calls one a white supremacist; five are members of a self-proclaimed anarchist group (the May 2012 plot to blow up a bridge in Ohio); nine are members of the Hutaree "Christian Patriot" militia

All the others - more than 84% - are, based on our plain reading of the facts in the list, Islamists

You might have thought this was something worth reporting. But it's mentioned neither in the report itself nor in Senator Feinstein's press release, nor in any news article that we have come across. (If you see one, please let us know.) We fear the idiotic reluctance of some of America's major news media to use the words 'Islamist' and 'terrorist' is part of the reason why. Look for instance at the Guidelines for Countering Racial, Ethnic and Religious Profiling [online here] of the Society of Professional Journalists, which include these points:
  • "Avoid using word combinations such as "Islamic terrorist" or "Muslim extremist" that are misleading because they link whole religions to criminal activity. Be specific: Alternate choices, depending on context, include "Al Qaeda terrorists" or, to describe the broad range of groups involved in Islamic politics, "political Islamists." 
  • "Do not use religious characterizations as shorthand when geographic, political, socioeconomic or other distinctions might be more accurate.
  • "Avoid using terms such as "jihad" unless you are certain of their precise meaning and include the context when they are used in quotations. The basic meaning of "jihad" is to exert oneself for the good of Islam and to better oneself." 
Data like those in the Senate report matter. The Council on Foreign Relations in a report a year ago ["Threat of Homegrown Islamist Terrorism"] spoke of
growing questions about motivations of Islamic radicals in the United States in the decade since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks by al-Qaeda that killed nearly three thousand people... The question increasingly arises of how to combat Islamist terrorism at home. U.S. law enforcement intelligence is hampered by an underdeveloped relationship with Muslim communities and the inability to readily identify potential terrorists--especially since they often do not appear to need help from international organizations like al-Qaeda to carry out plots.
In simple terms, they are saying that homegrown Islamist terror is a strategic threat to Americans, and despite the reported successes, US security officials know they are not doing all they can to thwart the terrorists.

Isn't that reason enough to shine a really bright light on the Islamists who were intercepted before they killed people and carried out carefully planned acts of terrorism? Because it's a certainty that there are others - perhaps many - still out there, still plotting.

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