Much of the time, however, the race against terror plots at home will involve determined, focused police work, using every legal and technical resource available to law enforcement agencies. We cannot assume that terror plots will destroy themselves from within. Groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations will call such investigations illegal or Islamophobic. Indeed, CAIR’s director of communications, Ibrahim Hooper, suggested that the Massachusetts bust itself was untoward because it was “initiated by the FBI.” If illegality is evident, it will surely be brought up before the court and duly considered. As far as the Islamphobic argument goes, it holds no water. Actively seeking out and neutralizing threats to national security before they strike protects America’s peaceful Muslims.
Admittedly, it might not always seem that way — it’s not surprising that 52% of Muslim-Americans feel singled out by the terror programs of law-enforcement agencies. But the same Pew Center poll that reported that figure also reported that 21% of American-Muslims felt there was support for extremism within their community, and a large plurality — 48% — felt that the Muslim-American community leaders were not doing enough to combat that problem.
Into that vacuum, law enforcement must step. It is always regrettable when a citizen is tainted by the radical actions of a member of their community, but it is preferable to the alternative. Ferdaus is allegedly part of a worrying trend, where homegrown threats seek to conduct jihad in the West in support of global aims. On top of the Boston and Toronto plots discussed above, there was also last year’s Portland, Oregon bomb plot, where American citizen Mohamed Osman Mohamud sought to strike the city’s annual Christmas-tree lighting. There is also the case of U.S. Army private Naser Jason Abdo, who sought to follow in the footsteps of Major Nidal Hasan and murder American troops at or near Fort Hood, Texas.
Good police work and a little luck helped prevent all these attacks. It wasn’t just lives that were spared in each case. It was the reputation of America’s Muslim community, who inevitably (and largely unfairly) would take the blame in the aftermath of any homegrown attack. That is something America’s Muslim leaders should consider before decrying successful police operations that weed out the dangerous extremists in their midst.
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