Ilmfest 2015…Muslims & FBI; a dysfunctional relationship
The Al-Maghrib organization has scheduled Ilmfest 2015 to be held in Bellevue on January 11th. I was looking forward to it, thinking of attending and learning from the many male and female speakers presenting at the “Ilmfest” (“knowledgefest”). Then I learnt some more about the “Ilmfest”; the FBI is invited to speak about youth and gangs at this conference where they expect about 1500+ Muslims to attend. Interestingly, the fact that the FBI is invited to speak at the conference seems to have been kept out of their published program for ilmfest 2015.
My first response was shock. What are we doing, giving the FBI such a prominent profile and by implication, such a position of trust with Muslims?
If the goal is to focus on youth and how to prevent them from going to gangs, then a MUCH better and more experienced organization would be the Seattle Police which is very active in addressing youth violence and gang activities, so why the FBI?!!
It turns out that the head of Al-Maghrib and particularly the V-P Walid Basyouni, are anxious to show the FBI that Al-Maghrib is NOT a “terrorist sympathizing organization” and that Al-Maghrib is cooperating with the authorities (the FBI). In effect, the FBI’s presentation is a show of cooperation with the FBI so maybe they will start to think of Al-Maghrib and the rest of us “trrrst” Muslims as “good guys”.
Fat chance of that!
I want Muslims to work IN the FBI as agents and WITH the FBI as common citizens, like the rest of America, but not while we are being treated as suspects and targets by them. The FBI wants relations with Muslims (as I have been told a dozen of times by them) “based on respect and trust”, but respect and trust seem to flow only one way, towards the FBI. The reciprocal route of the FBI treating Muslims with respect and trust has gone AWOL. Yet larger Muslim organizations continue to pander to the FBI, thinking it will make their organization look better with the FBI and with Muslims, but it fails on both counts.
What are our leaders thinking???
The only reason the FBI wants a cozy relationship with Muslims is so they can turn more of us into informants and they can cultivate more of us with their agents provocateur, into planning something idiotic such as an attack on a military unit and the FBI steps in to show how they are protecting America…Yaaay! Why else would they waste their time and resources on Muslims? At this point, I do not believe there is anything the FBI does with Muslims, that is not designed to entrap them or other Muslims.
The FBI, like other members of the FEAR Industry, thrive on have an enemy and today’s enemy of fashion, are us Muslims. If tomorrow, the FBI could not ties something potentially violent on Muslims and the headlines start to say, “No Muslims involved in Terrorism in America”, the department would have to cut down its staff and funding because there is no more “threat” from us Muslims. It is the promoted fear of violence from Muslims, that drives the FEAR Industry. For the FBI to look effective, they have to show they are working among Muslims and they are nabbing potential “threats” from “Radical” Muslims by hanging Muslim scalps on their doors. The only way they can do this is to co-opt Muslims to become informants (agents provocateurs) or active threats by being cultivated by the FBI to become “Radicals”.
Much as we would like to think otherwise, there is no “Trust and respect” by the FBI, towards Muslims, only entrapment.
By inviting the FBI to speak at a prestigious and well-attended event like “Ilmfest 2015”, our youth are being told to trust the FBI and the impressionable ones who do, are sure to become tools of the FBI by either becoming informants or being encouraged by FBI informants to go “radical” so they can be “intercepted” and another victory against Evil can be declared. Oh yes, Al-Maghrib can look prestigious to other Muslims because it shares the limelight with power (the FBI) and Al-Maghrib’s leadership can be seen in pictures with FBI agents. Bravo!
What do we Muslims get in return for giving the FBI the prestige and the appearance of trust that goes with it, of being invited to large Muslim gatherings?
We get Bus ads by the FBI, showing “The Faces of Global Terrorism” posters with pictures of Muslims.
We get evasive, negligent responses when there are threats against Muslims. that’s when you will see our FBI launch into verbal gymnastics to create fiction in order to avoid having to actually investigate the crime.
Most irritating and demeaning of all, we get the FBI actively sabotaging Muslim connections with CAIR, the ONLY effective Muslim civil rights organization in American. During the planning stages of Ilmfest 2014, there was some talk of bringing CAIR AND including the FBI among the list of speakers, but the FBI said they would not participate if CAIR was involved. Our courageous Muslims of Al-Maghrib jettisoned CAIR and kept the FBI, as they have done again this year.
Even when the FBI appeared to be doing something “for the good of the people” such as the recent Internet Safety presentation they held at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) in Redmond WA, the FBI could not resist looking for infiltration opportunities. One of the agents who was brought to MAPS was Agent Richard Conti, the same man who tried very hard and very coercively, to blackmail a dear friend of mine, to become an FBI informant. Agent Conti’s activities were brought to a halt only when we had a forceful meeting with the then US Attorney John McKay. No surprise, that Agent Conti was seen circulating among the youth and getting so friendly with them that even the DHS people who were present, felt uncomfortable.
Part of the problem is that Muslims themselves, contribute to the Muslim-bashing by staying silent when our organizations are attacked and when Muslims are targeted. We also encourage Muslim institutions’ boot-licking of the FBI by rewarding such Muslim organizations with our support. Again and again, our Muslim organizations wrongly believe they have no power and stay silent when Muslims are under the FBI jackboot. As a result, we find that indeed, we do not have any power. Power, Freedom, Equal Treatment and Respect as members of a society, come only when the minorities take charge and insist on being treated as equals, not when they cater, pander and show servility to Power.
We can change all this! Make the decision to write emails to the leadership of Al-Maghrib, both locally and nationally, and tell them we are NOT in favor of the FBI getting involved with us until such time as they demonstrate they can be trusted. If they are smart, they will listen and work to OUR best interests as opposed to improving the organizational and leadership profiles with the FBI. People need to actually get the motivation to do and say something if we are concerned about what the future holds for us and our children.
Write to the leaders below, they might get the idea that self-promotion is not in the interest of Muslims in general
Muhammed Al Shareef, head of US National headquarters of Al-Maghrib in Texas (email@example.com)
Seattle Al-Maghrib head Aiman Khan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Seattle Al-Maghrib V-P Zeeshan Syed (email@example.com)
Muslims have power and we CAN make changes so we are treated with respect like other minorities, but unless we learn to exercise our power and unless we take a stand for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters, we will continue to be taken off flights “in an abundance of caution”, we will continue to be placed on “No-Fly” lists and we will continue to be regarded as the greatest threat to the US and to the West, as the training for the FBI, for the Military and for the Police says. Our relationship with the FBI can and should change, once they demonstrate that they are actually interested in rooting out criminal activities and are not just looking for Muslims as the usual suspects.
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