FBI, Police, Fusion Center and Muslims Meet
I was among the community members invited to a meeting with the Seattle Police (SPD…Chief O’Toole present), FBI and Fusion Center (FC…Director, Lt. Trowbridge present) on Tuesday the 3rd of May from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The event was called, “Building Communities of Trust“, there were about six of us Muslims present, the rest were from other groups and communities. The purpose was to introduce and promote the Nationwide SAR (Suspicious Activity Reporting) Initiative also known as the NSI, among the various communities. Part of this program is also the “If you see something, say something” program.
Note. Everything here is from my perspective and understanding, if someone should wish to disagree or correct, please feel free to do so. When I say “we”, I am referring to the civilian attendees.
Speeches and presentations were made by the Fusion Center and by the SPD, the FBI had sent two low-ranking people who did not make presentations.
The main focus seemed to be the Fusion Center whose purpose is to collect information from all departments and from the public, co-relate it in order to find out if the tip given to them is worth investigation and to recommend no action if it is not. The folks from FC went to great lengths, reading from their rule book in hopes of convincing us that they do not profile, they do not target and they destroy all information within 30 days if it is not useful towards an investigation.
SPD also told us how they are in the business of only protecting the public and would not tolerate any bias in their force.
Since we were asked to speak up during presentations if we wished, I did so several times.
One civilian spoke up and went to lengths talking about how trustworthy the Police and FBI are and that they protect all of us and we must cooperate with them as much as possible because that is our duty.
The first point I raised was that as Muslims, our concern is that this is another way to get to target Muslims by using Muslims and while the presentations were wonderful, they only spoke about the ideal standards to which the agencies were supposed to adhere. However, as Muslims, we know that we are targeted and persecuted and the goal of agencies appears to us, to be all about gathering more Muslim scalps; there is a serious disconnect between how the rules say agencies should work and how the agencies actually work.
I explained that our problem was with the actual training internal and external, that members of various agencies received. The members of agencies are decent, sincere people who are informed by so-called “experts” that Islam and Muslims are the greatest threat to the US and to the West so of course, they will emerge with hostile feelings towards Muslims. Members of various agencies go to attend training courses that claim to be against “Terrorism” but are actually a full course on how violent and dangerous Islam and Muslims are. I offered to provide full course details to anyone who would want them…no takers.
I pointed to the fact that the SPD liaison officer with the FBI’s JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) was until recently, Det. Glenn Kerns who stood in a meeting of many senior public leaders members of Police and the then-head of the local FBI (I was present) and loudly and repeatedly announced that Somalis could not be trusted. I said that while it was a serious matter, what was even more serious was the sad fact that no action (then or later) was taken to remove this man from his position and make sure he does not contaminate other minds.
Of deep concern was also the fact that when I related this story to the head of the FBI‘s JTTF, he rose to defend the man, rather than show any regret that such a person was working with the JTTF. Further, among the FBIs local SMEs (Subject Matter Experts), there was at least one man who was so completely against Islam and Muslims that he distributed books (I picked up a copy) that lied about how evil Islam and Muslims were. This man too, was allowed to continue with his biases intact and open to anyone within range.
In view of these facts, how could Muslims accept that the SPD, FBI and Fusion Center be working on anything but finding “dangerous Muzlems“?
One Muslim person agreed with me and said Muslims were indeed fearful of being targeted.
There were lots of assurances that in fact the agencies are not like that, they are actually focused ONLY on finding people who are violent criminals and their faith has no part in the hunt for terrorist.
At this point, I asked a senior member of an agency to define “Terrorism” for me, he couldn’t. He fumbled and about the only things he could say were, “Well, the use of force…by a…religion….”.
“That’s what we are afraid of!” I said. “That you will be looking for Muslims”.
One civilian spoke up that we must not spread fear of the authorities and we must not talk about not trusting the law enforcement, that such discussions were not helpful.
Among the handouts was a card “SAR Indicators and Behaviors“, it had sixteen types of activities under the heading, “Defined Criminal Activity and Potential Terrorism Nexus Activity“. This was a list of activities that members of law enforcement agencies and the public might observe and should report so the Fusion Center, the FBI and SPD could get on with an investigation. Of course, if the investigation did not show evidence of criminal behavior, the matter would be dropped! Yeah, now pull the other leg.
The threshold at which they recommended reporting someone’s activities was that someone was acting “…in a manner that would arouse suspicion of terrorism or other criminality in a reasonable person“. The sixteen activities included:
- Expressed or implied threat (“I will break his neck” says someone in anger?)
- Aviation activity (flying lessons?)
- Photography. (Example offered was someone taking detailed pictures of a bridge or a building)
- Observation/Surveillance. (Example offered was the use of binoculars to observe buildings, checking distances, taking notes etc.,)
- Acquisition of Expertise. (Example offered was seeking to obtain knowledge or skills in security concepts, military weapons or tactics)
So Muslims had better give up photography, lose interest in flying, sell their cameras or only take indoor shots. Muslims majoring in subjects like Microbiology or Nuclear Physics are wide open to be subjects of “See something, say something” and all consequences that may follow. Definitely don’t use binoculars when looking at buildings or bridges and for God’s sake, don’t even try to become experts on “Terrorism”, leave that to the Muslim-haters!
I pointed out that the language, “in a manner that would arouse suspicion of terrorism or other criminality in a reasonable person” means that Muslims will now be targeted in wholesale numbers. Already, our simple acts of boarding flights are considered to be report-worthy and immediate action is taken against the Muslims, not against the bigots.
With this informational card on suspicious behavior, the bigots must be having a field day because now suspicion (of Muslims) has official sanction, even law enforcement agents and officers will feel relieved that they will not be called biased if they pick up Muslims on suspicion of terrorism. To be sure, one can argue that these suspicions could land on anybody, but in reality, does anyone believe that the main and perhaps overwhelming targets will not be us Muslims?
On the other hand, it is understandable but no less frustrating, that there are no penalties in place for people who “…say something” in order to vent their bigotries and their false reporting carries no negative consequences for the, only for the reported (Muslims).
I said that evidence of past FBI actions against Muslims has been to target us, to threaten and coerce us to become “informants” and to cultivate us until some idiot Muslim falls for their play and agrees to do something violent…and bravo! they have caught another terrorist! Until such time as we can be certain that someone reported to the Police of FBI would be handled discreetly until there is evidence of criminal activity, I for one, will not even consider reporting “suspicious activity”. I will not take the responsibility to report “suspicious activity” to the FBI, having them destroy someone’s life and then walk away saying there is nothing to investigate.
There are more than enough cases to show how the FBI destroys people’s lives based solely on suspicion and a fertile imagination as to how this suspect might throw open the gates to Armageddon. When dealing with Muslims, we have seen over and over again, how the FBI takes action “in an abundance of caution” (they say) that is similar to taking a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. Just this April, one naive father reported his son’s activities, thinking he is doing the right thing and believing the FBI might even be interested in helping rehabilitate his son, only to see them prosecute his son as a terrorist and get locked up for 20years!
The FBI’s case was built on phone calls where the son was heard saying he mused about killing American soldiers. For a Muzlem, this is high treason and grounds to be put in solitary for 20 years but if the violence is being voiced by a Christian or a Jew, why then it’s “Free Speech” of course! As in the case of the Hutaree plotting to kill law enforcement officers and agents who were freed by the judge on grounds that even a discussion of violent plans is free speech.
“My God, I just destroyed Adam,” and, “Don’t even think about going to the government.” Were the father’s thoughts after the FBI went after his son.
There is also the case of the Christmas Tree Bomber who was cultivated by the FBI for six months after he was reported by his father who was also looking for rehabilitation help from the FBI. Then, when the boy followed the informant’s suggestions and took a dummy, FBI-provided “bomb-car” to the venue, he was arrested and the FBI hailed as having saved people from another calamity.
“See something, say something”? Don’t be stupid!
Until Muslims have concrete assurances supported by real-life evidence that the FBI will actually help instead of take the Muslim scalps, we can NOT afford to report mere suspicions or fears to the FBI, only SOLID, SOLID, proof should be the basis for reporting to the Police or to the FBI…or any other governmental agency.
Towards the conclusion of the meeting, I told them that we were essentially given four hours of “Trust us, we know what we are doing and we will not hurt innocent people“. There was no attempt to listen to members of various communities, consider what we said and seek to improve the problems that cause mistrust, it was a one-way trust that seemed to be the goal of the event. Until such time as they can spend time to listen to various communities and actually take actions that will help us trust them, there can be no “Building Communities of Trust”.
While the concept of this program is good and promotes national security, today’s anti-Muslim environment makes this another way for bigots to find easy ways of getting law enforcement to finish the job on Muslims. All they have to do is point to a Muslim and say, “I have a feeling s-he is plotting to do violence” or, “has been recruited” and the Muslims are finished, Americans can breathe free again.
The sad fact is that it takes time to build trust after it has been destroyed and law enforcement agencies have neither the time, nor the motivation to actually remove barriers to mutual trust. I fear meetings such as these are feel-good events for the people at the top, so they can be told how agencies at the local levels are actively participating in “Building Communities of Trust”, where Muslims can rush to the FBI and tell on every other Muslim’s “suspicious activity”.
In the end, until Muslims take a collective stand and participate in collective political activity, we will continue to remain invisible to our politicians and as long as we do not exist for them, we will continue to feel the hard side of their boots on our necks and on our fearful behinds.
ALL Muslims should register and VOTE!
Vote collectively because scattered votes are useless
Personally, I will keep an open mind and watch to see if and how, law enforcement agencies change their actions such that we feel confidence in them but I am not holding my breath. Their past behavior has been to ignore all criticism and continue to move forward aggressively…and to drop those who do not agree with them.
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