Radical U.S. Muslims Little Threat, Study Says
By SCOTT SHANE
Published: February 7, 2012
WASHINGTON — A feared wave of homegrown terrorism by radicalized Muslim Americans has not materialized, with plots and arrests dropping sharply over the two years since an unusual peak in 2009, according to a new study by a North Carolina research group.
The study, to be released on Wednesday, found that 20 Muslim Americans were charged in violent plots or attacks in 2011, down from 26 in 2010 and a spike of 47 in 2009.
Charles Kurzman, the author of the report for the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, called terrorism by Muslim Americans “a minuscule threat to public safety.” Of about 14,000 murders in the United States last year, not a single one resulted from Islamic extremism, said Mr. Kurzman, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina.
The report also found that no single ethnic group predominated among Muslims charged in terrorism cases last year — six were of Arab ancestry, five were white, three were African-American and two were Iranian, Mr. Kurzman said. That pattern of ethnic diversity has held for those arrested since Sept. 11, 2001, he said.
Forty percent of those charged in 2011 were converts to Islam, Mr. Kurzman found, slightly higher than the 35 percent of those charged since the 2001 attacks. His new report is based on the continuation of research he conducted for a book he published last year, “The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists.”
The decline in cases since 2009 has come as a relief to law enforcement and counterterrorism officials. In that year, the authorities were surprised by a series of terrorist plots or attacks, including the killing of 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., by an Army psychiatrist who had embraced radical Islam, Maj. Nidal Hasan.
The upsurge in domestic plots two years ago prompted some scholars of violent extremism to question the conventional wisdom that Muslims in the United States, with higher levels of education and income than the average American, were not susceptible to the message of Al Qaeda.
Concerns grew after the May 2010 arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen, for trying to blow up a sport utility vehicle in Times Square. Mr. Shahzad had worked as a financial analyst and seemed thoroughly assimilated. In a dramatic courtroom speech after pleading guilty, he blamed American military action in Muslim countries for his militancy.
The string of cases fueled wide and often contentious discussion of the danger of radicalization among American Muslims, including Congressional hearings led by Representative Peter T. King, a Long Island Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
But the number of cases declined, returning to the rough average of about 20 Muslim Americans accused of extremist violence per year that has prevailed since the 2001 attacks, with 193 people in that category over the decade. By Mr. Kurzman’s count, 462 other Muslim Americans have been charged since 2001 for nonviolent crimes in support of terrorism, including financing and making false statements.
The 2011 cases include just one actual series of attacks, which caused no injuries, involving rifle shots fired late at night at military buildings in Northern Virginia. A former Marine Corps reservist, Yonathan Melaku, pleaded guilty in the case last month in an agreement that calls for a 25-year prison sentence.
Other plots unearthed by law enforcement last year and listed in Mr. Kurzman’s report included a suspected Iranian plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, a scheme to attack a Shiite mosque in Michigan and another to blow up synagogues, churches and the Empire State Building.
“Fortunately, very few of these people are competent and very few get to the stage of preparing an attack without coming to the attention of the authorities,” Mr. Kurzman said.
Supreme Court Court Rejects Willy-Nilly GPS Tracking
By David Kravets Email Author January 23, 2012 | 10:17 am
The Supreme Court said Monday that law enforcement authorities might need a probable-cause warrant from a judge to affix a GPS device to a vehicle and monitor its every move — but the justices did not say that a warrant was needed in all cases.
The convoluted decision (.pdf) in what is arguably the biggest Fourth Amendment case in the computer age, rejected the Obama administration’s position that attaching a GPS device to a vehicle was not a search. The government had told the high court that it could even affix GPS devices on the vehicles of all members of the Supreme Court, without a warrant.
“We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search,’” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the five-justice majority. The majority declined to say whether that search was unreasonable and required a warrant.
All nine justices, however, agreed to toss out the life sentence of a District of Columbia drug dealer who was the subject of a warrantless, 28-day surveillance via GPS.
Four justices in a minority opinion said that the prolonged GPS surveillance in this case amounted to a search needing a warrant. But the minority opinion was silent on whether GPS monitoring for shorter periods would require one.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor voted with the majority, but wrote in a separate, solo opinion that both the majority and minority opinions were valid. She also suggested that Americans have more rights to privacy in data held by phone and internet companies than the Supreme Court has held in the past.
“I think it’s fair to say, the use of a a GPS device like this requires a warrant where they are tracking him for a long time,” Thomas Goldstein, who has argued dozens of cases before the Supreme Court, said in a telephone interview.
The Justice Department maintained it had probable cause in the case, though not a valid warrant. The majority said because of procedural rules, it would not decide whether the “search” in this case required a warrant. “We consider that argument forfeited,” the majority wrote.
The Justice Department declined to comment.
Walter Dellinger, the lawyer for the drug dealer who appealed his conviction, said the decision, no matter how disjointed, means “that almost any use of GPS electronic surveillance of a citizen’s movement will be legally questionable unless a warrant is obtained in advance.”
The justices agreed to hear the case in a bid to settle conflicting lower-court decisions — some of which ruled a warrant was necessary, while others found the government had unchecked GPS surveillance powers. For the moment, the conflict is unresolved and “will take more lawsuits,” Orin Kerr, a Fourth Amendment scholar and former Justice Department prosecutor, said in a telephone interview.
One of the Obama administration’s main arguments in support of warrantless GPS tracking was the high court’s 1983 decision in United States v. Knotts, in which the justices ruled it was OK for the government to use beepers known as “bird dogs” to track a suspect’s vehicle without a warrant. In that case, the police had the consent of that truck’s owner, which was not the case in the opinion decided Monday, Scalia wrote.
In the Supreme Court case decided Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit had ruled that the Fourth Amendment rights of suspected District of Columbia drug dealer Antoine Jones had been violated by the month-long warrantless attachment of a GPS underneath his car. The lower court had reversed Jones’ conviction, saying the FBI needed a warrant to track Jones.
Scalia’s majority opinion, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor, said placing the device on the suspect’s car amounted to a search.
In a separate opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, and joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, Alito wrote that Scalia’s opinion was “unwise” and said it should have examined “whether respondent’s reasonable expectations of privacy were violated by the long-term monitoring of the movements of the vehicle he drove.”
“For these reasons, I conclude that the lengthy monitoring that occurred in this case constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment,” Alito wrote. He wrote that the police — to avoid any ambiguity on how long the monitoring must take place to demand a warrant — “may always seek a warrant” to avoid committing wrongdoing.
Justice Sotomayor also wrote separately that “the government usurped Jones’ property for the purpose of conducting surveillance on him, thereby invading privacy interests long afforded and undoubtedly entitled to, Fourth Amendment protection.”
During oral arguments in the case in November, a number of justices invoked the specter of Big Brother if the police could secretly attach GPS devices on Americans’ cars without getting a probable-cause warrant.
The last time the high court considered the Fourth Amendment, technology and privacy in a big-ticket case was a decade ago, when the justices ruled that the authorities must obtain search warrants to employ thermal-imaging devices to detect indoor marijuana-growing operations, saying the imaging devices carry the potential to “shrink the realm of guaranteed privacy.”
The Obama administration urged the court to reinstate the conviction and life sentence of Jones, a suspected cocaine dealer whose vehicle was tracked via GPS for a month without a court warrant.
The government told the justices during oral arguments that that GPS devices have become a common tool in crime fighting, saying it is employed “thousands” of times annually.
The two faces of Muslim life in the US
While assimilation of Muslim communities in US society is laudable, a creeping Islamophobia is undermining it.
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2012 10:39
Washington, DC - The long procession snaked around an open, hash-marked field, while an amateurish band blared and tweeted into a darkening sky. Moments before, I had sat shivering forlornly in the stands, having been importuned by friends, somewhat against my will, to attend a high-school football game on a cold December evening.
But here was something which captured my attention, a bit of Americana which I had never seen before. Each of the graduating seniors from the home team, about to play in his last game, was circling the field, accompanied by his parents. When each group of three approached mid-field, their names were read out, and the crowd cheered them in turn.
As might be expected in this Washington-area suburb, the players and their parents made for a highly diverse assemblage. But as they paraded by, my eye was drawn to one trio in particular. Their clothing, and perhaps a certain meekness in their bearing, marked the parents as recent immigrants. The gentleman was slight and bandy-legged, his wife small and plumpish, wrapped in a dark hijab. Like the other mothers, she wore over her coat the outsize football jersey of her strapping son, who loomed over his parents, the product, no doubt, of a solidly hormone-enhanced American diet. I tried to guess at their national origin when the name was announced. Persian? Afghan-Tajik? One couldn't be sure, and it really didn't matter. What mattered was the face of this woman, her shyness at the crowd's acknowledgement completely overwhelmed by beaming pride as she looked up at her son. I don't believe I have ever seen anyone more happily transported in my life.
Veterans Stage 'Eat In' to Support Vandalized Iraqi Restaurant [VIDEO]
By MELANIE JONES: Subscribe to Melanie's RSS feed
January 13, 2012 12:53 PM EST
3 men in US terror ring get 15-45 years in prison
By EMERY P. DALESIO | AP
Published: Jan 14, 2012 17:42 Updated: Jan 16, 2012 19:06
NEW BERN, North Carolina: Three members of a homegrown terror ring who conspired to attack the Quantico US Marine Corps base and foreign targets were sentenced Friday to between 15 and 45 years in federal prison.
Hysen Sherifi, 27, will serve 45 years in prison; Ziyad Yaghi, 23, got nearly 32 years; and Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, 24, was sentenced to 15 years. They faced the possibility of life in prison. Each said they would appeal their convictions and claimed innocence.
Dozens of members of Raleigh’s Muslim community made the five-hour round-trip to coastal New Bern to witness the hearing for the men whom supporters believe were unjustly convicted.
Defense attorneys argued for lesser sentences since the men were convicted of discussing terrorism rather than committing terrorist acts.
“I believe I am innocent. There was no conspiracy,” said Serifi, who called his guilty verdict unfair and prosecutors tyrants.
But US District Judge Louise Flanagan said the men went beyond talk to planning violence.
Doctors open free clinic focused on West County residents
By Mary Shapiro | Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 6:30 am
Athar Khan, of O'Fallon, Mo., had no insurance and no clue where to go when he started having knee pain.
"But I found out about the new Volunteers in Medicine West County Clinic through my mosque," he said Sunday afternoon, as he sat in the waiting room of the clinic in Manchester.
"If I didn't come here, I would have had to go to a hospital emergency room. I'm very glad they're here."
Helping those in the community and taking some of the pressure off jammed hospital emergency rooms are the goals of the new clinic, which is operated by medical and non-medical volunteers.
It's a public health project of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis, which pitches in by paying rent for the clinic offices. Many of the volunteers attend the mosque.
The two-month-old clinic is open from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sundays and offers free, non-emergency primary health care for uninsured, low-income people aged 18 to 64.
Although the clinic is open to any patient who meets the income requirements, the clinic focuses on providing primary care to those who live or work in Manchester, Winchester, Ellisville, Des Peres, Ballwin, Chesterfield, Wildwood, or Town and Country.
Dr. Maimuna Baig and her husband, Dr. Sajjad Baig, opened their first clinic a year and a half ago near their office on Harbor Bend Court in Lake St. Louis. She was inspired to open the clinic after hearing about Volunteers in Medicine.
Volunteers in Medicine has more than 80 free clinics in 25 states run by volunteers, many of them retired health care professionals. The program started in Hilton Head, N.C., in 1994 by a group of retired physicans, who recognized a large number of residents were unable to afford health care.
Dr. Maimuna Baig and Sajjad Baig, who are internal medicine specialists, were encountering patients unable to afford health care in their private practice. So they opened a free clinic in Lake St. Louis that is affiliated with Volunteers in Medicine.
"The Lake St. Louis clinic has been successful and very busy," she said. "We've had almost 2,000 visits in the last one and half years and have at least 15 volunteers on the Tuesdays and Thursdays it's open there."
That led her to open a second clinic near the Daar-ul-Islam mosque she attends in West County.
Dr. Sajjad Baig, president of the West County clinic, said he hopes more people will volunteer at the Manchester clinic so he and his wife can open the clinic on Wednesdays and extend the office hours on both days.
"We have enough physicians volunteering, but need more nurses and physician assistants," he said.
Ryan Kelley, volunteer coordinator, said the clinic serves patients whose income doesn't exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
West County patients are provided with free lab work on an as-needed basis, Kelley said, and the clinic has made agreements with local diagnostic laboratories to do that.
While the clinic can only offer free lab work to West County residents, it also offers free primary care to any uninsured people who meet income requirements, regardless of residency, Kelley said.
Dr. Sajjad Baig said the West County Clinic's nine or so volunteers on a recent Sunday were seeing, on an appointment basis, about 10 people each Sunday.
Surgeon Dr. Muhammad Jamil and wife Naheed, of Des Peres, also were helping out.
Naheed said the clinic is needed "for the more and more people who can't afford care, to help them avoid becoming seriously ill."
Her husband said he wanted "to make things better for those who otherwise would slip through the cracks."
Dr. Mohammed Ashraf, of Ellisville, was treating patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and colds and flu.
"Some of those coming are new immigrants, some have lost jobs, but no one pays a single penny here, and we do our best to serve them," he said.
"Medicine is about helping people," he said.
Dr. Zafar Rehmani, of Town & Country, is one of the West County clinic's directors, and said many doctors affiliated with the Islamic Foundation "want to volunteer to provide care with dignity and respect."
Waseem Akvr, of Ballwin, had brought his mother, Akhtar Unnise, because she has high blood pressure and no insurance.
"We're thankful they're doing this great work," Akvr said.
Video: CAIR-FL Rep Says Plot Suspect 'Had No Understanding of Muslim Faith'
Muslim leaders boycott breakfast over surveillance program
By the CNN Wire Staff
December 30, 2011 -- Updated 1927 GMT (0327 HKT)
Video: Simpsons Episode Mocks Anti-Sharia Hysteria
Video: 'Simpsons' Addresses Anti-Sharia Fear-Mongering with Humor (CAIR-MI)
American chain faces backlash over boycott of Muslim TV show
GUY ADAMS LOS ANGELES WEDNESDAY 14 DECEMBER 2011
Its adverts urge Americans to "never stop improving". But if the good people at Lowe's, one of the nation's largest DIY chains, are true to their word, they may want to take a long, hard look at their chief executive's grasp of PR.
The company was bracing itself for an awkward Christmas yesterday, after managing to needlessly offend a slew of celebrities, politicians, and campaigners for religious tolerance by signing-up to a right-wing campaign to boycott a reality TV show that portrays the Islamic community in a sympathetic light.
Controversy erupted late last week, when the CEO of Lowe’s, Robert Niblock, decided to pull his firm’s advertising from “All-American Muslim,” a programme on the cable network TLC, which follows five seemingly-unremarkable Muslim families living in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn.
His move came at the behest of The Florida Family Association, a small and little-known evangelical organisation which for the past two decades has mounted campaigns against everything from strip clubs to gay rights and the teaching of evolution in schools.
In a letter to Mr Niblock, the Association had claimed that “All-American Muslim,” which seeks to portray the Islamic community as normal, was “propaganda” which had been “clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.”
University Installs Foot Baths For Muslims
Boston University Acknowledges Growing Population
The reality of the 'All-American Muslim' reality TV show
The series about five American Muslim families can't represent all of us – any more than Jersey Shore does Italian Americans
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 17 November 2011 18.49 GMT
South Bay woman devotes life to feeding the needy
Friday, November 25, 2011
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- This is the time of year many people give to food banks and think about those less fortunate during the holidays, but one woman in Santa Clara has dedicated herself to feeding the hungry for nearly two decades.
If you spend any time at all with Habibe Husain, it seems the only time she's not moving is when she's praying. This chapter of her spiritual journey began in 1993 during the Muslim holy month of Ramadaan.
"I was asking divine inspiration on how I should spend the rest of my life," Husain said. "In the middle of the night, this name kept coming to me: Raheem, Rahima, Raheem, Rahima. I kept on hearing this voice inside me."
The next morning, Husain looked up the word in Arabic and found it meant mercy, compassion and justice. Her quest to serve the needy began.
The 66-year-old grandmother started collecting food to feed just a few families in the South Bay and quickly outgrew her. From a warehouse in Santa Clara, Rahima Foundation now distributes nearly 10 tons of food a month. About 80 percent of the clients are Muslim.
The non-profit Rahima Foundation is open to everyone and relies strictly on private donations and a partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank.
Husain herself is from Turkey but says many immigrants from Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries need an organization they can trust and turn to with dignity.
"Well-to-do people who lost everything in the war and are now refugees, some fo them come with big sadness in saying, I never thought in my life I would ask for charity, and look what has happened to us," Husain said.
Over the years, Husain has quietly worked miracles and never stopped working.
"Imagine anyone devoting 18 years of their life to one purpose," said Athar Siddiqee, "and that really is what Habibe has done."
The founder of Rahima Foundation is as firm as she is compassionate. Volunteers say she is organized, tenacious and inspiring.
"She really is delightful for all of us," said volunteer Aida Hamshari. "We see how she is going and we all strive to be like that."
In the Muslim world, giving is one of the five essential pillars of faith. Husain has dedicated herself to a higher purpose and is humble in her efforts.
"Those people who think I am amazing, and I am somebody, I am not," Husain said. "I thank them very much, but I am a very ordinary person whose quest is to attain love of God, and my believe is to achieve this through service."
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