Since September 11, one of the fronts in the war on terror has been law enforcement’s scrutiny of the American Muslim community. At first, partly related to the powers granted them by the Patriot Act, law enforcement sought to infiltrate and closely monitor mosques and Muslim community centers. As the recent study by the Pew Research Center explains, however, the average American Muslim is about as much of a threat to national security as a kitten.
The overwhelming majority of Muslims are law-abiding and vehemently against groups like al-Qaida, suicide bombing, violence, killing, and other crimes wrongly committed in the name of Islam. They also espouse a very strong sense of loyalty and patriotism to America.
Most American Muslim communities are quite close-knit, in that they know when someone new or unusual joins their congregation. Every mosque and Islamic center has its own “flavor” of activity – be it educational, spiritual, family-oriented, focused on special events, etc. – making it easier for the leadership to spot unusual activity.
This makes American Muslims the first line of defense for defending our homeland. American Muslims have become more vigilant since 9-11. Had the Muslim community either been put on alert to look out for suspicious persons, or had they had a close enough and cordial enough relationship with law enforcement, perhaps the heinous acts of Sept. 11, 2001 could have been thwarted. Recent law enforcement successes in disrupting would-be terrorist planning demonstrate that had the Muslim community not initiated contact with law enforcement, these plots may well not have been detected until it was too late.
The Bush administration’s approach to targeting the broader Muslim community has led to numerous pointless and fruitless searches, detentions, suspicions, and other provocative or borderline harassing actions that have left a feeling of distrust of the government and law enforcement within the Muslim community.