As a carefree teenager working behind a fast-food register, I was excited to open my first account with $50. As I sat with a friend at the Richardson Mosque, a man came up and engaged us in conversation about a conflict thousands of miles away and explained how it was our responsibility to stand up and help our fellow Muslims.
That man, I would later learn, was Shukri Abu-Baker, the CEO of the Richardson-based Holy Land Foundation. I was very moved by his passion and, at the same time, the plight of 400 Palestinians deported by Israel to a no-man's land between Israel's northern border and Lebanon's southern border. They faced cold conditions, lack of medicine and scorpions. Not only did I sign over my $50 as a donation, but I signed up for a monthly auto-draft that would continue uninterrupted until the foundation was shut down by a presidential executive order in December 2001.
After 9/11, I conducted my own investigation, retracing some of the alleged "conspiracy" social networks the government presented in open court, not only in Dallas but around the country, because it scared me to think that a syndicate could be controlling my environment and my children's future.
I traveled to Israel and Palestine myself, much to the fear of my family, to see what the reality was on the ground in the Palestinian territories and how their social activist networks functioned.
I met many influential people these past few years in and out of our government's intelligence community whom I've engaged over counter-terrorism policy discussions.
I've listened to arguments from influential opinion makers laying out how folks I grew up watching, like Mr. Baker, were actually clandestinely the "heads of Hamas in America," or that community-based American Muslim organizations today were actually front groups for the International Muslim Brotherhood.
We as Americans are at a crossroad, because our government is playing a post-9/11 script it played in the 1960s against the Mafia, but this time against a social network it calls the "International Muslim Brotherhood." People like me know of the brotherhood group in a much more personal manner then the Average White Guy, who has no more insight than what's available in the media. (MORE)