Back in 2005, a new program designed to remove impediments to cooperation between local Arab, Muslim and Sikh communities and law enforcement agencies was presented to the FBI. The Partnership for Prevention and Community Safety (PfP), “developed with considerable input from law enforcement and local communities, quickly gained the support it needed within the agency and was green-lighted for funding.”
But then a powerful member of Congress stepped in and, with one blow, killed the initiative. According to those with knowledge of the program, the congressman acted at the behest of an influential and strident anti-Muslim propagandist. This week, in an ironic twist, that same congressman is slated to speak at a congressional hearing looking into the allegation that American Muslims are insufficiently cooperative with law enforcement.
The “powerful member of Congress” was Frank Wolf.The “anti-Muslim propagandist” was a businessman and discredited former journalist named Steven Emerson. Emerson and his company SAE Productions (described as being “in the Motion Picture and Video Tape Production industry in Washington, DC”), are examined here in the context of his opposition to an Islamic cultural center in Murfreesboro, TN last year. The investigative report starts out like this:
“Steven Emerson has 3,390,000 reasons to fear Muslims.
That’s how many dollars Emerson’s for-profit company – Washington-based SAE Productions – collected in 2008 for researching alleged ties between American Muslims and overseas terrorism.”
According to PfP developer and former assistant U.S. attorney Deborah Ramirez, Emerson advocated for an FBI policy of “total disengagement” with the Muslim community. His logic seems to go something like this: Any counterterrorism program in which the Muslim community is willing to participate is, by definition, an attempt to undermine counterterrorism efforts.**
And Frank Wolf went along with this. As Emerson’s friend, and “a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which controls the Justice Department’s (and FBI’s) purse strings,” Wolf got the funding rescinded.
Imam Mohamed Magid (of ADAMS Center in Sterling, which has cultivated a very productive relationship with local law enforcement and the FBI) and Dr. Hassan Ibrahim, another local leader, subsequently met with Frank Wolf in the hope of clearing up what was an obvious misunderstanding.
Far from a program that was trying to convert FBI agents to Islam, Ibrahim says, the message to Wolf was that PfP would help foster the much-needed cooperation critical to any successful counter-terrorism initiative.
According to Ibrahim, Wolf wouldn’t budge and segued into a litany of complaints about being insufficiently appreciated by the Muslim community in his congressional district. Wolf cited his support for NATO intervention in Bosnia (a decade earlier) as proof of his support for the community. But, he complained, local Muslims had not sufficiently reciprocated with the campaign support to which he believed he was entitled.
Frank Wolf is scheduled to testify today at the hearings
on Radicalization of Muslim Americans to defame the Muslim community being held by Rep. Peter King. Hopefully he will provide an excuse for testifying about an alleged lack of cooperation between the Muslim community and law enforcement when he is responsible for trying to prevent cooperation between the Muslim community and law enforcement. I can’t wait to hear it.
**It sounds to me like Emerson just isn’t very interested in counterterrorism efforts. It may or may not have something to do with those 3,390,000 reasons, but his “total disengagement” position is rejected by the FBI and law enforcement in general.
He won’t like this bad-for-the-bottom-line news, either: The tiny minority of actual “homegrown radicals” are extremely disappointed in the American Muslim community, most especially because of its “cooperation with authorities against terrorism.” Danger Room reports on some of the frustrated statements, which sound eerily similar to what we’ve been hearing from frustrated culture war scolds like Chuck Colson of late, and observes:
These statements are particularly noteworthy because they come from American radicals heavily involved in propaganda activities. If the evangelists of al-Qaeda’s narrative are lamenting the moderation of Muslims in America, that tells you something about the market for their ideas.
As for any alleged lack of cooperation, a Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security report released February 2 tells us, among other things, these two details:
- Tips from the Muslim American community provided the source of information that led to a terrorist plot being thwarted in 48 of 120 cases involving Muslim Americans.
- Muslim Americans have been so concerned about extremists in their midst that they have turned in people who turned out to be undercover informants.