1. The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) commends the New York City Police Department on the release of its comprehensive report on Radicalization in the West: the Homegrown Threat.
2. While extensive more thorough review of the report will take some time, AIFD endorses the central approach of the NYPD report which looks into ideological correlates and preliminary stages of radicalization. AIFD, thus, in essence is in agreement with an overriding statement within the report which states, “becoming a jihadist is a gradual, multi-step process that can take months, even years, although since 9/11 the pace has accelerated.”
3. AIFD further brings to your attention a statement within the report that,
“The subtle and non-criminal nature of the behaviors involved in the process or radicalization makes it difficult to identify or even monitor from a law enforcement standpoint. Taken in isolation individual behaviors can be seen as innocuous, however when seen as part of the continuum of the radicalization process, their significance becomes more important.”
a. This report should remind American Muslims and all Americans that this is not a conflict against a tactic of terror but rather an ideology. This report begins to dissect the ideologies and stages which lead to radicalization.
b. This report reminds us that in areas where law enforcement cannot effectively monitor errant behavior, it is thus incumbent upon reformist, anti-Islamist Muslims to intellectually combat the Jihadi-Salafi influences within the Muslim consciousness. This is a role which protesting Islamist organizations abrogate.
4. The NYPD Report may provide the beginning of an answer to the long awaited question of how can we begin to search for clues to radicalization before an attack is actually planned and executed. At first look, it appears to be an outstanding diagnostic evaluation of the process that leads to the formulation of an intent to commit terror and the previous steps leading toward the radicalization of Islamists. Within this understanding of the process that leads toward Jihadi-Salafi radicalism are elements of the ideological battlefronts in this war which are necessary to defeat political Islam, Islamism, jihadism, salafism, caliphism, and Wahhabism (all elements of the same theocratic fundamentalism which threatens America and the free world).
5. AIFD remains disappointed that so-called “leading” American Muslim organizations continue to respond reflexively on behalf of the American Muslim community to the release of vital analyses like this report with their same tired message of obfuscation, denial, and victimization. Fear mongering about “profiling” dismisses necessary diagnostics in smart counterterrorism.
6. CAIR and MPAC both disseminated press releases on August 15, 2007 which we believe inappropriately critique elements of the report that discuss specific symptoms among many which radicals may exhibit in their path toward radicalism. These Islamist organizations do Muslims a great disservice by dodging the central importance of the way in which a series of behaviors and ideological transitions serve as milestones in the development of a jihadist. It is certainly much easier and more comfortable to their Islamist constituencies which often lack moral courage to remain in denial and focus on victimization rather than connect the dots of political Islam, salafism, Wahhabism, and ultimately the possibility of jihadism and terror.
7. This continuum is essential to understand and expose since only we, as Muslims, can ideologically counter it if we so choose. Our security remains perilously hinged on we as Muslims exposing the dangers of fundamentalism and political Islam. If Muslims were to proactively do work like that revealed by the NYPD study, it would be a major step in demonstrating our patriotism as well as becoming part of the solution rather than the problem through inaction, denial, and ignorance.
8. AIFD is concerned that the knee-jerk response of national Islamist organizations to complain about a fear of “casting suspicion upon all Muslims” is not only intellectually wanting but also at best blatant denial by attempting to deflect any deconstruction of political Islam and salafism as a root cause of terrorism.
9. We must acknowledge as patriotic American Muslims that there is often subtlety and a malignant attitude hidden in individuals who may be precursors to terrorists as evident in the examples provided in the NYPD report of cells discovered in previous attacks or attempted attacks. Islamists cannot have it both ways which is to say that the Muslim community reports every concern over violence and is “proactive” all the while dismissing valid reports and analyses of ideological root causes as “casting suspicion”.
10. Understanding the ideological footprints which create a radicalized Islamist is vitally necessary in detecting and preventing future tragedies from occurring. Vigilance and caution is far different from blanket suspicion.
11. If only these supposedly leading Muslim organizations understood, articulated, and led the charge to formulate profiles of ideological transformations which leads to jihadism, it would do a lot more to prevent the casting of suspicion than their empty premature protestations.
12. We as Muslims and as Americans need to acknowledge that radicalization does not happen overnight. It is a long process which involves many steps as identified by the NYPD report. These steps may take years and it is more than appropriate for our security agencies with our full assistance to probe, understand, and combat these areas.
13. AIFD since its inception in 2003 has stressed that the process that leads to radicalization is driven by political Islam and the religious legitimization of a theocratic state. Until the organized Muslim community articulates the role of political Islam in each of these steps of radicalization security agencies like the NYPD and Homeland Security will not make any headway in securing the homeland.
14. Rather than divert attention to a baseless fear of suspicion which is not yet even proven, AIFD calls upon all Muslims to lead the effort to proactively combat Wahhabism, Salafism, Islamism, and Jihadism in all of its latent forms and at every one of its developmental stages. This is an ideological battle that only we as Muslims can win.
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Contact: M. Zuhdi Jasser, AIFD Chairman, AIFD, 602-254-1840, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web: www.aifdemocracy.org