To profile or not to profile? On Tuesday, terrorism charges were dropped against two Muslims from Dearborn, Mich., who had been arrested in Ohio. Ali Houssaiky and Osama Sabhi Abulhassan had been stopped for a traffic violation a week before; in their car, sheriff’s deputies found $11,000 in cash, airline passenger lists, material about airport security procedures, and twelve cell phones. It turned out that they had bought 600 cell phones recently.
Cell phones can be used as detonators. They’re also a ready means of non-traceable communication, as well as an easy source of ready cash, as they can be resold to people who don’t want their calls traceable. But public defender Ray Smith, said of his client, Abulhassan, at a hearing: “If his name was Joe Smith, we wouldn’t be here. His origin and appearance and name condition us to (think), ‘Oh my gosh, he’s a terrorist.’” The dropping of charges will only reinforce this impression, despite the fact that prosecutor James Schneider said that he still might press terrorism-related charges against the pair. According to AP, “Relatives of the men said they were just trying to make money by reselling the phones and were targeted because of their Arab backgrounds.”
Of course, however unpleasant or politically inconvenient a fact it may be, young Muslim Arab males are responsible for the overwhelming majority of terrorist violence around the world today. Since 9/11 Islamic jihadists have perpetrated well over 5,000 terror attacks; no other group even comes close. Sane and courageous law enforcement officials will therefore subject young Muslim males to greater scrutiny, within the bounds of the law — and political correctness can take the hindmost.
Profiling, of course, is imperfect. Islam is not a race. Adherents of the jihad ideology can be found among all races: as John Walker Lindh, Jose Padilla, Richard Reid, Ismail Royer, and Hasan Akbar can attest. All those men have in common is that they are converts to Islam — a phenomenon that doesn’t necessarily have any outward signs. Nonetheless, the fact remains that young Middle Eastern males have committed a disproportionate amount of violent terror attacks in recent years. Accordingly, it is simply a waste of resources to subject all airline passengers, from grandmothers to toddlers, to equal scrutiny, while refusing to spend more time investigating passengers who come from the group from which most terrorists spring nowadays.
After uncovering the recent jihadist airplane plot in Great Britain, British officials have begun moving toward this. Yet Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Ali Desai declared: “What you are suggesting is that we should have a new offence in this country called ‘traveling whilst Asian.’ What we don’t want to do is actually alienate the very communities who are going to help us catch terrorists.” And of course, we don’t want to do that. But those communities themselves have to take responsibility for the fact that jihadists have lived and recruited and plotted in their midst, generally with no fear that their coreligionists would turn them in. While Muslim tipsters helped expose the latest airplane hijacking plot, and that is highly commendable, all too often the wrath of the Muslim communities in America and Britain has been focused on anti-terror efforts and the foreign policy of their governments — when what is needed instead is an understanding of and tolerance for the need for profiling. But Muhammad Abdul Bari of the Muslim Council of Britain huffed: “If the profiling is done on the basis of race and religion, it will be wrong, it is not going to work.”
Why not? All the September 11 hijackers were Muslims. So were the July 7 London bombers. And the Madrid train bombers of March 2004. All the plotters in the recent hijacking attempt are Muslims. All were working on the basis of Islamic theology. Why must officials continue not to notice this? To ignore this is to give up voluntarily the one thing that may make it possible to spot the perpetrators of a terror attack before it happens, and head it off. In other words, it is suicidal.