The War on Terror Created the Muslim Ban

As promised, on the first day of his presidency, Joe Biden signed an executive order rescinding the Muslim ban and overturning one of Trump administration’s signature anti-Muslim policies. The country was “built on a foundation of religious freedom and tolerance,” declared the Biden administration’s proclamation, callin the ban “a stain on our national conscience” and “inconsistent with our long history of welcoming people of all faiths and no faith at all.”

The expected move was welcomed by civil liberties and American Muslim organizations. The Council on American Islamic Relations commended President Biden on “an important first step toward undoing the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies of the previous administration.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called the Biden Administration’s executive orders “welcome first steps after four brutal years of attacks on Black and Brown people.” 

Much of the subsequent discussion has revolved around the steps needed to undo the significant harms caused by the Muslim Ban. The ACLU, for example, called on the Biden administration to “provide justice by restoring lost diversity visas, waiving fees for those who were denied, and expediting processing, among other necessities.” 

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Incel Terrorism and Sex Work

There were murmurs of celebration in some progressive circles regarding the classification of a recent attack in a Toronto massage parlor as an act of “incel terrorism.” The attack was carried out by a minor who identified as an involuntary celibate or incel and left one person dead. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) took the unusual step of classifying this act of violence as an act of terrorism under the Canadian Criminal Code.

Incels, as a recent report by the Organization for the Prevention of Violence notes, “are predominantly young men who believe that their physical appearance coupled with women’s liberation and feminism has impeded them from forming physical relationships with women. From this grievance, they have developed an ideology that encompasses anti-feminism, misogyny, nihilism, and self-abasement.” Continue reading “Incel Terrorism and Sex Work”

Prevent and the London Tube Bombing

The verdict in the Iraqi teenager’s trial came as no surprise. Ahmed Hassan, who had arrived in the UK as an asylum seeker, was found guilty of attempted murder by a jury unconvinced by his defense that he had not meant no harm and merely sought attention when he placed a homemade bomb on a train at the Parsons Green Station in London.
The bomb, packed with “metal shrapnel including screws, bolts, nails, knives and screw drivers,” failed to fully explode but still managed to injure 30 people.

According to the police and prosecutors, Hassan’s motives were “unclear” despite the teenager having previously claimed to a lecturer that he had “a duty to hate Britain” because of the country’s role in the invasion of Iraq and the death of his father in an air raid. He had once complained to the same lecturer that the UK “continues to bomb my people daily.” Continue reading “Prevent and the London Tube Bombing”

How the United States Creates Terrorists

A string of recent attacks in Paris and Orlando have led to renewed calls for surveillance of American Muslim communities from both Republican and Democratic politicians. Donald Trump wants surveillance of “certain mosques.” Ted Cruz thinks mosques are only the beginning and law enforcement should “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods.” Liberal darling Barney Frank has similarly called for “significant surveillance” of Muslims who adopt “angry Islamic hate views,” regardless of whether there is any reasonable basis to believe they pose a threat.

Such misguided calls for surveillance have recently become far more common, along with an upsurge in violence against American Muslims. They also betray a complete ignorance of the ongoing surveillance efforts against American Muslims, a luxury not afforded to those who have been on the receiving end of such untoward government attention. Various law enforcement and intelligence agencies have pursued extensive surveillance of American Muslim communities since 9/11, a project which now includes the Obama administration’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program.

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The Making of a Terrorist

Published on teleSUR as
The Surveillance State and the Making of a Terrorist

New York Times has published a lengthy profile of the Islamic State bomb-maker involved in the recent attacks in Brussels and Paris. In the latest attack in Brussels, Najim Laachraoui demoted (or promoted, depending on one’s feelings about life) himself from bomb-maker to suicide bomber, blowing himself up along with 15 bystanders. Much of the article, focusing on Laachraoui’s “radicalization,” follows the soporific pattern mainstream media outlets have by now mastered in their coverage of “homegrown” terrorists.

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Terrorism: Theirs and Ours

One esteemed scholar of terrorism is very worried. William Braniff is concerned about the possibility of the Islamic State exploiting technology for nefarious ends. A mercilessly violent ideology aided by thoroughly modern technological means will spell disaster for the US in this latest phase of the War on Terror. The FBI’s recent battle with Apple illustrates how important it is to underscore exactly what technological platforms law enforcement should be able to monitor if it is to prevent this horrific disaster from unfolding.
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The Irrational Fear of Terrorism

According to a new Gallup poll, about one in six (16%) Americans name terrorism as the “most important” problem in the United States. Just last month, only 3% of Americans thought terrorism was the most important problem in the United States. This is obviously a significant change, likely due to the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernadino, California.


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Moderates and Radicals

A new BuzzFeed article on “a homeschooled, evangelical Christian from Chattanooga” who went on to join the Islamic State has this to offer on her life before the Islamic State:

When she wasn’t working, she was active in many social justice groups in Chattanooga, protesting and raising awareness of issues facing the city’s working poor and often traveling out of state to march in rallies for teachers’ rights or protests against America’s overseas military actions.

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Chattanooga: The World is a Battlefield

Four marines have reportedly been killed in attacks on two military centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The gunman has been identified by law enforcement officials as Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. The FBI is supposedly treating this, in contrast to the white supremacist massacre in Charleston, South Carolina as a terrorist act—“until it can be determined that it is not.”

There is little doubt that this will be recorded as another instance of domestic or homegrown terrorism, though there is little information available about the gunman. The reaction of the media should also be predictable.  There will be considerable bewilderment about how the gunman was “radicalized,” a reliance on discredited theories and absurd psychological theorizing. There will be even more hysteria than usual about the pernicious influence of radical Islamists. U.S. policies and precedences will remain absent.

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The Charleston Massacre is not Terrorism

At the moment there are few details about the massacre of nine people in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. A white gunman in his early 20s entered the church and opened fire. Police are calling the shooting a hate crime.

The routine murder of black people in this country only happens due to the historical devaluing of black life, the legal sanction behind much of that killing, and the impunity all too often granted to the murderers. This is precisely why we need #BlackLivesMatter.

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