By Mai Abdul Rahman
Sociologist Charles Kurzman recently reported (PDF) a drop in attempted or actual terrorist activity by American Muslims from 47 perpetrators and suspects in 2009 to 20 in 2010. In addition, it turns out that when it comes to exposing alleged terrorist plots, “the largest single source of initial information (48 of 120 cases) involved tips from the Muslim American community.”
While this validates what many Americans, as well as American Muslims, have always suggested, unfortunately it will not make life any easier for American Muslims.
We American Muslims believe the obsession with Islam and Muslims is all about resources. Simply stated, the impetus for spreading fear about American Muslims is the billions of federal funds that have generated and sustained countless of anti-terrorism task force offices, centers, think tanks, and initiatives in every federal department including the Department of State, Labor, Transportation, Energy, Agriculture, Treasury, Justice, and even FDIC and Small Business Administration. Legions of counter terrorism centers have sprung across the country in small and large municipalities. It has even prompted colleges to offer Homeland Security programs and promote their counter terror research and expertise.
Many Americans are making a killing under the banner of counter terrorism. Counter terrorism is a profitable endeavor that supports high earning jobs whose raison d’être is to spread fear and Islamophobia.
In fact counter terrorism funds are one of the few federal funding streams that have continued to expand despite our grim economy. Federal counter terrorism allocations are huge and numerous and support the employment of too many people to count. Consider these two examples: The FBI receives $2.7 billion in counter terrorism funding which accounts for a third of its operating budget and employs a third of its workforce. The Department of Homeland Security’s budget is $54.7 billion, dispersing funds, offering grants and subsidies to every state and municipality, including the private sector for the purpose identifying, educating, training and communicating counter terrorism.
Counter terrorism is an industry that will likely lose much if we Americans are not often reminded of the next terror attack that might take place.
American Muslims living in the DC metro area encounter heavy FBI and Homeland Security intrusions. Almost 70% of our youth and adult community has been questioned and/or harassed. Federal agents daily intrude on our privacy, questioning our travels, activities and associations, faith practices, monitoring our phones, letters, electronic postings and e-mails with no regard to our constitutional rights and protections. Sadly we lament that these agents we have collectively encountered are only justifying their pay, and for that reason have made it a daily practice to harass as many of us as possible.
Following the money trail leads to Congress and the hefty federal counter terror allocations. It also sheds light on the many counter terror experts and commentators gracing our daily newspaper editorials and evening news ensuring these funds are generously awarded– as we American Muslims have come to understand too well.
Meanwhile this stream of formidable funding is fueling a national campaign and discriminatory onslaught on our constitutional rights, integrity, our families, houses of worship, community, and our sense of belonging.
If you really want to have a better understanding of the incentives behind spreading Islamaphobia check out this site – a list of funding opportunities for law enforcement in counter terrorism.
Mai Abdul Rahman is a Palestinian American living in Washington D.C. She has founded the American Palestinian Women’s Association and is a Doctorial student at Howard University’s School of Education.