Counter-Terrorism: April 25, 2005


The war on terror is a war with Islamic radicals. And those radicals tend to hang out in mosques. Since September 11, 2001, American counter-terrorism officials have paid more attention to what goes on in American mosques. American and European police have been rather shocked at what they found when they inquired into what is said in many mosques. Three years after 911, there is still talk, in mosques, of supporting terrorism. The speeches are sometimes masked, but often are pretty blunt. Moreover, its not easy getting into these sessions, as the most pro-terrorist speeches are not given at regular prayer sessions, but at special religious study meetings. But federal agents have witnessed some of this, and received many reports from members of mosques as well. To make matters more complicated, not all mosques tolerate this sort of thing. But especially in mosques where most of the congregation are recent migrants, the majority opinion is supportive of Islamic terrorism. In some cases this leads to violent disputes between pro and anti terror members. With few exceptions, the mosque leadership realizes that pro-terrorist attitudes could lead to problems, both legal and in terms of bad PR. So efforts are made by more level headed congregants to keep the pro-terrorism groups out, or at least hidden. Its also understood that pro-terrorism attitudes are one thing, but actually planning or supporting terrorism will get you arrested. The pro-terrorists know that many of their fellow worshipers would call the FBI if they detected any actual terrorist activity. But meanwhile, the pro-terrorists survive, and even take actions that, while not illegal, certainly are terrifying. One of the more common activities, largely in reaction to the greater scrutiny Middle-Eastern men get at airports, is to act suspiciously once on the airplane. This has led to a few news reports of passengers, and flight crew, being terrified to the point where they call for police help before landing. But what is being encountered here are young men pretending to be what they are often suspected of by airport security screeners. A form of ironic revenge. Technically, this is illegal, but no one has been able to make a case yet. But if some of this nonsense causes a passenger to have a heart attack, or instigates some violence on board, a heretofore ignored area of the war on terror will get more attention.


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