Last night I attended a meeting of about 20 local Muslim leaders with two special agents from the local FBI field office at Masjid Bilal (the old Islamic Center on the campus of St. Louis University).
I did not really want to attend the event but was encouraged to do so by a friend of mine. The meeting seemed like a bad idea to me from the beginning. The agents have been canvassing the local Muslim community informing us about some Somali kids in Minnesota who went to fight in the conflict in Somalia. At least one of them was apparently a suicide bomber.
When I was first told about this my response was “what the hell does this have to do with us in St. Louis?” These kids were from Minneapolis so talk to the people there. There is also the fact that the agents went to mosques that have almost no Somali attendees. So, are these kids in Minneapolis really the issue, or is this just another excuse to harass some Muslims?
I was under the impression this would be a big town hall event; but it ended up being just some local Muslim leaders meeting in a room with two agents. Those in attendance included Imam Muhammad Hasic ( a local Bosnian imam and power-broker), the imam of the new Nigerian mosque in North County, the Amir of the Northwest Islamic Center, Sheikh Minhaj from the Dar al Islam Masjid, Adil Imdad ( a local mover and shaker), brother Tim Kaminski, Sheikh Nur the Amir of the local Bantu Somalis, and others.
Before attending the event I thought out three basic questions/comments to hurl at the agents. The discussion was more informal and while I had a brother tape it the quality is not good. So, I will just list here my three basic points to the agents and there responses.
- Group Indictment.
There is no need to harass the entire community over the actions of a few. Bernard Madoff is Jewish, the majority of his victims are Jewish, and his crimes are intimately intertwined with the Jewish community. Yet, it is highly doubtful that synagogues with no connection to Madoff across the country are being canvassed.
Similarly, for every one Muslim in America remotely connected to terrorism or some facet of the Islamic movement the government deems to be illegal, there are dozens of Catholic priests who have a thing for raping little boys. Yet when the feds investigate the widespread pedophilia amongst American Catholics, they move very lightly.
Why is it that when it comes to the Muslim community they do not use the same good judgment?
One of my pet peeves with the feds and their involvement in the Muslim community is their canvassing of immigrant communities. Imagine yourself as someone who immigrated from a Muslim land where there was maybe a civil-war or political violence in an oppressive state and one of the first things that happens to you when you come to America is getting a knock on the door from the secret police (FBI).
The message the new immigrant or refugee gets is that America is not that different than the land they came from. The next message they get is that if you go to the masjid, or get involved with the Muslim community, you will be under suspicion.
To counter this point one agent told me that he believes the mosques are important for Muslims and in this effort he gave recent Iraqi refugees ( who are in America because they cooperated with the American occupation of their own land) a list of all local mosques and encouraged these assessors to the murderous occupation to attend. Hmm……..
Situation in Somalia
The situation in Somalia is way above the pay grade of two FBI agents. They do not make policy they are just law-enforcement officers. However, it is relevant to the conversation.
When the Islamic Courts Union controlled most of Somalia there was relative peace and prosperity for the first time in decades. This did not matter to the Bush Administration. The well-being of the Somali people took a backseat to who would serve the interest of America and not their own people. The Islamists could not be trusted by America and therefore the entire nation had to suffer. At the provocation and enticement of the United States Ethiopia, a bitter -rival to Somalia, invaded and occupied the land. Since that time we have seen an increase in violence, piracy, criminality, tribal feuding, and starvation.
So, given that fact that the US bears so much of the responsibility for the suffering of the Somali people it is a little ironic that two representatives of the government would come into the mosque as if their hands were clean.
As the conflict gets hot in Somalia there might be some Somalis in America who want to go home to get involved in the armed-conflict. This is no different than American-Jews forming settler militias armed and killing people on the West Bank or right-wing Hindus who are American citizens being involved in right-wing paramilitary organizations in India (who had a big hand in much of the anti-Muslim killings in Gujarat). Not to mention all the ex-military mercenaries throughout Iraq, Africa and Latin America who are simply killing for money. Only when it comes to Muslims does the issue of American citizens involved in this sort of thing become criminal.
I asked the agents if any of these Somali kids harmed any Americans? Plotted any attacks in America? They answered no. So, my response is why are you even involved? There are no Americans being harmed. These kids are just fighting in a Somali conflict and from all reports seem to be well-intentioned and on the just side of the conflict (though I disapprove of the suicide bombing). If they were planning to attack America, or be a suicide bomber on an American train or something, I would not just meet with the feds, I would either tell on them or physically stop them; but that is not even an allegation.
If America wants young Somali men to not go to Somalia and fight then it needs to stop supporting Ethiopian aggression and the suppression of the legitimate will of the people. Unlike some Muslim leaders on the West Coast, I still believe in Shariah, an Islamic State, and even hard power, and I pray that Allah blesses those brothers with victory in Somalia who are striving to establish this deen in its entirety (and there is no separation of politics and religion and there is no “traditional Islam” without a political and social dimension). I ask the question, if these brothers were close to establishing an Islamic State a couple of years ago, why is the idea of an Islamic State impossible? And for whose benefit are some Muslim leaders disregarding the idea of an Islamic State? And what state and form of governance do they deem to be superior to the Islamic system?
It is the fact that America has set itself up as the sheriff of the world and a big bully with its foot on the neck of the masses of Muslims by supporting dictatorships, Latin Americans, and others that has created such resentment towards America.
One of the agents stated that he “just didn’t want another 9-11” and I agree with him whole heartedly. But, what he may not see, is the fact that law-enforcement cannot stop another 9-11 if America continues its aggressive and bullying stance in the Muslim World. By the actions of Americans in Somalia, and many other places, this government is digging the graves of Americans. Let us hope and pray that President-elect Barack Obama will have more wisdom in these matters.