Home » Islam » Police pseudoscience and the 'War on Terror'

Police pseudoscience and the 'War on Terror'



The following is an excerpt from my latest piece for Al Jazeera.

Radicalisation in the West: The Homegrown Threat” is the name of a 2007 report issued by the New York Police Department (NYPD) highlighting the allegedly underappreciated risk that terrorist acts might be committed by the domestic Muslim population.

The report’s pseudoscientific analysis postulates that Muslim individuals generally pass through four different phases prior to engaging in terrorism: Pre-Radicalisation, Self-Identification, Indoctrination and Jihadisation.

Examples of the Self-Identification phase are said to include “[g]iving up cigarettes, drinking, gambling and urban hip-hop gangster clothes” and “[b]ecoming involved in social activism and community issues”. To illustrate the Indoctrination phase, the report’s authors assert that the Islamic bookshop in Brooklyn that previously employed Pakistani American Shahawar Matin Siraj – convicted in 2006 for plotting to blow up a New York subway station – served as an “extremist incubator” and a venue for “transferring [Siraj’s] Salafi-like mindset to his perception of global issues”.

One global issue subjected to Siraj’s radicalised outlook, we are told, is Israel/Palestine:

As early as November 2002, Siraj said that suicide bombings in Israel were not suicide, but revenge in response to Israeli atrocities and that he would do the same thing.”

Much different from the Israeli-Palestinian equation, the transformation of a Western-based individual to a terrorist is not triggered by oppression, suffering, revenge or desperation.”Curiously, however, this very same report appears to validate the notion of a logical cause-and-effect relationship between Israeli behaviour and that of Palestinian suicide bombers:

Conspicuously absent from the report’s chronology of Siraj’s radicalisation, meanwhile, is Osama Eldawoody, the NYPD-funded Egyptian informant who encouraged Siraj to undertake the subway bombing. A tape recording of Siraj insisting that he would have to ask his mother whether it was permissible for him to plant bombs is merely one piece of evidence suggesting that the young man was hardly a super-terrorist bent on the obliteration of the United States and the subversion of world order.

The notion that there is a phalanx of radical Islamists intent on destroying the country from within is showcased in the 2008 film “The Third Jihad“, which, as the New York Times notes, “was shown to more than a thousand officers as part of training in the New York Police Department”. Zuhdi Jasser, the star of the film and president of anorganisation dedicated to “taking back Islam from the demagoguery of the Islamo-fascists”, recently defended the NYPD’s systematic spying on Muslim communities: “We thank God every day for the NYPD”.

Click here to continue reading at AJE.


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