A study released this week by the New York Police Department raised alarm bells in both mainstream American and Arab-American communities, albeit for different reasons.
The 90-page report, Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat, was meant to educate policymakers and law enforcement officials throughout the
“While the threat from overseas remains, many of the terrorist attacks or thwarted plots against cities in Europe,
Police analysts identified four steps in the process that inspires an ordinary person with an ordinary job to become Muslim jihad operative:
- Pre-radicalization, which defines a person’s life before he sets forth on the journey to become a terrorist;
- Self-identification, in which a person begins to actively question their lifestyle and identity and explore the beliefs of radical Islam;
- Indoctrination, in which leaders of militant Islamic movements train the individual in the complexities of the religious beliefs as well as the actions to carry them out; and
- Jihadization, when terrorist beliefs and training are translated into action.
The report noted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and European authorities have thwarted several terrorist plots since the massive attack on
At least 25 Muslim terrorist cells have been identified in the Northeastern part of the country, according to the report, especially in
"Any one of those clusters may be capable of carrying out a terrorist action that will result in fatalities," Rand Corporation terrorism expert Brian Jenkins told ABC News. "The threat is real; this is not some bogey man we are creating here. There are individuals who are proselytizing, inciting angry young men to go down this path," he said.
Reactions to the report were swift and severe.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee slammed the document, with director Kareem Shora calling it "un-American” and saying it “goes against everything for which we stand."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations warned that the report could generate an atmosphere of “sweeping generalizations” that would prompt other Americans to become suspicious of any Muslim in their midst. Council board chairman Parvez Ahmed said the report pointed to signs of positive change, such as giving up smoking, drinking and gambling, as red flags in the process of radicalization.
Ahmed added that the report implied that religious Muslim behavior was a strong formula that signaled a transformation into radical attitudes.
“Is Islamic attire or giving up bad habits, which is something recommended by leaders of all faiths, now to be regarded as suspicious behavior?” he asked.
New York Civil Liberties Union spokesman Christopher Dunn had similar concerns, saying the report cast the taint of terrorism over all Muslims.
Dunn also warned that the report might discourage law-abiding Islamic believers from cooperating with authorities when the chips are down.