The American Bear


If your name is Ahmed or Fatima, you are a person of interest to the NSA | Anna Lekas Miller

One of the most common responses from the 66% of American citizens in favor of the NSA’s data-collection programs is, “I have nothing to hide, so why should I have anything to fear?”

But what if you have nothing to hide but are targeted as a suspect nevertheless?

By that I mean, what if your name is Ahmed, Jihad, Anwar or Abdulrahman? Fatima, Rania, Rasha or Shaima? What if some of your phone calls – which the NSA is tracking with particular interest – are made to loved ones in Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Lebanon or Palestine? What if the language you speak on these phone calls is not English, but Arabic, Urdu or Farsi, not because it is a special jihadist code, but because it is your native language that you still speak in your home.

In other words, what if you are one of America’s 1.9 million Arab-Americans or 2.8 million Muslim-Americans?

President Barack Obama defends the NSA’s recently revealed spying apparatus as essential to helping to prevent terrorist attacks. But how does the Obama administration define a terrorist or terrorism? In Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia or anywhere else that is designated a “strike zone” by the US government, subject to so-called signature strikes by drones, any military-age man – meaning all men between the ages of 16 and 40 – are potentially categorized as a “militant”.

If he is killed in a US-authorized drone strike, his death is recorded as a “militant” death rather than a civilian death. The rhetoric helps to feed the victories of the war on terror as innocent civilian casualties are recorded in history as militant terrorists. A number of said “militants” have spent significant amount of time in the west and many have family there. Sixteen-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was even a US citizen.

Are these innocent civilians labeled as militants the same as the terrorists Barack Obama is talking about?

Back on United States soil, invasive spying and government surveillance in the name of fighting terrorism is hardly news for Arab and Muslim-American communities. Starting as early as 2001 – immediately following the attacks on 11 September – the FBI began spying on Arab and Muslim communities across the United States, while the NYPD specifically kept tabs on Arab and Muslim communities in New York City. Any mosque, local business, community or student organization run by Arabs or Muslims – or focusing on Arab and Muslim issues – was fair game for informants to lurk, “befriend” patrons and watch. After all, any of them could have been seasoned terrorists planning radical jihad.

Despite more than six years of surveillance, the NYPD program hasn’t foiled any terrorist plots, according to the Associated Press reports. The FBI claims some success stories, but it is unclear whether they come from their specific targeting programs. What is clear is that these programs worked to create a pervading sense of depression and anxiety throughout the Muslim and Arab American communities and a blanket distrust of authorities.

Arab and Muslim communities are hardly new to the United States. Once upon a time, the neighborhood surrounding where the World Trade Center would later be built was known as Little Syria. Of course, these communities have since been pushed out of New York’s financial district, but still thrive in pockets of Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Dearborn and many other American cities.

In the Middle East, most of the time when you mention you are from the United States, rather than spewing aspirations for radical jihad, locals will respond with, “Oh, the United States! My cousin lives in Chicago, do you know him?”

Despite the perception that the United States and the Arab and Muslim world operate in opposition to one another, the two regions are inextricably connected via the Arab and Muslim communities who immigrated, or are the descendants of immigrants to the United States. A snippet of Arabic conversation or a phone call to Syria, Yemen or Pakistan is more likely to be a standard family phone call than the prelude of the demise of western civilization.

After all, most of us really do have nothing to hide – so why is it that we have everything to fear?

Anti-Immigrant Zealots Capitalize on Boston Bombings | Dispatches from the Underclass

Muslims, Arabs and more recently Chechens aren’t the only ones bearing the brunt of collective blame following the Boston Marathon bombing last week.

Since learning that bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev immigrated to the United States as children, anti-immigrant zealots have capitilized on the moment to argue against immigration reform.

Right-wing talk radio host and frequent Fox News contributer Laura Ingraham insisted that the US block Muslim immigrants from entering the country, particularly from the ex-Soviet region of the world where the bombing suspects were born.

“I would submit that people shouldn’t be coming here as tourists from Chechnya after 9/11,” Ingraham said. “Dagistan, Checnya, Kergystan, uh-uh. As George Bush would say, ‘None of them stans.’”

You might be thinking: Who cares what Ingraham says? She’s nothing more than an inflammatory radio host with no power over actual public policy. But Ingraham isn’t alone.

For example, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx.) has demanded that the US government investigate and deport all Chechen immigrants with violent leanings.

Because the Boston Marathon attack came as the Senate began debating an immigration reform bill, certain politicians wasted no time in using the tragedy to pile on additional fear and hatred of immigrants.

Today, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) joined in the hatefest in a letter he wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) calling for the bill to be delayed in light of the Boston bombings.

“Why did the current system allow two individuals to immigrate to the United States from the Chechen Republic in Russia, an area known as a hotbed of Islamic extremism, who then committed acts of terrorism?”, wrote Paul, who is now apparently an expert on Chechnya and ex-Soviet Muslims.

But the notion that stricter immigration policies could have prevented the Boston bombings is ridiculous given that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsaraev were 15 and 8 when they came to this country with their parents as asylum-seekers. As The Atlantic‘s Elseph Reeve explains, “The two individuals were allowed to immigrate because we don’t expect children to become terrorists just because people of their ethnicity live in a violent place.”

Nevertheless, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) used the bombings to denounce the immigration bill as well, expressing disgust to MSNBC host Martin Bashir that the bill bans law enforcement from racial profiling. In a creative mix of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric, Walsh said the following:

“We’re at war, and this country got a stark reminder last week again that we’re at war,” Walsh said to host Martin Bashir during an appearance on MSNBC. “And not only should we take a pause, Martin, when it comes to immigration, we need to begin profiling who our enemy is in this war: young muslim men,”

“The fact is, Martin, neither you or I or Jonathan knows of the 11 million, and it’s more than 11 million, how many are bad characters,” Walsh continued, addressing Bashir and fellow guest, columnist Jonathan Alter. “And what we’re going to do is replicate what we did in ’86, provide amnesty to all of them, which in essence is providing legal status to a lot of bad characters. You know, Martin, there’s also a piece of this legislation that bans our law enforcement officials of profiling. We need to profile even when it comes to our immigration policy.”

I wonder if these hate-mongerers know that Carlos Arredondo, the man in the cowboy hat being hailed as a hero for providing life-saving services immediately after the Boston bombings, was once an undocumented immigrant. Probably not. Facts don’t seem to be their forte.

More recently, the media has speculated that Adam Lanza was motivated by bullying he experienced during his time as a student at Sandy Hook Elementary. Conversely, not a single person has inquired about the mental wellbeing of the Boston Bombing suspects. Experts in psychology, violence and mass murder haven’t appeared on cable news or written op-eds for the New York Times and Washington Post with insight into what causes people to snap. No one has speculated about bullying that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar’s may have experienced, particularly Tamerlan, who was in middle school when he immigrated to the United States, an age when bullying is at its peak. Of course, all of these questions are rhetorical since we already know the answer: Adam Lanza and James Holmes are Christian white males whose names have the appropriate number of consonants. Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev are Muslim (which cancels out white) males who immigrated to the US from a region of the world where names are difficult to pronounce (for us).

Rania Khalek, James Holmes, Adam Lanza, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Double Standards

h/t azspot

The Saudi Marathon Man | Amy Davidson

A twenty-year-old man who had been watching the Boston Marathon had his body torn into by the force of a bomb. He wasn’t alone; a hundred and seventy-six people were injured and three were killed. But he was the only one who, while in the hospital being treated for his wounds, had his apartment searched in “a startling show of force,” as his fellow-tenants described it to the Boston Herald, with a “phalanx” of officers and agents and two K9 units. He was the one whose belongings were carried out in paper bags as his neighbors watched; whose roommate, also a student, was questioned for five hours (“I was scared”) before coming out to say that he didn’t think his friend was someone who’d plant a bomb—that he was a nice guy who liked sports. “Let me go to school, dude,” the roommate said later in the day, covering his face with his hands and almost crying, as a Fox News producer followed him and asked him, again and again, if he was sure he hadn’t been living with a killer.

Why the search, the interrogation, the dogs, the bomb squad, and the injured man’s name tweeted out, attached to the word “suspect”? After the bombs went off, people were running in every direction—so was the young man. Many, like him, were hurt badly; many of them were saved by the unflinching kindness of strangers, who carried them or stopped the bleeding with their own hands and improvised tourniquets. “Exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood,” President Obama said. “They helped one another, consoled one another,” Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, said. In the midst of that, according to a CBS News report, a bystander saw the young man running, badly hurt, rushed to him, and then “tackled” him, bringing him down. People thought he looked suspicious.

What made them suspect him? He was running—so was everyone. The police reportedly thought he smelled like explosives; his wounds might have suggested why. He said something about thinking there would be a second bomb—as there was, and often is, to target responders. If that was the reason he gave for running, it was a sensible one. He asked if anyone was dead—a question people were screaming. And he was from Saudi Arabia, which is around where the logic stops. Was it just the way he looked, or did he, in the chaos, maybe call for God with a name that someone found strange? [continue]

The War on Terror – in Afghanistan, in particular – was justified in the name of protecting women’s rights. Of course, society in Afghanistan is riddled with institutional sexism – as every country in the world is, North and South, East and West. What is notable is that, in order to gee up support for an intervention, American and British governments had to paint a picture of serenity and equality at home. They had to convince not only their supporters, but a sizeable proportion of the liberal West, that ‘their’ sexism abroad was worse than ‘our’ sexism in the West. That a country which only made rape within marriage illegal in the early 90s is somehow in a privileged moral position. Judging by the politics of groups like FEMEN, they have done well. The fact is, Muslims are being vilified at home and abroad. As ever, a huge share of the burden is placed on women; on their dress and the way they bring up their children. Any decent feminist would recognise Muslim women bear a double burden of racism and sexism, and turn their focus towards supporting their struggle. They might, as a starting point, campaign against the increasing militarisation of East London, making it harder for Muslims to walk the streets without harassment. They might join Muslim women in asserting the right to wear hijab or niqab without fear of attack. Interestingly, activists in the Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan (RAWA) have mentioned that the burqa can sometimes make it easier for them to carry out political activity, as it can disguise political leaflets and hidden cameras. FEMEN could listen to these women, the women they are patronisingly attempting to ‘save’. We could ignore this, fetishise the freedom to show skin, and get our tits out on the bridge with FEMEN. Or we could build a women’s movement that opposes both conservative moralism and state-sanctioned Islamophobia, and show liberal feminists the true meaning of sisterhood. The choice lies with us. That’s not what a feminist looks like - Elly Badcock (via samiracortez)

(via afro-dominicano)

Spying on Muslims: A Q&A on the lasting damage of NYPD's surveillance |

"The long-term damage has yet to be seen. There are reasons surveillance tactics aren’t tolerated in free societies. You have an entire segment of the population withdrawing its voice from public conversations. That’s something that is in some ways immeasurable." — Diala Shamas

Across the Hudson, the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk tactics are on trial, accused of systematically violating the rights of young men — mostly minorities — who were detained and searched with little or no cause.

Meanwhile, the NYPD’s insidious surveillance of Muslim communities — in New York, but also in Newark, Paterson and on college campuses — continues as it has since shortly after 9/11.

The mapping, photographing and infiltration of Muslims in New York and New Jersey was a secret program until the Associated Press unearthed documents proving its existence. In all that time, it has never produced a single terror-related lead.

Earlier this month, a coalition of Muslim watchdog groups released “Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and Its Impact on American Muslims,” a 56-page report that catalogs the damage caused by the department’s spy ops.

Star-Ledger editorial writer Jim Namiotka spoke last week with Diala Shamas, a Liman Fellow at CUNY’s law school and one of the report’s co-authors. An edited transcript appears below.

Read on

The racism that fuels the 'war on terror' | Glenn Greenwald

[Written in response to the disconnect between this poll and this poll]

[…] Many Americans can (a) say that they oppose the targeted killings of Americans on foreign soil while simultaneously (b) supporting the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen because, for them, the term “Americans” doesn’t include people like Anwar al-Awlaki. “Americans” means their aunts and uncles, their nice neighbors down the street, and anyone else who looks like them, who looks and seems “American”. They don’t think those people- Americans - should be killed without charges by the US government if they travel on vacation to Paris or go to study for a semester in London. But the concept of “Americans” most definitely does not include people with foreign and Muslim-ish names like “Anwar al-Awlaki” who wear the white robes of a Muslim imam and spend time in a place like Yemen.

Legally - which is the only way that matters for this question - the New-Mexico-born Awlaki was every bit as much of an American citizen as the nice couple down the street. His citizenship was never legally revoked. He never formally renounced it. He was never charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime that could lead to the revocation of citizenship. No court ever considered revoking his citizenship, let alone did so. From a legal and constitutional perspective, there was not a single person “more American” than he. That’s because those gradations of citizenship do not exist. One is either an American citizen or one is not. There is no such thing as “more American” or “less American”, nor can one’s citizenship be revoked by presidential decree. This does not exist.

But the effort to depict Muslims as something other than “real Americans” has long been a centerpiece of the US political climate in the era of the War on Terror. When it was first revealed in 2005 that the Bush administration was spying on the communications of Americans without the warrants required by the criminal law, a Bush White House spokesman sought to assure everyone that this wasn’t targeting Real Americans, but only those Bad Ones that should be surveilled (meaning Muslims the Bush administration decided, without due process, were guilty):

“This is a limited program. This is not about monitoring phone calls designed to arrange Little League practice or what to bring to a potluck dinner. These are designed to monitor calls from very bad people to very bad people who have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings and churches.”

Identically, when the Israelis attacked the Mavi Marmara flotilla in 2010 and killed 9 people including the US-born teenager Furkan Dogan, some conservatives insisted that he was not a Real American because his parents were Turkish and he grew up in Turkey (“it is silly to call him an ‘American of Turkish descent’. He, like the other members of his family, was a Turk”). The stark contrast in reactions between the sustained fury of the Turkish government over the killing of their citizens by the Israelis versus the support for those killings given by the US government was accounted for in part by the blind US support for whatever Israel does (including killing Americans), but also by the belief that Dogan wasn’t really an American, not the Real Kind you get upset about.

This decade-long Othering of Muslims - a process necessary to sustain public support for their continuous killing, imprisonment, and various forms of rights abridgments - has taken its toll. I’m most certainly not suggesting that anyone who supports Awlaki’s killing is driven by racism or anti-Muslim bigotry. I am suggesting that the belief that Muslims are somehow less American, or even less human, is widespread, and is a substantial factor in explaining the discrepancy I began by identifying.

Does anyone doubt that if Obama’s bombs were killing nice white British teeangers or smiling blond Swiss infants - rather than unnamed Yemenis, Pakistanis, Afghans and Somalis - that the reaction to this sustained killing would be drastically different? Does anyone doubt that if his overhead buzzing drones were terrorizing Western European nations rather than predominantly Muslim ones, the horror of them would be much easier to grasp?

Does it really take any debate to know that if the 16-year-old American suspiciously killed by the US government two weeks after killing his father had been Jimmy Martin in Sweden rather than Abdulrahman al-Awlaki in Yemen, the media interest and public outcry would be far more substantial, and Robert Gibbs would have been widely scorned if he had offered this vile blame-the-victim justification for killing Jimmy rather than Abdulrahman? It is indisputably true that - just as conservatives argued that Furkan Dogan was not a Real American - large numbers of Americans believe the same about the Denver-born teenager named Abdulrahman. This ugly mindset is not the only factor that leads the US public to support more than a decade of US killing and rights abridgments aimed primarily at Muslims, including their fellow citizens, but it is certainly a significant one.

Amazingly, some Democratic partisans, in order to belittle these injustices, like to claim that only those who enjoy the luxury of racial and socioeconomic privilege would care so much about these issues. That claim is supremely ironic. It reverses reality. That type of privilege is not what leads one to care about and work against these injustices. To the contrary, it’s exactly that privilege that causes one to dismiss concerns over these injustices and mock and scorn those who work against them. The people who insist that these abuses are insignificant and get too much attention are not the ones affected by them, because they’re not Muslim, and thus do not care.

The perception that the state violence, rights abridgments and expansions of government power ushered in by the War on Terror affect only Muslims long ago stopped being true. But ensuring that people continue to believe that is the key reason why it has been permitted to continue for so long.

New York’s finest Islamophobes | Falguni Sheth

Imagine living in a small American community, innocently minding your own business, while constantly worrying that your government is monitoring how you meet with others in your community, speak about your faith, express political views, and dress — for hints that you are a terrorist. As seen by a report released today, such harassment and violations of civil liberties are constant facts of life for American Muslims today.

The new report, Mapping Muslims, analyzes the effects of the New York Police Department (NYPD)’s infiltration into every facet of Muslim communities, from mosques, local shops, college organizations and more. The report — released by the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLU), the Creating Law Enforcement and Accountability Project (CLEAR) and the Asian American Legal Defense Fund (AALDEF) – interviewed 57 Muslims, mostly living in New York City. The interviewees included high school and college students, community organizers, lawyers, teachers, shopkeepers and others.

Mapping Muslims indicates that the NYPD’s surveillance program infused Muslim communities in New York City with widespread psychic harm. Interviewees reported worries about “appearing Muslim,” whether that was defined as appearing pious, wearing the niqab or hijab, growing beards, or speaking critically about political issues pertaining to Muslims. The report illustrates a widespread fear of congregating with other Muslims, speaking or befriending others at mosque services, speaking freely about their faith, even by young students, and of the constant defenses against entrapment or solicitation by the FBI. Judging from interviewees’ answers, this report indicates civil liberties violations have been wrought upon the Muslim community in New York —and most likely wherever similar programs have been implemented.

The surveillance program was first reported on at length in 2011 by the Associated Press. It published a devastating series of articles that chronicled the NYPD’s vast spying program, put in place to track the movements and interactions of Muslims in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The extent of financial and ideological support for the programs was remarkable. While today’s report does not address this aspect, I have written about this elsewhere. Generally, one would imagine that a local (albeit one of the largest and most powerful) police department in the U.S. would not be able to extend the scope of its surveillance beyond the confines of the city itself, and certainly not beyond the confines of New York State.

Yet, under the auspices of the NYPD’s International Liaison Program (a counterterrorism initiative established by NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, which falls under a non-profit discretionary fund) created by Mayor Bloomberg for unforeseen contingencies, such as natural disasters, from hurricanes to counterterrorism, the NYPD was essentially freed from funding or jurisdictional constraints. This enabled selected NYPD officers to travel as far as needed for activities such as the interrogation of spying suspects in London and Madrid or for other counterterrorism policing activities in Tel Aviv…Amman, Singapore, Santo Domingo, Toronto, Montreal, Paris, Lyons and elsewhere. Indeed, American Airlines proudly announced its partnership with the NYPC in 2007, whereby it would provide travel vouchers for several participants in the program. The federal government cooperated extensively with the NYPD, giving it $1.6 billion dollars to finance its spying program. Indeed, collaboration between the NYPD and the federal government was extensive. As the Huffington Post reported in 2011:

“A veteran CIA officer, while still on the agency’s payroll, was the architect of the NYPD’s intelligence programs. The CIA trained a police detective at the Farm, the agency’s spy school in Virginia, then returned him to New York, where he put his new espionage skills to work inside the United States. And [in July 2011], the CIA sent a senior officer to work as a clandestine operative inside police headquarters.”

Oversight came from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who approved and subsequently defended the NYPD program. To a lesser extent, Newark’s Mayor Cory Booker also approved it, though he claimed not to know the scope of the spying program. Moreover, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has never clarified the extent of his knowledge of the NYPD’s surveillance program. Neither have the Attorneys General of NJ, NY, PA, or CT, in whose states the NYPD ventured to continue its surveillance.

What the report makes clear is the extent to which the NYPD’s relentless surveillance program has decimated trust and bonds within various Muslim communities. Of course, for Islamophobes and general supporters of the War on Terror waged at the Federal level, these findings will be welcome—since at an important cultural level, that is the purpose of waging war on Muslims in the United States. That must be the primary purpose, since it has been established by various sources—including the FBI (even prior to 2005; scroll to the bottom)–that Muslim Americans are among the least likely terrorists. [continue]

Narco-Jihadis | Belén Fernández

At the end of last year, Israel’s Ynet News ran an article headlined ‘Hezbollah’s cocaine Jihad’. Eldad Beck, reporting from Mexico, described Chiapas as ‘a hub of radical Islamist activity’. The piece was quickly taken up by Pamela Geller and other like-minded commentators.

‘Official data suggests that Mexico is home to some 4000 Muslims,’ Beck writes. ‘Theoretically, this is a negligible number, but it is enough to cause concern in the United States – and Israel should be concerned as well.’ (The reason why is taken as read.) What’s more,

US intelligence indicates that Mexico is home to some 200,000 Syrian and Lebanese immigrants – most of them illegal – who were able to cross the border via an extensive web of contacts with drug cartels… These cartel contacts smuggle illegal immigrants – including individuals affiliated with Iran, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups – into Mexico, placing them a virtual stone’s-throw away from the United States.

According to the Ynet report – a welter of innuendo and non sequitur based variously on information attributed to ‘Western intelligence agencies’, ‘US officials’ and a ‘local businessman’ in Chiapas ‘who asked to remain anonymous’ – Hezbollah’s activities in Mexico include establishing sleeper cells and training bases, ‘helping drug lords improve their bomb-making skills’ and digging tunnels under the Mexico-US border. ‘Satellite images show that they are nearly identical to the maze of tunnels running under the Gaza-Egypt border,’ Beck says, but doesn’t explain how to go about obtaining satellite images of something underground or what Hezbollah has to do with the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

Islamic terror outfits are ‘eager to execute attacks against American, Israeli, Jewish and western targets’, but the primary purpose of their partnership with the Mexican cartels is ‘to make money, so they can fund their nefarious aspirations’. Enter Ayman Joumaa, a Lebanese citizen indicted in 2011 by a federal grand jury in Virginia and described by the US Treasury last summer as the head of a network that ‘launders the proceeds of drug trafficking for the benefit of criminals and the terrorist group Hezbollah’. (And no, he wasn’t the CEO of HSBC.) The historian and investigative journalist Gareth Porter told me:

The problem with the kind of declarations issued by US officials vaguely claiming financial links between an alleged drug lord and Hezbollah is that they are completely lacking in transparency. In the absence of more clear-cut evidence, one must suspect that the alleged link is nothing more than having some dealings with the same bank in Beirut.

But then Joumaa (and Hezbollah) may be the least of America’s worries. Beck goes on:

The US’ concern about the smuggling tunnels increased exponentially in 2009, when a Department of Homeland Security wiretap derived a recording of Professor Abdallah Nafisi, a Kuwaiti clergyman and a known al-Qaeda recruiter, boasting about the ease by which nonconventional warfare and weapons of mass destruction can be smuggled into the US, through the Mexican drug tunnels. ‘Ten pounds of anthrax in a medium-size suitcase, carried by a Jihad warrior through the tunnels can kill 300,000 Americans in one hour,’ he said. ‘It will make 9/11 look like peanuts. There’s no need for plans… Just one courageous man, to spread this confetti on the White House lawn.’

One deluded fantasy, it seems, deserves another.

Towards a Police State in New York | Belén Fernández

Joseph Goldstein’s New York Times article of February 3 outlines a request from US civil rights lawyers to federal judge Charles S Haight Jr. for an independent evaluation of the New York Police Department’s counterterrorism techniques.

Writes Goldstein: “The lawyers said the police’s tactics have placed Muslim communities under surveillance in violation of longstanding federal court guidelines.” Among these guidelines is a prohibition on the retention of information collected during surveillance operations unless it pertains “to potential unlawful or terrorist activity”.

As the Associated Press revealed in 2011, Muslim populations in the New York area had been targeted by a pervasive spying apparatus known as the Demographic Unit,the fruit of collaboration between the NYPD and the CIA.

The network, which has since been promoted to the more politically correct title “Zone Assessment Unit,” relies on undercover officers and informants to perform critical national security tasks such as – the AP notes – “gather[ing] intelligence on cab drivers and food cart vendors, jobs often done by Muslims.”

According to Goldstein, the civil rights lawyers who filed the motion with Haight based their allegations on over 1,200 pages of reports on Zone Assessment Unit monitoring activities at Muslim establishments, including shops and cafes, where invasive demographic details were allegedly compiled and retained despite the lack of “potential unlawful or terrorist activity”:

“The NYPD is continuing a massive, all-encompassing dragnet for intelligence concerning anything connected with Muslim activity through intrusive infiltration and record-keeping about all aspects of life, politics and worship”, the court filing stated. “The NYPD operates on a theory that conservative Muslim beliefs and participation in Muslim organisations are themselves bases for investigation.”

Of course, the absence of apparent “terrorist activity” is not always an obstacle for well-funded NYPD informants. The Egyptian informant Osama Eldawoody, for example, actively encouraged young Pakistani-American Shawahar Matin Siraj to undertake the bombing of a New York subway station – a plot for which Siraj was convicted despite his stipulation, recorded on tape, that he was against killing and that he would need to acquire his “mother’s permission” before signing on to the project.

These sorts of machinations lend a secondary, ironic layer of meaning to the so-called “homegrown threat” of Muslims “radicalized” in the West rather than abroad, a topic meriting especial hysteria from the NYPD. [continue]

Just act normal

The following is a post I found in the bottom of my “drafts”. I started writing it, but didn’t finish it, before the anniversary of Occupy - just notes and links.

A tiny slice of the United States’ trek towards precogs and precrime units:

Occupy Austin and other Occupy related groups have fallen victim to infiltration and entrapment including through the use of a system called “Fusion”. Investigating “Fusion”, Greg Gladden of the Texas ACLU found, “their goal, their purpose, through federal grants, is to monitor potential domestic terrorism.” He continues, “I guess it’s a lot easier to solve crimes you create yourself than to actually ferret out actual crimes and actual criminals.”

That should sound similar to the systematic entrapment of Muslims in the United States by the FBI and the NYPD.

The NYPD recently partnered up with Microsoft to add the Domain Awareness System to their already formidable surveillance arsenal. And they’re adding checkpoints, apparently, to check id’s on the anniversary of Occupy.

Orlando has added iris scanners to their surveillance net.

Something called TrapWire is being used to identify “suspicious behavior” - defined however it needs to be - and is thought to have been used to track the Occupy movement.

Rahm Emanuel put the city of Chicago on lockdown for the NATO Summit.

And of course we now know that the corporate-state collusion to repress OWS was as bad or worse than many thought.

19-year-old Paid by NYPD to 'Bait' Muslims


NEW YORK (AP) - A paid informant for the New York Police Department’s intelligence unit was under orders to “bait” Muslims into saying inflammatory things as he lived a double life, snapping pictures inside mosques and collecting the names of innocent people attending study groups on Islam, he told The Associated Press.

Shamiur Rahman, a 19-year-old American of Bangladeshi descent who has now denounced his work as an informant, said police told him to embrace a strategy called “create and capture.” He said it involved creating a conversation about jihad or terrorism, then capturing the response to send to the NYPD. For his work, he earned as much as $1,000 a month and goodwill from the police after a string of minor marijuana arrests.

“We need you to pretend to be one of them,” Rahman recalled the police telling him. “It’s street theater.”

Rahman said he now believes his work as an informant against Muslims in New York was “detrimental to the Constitution.” After he disclosed to friends details about his work for the police - and after he told the police that he had been contacted by the AP - he stopped receiving text messages from his NYPD handler, “Steve,” and his handler’s NYPD phone number was disconnected.

(via questionall)

#MuslimRage, #Propaganda, #Empire | Maya Mikdashi

I would like to address the ways in which paid advertisements recently mounted on the New York City public transportation system are connected to the release and circulation of the “Innocence of Muslims” video. Both are made legible through the now-hegemonic grammar of the War on Terror and an archive of Orientalist tropes and themes. It is that same grammar that scripts the protests and violence that erupted across Muslim majority states in reaction to the video (a reaction which was clearly hoped for and incited by the producers) as exercises in rage, a heightened emotional state that precludes rationality. Hatred and rage, we have been told by both the American government and mainstream media since 2001, fuel the fire of Muslim terrorism and of that terrifying thing, jihad. In this discourse, Muslim terrorists/savages do not have politics or history. Instead, they are ruled by an uncontrollable and often combustible hatred for “our way” of life. Their hatred is stronger than their love for their own lives and those of their children. They are too trapped in their emotional states to recognize or respect the very rational and deliberative right to the freedom of speech.

The truths within these statements are so potent they can be distilled into eleven characters for the purposes of both propaganda and parody: #muslimrage.

The same civilizational discourse and invitation to historical amnesia animates the MTA subway ads that state: “In Any Struggle Between the Civilized and the Savage support Civilization. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” Here, who exactly we are supposed to support Israel from is left purposely vague, but the words “civilized” and “jihad” invite passersby to identify in that same great war for civilization – a war that residents and citizens of the United States have been primed for since September 11, 2001. The ad, paid for by radical anti-Muslim groups and individuals, is made intelligible in a War on Terror-era United States . If the ad were inverted to imply that in order to stand with civilization we had to stand with Palestinians against the unnamed savages the statement would no longer be intelligible. Its un-intelligibility would stem from the fact that it does not emerge from the dense grammar and vocabulary of War on Terror and civilizational discourses that have long tied Israel to the United States, which are both, it bears repeating, settler colonies that were purportedly “empty” before European settlement. In both cases, the land had been indigenously populated. In both cases, those people who were there were made absent through the mutually constitutive practices of lawfare, warfare, and nationalism. [Read on]