I often focus on organizations and individual right-wing activists outside the U.S. government that have stoked anti-Muslim sentiment here. But the U.S. government itself is just as culpable in promoting a McCarthyist climate of fear where every Muslim-American is considered a “terror threat” and Islam is turned into the new bogeyman of the day.
The latest installment in the Washington Post‘s investigative series by Dana Priest and William Arkin, “Top Secret America,” provides a look into how the U.S. government is mired in the deep swamp that is Islamophobia in America (emphasis mine):
Seeking to learn more about Islam and terrorism, some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies…
Ramon Montijo has taught classes on terrorism and Islam to law enforcement officers all over the country.
“Alabama, Colorado, Vermont,” said Montijo, a former Army Special Forces sergeant and Los Angeles Police Department investigator who is now a private security consultant. “California, Texas and Missouri,” he continued.
What he tells them is always the same, he said: Most Muslims in the United States want to impose sharia law here.
“They want to make this world Islamic. The Islamic flag will fly over the White House – not on my watch!” he said. “My job is to wake up the public, and first, the first responders.”
With so many local agencies around the country being asked to help catch terrorists, it often falls to sheriffs or state troopers to try to understand the world of terrorism. They aren’t FBI agents, who have years of on-the-job and classroom training…
Amazingly, the Center for Security Policy, a neoconservative think tank, is also being listened to by the U.S. homeland security apparatus:
A book expanding on what Shoebat and Montijo believe has just been published by the Center for Security Policy, a Washington-based neoconservative think tank. “Shariah: The Threat to America” describes what its authors call a “stealth jihad” that must be thwarted before it’s too late.
The book’s co-authors include such notables as former CIA director R. James Woolsey and former deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, along with the center’s director, a longtime activist. They write that most mosques in the United States already have been radicalized, that most Muslim social organizations are fronts for violent jihadists and that Muslims who practice sharia law seek to impose it in this country.
Frank Gaffney Jr., director of the center, said his team has spoken widely, including to many law enforcement forums.
“Members of our team have been involved in training programs for several years now, many of which have been focused on local law enforcement intelligence, homeland security, state police, National Guard units and the like,” Gaffney said. “We’re seeing a considerable ramping-up of interest in getting this kind of training.”
The fact that Gaffney speaks with law enforcement on how to combat “terrorism” is disturbing. Matt Duss of Think Progress explains that Gaffney is a person who thinks that “Obama is a Muslim, question[s] whether Obama is an American citizen, [and] believe[s] that the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s new logo is a sign of the president’s ‘submission to sharia.’” Gaffney is not an expert on Islam. In fact, Gaffney did not consult a single Islamic scholar on his “report” on shariah law, and only started studying the religion three years ago.
What’s more, as I explained here, the Center for Security Policy’s general counsel is David Yerushalmi, an advocate for criminalizing Islam and who once wrote that “blacks [are]…the most murderous of peoples.”
Another recent instance of the U.S. government promoting Islamophobia was the arrest of Mohamed Osman Mohamud in Oregon, which in reality was, as Glenn Greenwald put it, the FBI successfully thwarting its own plot.
The next day, this happened:
U.S. investigators said a fire at an Islamic center in Oregon on Sunday was arson and warned they would tolerate no retribution for an attempt by a Somali-born teenager to detonate what he thought was a car bomb.