On Christmas day, December 25th, I was actually in Chicago doing a gig with Native Deen. We were in a room in the hotel where the gig was at and I noticed the TV was turned to CNN. I was shocked when I read the headline said something like, "attempted terror attack aboard US airline". To be honest my first thought was, "just what we need, another moron with a Muslim name doing some b.s. like this". Then my next thought was, "well this is going to make it a living hell getting back to Ohio the next day".
This incident saddens me as a Muslim, as an American, and as an American Muslim. Without doubt many Muslims will complain about being "randomly" screened at airports. Particularly those who "look the part". As I was flying back from Chicago to Ohio the other day I saw a Muslim sister with her little girl (probably 1-2 years old) being patted down and having the hand-held metal detector run over them. The little girl kept trying to grab the metal detector. I think that's sad but then again what are TSA personnel supposed to do? Screening scary looking Arab guys wearing turbans and long robes wouldn't make sense because what terrorist in their right mind would go to the airport looking like that? It would be logical to assume that actual terrorists probably would not be looking "the part", and actual Al Qaeda terrorist have demonstrated that they really don't have any regard for the lives of women or children. For them life is expendable if destroying it accomplishes there goals, which they see as the will of God. That's the problem with religious fanaticism. When people think they are doing the will of God, they may be capable of doing things they would normally never do, even though every major religion including Islam absolutely forbids the killing of innocents (especially children) and the killing of one's self.
As the details of this story trickle in we find that this event should have been prevented. The man's own father turned him in to American authorities as a possible threat. His name was on a list of people with possible ties to dangerous people, and from what I understand he bought his ticket with cash and had no checked luggage, despite the fact that he said he was staying in the States for 2 weeks. There were definitely a lot of red flags here. The bottom line is that this shows that the system really isn't working. All the talk about being tougher on would-be terrorists seems more increasingly more and more about scoring political points then actually protecting the American people. After all we've gone to war in two different countries, haven't caught Osama bin Laden despite knowing the general area where he is (and we could find Saddam Hussein in a hole), and we've just had what could have been another 9/11 on our hands. Where was Barack Obama? He was in Hawaii on vacation. Granted he knew that the man had been caught and his plan thwarted, but what if there had been others on other planes? I was not impressed with the President's response to the situation.
In general American authorities need to be more efficient in detecting threats, and that doesn't mean screening everyone that looks Arab or has a name like Muhammad or Ahmed or Hussein. It means having better intelligence and being better at sharing information with relevant agencies. Also, it means addressing the source of the threat which is Al Qaeda leadership currently residing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, AND responsibly ending the war in Iraq which has just become a place for Al Qaeda foot soldiers to "practice" killing Americans.
Also, we, the American Muslim community need to work harder at pressuring governments in Muslim countries to address the threat of people like Al Qaeda, and we need to do more in our country to assist authorities in recognizing legitimate threats. There have been stories of Muslim communities lashing out at the FBI for using informants in mosques. Now first of all I don't agree with the FBI using informants in mosques unless there are clear, well documented threats coming from within them. However, we Muslims need to be more open for FBI and other authorities coming into our mosques. After all what do we have to hide? Once I stopped at the Islamic Center of Toledo, which is a huge mosque that you get a great view of if your travelling north on I-75 to Toledo, there was a sign that said "visitation by appointment only". I thought to myself "wow that's really sad". What does that say to people who might see the mosque and say "you know what I'd like to learn more about Islam, I think I'll stop there". After all churches and synagogues don't ask questions about people who come during services. I guarantee that any Muslim wearing a thobe and imama could go to any church on Sunday and not be asked why they're there or to make an appointment for a visit. The problem is that Muslims are under the impression (and often it is a severe over-reaction) that they have to walk on egg shells and at any moment the FBI could come and take them and lock them up forever. Truth be told they learn these fears from the secret police in their own countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, and others because they DO do that. Muslims here in the US need to realize that unlike those countries and unlike the European countries, that they have rights and are protected under the law, even when they have done something wrong. The FBI is not above the law. The President isn't even above the law.
Bottom line....I'm just glad no one was hurt on that flight, and we need to do better, as Americans, and as Muslims.
...And Allah Knows Best...