Trump’s Targeting of Muslims Isn’t Just Racist – It’s Dumb Policy


A leaked DHS memo reveals how the White House is embracing Islamophobia – and ignoring the country’s most serious terrorist threat

Trump speaking with county sheriffs at the White House. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty

In April of 2010, ex-FBI agent John Guandolo, who left the agency due to ethical breaches that included sleeping with confidential sources, held a training session for the Columbus, Ohio police departmenttitled “Understanding the True Nature of the Threat to America.” During the course of the seminar, Guandolo made several outlandish claims about “secret” Muslim societies trying to take over the American government and the inherent dangerousness of Islam. Towards the end, he made an utterly unsubstantiated claim: a 59-year-old college professor – an American citizen and a Muslim who helped run Muslim outreach programs for the state – was, in fact, a secret would-be terrorist who should be watched. Present in the room were dozens of law enforcement officers, including the Chief Deputy who knew the professor well. The claim was eventually disproven, but not before the professor was fired from his job and slandered as a threat to the community.

A new document published by Foreign Policy on Monday indicates that the Trump administration and the Department of Homeland Security are planning to turn a similar brand of baseless fear mongering into actual governmental policy. The draft report, which wasreportedly requested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, describes the nascent stages of a system that would profile Sunni Muslims living in America, including permanent residents and possibly citizens. Titled “Demographic Profile of Perpetrators of Terrorist Attacks in the United States Since September 2001 Attacks Reveals Screening and Vetting Implications,” it calls for the long-term surveillance of Muslims who fit certain “at risk” criteria: being male, Muslim, and from “the Middle East, South Asia or Africa.”

The report purportedly examines 25 select terrorism-related prosecutions in the U.S. that involved Sunni Muslims, making the argument that the government should “continuously evaluate” Sunni Muslims due to their “higher risk of becoming radicalized.” This would likely include stricter standards for travel, visas and other benefits within the U.S. (Naturalized citizens can have their citizenships revoked under certain circumstances.) While the body of the report doesn’t include details of the cases being scrutinized, it does assert that more than half of these select perpetrators were not born in the U.S. – suggesting the proposed measures would largely target visa holders and other immigrants.

In a comment to Foreign Policy, CBP representatives emphasized that the report was a “first draft” that “did not reflect a large number of substantive comments and revisions that have since been made to subsequent versions of the document as a result of CBP’s internal and external review process.” But the draft memo marks another instance of the Trump administration inaccurately painting foreign-born Muslims as the primary perpetrators of terror. Trump’s “Muslim ban,” now in its third iteration, is being implemented even as it remains under Supreme Court review. Trump’s “extreme vetting” program has called for increased electronic surveillance, including the monitoring of social media accounts. After a young man from Uzbekistan drove into a bike path in Manhattan, killing eight people, Trump seemed to doubled-down on the power of racial profiling, tweeting: “I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”

But according to terrorism experts, the January 2018 report is misleading both in terms of data selection and interpretation. First, the administration is citing figures that do not match the total number of terrorism-related cases, and seeming to skew the results to include more foreign-born defendants. The DOJ periodically releases thenumber of international terrorism defendants, and the latest tally from 2015 included 627 defendants. (The Intercept has produced a complete list of terrorism defendants that cites around 800 cases as of January 2018.) But the January report lists only 549 defendants, making it seem that the 402 non-U.S. citizens on the list make up an overwhelming majority of cases.

In fact, long-standing data has shown that country of birth is not an important factor in determining whether or not someone will commit an act of terrorism. Faiza Patel, the Co-Director of the Liberty and National Security Center at NYU’s Brennan Center, found that twice as many “homegrown” terrorists were prosecuted in federal court as “foreign” ones – a fact that’s particularly striking given certain selection issues, like biases in prosecution resources that target Muslim defendants. And then there’s the fact that deaths from terror attacks in the U.S. are statistically much lower than other forms of homicide. On that last point, the list of international terrorism defendants fails to distinguish cases based on threat. According to the Intercept, the vast majority involve providing “material support,”which can include sending money or Twitter messages.

Perhaps most telling – and unsurprising – the DHS memo last week ignores the growing threat of U.S.-born non-Muslim terrorists. In April 2017, the Government Accountability Office reported that almost 75 percent of all terrorism fatalities were due to right-wing extremists. The Anti Defamation League has similarly “identified more than 150 domestic terror incidents related to right-wing extremists over the past 25 years, with hundreds of perpetrators—almost every one of which was born in the United States.” At least 255 people have been killed and more than 600 injured in those incidents. “Our current report on extremist murders demonstrates that 71 percent of extremist-related murders in the past decade have come at the hands of right-wing extremists,” says Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. “Stopping hate and violence begins with recognizing and understanding where it comes from.”

But few argue that the Trump administration has reached new heights in embracing Islamophobia as official doctrine. “This draft report reflects the toxic effect the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant and Islamophobic agenda is having on CBP and other law enforcement agencies sworn to protect and uphold the rights of all who reside in the U.S.,” says Robert McCaw, the Director of Government Affairs Department at CAIR. “How did a CBP analyst or research team even find it reasonable to recommend that the government surveil all Sunni Muslim immigrants in America, of African, South Asian, Middle Eastern origin?”


  1. People are people, regardless of where they were born, what colour their skin is, or whatever religion. All deserve respect. Tolerance in Sweden/Britain/America is an illusion. The problem isn’t immigrants not adapting to British culture, it’s Brits showing much disrespect and scorn to those who are of any immigrant background. even if an immigrant was well versed in English, knew the customs etc. would they still get employment? No. Would Brits treat them as a decent human? No. So why would they want to assimilate into a culture that is constantly tearing them down? Multiculturalism is not about integration but about cultural plurality. It is not about separation but about respect and the deepening awareness of Unity in Diversity. Each culture will maintain its own intrinsic value and at the same time would be expected to contribute to the benefit of the whole society.

    What do you expect from the so called civilised Yanks? West must learn to respect and tolerate those who are different. There will never be an end to immigration from Muslim countries because of low birth rate and ageing population.

    Stop treating foreigners like garbage and they will stop ruining your precious country. Why did you let them in in the first place if you didn’t want them here? They left everything in their countries because of your promises. Are you so anxious to please that you can’t say “no”? I would love to see you go to a foreign land where you don’t have any friends, you don’t even know anyone and you don’t speak the language, and start from scratch. It is difficult for you to accept, respect and tolerate Muslims with different culture, languages and FAITH. You have no choice but to accept them for your own survival. The number of Muslims is on the increase because of immigration, high birth rate and conversion. By the end of this century, nearly 50% of British population would be Muslim.

    The whole world belongs to Muslims. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. As Muslims we have our way of life and it does not change whether we are in our country or in a foreign country. We have only two holidays, the two Eid’s.

    “Islamic extremism” means, praying 5x is Islamic, paying zakat (charity) is Islamic, growing a beard is Islamic, going on Haji is Islamic, a woman wearing headscarf is Islamic etc. Here are some other things that are Islamic….Algebra, numerals, poetry, calligraphy. If a woman who wears the Niqab means she is preserving her beauty and sexuality only for husband, I don’t see what’s wrong with that, is it better if she is wears revealing clothes where she is the property of every men walking down street to goggle at? I personally don’t care about either of them, its a personal choice and you are intolerant anti-Muslim individual. All religions produce fanatics. Islam at the moment is in the news and is the most prominent form of religious extremism. In the past in this country we worried about Catholics. In 1948, we were all concerned about Zionist terrorism in the British Mandate of Palestine. In the future, no doubt, we will be concerned about another religion. Islamic fundamentalism is a terrifying and deadly force in the world, but it is a minority view. It would be a minority view if everyone in the middle east believed it (they don’t). You cannot simply stereotype “Islam” and reduce it to the traits of the fundamentalists, just as you can’t reduce “Christian” to the American Bible Belt, George Bush and Dick Cheney. Go talk to some Muslim people in your local area. They’re trying to get on with life while living their religion in a way that fits in with the modern world. They’re just like you and me. They aren’t scary. They’re just people who worship a different version of the God of Abraham.

    Speaking English does not promote integration into British, American and Australian societies, and broaden opportunities. English speaking Muslim youths are angry, frustrated and extremist, thanks to state schools with monolingual non-Muslim teachers and English language. English language is not only a lingua franca but also lingua frankensteinia. Human right are also covers linguistic right. Cultural and linguistic genocide are very common. British schooling is murdering community languages like Arabic, Urdu and others. English is today the world killer language. Linguistic genocide is a crime against humanity and British schooling is guilty of committing this crime. Language is not just a language. It defines one’s culture, identity and consciousness. It defines how we think, communicate and express ourselves. The fact is the most South Asian Muslims have come to know Islam by way of Urdu, the children’s alienation from the language that connects them the heritage of their parents and grandparents is disturbing. As a matter of fact, one has to get to know his mother tongue well if one is to master any other language.

    Muslim community not only needs Masajid, halal meat and Eid Holidays but they need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their development period also. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. Legally, the state has an obligation to respect the rights of parents to ensure that ‘education and teaching(of their children) is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.’ The schools must satisfy the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural needs of Muslim pupils. State schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers are not in a position to satisfy their needs. A good school is not just a knowledge factory or a conveyor belt for churning out exam passes – it is a community, a family. A community is held together by common values and principles.

    No one has any problem when: Jews keep beards and wear their traditional caps Christian priests and nuns wear their religious outfits Buddhist monks wear orange robes Sikhs keep beards and wear turbans Indian aunties wear Sarees (cross streets and hang out in Wal-Mart) Yeah but if any Muslim male keeps beard or if any Muslim girl wears hijab then everyone has problem. It’s Freedom when you go naked but it’s extremism when you wear hijab – just plain hypocrisy! Looking at the case of France, a major secular nation, I believe it is also not allowing women freedom by not letting her to wear her choice of clothing as it supposedly “clashes with French secular values”.


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