Op Ed: White Privilege Kills!

by Ahmed Tharwat

We are living in a time, where a black kid could be shot by the police for holding a toy gun and young Muslims can be sent to life in prison for daring to think of a gun. At the same time, white folks are actually, buying and carrying, machine, and assault weapons, threatening and intimidating neighbors, teachers, friends and classmates under the watch eyes of our law enforcements, as in the latest shooting at Parkland High School in Florida. During the Summer of 2016, the Twin Cities watched the second biggest terrorism trial in America, lasting 17 days. Three young Somali men with ‘no history of violence’—which is actually the name of a new documentary by filmmaker Ellie Bernstein–were put on trial, and sentenced to a combined 95 years in prison for allegedly plotting to join ISIS although the three men pleaded not guilty. I attended some of the trial, where none of the jurors looked like peers of these young men. And question like “When you visited the mosque, did you recite jihad verses’ was asked of defendants.  The trial divided the Somali community as well as attracting attention both nationally and internationally. At the end, in a news conference, the United States Attorney, Andrew M. Luger, called the case “one of the most important trials” in recent years, one that illuminated the problem of terrorism recruitment “in our own backyard.”  “We have a terrorist recruiting problem in the Somali community,” he declared, which, at the time, presidential candidate Trump reiterated during a visit to Minnesota.

The trial included much debate about the role of the FBI informant, who was paid more than $150,000, to lure the three young men into contemplating the plot, a technique often used by the FBI.  In New York, another case was being paraded across media headlines as an example of how our law enforcement was working hard to keep America safe. As The Intercept reported then, “The FBI and major media outlets yesterday trumpeted the agency’s latest counterterrorism triumph: the arrest of three Brooklyn men, ages 19 to 30, on charges of conspiring to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS.” However, Human Rights in its report  named,  Illusion of Justice, continued raising the alarm on human rights abuses in US Terrorism Prosecution: “Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute found that at times, in aggressively pursuing terrorism threats before they even materialize, US law enforcement overstepped its role by effectively participating in developing terrorism plots—in at least two cases even offering the defendants money to entice them to participate in the plot.” In fact, it seems that law enforcement doesn’t prevent on-going plots, but actually help to manufacture them according to The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism, by Trevor Aaronson. In the press conferences of law enforcement heavy-bearded Muslims who have been convicted are paraded in front of corporate media. This won’t keep America safe, but will keep billions of dollars pouring into the counter terrorism budget.  The Star Tribune reported  “This certainly would be perceived as a political victory in the war on terror and probably give U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger’s team bragging rights in Washington.”

Here is more or less how this entrapment works as explained by the Intercept. Find a disturbed young Muslim, usually in his twenties, who has expressed some radical ideas on social media. Next, a paid informant lures him to provide details and a plan. Then, an arrest, trial and finally a press conference, all the while patting themselves on the back, and declaring another false victory against ISIS.

In essence, these Muslims have been prosecuted for just thinking, for being oratory idiots, or just for being a bragging kid.  One of the three defendants, explained “we were just outdoing each other. We wanted to show who is the tougher”.

When FBI district director was addressing the issue of young Somali men in Minnesota on my show, I explained, “Unless you look at this as a youth problem, gangs and not Islamist terrorism, you will miss the mark.” Most of the people who went to Syria to fight with ISIS or other groups, were mostly motivated by the images of the devastation of their fellow Muslims at the hand of Assad’s murderous regime. Trump himself sent his missiles, the Mother of all Bombs, and destroyed half of Assad’s air force after seeing “Beautiful children” burned by Assad’s chemical weapons. Well, Muslims have feelings, too. Thousands of Americans go and fight with the Israeli Army to defend the Jewish state.

The perception that our law enforcement is diligently doing their job to protect us gives us a false sense of security. Why aren’t we raising major concerns about our law enforcement of manufacturing false terror threat ?  Even President Trump himself blamed the FBI for focusing too much on Russian collusion and not enough on tips related to the Florida shooter. “This is not acceptable. They (FBI) are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!” Trump tweeted. CNN reported that official documents on the Florida shooter  “…included more than 30 reports going back as far as 2011, covering misbehavior by Cruz and some by his younger brother. They add further depth to the emerging portrait of Cruz as an unstable teen who had long been on the radar of law enforcement, behavioral specialists, teachers and fellow students.” Here is a young disturbed individual who is fascinated with guns, belongs to racist and hate groups, publicly threatens to kill Muslims and Jews, known to the FBI, and still let off the hook, not even being watching closely. Here is a case of an individual with known terrorist tendencies and a plan to kill. Our law enforcement wouldn’t even need to hire an informant, spend lots of money, and tedious planning to lure him to think of committing a terrorist act. He is actively announcing his intentions! FBI could save lots of tax money and lives.

Vox.com came out with the headline, “After Sandy Hook we said never again. And then we let 1,607 mass shootings happen.“

Not lost on some is the fact that most of the deadly terrorist attacks since the 9/11 tragedy have come from right-wing, white men. David Neiwet, leading reporter on terrorist attacks, said in the Huffington Post: The reality is the most significant domestic terror threat we have is right-wing extremism.  “I think the larger perception in the public ― and this includes many progressives and liberals ― is the inversion of the reality: that the greatest threat we face is Islamist radicals,” Neiwert explained. We are living in a country that persecutes people for thinking of crazy ideas while at the same time the country is led by a president who threatened to destroy North Korea in front of the world at the U.N. He announced, “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” Even, our first black President, Barack Obama, the “Guess Who is Coming to Dinner” star of the liberals, was involved in a half dozen wars under the banner of the war on Muslim terrorism abroad, Donald Trump, heightened the threat of Islamist terrorism at home, While whites commit terroristic violence, we offer our prayers, but when Muslim commit violence, we blame their prayers. While our law enforcement spends time, energy and resources on manufacturing plots of terrorism, identified perpetrators who hide nothing are left alone to commit their atrocities. Ask yourself the question, why are those people of color with “no history of violence” incarcerated, while the white right-wing racists are left to their own dangerous “toys”.’ White privilege kills too!

Ahmed Tharwat View more

Ahmed Tharwat
Ahmed Tharwat is a TV Host and Producer. His show BelAhdan with Ahmed Tharwat airs on Minnesota Public Television Mondays at 10:30 p.m. You can find his blog In the middle at www.ahmediatv.com and on FaceBook, Twitter, Google, Plus, LinkedIn - @ahmediatv

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