In recent years, America’s view on Muslims has changed drastically, causing most people who practice Islam to be feared, harassed, or tormented due solely to their religion. According to the Journal of Muslim Mental Health, hate crimes against Muslims rose by an astounding 1,700% between 2000 and 2001, only to continually increase thereafter, and an August 2012 poll conducted by the Washington Post found that “41% of Americans had unfavorable views of Muslims.” Even if the general public finds a religion unfavorable, America and its government was founded on freedom of religion and can be expected to treat its citizens equally, regardless of their faith, right? That may not be the case anymore. 

Miriam Conrad, the lead in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s criminal defense team, has wrangled with the government’s ill treatment of Muslims before, defending a man named Rezwan Ferdaus, who was arrested due to his starring role in a 2011 F.B.I. sting operation. According to Conrad, the F.B.I. sent an informant into a mosque with “marching orders to befriend him”. This was due to the alleged discovery of his emails that expressed anti-American views and an affinity toward Al-Qaeda. Ferdaus, in conjunction with the F.B.I. informant, planned a terror attack on the Pentagon and Capitol Building, in which model airplanes filled with grenades would be flown into them. The government aided in him buying supplies and creating a plan, but before the attacks could happen Ferdaus was arrested and later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to destroy national defense premises, conspiracy to damage and destroy buildings owned by the U.S. government, and conspiracy to provide material resources and support to Al-Qaeda, leaving him with a 17 year sentence. 
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Photograph: WBUR
These sorts of entrapment cases are a reasonably common occurrence within today’s Federal Bureau of Investigation, other examples including the Newburgh Four, the Fort Dix 6, and Yassin Aref.
How does the government go about finding the people for these operations? According to Counterpunch, the F.B.I. has sent agents and informants into mosques to seek out young Muslim males, specifically noting those who seem alienated from the religion and could possibly be coaxed into committing such a crime. These men are made to believe that the F.B.I. agent, or informant, is a friend, and the Muslim male is then aided in planning, getting materials for, and carrying out a terrorist attack which may not have even been feasible without the funding and assistance from the government. 

Conrad believes that the “bureau is creating conspiracies where there would otherwise be only anger and ideation . . . creating would-be terrorists out of ne'er do wells and incompetents.” The National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, more simply known as the NCPCF, has compiled a Muslim “terrorism” database based on the Department of Justice’s list of 386 cases prosecuted in federal court; of these 386 cases, “94% contain elements of preemptive prosecution, meaning those cases were either sting operations led by informants or involved targeting defendants who weren’t engaging in or planning any violent acts.”

The F.B.I.’s focus on entrapment cases has raised many red flags among the public. Is it fair to seek people out like this? Is the F.B.I. creating and foiling their own terror attacks? Most importantly, what’s to stop the government or one of its investigative bureaus from targeting another religion... say, Christianity?


Sources:
  • http://www.lawfareblog.com/2013/01/lawfare-podcast-24-federal-public-defender-miriam-conrad-on-the-rezwan-ferdaus-case/
  • http://www.naturalnews.com/034325_FBI_entrapment_terror_plots.html
  • http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/05/03/i-was-one-of-the-radicals-at-the-mosque/#.UYre4YR7zOo.twitter
  • http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-08-24/national/35491116_1_muslim-americans-unfavorable-views-muslims-and-arabs
Michele
6/1/2013 09:39:08 am

I want to know why the teen in Oregon and the other teen in Arizona aren't being charged as terrorists? The planned, plotted and would have carried out their plans to blow up their High Schools had the not been caught with their bombs and bomb making supplies. Hmmm, I guess because they aren't Muslim!! That's a bunch of BS!

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Anon2
6/1/2013 09:55:27 am

Are individuals being targeted based on religion? YES.

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Anonymous
6/1/2013 11:26:36 pm

that's fantastic - I didn't know Conrad proposed that theory/ discovered the practice. I can't wait to watch her defense of Jahar.

On another note is the FBI pre-empting Islamic violence by creating events themselves? Based on your explanation it seems likely. They aren't the only government agency to do that though - Shin Bet, Federal Security Service (KGB), MI5/SIS are doing some version of it in their respective territories. Are they sharing intelligence among themselves, making this a global phenomenon - sure, they can cooperate when it's an us vs. them thing. Why is it us vs. them? Oil. (It started because of oil now there really is a ‘them’ and us’). What’s disturbing about the brothers’ case is they are not ‘they’ on the face of it – I remember one of Jahar’s friends quoted “he wasn’t them, he was us, he was Cambridge”.

If Jahar is found innocent in court, we can reasonably conclude that the government is playing on an existing dichotomy (they may have sown the seeds in the past but it exists now) … a West vs. Islam dichotomy to tighten their reigns on the public. In the Digital Age they want more surveillance, the state wants to be more powerful than the citizen. So they create mistrust, hysteria and chaos and curtail freedom (by increasing surveillance) in the name of security.

Anyway the simplistic answer is yes at this moment in history individuals are being targeted based on one particular religion - Islam. You do not have to worry about Christianity though - if history has taught us anything it is that everyone has a separate turn on the wheel of persecution. And funnily some people who've been on the wheel before will be complicit in that other community's turn.

Is it unethical? Yes it is.

So we accept the dichotomy, we accept there exists a radical strain of Islam, we accept the government wants more power and therein exploits this dichotomy. Jahar’s verdict is at the centre of all of this.

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Ghazal
6/14/2013 01:17:44 am

I feel like not only Muslims being targeted but also are not considered as important as other people. I remember there was this article about an Islamic human rights group wanting Ibragim Todashev's death to be investigated and under the comments people laughed wrote about how Muslims don't even have rights. Nobody seems to be outraged that the FBI killed an unarmed man or that an innocent person like Dzhokhar is in jail and he wasn't even read his Miranda rights. But when Oscar Grant was shot and killed by a police officer, everyone in my town was out protesting and tearing the town apart. I just feel like nobody cares about things like this and even takes it seriously because they think all Muslims are terrorists

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Gail CALHOUN
6/14/2013 05:07:30 am

I agree with the comments Ghazal wrote. There definitely is a double standard. I disagree only in one regard- and that is to say it is because people believe they are terrorists-this isn't so. People know Islamic Believers are not terrorists. The true reason they are victimised is because people are getting the clue from higher ups-the FBI for instance- and others in their government that it is o.k. to victimize this one group. They are receiving this message loud and clear from people in the government like Joseph Lieberman, who it seems can't say anything about terrorism without leading people down the path of hate. He does so in an all so reasonable sounding manner- but still, that's all he is about. I called my representatives in Government this morning and asked for them to call for a review- a legitimate unbiased review on how Tamerlan Tsarnaev died. Doing things like this will eventually bring about a change I hope.

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