Radicalization is a buzz word these days.
In August 2007, the New York Police Department, Intelligence Division, issued a report titled: "Radicalization in the West and the Homegrown Threat." The Report, which lays ground work for profiling of Muslims, contains language suggesting that a majority of Muslims in the United States present a threat to public order.
The NYPD Report makes an unsupported claim that violent ideologies are “proliferating at a logarithmic rate.” Drawing on five case studies of arrests and prosecutions outside the United States, the Report asserts that “there is a remarkable consistency in the behaviors and trajectory of each of the plots across the stages” and that “this consistency provides a tool for predictability.” And, more worryingly, it baldly asserts that “radicalization permeates New York City, especially its Muslim communities.”
The report contains sweeping generalizations which are likely to reinforce negative stereotypes and unwarranted suspicions about the seven-million strong American Muslim community. Consider the statement from the report that suggests “there is no useful profile to assist law enforcement or intelligence to predict who will follow this trajectory of radicalization.” It is followed by a detailed description of exactly who the NYPD considers suspicious: Muslim men, ages 15 to 35, of middle-class origin often with college degrees. The typical homegrown jihadists, the report continues, may “look, act, talk and walk like everyone around them” and “are often those who are at a crossroad in life.”
These statements convey a false and dangerous impression that a majority of American Muslims are dangerous radicals. Taken out of context — as they surely will be — these assertions are an invitation to other law enforcement agencies to engage in religious and racial profiling. It is not unlikely they will be picked up by private entities and used as justification for private discrimination, hate attacks, or worse.
The New York Police Department presented this controversial report at the Senate hearing of October 30, 2007, entitled: “The Role of Local Law Enforcement in Battling Violent Islamic Extremism.” Police officers from Los Angeles, Kansas City, and Miami/Dade County also discussed their approaches to counter “the threat of homegrown Islamist radicalization.”
Echoeing the NYDP’s Radicalization report, Major Thomas Dailey from the Missouri Police Department Homeland Security Division told the committee: “An understanding of how terrorists operate through pre-incident indicators and characteristics are key to preventing terrorism. Presenting specific case studies during training are a means to understanding both how terrorism has occurred and could have been prevented.”
Major Thomas Dailey suggested that the tenets of the NYPD report on radicalization should be included in the Counter Terrorism Patrol Strategy training. Tellingly, attachment four of Major Dailey’s testimony reproduces Radicalization definition from the NYPD report.
He pointed out that there is a concentration of Middle Eastern immigrants and some refugees around the Islamic religious centers in the country and “many of them are intensely loyal to their homeland and religious beliefs.”