Several U.S. Government departments and agencies conduct outreach, engage, and partner with Muslim-, Arab-, Sikh-, and South Asian-American communities over issues relating to civil rights, civil liberties, and domestic terrorism issues. A summary of the activities of principal organizations is listed below.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
DHS has stated that public outreach and engagement initiatives with American Arab, Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, Somali, Middle Eastern, and other ethnic and religious communities play major roles in the department's mission.655 Engagement activities are centered in its Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) whose mission impacts counterterrorism but is broader. The office is also responsible for: (656)
* Advising Department leadership, personnel, and partners about civil rights and civil liberties issues.
* Communicating with individuals and communities whose civil rights and civil liberties may be affected by Department activities, informing them about policies and avenues of redress, and promoting appropriate attention within the Department to their experiences and concerns.
* Investigating and resolving civil rights and civil liberties complaints filed by the public.
CRCL has established an engagement team currently active in eight metropolitan areas: Boston, Chicago, Columbus (and other metropolitan areas of Ohio), Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Washington, DC, Their major outreach and engagement initiatives include (657)
* Incident Communication Coordination Team (ICCT). This team provides a venue for government officials and community leaders to work together to exchange information and resolve issues immediately after terrorist attacks or other significant incidents. ICCT members include officials from DHS, the Departments of State and Justice, the FBI; and leaders of the Arab-, Muslim-, Sikh-, Middle Eastern-, Somali-, and South Asian-American communities. When an incident occurs, the ICCT is assembled via conference call. It has been activated numerous times since its establishment including after the Fort Hood incident in November 2009 and the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines flight #253 in December 2009.
* Community and youth roundtables in key cities that serve as a point of inquiry and redress for individuals concerned about their rights as Americans.
* Cultural competency training for DHS personnel.
* Promoting diversity hiring and critical language skills within the department and at job fairs, conferences, and in media outlets serving ethnic and religious communities promotion. The National Security Internship Program, a partnership between the FBI and the Department, seeks to bring Arabic speakers into public service positions within federal intelligence and security agencies.
Department of Justice (DOJ)
According to its website, since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11), the Civil Rights Division of DOJ has placed a priority on prosecuting bias crimes and incidents of discrimination against Muslims, Sikhs, and persons of Arab and South-Asian descent, as well as persons perceived to be members of these groups. The Division has also engaged in extensive outreach efforts to these communities to educate people about their rights and available government services. (658)
This outreach has included meetings of senior Civil Rights Division officials with community leaders to address backlash-related civil rights issues, providing speakers and information booths at national and regional conventions and other community events, and hosting a bi-monthly meeting that brings together leaders from these communities with officials from a variety of federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Transportation, and others, to address civil rights issues in a comprehensive way. (659)
The Justice Department's Community Relations Service has held more than 250 town and community meetings around the country addressing backlash-related issues. (660) In addition, the Community Relations Service: (661)
* Provided technical assistance and targeted training efforts towards establishing dialogue between government officials and Arab, Muslim, and Sikh communities in the United States.
* Developed the Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Cultural Awareness Program for law enforcement officials, and have provided this training to well over 500 law enforcement departments and agencies across the country.
* Conducts Train-the-Trainer programs, often in conjunction with the Cultural Awareness Program, to train volunteers from the Arab, Muslim, and Sikh communities. These volunteers then conduct trainings for law enforcement officials and first responders, providing them with an understanding of Arab, Muslim, and Sikh cultures that will enable them to more effectively work in these communities.
* The Community Relations Service provides training to law enforcement officials on racial profiling to identify best practices to prevent illegal discrimination against Arabs, Muslims, and Sikhs and to improve daily contact and strengthen mutual trust and effective policing practices in these communities.
* Developed two films for law enforcement officers that can be downloaded from its website: The First Three to Five Seconds--Law Enforcement Roll Call Training Video on Arab and Muslim Cultural Awareness, and On Common Ground--Law Enforcement Training Video on Sikhism. (662)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
There is limited information in open sources about FBI engagement activities in Muslim-American communities, the objectives of those activities, or how they are harmonized with its other counterterrorism efforts. The FBI has suggested that since 9/11, it has been formulating an "extensive program" to bolster its relationship with Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian communities in the United States. (663) Also, in March 2010, Brett Hovington, the Chief of the Community Relations Unit of FBI's Office of Public Affairs, told Congress that the primary purpose of the agency's outreach program was "to enhance public trust and confidence in the FBI." (664) This involves fostering a positive image of law enforcement among U.S. organizations that have condemned terrorism and violent radicalization.
Hovington suggested that the FBI relies on general programs at the field office level to foster interaction with a wide variety of local groups. In 2003, the FBI Washington Field Office (WFO) established one such program, the Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Advisory Council (AMSAC) to create transparency and stronger communication between its office and multiple religious communities. According to the WFO, on a quarterly basis its officials and AMSAC executives share cultural, linguistic, and contextual expertise and work to prevent hate crimes by building relationships with community members who are not afraid to come forward with information. (665) In his testimony, Hovington equated jihadist-inspired terrorism with gangs or groups like the Ku Klux Klan and underscored that FBI counterterrorism-related community engagement had to be decentralized:
It is very important to make sure that we engage with a number of different communities, because terrorism really is just fear, and that fear comes in different shapes, forms and fashion depending on what environment that you're--that you're looking at. So whether you're talking about gang activity, whether you're talking about Klan activity, the bottom line--it's terrorism. And that's one of the things I--we do at the FBI. We take a look at the various communities. And it--I would say it's a customized outreach program. What I mean by that is we have 56 FBI field offices that serve, again, across this country, and they have to tailor their outreach efforts based on the demographics of the area of responsibilities that they serve. That's the only effective way to do engagement, because there is not one shoe fits all. (666)
An outreach program developed by the Community Relations Unit at FBI Headquarters is the Specialized Community Outreach Team (SCOT). It is described as an effort to, "engage communities that are particularly insular or where barriers of fear or suspicion of law enforcement exist." The SCOT was piloted with Somali-American communities in Minneapolis; Denver; Columbus, Ohio; San Diego; Seattle; and Washington, DC. (667) This effort helped the FBI address a Somali-linked threat to the 2009 Presidential Inauguration and, in this instance, SCOT outreach in Columbus facilitated FBI investigative work. (668)
Aside from the FBI's inclusion of Muslim Americans in outreach programs devised for all types of local constituencies, (669) some FBI field offices have formally interacted with local Muslim communities regarding specific cases. One case involved the agency's top official at the New York Field Office meeting with 40 community leaders regarding Najibullah Zazi, who has confessed to plotting to bomb subway trains in New York City. Other field offices have held town hall meetings to interact with the communities. (670) At the national level, the FBI headquarters representatives have engaged in liaison with Arab and Muslim American advocacy groups and have regular issue-focused conference calls with community leaders. (671) The FBI is also a member of the Incident Coordination Communications Team managed by DHS CRCL. Finally, CRS discussions with Muslim community leaders revealed that the FBI has partnered with community members in specific cases where the FBI has detected radicalization in an effort to prevent those individuals from transitioning to acts of violent extremism. (672)
Department of the Treasury (Treasury)
As part of its counterterrorism efforts, the U.S. Government seeks to identify, disrupt, and dismantle illicit financial networks that support terrorists and terrorist groups. This is one of the core missions of Treasury. The department has identified cases where terrorist organizations have established or infiltrated the charitable sector and exploited charitable funds and well-intentioned donors in order to provide cover or support terrorist activities or agendas. Section 1702 of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (P.L. 95-223) and Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, (673) provide the executive branch with tools to investigate and disrupt terrorist networks by designating them and blocking their assets. Since 2001, Treasury has designated eight charities under E.O. 13224. (674)
"Though Treasury actions with respect to Muslim charities have been relatively infrequent, and none have occurred for three years," Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Daniel Glaser, told Congress in May 2010, these actions, "... have had the unfortunate and unintended consequence of causing a chilling effect on well-intentioned donor activity within Muslim-American communities." (675) This is a particularly important issue for Muslims due to their religious obligation of zakat. (676) In his speech in Cairo in 2009, President Obama recognized the challenge, when he said, "... in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That's why I'm committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat." (677)
Treasury maintains that overcoming the challenges noted above requires a strong partnership with the charitable sector and frames its efforts to (1) conduct outreach, (2) issue guidance, and (3) develop a partnership with the charitable sector. Treasury meets frequently and collaborates on projects with specific communities and organizations, including Muslim-American communities, as well as with representatives from the broader charitable sector. It also participates in interagency outreach events with DHS, DOJ, and the FBI. (678) Finally, Glaser notes that guidance has been developed to assist the charitable sector in adopting protective measures against terrorist abuse of charities, including its "Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines: Voluntary Best Practices for U.S.-Based Charities." (679)
In an effort to protect and promote charitable activity in places where terrorist organizations are particularly active, Treasury has also discussed with Muslim communities the feasibility of developing alternative relief mechanisms. One example is the American Charities for Palestine (ACP) founded in June 2007 for the purpose of creating a secure mechanism for distributing contributions that improve the quality of life for Palestinians living in the West Bank. In August 2008, ACP signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) ensuring that all recipients of ACP donations in Palestine are fully vetted and approved by USAID to ensure that funds will be distributed in compliance with U.S. law. (680)
National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)
NCTC is the primary U.S. Government organization for integrating and analyzing all intelligence pertaining to counterterrorism (except for information pertaining exclusively to domestic terrorism). (681) Through its Directorate of Strategic Operational Planning, it is also the executive branch lead agency for counterterrorism planning.
Within NCTC, there is a Global Engagement Group that engages with Muslim-American communities within the United States and counterpart agencies abroad. According to the NCTC Director:
NCTC helps coordinate the Federal Government's engagement with Somali American communities. In this regard, NCTC has worked with national security agencies such as DHS and FBI, as well as non-traditional partners, such as the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education, facilitating their efforts to increase and improve outreach and engagement activities around the country. By supporting the community of interest, NCTC ensures a "whole of government" approach that is vital to addressing domestic radicalization. We also are supporting a forum for interagency counterparts to participate in and to collaborate on communication strategies and opportunities. As countering violent extremism is broader than CT-specific activities many departments and agencies have begun public outreach and engagement efforts on issues such as civil rights, education, charitable giving, and immigration policy. (682)
In 2010, Director Leiter elaborated on the NCTC's role and philosophy about engagement in testimony to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee:
While government has an important role, we view community institutions as the key players in countering radicalization; addressing radicalization requires community-based solutions that are sensitive to local dynamics and needs. Over the past year, NCTC has helped foster collaboration with community leaders involved in countering violent extremism to better understand how government can effectively partner with communities. It has become clear that government can play a significant role by acting as a convener and facilitator that informs and supports--but does not direct--community-led initiatives. Based on this, NCTC led the development of a Community Awareness Briefing that conveys unclassified information about the realities of terrorist recruitment in the Homeland and on the Internet. The briefing, which can be used by departments and agencies and has garnered very positive reactions, aims to educate and empower parents and community leaders to combat violent extremist narratives and recruitment. This briefing has been presented to Muslim community members and leaders around the country leveraging, when possible, existing U.S. Government engagement platforms such as DHS and FBI roundtables. (683)
Author Contact Information
Jerome P. Bjelopera
Analyst in Organized Crime and Terrorism
Mark A. Randol
Specialist in Domestic Intelligence and CounterTerrorism
(1) Throughout this report, numerous plots involving persons indicted by the Department of Justice are discussed. This report does not presume the guilt of indicted individuals in pending federal cases.
(2) The FBI declined to speak with CRS about its counterterrorism programs, investigative activities, or engagement efforts for this report.
(3) For the purposes of this report, we employ the terms "homegrown" and "domestic" to describe terrorist activity or plots perpetrated within the United States or abroad by American citizens, permanent legal residents, or visitors radicalized largely within the United States. We use the terms "jihadist" and "violent jihadists" throughout this report. For our purposes, the term "jihadist" describes radicalized individuals using Islam as an ideological and/or religious justification for their belief in the establishment of a global caliphate, or jurisdiction governed by a Muslim civil and religious leader known as a caliph. Jihadists draw on Salafi Islam-the peaceful fundamentalist belief that society should be governed by Islamic law based on the Quran and following the model of the immediate followers and companions of the Prophet Muhammad. In this paper, the term "violent jihadist" characterizes jihadists who have made the jump to illegally supporting, plotting, or directly engaging in violent terrorist activity. More broadly and outside of the immediate context of terrorism, the Arabic word jihad is derived from a verb that means "to struggle, strive, or exert oneself." It appears in the Quran in the context of calls to strive for the advancement of Islam and to make a personal commitment to struggle "in the cause of God." At its most general level, jihad denotes taking action in accordance with Islam, acting on behalf of the Muslim community, and thereby improving one's standing as a pious Muslim. The concept has been understood by Muslims in various ways over time to include fighting (qital) against those who oppose the advancement of Islam or who harm Muslims, fundraising for Islamic causes, proselytizing, doing charitable work, and struggling against personal desires. Historically, key Sunni and Shi'a religious texts most often referred to jihad in terms of religiously approved fighting on behalf of Islam and Muslims. Some Muslims have emphasized nonviolent social and personal means of jihad or have sought to shape the meaning of the term to refer to fighting only under defensive circumstances. For more on Salafi Islam, see CRS Report RS21695, The Islamic Traditions of Wahhabism and Salafiyya, by Christopher M. Blanchard. For more on Al Qaeda's global network, see CRS Report R41070, Al Qaeda and Affiliates: Historical Perspective, Global Presence, and Implications for U.S. Policy, coordinated by John Rollins.
(4) See Appendix A for a summary of publicly-available information regarding these alleged plots and attacks. The summary is presented in reverse chronological order. The two attacks between 9/11 and May 2009 involved Hasan Akbar and Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar. On March 23, 2003, two days after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. Army Sergeant Akbar killed two U.S. Army officers and wounded 14 others at U.S. Army Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait, 25 miles from the Iraq border. On March 3, 2006, Taheri-Azar, a 22-year-old naturalized American citizen from Iran, drove his sport utility vehicle (SUV) into a crowd at The Pit, a popular student gathering spot at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The SUV struck and injured several people.
(5) U.S. Congress, House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment, Written Testimony of Bruce Hoffman, Hearing: "Internet Terror Recruitment and Tradecraft: How Can We Address an Evolving Tool While Protecting Free Speech," 111th Cong., 2nd sess., May 26, 2010, p. 2., http://homeland.house.gov/SiteDocuments/20100526101502-95237.pdf.
(6) David Schanzer, Charles Kurzman, and Ebrahim Moosa, Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim Americans, January 6, 2010, p. 1, http:// www.sanford.duke.edu/news/Schanzer_Kurzman_Moosa_Anti-Terror_Lessons.pdf. Hereafter: Schanzer, et.al, Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim Americans.
(7) Quintan Wiktorowicz, Radical Islam Rising: Muslim Extremism in the West (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2005), p. 3. See also William Rosenau and Sara Daly, "American Journeys to Jihad: U.S. Extremists During the 1980s and 1990s," CTC Sentinel, vol. 3, no. 8 (August 2010) pp. 17-20, http://www.ctc.usma.edu/sentinel/ CTCSentinel-Vol3Iss8.pdf.
(8) Brian Michael Jenkins, Would Be Warriors: Incidents of Jihadist Terrorist Radicalization in the United States Since September 11, 2001 (Santa Monica, CA: The RAND Corporation, 2010), p. viii.
(9) Paul West and Julie Bykowicz, "Information-sharing still a roadblock," Baltimoresun.com, February22, 2010, http://www.baltimoresun.com/ news/maryland/bal-md.omalley22feb22,0,4661474,print.story.
(10) Marc Sageman, Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), pp. 71, 133-146. Hereafter: Sageman, Leaderless Jihad.
(11) Philip Mudd, "Evaluating the Al-Qa'ida Threat to the U.S. Homeland," CTCSentinel, vol. 3, no. 8 (August 2010) p. 2, http://www.ctc.usma.edu/sentinel/CTCSentinel-Vol3Iss8.pdf; Dennis C. Blair, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: U.S. Intelligence Community Annual Threat Assessment: Statement for the Record, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, February 2, 2010, pp. 7-8, http://www.dni.gov/testimonies/20100202_testimony.pdf. Hereafter: Blair, Annual Threat Assessment, February 2, 2010.
(12) Greg Miller, "Al-Qaeda's New Tactic is to Seize Shortcuts," Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2010, http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la- fg-qaeda19-2010mar19,0,1676434.story.
(13) Others have used similar definitions. Rick "Ozzie" Nelson and Ben Bodurian define homegrown as "extremist violence perpetrated by U.S. legal residents and citizens. See Rick "Ozzie" Nelson and Ben Bodurian, A Growing Terrorist Threat? Assessing "Homegrown " Extremism in the United States, Center For Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC, March 8, 2010, p. v, http://csis.org/publication/growing-terrorist-threat. Hereafter: Nelson and Bodurian, A Growing Terrorist Threat? For further discussion of definitions of homegrown terrorism, see Sam Mullins, "Home-grown Terrorism: Issues and Implications," Perspectives on Terrorism, vol 1, no. 3 (2007), http://www.terrorismanalysts.com/pt/ index.php?option=com_rokzine&view=article&id=12&Itemid=54.
(14) Dina Temple-Raston, "Would-Be Bombers in U.S. Hampered by Logistics," National Public Radio, June 21, 2010, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127909962.
(15) Sageman, Leaderless Jihad, pp. 71, 133-146; Scott Stewart, Jihadism: The Grassroots Paradox, STRATFOR, March 18, 2010, http://www.stratfor.com/ weekly/20100317_jihadism_grassroots_paradox?ip_auth_redirect=1. Hereafter: Stewart, Jihadism.
(17) On November 26, 2008, ten militants came ashore from the Arabian Sea on small boats and attacked numerous highprofile targets in Mumbai, India, with automatic weapons and explosives. Among the sites attacked were two luxury hotels-the Taj Mahal Palace and the Oberoi-Trident-along with the main railway terminal, a Jewish cultural center, a cafe frequented by foreigners, a cinema house, and two hospitals. By the time the episode ended some 62 hours later, about 165 people, along with nine terrorists had been killed (one terrorist was captured), and hundreds more injured. Six American citizens were among the 26 foreigners reported dead. For more information, see CRS Report R40087, Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai, India, and Implications for U.S. Interests, by K. Alan Kronstadt.
(18) Art Keller, "Why Was Faisal Shahzad a Bad Bombmaker?" AfPak Channel, a special project of Foreign Policy and the New America Foundation, May 14, 2010, http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/05/14/bad_bombmakers. See also Exclusive Analysis, "North American Quarterly Terrorism Update," December 2009, p. 5.
(19) Stewart, Jihadism.
(20) Ibid; Exclusive Analysis, "Global Jihad Quarterly Update," May 2010, pp 6-7.
(21) Kimberly Dozier, "Yemeni al Qaeda Publishes Second Edition of English Magazine," Washington Times, Associated Press, October 12, 2010, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/oct/12/yemeni-al-qaeda-publishes- secondeditionenglish-m/print/.
(22) Ibid; Judith Miller and David Samuels, "A Glossy Approach to Inciting Terrorism," Wall Street Journal, November 27, 2010, http://online.wsj.com/article/ SB10001424052748703572404575635053157718986.html?mod= googlenews_wsj. None of the three reside in the United States.
(23) For 10 years prior to the plot, Zazi, an Afghan immigrant legally present in the United States, lived in the New York City Borough of Queens. Zazi pled guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against U.S. persons or property, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, and providing material support to a terrorist organization. See Department of Justice (DOJ), Press Release, "Najibullah Zazi Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Use Explosives Against Persons or Property in U.S., Conspiracy to Murder Abroad, and Providing Material Support to al Qaeda," February 22, 2010, http://newyork.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel10/nyfo022210.html. Hereafter: DOJ Press Release, "Najibullah Zazi Pleads Guilty." For more on Zazi's childhood, see Michael Wilson, "From Smiling Coffee Vendor to Terror Suspect," The New York Times, September 26, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/26/nyregion/ 26profile.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print. Hereafter: Wilson, "From Smiling Coffee Vendor."
(24) William …