Terrorist profiling, political correctness, and human rights

The Los Angeles Times has a lengthy article on the difficulties police face in developing a ‘profile’ of a typical terrorist or suicide bomber.  Here’s an excerpt.

After 9/11, police officials in New York City stepped up their counter-terrorism efforts against overseas plotters as well as the increasing threat of homegrown jihadists.

In a 2007 report posted on its website, the NYPD described how “unremarkable” individuals with ordinary jobs and ordinary lives could evolve into people who slaughter innocent civilians.

Middle-class males 15 to 35 years old who spend time in Muslim enclaves were the most likely candidates for radicalization, said the report, which drew from nearly a dozen cases to reach its conclusions.

Beyond that, the descriptions ran the gamut, from “the bored and/or frustrated, successful college students, the unemployed, the second and third generation” to “new immigrants, petty criminals and prison parolees.”

Of this broad group, a few will experience a personal crisis, such as losing a job or family member, that draws them to extremist religion and eventually to violence, the report said.

The FBI released a report around the same time that similarly traced a path from pre-radicalization to embracing the cause to bonding with a group of like-minded jihadists.

Critics say such portraits are over-inclusive and provide a false justification for ethnic profiling and intrusive surveillance.

Ramzi Kassem, a law professor at City University of New York, said he believed the NYPD’s report functioned as a “blueprint of sorts” for the agency’s now-shuttered program that monitored mosques, ethnic restaurants and predominantly Muslim neighborhoods. Kassem represented plaintiffs in one of two lawsuits alleging that the department engaged in discriminatory surveillance of Muslims.

In addition to removing the report from its website, the NYPD agreed to prohibit investigations based largely on race, religion or ethnicity and to limit the use of undercover officers and confidential informants.

Lawrence Byrne, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for legal matters, said the report was never meant to be a basis for police work. It was valid at the time but predated the rise of Islamic State, he said.

Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said such profiles are based on stereotypes and damage police relationships with Muslim communities.

“Rather than place a dragnet around an entire community, you focus on where you have suspicion of wrongdoing,” she said. “It shouldn’t be that being an observant Muslim is enough to trigger the Police Department’s scrutiny.”

There’s more at the link.

The problem that’s highlighted by the above excerpt is that of competing “rights”.  This is where the individual’s right to privacy, freedom of religion, etc. runs headlong into the right of other individuals (and of society as a whole) to be secure in their persons and property, and free from the threat of terrorism.  The irresistible force meets the immovable object . . . but the latter may no longer be so immovable.  I’m afraid, after Paris and Brussels and so many more attacks, security considerations will triumph over individual rights.  I don’t agree with it, and I’ll do all I can to minimize its impact;  but I’ve got to face facts.  It’s inevitable.

After the Paris attacks in November last year, I wrote:

The terrorists haven’t thought about it, I’m sure, but they’re going to produce a similar and even greater tragedy for their own people than they’ve inflicted on France.  The reaction from ordinary people like you and I won’t be to truly think about the tragedy, to realize that the perpetrators were a very small minority of those who shared their faith, extremists who deserve the ultimate penalty as soon as it can be administered.  No.  The ordinary man and woman on the streets of France is going to wake up today hating all Muslims.  He or she will blame them all for the actions of a few, and will react to all of them as if they were all equally guilty.

One can’t blame people for such attitudes.  When one simply can’t tell whether or not an individual Muslim is also a terrorist fundamentalist, the only safety lies in treating all of them as if they presented that danger.  That’s what the French people are going to do now.  That’s what ordinary people all across Europe are going to do now, irrespective of whatever their politicians tell them.  Their politicians are protected in secure premises by armed guards.  They aren’t.  Their survival is of more immediate concern;  so they’re doing to do whatever they have to do to improve the odds in their favor.  If that means ostracizing Muslims, ghettoizing them, even using preemptive violence against them to force them off the streets . . . they’re going to do it.

I’ve written before about how blaming all Muslims for the actions of a few is disingenuous and inexcusable.  I still believe that . . . but events have overtaken rationality.  People are going to start relating to ‘Muslims’ rather than to ‘human beings’, just as the extremists label all non-Muslims as ‘kaffirs’ or ‘kufars’ – unbelievers – rather than as human beings.  For the average man in a European street, a Muslim will no longer be a ‘person’.  He’s simply a Muslim, a label, a ‘thing’.  He’s no longer French, or American, or British, no matter what his passport says.  He’s an ‘other’.

Again, more at the link.

That’s what we’re going to see from Belgians now, too . . . and from Americans, who rightly fear that the same carnage might come to our streets.  The pressure on the authorities to act in a more security-oriented and less rights-oriented way is going to be absolutely immense.  Furthermore, I should think the Democratic Party is praying very hard right now that no terror attack happens in the USA prior to this November’s presidential elections.  The Obama administration has admitted hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Islamic refugees to this country.  If one or more of them turns out to be another Tsarnaev, voters will take out their anger and frustration on the Democratic Party.  Guaranteed.  The same would happen to the Republican Party if they’d done likewise.

For that reason, both parties will be willing to abrogate civil liberties and human rights in the name of security (and their own re-election prospects).  They’ve done so before with the so-called ‘Patriot Act‘.  I now look for that to be strengthened and reinforced – at the expense of our rights, more’s the pity.



  1. The US has a strong Jacksonian culture, that Trump is channeling. The idea that when we fight, we fight with all means possible and stomp the other side till they are destroyed. The US has not done total war since WW2. The lack of winning in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan has been counter to Jacksonian goals.

    Small terrorist attacks in the US, I don't see as doing anything. 9-11 because it was over a 1,000 was huge and could not be swept under the rug. Smaller attacks have been my the media. The college student at Merced, attack at the Marine recruiting office in Chatanooga, Ft Hood, Texas shooting were all been down played. San Bernardino got more press.

    Hillary is not like Obama, so I don't think she will get tagged as weak. I remember the name of the carrier, USS Hillary Clinton. The toughest President the US ever had. See the book, Weapons of Choice.

    I was explaining what was happening in Belgium to my daughter last night. I explained it as religious fanatics. Christianity has not thought that way for 500+ years, but Islam has not had a reformation. And from how the Koran and Hadiths are set up, I am not sure it's possible.

    For Europe with the percentage of the population that is Muslim, I am not sure anything that can be done. I don't see any good options. Declining birth rate in Europeans, high birth rate in Muslims. Legal system that is making anybody anti-Muslim as a racist. Using of social media to block any anti SJW views.

    Is Tom Kratman's caliphate the only alternative? Free on Baen BTW.

    Is the EU going to fall apart because of immigration?

    Is there going to be a huge backlash against Muslims in Europe?

    Another Anon

  2. The terrorists haven't thought about it, I'm sure, but they're going to produce a similar and even greater tragedy for their own people than they've inflicted on France.

    I don't think this even enters their thoughts.
    If it does, they probably think that any non-jihadi Muslim deserves it for not joining the jihad.

  3. Good Grief – Brussels Bomber Was Known Militant, Arrested In Turkey Deported Back To Belgium, Authorities Warned…
    One of the Brussels bombers was arrested in Turkey and deported back to Belgium in June with a warning that he was a militant, it has sensationally been revealed.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ibrahim El Bakraoui, who yesterday blew himself up at Brussels Airport, was arrested in Gaziantep in southern Turkey close to the Syrian border last summer. Officials said he was deported to Holland before being passed back over to Belgium.

    The president said Belgian authorities had failed to confirm the suspect’s

    Also from the comments
    “It’s as if the government were dumping rats in our houses, and then, whenever someone died of the plague, those same government officials issued heartfelt condolences, Twitter lit up with sympathetic hashtags and the Times editorialized about effective rodent control, but no one ever bothered to say, Hey! Maybe the government should stop putting rats in our houses!”
    – Ann Coulter


    This reminds me of the Boston bombers, with the Soviets warning our Gov't. And the Gov't that is supposed to be providing protection, instead ignores the obvious warnings.


  4. It isn't a matter of "hating" Mohamidans, but of common-sense precautions. I fully agree that all Muslims aren't Jihadis terrorists. Unfortunately, all Jihadis terrorists ARE Muslims! Any reading of the Koran will show that the folks doing the dirty deeds seem to be the ones true to the Faith, while the moderates are the real apostates who are not. Perhaps this, along with the reasonable fear of becoming a target for their more fundamentalist neighbors explains the reluctance to speak out against Jihadi violence. We are being FORCED to fight a war of cultures, or…surrender and convert. You were ordained, Peter. Do you suggest that Western Culture should simply allow itself to be "assimilated", like victims of the Borg on 'Star Trek'? It isn't a matter of hate, but of self-preservation.
    I know you're a fan of Tolkien. Think of Aragorn's speech in " Return of the King", to the Army standing in front of the Gates of Mordor, buying Frodo and Sam time to get into Mt. Doom.
    "Men of the West!!"
    We are standing at a similar, perilous point in time, methinks…

  5. I have zero sympathy for muslims in general.
    I have worked intimately with many of them for the last 16 years.
    Most of them have been/are what the West would refer to as "moderates".
    In that time, their responses to terrorist attacks and killings ranged from "Tsk. Tsk. What a shame…" to "It's the Wests/Israels fault that it happened."
    I have NEVER heard even ONE of them denounce these animals for what they are. It's ALWAYS someonelse's fault/problem.

    Your mileage may vary, but my opinion has been built on what I have personally heard and seen from these folks.
    If a majority of muslims in general will not even verbally condemn these acts and behaviors in public, I will have to make the assumption that they condone it.

    Reality trumps everyones feelings and sensibilities.

  6. There was a bomb scare at the Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta yesterday. During the attempts at evacuation, a rumor got started that there was an active shooter, leading to a stampede. And now, today, cops are walking around with patrol rifles (not enough gun knowledge to be able to ID what type they are, but are probably auto weapons). There are also a few bomb-sniffing dogs being added to the mix, which is really the most useful, if not the only useful part of the response.

    Thing is – you could have a full division of heavily-armed troops, to the point that they're crowding out the travelers, and you STILL couldn't stop something like the airport bombing in Belgium. Especially if the bomber is willing to off himself in the process. And, even if he's not willing to be part of the fireworks, it can still take a while for an unattended bag to be noticed and responded to. As I mentioned a couple days ago, there's any number of people dragging large suitcases around, and in the airport or on a subway line that serves the airport, it's not the least bit noteworthy.

    I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out just how big and deadly a bomb can be when you have a large suitcase to put it in. How many pounds of explosive? How many pounds of nails and other shrapnel?

    (Attention NSA: I'm discussing this as a hypothetical! I'm sure the real terrorists have already figured all this out. It's really just a matter of time before there's a Belgium-style attack at any other airport in the world.)

  7. Muslims have no right, either legal or moral, to enter our country. They do so only at our sufferance.

    We have the right, legal and moral, to tell them they may not enter, and remove any who have come here illegally.

    As another poster mentioned, not all Muslims are terrorists, but all Muslim terrorists are, by definition, Muslims. And endlessly repeating the empty slogan "religion of peace" will not alter that fact.

    If there are no Muslims in your country, there can be no Muslim terrorists.

    Lock 'em out. QED

  8. I have two basic thoughts about this, and I'll be blunt.

    This could have all been avoided simply by acknowledging the threat that actually exists years ago and taking very minimal steps in the security direction. Now we're at a place where it has been largely ignored or even suppressed for years, and we've got few good choices left. So I agree with your irresistible force/immovable object analogy, and that the object is far less moveable now. Further, I agree with Vox Day: if effective measures are not enacted soon – and by "effective" I mean "actually has an effect on the problem – the urge to think about Muslims as being *a problem* rather than *a people* will quickly become an out-of-control problem.

    And I won't blame the people who do it. I'll blame the people who took no action instead.

    Secondly, there is an alternative, one that I think will become more attractive here in the US if not in other places: reduce the number of soft targets. This started happening in response to the long crime wave of the 70s and 80s with the Right to Carry movement, which – as I see it – is only gaining steam now that we're on the verge of having 10 states where no permit is required and Hawaii is the last holdout against permitted carry. So there's no reason to think it won't continue to grow.

    So, my solution is "more guns". Lots more guns, in lots more places.

  9. Leo…yes, lots more guns, in lots more places, will certainly reduce the duration and body count of any active shooter incident that starts up, and will probably do a lot to deter at least some incidents.

    Unfortunately, that won't do a thing for bombers, suicide or otherwise.

  10. What needs to happen is for all of us to stop using the term 'fear' and 'fearful' to describe those of us that have had quite enough.

    We are not fearful, Peter. We are angry.

    The liberal media has been smearing all conservatives and tea party adherents as 'fearful', gun-clinging. bible-bangers that have no education and don't understand Science(!) (God help those poor little liberal arts majors). It is their term, don't play their game.

    You may not like Trump, and I personally don't care. But he is the only candidate carrying a sharp enough stick to do the GOP in the eye. I'm grabbing my popcorn. (Since you're a Texan now, I'll share it with you!)


  11. but events have overtaken rationality

    A significant part of the problem, which feeds into peoples' fears is that the Muslim community is notorious for NOT helping the authorities root out the bad apples. Whats-his-name who was arrested in Brussels was being hidden by friends & family. I'm quite certain that the entire community knew he was there, but the idea of turning him? Not a chance, and that's presuming that his neighbor's even considered his actions to be criminal … With a mindset like that, we have two choices: treat all Muslims like enemies, or do nothing and let them slaughter us at their leisure (wanna guess which option Obama has picked for us?).

  12. Peter, you keep predicting a major shift in attitude towards Muslims in our countries, but it never happens. Won't happen this time, either. Because our governments are actively aiding and abetting the Muslim invasion. And they are clamping down on dissent. People losing their jobs, being arrested, getting drummed out of "polite society", right and left. For daring to question the infinite wisdom of Our Dear Leaders.

  13. Some things to think about:

    1. European countries have whored themselves to oil states in the Middle East since 73. I don't see the European elite endangering this money train.

    2. I question if much can be done in Europe till it's too late. 20% of France is Muslim already. Future demographics are even worse.

    3. The media, social media, EU, education establishment, churches, and governments are against any changes.

    4. Open borders is seen as a right.

    5. There is no conservative counter part to Soros money.

    6. Russia is happy to see Europe fall apart.

    7. Low oil is probably here to stay.

    8. Europe will become more fossil fuel dependent due to the closing of nuke power plants.

    9. Travel is becoming cheaper, faster, and safer.

    10. People are wealthier, so they can afford to travel, legally or illegally.

    7. Muslim countries are a political disaster, and I see little hope for improvement. This means a constant floor of of people out.

    8. Muslim world is mostly an economic basket case, and will,probably get worse.

    9. Nobody wants to fix Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Libya. Us after Iraq will be very gun shy for a generation. Unless something major, say a nuke, happens.

    10. Nukes are more and more widespread. There will probably be a nuke arms race in the Middle East. My guess is Iran will have within 5 years. Saudis 10. Iraq?Syria? Turkey? Egypt?

    11. Surveillance technology is getting cheaper and cheaper. Face recognition is getting better.

    12. Diy biological warfare is getting easier. Black tide rising? Targeting by ethnic groups? How would Israel respond?

    Another anon

  14. As the quote goes, "British Muslims fear backlash over tomorrow's terrorist attack".

    It's worth reading the number of terrorist attacks where we were assured, "it's not representative of Muslims", and "Muslims are peaceful" (Islam means submission; Salaam means peace; Note which is the name of the religion). And how known terrorists were ignored by the Government involved until their deed was complete with people dying as a result. As was noted above, there wasn't a single, "It was wrong of that terrorist to do that" from any of the 'moderate Muslims'. (9/11 videos showed Muslims dancing in the streets, until the MSM realized that it was undoing the moderate Muslim meme, and suppressed them).

    I'm tired of terrorists being brought into our country, and being hidden by the Muslim community, both prior and after their attack. It's past time for it to stop.

  15. Thank you for your interesting observations. In fact you have it right. Rights are about to go out of the window, again… This is not the first time and the last time. Human rights are very European, they are an alien concept in US law, and soon in UK law. The US federal system has no conception of human rights but those of its 200 year constitution. The world changes and you need to adjust and modify the law, to meet the realities of the day, so you can legislate to discriminate.

    I generally read your blog about the South Africsn Mirage upgrade programs, and l wonder why you don't note the obvious connection between the Indian LCA and the Aparthied planned Carver program, they are essentially French in origin. Good job… Though. I can tell you that this is because during the 1980s the French continued to support a military industrial complex foreign policy agenda that supported like the British did until the 1970s the export of military technology and manufacturing to allies whom they had influence with. This changed when the Russians began to play the same game, and they'd lost out. Hence the reason why there are so few Rafale buyers, even though it is essentially a aircraft that has similar performance characteristics as the Eurofigther… The French were part of the Eurofigther technology and R&D effort, but went on to develop their own version.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *