Dirty Wars: the World is a Battlefield

A review of Dirty Wars: the World is a Battlefield by Jeremy Scahill (New York, Nation Books, 2013). During his first term in office, Obama’s primary achievement in national security policy was the creation of silence. After the loud, divisive controversies of the Bush years, a bipartisan, media-endorsed consensus emerged. The official line was that invasions, torture, secret…

No NSA reform can fix the American Islamophobic surveillance complex

Muslim Americans likely make up the bulk of US domestic spy targets. This is what it’s like for innocent citizens to live in fear. Better oversight of the sprawling American national security apparatus may finally be coming: President Obama and the House Intelligence Committee unveiled plans this week to reduce bulk collection of telephone records.…

The disturbing implications of the NYPD’s defense of its Muslim spying program

The New York Police Department (NYPD)’s program of widespread spying on Muslims is currently on trial in a federal courtroom in Manhattan. Civil rights lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, the CLEAR project of CUNY School of Law and the New York Civil LIberties Union are representing Muslim organizations and individuals in New York…

Missing the best chance to prevent terror bombing

Since the bombing of the Boston marathon – in which three people, including a child, were killed and more than 200 injured – attention has naturally focused on what could have been done to prevent it. Some, such as Rep. Peter King, the New York Republican who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, have argued for increased surveillance of Muslims…

Radicalisation: the journey of a concept

Since 2004, the term ‘radicalisation’ has become central to terrorism studies and counter-terrorism policy-making. As US and European governments have focused on stemming ‘home-grown’ Islamist political violence, the concept of radicalisation has become the master signifier of the late ‘war on terror’ and provided a new lens through which to view Muslim minorities. The introduction…

The FBI’s ‘good’ Muslims

Community partnerships are seen by the FBI as a softer counterterrorism. But who are the partners? While these partnerships provide the FBI with another layer of intelligence, they also raise questions about who, exactly, should represent “the Muslim community” in dealings with the government – and how those dealings affect the freedom of speech and…

The wrong way to prevent homegrown terrorism

Following the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009, the attempted car bomb in Times Square in May and a number of other domestic cases, including the recent arrest of a Somali-American teenager in Portland, Oregon, U.S. security agencies are sharply focused on the potential “radicalization” of American-Muslims and how to prevent it. Many…

Trust made meaningless

Excessive surveillance of Muslims undermines a central component of counter-terrorism work. Under the guise of tackling Islamic extremism, the government has created one of the most elaborate systems of surveillance ever seen in this country. As this newspaper revealed on Saturday, the Preventing Violent Extremism programme, known simply as Prevent, is being used to gather intelligence…

Spooked: how not to prevent violent extremism

This Institute of Race Relations study of the UK government’s Preventing Violent Extremism policy criticized its sole focus on Muslim populations, the embedding of surveillance in community engagement with Muslims, and the background assumptions about the nature of extremism and radicalization. The paper was accompanied by a front-page report in the Guardian newspaper on the surveillance…