The release of a report detailing the path to radicalization and the threat of homegrown jihadists by the New York Police Department has led Muslim American organizations to denounce the report.
Parvez Ahmed, board chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement on the organization's Web site that "Whatever one thinks of the analysis contained in the report, its sweeping generalizations and mixing of unrelated elements may serve to cast a pall of suspicion over the entire American Muslim community."
He said the locations listed in the report as incubators of radicalism, such as mosques and student associations, are too broad to be useful in identifying potential jihadists.
Kareem W. Shora, the national executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, criticized the report as "at odds with federal law enforcement findings, including those of the recently released National Intelligence Estimate," and he says that it "uses unfortunate stereotyping of entire communities."
Shora's reference to the federal findings is odd given that the National Intelligence Estimate, released last month, does indeed refer to homegrown radicalization and terrorism as a threat, although its findings suggest the core of the al Qaeda organization, which attacked the country on 9-11, still presents the greater threat.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly called the NYPD report a complement to the recent NIE during a press conference yesterday.
It also tracks comments made by Secretary Michael Chertoff in congressional testimony earlier this year at a hearing on radicalization.
What's more, even a cursory reading of the report shows that it is far from a broadside against the Muslim community. It notes that there is no simple way to draw up a "profile" of a jihadist.
That said, Muslim American organizations are right to worry about racial profiling and discrimination, because careful reports get boiled down to black and white in media reports. And the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies, especially at the local level, must remain responsive to Muslim American opinion because as Christopher Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties told The New York Times, Muslim Americans may become uncooperative with counterterrorism efforts if they feel a modern-day witch hunt is afoot.
Still, that shouldn't stop the NYPD's Intelligence Division or any federal intelligence agency from attempting to gain insight into how and where radicalization occurs so they can stop it before it ends in further terrorist attacks.
For more coverage of the NYPD's report and the threat of homegrown terrorism, see this Los Angeles Times article. For the Associated Press' coverage with footage from the report's press conference, watch this.