Al-Qaeda used a 9/11 video message to call on the black community in America to convert to Islam, citing their history of oppression at the hands of the white majority.
Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri said in the film:
“We inform every weakened [person] in the world: America is the source of calamity and the head of evil in this world, and it is the thief of nations’ ailment, and it is the one who humiliates the Africans [i.e. African Americans] until this day, and no matter how much they try to reform and obtain their rights according to the law and the [U.S.] Constitution, they will not attain it, for the law is in the hands of the white majority, [who] control it as they wish. And they [i.e. African Americans] will not be saved but by Islam.”
The video also includes quotes from the late Malcolm X preaching the virtues of fighting back against racist aggression and against the "turn the other cheek" model espoused by Christianity.
This follows from Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups attempting to manipulate America’s racial tensions for their own purposes.
During the 2014 Ferguson riots ignited by the death of 18-year old Michael Brown at the hands of police, the Islamic State offered to send fighters to support the rioters in exchange for allegiance.
An ISIS supporter left this note on the windshield of a car during the riots:
“We hear you and we will help you if you accept Islam and reject corrupt man-made laws like democracy and pledge your allegiance to Caliph Abu Bakr… and then we will shed our blood for you, and send you soldiers that don’t sleep, whose drink is blood and their play is carnage!”
He shared the message on Twitter, while many other ISIS supporters took to the social media site to promote the message that ISIS is a natural ally of the black community against the US government.
In December 2014, one such ISIS supporter was arrested for threatening to kill police in Ferguson.
Needless to say, the presence of ISIS fighters in Black Lives Matter or related protests would be extremely detrimental to their cause and would likely lead to the deaths of police officers and racial justice activists alike.
Dissatisfied groups of angry young men are the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda’s core recruitment demographic and they will seek to use any tactics they can to draw those people to their cause. So far they have been largely unsuccessful in turning political activists from the black community into jihadists.
Attempts to tackle extremism must not allow the Islamists to tie these two issues together and misrepresent the important issues of police brutality and race relations as being part of a broader assault against America and its values.
Similarly, those who support Black Lives Matter or similar movements should not fall into the trap of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.”