While well-meaning, considering the escalating attacks on places of worship in America, the Protecting Faith-Based and Nonprofit Organizations From Terrorism Act which would allocate $75 million of Homeland Security funds is severely flawed.
As pointed out by Islamist Watch, the bill not only “fails to adequately limit how grant monies can be spent,” it provides funding to non-profit organizations, as well.
This means that Islamist and other extremist organizations with links to terror-funding, intimidation and religious bullying could be eligible for government “security” funds.
Because of the vagueness in the wording of the bill, organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – which was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terror funding case in U.S. history – or radical imam Siraj Wahhaj’s Taqwa mosque (where the first sharia patrol originated) could theoretically set up Islamist vigilante groups to enforce their extremist ideologies.
Clarion Project recently reported on how some members of the Muslim patrol, essentially an Islamist vigilante group at Brooklyn’s Taqwa mosque – who drive patrol cars made to look like New York Police Department cruisers — roughed up the son of an original member of the Bloods, a notorious street gang.
Brooklyn’s Muslim patrol is not the first community-oriented self-policing unit. As Clarion Project detailed last year, the idea of minority groups patrolling New York neighborhoods originated in vulnerable Jewish communities, then expanded to Asian-American communities. At the time, NYPD Deputy Inspector James Grant (who helped start the program), commented that the patrols helped overcome language barriers and added that the patrols are their “eyes and ears.”
Yet, the same factors that make these patrols attractive – helping to overcome a language barrier, for example — can also be a detriment to communities that are struggling to adapt and blend into the broader fabric of America society.
More problematically, however, is that these groups can serve to destabilize the authority of the state by sending the message that government and law enforcement cannot take care of your needs as citizens, so we will.
This, in a nutshell, is how every vigilante group justifies its operation: The powers that be cannot protect you, so we will; they cannot be relied upon, but we can.
This power dynamic is always to the detriment of the state by delegitimizing trained and vetted law enforcement personnel and positioning them in a space where they are now competing with (and sometimes pitted against) members of the community patrol.
This point cannot be stressed enough: The lack of clear boundaries between law enforcement and civilian patrols creates major conflict points.
In the case of Muslim patrols, the possibility for abuse abounds, especially for those who feel negatively “locked into” their religious and ethnic communities and non-English speakers.
Islamist Watch fellow David Swindle documented the unscrupulous history of the Taqwa mosque’s private Islamist vigilante group dating back to 1988 that involved a string of criminal behavior including the shooting a disabled man and lawsuits over brutal beatings at the hands of the group.
Describing these patrols as Muslim paramilitary groups, Swindle pointed to The Washington Post’s expose on another past Muslim patrol. In the ‘90s, the Nation of Islam (NOI) secured $20 million in public contracts across 10 cities to use their private security services.
NOI security groups then ran patrols forcing sharia compliance and preaching the distorted ideology of Louis Farrakhan, NOI’s notorious anti-Semitic leader.
With the rise of violent hate crimes against houses of worship, especially churches and synagogues, it’s commendable that our elected officials are addressing the need for allocating security resources to those venues.
However, government funds should be directly invested into local law enforcement or vetted, independent security firms so they can hire, train and assign proper protection to faith-based communities.