There was a moment of nationally televised bigotry earlier this month that was shameful. Teams around the NFL paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks in France last week with a moment of silence before Sunday’s games. Before the Green Bay Packers lost to the Detroit Lions 18-16, a fan shouted out a slur against Muslims during the moment of silence.

“I must admit, I was very disappointed with whoever the fan was that made a comment that was very inappropriate during the moment of silence,” Green Bay Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “It’s that kind of prejudicial ideology that puts us in the position we are today as a world.”

Examples of American Muslims Supporting U.S. Law Enforcement

I could not agree more with Aaron Rogers. During the understandable concern surrounding Muslim immigrant families fleeing their homelands to the United States, I want to emphasize the fact that many Americans who happen to be Muslim have played a very important – and sometimes crucial – role in assisting law enforcement in preventing terrorist attacks in the United States.

Here are a few examples:

  • September 2002: Members of the “Lackawanna 6” are arrested. FBI first becomes aware of their activities in June 2001 when a local Muslim community member tips off the FBI.
  • February 2006: Muslim community members in Ohio provide information helpful to the arrest and eventual conviction of three suspects planning attacks in Iraq.
  • July 2009: Mosque leaders in Raleigh, North Carolina contact law enforcement to notify them of “violent, threatening action… considered to be dangerous” leading to the arrest of Daniel Boyd and 6 other individuals.
  • April 2010: Senegalese Muslim Alioune Niass first spots the suspicious vehicle used as a bomb to attack Times Square in New York City. Clues from the vehicle and defused explosive immediately led to the arrest of the suspect, Faisal Shahzad.
  • October 2010: Former Hawaii resident Abdel Hamid Shehadeh is arrested for attempting to join the Taliban. Local media noted that the Muslim Association of Hawaii “assisted law enforcement agencies in the case” and that it has “in the past reported suspicious activities.”
  • November 2010: Mohamed Osman Mohamud is arrested for attempting to bomb a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. The New York Times notes, “In the Oregon [Mohamud] case, the FBI received a tip from a Portland Muslim.”
  • June 2011: Two Al-Qaeda inspired violent criminals planning to attack a military installation in Seattle are arrested by law enforcement. FBI officials first become aware of the planned attack after a fellow Muslim who was trying to be recruited into the conspiracy went to Seattle Police and informed them of the plot.
  • January 2012: Violent Al-Qaeda sympathizer Sami Osmakac is arrested for planning to attack several sites in Tampa, Florida using guns and explosives. The U.S. Attorney for Central Florida noted, “This investigation was also predicated, in part, by assistance from the Muslim community.”

Vigilance and Intelligence from American Muslims Are Vital to Preventing Terror in the U.S.

If we are to win the war on terror, we must recognize the patriotism of most American Muslims and realize that in many respects, they are one of the primary community policing tools used on the front lines assisting law enforcement’s anti-terrorism efforts. They do so because they are Americans. Americans with a sense of duty and honor in protecting our homeland. And as Americans, like all of us, they greatly value the very freedoms and rights that terrorists are seeking to take away.

American Muslims may identify much more closely with this country than do Muslims in France, for example. As my former Secret Service colleague Walied Shater pointed out in a New York Times Op-Ed piece published on November 19, 2015:

“Many French Muslims have no feeling of ownership or belonging toward their homeland. They use France as long as needed to live, become educated and take care of their families, but it is a transactional relationship. France may be less repressive and may offer more opportunities than their native or ancestral Arab homelands, but many of them have no real stake in French society. Like the driver who rents a car but cares little about its long-term condition, they make little investment and have minimal loyalty to the country. It is no coincidence that more French citizens have traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State, or ISIS, than citizens of any other European nation.”

ISIS wants a confrontation with non-Muslims. Let’s not give them a chance in this country. We need to condemn ignorant bigotry and preserve our traditional culture of assimilation. This will encourage American Muslims to continue working with law enforcement to protect all of us.

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