Thursday, March 28, 2013

Egypt and the Palestinians: The Sadat legacy lives

The incitement and demonization of Palestinians in the Egyptian media is a continuation of a policy that began with Sadat. It is obvious that the Islamists in Egypt number in the millions and they have no need of Hamas or other Palestinians to carry out any of their agenda goals- whatever they are. Still the ongoing struggle in Egypt between the Islamists and the motley crew others somehow has the Palestinians injected in this quintessentially Egyptian struggle.

Despite the catastrophe/nakba of 1967 (1948 is a naksa in comparison- there was still strong hope of return up to June 4, 1967 ) and the other mistakes and disasters of the Nasser regime Palestinians remain overwhelming supportive of Nasser and his legacy. Many Egyptians find this Palestinian loyalty to Nasser aggravating. 

In Palestinians in the Arab World: Institution Building and the Search for State, Laurie A. Brand summarizes the punitive measures, the collective punishment of the Palestinians, that the Sadat regime took in retaliation for the Palestinians’ harsh criticism of his Camp David agreement. The current policies carried out by many Egyptians media outlets constitute a continuation of the Sadat legacy:

“As a corollary, many of the privileges that Palestinians in Egypt had enjoyed since the 1950s and early 1960s were gradually reviewed and cancelled.  Scholarships and subsidies for Palestinian students wishing to study in Egyptian universities were terminated; even Palestinian entry into Egyptian universities was restricted; and those who were accepted had to pay tuition in hard currency.  The days of subsidized health care for Palestinians in Egyptian hospitals also ended: Palestinians were expected to pay for their treatment in hard currency like other foreigners.  Gone were the days of the relatively free movement of members of the Palestinian resistance movement in and out of Egypt and the days of generalized feelings of solidarity and sympathy for the Palestinians among average Egyptians.  The media gradually succeeded in convincing many Egyptians that it was Palestinians who were responsible for Egypt’s involvement and sacrifices in four wars; that Palestinians were living in Egypt like kings; and that the resistance was corrupt.  Most devastating, the Egyptian media adopted and popularized one of the favorite Zionist myths: that the Palestinians had sold their land prior to 1948 and therefore did not deserve Palestine.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Shaykh al Aseer and the Future Movement

Shaykh Ahmad Al Aseer

The Flag of the Future Movement

The Future Movement is obsessed with the need to appear modern and secular that is nonsectarian.

They seem to operate under the logic of the Arab Sunnis being the umma and as the umma it is unseemly to speak in the name of their sect and not the larger umma. 

The late PM Rafiq Hariri was like that too.

He aspired to be a Lebanese leader and was able to be one. He was secure and comfortable in being an Arab Sunni. The Arab Sunnis are the majority of the Arabs. He did not have to explain himself to anyone.

This is deceptive logic.

Lebanon is not the Arab world. The Sunnis are not the umma in Lebanon- they are just another sect in a country of 18 sects that jealously defend their sectarian prerogatives. To paraphrase Hezbollah leader Sayed Hassan Nasrallah: This is Lebanon and its political reality (Ya ammi hayda libnan).

The Future Movement leadership refuse to think of themselves as members of a sect, a large sect, maybe the largest numerically, but still a sect- one of many in a sectarian democracy- a consociational democracy.

They believe that to be modern, or a modern Muslim or a modern Lebanese, you avoid speaking as a Muslim let alone as a Sunni Muslim God forbid. They think it is unbecoming of a modern enlightened person to speak as such.

But in Lebanon Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri, MP Michel Aoun all speak as members of their sect and leaders and defenders of their communities without fear of not appearing modern and/or enlightened.  In fact, MP Michel Aoun who spent years on a crusade for Lebanese sovereignty and Lebanese freedom now has the sole focus of the few remaining years of his life as restoring the rights of the Christians as he sees them.  He is not shy about it and does not apologize for it.

Also- Doesn’t former PM Hariri know that his being Sunni and the outpouring of Sunni Lebanese support for his family after the assassination of his father, are the main reasons he became a prime minister even though he had less than 10% of the political experience of other Sunni politicians such as current PM Naguib Mikati?

The core of the Future Movement is the Sunni Lebanese- they are the bread and butter of its political enterprise.  However, the movement, with few exceptions, shies away from speaking for their core constituency in a country built on sectarian political power sharing. 

The Future Movement attacks PM Mikati and his cabinet as a Hezbollah creation. But PM Mikati is far from being a stooge or a political tool. He has asserted his prerogatives as a prime minister, said that he would not allow anyone to take any of the constitutional powers of his sect and defended Sunni public servants from being sacked- he did that all with finesse and masterful political maneuvering. On matters important to his sect he stood firm- he funded the International Tribunal and shut down government offices in observance of the Hariri assassination. Mikati is a man who represents Lebanese Sunnis in the political system, he knows it, and he acts accordingly. The attacks of his adversaries make this crystal clear.

He was not shy about his identity and whom he represents. Some of his detractors, from his same putative political camp, the 8th of March Movement, have accused him of being more 14th of March in office than former PM Hariri himself. They knew what they meant- he knew what they meant. That he is a "bigger Sunni" than Saad Hariri himself.

Compare Mikati’s performance with the performance of the Future Movement and former PM Saad Hariri.

MP Saad Hariri refuses to speak as a Sunni Lebanese the way PM Mikati does. His sole ambition is to be the PM of "all Lebanon", whatever that means, as his father was thought to be or liked to be called- an impossibility in today’s deeply divided society. [MP Hariri has a stronger chance of being the PM of "all France" than of "all Lebanon"]This ambition partly explains his and his movement's attacks on Shaykh al Aseer Al Husseini. Al Aseer has the support of at least 70% of their core constituency- the Lebanese Sunnis. 

MP Saad Hariri speaks as a Sunni only when he is criticizing/attacking the Mufti Qabbani or Shaykh Al Aseer Al Husseini. 

Here is the reason for the Sunni community’s quest for leadership and spokesman: They don't have a Sunni leader and a Sunni spokesman. That job is vacant and many applicants are aspiring for the job. There are many names aspiring for the position- Saad Hariri is not one of them.

This reality explains the emergence and strengthening, the resonance of the message, of the Shaykh Al Aseer Movement.

 The physical absence of MP Saad Hariri is always mentioned as a factor in this reality. It's not.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Between Shaykh Naim Qassim and Shaykh Al Assir

Shaykh Al Aseer has a message.

The message is that the "Iran party" or Hezbollah, in the name of resistance, has dominated the politics of Lebanon thereby upsetting the delicate sectarian balance that the Lebanese sectarian power sharing system, consociationalism, is built on. The hegemonic response to his message was to call him a sectarian fanatic who wants to create communal conflict between Sunnis and Shia. That was the end of the discussion. So thought his detractors and the objects of his verbal assaults.

He did not go away,

His message had resonance with Lebanese Sunnis and he was able to deliver it directly to the target audience. He bypassed the mainstream media by using Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. The man became a political movement on the cheap thanks to the ingenuity of America's silicone valley geeks.

The message has been consistent and the messenger has been stubbornly persistent. Many Lebanese agree with him but, for a number of reasons, are not willing to stand with him or openly agree with him. Saad Hariri, Samir Geagea and basically the whole 14th of March Movement have said the same things he said- without being tarred with the accusation of sectarianism.

His adversaries keep making his case for him. He should send them a thank you card and a fruit basket.

Recently, number two in Hezbollah, Shaykh Naim Qassim, helped Shaykh al Aseer by giving the Lebanese more proof of who has the ultimate power in Lebanon after the end of Pax Syriana. Qassem at a religious occasion, and all the party's occasions are Shia-specific occasions were political stands are taken, said that there will not be parliamentary elections using the 1960s electoral law even if the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, and the Interior Minister all want it that way.2 That is basically the political establishment that is legally and constitutionally in charge of conducting parliamentary elections. On which authority was Qassim relying on to make such an assertion? Al Aseer would say it is the "Iran party" war machine that is bigger and more lethal than the Lebanese state's war machine. This is in a nutshell the Al Aseer cause and reason for abandoning da'wa and turning to full-time protests against Hezbollah's hegemony over the Lebanese state as he sees it.

The media have been fixated on the sectarian identity of the messenger rather than on the message therefore, the media and not al Aseer, fanning the flames of sectarian strife even though everyone in Lebanon claims to be worried about such strife- as if talking about a perceived problem is the threat rather than the existence of the problem itself- which to al- Aseer is the "Hezbollah hegemony."

Journalist Sami Klaib visited the Shaykh in Abra and wrote in the pro- Hezbollah newspaper Assafir, whose editor in Chief is the Shia Lebanese Talal Salman, that the personal impression he had from meeting with al Aseer is not the one he got from the media.1 It depends what media Klaib has been watching- if it is al Manar and al Jadeed TV then the issue is his viewing habits and preferences. Has he been reading Assafir which has been shamelessly blatant in its coverage of al- Aseer? Other outlets- such as MTV, LBC and Aljomhouria have not been as misleading, outright fraudulent, harsh and negative in their coverage of the phenomenon. It is a fair observation that the reporting in Lebanese media is so heavy with commentary that watching the news reports does not educate but rather reinforces the biases and prejudices of the viewership without informing them.
 This has been the case with the adversary outlets' coverage of al Aseer.

Fact is Al Aseer's message is political and not religious- about policy and not about sects. Take Syria for example-  Hezbollah's involvement in Syria. Al Aseer's position is not that different from Hezbollah founder Sobhi Tofaili's position- Tofaili condemned the involvement of Hezbollah in the Syrian conflict, said that the Hezbollah members who die in Syria are not martyrs, and that Hezbollah is exposing the Shia of Lebanon to great dangers by standing with Assad against his people.

Aseer made all these points.

Tofaili, himself a brilliant speaker and analyst, is the father of Hezbollah- went beyond al Aseer. He said that the current leadership in Hezbollah is engaging in a Syria policy that threatens the very existence of the Hezbollah in the future and that if the people in Syria win against the regime the Hezbollah will have its back to the wall and will have to turn to Israel. Israel ! That's a huge deal to say Hezbollah, whose very creation and existence is predicated on enmity to Israel, would find itself in a position that pushes it to fall back on Israel! This is a far harsher prognosis than what the al Aseer ever offered.

Media outlets fail to make this comparison, between al Aseer and Tofaili- a comparison that in fact might take the sectarian edge out of al Aseer's position, reduce sectarian polarization, and open a door for dialogue. But dialogue is not what his opponents want since they think he is a minor player that should not be recognized and given the weight and the dignity of a dialogue with the 500- pound gorilla of Lebanese politics, the Hezbollah. The attitude seems to be who is this pipsqueak who dares raising his voice against Hezbollah and its leaders?

The dismissive attitude did not hurt the surprisingly brilliant and politically savvy Aseer. It has put his movement on steroid- helped his movement  immensely and made his case for him.  His argument is that the dismissive attitude toward him is in fact a dismissive attitude toward what he represents or is part of, the Lebanese Sunni community that he repeatedly says are ignored, disrespected and marginalized. His marginalization and disrespect are presented as validation of his positions and arguments and provide more rhetorical ammunition for him to sustain his verbal assault on the Hezbollah.  Assafir's coverage of Assir has been part of the problem. Assafir reported, as a mockery of Assir, that the Hezbollah supporters are so annoyed by al Aseer that they want to send their music band to finish him and his supporters. Interestingly, the Israelis made the same comment about the Arabs after the defeat of 1967- the Israelis said that in the next conflict with the Arabs they are going to send their army's music band to defeat Arab armies. Then came the October war and the near demise of the Jewish state.

The music band joke should by now be considered a bad omen of things to come.



Monday, March 11, 2013

Interview with Muslim Legal Fund of America’s John Janney

The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) recently opened a Michigan office headed by longtime community leader and activist Muthanna Al-hanooti. There is no doubt that MLFA has done a lot of great work defending the rights of American Muslims- rights that have been unjustly diminished under the pretext of the “war on terror.” MLFA is not as widely known in the community as other organizations long established in Michigan. In an effort to better inform the community about the importance and work of this great organization, the Forum and Link approached the MLFA’s Communications and Operations Director, John Janney with a number of questions:

-Tell me a little about yourself. What is your background and why did you choose to work for the Muslim Legal Fund (MLFA)? My name is John Janney. I am the Communications and Operations Director for the Muslim Legal Fund of America. I choose to work for MLFA because the direction the American justice system is taking goes against the principles of justice this national was founded upon. I'm a strong believer in Thomas Jefferson's ideals about civil liberties and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s ideals about justice. There is a great need to defend those principles today because the some entities within the government are aggressively chipping away our civil liberties under the guise of fighting terrorism. I work for MLFA so I can lend my talents for the cause of justice, because without justice there is no freedom, no liberty.

-Tell me about the MLFA. Who started it? When and why?

The Muslim Legal Fund of America is a charity that defends civil liberties in America. The organization does this by funding legal cases involving encroachments on civil liberties and programs that promote awareness of these issues. The organization started in late 2001 by a group of activists in the Dallas, TX area. After watching the Clinton Administration lock away over two dozen Muslims and citing "secret evidence" as justification, we knew that things could be taking a bad turn for Muslims in America. After the 9/11 terrorists attacks the government raided and shutdown Muslim charities and business in various American communities and prosecuted their leaders. We witnessed new laws being passed that grant the government unprecedented power to criminalize speech, treat religious observation as suspicious activities and violate the very civil liberties that serve as the basis of our society. Fortunately, we have MLFA, our supporters, and other like-minded organizations that are actively standing up to these challenges.

-Who is the current leader of MLFA? Khalil Meek is MLFA's Executive Director.

- How many chapters does MLFA have? MLFA does not have chapters. We have offices. This is an important distinction. Chapters are more common in advocacy organizations. MLFA is not an advocacy organization. As a charity looking to expand our work into local communities across the nation, we opened offices in Dallas, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New Jersey, New York, San Francisco, and the Washington, DC, area -- bringing the total to nine offices plus the National Headquarters.

-When was the Michigan office opened? We opened the office in Michigan in September of last year.

-Does MLFA work with other Muslim and non Muslim organizations? Yes. We frequently join coalition efforts with organizations such as Center of Constitutional Rights, Rights Working Group, American Civil Liberties Union, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Muslim Advocates, Charity and Security Network, and many more.


-Has the Muslim community nationally been supportive of MLFA? We've been blessed with tremendous support from the Muslim community in America. We also enjoy support from people of different faiths who understand that when the government takes away the Muslim community's civil liberties, they are taking away everyone's civil liberties. They understand that the erosion of liberty will not stop with Muslims, it will -- and already has -- spread to all communities in America. Justice denied to one is justice denied to all.

-What are some of the successes of MLFA? Some of our recent successes include:  1. Jamal Abusamhadeneh, who was falsely accused of being a member of a foreign organization. MLFA funded his defense and was successfully cleared of those charges. He is now a free American citizen. 2. Linda Mahmoud, who had her 20-year security clearance revoked by her employer, the U.S. Department of Defense. MLFA funded her defense against accusation she was tied to Palestinian terrorists, and her security clearance was reinstated.  3. Mohammad Salah, who has been wrongfully designated as a terrorists for the past 17 years, despite a jury finding him innocent. MLFA funded the lawsuit to lift the crippling designation. He is now free of this designation and can function normally in society.  4. Imam Foad Farahi, who was the victim of government heavy-handed attempts to turn him into a spy against his congregation. He refused to deceive his community, but it nearly costs him his bid for citizenship. MLFA funded his defense and he is now on his way to becoming a U.S. citizen again.

-How many cases has MLFA been involved with so far? We are currently funding around a dozen cases and have nearly a dozen past cases.

-How does MLFA choose which cases to take? MLFA evaluates case funding requests on the basis of each case's potential impact on the status of civil liberties in America. We make a distinction between civil rights violations, which are violations between two private parties, and civil liberty violations, which are violations carried out by the government against private parties. We focus our work on civil liberties.

-Many in the community used to be afraid of donating to Muslim organizations. Some still are. What do you tell the few that are fearful of donating to a Muslim American nonprofit organization? Freedom is a feeling. If you don't feel free, you're not free. Fear is the enemy of freedom. Don't let fear rob you of your freedom. If you believe in the mission of an American nonprofit organization, then feel free to support it. Don't let fear paralyze you, and don't let fear get in the way of your duty to support good.

-What are some of the challenges facing MLFA? Besides the need for more funding support, one of the challenges we face is clearing up the confusion about the nature of the organization. Charitable legal funds are not common and many people mistake MLFA for an advocacy organization. However, MLFA is a charity in the same way that Islamic Relief is a charity. When people see starving children, they know they can give to Islamic Relief and those funds will be used to pay for food and other humanitarian aid for people in need. In the same way, when people see Muslims being treated unjustly in America, they know that they can give to MLFA and those funds will be used to pay for the expenses associated with legal cases for people facing legal challenges related to civil liberty encroachments in America. 

-When is the MLFA Michigan Gala? Where is it going to be held? Who is the keynote speaker? The MLFA Michigan Gala is on Saturday, March 23 at the Adoba Dearborn Hotel. The gala is featuring two courageous whistleblowers who faced the unimaginable power of the U.S. government. The first speaker will be Thomas Drake, who is a former executive with the National Security Administration (NSA). The second is Coleen Rowley, a former agent and senior attorney for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Attendees are in for a rare treat because it's not often to see whistleblowers from two of the nation's most powerful government agencies share a stage and their insider's perspectives. Their stories are truly riveting. Those fortunate enough to attend will walk away with an experience they won't soon forget and information that many wish they had.  The program starts at 7 p.m., but we are urging people to arrive early to ensure good seating.

-Are there any issues that I did not raise that you want to talk about? One of the initiatives we are launching this year is a preventative campaign aimed at increasing awareness of informants who snare innocent, and sometimes emotionally or mentally unstable, community members into manufactured plots. We are providing posters for mosques to display that warn their communities that "If that new friend starts calling for 'violent jihad,' he might be an informant." We are seeing informants being used to prey on innocent community members and to push them into plots they would otherwise have no interest in and no ability to carry out. Law enforcement should focus on preventing crime, not creating it. Every community member needs to be aware of this issue. We also include our phone number on these posters for people who believe they are being targeted by informants.

Review and Excerpts: The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism

               The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism is a controversial book. The author, who is a journalist, Trevor Aaronson, raises important questions about the underlying philosophy of the war on terror inside the United States. I read this book after I was done reading The Black Banners by former FBI agent Ali Soufan. Ali Soufan wrote a book that is critical of the CIA interrogation methods. The argument of Mr. Soufan is that traditional interrogation techniques are effective in getting information while so- called Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT), torture, are not effective at getting cooperation and information from suspects no matter how bad of human beings the suspects are. The issue of the use of EIT is coming up again with the congressional report questioning the usefulness of EITs and concluding that they do not work- that is restating the point made by Ali Soufan in Black Banners.

            While The Black Banners is more than five hundred pages, the Terror Factory is only 240 pages. The Wall Street Journal had Ali Soufan write a review of the Terror Factory. Reading Soufan’s voluminous book indicates that his expertise with the agency is with its investigations overseas. Only a small part of the book and a small part of his career is working sting operations in the United States.

            The argument of Aaronson is that the FBI has been given a lot of money by the Congress to make the country safe from terror attacks. Finding no actual plots, Aaronson argues, the FBI manufactures its own plots using marginal characters, having informants supply the sting target with the ideas and the resources to attempt a terror attack that they would not have been able to pull had it not been for the prodding and the assistance of the FBI informants. Ali Soufan counters Aaronson by saying that the objects of the sting operation were seeking to work with overseas terrorists and the FBI reached them before they could be recruited by overseas terrorists. This is preemption- by conducting the sting operation- the lone wolves are not online anymore trying to meet real terrorists that would turn them operational instead of merely aspirational terrorists. Another point that the FBI makes is that by having these sting operations those who are out trying to meet terrorist recruiters would have the real doubts that the person they are talking to might be an FBI informant. These two goals, to the FBI, justify the use of sting operations. Aronson interviewed current and former FBI agents. Not all were in agreement that these sting operations are the way to go in conducting a war on terror. Below are some excerpts from the book with the page numbers:



  For more than a decade, the FBI has thrown as much as it can toward an effort to stop the “next” terrorist attack. Every year, the US government allocates $3 billion to the FBI to prevent the next 9/11, more money than the Bureau receives to combat organized crime. But what an analysis of ten years’ worth of Justice Department data shows is that Islamic terrorism in the United States is not an immediate and dangerous threat. The FBI’s thousands of informants and billions of dollars have not resulted in the capture of dozens of killers ready and able to bomb a crowded building or gun down people in a suburban shopping mall Instead, the FBI’s trawling in Muslim communities has resulted largely in sting operations that target easily susceptible men on the margins of society, men like Michael Curtis Reynolds. Since 9/11, the FBI and the Justice Department have labeled as terrorists a mentally troubled man who worked at Walmart, a video game store clerk whose only valuable possession was a set of stereo speakers, a university student who was about to be evicted from his apartment, and a window washer who had dropped out of college, among others. All of these men were involved in FBI terrorism stings in which an informant came up with the idea and provided the necessary means and opportunity for the terrorist plot. While we have captures a few terrorists since 9/11, we have manufactured many more. 17


Based on Facebook postings alone, an FBI agent gave an informant the “green light” to get to know Martinez and determine if he had a propensity for violence. In other words, to see if he was dangerous. 20


The FBI’s vast army of spies, located in every community in the United States with enough Muslims to support a mosque, has one primary function: to identify the next lone wolf. According to the bureau, a lone wolf is likely to be a single male age sixteen to thirty-five. Therefore, informants and their FBI handlers are on the lookout for young Muslims who espouse radical beliefs, are vocal about their disapproval of US foreign policy, or have espoused sympathy for international terrorist groups. If they find anyone who meets the criteria, they move him to the next stage: the sting, in which an FBI informant, posing as a terrorist, offers to help facilitate a terrorist attack for the target. 27


 The FBI’s logic to support the use of terrorism stings goes something like this: By catching a long before he strikes, federal law enforcement can take him off the streets before he meets a real terrorist who can provide him with weapons and munitions. However, to this day, no example exists of a lone wolf, by himself unable to launch an attack, becoming operational through meeting an actual terrorist in the United States. In addition, in the dozens of terrorism sting operations since 9/11, the would-be terrorists are usually uneducated, unsophisticated, and economically desperate- not the attributes of someone likely to plan and launch a sophisticated, violent attack without significant help. 30


While the three were dangerous lone wolves, none fit the profile of would-be terrorists targeted today in FBI terrorism sting operations. Unlike those caught in FBI stings, these three terrorists had international connections and the ability to carry out attacks on their own, however unsuccessful those attacks might have been for Zasi and Shahzad. 31


DIOG- Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide- open quick investigations called “threat assessments” without probable cause- can consider religious affiliation…48 hours to investigate other attendees.

“We’re looking for the sympathizer who wants to be an operator, and we want to catch them when they step over the line to operate.” Arthur Cummings, co-author of DIOG.


The FBI tries to identify those who might take this step by scrutinizing Muslims who are espousing radical beliefs, expressing hatred of the United States or its foreign policy, or associating with others who are doing one of those two things. 44


The FBI’s use of informants today is unprecedented. In addition to the roster of 15,000 informants that the bureau maintains- many of them tasked with infiltrating of Muslim communities in the United States- for every informant officially listed, there are as many as three unofficial ones, known in FBI parlance as “hip pockets.” Informants can be doctors, clerks, imams. Some might not even consider themselves informants. 44


Using Delta, FBI agents who need an informant can search the database and find candidates- just as a corporate recruiter might use Linked In while searching for software engineers to hire. 45


… while decades of data suggests that someone interested in obtaining drugs will be able to buy drugs even if not caught in a government sting, no data supports the assumption that a would-be terrorist would find the means to commit a terrorist act if not preempted by an FBI sting. To date, there has not been a single would-be terrorist in the United States who has become operational through a chance meeting with someone able to provide the means for a terrorist attack. In addition, no evidence suggests that Al Qaeda-affiliated operatives are within the United States today, willing and able to produce weapons to terrorist wannabes. In truth, the only people providing these means are undercover FBI agents and their informants, who help create the terrorists the Bureau is given more than $ 3 billion every year to catch. 206-7.


Retired FBI veteran Myron fuller believes that none of the pre-9/11 intelligence suggested that Muslims in the United States were supporting terrorists overseas, but that the Bureau chose to assume that their information was incorrect in the wake of the devastating terrorist attacks… Fuller retired from the Bureau just before 9/11 and now lives in Honolulu, where he’s watched with a critical eye the evolution of the FBI’s counterterrorism program. He said that the billions of dollars allocated to terrorism have forced the FBI to assume that a danger exists in communities where intelligence indicates no threat is present, and sting cases are simply the Bureau’s way of justifying how it’s spending all the money it receives for counterterrorism. Fuller is certainly in a position to know about this, since one of his responsibilities for the FBI in Asia was researching links between US Muslim communities and international terrorist organizations. “We've been observing Muslim communities in the United States for thirty, forty years," Fuller told me when I talked to him a few months before the tenth anniversary of 9/11. "Until the '90s nothing developed from those operations that caused people to say we've got a threat here." Then came the first World Trade Center bombing of 1993. "Thereafter, we were taking a little bit stronger look at Muslim communities. Yet no one came out of that harder look. No match or link or whatsoever from observing the people who lived in Dearborn, Michigan. Nothing ever came out of Dearborn, Michigan, or anywhere else that was remotely connected to the people who did what they did in 1993, or any of the other attacks up to and including 9/11." Fuller added: "It's always been my argument that Muslim communities in the United States haven't been supporting terror or sheltering terrorists in any significant way. The response to 9/11 was to use a nuclear weapon to kill a gnat. People suddenly thought that if you're a Muslim, you're either a terrorist or a terrorist sympathizer."' 210-11