By François Koundouno
Rabat – Amidst racial profiling and mounting security concerns, being a Sunni Muslim has recently been singled out as the most effective indicator of individuals’ disposition towards violence and terrorism.
A late January security report by Department of Homeland Security urged American authorities to have strict immigration policies and a continuous surveillance of individuals suspected to be terrorism or violence-prone. The report, which is a mere four-page document, is filled with suggestions that international terrorism, or individuals who are likely to condone it, are generally not American; the threat is said to come from outside, and it is generally “Sunni Muslim”.
The report singled out Sunni Muslims on the grounds that they have “at-risk” demographic profiles. After analyzing 25 terrorist attacks in the US between October 2001 and December 2017, it recommends “continuous surveillance” and a state-sponsored-profiling of “persons of interest”, adding particularly that immigrants in the United States should be tracked and “vetted on a long-term basis”.
The report was drafted at the request of Kevin McAleenan, U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner, who said that the purpose of the report was “to inform United States foreign visitor screening, immigrant vetting and on-going evaluations of United States-based individuals who might have higher risk for becoming radicalized and conducting a violent attack.”
And among the “risk indicators”, some items, unsurprisingly, made the top of the list: being male and young, having national origins in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. However, the greatest risk-indicator is, according to the report, being a “Sunni Muslim.”
CBP, which works conjointly with DHS (Department of Homeland Security) on such matters, said that Sunni Muslims are particularly “vulnerable to terrorist narratives”, explaining that the report’s findings [possibly reflects] the long standing difficulty for some Muslim immigrants to integrate into United States society.”
An earlier DHS report on January 16 claimed that 3 out 4 individuals convicted for terrorism or terrorism-related deeds were immigrants, or sympathizers of “radical Sunni Islam militancy.” It also claimed that 73% of convicted terrorists between 9/11 and December 31, 2016 were foreign-born and generally Sunni Muslims.
A number of news outlets and commentators have criticized the reports for “cherry-picking” cases and narratives that can help implement Trump’s administration’s hostility towards immigrants, especially from predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa.
But despite the criticism, senior officials in the concerned departments speak of “a sobering reality” and the need for the U.S to protect its citizens from “foreign-grown terrorism”.
“The information in this report is just the tip of the iceberg… The pillars of President Trump’s immigration policy are to secure our porous borders”, said DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielson.