FBI in Detroit Profiles Muslims and Arabs in Spite of 12 Whites Engaged in Terrorism

As part of a new ACLU project to FOIA and map all the racial profiling the FBI has been doing, it liberated a Detroit FBI document describing its efforts to set up a “Domain Management” assessment (which seems to be a nice euphemism for racial profiling). It describes what it claims is the distinct counterterrorism threats in Michigan.

There are more than forty groups designated as terrorist organizations by the US State Department. Many of these groups originate in the Middle-East and Southeast Asia. Many of these groups also use an extreme and violent interpretation of the Muslim faith as justification for their activities. Because Michigan has large Middle-Eastern and Muslim population, it is prime territory for attempted radicalization and recruitment by these terrorist groups. Additionally, Sunni terrorist groups always pose a threat of attack on U.S. soil since it is the stated purpose of many of these groups. The Detroit Division Domain Team seeks to open a Type IV Domain Assessment for the purpose of collecting information and evaluating the threat posed by international terrorist groups conducting recruitment, radicalization, fund-raising, or even violent terrorist acts within the state of Michigan.

Of course, MI is not just home to a lot of Arab-Americans and Muslims. It’s also home to a bunch of right wing militias and all-around nutjobs. So using racial profiling to find terrorists–the FBI admittedly uses State’s list of international terrorists, which of course excludes domestic right wing terrorist groups–would miss the white terrorists we have in MI.

To give you an idea of what that would miss, I checked out all the press releases the Detroit FBI Office and US Attorney’s Office has put out since this document was written on July 6, 2009 to see what kind of crimes related to or possibly related to terrorism we’ve had in the state. Here’s what it showed.

  • October 28, 2009: 11 members of “Ummah” arrested, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah killed. (Ultimately the FBI backed off their claim these folks had any tie to terrorism.)
  • October 29, 2009: Mujahid Carswell (AKA Mujahid Abdullah) taken into custody by Canada’s RCMP for immigration violations.
  • October 31, 2009: Mohammad Alsahli (aka Muhammad Palestine) and Yassir Ali Khan taken into custody by Canada’s RCMP for immigration violations.
  • December 25, 2009: The Undie-Bomber tried to bring down a plane.
  • January 22, 2010: Syrian Mohamad Mustapha Ali Masfaka lied to Customs and Border Patrol agents about his ties to Holy Land Foundation; he was later convicted.
  • March 29, 2010: Nine white members of the Hutaree militia arrested for seditious plot to overthrow the government.
  • June 7, 2010: A 73-year old white man, Russell Hesch, and his son sent a letter to Bart Stupak threatening to paint the Mackinac Bridge with his blood in retaliation for voting for Obama’s health insurance reform.
  • April 21, 2011: A 42-year old white schizophrenic from the Upper Peninsula, Gary John Mikulich, planted a bomb outside the Federal Building.
  • August 3, 2011: Someone left a Molotov cocktail outside an abortion clinic in Detroit.
  • September 12, 2011: A Frontier Airlines flight was diverted because two men of Indian descent and a Saudi-Jewish woman, Shoshana Hebshi, had made a passenger suspicious.
  • September 23, 2011: A white St. Joseph man, Reed Berry, was arrested for ramming an FBI surveillance car; the agents were investigating him for alleged ties to a Foreign Terrorist Organization. (This was no in DOJ press releases, but since he was accused to foreign terrorist ties, this clearly fits.)
  • September 26, 2011: A white 64-year old man, John Lechner, arrested for having as much explosives as took down the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal building and talking about mercenaries. (Note, this was not in any FBI or DOJ press releases I could find.)

So while the FBI has been profiling Muslims (including, arguably, the African-American mosque the FBI labels the “Ummah”; while Shoshana Hebshi and the two Indian men were clearly profiled on 9/11, this was not by the FBI), 13 white people in Michigan have been alleged to engage in some kind of terrorism: The 9 members of the Hutaree, Russell Hesch threatening Stupak’s life, Gary Mikulich making a crazed bomb attack on the Federal building, John Lechner’s stash of 4000 pounds of explosives, plus the ties to a foreign terrorist organization the FBI alleges Reed Berry has (his attorney says they were surveilling Berry for protected speech). And that’s assuming the still unsolved clinic bomber was not white.

Not only will profiling result in the harassment of people like Hebshi and the extreme over-reaction of the FBI with Luqman.

But in MI, it also risks missing what–setting aside Luqman’s mosque–has actually been the majority of terrorists and alleged terrorists in recent years. That’s not just dumb. It’s dangerous.

Update: Added Lechner–h/t Lakeeffectsnow.

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bmaz @KellyFlood3 I have come to accept that my dog will be more important in internet life, despite a decade or more, than I will. Oh well!
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bmaz @emptywheel A sterling, though not quite gold, point you make.
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bmaz RT @ColMorrisDavis: @bmaz I agree.
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emptywheel @HinaShamsi In retrospect, writing GWOT Finding to permit CIA to do whatever they want w/detainees, including torture might not @Krhawkins5
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