In 2005, four young Muslim men were charged with conspiring “to levy war against the United States” via deadly attacks on military installations and synagogues in Southern California. None of the four fit a terrorist profile, says the Washington Post. The high-profile indictments were unsettling to Southern California’s half-million-strong Muslim community for a different reason. “They’re not Muslims,” declared Shakeel Syed of the 75-mosque Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.
The Post calls the affair one of many incidents that have challenged the fragile cooperation that law enforcement and Muslims are struggling to create after years of mutual suspicion. Without that cooperation, the FBI, sheriffs and police chiefs believe they will never penetrate the world of homegrown Islamic extremists and potential terrorists that officials are convinced is out there. For both sides, the effort remains a steep uphill climb with frequent detours into resentment, suspicion, and misunderstanding. Virtually all 56 FBI field offices and many local police departments have invited Muslim leaders to join advisory boards and teach classes in the basics of Islam to agents and police. FBI officers have grown impatient. The Muslims are “in denial” over the threat in their midst, one official said, adding: “All they say is ‘There is no problem. Stop picking on us.’ ”