The question of whether American Muslims do or do not cooperate with law enforcement agents in preventing terrorist attacks is at the heart of congressional hearings that begin today. Los Angeles, home to one of the nation’s largest and most diverse Muslim populations has one of the most assertive multidepartmental efforts, along with New York, is making good progress in overcoming mistrust and engaging Muslims as allies in preventing terrorism, law enforcement experts tell the New York Times. “We're not going to win the war against terrorism without Muslims,” said Lee Baca, the Los Angeles County sheriff.
The Sheriff's Department and the Police Department have formed such strong personal relationships with Muslim leaders in the last few years that these ties have helped overcome some bad patches, such as when Muslims discovered that the FBI had placed informants in mosques on nonspecific intelligence-gathering missions. Dozens of civilian Muslim leaders serve on councils in the Sheriff's Department, the Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security. Imams and Muslim professionals have helped to train law enforcement officers in the cultural and religious sensitivities that could make or break an investigation. Ashraf Jakvani of the Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley, Ca., said, “If we fail to report and something happens, believe me, 99.9 percent of the Muslim population would hold us accountable.”