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CAIR urges safety precautions after FBI report says militias are targeting U.S. Muslim institutions
Washington, DC, August 18 - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today asked Muslim community leaders nationwide to consider instituting additional safety measures for prayers and other activities following revelations of a recent FBI bulletin warning that "militia extremists" may begin targeting Muslim institutions, including mosques and community centers.
The bulletin, titled "Militia Extremists Expand Target Sets to Include Muslims" and obtained by Public Intelligence, was released to law enforcement before a May rally by armed demonstrators outside a Phoenix mosque. Some of those demonstrators wore Nazi-themed attire.
FBI sources report that militia members have been conducting surveillance of "diverse locations including Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Montana, New York, North and South Carolina, Utah, and Texas."
The FBI report noted that militia extremists in Mississippi discussed kidnapping and beheading a Muslim and posting video of the attack to the Internet. It concluded that the targeting of Muslims is fueled by misconceptions that Islam represents a foreign threat and that President Obama sympathizes with Islamic extremists and his policies align with their goals.
The bulletin cited sources of anti-Muslim bigotry such as the Christian Action Network, hate blogger Pamela Geller and the Internet hate site World Net Daily.
CAIR recently released a brief, called "Toxic Hate," indicating that the backlash against the nation's Muslim community in the past year has a "more violent tone" than past spikes in Islamophobic sentiment.
Violent incidents outlined in CAIR's brief included the murder earlier this year of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, N.C., and the murder of 15-year-old Abdisamad "Adam" Sheikh-Hussein outside a Kansas City mosque in 2014.
Another case outlined in the brief was that of Robert Doggart, a former candidate for congressional office in Tennessee, who signed a plea agreement admitting his plot to assault the Muslim community of Islamberg in New York. Doggart allegedly conspired with militia members in South Carolina.
Recommended Community Safety Steps
Prior to any event or gathering:
- Instruct staff and volunteers to be vigilant about their surroundings.
- Immediately report any threatening or hostile phone calls or messages to local police. Where possible, obtain a name and phone number for the caller. If you are speaking to the caller, do not engage in a debate or become angry; you do not want to escalate the situation. Keep a detailed log of hate calls.
- Contact your local police department and ask them to increase patrols in the area of your facility.
- Remember, for a fee, many local police departments will provide officers to be present at a facility during services.
- Contact a local CAIR chapter to report any incidents: http://www.cair.com/cair-chapters.html
- Record details of any bias incidents by filling out a report at: http://www.cair.com/civil-rights/report-an-incident.html
Community leaders are being asked to implement safety measures outlined in CAIR's booklet, "Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety," which was published in response to previous attacks on American mosques.
The booklet is designed to be used by mosque officials, Muslim school administrators and other community leaders and activists who seek to identify and eliminate vulnerabilities to bias-motivated attacks.
A free copy of CAIR's "Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety" may be requested by going to: http://www.cair.com/mosque-safety-guide.html
CAIR's safety guide states in part:
"A general framework in which to think about institutional security falls within the following broad categories:
- Be Aware
- Assess Your Vulnerability
- Prepare and Plan
"This framework can be applied to all sorts of security issues, from hate graffiti to burglary or to an active-shooter episode. Decision-makers must decide which recommendations are best applied to their facility. They must also decide the order in which they will implement the process."
Other initial safety steps recommended in CAIR's guide include: