I do not write this in defence of Abdulmutallab, nor am I championing his innocence; all I am asserting is that all this hoopla and media roller coaster are creating more problems than they are solving. Although there are many issues to go over, I will touch upon a few. A few days after the terror scare, links between Umar Farouk and a North American based Islamic institute, Al Maghrib, were formed. All of the media outlets endlessly reported on having confirmed details that Umar Farouk attended Al Maghrib classes. They wrote this as if it was some key evidence that they had discovered and tried to make it appear as if Al Maghrib was not an institute, but rather it was something along the lines of what they call ‘Al Qaeda’. No specific evidence was given about any lectures that presented views which tied to his alleged actions, nor was there any concrete statements given about the link between his attendance to these classes and the failed terror attempt. If the media or American government can tie the “Muslim terror suspect" to the “Islamic” institute and do so without having any eyebrows raised, I’m afraid Muslims are to blame. If we sit silently and digest their empty assumptions and accusations, or even worse, believe that they are true, we need to wake up to the reality of our situation. I attend Al Maghrib classes and I know many people that do. In Toronto, our classes hold up to 500 people – if someone were to be arrested or called a terrorist and have the fact that they attended Al Maghrib serve as further evidence of their guilt, can we deem that acceptable? I don’t believe so.
The Al Maghrib issue was one that definitely bothered me, but it didn’t end there. What I can’t seem to figure out is that if Abdulmutallab was suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda in Yemen, and was placed on the terror watch list, how and why was he allowed to board the plane? With such tight security in our post 9/11 world, how is it possible to have missed a ‘bomb’ in a body scanning at the airport? Even if we discount the fact that the metal detectors failed to pick up on the bomb, how did they miss the syringe filled with chemicals he was apparently carrying? Something seems a little shady. In addition to this, the media claims that Umar Farouk’s father informed the US Embassy that his son was an extremist and that he may be a terror threat. Other reports claim that Umar Farouk cut off all ties with his family a few months ago. The illogical connection here, if you haven’t figured it out, is that if Farouk cut off ties with his family, how was his father aware of his supposed ‘plans’ and how did he know his son was on the flight to Detroit? Many of these questions have been left unanswered, and will probably stay that way since the media’s attention has been diverted.
The balance of national security and civil liberties has once again been tipped to one side, and I believe that media and Western governments will continue to create hype to justify their poor decisions. I am starting to believe that the further we think we are progressing, the further back we are actually going.