STATEMENT OF CLARIFICATION (from p. 11-12 of the Report)
(full Report available at www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/public_information/NYPD_Report-Radicalization_in_the_West.pdf)
This statement should serve as a means of clarification for some issues that have arisen in the wake of this report’s publication.
1) New York City Muslim Community as NYPD Ally: The NYPD Report,―Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat‖ is exclusively focused on al Qaeda inspired and linked terrorism in the West. The twisted ideology that underpins this specific type of terrorism claims its legitimacy from an extremist misinterpretation of Islam. As a consequence, this particular type of terrorist ideology has historically found most of its supporters to be Muslim.
Nevertheless, NYPD understands that it is a tiny minority of Muslims who subscribe to al Qaeda’s ideology of war and terror and that the NYPD’s focus on al Qaeda inspired terrorism should not be mistaken for any implicit or explicit justification for racial, religious or ethnic profiling.
Rather, the Muslim community in New York City is our ally and has as much to lose, if not more, than other New Yorkers if individuals commit acts of violence (falsely) in the name of their religion. As such, the NYPD report should not be read to characterize Muslims as intrinsically dangerous or intrinsically linked to terrorism, and that it cannot be a license for racial, religious, or ethnic profiling.
2) Permeating the community: On Page 69 of the report, it says,
―Unfortunately, the City’s Muslim communities have been permeated by extremists who have and continue to sow the seeds of radicalization.‖
There has been some confusion about the precise intended meaning of this statement.
NYPD sought to use the word as Webster’s defines it – ―to diffuse through or penetrate something‖ to explain that extremists have, as a foreign element, penetrated the community and attempted to proliferate their ideology and thus ―sow the seeds of radicalization‖. The intention was never to suggest that the NYC Muslim community has been saturated by extremism.
The Internet serves as an excellent example of how extremists permeate the community online, as it provides a venue for more than 500 extremist websites — anyone in the community can access it.
3) Coupling Religion and Terror: Al Qaeda inspired terrorism is not the only type of terrorism that New York City has faced. In fact, before 9/11, other religious and ethnic groups were responsible for more terrorist related deaths of New Yorkers than any Islamic group. These included the Italian anarchists of the early 20th century and the Puerto Rican FALN in the 1980’s, among others. However, given the almost 3,000 deaths in New York City as a result of al Qaeda terrorism, al Qaeda was chosen as the topic of this study.
4) False positives and behaviors: Because of the NYPD’s focus on al
Qaeda inspired and linked terrorism in this report, it inevitably would focus on those who are most attracted to the ideology and those who have made up the majority of recruits to this specific movement.
This study analyzes the pathway by which these individuals got
radicalized. In all of the case studies, early steps in this process
happened in parallel with individuals’ greater devotion to their religion and greater observance of rituals. However, during the early stages of radicalization, the behaviors associated with a greater degree of religiosity, in and of themselves, cannot be used as a signature of someone potentially becoming a terrorist.
The individuals, at this point, do not know what trajectory they themselves will follow, so law enforcement would be doing itself a disservice and wasting significant resources on tracking individuals who simply exhibit behaviors that at this stage are perfectly benign and in the vast majority of cases not associated with terrorism.
5) Not policy prescriptive: The NYPD reiterates that this report was not intended to be policy prescriptive for law enforcement. In all of its dealings with Federal, State and Local authorities, the NYPD continues to underscore this important point.