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Identifying Islamists - an unworkable proposition!

Reader comment on item: Finally Getting Serious about Identifying Islamists?

Submitted by Rich McMahon (United States), May 25, 2016 at 12:24

I read with interest Dr. Pipes' column: "Finally Getting Serious about Identifying Islamists?" At first blush the French appear to be over reacting or even floundering, by firing (i.e., withdrawing their security passes) Muslim airport workers e.g., "having Korans in their lockers, and /or refusing to trim a beard or to shake hands with female colleagues."

I then explored Dr. Pipes' embedded link to his suggestions on how to ferret out potentially terrorism-inclined Islamists thru a series of interview questions. The questions, while largely appropriate for 2003 (when they were composed) and al Qaeda seem misplaced and actually naive when transported to 2016 and posed to say, ISIS members.

Here are a few:

"Violence: Do you condone or condemn the Palestinians, Chechens, and Kashmiris who give up their lives to kill enemy civilians? Will you condemn by name as terrorist groups such organizations as Abu Sayyaf, Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, Groupe Islamique Armée, Hamas, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and al-Qaida?"

"Modernity: Should Muslim women have equal rights with men (for example, in inheritance shares or court testimony)?......."

"Secularism: Should non-Muslims enjoy completely equal civil rights with Muslims? May Muslims convert to other religions? May Muslim women marry non-Muslim men? Do you accept the laws of a majority non-Muslim government and unreservedly pledge allegiance to that government?......"

My contention is twofold: a. Today's Islamists, notably ISIS, are far more sophisticated than their Al Qaeda counterparts of a dozen years ago, such that none could be expected to answer these questions honestly (or instead would be trained to provide 'correct' answers, evading their true inclinations) and b. among today's mainstay Muslim airport workers (i.e., non-Islamists) few, if any, could be expected to respond to these questions honestly but acceptably, i.e. to rule out their being terrorists.

Conclusion: developing an exacting methodology to identify Muslim terrorists from non-terrorist Muslim workers in a critical airport environment while protecting non-Islamists' freedoms of religion is likely an impossible proposition. Maybe the French (& Donald Trump!) have the right idea!

Submitting....

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Daniel Pipes replies:

I have updated that list of questions and am waiting for their publication before long, when I will post them on this website.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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