Writes Maajid Nawaz on Why ISIS Just Loves Profiling – The Daily Beast:

If early indications are correct, the mass shooting in San Bernardino would be the deadliest ISIS-inspired attack on US soil to date. Yet the chief suspects, Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook, were “clean skins” completely unknown to the authorities, and assumed not to be a risk to US homeland security.

The most disconcerting part of this, therefore, is the knowledge that it almost certainly could happen again, and not knowing how to stop it. Neighbors have reported that their suspicions were aroused, but that they did not want to report anything out of fear of appearing racist.


So what should Tashfeen Malik’s neighbors have reported?

She and her husband Rizwan Farook were indeed arousing suspicion. They should have been reported, but not for their ethnicity, or overt displays of piety—his beard and her face veil—or lack thereof. They should have been reported simply because, according to those same neighbors, they were behaving suspiciously. Psychological and behavioral patterns are always a more reliable indicator that something is afoot, over religious or ethnic markers. And to report strange behavior, is not racist or anti-Muslim. Overt signs of nervousness, regular deliveries of obscure items at strange hours, or adopting an extremely dogmatic mindset, are more suspicious than mere appearance.

Islamist radicalization is a process. It begins when a person, whether originally of Muslim origin or not, starts to become convinced that a certain version of Islam must be enforced over society, and that it is incumbent on them to work to resurrect a theocratic “Islamic Caliphate” in order to achieve this. Usually, this is accompanied by the false notion that the entire West is at war with all of Islam.

This process of radicalization is complete when jihadist violence is prescribed to “resist” the West.

If the above was more widely understood, people would feel less reluctant to report suspicious behavior for the right reasons. Likewise, the wider public—and my fellow Muslims—will better understand that what is being reported is suspicious behavior, and not a racial or religious stereotype. This combination of sharpening what we are looking for, while reducing the potential stigma about looking for it, could literally save lives and bring our communities closer, which is everything the terrorists hate.

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