City of Brass

City of Brass


profiling Abdulmutallab

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be bomber of Flight 253, is turning out to be a classic case study in radicalization – there’s been great coverage of his story at Talk Islam and I think it paints a picture of a man who was classicially susceptible to the allure of jihad. The silver lining of the incident is that in every respect, his profile is one which can be predicted and detected as a risk to our country; the fact that he was allowed on the flight was indeed a “systemic failure” as President Obama said, but it’s also a teachable moment in terms of correcting that failure. Those who immediately leap to the argument for racial profiling, as opposed to activity profiling, are not serious about security – but Abdulmutallab has done us a favor by illustrating our blind spot for us to rectify.



  • Hanan

    Be it fortunate or unfortunate, the racial profiling has not been limited to Arabs as most people may believe. African Americans also have been profiled. Since the unfortunately 911 incident, every time I,an African American, have traveled which has been often, I have been selected for security checks. It has happened so consistently that I cannot accept that this has been random selection. On a number of occasions last year, my bags remained with TSA for security checks and did not arrive in my destination city with me. I have questioned why I have been targeted, especially so frequently, knowing that they were looking in the wrong direction. Of course, the response would be for “your” and everyone’s safety. There must be a better way, a better solution for safety, well-being,and justice for all.

  • Antonius Magnus

    Profiling seems to work very well at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv: it has been named the safest airport in the world. The Israelis seem to know what they’re doing…

  • interpreter

    Abdulmutallab is part of the 7th head of the beast.

  • T.

    I believe the problems with racial profiling vs. activity profiling stems directly from the Muslim community’s reaction to these incidents- why is it that we can set up blogs or use our own columns (I am guilty of this as well), to admonish jihadist behaviours, but yet, the people who read these columns most likely already understand the fact that not every Muslim or Arab individual supports these extremist behaviours? We need to launch a larger scale campaign to show the world that fundamentally, Islam is not about killing innocents in the so-called-name of jihad. Rather it is a religion of peace that has been largely misunderstood by a specific group of people that then perpetuate their false interpretations upon those who are illiterate or just easy prey. If we want America to stop profiling Arabs, or even African-Americans as one poster has experienced, then its time we show them the other side of Islam- the side that more of us live day after day- spending time with our families, praying together with our fellow brothers and sisters, and overall, making contributions to the fabric of American society in ways that rival those of any other ethnic group. All in all, we need ot be more organized as a group, and we need to have a stronger presence that is completely devoid of violence and hatred before people will even begin to consider us seriously.

  • Your Name

    We have learned from the past experience from the 911 incident,we can’t afford history to repeat itself.The US government must preserve all the rights to allow or suspend every move of people within its respective territories and States.In attaining,maintaining and preserving peace,it is necessary to take all the measures,precautions,etc.:)

  • Naser

    I recently flew to kuwait and bangladesh to visit family and my luggage from DC made it there after 10 days! I wonder if my arab name and TSA security checking had anything to do with the gross inconvenience. I finished my complaint letter to United Airlines today and am very disappointment with the service.

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