Here in a nutshell is why ethnic profiling is so fundamentally flawed as a means of protecting against terrorism:
A petite, blond-haired, blue-eyed high school dropout who allegedly used the nickname JihadJane was identified Tuesday as an alleged terrorist intent on recruiting others to her cause, as federal prosecutors unsealed criminal charges that could send her to prison for life.
Colleen Renee LaRose, 46, has been quietly held in U.S. custody since October on suspicions that she provided material support to terrorists and traveled to Sweden to launch an attack, according to federal officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is continuing to unfold.
LaRose, who lived in suburban Philadelphia, allegedly recruited men and women in the United States, Europe and South Asia to “wage violent jihad,” according to an indictment issued in Pennsylvania. She fueled her interests on the Internet over the past few years and used Web sites such as YouTube to post increasingly agitated messages, the court papers said.
As an American citizen whose appearance and passport allowed her to blend into Western society, LaRose represents one of the worst fears of intelligence and FBI analysts focused on identifying terrorist threats. She is one of only a handful of women to be charged with terrorism offenses in the United States, national security experts said.
Across the ocean Tuesday, Irish police conducted morning raids in Cork and Waterford, arresting four men and three women who had been under electronic surveillance by U.S. and Swedish authorities. The seven were suspected of plotting with LaRose to attack a Swedish artist, Lars Vilks, whose 2007 drawing of the prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog enraged Muslims, according to Irish news accounts.
The path that LaRose aka JihadJane took to radicalization is still unclear, but the point is that she was well aware of her ethnic advantage, trying to help recruit people to her Swedish murder plot whose physical appearance would “blend in with many people” in Europe and the US. A bomb-toting grandma surely isn’t far behind.
With the rise in right-wing extremist violence at home and the certain existence of other white jihadis like JihadJane and Adam Gadahn, racial and ethnic profiling is clearly a lazy-man tactic that ends up making us less safe. What’s needed is better behavioral profiling – something we haven’t been paying enough attention to with the distraction of racial profiling, as the case of Abdulmutallab made embarassingly clear.
Unfortunately, advocates of racial profiling (such as Michelle Malkin) argue that it remains essential to our “survival”. I don’t think that Jihad Jane is going to change their mind, however, because on a certain level it’s not the threat of terrorism per se that they are really obsessed about. Certainly, principled conservatives can and have made a conservative case against racial profiling – which take the threat of terrorism much more seriously than the Islamophobic jafisphere does.