War On Terror Should Include Plan To Fight Radicalization

War On Terror Should Include Plan To Fight Radicalization
Times Square bomber warned U.S. to military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq
Susan Campbell, Hartford Courant, July 4, 2010

The large conference room was filled, and some of the gathered wanted to share stories of indignities suffered at the hands of airport security personnel.

You can't blame them. To be the target of racial profiling is demeaning and worse, but Adil Najam, a Boston University professor with an interest in global public policy, eventually asked for a halt to the litany. There are as many tales of woe as there are people who go to airports, he said, to scattered laughter.

Besides, time was short, and the topic important. "I left Europe to come to this conference and I am heading back to Logan to leave straight from the conference," he said. "To be honest, it makes sense to screen me."

In May, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, of Shelton, tried to set off a bomb in Times Square. He was arrested, and last month pleaded guilty "100 times over," he told a judge. He also said that others will carryout similar attacks until the United States removes its military from Afghanistan and Iraq, stops drone attacks on Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan — stops, in short, its aggression toward Muslims and Muslim nations.

Should we listen to a terrorist?


Within three frantic weeks of Shahzad's arrest, Pakistani-American organizations assembled an impressive roster of international bold-face names from a variety of disciplines to come to East Hartford to discuss how best to counter radicalization. The conference, held on a June Saturday, stretched late into the night. The active participation of a some FBI agents, said one attendee, was a sign of the importance of using every tool against extremism — though at one point, a satchel was found, someone called out that it belonged to an FBI agent, and the speaker holding the satchel out for identification dropped it like a hot rock. That got another laugh from the crowd — including people sitting at the FBI table.

Radicalization is, "what goes on before the bomb goes off," said Hassan Abbas, a Columbia University professor, former Pakistani government official, and author of "Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, the Army and America's War on Terror." When radicalization involves religion, Abbas said the process includes deciding, sayd Abbas, "'I want to go into this heaven, but I want to take you to the same heaven by hook or by crook'" — by violence, if necessary.

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