COPAA, MPAC & Law
Enforcement Officials Discuss Partnership
Los Angeles, CA: At
a press conference on August 14, the Muslim Public Affairs
Council, the Council for Pakistan American Affairs as well
as the British Consul General and federal law enforcement
officials commended the central role of the Muslim American
community in combating terrorism and extremism. Officials
from FBI Los Angeles Field Office, the Department of Homeland
Security's Los Angeles Bureau, and Los Angeles Sheriff Lee
Baca detailed the numerous efforts in which they are engaged
in order to build rapport and trust with the Muslim American
community to protect the nation and the civil liberties
of all citizens.
"I want to acknowledge the crucial tip that came from
a worried member of the British Muslim community, and was
the primary reason that this alleged plot was disrupted,"
said MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati. "It
is that unknown hero that we want to acknowledge today as
well as those Muslims in America, Europe and throughout
the world who are stepping forward out of their Islamic
obligation to protect their communities and their societies
that we want to raise awareness about. These are people
who are serving their patriotic duty in the United States
The British Consul General Bob Peirce expressed the need
to strengthen dialogue between the Muslim community and
law enforcement. "In the UK, it has proved very important
to create a very strong relationship between the Muslim
communities and law enforcement," said Peirce. "What
we face in the UK is a large threat from a small minority.
There is something of a battle for hearts and minds going
on in the Islamic community. It's a battle where the leaders
of the Islamic community and the government are very much
of one mind. It's very much an international enterprise
that we're engaged upon to bring together all of us who
are keen to put this terrible terrorist threat behind us."
Stephen Tidwell, Assistant Director of the FBI-LA Field
Office, detailed ongoing initiatives to deepen engagement
between the bureau and Muslim community leaders and student
leaders. "Since 2004, the Multicultural Advisory Committee
has been an integral part of our efforts in maintaining
a bridge between those leaders and the communities and organizations
they represent not only in the fight against terrorism but
in our understanding that we need to protect the civil rights
of these communities at times like this," said Tidwell.
"When their patriotism and their citizenship is called
into question and extremists of another type would attack
them, their members, their institutions. We're glad that
we've been able to maintain an open dialogue that allows
to work on developing trust and understanding."
Department of Homeland Security officials also outlined
their recently launched efforts to meet with American Arab,
Muslim, and South Asian community leaders in LA, which are
modeled on efforts in Detroit, Chicago, and Buffalo. "Modeled
after a community outreach initiative in Detroit called
BRIDGES, these meetings have two purposes: to provide these
community leaders with important information about DHS initiatives
that they need but probably won't read in the media, and
to hear from them about concerns they have and ideas they
have for improving our security," said Kevin Weeks,
head of the LA Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CPB).
"We will continue to work with our colleagues at the
FBI as well as state and local law enforcement to engage
effectively with communities."
Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca also shared recent developments
in the Muslim American Homeland Security Congress, an initiative
he formed with local Muslim leaders and may soon be duplicated
in other US cities. "I have been asked repeatedly in
Southern California and throughout the US, 'Where are the
leaders of the Muslim community in the fight against terror?'
The answer is that these leaders have been working actively
and tirelessly with leaders in my office building a rapport
and relationship so we can do more for one another to protect
our country," said Baca. "Muslim American leaders
are united in the fight against terrorism. The Muslim American
Homeland Security Congress was actually formed by Muslim
American leaders to bring forward more education, more dialogue
and more understanding on the circumstance of extremism
and what extremism can lead to."
Ahmed Ali, Past President of the Council of Pakistan American
Affairs (COPAA), also reaffirmed the common threat posed
by terrorism. "We are thankful to the law enforcement
agencies in the US, Britain and Pakistan for their teamwork
to foil the alleged plan to blow up fights from UK to US,"
said Ali. "The combined effort of all three nations
reaffirms our believe that these are times when we must
all work together and remain engaged at multiple levels
on a long term basis for the common good of all nations
and their people. We face a common enemy that does not discriminate
on the basis of race, religion, or ethnicity."
Al-Marayati ended the press conference by reiterating the
need to broaden national awareness around such important
programs that create forums for education and outreach.
"We need to raise awareness about these particular
programs to the American public, both in order to calm fears
and to relay the message that American Muslims are key in
playing a role for America's national security and also
for bridging the divide when it comes to any talk about
a clash of civilizations and alienation of Muslim youth
in our society," Al-Marayati added.
Among the media outlets in attendance were CNN, NPR, La
Opinion, Univision as well as several LA news outlets (KTLA5,
KNBC4, KABC7, Fox11, KNX-AM 1070 and KFI-AM 640).