"‘Jihad Jane’ Undermines Right-Wing Calls For Profiling Based On The Myth That All Terrorists ‘Look Alike’"
Since the Ft. Hood shooting and the failed Christmas Day terror attack, some on the right have stepped up their calls for ethnic “profiling” and “discrimination,” with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich saying the Obama administration is more interested in “protecting the rights of terrorists” than “protecting the lives of Americans.”
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R) response to the Ft. Hood shooting was “profile away.” Rep. Peter King (R-NY) argued after the Christmas Day attempt that “100 percent of the Islamic terrorists are Muslim, and that is our main enemy today. So why we should not be profiling people because of their religion?” Fox News host Steve Doocey commented, “[F]or the most part all the people who tried to blow airliners out of the sky pretty much look alike, look similar.”
And at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in January, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said, “I’m, for one — I know it’s not politically correct to say it — I believe in racial and ethnic profiling.” While Inhhofe conceded that “not all Middle Easterners or Muslims between the age of 20 and 35 are terrorists,” he did say that it’s “by and large true” that “all terrorists are Muslims or Middle Easterners between the age of 20 and 35.”
But yesterday the Department of Justice brought terrorism charges against a “petite” blond-haired, blue-eyed 46-year-old American woman. Colleen Renee LaRose — who called herself “Jihad Jane” — “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” against cartoonists who depicted the Prophet Mohammed. The Washington Post reports:
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.
In fact, several high-profile terrorists look nothing like Inhofe’s description. Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is Nigerian and “shoe bomber” Richard Reid is British-Jamaican. Meanwhile, Pakistani officials reportedly recently captured a Taliban leader who was born in Oregon.
“Jihad Jane” is further evidence that ethic profiling — in addition to being an affront to civil rights — is ineffective. The practice actually wastes law enforcement resources by chasing false targets who do not match the profile. Even former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the Christmas Day incident showed “the danger and the foolishness of profiling.”