Advancing a Free Society

A Model of Efficacy

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

U.S. law-enforcement agencies have generally responded to 9/11 with a pretend counterterrorism policy. They insist that calling the enemy “Islamism” causes terrorism, that Islamist violence is just one of many co-equal problems (along with neo-Nazis, racial supremacists, et al.), and that counterterrorism primarily involves feel-good steps, such as improving civil rights, passing anti-discrimination laws, and displaying goodwill to Islamists.

And then there is the New York Police Department, an institution uniquely spurred by 9/11 to abandon its former laxity and get serious. The department that had mishandled prior terrorist incidents (e.g., the assassination of Meir Kahane) quickly transformed itself into a serious counterterrorist agency under the remarkable leadership of Raymond Kelly. (Andrew McCarthy calls him “a godsend.”) Unlike other agencies, the NYPD names the enemy, acknowledges the predominant threat of Islamist violence, and has built a robust intelligence operation.

The public first saw hints of these changes in 2006 during the Shahawar Matin Siraj trial. The government obtained a conviction of Siraj, an illegal Pakistani immigrant intending to blow up a subway station, on the basis of information from two NYPD Muslim spies: a paid police informant, Osama Eldawoody, and a pseudonymous undercover detective, “Kamil Pasha.” The latter testified about his serving as a “walking camera” among Muslims living in Brooklyn — to “observe, be the ears and eyes” for the NYPD.

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