The FBI issued a warning in August that “militia extremists” are monitoring mosques and other Muslim communities in multiple states.
WASHINGTON — While the mainstream media showers attention on any crime with even the slightest hint of a connection to ISIS or other Muslim extremists, less attention is being paid to a growing number of threats against everyday Muslims in the United States despite the FBI raising the alarm.
The FBI issued an intelligence bulletin in May, warning that “militia extremists” are increasing their violent rhetoric against Muslims and even potentially making concrete plans to target them for violence. “The FBI makes these assessments with high confidence on the basis of a large body of source reporting generated mainly since 2013,” noted the bulletin. This marks a change from the militia’s usual targets, the agency notes, which typically include the government and any group perceived as a threat to Second Amendment rights.
Few mainstream media journalists seem to have reported on this bulletin or the concrete threats that it outlines, but some members of the independent media have analyzed its contents. Writing for the Electronic Intifada, Rania Khalek, a journalist whose work focuses on the underclass and oppressed populations, highlighted one incident:
“Among the disturbing examples the FBI cites, the most shocking occurred in Mississippi last September, where extremists ‘discussed kidnapping and beheading a Muslim and posting video of the attack to the Internet.’
On Aug. 23, Imraan Siddiqi, the chairman of the Arizona chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, appeared on the podcast Unauthorized Disclosure, along with Khalek and journalist Kevin Gosztola, to discuss the bulletin and some of the threats. Siddiqi said that while some of the actions of anti-Muslim groups seem laughable, such as throwing bacon at mosques, other threats have been frighteningly specific:
“There started to be violent death threats toward a few different mosques in Phoenix. There were letters sent to the Tempe mosque and there was also a letter to this mosque that we’re talking about here. It said we’re going to target your worshipers while they are worshiping. We know who the Board of Directors are. We’re going to target your families inside your houses and we’re going to burn your mosque down.”
Along with the reported threats, there are a growing number of court cases and even convictions against people for plotting terrorist attacks on American Muslims.
In May, Robert Doggart, a Christian extremist and former Republican congressional candidate, was charged with plotting a deadly rampage in Islamberg, a majority-Muslim village in upstate New York. Doggart had detailed plans that included the use of “an M-4 military assault rifle, armor-piercing ammunition, explosives, pistols, and a machete” according to a report from Dean Obeidallah, a reporter for The Daily Beast.
In early August, a California man pled guilty to threatening to carry out a “Charlie-Hebdo”-style attack on CAIR. John David Weissinger made the threats through phone messages left at the nonprofit group’s San Diego and Washington offices.
Later that month, a New York man became the first American to be convicted of planning a radiation-based terror attack. Glendon Scott Crawford, an admitted member of the Ku Klux Klan, and an accomplice obtained an X-ray device in 2013 with the intention of turning it into a “death X-ray” weapon to be used against area Muslims.
Crawford, who faces life in prison and $2 million in fines, came to the attention of the FBI after he approached both the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York and the Israeli Embassy in Washington for assistance with his terror plot. Last year, his accomplice, Eric J. Feight, pleaded guilty to lesser charges of providing material support for terrorism.
According to a report from M. Alex Johnson, an NBC News reporter, the plot was in its initial stages but still a credible threat. A 2014 press release posted to the FBI website makes it clear that undercover agents kept the device inoperable at all times.
According to an August report from the New America Foundation, almost twice as many people were killed by right-wing extremist violence than those killed by “jihadist extremists” since 9/11.