Jihad Jane Terrorists Who Defy Our Biases
Thank you, "Jihad Jane" for making a point about racial profiling that I've been trying to make for years: You can't judge a potential terrorist by his complexion -- or, in this case, her complexion.
For years we have been hearing pundits and politicians argue for profiling Arabs and Muslims, as if ramping up our prejudices were all we need to do to protect ourselves from bombers and hijackers.
Indeed, prejudices are convenient. On some level we are all like
Even so, conservative columnist
Coulter came to mind when I heard about "JihadJane," the curiously conspicuous moniker used online by
In pictures released to news media, LaRose doesn't look Middle Eastern. She looks more like, say,
That was part of LaRose's plan, according to reports. With her blonde hair and her eyes that are either blue or green, depending on whose news you read, she figured she could slip more easily through the ethnocentric profiling that folks like Coulter favor.
Since profiling has such obvious appeal, it didn't take Islamic terror groups like al-Qaida very long to figure out that they should try to enlist terrorists who don't fit our usual stereotypes.
According to LaRose's indictment, she trolled the Internet for future terrorists who looked like herself, had American or European passports and could, as she allegedly put it, "blend in."
It is not yet clear whether LaRose, who apparently never received al-Qaida training, posed much of a real danger to anyone but herself. Yet she illustrates what counterintelligence experts call a disturbing trend, a growing number of Americans from a variety of backgrounds who are finding their way into Islamic terror groups.
Take, for example,
Or take Adam Gadahn, the FBI's most-wanted American member of al-Qaida. Born in
"There really is no longer any one profile of the terrorist,"
The boldest profilers on the planet, for good reasons, may be the Israeli airline El Al. Yet they don't simply single out individuals with Arabic-sounding names. They also single out single women in general as "extremely high risk," for example, because they might be used by Palestinian lovers to carry bombs. It happens.
That's why I don't oppose all profiling. To quote one of my Palestinian-American friends, "I don't want to get blown up, either." But the El Al example shows how profiling needs to have some intelligence to it, not just kneejerk reflexes. We all have our prejudices, but think twice before you bet your life on them.
Available at Amazon.com:
Read the latest political news.
- The 1960s: A Decade of Promise and Heartbreak
- The 1960s: Decade of Change for Women
- The 1960s: Polarization, Cynicism and the Youth Rebellion
- The 1960s: Civil Rights Gains Made Obama's Election Possible
- Ex-CIA man John Kiriakou on Abu Zubaydah, torture, and 'The Reluctant Spy'
- Terrorist Suspect JihadJane Shatters Stereotype
- Jihad Jane Shatters Terror Stereotype
- Jihad Jane Terrorists Who Defy Our Biases
- Terror and Sacrificing Privacy for National Security
- Supreme Court Takes Aim at Chicago Gun Ban
- On Our Co-Equal Branches
Jihad Jane Terrorists Who Defy Our Biases | Clarence Page
(c) 2010 Clarence Page