An Islamist organization whose stock in trade is criticizing U.S. counter-terrorism efforts has been invited to train Transportation Safety Officers at Los Angeles International Airport.
According to a press release by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the organization recently completed training for 2,200 officers charged with protecting our nation's air security. According to the release, the two-month training course highlighted "the diversity of Muslims around the world from cultural dress to language and tenets," and "taught the TSOs how to properly handle a Quran and discussed the different ways Muslim women and men choose to cover or dress."
Reliance upon MPAC to improve airport security is misplaced. The organization has not only defended designated terrorist organizations, but criticized U.S. counter-terrorism efforts including those aimed at securing airports.
Unquestionably the largest failing of airport security in the United States was the Sept. 11 attacks. Two years before those attacks, a July 1999 issue of Al-Talib, an Islamist student newspaper at UCLA of which MPAC's Edina Lekovic served as managing editor, described Osama bin Laden as a "great Mujahid" and as a "freedom fighter and philanthropist." This, despite the fact that bin Laden had already issued a global fatwa against the United States.
Since those attacks, MPAC has denounced any attempts to improve airline security. Criticizing U.S. law enforcement efforts at preventing terrorism, MPAC has argued that "our nations citizens—particularly Muslim, South Asian and Arab Americans—have experienced repeated erosions of their civil liberties in our nation's airports, and in their houses of worship through intrusive and questionable law enforcement techniques."
Despite being a vocal critic, MPAC continues to be invited to assist the law enforcement community in fashioning security policies. Earlier this year, MPAC representatives met with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. During that meeting the groups "expressed concerns about DHS policies, such as racial, ethnic, and religious profiling at airports and the border, that have eroded the government's trust and credibility with the communities."
The criticisms reached a fever pitch following last year's failed bombing on Christmas Day by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. While law enforcement was working to prevent another attack, MPAC was criticizing every such effort.
Days after the attack, Lekovic condemned the use of profiling at airports to identify potential terrorists: "It doesn't work. It's unconstitutional, and it's discriminatory." The TSA eventually caved to pressure from MPAC, and repealed a policy that would allow for additional screening of passengers that came from countries that were likely to be home to Islamist radicals.
MPAC was one of the first groups to criticize the use of full-body scanners, arguing that "the result is that America is now less free and no safer than it was before the Christmas attack." The Islamic Shura Council of North America urged Muslims to refuse the advanced imaging technology and instead be subjected to a pat down, a recommendation which MPAC touted. Again, the TSA caved to critics, allowing for passengers to opt-out of the full body scans.
And now, MPAC is actually training security officers at a major American airport. What's next?