Profiling Potential Terrorists


By: Greg C. Reeson

As I watched the various cable news channels cover the latest terrorist plot to blow up commercial aircraft, I immediately began thinking about a question that has been on the minds of many Americans since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: why do we waste our time and efforts at airport security searching little old ladies and American businessmen instead of purposefully targeting those demographic variables most likely to be associated with the individuals who commit acts of terrorism: military-aged Muslim men of Middle Eastern descent?

As the identities of those arrested in the “liquid explosives” plot began to emerge, it became instantly clear to anyone watching that we were facing an all too familiar enemy. The men involved in the alleged scheme were reported by the Associated Press to be of Pakistani nationality, between the ages of 17 and 35, and to have names of Muslim origin. At the same time, Pakistan arrested 17 more suspects, including one known to have had contact with Al-Qaeda.

Yet, because we are forced to live under the banner of political correctness, and because we don’t want to single anyone out lest we offend them, we refuse to face the reality of the threat against us. We refuse to recognize that not everyone trying to board a plane is a potential terrorist. So, we continue in our ignorant bliss, treating everyone equally instead of focusing our efforts where they will be the most effective in stopping terrorist attacks.

Profiling is generally defined in terms of race, but when searching for potential terrorist suspects it is possible to be more specific and to add additional identifiers. All of the hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks were military-aged, Middle Eastern, Muslim males. Since September 11, arrests in Ohio, Michigan, and Florida, as well as apprehensions by our allies outside the United States, including the latest round in Britain and Pakistan, have all involved the same demographic characteristics. And over three-fourths of those on the FBI’s most wanted terrorists list fall into this same category.

It is an irrational and irresponsible waste of limited security resources to discount these demographic facts during the passenger screening process. That is not to say that race, gender, religion, and age should be focused on to the point where other factors are excluded, but conclusions about the demographic make-up of the vast majority of terrorists trying to strike the United States are inescapable.

I fully understand the dangers involved in this type of profiling. When law enforcement officials single out African Americans and Hispanics for traffic stops, these groups are unfairly targeted based on inaccurate assumptions about their likelihood to be involved in criminal activity based solely on their race. But the profiling of terrorists is not the same as the “Driving While Black (or Hispanic)” practices rightly condemned by civil rights groups. The profiling of military-aged Muslim men of Middle Eastern descent is supported by overwhelming evidence of the demographic characteristics likely to be involved in terrorist plots and attacks.

Of course there are risks to civil liberties associated with what I am proposing. And I do understand that not all Muslims are terrorists. But there is no disputing the fact that nearly all terrorist acts directed against the United States are planned, resourced, and executed by individuals who fit the demographic profile described here (except, of course, for attacks such as the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols).

After five years of fighting the war on terror, it’s time to take the gloves off at home. It’s time to pull our heads out of the sand and confront head-on the enemy that is trying to destroy us. The targeting of specific demographic variables consistently found in the terrorists who attack us makes sense, even if some Muslims are inconvenienced or offended. To continue the current passenger screening charade in the interest of political correctness is absurdity in its purest form. As long as we avoid profiling potential terrorists so that we can treat everyone equally, we are giving terrorists the opportunities they seek to kill us and to destroy our way of life.



Greg Reeson is a frequent contributor to The Land of the Free and Associated Content. His columns have appeared in several online and print publications, including The New Media Journal, The Veteran’s Voice, The Washington Times, GOPUSA and Opinion Editorials.com.

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