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It was just like any other day for Alioune Niasse. An immigrant from Senegal, he began his day at the break of dawn, driving into Times Square early to set up his table selling photographs for the throngs of tourists who would pass by. After ten hours of working, pausing only to eat and to do his prayers as an observant Muslim, he noticed a Nissan Pathfinder pull up in front of his parked car and turn on its hazard lights. A young man got out and briskly walked away. Up to this point, Alioune hadn’t thought much of the situation. But now he noticed smoke pouring out of the SUV. Alarmed, he immediately called 911. Unbeknownst to him, he had just foiled one of the most threatening bomb plots by an extremist in America.
But his story is no exception. Whether it’s a foiled bomb plot in London or a concerned father tipping off authorities to his own son’s activities in Yemen, Muslims have been and continue to be the greatest source of information and warning for law enforcement agencies in countering extremism. American Muslims, eager both to save lives and to combat extremism, are frequently the ones to report threats.
But this isn’t a given. Through invasive policies, like planting undercover (but soon discovered) agents in communities or monitoring campus groups, this relationship of trust between American Muslim communities and law enforcement has been weakened in some places.
That is why ING offers seminars for law enforcement agencies to educate law enforcement personnel on the demographics and institutional frameworks of American Muslim communities, cultural-specific considerations to heed in working with them, and misconceptions about them to counter. This is vital information to those who are tasked with protecting all of us.
Informed with the facts about Muslims and Islamic perspectives, law enforcement agencies have the unique opportunity to strengthen their relationships with American Muslim communities, improving their methods and building trust. One participant shared: “I thought the training on Muslims was outstanding. The more we know about different cultures, the better we are able to do our jobs. It is safer for us and we are able to provide better service.”
At ING, we’re proud to be a key partner in this challenge. To date, we’ve conducted training in over 50 Police Departments in the Bay Area alone, not including FBI and other federal agencies, as well as trainings across the country where we have Affiliates. Please click here to learn more.