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Prudence or paranoia?(23 posts)

Prudence or paranoia?gf99
Sep 13, 2003 4:01 AM
I say paranoia. What say all of you? Do you feel safer now? Here's the link to the complete article.

http://www.torontostar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1063404610930&call_pageid=968332188492&col=968793972154

"One of Canada's most moderate and respected Muslim clerics was pulled off a plane Thursday and thrown in jail by U.S. immigration officials in Fort Lauderdale without any charges being laid.

Ahamad Kutty, who has preached tolerance and peace throughout North America for more than two decades, was ordered off his Orlando-bound flight from Toronto and interrogated in an airport holding cell and a local jail for 16 hours as the U.S. marked the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

He has been declared a risk to national security.

Kutty, an imam and scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto and at the city's west-end Jami Mosque, was detained with fellow Toronto cleric Abdool Hamid. The pair had travelled to Florida to attend seminars and give a series of lectures and sermons on, among other things, the dangers of fanaticism in the Islamic world.

"We have gone through a traumatic experience. Really it dehumanized us," said Kutty, who arrived at Pearson International Airport last night at 8:30 p.m. Kutty said he was pulled off the plane at 9:30 a.m. Thursday and was grilled by at least 10 officials until about 1:30 a.m. yesterday.

"They handcuffed us and took us to jail."

Kutty said immigration officials told him his Islamic Institute of Toronto organization sounded familiar in name to the Islamic Institution of America, which he assumed was some sort of suspect group.

Authorities, Kutty said, were especially interested in a business card that he carried in his wallet bearing the name Islamic Society of North America. He said immigration officials made him sign a waiver giving up his application to enter the United States.

Kutty also said he would not return to the United States and would caution others in the Canadian Muslim community against doing so."
Maybe both,TJeanloz
Sep 13, 2003 6:39 AM
I feel safer knowing that customs officials are actually paying attention.
Oh, honestly!Jon Billheimer
Sep 13, 2003 10:03 AM
Pretty soon no one except real would-be terrorists will even want to enter the U.S., given these kinds of attitudes and behaviours.
Which attitudes are those?TJeanloz
Sep 13, 2003 10:13 AM
So, your preference is to have customs and immigration officials not paying attention?

I'm not saying that I feel safer because they detained somebody who apparently didn't merit detention, I don't think that's right. But I do feel safer with the knowledge that they actually are detaining people that they feel are a security threat. I get detained and searched on a fairly routine basis (probably 1 in 4 time I re-enter the US), I assume because I fit some profile that they think is a problem.

And, actually, I think it probably was reasonable to detain this person - at least for questioning. The alleged length of the detention seems odd, but it seems reasonable that a muslim activist (regardless of ideology), should be scrutinized a little bit more than the average tourist.
okay, jail all Catholic priests under suspicion of rape then. nmSpunout
Sep 15, 2003 4:34 AM
Similar treatment? Fine with me...TJeanloz
Sep 15, 2003 5:15 AM
I think it's perfectly reasonable to bring a Catholic priest suspected of rape into the station for questioning.

The people in the article weren't arrested and held for 2 years or anything - they were questioned for a few hours.
sorry, I meant:All priests in jail NOW. Sort them out later. nmSpunout
Sep 15, 2003 5:54 AM
No, but that wasn't what happened here either,TJeanloz
Sep 15, 2003 6:48 AM
It's not like they arrested and jailed all muslims - they held two, who were known activists, for an afternoon.

I don't even know why this is news.
'known activists'? Peace activists?Spunout
Sep 15, 2003 7:31 AM
The guards said his name sounded like someone else's on a list.

Still looking for a news source on this...

Why is this news? Because next it may be cyclists targeted. Men who shave their legs. Who knows?
yes, I've heard about all those cycling terrorists nmDougSloan
Sep 15, 2003 8:27 AM
Being targeted,TJeanloz
Sep 15, 2003 9:05 AM
As I said above, I am routinely pulled aside and asked extensive questions. It usually takes 30-40 minutes for me to convince them that I'm o.k. - but really 25 of those minutes are waiting for the person qualified to ask the questions. I know I fit some "profile" which I hypothesize to have something to do with (in no particular order):

1) Young
2) Male
3) Often on a one-way ticket; frequently purchased the day of the flight
4) Usually first-class
5) No luggage
6) Carrying two passports

I don't think it's a big deal that I have to clear customs. I have also been refused entry to a country (Brazil), which was exactly what happened to these two guys. Immigration services exists explicitly to turn people away that they feel pose some danger to the US, they've been doing it since people were quarentined on Ellis Island, and will continue to in the future.
Hey !, sometimes stuff happens.MR_GRUMPY
Sep 13, 2003 10:51 AM
As long as they weren't mistreated, I see no problem in them being questioned. As to being handcuffed and taked to jail, I'd have to hear the entire story, befure I made up my mind, wheather the officials overreacted or not.
2 sides to every storyfiltersweep
Sep 13, 2003 12:00 PM
I'll reserve judgment... my own work experience has enlightened me to the fact that there are all sorts of stories and issues that the general public has no access to (for any number of legitimate reasons).
I'm coming here to fight jihad...gf99
Sep 13, 2003 11:39 AM
But only for argument's sake. How do I get into the US?

Easy. I travel with a "friendly" passport and speak good english due to the fact I'm western educated. I shave my beard, wear western clothes, and swap the Koran for a Bible in my carry-on. When asked what I do I declare I'm a Christian aid worker and produce (forged) documents from my "church" to back it up. In I go. Besides, the authorities are too busy hassling a couple of Canadian clerics to give me a second look.

The emotional debate about profiling always seems to center on its fairness, not its effectiveness, which is poor.

Feel safer?
I'm coming here to fight jihad...sn69
Sep 13, 2003 11:59 AM
There's a not-so-fine line between being cautious and being paranoid. In the first, one takes appropriate measures as defined by the Constitution, federal and state statutes, and common sense to develop a quantifiable set of standards and protective measures/postures by which reasonable expectations are maintained for security. Perhaps those measures will include some degree of limited profiling, given, in this instance, the fact that this war is being waged against a radical, fringe group that associates itself however incorrectly with the tennants of Islam.

The second half of the equation, however, is that one cannot SACRIFICE the spirit of the Constitution in order to achieve the objectives of national security. In that regard, the enemy achieves what we call a "soft kill," whereby he/she/it (and I prefer to think of BinLaden as an "it"), forces a societal change on the group under assualt (us). In short, they win a small victory and achieve a more dubious objective through using our own paranoia against us. That is, after all, what terrorism is ultimately about, is it not?

It's a balancing act, to be certain, but there are reasonable measures that can be taken. With regards to real-time law enforcement (such as search/seizure at points of entry like airports), there has to be a substantial intelligence network to back-up policy enforcement. In this case, there might have been intel leads to suggest a detainment was warranted, although I doubt it. Unfortunately, the grim reality of "doing more with less" has probably forced Customs and FBI into a nefarious corner where they lack the financial resources to do a complete job. Thus, their pendulum swings hard to the right, and the civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution suffer. ...And that pig BinLaden wins a tiny victory.

Balance; it's all in the balance. Profiling IS effective, but ONLY when it's based upon a complete, accurate set of parameters backed up by sound intelligence. ...NOT knee-jerk reactivity.

This is a war. Forget for a moment the horror of Iraq and your (a "collective your") feelings about the Bush Administration. Remember this: the larger conflict is one of a non-government entity that has achieved several concurrent global fronts with the United States. This is a war. Sometimes, ugly things happen in war. But, lacking a known-yet-undetermined presence of enemy forces within the continental US, there is a balancing act that must be achieved between caution and paranoia. The enemy will strike again, and fear of electoral repercussions should not drive our leaders' policies. Rather, the objective of winning this war should.

gf99--come on down/up/over. Jon--you stay the hell out...unless you bring beer, and lots of it. ;-)~
Scott
The beer is my cover...Jon Billheimer
Sep 15, 2003 12:10 PM
...Oh yeah, and my bike too!
anyone know what the real intelligence was on this guy? nmDougSloan
Sep 15, 2003 6:10 AM
News Story: I feel sorry for America...Spunout
Sep 15, 2003 7:39 AM
U.S. detains, kicks out two Canadian Muslims


By COLIN FREEZE
From Saturday's Globe and Mail

Two moderate Islamic scholars were kicked out of the United States and sent back to Canada last night, after U.S. authorities detained them as suspected terrorists when they landed in Florida on the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Ahmad Kutty, 59, and Abdool Hamid, 37, are Canadian citizens affiliated with the Islamic Centre of Canada in Mississauga, Ont. They were flying to Orlando to lead an Islamic prayer service, but were intercepted by immigration agents during a stopover Thursday stopover in Fort Lauderdale.

In Florida, suspicion of terrorism runs especially high, partly because al-Qaeda ringleaders who carried out the hijackings that killed 3,000 people two years ago took flight training there. According to a man who met one of the detained Canadians in prison, a U.S. border agent said, "You've chosen to fly on the wrong day," Sept. 11.

Altaf Ali, head of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the account was relayed to him by Mr. Hamid when he met him in prison early yesterday. "He was very embarrassed to be in orange [prison] clothes," Mr. Ali said.

Calling the story "one of the most bizarre cases I ever heard," Mr. Ali called upon the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to apologize for detaining the two men. "It's totally uncalled-for," he added.

The case appears to be the latest example of the perils facing Islamic Canadians passing through the United States.

Some outraged Canadian Muslims suggest this case bears similarities to that of Berna Cruz, an Indian-Canadian who was sent back to India after Chicago agents accused her of carrying a fake passport, and Maher Arar, a Syrian-Canadian who remains locked up on suspicion of terrorism in Syria, where he was sent a year ago after passing through New York.

The two religious scholars arrived at Pearson Airport last night, two days after they left for Florida.

"I feel sorry for America," Mr. Kuddy said after he got off the plane and was hugged by dozens of family members and well-wishers. "I had a lot of admiration for that country; it was standing for great ideas for freedom and liberty.

"Now I think the terrorists have succeeded in making that country a police state."

Mr. Hamid said he was detained because a name similar to his was on a terrorist watch list.

"I didn't think [the name] was that common, but it's pretty common at least in that database," he said. Mr. Hamid was left with the impression, after being interviewed by about 10 security agents, that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"He said to me at the end when he interviewed me, we basically chose the wrong day to fly on."

The imams said they were detained in the Fort Lauderdale airport at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday and questioned by about 10 different U.S. agents for 16 hours, before briefly being sent to jail.

The two men were then given the option of returning to Canada or being detained for two to three months in the United States while immigration authorities checked them out. They chose to return.

Mr. Ali said that border agents became suspicious after seeing Mr. Hamid's name and also Mr. Kutty's business card, which bears the name of a Muslim organization that authorities deemed suspicious.

But no links to terrorism were found. Mr. Kutty, an Indian-born imam with a PhD in religious studies from McGill University in Montreal, has been quoted expressing moderate views in recent Canadian newspaper articles.

"Every community has moderates, conservatives, reform-minded and extremists in their midst; the Muslim community is not an exception," he told the Toronto Star in an interview last year. "The real issue is that some in the media appear to thrive in highlighting the extreme elements in the Muslim community more than others."

Reynald Doiron, a Foreign Af
me, tooDougSloan
Sep 15, 2003 7:49 AM
I feel sorry for America, too. However, we didn't choose to become a police state (which we are not) on a whim. Certain horrific things happened, which required some kind of response to avoid it happening again, and to help give people a better sense of security so that they'd start traveling again.

The country's reaction may have been excessive, but then for all we knew these acts were going to become a monthly occurence, not a one time shot. If in doubt about national security, I'd say overdo it a bit, too, to avoid similar things happening. People would have lynched all of the Bush administration if this had happened again, and people believed that they didn't do what they could. Would you rather be the president who infringed on some rights, or the president who sat on his hands and saw thousands more people die, taking the economy down with them?

Doug
me, tooMJ
Sep 15, 2003 7:58 AM
the European experience of dealing with terrorists has proven to be fairly effective (over a period of decades) and less draconian than the US steps - I guess there's some catching up on what works and what doesn't
you mean have 007 take them out? nmDougSloan
Sep 15, 2003 8:08 AM
yes, post martini in a tux - nmMJ
Sep 15, 2003 8:14 AM
Words of a wise patriot...gf99
Sep 15, 2003 8:39 AM
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

- Benjamin Franklin