American ideals and the War on Terror

On Pod Save The World, a wonderful, but dry, podcast about international relations, host Tommy Vietor interviewed Ali Soufan. If you’ve followed how the United States has combated terrorism, you know who Soufan is.

If not, here’s a quick bio: The Lebanese-born American (Lebanon is a shithole country, right?) was the lead FBI investigator in the USS Cole bombing. Shortly after the Sept. 11, he used his knowledge of Islam and Arabic culture to pull out information during interrogations to track down those responsible for the attacks.

If you’re reading this from NEPA, you can feel a sense of pride because Soufan is a graduate of Mansfield.

During the interview, Vietor asked Soufan an interesting question. It was, essentially, “What can the average American, other than signing up to join the armed forces, do to fight terrorism?”

Soufan had a fascinating answer.

“It as simple as standing up against bigotry and hate. You know, believing in American values. Our American values. Our values are the best thing that ever happened to us.”

“You mentioned earlier, Tommy, that I gave an al Qaida member, basically, a high-ranking official of al Qaida, a history book about America written in Arabic. And he was totally shocked to see that America, that, you know, George Washington was a rebel, for example. He never knew something like this about us.”

“Our values, I always find them to basically benefit us on every level. And why did I say Stand against hate and Stand against bigotry? Well, look at the threat that we have in the United States versus the threat that they have in Europe. A country like Belgium, for example, they have 500,000 Muslim. It’s a nation of about 11 million. Of the 500,000 Muslims there is more than ten percent who joined Isis in Iraq and Syria. Five-hundred-and-twenty-eight or 550 people. In the United States, we have about 4 to 5 million Muslims. And we only have 150 that joined Isis in Iraq and Syria.”

“There is a big reason for that. There is a big reason that in the United States we have had only about 150 people who made it to Iraq and Syria and in Europe they have more like 5,000 people who went to Iraq and Syria to join groups like Isis. And the reason is The American Dream. American values. People here are assimilated. They feel that they are part of this great nation. They give their lives for this great nation. And when we start talking about hate and when we start talking about Islamophobia, we start discriminating against others. When we start making them feel less American, or as second class citizens, or feel that they are living under suspicion. Well, then Isis or al Qaida will be able to recruit them as we’ve seen happening in Europe.”

He continues, but it’s basically a repetition of what you just read. It’s profound because it’s not just a bromide. He brings up a specific event, giving the book to the al Qaida member, that is discussed earlier in the show. He also brings up why fighting bigotry at home is important. If you want to listen to the whole interview, please do.

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