Terror accusations: Undoing a character assassination

This will only hurt a little bit

Nearly two years ago, US Senator and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Chuck Grassley (R-IA) ordered the IRS to investigate 25 American Muslim organizations and charities which he claimed “finance terrorism and perpetuate violence”. However, observers did not have to wait for the results to pass their own judgement. Listed organizations were described as “terror-linked” and “terrorist sympathizers,” “controversial” groups with “disturbing connections” to terrorism.

References to groups such as ISNA – the most prominent and largest of the targeted groups – were prefaced by “government probe” and “under investigation,” thereby conferring on them the full damage of the accusation without bothering to wait for the outcome. That outcome came this week when Grassley announced that his committee “did not find anything alarming” in their probe, which concluded with no plans to issue a report, forward findings to law enforcement, or hold any additional hearings.

While the findings have been welcomed by ISNA and other investigated groups (and dismissed by terrorism investigator Steven Emerson), it does raise questions about government efforts to root out terror support in the US. Why give potential terrorists advance notice to hide records by publicly announcing an investigation? Is it really necessary to conduct a “scorched earth” campaign that leaves no Muslim organization untainted by the stench of terror accusations? And will we ever get past the mindset that says a Muslim organization is potentially linked to terror until proven otherwise?

Many of the accused groups have since folded, unable to continue operations in light of the probe. These groups are never are really proven innocent – they are merely subjected to “ongoing investigations.” Americans who are truly concerned about the fight against terrorism can come to only one of two conclusions: either US authorities are hopelessly lost in their search for terrorists four years after 9/11 and have resorted to fishing expeditions (our pick), or they have been outsmarted by Muslim groups who are secretly supporting terror and are somehow able to withstand the full weight of federal and media scrutiny (a battle winnable, of course, by shutting down said organisations without proof). After four years of supposedly honing our anti-terrorism efforts, this sad state of affairs should give everyone pause.

Shahed Amanullah is editor-in-chief of altmuslim.com.

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