Friday, November 26, 2010

"Where Fore Art Thou Terrorist?"

From the Emergency Management Magazine blog, Where Fore Art Thou Terrorist?  looks at a policy paper entitled Assessing the Terrorist Threat.

Running the numbers on how many "Americans are known who have been charged or convicted of Islamic terrorist crimes in the USA or elsewhere since January 2009" they inform us that
  • 21% are Caucasian-Americans
  • 18% are Arab-Americans
  • 14% are South Asian-Americans
  • 9% are African-Americans
  • 4% are Hispanic-Americans
  • 2% are Caribbean-American
  • 31% of the above, and the largest block, are Somali-Americans
I wonder at the fact that Somali-Americans are not considered African-Americans; perhaps the distinction is between native-born Americans of African descent, and immigrants.

No matter: Hard to reach any useful conclusions when your sample size is only 57 people.

OTOH, it does raise questions about the effectiveness of racial/ethnic profiling for security purposes in the US.  While one African-American Seattle Police Officer I knew did famously state that anyone would be justified in questioning his off-duty presence in then (notoriously, stereotypically Scandinavian) neighborhood of Ballard in the middle of the night, it gets a little trickier when you are dealing with (for example) an airport in a city with the mixed ethnic make-up of Seattle.  (Not to mention the amount of international business.)

I don't know what the answer is; I was an MI Geek, but I was a SIGINT guy, which means I am biased to the technological side of things; profiling and the like is for HUMINT pukes.  (Hell, I took one of those Internet quizzes for Asperger's Syndrome and came up with full-blown, barely functioning autism.  According to that test, I can barely spell "empathy.")

This all sort of ties in with another article at EM Mag's blog, TSA Aggressive Inspection Issue Undermines Public Confidence.

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