A database used by Islamist groups to support claims that the Muslim community is responsible for helping to break up one-third of terrorist plots is based on flawed and selective use of data, an Investigative Project on Terrorism analysis shows.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) claims in its study that “almost 1 out of 3 al-Qaida-related terror plots threatening America since 9/11/01” were thwarted in part because of help from the Muslim community. However, the MPAC study is full of mistakes, faulty data, contradictions, selective use of information, and demonstrably dishonest analysis:
- MPAC overstates the role of “community assistance,” including plots that were broken up by intelligence assets overseas and other plots that had little or nothing to do with the U.S. Muslim community;
- MPAC selectively defines what is a “terrorism incident,” ignoring a huge set of cases involving the domestic support of terrorist organizations, as well as those involving threats outside of al Qaida, such as Hamas and Hizballah;
- MPAC ignores traditional law enforcement techniques, specifically avoiding the use of informants, a technique that the organization frequently condemns.
Despite its flaws, the MPAC study continues to be cited by the media, with the New York Times recently inflating the statistics and stating–without bothering to review the underlying data–that according to a recent MPAC study “almost 4 of every 10 Qaida-related terrorism plots,” were broken up with the help of “community assistance.” They accepted MPAC’s claims without bothering to review the underlying data.
Another big surprise.
Community help in all forms of crime prevention, not just terrorism, is critical. But the MPAC report is totally dishonest. The report suffers from a number of flaws–namely that it selectively defines what a “terrorism incident” is, overstates the role of the Muslim community in the cases identified, and seemingly ignores the contributions made by informants, a group that MPAC has condemned and falsely claimed to have instigated terrorist plots.
There is a great deal more. Be sure to read it all.