"The breeding ground for all gangs begins with an excluded group who feel victimized by poverty, by the establishment, or by some other real or imagined injustice. It is fed by an anti-establishment culture of drugs, crime, hate, and racial separatism."
I wrote these words to explain how gangs are formed and how they reach critical mass. Think about them as you read this blog.
If you attended either the TREXPO East or TREXPO West conferences this year you may have heard my part of a training presentation titled "A First Responder's Guide To Terrorist Detection And Prevention."
My co-presenters Ed Lovette and James Stalnaker covered the detection and prevention aspects of the class and I attempted to show how American gangs were susceptible to recruitment by international terrorists. I even gave a few examples of cases in which this occurred.
However, an even more likely group of people that might be susceptible to recruitment by international terrorists are American gangs formed from immigrating Muslims.
Rarely mentioned by the American media are gangs formed mostly of Middle Eastern immigrants. An article pointing out this phenomenon was featured in Islam On Line (August 2009) written by Jamshed Bokan and called "In the Ghetto..? Youth Gangs And American Muslims."
The criminal gang lifestyle is immoral according to Christian, Jewish, and Muslim beliefs, but the dynamics that contribute to the spawning of criminal street gangs in America affect the Muslim immigrant communities just as they have Irish, Italian, Jewish, and Hispanic legal and illegal immigrants before them. The only difference is that these earlier American immigrants shared a Judeo-Christian culture, the newest arrivals do not.
The Islam On Line article takes the point of view that these young Muslims are only mimicking the popular styles of American youth. They affecr the look, attitude, and behavior of the tough urbanized kids who are glamorized in gangsta' rap movies, music, and videos. Some say new gangster-styled Muslims are only "wannabes." But this is the same denial expressed by earlier immigrant communities.
For decades now immigration patterns in Europe have established the Muslim cultures of North African and Middle Eastern immigrants in enclaves in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, France, and the Netherlands. All of these countries have also spawned Muslim gangs.
In November 2005, 300 French towns, including Paris, were rocked by two weeks of violent rioting, Paris was burning. The epicenter of the rioting was "Clichy-Sous-Bois," a suburban ghetto and enclave of Middle Eastern and North African immigrants. The fury of the angry young men "who feel frustrated by racial and cultural problems" was blamed for the violence.
A Nov. 21, 2005 U.S. News & World Report article by Anna Mulrine pointed out that French-born children of immigrants and newly arrived immigrants "often expressed anger and civil disobedience by burning cars. As many as 80 cars were burned in France every day" before the crescendo of violence in November 2005.
Then French Interior Minister (now president), Nicholas Sarkozy called the rioters scum, dregs, or gangrene. The rioters were mostly young men of North African and Middle Eastern decent, at least culturally they were Muslims, and many were in gangs. If you saw any photographs of these French rioters you would find that they looked and dressed surprisingly like young men from tough neighborhoods in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
In the United Kingdom, Church of England Bishop Nazir-Ali—himself a Pakistan native—warned that Islamic extremists have created "no-go" zones across Britain where it is too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph in January 2008, the Bishop blamed the "novel philosophy of multiculturalism" for creating deep divisions and further warned of increasing attempts to introduce Islamic (Sharia) law in England.
In August, British citizens across the country organized protests against Prime Minister Gordon Brown's approval of the acceptance of at least 85 Sharia courts. Brown's decision provides a separate Muslim judicial system that supersedes British law.
In one of Britain's most secure prisons, Whitemoor (HM) Prison in Cambridgeshire, prison staff warned in January 2008 that gangs of Muslim prisoners dominate several wings of the facility and a serious incident is imminent. Approximately one third of the 500 or so prisoners claim to be Muslims. The other inmates and staff are intimidated by the large number of Muslims and Prison Service officials reported that they were "handing control to the prisoners."
Another taboo subject is the very emotionally volatile discussion of the practice of gang rape, which seems to be a common practice of some of these Muslim gangs.
In the "Land Down Under," the cultural confrontation between Australian citizens and Muslim gangs has been clearly documented. In 2000, just before the Sydney Olympics, a group of young men and teens from Lebanese Muslim immigrant families who live in the suburbs of southwest Sydney kidnapped gang raped and tortured four teenaged girls. They subjected them to racial taunts and called the girls "Aussie pigs" during the rapes.
Note, the Muslim gang culture of sexual violence and abuse against women is not expressed toward non-Muslims only; it is often the Muslim women that are victimized the most. Under Sharia law husbands are permitted to beat their wives and polygamy is sometimes permitted. There are numerous books and articles written by survivors of these practices. The rape victim is often told that the attack was her fault. Many families follow the practice of "honor killing" the rape victims for having been disgraced.
Often overlooked are the Asian and Pacific Island Muslim gangs. In May 2007, two men were killed in fighting between warring rival gangs in Jakarta. The Betawi Brotherhood Forum and the Association of Betawi Families (both formed from the indigenous population) battled for a parking lot in this capital city and the subsequent right to extort money from motorists.
The Philippine Islands have long been a Taliban recruiting ground and the spawning ground for many gangs from both the Christian and Muslim cultures. Malaysia is much the same. When these groups immigrate to the United States, they are actively targeted for conversion by more radical Islamic clerics in immigrant enclaves and in U.S. jails and prisons.
Muslim people from many nations have immigrated legally and illegally into all of the major and minor cities throughout the U.S. The cities of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles have seen huge waves of immigrants and the criminal gangs that result. However, Michigan seems to be the center of Muslim settlers in the U.S. The city of Dearborn outside of Detroit is a Shiite Muslim enclave. From its numerous mosques the Muslim calls to worship can be heard every day.
Even before this Detroit suburb was a dying city, with an auto industry moving out, unemployment at more than 28 percent, the crime and murder rate climbing, the school system in receivership, and the treasury $300 million short of funds for even the bare bones municipal services. This is the formula for disaster, and it's also the perfect storm conditions to spawn more gangs.
One of Detroit's most infamous gangs is the Five Percent Nation or the Nation of Gods and Earths/Five Percent. This is a very violent street gang that was spun out of the Fruit of Islam, (more commonly known as Black Muslims). Like Chicago's El Rukins street gang, they bear little resemblance to any orthodox Muslim belief system but claim to be a religious adherents. Recently a federal magistrate judge, Steve Whalen, told Michigan Prison authorities to drop the ban on the Five Percent gang's inflammatory recruiting material and to treat the group like any other religious organization.
African Muslims are also becoming a presence in America's cities. The country of Somalia is primarily Muslim and seriously broken. Before and after the "Black Hawk Down" raid, Somalia fell apart in civil war and gangs and warlords took over, starving the people. Gangs of young children roamed the streets carrying AK-47s and chewing on "khat," a stimulant.
In 2001 large numbers of Somali immigrants began migrating to Maine bringing their clan rivalries and their love of khat with them. Since then these Somali rival gangs, or "clans" as they prefer, have taken root in such far flung U.S. cities as; Lewiston (Maine), Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Kansas City and Garden City (Kansas), and San Diego.
So far I have not seen the growing Muslim gang threat covered at any length by the mainstream media or discussed by many in law enforcement.
Why not? What happened to our pro-active mission to prevent crime and criminal gangs before they reach crisis proportions? In this politically correct society are we forbidden to address this situation without being admonished for "hate speech" or "racial profiling?"
I would like to thank Garden City, Kan., Gang Det. Mike Velasquez and Det. Ebrahim Ashabi of the Long Beach, (Calif.) Police Department for their assistance in this article.
Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.View Bio